A Texan is a man who can't decide whether Texas has the biggest midgets in the world, or the smallest.
— old joke, predating WWII at least, possibly going back much further
In real life, Texas is a diverse state in terms of geography and culture. It can easily be divided into five different regions culturally, with climates ranging from the near desert like conditions of the panhandle to the humid coastal subtropics along the shoreline. Dallas, Houston and San Antonio count as three of the US's top ten most populous cities, with the state capital of Austin and the cities of Fort Worth and El Paso rounding off the list of cities that can be described as big. The state itself is huge, being 268,820 sq. miles◊ with a population of about 24.3 million. This makes it roughly half the size of Alaska with sixty times the population - and several times larger than many entire countries. For example, it is approximately three times as large as the entire United Kingdom put together—or, more to the point, almost exactly the same size as France.note For the record, France is the largest country in Western Europe and the third-largest in Europe as a whole. The only countries larger? Ukraine, which is huge, and Russia, which is gigantic (European Russia would still be the seventh-largest country on Earth if Asiatic Russia separated).
In terms of culture Texas plays host to some of the largest Hispanic and Asian American communities in the South Eastern United States. The state's ranks of professionals, business leaders and politicians draw from all racial and religious groups who can produce people with the ability, which basically means each and every one of them. Many government institutions retain their form from the days of the Republic of Texas and Reconstruction Era. Politics is personality based as much as anything else from the state's history of being in the Solid South, leading to such politicians as Kinky Friedman, a self described Jewish Cowboy and entertainer whose campaign slogan was "Why the hell not?", popping up from time to time.
Economically, Texas is comparable with India and Canada. It is the home to 58 companies of the Fortune 500, more than any other state in the US. Economics is mostly regional in the state, helping to define the regional identities of many residents. East Texas has a large timber industry. North and West Texas are defined by agriculture and petroleum extraction. Dallas has defense manufacturers and the silicon prairie. Austin has the silicon hills, the government, and music industry. Houston excels in shipping, petrochemicals, and aerospace industries (thank you NASA). San Antonio is very rich in history and is home to several major military bases, but El Paso always escapesmention (despite being the hometown of probably the second most talentedprofessional wrestling family in North America).
And oil is not a field for the stupid, just ask Red Adair. There are at last count 181 different colleges, universities and other institutions actively engaged in research and development, along with the much more numerous community colleges and trade schools. The Texas Medical Center in Houston is among the best in the world, and the MD Anderson Cancer Center there is the best cancer research center in America. Laws have been passed where any student graduating in the top 10% of their class gets first pick from any of the schools, and the community colleges cannot deny admission to anyone who is a legal resident of the United States. Houston is also home to NASA.Keeping all of the above in mind, it is fair to say that Texas is no backwater. Unfortunately, Hollywood writers are about as concerned with reality as Glenn Quagmire is with getting to know a lady first.
As such, Texas will inevitably be represented as a backward state, a mashup of the Deep South and The Wild West. No Texan will be able to speak for five seconds without mentioning the oil industry, the beef industry or high school football. (See the Rich Texan from The Simpsons.) In almost any depiction, they'll come off as well meaning but ultimately ignorant and/or jingoist; more recent media might portray Texas as a strong right-wing enclave note Texas has voted Republican in the last eight presidential elections, but it continues to be home to many, many Democrats — even in Dallas, one of the few very large Republican cities in America. filled with religious fanatics, who wear the stereotype with pride because they don't consider it negative. (Compare with Eagleland.) Though some Texans act the stereotype intentionally to mess with non-Texans, especially when out of state. It's practically a sport. Truth be told, Texans tend to be rather proud of their state heritage, to the point that it can be considered a form of local Nationalism. (General Motors capitalized on this in the 1980s and 1990s, advertising the Suburban as "the national car of Texas".) Ask a Texan where he's from, anywhere in the world, and he'll likely say he's from Texas rather than America.
And tornadoes. Don't forget the tornadoes.
