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Lucky Luke is a Franco-Belgian School Western comic created in 1946 by graphic artist Morris, who at first did both art and writing. It began as a semi-serious comic with a rugged cowboy hero, lots of gunplay and occasional almost-onscreen deaths. Then, from 1955 to 1977, the writing was taken over by Astérix creator René Goscinny and the comic turned into an unabashed Affectionate Parody of the whole western genre. Around the same time, the authors dropped all pretense of portraying the protagonist as a realistic cowboy and turned him into a Drifter/Gunslinger type whose fame and skill often made him the US Government's last resort when it came to particularly tricky situations (much to his annoyance).

To know about the people and tropes Lucky Luke meets in his adventures, go to the Western Characters page and start from the top. Seriously, they're all there, gleefully parodied and occasionally played straight. But, while those make for the generic background crowds, one of the main points of the series is the number of historical characters Luke regularly meets and who most of the time take center stage in the story. Over the years they have included Judge Roy Bean (who owns a bar and acts as self-appointed "judge", complete with fake court proceedings, to extort money from locals... and turns out to be harmless, helping Luke against the actual Big Bad), Billy the Kid (portrayed as an actual, annoying Bratty Half-Pint whose defeat consists of a good spanking), Jesse James's gang (with Jesse parodied as a delusional Robin Hood fan and Frank as a Shakespeare-quoting pseudo-intellectual), Calamity Jane (with whom Lucky Luke developed a very sweet platonic relationship), Mark Twain, and Wyatt Earp, among others.

The most iconic characters of the series, though, weren't historical characters but the fictional cousins of historical characters. After Morris had Luke fight the real Dalton Brothers and showed their death on the page, Goscinny found this way to bring back a similar group of baddies, since the original Daltons' regularly descending sizes and identical ugly mugs made for lots of fun potential — and did it work. At first, the Dalton cousins were hopeless bandit wannabes impressed by the fame of their relatives, but they quickly became feared outlaws in their own right in-story, while in the real world (in France and Belgium anyway) they completely outshone their real-world counterparts.

Lucky Luke also gave us Rantanplan ("Rin Tin Can" in some English translations; "Bushwhack" in English dubbed 1980s animated series), a Rin Tin Tin parody and the stupidest dog in the world. With the hero's extra-smart horse Jolly Jumper, that's about it for the recurring characters, since Lucky Luke's wanderings took him to a different place each time. However, many character archetypes (the mayor, the sheriff, the undertaker, the saloon owner, the Chinese launderer...) are so similar from a town to another that they practically function as recurring characters and walking running gags.

After Goscinny's death, lots of writers took over penning the stories, with very irregular results. Now Morris has passed away too, Achdé is in charge of the art, restricting himself to strict Morris imitation because his style was so particular. French comedian Laurent Gerra was for a while in charge of the storyline, with at-best-lukewarm results; however the early reactions seems to be more positive to the latest album, scripted by novelists Daniel Pennac and script-writer/novelist Tonino Benacquista (co-writer of The Beat That My Heart Skipped, among others), so whether or not the series has become a bit of a Franchise Zombie at this point is open to question. As it has been so successful for over fifty years, it has also known several Animated Adaptations, both with stories directly adapted from the comics and with original stories. The best and most well known are Lucky Luke Daisy Town (1971) and La Ballade des Dalton (1978) which were made by the same animation studio that directed The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976) and thus share a similar comedic style. It also helped that René Goscinny wrote the script.

There were also three Live-Action Adaptation films: one starring Terence Hill (which spawned a series, too), another one centered on the Dalton brothers starring French humorist duo Eric Judor & Ramzy Bédia, and one starring Jean Dujardin.

English translations were fairly rare and obscure, but thankfully British-based publishing firm Cinebook has to date published about 40 albums, with even more translations on the way. An English version of the animated series from 1983 exists, but was never shown in the United States, despite being co-produced by Hanna-Barbera (although a direct-to-video compilation of the first two episodes was released on VHS in the late 1990s).

Can be read here.


The Lucky Luke comics provide examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Lucky Luke is good at what he does. Very much so. It is said that he can draw faster than his shadow. A lot of the later Goscinny/Morris albums (especially those following the Daltons), tend to focus more on the villains trying to top Lucky Luke than Luke himself saving the day. Many of the movies also do this. There are a few cases where Luke is shown to be inept at something (he is paralysed by stage fright when he needs to act in a play and causes a huge mess when trying to pass himself as a Chinese in one Animated Adaptation) but they are few and far between.
