A new person (or an old inhabitant returning after years away) comes to a town suffering from lawlessness and corruption. He or she is appointed to a position of responsibility, such as TheSheriff, and proceeds to reduce crime, establish the rule of law, and topple the corrupt powers that kept the town from prospering. TheDrifter on the other hand does this chronically, switches between towns and repeats the feat.

A stock plot in TheWestern, although easily transplanted to other settings. Often, it may be a corrupt organization that needs cleaning up instead.

In more cynical works, the would-be reformer ends up succumbing to the corrupt system, dying or worse, becoming just as corrupt as the people they replaced.

In comedic works (particularly cartoons, it seems), may entail a broom and/or dustpan, a pointy stick and garbage can, or other literal interpretations of the phrase.

Contrast with the TyrantTakesTheHelm story arc, where the villain may believe that they're in this plotline, but are actually making things worse.



[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* Franchise/{{Batman}}, to varying success; the recent franchise reboot emphasized this aspect, as Batman himself hopes that someday he won't be needed.
* Jesse Custer in the ''Salvation'' arc of ''ComicBook/{{Preacher}}''.
* Deconstructed hard in ''ComicBook/SouthernBastards.''


[[folder: Film ]]

* Example of comedic use: ''Film/BackToTheFuture'':
-->'''Goldie Wilson''': You wait and see, Mr. Carruthers. I ''will'' be mayor! I'll be the most powerful man in Hill Valley. And I'm gonna clean up this town.\\
'''Lou''': Good. You can start by sweeping the floor. [hands Goldie a broom]
* Jimmy Cagney does this with, of all things, the Bureau of Weights and Measures in ''Great Guy''.
* Played straight to hilarious effect in ''Film/BlazingSaddles'' when the new sheriff has to clean up the town and resorts to unorthodox methods. Candy Gram, anyone?
* ''Film/SupportYourLocalSheriff'' is another comedic western example.
* In ''Film/HotFuzz'', Nicholas Angel has been so effective at cleaning up London that he's making the other cops look bad, so he's transferred to the quiet town of Sandford. At first it looks like there's nothing for him to clean up, but then [[TownWithADarkSecret unusual deaths]] start happening...
** And when all the crime stats back in London go off the charts in his absence (making the Police look even WORSE than they did when Angel was just showing them all up), they come crawling back to beg him to return.
* ''Film/RoadHouse''. Dalton starts off acting as head bouncer at a bar, but is forced to CleanUpTheTown to save his own life.
* Happens in (of all places) ''SgtPeppersLonelyHeartsClubBand'', after Mean Mr. Mustard's theft of the magical musical instruments turns the town of Heartland into a crime-ridden cesspool. How does the eponymous band clean things up? With a musical carnival!
* This is a good deal of the plot of ''Film/WalkingTall1973''.
* ''Film/{{Outland}}''
* ''Film/DodgeCity''
* ''Film/TheUntouchables''
* Ultimately what happens in ''Film/DesertHeat''.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'': Carrot Ironfoundersson, when he arrives in Ankh-Morpork - but he's so nice about it...
* ''Literature/LiadenUniverse'': Pat Rin yos'Phelium when he arrives on Surebleak.
* {{Deconstruct|ion}}ed in Creator/HarlanEllison's short story, "The End of the Time of Leinard". The sheriff who was brought in to clean up the town decades before is now seen as a menace for his heavy-handed tactics, leading the town to conspire to get rid of him.
* Sivord, a wrecked town in ''Literature/TheWillBeDone'', has it's 'Night of Elimination', where a mysterious stranger kills the major criminals in the town during the course of a single night.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/TheUntouchables''.
* Many episodes of ''Series/StargateSG1''. Often, the SG-1 team arrives on a planet to discover that an enemy force (Goa'uld or otherwise) has enslaved or is otherwise tormenting the local population, prompting the team to clean up the town.
* The entire cast of ''Series/{{Angel}}'' was eventually assigned to run the uber-evil law firm they had spent the last four years fighting. Everyone angsted a lot about whether they were up to the task, or would be corrupted themselves.
--> '''Angel''': You hired ''Harmony'' as my secretary??
--> '''Wesley''': I thought we could use a familiar face.
--> '''Angel''': Hmm. You turned evil a lot faster than I thought...
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'': Emma came to Storybrooke when her long-lost son showed up and said she was TheChosenOne. She didn't believe the kid, but when she got a good look at the town and the crooked mayor, she decided to stay put and be a professional pain in her side, eventually getting the job of sheriff. As such, she's untangling all of the town's dark secrets.


[[folder: Music ]]

* The first album by ''Music/TheProtomen'' largely takes place some time after Dr. Light created Protoman to do this, and Mega Man decides to follow in his footsteps. [[spoiler:Mega Man ends up discovering that Protoman [[WorldHalfEmpty grew so disgusted]] with the inhabitants of TheCity and their unwillingness to fight for themselves against [[BigBad Wily's]] [[{{Dystopia}} tyranny]] that he turned on them and became Wily's [[TheDragon Dragon.]]]]


[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* Parodied in ''ComicStrip/TheFarSide'': a janitor is praised for "cleaning up the town" as he [[RidingIntoTheSunset walks into the sunset]].


[[folder: Table Top Games ]]

* ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' adventure ''Harlequin's Back''. In one of the mini-adventures in the book, "A Fistful of Karma", the PC's must defeat a cruel tyrant who oppresses the people of a mining town.
* ''Magazine/{{Dragon}}'' magazine #71 (back when it wasn't just ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'') had a ''TabletopGame/BootHill'' module called "The Taming of Brimstone", in which the player characters had to clean up the eponymous town.


[[folder: Videogames ]]

* ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'' starts off [[spoiler: and ends up]] being about CJ and Sweet cleaning up their crack-ridden 'hood.
* ''VideoGame/TheNamelessMod'''s [[PlayerCharacter Trestkon]] is this- if the player wills it.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Crackdown}}'', the city's police force barely is able to hold the line at their own headquarters. [[SuperSoldier The Agent]] must go through the city, killing the leaders of the three gangs who rule the city and their lieutenants. [[spoiler: It becomes a subversion when it's revealed the Agency [[EvilPlan allowed the gangs to run roughshod, so they'd be able to assert a despotic regime once they clean out the gangs.]]]]
* This is the plot of all the ''VideoGame/StreetsOfRage'' games. Somehow, the crime syndicate keeps coming back.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' short "WesternAnimation/DripAlongDaffy": Daffy comes to "clean up this one-horse town", and in the end he does... as streetsweeper. "Lucky for him, it ''is'' a one-horse town."
* Similarly done at the end of the ''WesternAnimation/QuickDrawMcGraw'' cartoon "Double Barrel Double," but without the double entendre line. Possibly because Quick Draw himself is a horse so the joke wouldn't work.
* The WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants episode 'Pest Of The West' has Spongebuck immediately being appointed sheriff so he could save the town from Plankton's ancestor, Dead Eye Plankton. He does exactly that.


[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Name a political challenger, this is almost guaranteed to be one of their platforms.
* City Marshal [[AwesomeMcCoolname Dallas Stoudenmire]] was brought into El Paso to clean it up as the previous 5 marshals in the last 8 months were either incompetent, corrupt, or killed. He proceeded to kill at least 10 criminals in the next year, dropping the crime rate significantly.