It goes without saying that some of these exaggerations do, in fact, come from real life. Texans have for a century and longer had a reputation in the rest of the country, perhaps bordering on a stereotype, for being cheerful, boastful and loud. Oil was first discovered at Spindletop in east Texas; Texas is a major player in the beef industry, and the love of high school football can be clearly seen from the storied Permian High School Panthers (a real team from Odessa), who were chronicled in Friday Night Lights. In fact, in many towns, about ninety-eight percent of the town is out in the stands every football game. The other two percent is on the field. Texans also happily note that unlike most other states, when they travel internationally people in most countries are aware of Texas.
Also the home to NASA's Johnson Space Center, which is a very nice place to visit.
The Deimon Devil Bats of Eyeshield 21 fight against as Texas team, the NASA Aliens, all of whom (Except for Panther and the younger Gonzalez brother) are extremely huge. QB Homer Fitzgerald and the elder Gonzalez are both particularly advanced examples. One of the chapters involving their game with the Devil Bats is even called "the Muscles of the Americans." Not to mention their coach, Apollo, was horribly racist.
Worth pointing out, though, the coach's being Texan has nothing to do with his being racist - it ties into his backstory where his own coach passed him up in favor of a black player. And yes, he gets better.
Sena: "Um…Why is there a cow on the beach?"
Monta: "…Cause it's Texas?"
As implied by their name, though, the NASA Aliens are themed around space travel, playing directly into the fact that Texas is the foremost center for study and advancement in that area. They even quote Neil Armstrong's "one giant leap" line before stepping onto the field!
Excluding the coach, the rest of the team is portrayed as friendly, loyal, and boisterous, despite appearing very intimidating.
Ironically, the only character in Eyeshield 21 that completely fits the Texas stereotype is Japanese, the coach for the Seibu Wild Gunmen. He's essentially a reverse weaboo, owning a variety of guns and a giant ranch in Texas.
Osaka in the dub of Azumanga Daioh is given a Texas accent, Houston in particular, because both Texans and Osakans share the stereotype of being loud, obnoxious country hicks. (Osaka herself, of course, is the complete opposite.)note Worth noting, the English-dub voice actress, Kira Vincent-Davis, is a native of Houston, where the anime was dubbed, so at least you know the accent is legit.
After Marvel's Civil War storyline, each US state got its own superhero team. Texas got the Rangers, a group which includes three cowboy-themed heroes, an Indian-themed hero, and Armadillo, who is a big armadillo.
Rangers was a pre-existing team - they formed from local heroes to stop the Hulk in the early 80s. Doesn't make them less Captain Ethnic about it.
One of the enemies of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! was "Armordillo", an armor-plated armadillo with a dangerous tail, who came from the Earth-C US state of "Taxes" (nicknamed the "Lone Stork State"). As such, Armordillo spoke like an Old West gunslinger/outlaw.
Several Earth-C versions of Texas cities were also mentioned in the series, including "San Antoadio" (San Antonio) and "Hogston" (Houston). Taxes also was the home of historical landmark the Alamole (Alamo).
Preacher. Jesse Custer makes a point of refusing to steal horses, as some obscure Texan point of honor.
Truth in Television: in a culture centered around free-range cattle ranching, like in the old West, cattle and horse thieving were more likely to get you hanged than murder, rape and bank robbing. Some of those old laws are still on the books, although mostly ignored these days.
The British children's comic Oink! featured a one-off feature dedicated to this trope. Notably, it featured people being squashed flat by Texan hailstones. At the end, it regretted that the Texan brain was very much an exception, being half the size of an ordinary garden pea.
Boys Don't Cry is a curious example that dips into Reality Is Unrealistic: despite taking place in Nebraska, the "night in the big city" montage was filmed in and features the prominent buildings of downtown Dallas. Apparently Texas cities are metropolitan enough to fill in for other states, but not for their own.
The plot of Coyote Funeral is kicked off by a road sign saying "El Paso, 857 miles". (The sign actually exists, see Real Life below.)
In the 1956 blockbuster Giant, Bick is taking his new bride Leslie on a railroad trip to his cattle ranch in Texas. When she looks out the window at the passing scenery and wonders when they'll get to Texas, he announces that they've been in Texas for several hours already.
Also, in the beginning of the movie, David asks how much big is Bick's property. He guesses 20-50 thousand acres. Bick reluctantly says that he has 595 thousand acres of land.