    • Jolly Jumper is a horse Ace.
  • Adults Dressed as Children
    • The Daltons, more than once.
    • Happens to Luke as well in an early album after he becomes a victim of Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen. It causes him to be made fun of by an entire town.
  • Adventure Towns: The Wild West is naturally full of those: Roy Bean keeping up the law west of the Pecos in his town with his tamed bear, a town torn by the feud of the two largest families, Billy the Kid's hometown living in terror and much more.
  • Affectionate Parody: The comic strip is a parody of the western genre, including all the clichés and tropes.
  • Alliterative Name: Lucky Luke & Jolly Jumper.
  • Alliterative Title: Lucky Luke.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: "La terre promise" is about Luke escorting a family of them, the narrative explains that, being 1869, Jews are already kind of rare in America so they are pretty much the only Jews Luke has heard of.
    Luke: How can you recognize a Jew.
    Passerby: It's like an American but more pessimist.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: In one album, Luke comes across an alienist arrived from Austria to study the psychology of Western outlaws. His methods parody those of the Freudian school, even though Freud's own pioneering work is still some years in the future. Referenced in the last page: a panicked nurse comes running out of a baby's room yelling, "Mrs. Freud! Little Siggy just tried to—!
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Lucky Luke undermines Billy the Kid's fearsome image by setting himself up as an even worse crook.
  • Amnesiacs Are Innocent: The Daltons try to fake this after a real one is released from prison.
  • Anachronism Stew: The comic cherry-picks historical characters from around 1850 to the early 1900s while Luke of course never seems to grow older. Like in Astérix, the comic often draws a lot of humor from using anachronisms on purpose and by making references to events that have not yet past during the time period the comic is set in.
    • Strangely, The American Civil War is almost totally absent from the stories.note 
    • The adult Lucky Luke meets (and helps out) the Earp brothers in the album O.K. Corral, while in Oklahoma Jim a much younger Lucky Luke cites Wyatt Earp as an example of a sheriff who has been shot...
    • In Lucky Luke vs. Pinkerton, Abraham Lincoln, traveling to his inauguration at the time of the Baltimore plot, refers to having met Lucky Luke in The Singing Wire...but in the Singing Wire, Lincoln is already president and living in the White House.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: When Luke briefly believes the Daltons to be dead, he has a moment of this. He even admits how strange this is, given that there is little love lost between him and the Daltons.
  • Anti-Nepotism: The 20th Cavalry Regiment is headed by a colonel whose son is also in the regiment, and is punished for just about every single thing he says by the colonel to avoid any accusations of nepotism (according to the son it was by pure coincidence that the Cavalry assigned him to his father regiment). The son finally snaps back at the colonel, who is stunned that his son is finally a man. Of course, old habits are hard to break, and at the end of the story, the son is punished for speaking out of turn (that is, saying "Goodbye, Luke" without asking Permission to Speak Freely).
  • Art Evolution: And how; over the years Lucky Luke went from looking like this to his current apperance (the image on top of this page)
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Averted. Jolly Jumper is semi-frequently shown drinking beer. However, contrary to most people's intuition, beer is a perfectly harmless and fairly healthy treat for a horse. In fact, adding beer to water is a fairly common way to ensure that a dehydrated horse drinks.
    • Jolly Jumper tends to get plenty of excuses due to being just that awesome. Rantanplan gets a few thanks to general weirdness.
  • Automaton Horses: Jolly Jumper. Zigzagged — Jolly gallops faster than his own shadow, for days if need be, but also enjoys baths and such, and complains about exhaustion or discomfort at times.
  • Badass Longcoat: Worn by the title character in The Bounty Hunter.
  • Badass Mustache: The Dalton Brothers.
  • Bail Equals Freedom: In Belle Starr the titular character goes around posting bail for various criminals in exchange for working for her. Since she's bought off the local judge, his brother (who runs the only long-distance communication service) and the priest, she can continue unhindered.
  • Ballistic Discount: The usual way for the Daltons to get weapons after a prison break. One travelling gun salesman even Lampshades how hard it is to make any money because all his customers keep robbing him.
  • Bandit Clan: The Daltons.
  • Bar Brawl: There's always one going on.
