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A Traveling Salesman is an older character type that sometimes overlaps with the Snake Oil Salesman
. Typically, the traveling salesman is well-dressed and has some aspects of the Intrepid Merchant
to his character, or he may be more of an Honest John-type
As the numerous jokes linking his type to the Farmer's Daughter
suggest, he might be a somewhat lecherous character, because being always on the move isn't conducive to carrying on lasting relationships.
A British term for the profession is a "busman", and this is the origin of the term Busman's Holiday
. Not to be confused with Travelling Salesman Montage
- Door to Door was a Made-for-TV Movie starring William H. Macy as a traveling salesman with cerebral palsy.
- Todd Woods in Duets is a traveling salesman who gives up his current life to compete in a cross-country karaoke competition.
- In Walk the Line, Johnny Cash is shown working as a door-to-door salesman before he made it big in music. He wasn't very good at it.
- In a deleted scene, he and another salesman from the same company worked the same street. Johnny got nothing but doors slammed in his face, while his friend made several sales. He gave Johnny a couple of his commissions and told him he was the worst salesman he'd ever seen.
- The Maysles brothers' 1969 documentary Salesman follows a group of salesmen peddling expensive Bibles door-to-door.
- Besides the more famous Lord Peter Wimsey, Dorothy L. Sayers also wrote some stories about Montague Egg, a traveling wine salesman who played detective.
- The first book in The Great Brain series had a story about a Jewish travelling peddler who decided to settle down and open a store in Adenville; he died of starvation because business was so slow. Because he was the only Jew around, he didn't have anyone to look out for him or check up on him or anything.
- In Stephen King's The Dead Zone, politican Greg Stillson used to be one in his youth, selling Bibles and books about a Communist-Jewish conspiracy against America. And indeed, once he made it with a Farmer's Daughter.
- Al Phee in Spider Robinson's "Did You Hear The One About..." was a con artist posing as an "Intergalactic Travelling Salesman", until he's taken down by a Farmer's Daughter. Specifically time cop Josie Bauer, the daughter of Philip Jose Farmer.
- A Fantasy Attraction has a gargoyle going door-to-door selling insurance. And you thought insurance salesmen couldn't get any worse...
- In Blondie, Dagwood had to deal with traveling salesmen as recently as the 1980s.
- Harold Hill of The Music Man is a Snake Oil Salesman who fits the lecherous part of the trope (until he becomes a Lady Killer In Love). Other traveling salesmen (including the villain, the anvil-toting Charlie Cowell) hate Harold for giving their profession a bad name, because when they visit towns Hill has just left, the populace generally assume they are con artists as well and give them a less than welcoming reception (read: tar and feather them).
- Ali Hakim, the peddler in Oklahoma!.
- Paris in The Golden Apple travels by balloon. Oddly enough, he's a silent type.
- Willy Loman, the eponymous character of Death of a Salesman.
- The Rose Tattoo has a straw-hatted salesman who pays a call to Serafina, trying to sell novelties. He's also a Jerk Ass to Alvaro.
- Daffy Duck played one of these in several Looney Tunes shorts, including "Along Came Daffy", "The Stupor Salesman", "Daffy Dilly", "Fool Coverage", "Design for Leaving", and "The High and the Flighty".
- The Flim Flam Brothers from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. In their first appearance in "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" they compete with the Apples for the local cider business, pitting their eponymous high-tech cider press against the Apple Family's old-fashioned methods. In "Leap of Faith", they return as snake-oil salesponies hawking a "curative tonic" that turns out to be a placebo made from apple juice and beet leaves. Oddly enough, rather than wandering from town to town they tend to stick around for as long as they can exploit the locals; they originally planned to take over Sweet Apple Acres in their first appearance!
- Ducktales had Filler Brushbill, who was a super-duper salesman. His valise had items that anyone he ran across would want, or that he would need as well. He knew how to sell to others enough to be The Dreaded (Scrooge McDuck himself got sold a lot of useless junk by Filler, with the promise of a lifetime guarantee.)