For our international readers, that's a square slightly over 49 km on a side. And while that is a large ranch even by Texas standards, there have been ranches in Texas bigger than that. The King ranch, for example, is about 825,000 acres.
The 2005 remake of The Longest Yard takes place in this setting—rather, in the fictional Allenville Penitentiary. The only civilization shown aside from the prison is a high school football field and ... a trailer. Also of note is the warden's political advisor, who dresses exactly like a Southern dandy.
Real Steel features a Twenty Minutes into the Future version of Texas where the oil derricks have been replaced with wind turbinesnote Truth in Television — Texas produces more than 10 gigawatts of wind power, more than double the next largest wind-power state, Iowa, in output. Wind farms have practically become the new oil industry. and county fairs feature fights between bulls and giant robots.
"Tex" Conway in Robot Jox. Despite being a futuristic gladiator, he's a stereotypical Texan, complete with gut, comical accent, down-homey colloquialisms, and ten-gallon hat. However, he somewhat averts the trope by being a nefarious double agent for the Commies.
Second Hand Lions manages to show rural Texas without being stereotypical, and does it beautifully.
Slacker chronicles a day in the life of Austin, showcasing the city's famed weirdness.
Paris Texas was filmed on location in and around Houston, and is one of the more realistic depictions of this trope.
Inverted in the following: Sign in a restaurant in Anchorage: Pie - $1 per slice Texas-sized piece - 50 cents
Played straight with this one: A blind man gets on a plane headed to the heart of Texas. He is escorted to his seat, sits down, and comments that the seats are much bigger than what he's used to. The man next to him responds: "Everything is bigger in Texas". He gets off the plane, checks in to his hotel, and then heads to the bar and orders a beer. He tries to pick it up and remarks how heavy it is. A woman sitting next to him responds: "Everything is bigger in Texas!" He enjoys his drink and has a bite to eat, but nature calls. He asks the bartender where the restroom is and the bartender informs him that it's the second door on the right. However, being a blind man, when he heads over to the restroom, he accidentally walks into the third door on the right, labelled "Pool". He walks in and falls face-first into the water, while exclaiming the whole time "Don't Flush! Don't Flush!"
Older than Television: Bram Stoker's cattle baron Quincey Morris in Dracula is a wealthy Southern Gentleman with a similar personality to the modern oil baron.note Quincey and his Texas descendants show up in other vampire-killing media surprisingly frequently. The Castlevania series is one particular example.
Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now has a subplot about a railroad being built in Texas, which, to the primary cast of English aristocrats, might as well be on the surface of the moon. As entrepreneur Paul Montague puts it (in the TV miniseries, at least): "Parties in Texas usually descend into fisticuffs and gunplay." There's also the evil Texan woman Mrs. Hurtle, and Funny Foreigner Hamilton K. Fisker.
H. Beam Piper's Lone Star Planet, the title planet (Capella IV, also known as New Texas) has named every single one of its life-forms super-something (e.g. supercow, superyams that give superbourbon…). As a result of its inhabitants attempting to create an entire world out of Texan stereotypes, they've lovingly imported and reassembled the Alamo, they wear spurs at all times, and trials for killing a politician boil down to not "did Cowboy Name kill the politician" but "we know Cowboy Name killed the politician, now let's discuss whether the politician had it coming or not".
David Weber's "The Shadow of Saganami" in the Honorverse has Montana, which deliberately styles everything after what they imagined Earth's Texas to be. They also freely acknowledge that some things are inaccurate, but they cheerfully implement everything in Montana as the way things * should* have been in Texas.
For Texas and Zed
The Ayes of Texas and it's sequels in which Texas becomes an independent nation.
Live Action TV
One of the many pilots who passed through the Stalag 13 underground was a large and enthusiastic Texan. He wore a cowboy hat (yes, while flying his plane), used many Texan colloquialisms and was very amused by meeting actual foreigners such as the British Newkirk and French LeBeau.
Gordon Bullit in the fourth season of The O.C. is a walking, talking Texan stereotype.
An episode of Bones was set on the Texas/Oklahoma border where a body was found. A pair of troopers from their respective states take potshots at each other while Bones takes a look at the corpse:
Bones: "It looks like she carried a half-full canteen..."