    • One of the more amusing examples is a saloon pianist complaining to Luke that he wanted to play classical music in a concert hall. He gets his chance to do so, and is seized by Stage Fright due to the unfamiliar environment and high-class audience. Luke, seeing this, rides through the concert hall on horseback while Firing in the Air a Lot, which immediately starts a fight ("Hooray, a brawl!" "George! Have you gone mad?"). The pianist then starts playing, being in the right atmosphere again.
  • Battle Butler: In "the Tenderfoot", the butler of the tenderfoot decides to go native with the Sioux servant and greets the cowboys who wants to hang his boss with a rifle.
    Jasper: If it's a matter of law I have no problem but I just cleaned the floor so takes two of you as delegate to conduit the search.
    Cowboy: What do we do?
    Cowboy 2: (looking at the barrel pointed at him) Well if that gun is loaded we do what he says.
  • Bawdy Song: Presumably, many of the songs in the saloon girls' repertoire; the good-riddance-to-publisher-Dupuis comic (see the "Darker and Edgier" entry) featured an especially bawdy one, going "see what the boys in the backroom will have". This sang by saloon girls dancing can-can. For the non-English speakers in the French audience, this counts as a Bilingual Bonus (see below) while Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Roy Bean's bear Joe turns out to be an aversion, sure he puts on the scary act but being a booze hound a bottle of alcohol can convince him to sit a fight out.
  • Beardness Protection Program: Works well on Dr. Doxey.
  • Because You Can Cope: Ma Dalton reveals that she's so tough on Joe because he's almost exactly like his father, unlike his brothers, and he needs to be tougher so he can look after them.
  • Berserk Button: Joe Dalton and any mention of Lucky Luke. Interestingly, Averell Dalton has one as well: having his cooking criticized. When Luke samples his food in Dalton City and declares it inedible, Averell asks for Joe's gun.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Luke shooting his (still drawing) shadow on the back cover of every book? Okay, maybe technically possible. Ran Tan Plan's shadow jumping over the shadow of the trashcan Ran Tan Plan just ran into? This trope.
  • Big Eater: Averell Dalton and Rantanplan. Both are also Extreme Omnivores, see below. The resemblance between them is more or less a Running Gag.
  • Bilingual Bonus: To the readers of the original French. Goscinny was fluent in English and peppered the stories with funny English names, actual songs, and so on.
  • Boomerang Bigot: A chieftain of Indians and a cavalry officer were at war against each other. The chieftain has blood hatred against white people for invading their land and killing his people. The story revealed at the end that the chieftain is of Caucasian descent and that he always knew his true origins.
  • Boom Town: Some spring from the ground in a few hours, and as often as not turn into deserted ghost towns just as fast.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: This is very much how Luke evolved in the series... An example of Tropes Are Not Bad: Morris and René Goscinny used this to their advantages, by making the villains (especially the Dalton Cousins) the driving force of many stories. The fun is not watching how Luke will win, but how the villains will lose (and, in the Dalton's case, how will Averell and Joe's interaction doom Joe's plans).
  • Bottomless Magazines: Lampshaded.
    Horace Greeley: Do you ever reload?
    Lucky Luke: Yes, at the end of every episode.
  • Bounty Hunter: The book The Bounty Hunter (in French Chasseur de primes) is a hilarious parody of the trope. Following a short introductional treaty on the general status of bounty hunters in the Old West, we get introduced to the title character, Elliot Belt, a notorious and unscrupulous representative of his trade. His appearance is an obvious nod on Western actor Lee Van Cleef, particularly his acting roles as merciless bounty hunter.
  • Breakout Character
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of lot of Luke's adventures, the people who wants to thank and honor him for service he has done for them, often finds that he has suddenly disappeared without a trace and asks where he has gone. Cue Luke Riding into the Sunset while singing (in English) "I'm a poor lonesome cowboy, far awaynote  from home...".
  • Butt-Monkey: Joe and Averell Dalton, in rather different ways.
  • The Cameo: Morris was a cinephile and therefore he frequently gave characters the looks of famous movie stars, including Jack Palance, Louis de Funès, Gary Cooper, David Niven, Mae West, Alfred Hitchcock, Lee Van Cleef, W.C. Fields, Jean Gabin, Michel Simon, Wallace Beery, Emil Jannings, Andy Devine, Randolph Scott, James Coburn, Sean Connery, John Carradine, John Barrymore, Sydney Greenstreet, Brian Donlevy,...
