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Characters / High Plains Drifter

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Characters in High Plains Drifter.

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    The Stranger 

The Stranger/ Marshal Jim Duncan
Played By: Clint Eastwood

The main protagonist of the movie. No one knows who he is but can guess why he is here till they are blue in the mouth. He has no trouble turning the townsfolk against each other to achieve his revenge.

  • A Lighter Shade of Black: The Drifter is an awful-awful person but has some redeeming qualities vs. the town of hypocrites as well as murderers.
  • Anti-Hero: A well-meant guy who takes pity on the oppressed. He also bullies the cowardly townsfolk, and rapes a woman who was rude to him when he could have just ignored her.
  • Ambiguously Human: The movie doesn't make it clear as to exactly what he is.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has much of the usual Eastwood wit, with a darker Black Comedy edge to it.
  • Evil Is Petty: A huge number of his actions are motivated by making the lives of townsfolk miserable in small but inconvenient ways.
  • Ironic Hell: Throughout the entire movie, key characters are punished in ways similar to their own crimes. It even goes as far as turning the town into hell. There was a goldmine in Lago that the US government didn't know about. The marshal was gonna rat the town out, but got whipped to death by the Big Bad and his henchmen, hired by the townspeople. The townspeople were punished by having all their resources wasted by The Stranger taking advantage of the offer given to him of having anything he wanted. This in turn turned the townspeople against one another. The Big Bad's gang was punished by the Stranger himself: the first guy got whipped to death, while the second was hanged, saving the Big Bad for last.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: He might be an avenging angel, a demon, a ghost or an otherworldly being sent to mete out divine punishment. He might also just be a lucky and clever drifter with a particular moral code.
  • No Name Given: Though it is hinted at the end, he never really gave out his name.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: It has been hinted that He is the ghost of the dead marshal. If he is a ghost, he has a solid enough physical body to attack people, but is immune to gunfire.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Pretty much his MO. The townsfolk don't realize he views them all as irredeemable.
  • Troll: Essentially ninety percent of his actions in the movie are motivated by his desire to screw with the tonwsfolk.
  • Villain Protagonist: Inbetween this and Antihero in that he has no positive motivations. It's all about vengeance against the town and self-gratification.
  • Who Are You?: Though only the Big Bad says it out loud, practically all of the townspeople (and to an extent the audience) find themselves baffled as to his identity.


Played By: Billy Curtis

  • The Atoner: He doesn't know it at first, but he's making up for not having the guts to save the Marshal.
  • Badass Normal: A dwarf, all he's ever done in his life was wash laundry and run hot baths for people. But make him sheriff/mayor and put a gun in his hand, and he will save your life in the end as he did The Stranger.
  • Nice Guy: One of the only few people aside from Sarah who are clearly good.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: The Stranger and Mordecai fit this trope respectively.
    The Stranger: What took her this long to get mad?
    Mordecai: Maybe because she wanted more.
  • Undying Loyalty: Despite most of Lago being scared of The Stranger, Mordecai is the only one to be willing to help him out without showing some fear. It could be his attempt to atone for not helping the marshal out when he was being whipped to death. Plus he is the only one who knew The Stranger's true identity in the end.