OK Ranger: "Definitely from Texas..."
An episode of M*A*S*H has Col. Potter quickly and accurately deduce that a patient is from Texas because said patient, though unable to speak, offered his hand up for a handshake.
The Good Guys was set in Dallas, and they portray it as pretty diverse culture- and accent-wise (both the good and bad guys).
Friday Night Lights is set in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas. While the show focuses on high school football (and its all-important status in the small town), it also covers issues prevalent in Texas and the nation at large; race relations, extreme poverty, pregnancy, religion, alcoholism, parental abuse and other issues surface with regularity.
Of course, that particular PWRG (the Jaffa Old Master Bra'tac) referred to everyone as "X of Place of Origin": he called Colonel O'Neill "O'Neill of Minnesota" on at least one occasion.
Both averted and played straight in Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon himself is from the Gulf coast of Texas and is about as non-stereotypical a Texan as you can imagine (his Texas-sized ego notwithstanding). However, he seems to hold most Texans in disdain for being examples of the trope.
Sheldon tries to invoke this trope in one episode when his friends prank him, saying Texans know how to get revenge. It fails.
After disarming a trap set by Sheldon and rearming it against him:
Leonard (to Sheldon): You might be from Texas, but I'm from New Jersey.
When Sheldon gets drunk on Long Island iced tea and decides to fight Wil Wheaton for insulting Amy, he starts speaking like a stereotypical Texan.
Sheldon: Penny, please. I think I've evolved beyond my simple, rustic upbringing... On the other hand, that low-down polecat done wronged my woman. Penny: Welcome to Long Island, Tex.
Sheldon has also shown he has an extensive knowledge of football, despite not actually being interested in it.
Heroes has the evil front for Primatech Paper here in Volume 1, though it becomes less significant when the Bennetts move to California in Volume 2.
GCB is set in Texas, and is about as stereotypical as it can get.
Meg Austin in the first season of JAG fits the many Texan stereotypes.
Averted in Wishbone. Oakdale, Texas (the show's setting) is portrayed as a fairly generic Everytown, America. This is probably because the show was actually written and filmed in Texas, specifically in a suburb of Dallas.
The TV series Dallas was a more realistic depiction of this trope, with the focus largely on the Ewing family and its machinations.
Elite Beat Agents has a stage where "Colonel" Bob, a goofy Texas oil tycoon, has to look for a new source of "Texas tea" before his gold-digging wife will let him come home.
Battle Fantasia Takes place in a fantasy world with your typical western European fantasy kingdom, a steampunk Dwarf kingdom, Magic talkin rabbits... and a masked gunslinger from Texas... Right.
The Engineer Comes from Bee Cave, Texas. While he has the typical southern drawl and has a lot of wild west themed unlocks, he's also probably the smartest member of the team.
It's worth noting that Bee Cave is one of the wealthier suburbs of Austin and not well known for its cowboys.
The comic Torio had Jimmy Benson, a perpetually-grinning, belt-buckle-flaunting Texan who even spoke in bigger letters than the rest of the cast (compared to Crispin, who had trouble maintaining capital letters). He was based on a couple of Texan roommates the author had, neither of whom would ever shut up about how awesome Texas was.
Peejee is actually from Canada/Singapore, and Peejee and Davan now live in Texas.
Rooster Teeth, the creators of Red vs. Blue, primarily consist of Texans. In fact, the main, if not top badass is also from Texas. And her Freelancer nickname is Agent Tex/as. Her real name is Allison. RT's webcomics lampshade this frequently, with one instance of them blindfolding themselves and drinking different beers, to see if they could tell the difference between Budweiser and Lonestar. Two of the three couldn't.
Skippy's List, Rule #47: I am not a citizen of Texas, and those other, forty-nine, lesser states.
504. If the party is to frequently meet with Queen Victoria, I cannot play a Texan.
870. I will not use my vast personal knowledge of Dublin, Texas to get an unfair advantage in the campaign.
973. Shotguns are not a traditional part of Texas funerals.
1008. Texans do not get revolvers as a racial weapon proficiency.
About one half of SOTF-TV's characters (the other half being from a Sucky School in Detroit) are from a wealthy private school in Bryan, Texas. While the stereotype hasn't come up as much as you'd expect, it has received Lampshade Hanging both in and out of character.