  • Canada, Eh?: Mounties, blizzards and lumberjacks. And all of them love tea, with a drop of milk. And did we mention Céline Dion?
    • Canadian Western: "Les Daltons dans le blizzard", where they flee to Canada. Contains this immortal line by Joe on seeing a Mountie: "Hooray, a policeman!".
  • Cardboard Prison: The Dalton's once-an-episode evasion. "Finding Lucky Luke and politely asking him if he doesn't mind bringing them back, please" is a standard prison protocol. The prison warden and some of the guards have become recurring characters in Rantaplan stories, and they are mostly depicted as buffoons. Besides the Daltons, many prisoners have fooled them and walked out of prison.
  • Card Sharp: There seems to be one in every town. One is even pivotal to the plot in "The Stagecoach", slipping Luke a derringer hidden in his sleeve.
  • Catch-Phrase:
    Averell: When do we eat?
    Joe/Jack/William: Shut up, Averell.

    Joe: I'll kill him!
    Jack/William: Calm down, Joe!

    Joe: I hate Lucky Luke!
  • The Cavalry: Acts as Only the Author Can Save Them Now: the cavalry will come just in time, if and only if there is no other way to save the day anymore. Also notice that the cavalry was kind of Men of Sherwood in earlier albums. Later, they were flanderized into stupid militaries who still use Tonto Talk with indians who talk perfectly.
  • Celibate Hero: Lucky Luke (although women tend to be sweet on him). Enforced, as comic book heroes had to be at the time; The Comics Codenote  was ridiculously afraid of anything resembling love, in case it led to something inappropriate. In many cases that "anything" included women. Of course, to today's people it tends to suggest something else about those guys' sexuality... By Fridge Logic it might also be justified in-universe: being a cowboy means spending most of the year on the move after all, even if you herd the Daltons more than cattle. The irony is that while Luke is indeed celibate, the series didn't shy away from depicting saloon girls. In the end of the story Bride of Lucky Luke, the full version of his "lonesome cowboy" song is about him not getting steady with women.
    • At least one album had Lucky forced into an engagement with a woman, replacing her betrothed in an arranged marriage who was in prison for vandalism to other people's property. Lucky went out of his way to get the other man released and married to the woman. Lucky liked her, but did not like living with her or being forced to settle down.
    • While Lucky is forever single, Averell Dalton has been repeatedly depicted as genuinely in love with women, with at least three different girlfriends over the course of the series. All of his relationships ended because Lucky had to return him to prison, though the women would like him to return to them. For some reason, the series keep giving Averell "exotic" girlfriends: two Mexican ladies and one Native American woman.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Happens in L'Élixir du Dr Doxey, which consists of two stories. In the first story the villain, a quack named Doxey, has an assistant named Scraggy. At the end of the story the two are imprisoned together. In the next story however, Doxy is suddenly alone in prison and Scraggy is never seen or mentioned again. The animated adaption solved this problem by showing how, after escaping, Doxey betrays Scraggy and uses him as a distraction against the sheriff.
  • Comedic Spanking: Since Billy The Kid in this setting is still 14 years old (unlike his real life counterpart who comitted most of his crimes as an adult, but kept his nickname due to how early he started), Lucky Luke's go-to punishment for him is a spanking. Part of the humor is in Billy's size. While depicted as pretty lethal with a handgun, Billy is a short and scrawny kid. Luke towers over him.
  • Comically Missing the Point: One townsfolk remarks to another that Jolly Jumper is playing chess with Luke the other simply answers: Yes he is taking way too long to make a move but we have more pressing matter to take care of.
  • Conveniently Cellmates: The four Dalton Brothers will always get a cell together. Add to that the fact that it is a Cardboard Prison and they are all Tunnel Kings, and they will also very easily escape together. Typically by digging four tunnels. Yes, they're that smart.
  • Cool Horse: Exaggerated/parodied with Jolly Jumper; he can even play chess! Better yet, he can fish... and bait his own fishhook with a worm. Luke asks him how does he do it, and he replies "Like everybody: with disgust." When Luke's hired by to find a stolen horse, he wonders if it didn't simply escape. The owner then shows him the empty stall and asks him if he knows any horses that can pick locks. "Yes, my own. But he's one of a kind..."
