The All-American Boy

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"Grantville, West Virginia was the mold that produced Jeff Higgins. All things said and done, it was as good a mold as any and a better one than most."
1632

This species has seldom been seen in recent decades, and naturalists have put it on the endangered species list. The All-American boy is male, almost always white, typically blond-haired and blue-eyed; sometimes he'll also have buckteeth and Youthful Freckles. He is marked by his love of baseball, by having a skill with rural machinery and hunting firearms beyond his years, and his propensity to emit sounds like "Jeepers!" and "Gee Whiz!". The All-American boy usually dwells in Everytown, America in the heart of Eagleland within which he is as free as the air, pedaling everywhere on his bicycle or spending hours having innocent fun in his treehouse. He is naive but charming and always polite (the worst he dishes out is "You shut up!"), and he treats his parents (who most likely are a Standard '50s Father and a House Wife) and other elders with respect. He is probably a Boy Scout (or a Cub Scout if still in elementary school). If he has a sibling, it will be an older brother to idolize or a little sister to protect — perhaps both.

There are variants of this trope. The geeky variant is similarly characterized by ingenuity, self-reliance, and wholesomeness, but he applies his interest to at-home science experiments and the like, and wears Nerd Glasses. The high-school variety wears a letterman's sweater, plays football or baseball, and spends his off hours using his mechanical skills to restore an old car. You might have a "wilder" boy with a mischievous streak in him, but he'll grow out of it eventually and become the fine, upstanding man his parents raised him to be.

An All-American boy often gets a job as a Kid Detective. If he joins the military when he grows up he will almost inevitably become a Southern-Fried Private. He may want to see more of the world and venture into The City, but expect him to return to his hometown, disillusioned with the citygoers' air of cynicism and greed. Your All-American Boy will almost certainly marry his high school sweetheart, and then settle down to raise a family, with at least one son just like him.

The closest Distaff Counterpart would probably be Girl Next Door. Likely grows up to be the All-American Face.


Examples

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     Advertising 
  • Used in some commercials for Smuckers jams and jellies. Typically feature young boys (apparently the guys who would later found the company) on bicycles riding through orchards and playing together during The '50s (or thereabouts).
  • Ditto for the Blue Bell Ice Cream commercials, especially the radio variety.

    Art 
  • Norman Rockwell depicted many variations of him in his paintings, notably "A Day in the Life of a Boy," illustrations for the Boy Scouts of America, the Willie Gillis series, his illustrations for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn... Really, it's probably easier to list his paintings that don't have this character.

    Comics 
  • Steve Rogers (aka Captain America): In one way he pretty much fits the general personality of this trope, although he was a terrible athlete as a child, in large part due to his Geek Physique. After he got the Super-Soldier Serum, he was able to embody the trope even more. By contrast his childhood is the exact opposite as the child of Irish immigrants growing up in the slums of NYC during the Great Depression. Steve's complex like that.
  • Archie Andrews of Archie Comics, especially in The '50s and The '60s.
  • Clark Kent is often this in stories about him growing up in his hometown Smallville.

     Fanfiction 

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: the two eponymous boys are good fits for this trope, but the world they exist in is far less idyllic than the Eagleland they might expect to appear in. The Deliberate Values Dissonance is sobering in terms of the racism and casual violence the two boys come across. Tom Sawyer in particular is dedicated to whimsical pranks regardless of the people that get caught up in them.
  • The Hardy Boys.
  • A pair of Kid Detectives in The Crow and the Castle by Keith Robinson.
  • Jeff and the "four horsemen" in 1632, who lean more toward the geeky variant in this case.
  • Some of Robert A. Heinlein's works are this Recycled In Space.
  • Henry Huggins, from the book series of the same name, was one of the earliest characters embodying this trope.
  • Galen Waylock in War of the Dreaming is an example, with the slight variation that he is a warlock trained to follow in the family Ancient Tradition of guarding humanity.
  • Billy Coleman in Where the Red Fern Grows.
  • Jem Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. He's itching to join the school football team, receives a gun for Christmas, and hides up in his treehouse from time to time when not carousing around the streets with his younger sister and neighbor.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, from Leave It to Beaver.
  • Opie Taylor and his pals on The Andy Griffith Show.
  • Cory Matthews of Boy Meets World is a modern example. He begins by caring about more baseball than anything and seeing his father as Superman. Since the show follows him from grade school to college, it gradually shifts from playing the trope straight to deconstructing it at times.
  • Joey Newton in Fury

    Newspaper Comics 

    Radio 
  • Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy.

    Theater 
  • Biff in Death of a Salesman is this as a kid. As he grows up, not so much.
  • Bye Bye Birdie: The number "A Healthy, Normal American Boy" describes Conrad Birdie as this in a series of Blatant Lies.
  • Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees is presented as the model of this, complete with a fictional Hannibal, Missouri upbringing. Few people know that Deal with the Devil is what really made him a baseball star.

    Video Games 
  • Ninten from Earthbound Beginnings and Ness from EarthBound, both of whom are bat-wielding, cap-wearing Everyman boys from a small town.
  • Mike Jones, teenaged ace pitcher from Startropics. His All-American-ness—contrasted with and found strange by the natives of the islands he's visiting—is a large part of the game's humor and tone.
  • Team Fortress 2's Scout seems to be a somewhat Darker and Edgier, "grown-up" parody of this trope. Even in his mid-twenties, he clearly hasn't matured at all. He's a rough-and-tumble, mischievous baseball fan from Boston in the 60's with a habit of calling others "chuckleheads" and the like, and carries around a baseball bat... which he uses to bash others' head in. Hot dog!
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order's Private Wyatt tends towards this. He's young, idealistic, and almost never swears, even in combat. If he survives the first encounter with Deathshead, his partner in the resistance is a similarly young Rock'n'Roll enthusiast.
  • The hero of Secret of Evermore is a modern variant who enjoys spending afternoons at the movies (especially schlocky B-movies) and playing with his faithful dog.

    Western Animation 
  • According to Word of God, Rocky of Rocky and Bullwinkle is an All-American Boy in squirrel form.
  • Hank and Dean Venture of The Venture Bros., at least initially.
  • Davey Hansen in Davey and Goliath.
  • Orel Puppington of Moral Orel is a Deconstruction of this; it's specifically a parody of Davey and Goliath
  • Ralphie Tennelli from The Magic School Bus.
  • Hank Hill of King of the Hill thinks Bobby should be one. Bobby's knack for marksmanship and attending meetings of the Order of the Straight Arrow means he fulfills it from time to time.
  • Augie Doggie is a parody of this.
  • In the Teen Titans Go! episode "Hey You, Don't Forget About Me In Your Memory," Robin is fixated on being the All-American Boy while making sure the rest of the Titans stick to their labels. He ends up failing every aspect of it and realizes he's meant to be the bully.

    Real Life 
  • Institutionally invoked by the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Boys' Life magazine is marketed to this demographic, which makes sense as it's published by the aforementioned Boy Scouts.

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