The Affably Evil oil tycoon in The Simpsons acts as a stereotypical rich Texan, complete with the accent, white cowboy boots, and white ten-gallon hat. He's also very trigger-happy with his double pistols.
King of the Hill dips in and out of this stereotype with every other episode, sometimes portraying Texas and Texans more realistically and other times portraying them as naive, conservative throwbacks who only care about hunting, beer and football. The landscape of Texas in the show also seems to include nothing but suburbia, desert and empty fields. Given that Mike Judge is actually a Texan, and has portrayed a much less stereotypical Texas in Beavis and Butt-Head and Office Space (yes, both of those took place in Texas), this is more a case of Affectionate Parody. In addition, the Hills live in the suburbs of a somewhat small town, which generally are much closer to the stereotyped depictions seen in the show than the big cities like Dallas and Houston are.
One episode had Hank pandering to a visiting New England investor to use Strickland as its propane supplier. The investor expected this trope and kept pestering Hank about cowboy hats and boots and used words like "russlin'" and "twisters". The investor eventually went with Strickland's competitor Thatherton because he acted the stereotype.
Meanwhile Peggy has been known to refer to "the Republic of Texas." (Texas actually was an independent republic for a number of years between declaring its independence from Mexico and being annexed by the US, the latter at its request. The stereotypical Texan will never quite have reconciled him/herself to said loss of independence.)
On Garfield and Friends, Garfield and his friends would often visit "Polecat Flats", a dude ranch set in Texas which was portrayed as a barren desert complete with cacti, coyotes and cattle. This is because it's set in west Texas.
The Busy World Of Richard Scarry, featured a parody of Hans Brinker (the story by an American writer about a Dutch boy who plugged a hole in the dike with his finger). There was a fat tourist from Texas waltzing about, taking pictures of windmills and tulips, while making comments about how everything was bigger in Texas. When the hole in the dike turned out to be too big to be filled with just Hans' finger, he and his friends save the day by stuffing said tourist into the hole.
In Rocky and Bullwinkle, One of the Fractured Fairy Tale Shorts once did a variation of the Tom Thumb story, where after living with his giant parents for so long the titular characters went off to find his fortune, only to find out that everyone else was his size; he wasn't very small, his parents were huge because they were from Texas.
In The Flintstones, Fred has several relatives (most notably his wealthy Uncle Tex) from its prehistoric counterpart of "Texarock" (though the name was interchangeably used with "Texas").
Similar to the Rich Texan, Doug Dimmadome, a part time Corrupt Corporate Executive that owns a good deal of Dimmsdale, has an "odd southern drawl", and wears cowboy gear with a coyboy hat that occasionally is so big that it goes past the top of the screen, no matter how far a shot he's in.
In another episode, the fairies decide to settle a matter with "a butt kicking, rip snorting, Texas cage match!"
Clay from Xiaolin Showdown comes from Texas. He always wears a cowboy hat, uses down home country sayings, Wouldn't Hit a Girl, and is the largest of the group. Whenever Texas is seen, it's all desert, with Clay's dad owning a beef ranch. Even the Shen Gong Wu found there, the Star Hinabi, is known as the Lone Star until it's discovered and is marked as Texan.
Also subverted on several occasions with the same character. Clay uses Tai Chi as his fighting style, is of at least average intelligence (and on a number of occasions is hinted at being a Genius Bruiser knowledgeable in a number of esoteric fields), and is insulted by the idea that because he speaks with a Texas accent it automatically marks him as dumb.
An episode of DuckTales had Scrooge going to Texas because of his city's depleted oil supply. You expect everything in Texas, oil businessmen, cowboys etc.
Just to emphasize: the setting is the planet of New Texas. Doesn't get much bigger than that.
The ending of one Johnny Bravo episode had Johnny and his mom, failing to win a trip to Paris, France, visiting Paris, Texas instead. Naturally, the portrayal is a mash-up of every Deep South and wild west stereotype ever, bearing almost no resemblance to the actual town. They did not, however, make up the Eiffel Tower with the cowboy hat - that actually exists◊.