    • A few stories have Jolly Jumper stolen or unavailable, causing Luke to find replacements horses. They are inferior replacements, reinforcing Luke's determination to locate Jolly Jumper.
  • Counting Bullets: Luke has occasionally tricked opponents into using up all their bullets by taunting them to perform tricks.
    • In Lucky Luke versus Phil Defer, the professional assassin Phil Defer tried to use this against Luke, only for Luke to reveal that his pistol is a special model that holds seven bullets instead of the usual six.
  • Cowboy: Our hero does find time to herd some occasional cattle.
  • Creator Cameo: In Lucky Luke contre Joss Jamon, the first album for which René Goscinny was credited, one of the members of Joss Jamon's gang, Pete, was drawn as a caricature of Goscinny.
  • Creepy Mortician: Undertakers, morticians and gravediggers are recurring characters in this comic strip, usually using formol as perfume, having vultures as pets and already coming to take measurements for the coffins before the cowboys are actually shot dead. The most recurring undertaker named Matthias Bones has a pale skin color.
  • Cut-and-Paste Comic: Morris had a tendency to do this in his last stories, when old age was slowing him.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Played for Laughs in a one-page comic that was made around the time the comic switched to a less strict publisher. In the comic, Luke enjoys the freedom the change has given him by acting completely Out of Character. Namely by drinking alcohol instead of the usual lemonade, shooting a sheriff in the stomach and having implied, off-screen sex with a saloon girl, all while the other characters are pointing out that the publisher is too respectable to ever let him get away with these acts, and Luke in turn pointing out that he got a new publisher now.
    • The one-shot The Man who killed Lucky Luke. The drawing, the coloring and the mood is much darker. Lucky Luke is far more stoic rather than his usual laid-back self. Jolly Jumper doesn't speak and there isn't any humor like the rest of the series.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: An in-universe use, when a travelling theatre company in one book puts on a melodramatic play and the villain of the play is this.
  • Deadpan Snarker
    • Jolly Jumper is this a lot.
    • Luke also does it a few times.
    • Joe, mostly towards Averell.
  • Deus ex Machina: The final showdown between Lucky Luke and Phil Defer is this. The latter's strategy is to have Lucky Luke waste all his ammo from his revolver and then kill him quickly before he can reload. This works as intended, but Lucky Luke fires one last shot out of nowhere, killing Phil. When the townsfolk ask how Lucky Luke pulled it off, he revealed that he carried a rare seven bullet revolver. Said gun was never referred to until the showdown was over, nor does it ever appear again (except for one reference).
  • Digging to China: Played hilariously in The 20th Cavalry.
    Cavalryman: We Dug Too Deep! We Dug Too Deep!
    Ming Foo: No, no, it's only me, honorable Ming Foonote .
  • Dirty Coward: More than a few supposedly innocent civilians reveal themselves to be this and turn on Luke at first chance. A particularly foul example were the citizens of a town that was ransacked by the Daltons during their first escape and who decided to vent their frustration by hanging Luke without any proof that he was a member of the Dalton Gang because life's no fun if they only kill guilty people. Luke turns the tables on them by claiming that if he is a member of the gang then they'll be screwed once the Daltons learn about their accomplice's execution.
    • Of note are also the Sheriff and the bartender in Emperor Smith who once the titular lunatic takes over, aren't content with merely sucking up to him and go along with his delusions but also start blaming Lucky Luke for the opposition in order to get points.
  • The Ditz: Two obvious examples: Averell and Rantanplan. According to his brothers Averell learned to walk at seven and Rantanplan faints anytime he has a coherent thought.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Rantanplan is literally Too Dumb to Live, having nearly drowned or otherwise killed himself numerous times. Where Luke's tagline is "The man who shoots faster than his own shadow" (with accompanying image), Rantanplan gets "stupider than his own shadow" (and shows the shadow jumping over a barrel that Rantanplan runs into).
  • The Dreaded: A Running Joke. Any bandit worth his salt uses this to his advantage, as well as Luke himself. Billy the Kid is an extreme example; most of the time, he doesn't even have to point a gun at anyone to intimidate them. In one short story, he succesfully robs people just by putting up a sign saying he is nearby.
    • One short story involves Luke training a group of inept townsfolk in law enforcement. The result? The group became known as The Seven, and each became sheriff of their own town, where no criminal dared to go, knowing that it was protected by one of Luke's graduates.
