During its long history, alcohol has caused (and "solved"
) a myriad of problems. There's no dispute its consumption—especially to excess—has caused damage to countless lives and society in general. Controlling its use has been a problem since the beginning of civilization. The solution of the Dry Crusader is one of complete prohibition.
The Dry Crusader is what you get when you cross The Teetotaler
with the Moral Guardians
, the Principles Zealot
, and (sometimes) the Well-Intentioned Extremist
tropes. It's a character who believes consumption of alcohol is always evil in any amount at all times to everyone. Anyone who's unfortunate enough to be drinking a glass of beer within the Dry Crusader's line of sight will soon be subjected to an angry harangue warning him of the spiritual, moral, and health hazards that will result with one sip of the demon rum. It goes without saying that nothing short of a total ban on alcohol will satisfy the Dry Crusader. To achieve this goal, this person on occasion is not above resorting to any means necessary
When the Dry Crusader appears, it's often in works that are set in the United States during the 19th and early 20th century which is the time the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League were at their peak of influence. Instances of the Dry Crusader in stories set after the repeal of Prohibition in the U.S. in 1933 are far less common. You'll still come across characters who inveigh against all consumption of alcohol but, recognizing its historic total failure, they're less likely to advocate a complete ban or subjecting bars and taverns to hatchetization to achieve their goal. Often the character will serve as a Strawman Political
and usually be Played for Laughs
The Dry Crusader is not limited to the U.S. and can also be found in stories set in Canada, Britain, and other countries that have a history of puritanism and campaigns against the consumption of alcohol.
In many ways, the Smug Straight Edge
is the descendant of the Dry Crusader in that both have a tendency to act self-righteously toward and condemn those who imbibe
- In the DC Comics Elseworld Batman: The Blue, the Gray, and the Bat, two Dry Crusaders are on the same coach as Bruce Wayne as he heads out West. They turn out to be the Big Bads behind the whole thing.
- In The African Queen, missionary Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) doesn't take too kindly to alcohol as Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) finds out when she dumps out all his gin.
- An interesting real-life irony related to this instance of the trope is that, during the duration of filming, while the sober Hepburn came down with a case dysentery due to drinking the local water, Bogart avoided the illness perhaps in part due to his consumption of primarily alcoholic beverages.
- Cora Massingale (Lee Remick), leader of the Women's Temperance League, in The Hallelujah Trail.
- At the beginning of The Wild Bunch, a preacher is delivering an anti-alcohol sermon during a temperance rally just before its participants get caught in the crossfire during a bank robbery. A lot of them get mowed down.
- It should be noted here that director Sam Peckinpah was a notoriously heavy drinker, making this a possible Take That.
- In both the book and movie version of Elmer Gantry, the title character publicly preaches against the evils of booze. Privately, it's another story.
- Poledra in The Malloreon series by David Eddings won't tolerate any drinking in her presence; when Belgarath tries to fill a tankard of ale around her, she takes it away and pours it on the ground. Somewhat of a subversion because her opposition has nothing to do with morals but is instead due to the fact she just can't stand the smell of alcohol.
- It's primarily Belgarath to whom she objects to having access to alcohol, as well; her view seems to be that he drowned his sorrows for a whole decade, he shouldn't be drinking now. And she doesn't mind the smell of wine - just ale.
- Parodied in Discworld with the Black Ribboners, a group of vampires who have sworn off drinking (human) blood. According to Thud!, one of their slogans is "Lips that touch Ichor shall never touch Mine".
- Edmund's puritanical relatives, the Whiteadders, from the Blackadder II episode "Beer" (at least until the end of the episode).
- The Kenny Rogers telemovie The Gambler: The Luck of Draw features a group of temperance crusaders who attempt to smash the beer barrels for a cowboy picnic and are almost lynched as a result.
- In a Happy Days episode where Richie's great-uncle-for-this-episode tells the story of one of Richie's relatives, a saloon-busting DA in Prohibition-era Chicago, we see a Whole Episode Flashback starring the main characters as these other characters from the period. Mrs. C. "plays" a local version of Carrie Nation, coming into the speakeasy and trying to catch them selling alcohol so she can bust it up.
- A sect of these appears in the Midsomer Murders episode "The Night of the Stag".
- Carrie Nation.
Back in 1880, Kansas residents had voted for prohibition, but the law was largely ignored by saloonkeepers. They operated openly, but Nation would change all that. First she prayed in front of an establishment in 1890. She struck at her first saloon on June 1, 1900. Initially, she used rocks, bricks and other objects for these attacks, then turned to the hatchet. Nearly six feet tall and strapping, the determined woman closed the saloons in Medicine Lodge.
Nation responded with alacrity to appeals from citizens of other towns to close their saloons. She entered states where liquor sales were legal. Her behavior provoked a tremendous uproar and sent her to jail repeatedly for disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. (FYI: Carrie Nation)
- Thomas Riley Marshall, who eventually became Woodrow Wilson's vice president, was an active campaigner against liquor. In his case it stemmed from being a recovering alcoholic himself.
- The early 20th century evangelist Reverend Billy Sunday frequently preached against drinking alcohol and advocated its abolition.
- Wayne Wheeler of the Anti-Saloon League. His efforts played a large role in the passage of Prohibition in the U.S.