Subverted by Motorcity, which has a character named "Texas". The closest he gets to being a Texas stereotype is he's built like a football player, and a little brash.
Late Cretaceous Texas was home to Alamosaurus, the largest dinosaur in North America and one of the largest dinosaurs of its time. Add in Deinosuchus, a fifty foot monstrous crocodilian, one of the largest ever to exist. Them there's Quetzalcoatlus, a Giant Flyer pterosaur the size of a frickin giraffe! For a long time, it was thought to be the largest flying animal ever to live. But then cameHatzegopteryx...
If you ever go to Cave of the Winds in Colorado and are from Texas, you will get confronted with this stereotype. At one point in the tour, they'll stop at a particular formation and ask the group if anyone's from Texas. If you raise your hand, they say "This shows you that not everything's bigger in Texas!", leaving you with some form of confusion or annoyance.
Isn't that the one where they make Texans throw their business cards in a pit?
The new football stadium for the Dallas Cowboys is one of, if not the, largest in the world, complete an absolutely enormous TV screen suspended above it. Needless to say, some people get the impression of this trope when watching a game situated here.
And an enormous retractable roof. People balked (rightly so) at the extravagance, but when Dallas ended up hosting the 2011 Super Bowl, the state was hit with a freak snowstorm, and the roof proved quite useful (not that the Green Bay Packersnote AKA That Team Whose Stadium Is Literally Called "The Frozen Tundra" and PittsburghSteelers would have noticed much).
In the college game, Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, where the Longhorns play, is also the epitome of this trope. The stadium holds more than 100,000 fans (but it's not even the biggest stadium; that one belongs to Michigan). DKR is home to the largest video screen in college football, popularly nicknamed "Godzillatron."
And at least a few Texans aren't going to find that sign much to comment on. I mean, it's only 857 miles.
Texas' highway system. Where to begin...
Many of Texas' highways are quite large, with ten lanes not uncommon, and many older highways are currently being expanded. Many freeways also have long frontage roads, contributing to their width.
Interstate 10. Period. The section of I-10 inside Texas, 878 miles long, is longer than the individual sections of I-10 either east or west of the state, and also the longest highway under a single authority (Texas DoT) on the continent. Additionally, west of Houston on I-10 is the Katy Freeway, one of the widest roads in the world with 26 lanes at its widest point (including frontage roads, exit lanes, the mainline general purpose lanes, and HOV lanes).
Texas is known among road-geeks for having many "four-level stack" interchanges (interchanges with direct high-speed ramps forming four levels of roadways), typically a very large type of interchange. Texas also has its own design, the five-level "Texas-style stack", which incorporates frontage roads meeting at-grade for its fifth level. The Dallas High-Five is a good example.
State Highway 130 has the highest speed limit in the United States at 85 mph (137 kph). For comparison, the only higher posted speed limits are 140 kph in several European countries, and, of course, Germany, which has no speed limits on stretches of its Autobahn system.
Until it lost its funding in 1993, Waxahachie, Texas was the planned home for the Superconducting Super Collider. If they'd finished it, it would have been the biggest particle accelerator in the world, dwarfing the modern Large Hadron Collider by a wide margin.
Rick Perry, former 2012 Republican candidate for President, takes this trope to Proud Warrior Race Guy levels.
George W. Bush and his father George HW Bush are not from Texas, but have lived most of their lives there. Junior was born in Connecticut, but grew up in and became two-term governor of Texas, with the accent to boot.
El Paso, TX is closer to the west coast of California than it is to Orange, TX. Orange is closer to the east coast of Florida than it is to El Paso.
In two notable subversions, Texas is surpassed by California in population, and Alaska in sheer size.
Porn Star Alexis Texas is a native of the state, and is noted for having one of the broadest backsides in the industry.
Four ships of the United States Navy have been named for the state of Texas. Two battleships (including a pre-dreadnought battleship that served in the Spanish-American War and a Dreadnought battleship that served in World War I and World War II), a Guided Missile Cruiser, and a Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarine.
The second battleship is on display as a floating museum in Houston. The first was decomissioned and sunk in shallow water in 1911, with the exposed hulk being used as a naval gunnery target until the 1950's, when it was deemed a hazard to navigation and broken up with explosives.