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Meek Townsman
An inhabitant of an Adventure Town who isn't too keen on that "adventure" bit.

The Meek Townsman lives in a village or town that has a certain amount of danger associated with it, but wants nothing to do with that danger. He (and it's almost always a "he", due to gender stereotypes) will be among the first to demand that The Sheriff or U.S. Marshal do something about an Outlaw or renegade natives threatening the town, but will be among the last to actually offer to help fight the threat. In the worst cases, you can almost see the yellow streak up his back. Meek townsmen are often seen as "Sheep" or "Lambs" when they're Dying Like Animals.

By contrast to the standard Western protagonist, the Meek Townsman is usually a bit short, skinny and has a tendency to wear glasses. Typical occupations for the character include Clerk and the Shop Keeper, but can be any non-combat position up to and including the mayor. This character may be a Henpecked Husband as well.

The Meek Townsman may remain a cowardly bystander for the entire story, but is often forced to rise to the occasion and can be surprisingly effective, especially if the hero spent some time Training the Peaceful Villagers. Sometimes, the Meek Townsman will turn out to be a Retired Gunfighter or other Retired Badass. If there's an unusual focus on the character, with pointed reference to him never carrying a gun or having renounced violence, or he's played by an actor who's "above" a meek townsman role, this subtrope might be in effect.

In comedic works, a Meek Townsman might himself be appointed The Sheriff or otherwise forced by the town to deal with impending danger. After all, he's too spineless to turn down the job!


Examples:

  • Most of the male characters in High Noon, to the point where you wonder why the town marshal bothered protecting the town in the first place.
  • Blazing Saddles: Just about everyone in Rock Ridge, though ironically they prove to be armed to the teeth when approached by a friendly black man who wants to help them.
  • An episode in the '90s The Untouchables series, in which the Untouchables and some of Capone's men go to Kansas, and the mayor is the Meek Townsman. He makes a speech, talking as if he's saying something noble, but he's telling his townspeople not to help Eliot Ness and co. fight the gangsters —"live to farm another day. To father, another day."
  • Vash, of Trigun, tries to play this trope a time or two. Trouble always seems to find him and he ends up leaving town to take on the adventure again.
  • Cowboys and Aliens: Doc, the bartender.

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