    • "The Escort": Luke needs to bring Billy the Kid to a Mexican court for crimes committed there, with Billy scaring townsfolk into giving up their valuables just by being there. As soon as he has crossed the border, he finds that no one has heard of him, and people treat him as the ill-mannered teen he looks like.
    • "Daltons in the Blizzard" has the Daltons moving north, their notoriety increasing with every hold-up, with the bankers' reactions going from "Who?" to "You're the Daltons! Take the safe, don't shoot!"
    • Played straight with Black Bart, the diligence's passengers who braved Indians, bandits and more with relative ease are unnerved to go in his territory (save the photographer who wants to take a photo of the famed outlaw), even with Luke on their side. He is also one of the few bandits to get the upper hand on Lucky Luke and would have stolen the loot if the loot wasn't a decoy all along. One character even doubts that Black Bart is human.
    • The Daltons often get this reaction wherever they go. When they are actually trying to perform crimes, it helps them. When they are out on parole or trying to keep a low profile it proves detrimental. In some cases, they are only trying to get groceries or supplies, and have crowds panicking or handing them loot which they never asked for. Several times leading to one or more Dalton trying to explain: "This isn't what it looks like..."
  • Dreadful Musician: Tortillas for the Daltons: The Daltons pose as a mariachi band to infiltrate a Mexican landowner's home. Their singing is so bad it causes the bandito teaching them to break down crying then try to hang himself (and the cover art shows various glass objects shattering).
  • Dub Name Change:
    • As a slight Woolseyism, Cinebook decided to change Rantanplan's name to Rin-Tin-Can.
    • In the Dutch translations, they dropped two letters to make it "Rataplan", which is a slightly archaic Dutch word for a chaotic mess. As the Dutch version of That Other Wiki states: "This indicates perfectly how this dog's brain functions."
    • The Swedish dub changed his name to Ratata.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first albums of Lucky Luke rely more on visual gags. The characters are drawn in a more roundish way with big eyes, suitable for cartoon animation, which was Morris' original intention. When René Goscinny became co-author the plots and gags improved enormously, even though the comic still was much darker compared to later albums. Lucky Luke tends to shoot his opponents dead.
    • Among the Joker Jury in Lucky Luke's trial in Lucky Luke contre Joss Jamon we find Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and Calamity Jane (as a villainess!). Visually they don't resemble at all how they would look in subsequent albums in which they played starring parts.
    • In early stories, Luke is far from invincible, facing opponents who have similar skills in shooting and hand-to-hand combat. For example, in his first appearance, Averell Dalton fights Lucky to a draw in a fistfight. Both of them too exhausted to continue fighting. Lucky's life often seemed to be in genuine danger, and he had to find ways in escape. As he gradually gained his Boring Invincible Hero status, Luke is often depicted defeating entire armies of opponents without real effort.
  • Ear Trumpet: Old timers are often seen with these, especially if weakened to wheelchair condition. Usually the ear trumpet user still cannot hear and has to rely on someone else to personally deliver "what he said".
  • Easy Evangelism: René Goscinny sometimes used this trope to bring a quick resolution to a messy situation. An especially blatant example is the end of L'Héritage de Rantanplan, where Luke tells local tycoon Oggie Swenson, in a very condenscending tone, to improve the social conditions in Virginia City. Swenson instantly agrees with him, and in no time, the conflict between Chinatown and the rest of the city's population has been brought to an end.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: And the Daltons are quite right to. Ma Dalton was a fearsome bandit herself, and she still carries a loaded gun in her handbag. After his shootout with her is interrupted by her cat Sweetie running into her arms, Luke (still sweating cold bullets) admits that he has never been that scared.
    • The stories imply that the Daltons' father has been dead for decades, and that Ma Dalton raised her boys as a single mother. They both love her and fear her strictness. In her eyes, the dreaded outlaws are still the little boys which she has to discipline.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Dalton Brothers always stick together, proving that even among criminals blood is thicker than water. There is one time when they start singing the songs they used to sing back when they were kids and their parents brought them along to rob banks.
    • Any Dalton story has the brothers arguing with each other, and at times they act as rivals or opponents to each other. But they eventually admit that they need each other, and reconcile to bring the gang back together. One story featuring the Daltons as children, had Joe Dalton obsessing about a goal and ready to abandon his brothers in the wilderness to pursue it. The other three Daltons remind Joe that their parents taught them to look out for each other, and Joe admits that his family is more important than the goal.
