Dawn of the Wild West

Sub-trope of The Western, Dawn of the Wild West involves stories set in the western part of North America between the late 1700s and the 1840s which was a time of continental exploration (e.g., Lewis and Clark), fur trapping, trailblazing, and westward expansion.

In stories covered by this trope, you'll usually encounter bold explorers, mountain men, missionaries, and Native Americans. The latter's depiction will vary considerably and be often colored by the attitudes from the time the work was produced.

There are also stories about pioneers under this trope but their efforts to settle and civilize the "savage" land often involve wilderness that's east of the Mississippi. Stories about pioneers moving into the Far West (i.e., the North American Great Plains and territory west of the Rockies) signify the end of the time period covered under Dawn of the Wild West trope (i.e., the early 1840s).

In addition, this trope covers works about the Battle of the Alamo and the Texas War for Independence.

As indicated in the title, this trope covers the beginning of the period covered in the Wild West and represents the Dawn of an Era. It's the opposite of Twilight of the Old West which covers the End of an Age for the Wild West.


  • DC Comics Hawk, Son of Tomahawk was about the half-indian son of the Revolutionary War hero Tomahawk and was set in the early years of the 19th Century in the American midwest.
  • Tejano was a back-up feature that ran in Jonah Hex about the exploits of a band of Texas Rangers during the days of the Texas Republic.


  • James Fenimore Cooper's The Leatherstocking Tales takes place in the "wild west" of colonial America (i.e., western New York).
  • J.T. Edson's Ole Devil novels are set during the Texas War of Independence (1835-37).
  • The four novels that make up Larry McMurtry's Berrybender Narratives take place in the American West of the 1830s.
  • Johnston McCully's Zorro stories (and the movies and TV series they're based on) take place in California when it still belonged to Spain and Mexico so they would fall under this trope.

  • The mini-series based on the James Michener novel, Centennial, is set in Colorado, and details much of the early history of the North Platte River plains. Beginning in 1795, the first five episodes follow the coming of traders and settlers until a town is formed in 1868.
  • Daniel Boone is set in Kentucky during the late 18th century.
  • The Disney version of Davy Crockett takes place in the early part of the 19th century beginning in newly-settled Tennessee and ending in 1836 in Texas at the Battle of the Alamo.

Video Games
  • Assassin's Creed III is set during the Revolutionary War, with the large untamed frontier west of the Alleghenies to explore.