    • Subverted with Frank James, when Jesse says they'll avenge their brave companion and cousin Cole younger that was arrested by Luke Frank tells him to shut up, they need Cole because he was the "poor" today so he is the one who knows where their money is.
  • Every Episode Ending: Lucky Luke drives off into the sunset, while singing "I'm a Poor Lonesome Cowboy".
    • A short comic book story, has the Daltons in hiding. Averell tries to warn the others that Lucky Luke is about to turn up, but they don't believe him. Then Luke appears and finds them. Averell explains that it is sunset, and that Luke always rides by this location at sunset.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The title character of The Bounty Hunter cannot comprehend why Luke prioritizes justice over money. (This is more pronounced in the original comic than in the Hanna-Barbera adaptation.) The background of the character mentions that he was motivated by greed since childhood, and did not really have any others goals in life. He could not understand goals or emotions which he never experienced.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Subverted. Rantanplan thinks he can do this... Rantaplan habitually mistakes heroes for villains and vice versa, and keeps misreading situations.
  • Eviler Than Thou: It is shown in cutaways gags that Billy the Kid completely subdues and terrifies the Daltons to the extent that Joe tells the others to avoid him.
    • A story had the Daltons escape prison with a self-declared prophet who intends to establish his own cult. Thinking it is a money-making scheme, they agree to help him in his plan. Once the "prophet" takes over a town with overly religious people (and very gullible ones) who believe in his teachings, he starts showing his true colors by becoming a tyrant, abusing people, abusing animals, etc. His motivation is not money after all. Three of the four Daltons are increasingly disturbed by his behavior, realizing that he is worse than them.
  • Evil Gloating: The Big Bad in the album about oil in Oklahoma. If he had not done it, he could have succeeded.
  • Evil Twin: Mad Jim
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Lucky Luke is nicknamed (both in and out of stories) "the man who shoots faster than his shadow". That is no bragging, he really does. Regularly. Not to mention that he rightly deserves to be called "Lucky".
  • Extreme Omnivore: Averell Dalton
    Averell: What's this delicious crust around the tamales?
    Espuelas: It's called a bowl, amigo.
    • Rantanplan will eat just about anything, usually while thinking it is actual food, such as mistaking coal nuggets for chocolate, gloves for cow teats or bath water for soup.
  • False Roulette
  • Feuding Families: Exaggerated Up to Eleven with the O'Timminses and the O'Haras in The Rivals of Painful Gulch.
  • Flanderization: Jolly Jumper was originally a normal horse, but over the years he more and more developed a personality of his own and gained the ability to speak (although in Animal Talk, so only the reader can understand him).
  • Foreign Queasine:
    • The Daltons are disgusted at the idea of the Chinese eating dog (though Averell is willing to try, and in fact saves them when he seems to indicate that he wants to eat Rantanplan).
    • Alcatraz has Rantanplan taken by Chinese cooks to serve lacquered coyote.
  • Freudian Excuse: One album is about an alienist that uses this and Single-Issue Psychology to have people turn their life around when they realize how one moment in childhood snowballed tragedies that made them what they are now. It doesn't work on the Daltons since being from a loving family of outlaws, their every precious childhood memory is about robbing banks and misbehaving. They are making them happy with how they ended up.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • A reversed version. Lucky Luke starts acting rather friendly to the Dalton brothers after a while.
    • Averell is rather friendly to Luke most of the time, and doesn't carry any of Joe's irrational hatred towards him.
    • Ma Dalton seems to like Luke, and has friendly interactions with him. He sometimes tips her off to the whereabouts of her boys, which she appreaciates.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: In The Inheritance of Rantanplan, much of the story takes place in the Chinatown of Virginia City, Nevada, which is controlled by a secret society (though a comparatively benign one).
  • Funny Animal: Rantanplan, of course, by way of his ditzy status. Jolly Jumper counts as this, too.
  • The Ghost: Lucky Luke and the Daltons are this in Rantanplan. (Except for a story where the Daltons were major guest stars, causing the prison staff to be Out of Focus in turn.)
  • Ghost Town: Several show up, and one is the setting of an entire episode.
  • Global Ignorance: From a telegraph operator:
    Herr Direktor: Signed Herr Direktor stop.
    Operator: With a name like that, you wouldn't happen to be Canadian, would you?
  • Good Feels Good: After an extended session of honest work, Jack / William comments that he is feeling something unfamiliar. Joe angrily tells him that he is feeling tired, everyone knows work makes you tired.
  • Gratuitous English: Like many French-language works, people use "Damned!" as opposed to "Dammit!".
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Averell's attempt to say "When do we eat around here?" while in Mexico ("Cuando se come aqui?") comes out as "Coacoacomékiki?". He keeps trying to get it right all through the album, but none of the Mexicans have any clue what he is saying. Finally, on the last page, he does manage to get it perfectly right... when talking to the prison cook, who is not Mexican and does not speak Spanish (and in fact, hears it as "Coacoacomékiki").
  • Gratuitous Russian: Yes, that too. In "Le Grand Duc", where selfsame Duke from Russia visits the Wild West. Cyrillic ensues.
    Anarchist Assassin: НЕУДАЧА! note 
  • The Gunslinger: "Faster than his own shadow."
  • Hanging Judge
    • Roy Bean in The Judge. Notably, he was not a real judge, but mainly a scam artist who ran both a makeshift courthouse and the saloon. His threat of hanging was mostly bluster.
    • Isaac Parker in Belle Starr is a straighter example. Justified. The real-life Isaac Parker (1838 – 1896) was nicknamed "the Hanging Judge" due to his trial record. "Parker sentenced 160 people to death; 79 of them were executed." Several of the others sentenced by Parker died in prison before the set date for their executions. Parker was appointed judge by Ulysses S. Grant in part because he had a reputation for being incorruptible, and Grant wanted someone to replace the notoriously corrupt judge William Story. Grant probably did not expect that Parker would become known for an unusually large body count.
  • Happy Rain
    • In The Wagon Train, when the caravan of California-bound settlers was running out of water after crossing a desert.
    • In Barbed Wire on the Prairie, when a showdown between ranchers and farmers had turned to the latter's advantage because of a drought (the rain came just after an agreement to share water was reached).
  • Harmless Villain: Unlike his three signifigantly more vicious brothers, Averell has little interest in crime, and is more interested in food. He would likely not even be a criminal if not for his family.
    • To be fair, Averell has been depicted as having great fighting skills and can put them to good use on occassion. However, he is childishly naive, gullible, and impulsive. People take advantage of him frequently. A running gag of the series involves the Daltons' wanted posters. The reward on his brothers can amount to several thousand dollars, while the reward on Averell at times is less than 50 dollars.
  • Hate Sink: Bounty hunters are this in-universe. Elliot Bell has the worse reputation of all of them to the point Saloon singers refuse to perform when he is her and bartender spills his alcohol on the floor when he asks for a drink, even when he calls a round for everyone the barman just pour bottles on the floor.
    Bartender: No law says I have to serve your drink in a glass. Drink it and get out.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The villain from The One-armed Bandit randomly drops his whole scheme (destroying the prototype slot machine because it would put card cheats like him out of business) because he and his goon, who he had been using as a horse because Lucky Luke had scared off their horses during their first ambush, were spotted by one of the managers for the Pony Express who was impressed with the speed they got around, and offered them a job. The offer of a decent wage and three meals a day is enough to get the villain to turn honest, and the last part of the story lacks a normal antagonist as a result.
    • Slim, the Fat Bastard Big Bad from "Barbed Wire on the Praire" has an unusually quick one when the plot wraps up; after the other cattle barons and the farmers have made peace and agreed to share land and resources on the prairie, one of Slim's mooks asks him what they'll do now. Slims response basically comes down to "we admit we acted like idiots and hope the farmers forgive and forget".
  • Henpecked Husband:
    • Mr. Flimsy in The Stagecoach. Played with as he gradually becomes more self-assertive once he realizes that he has incredible luck with games of chance. By the time he arrives in California, Flimsy has become a wealthy man and his wife seems impressed.
    • O'Timmins and O'Hara's patriarchs turn out to be really submissive to their wives, who are fed up with their feud by the end of the story and force them to make peace.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Frank James, Colin Younger, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill, Abraham Lincoln, Roy Bean, Mark Twain, Belle Starr, Big Nose Kate, Sarah Bernhardt, Horace Greeley, Emperor Joshua Norton,... have all met Luke at one point. (Jesse James and Calamity Jane twice and differently drawn.)
  • Historical In-Joke: And how! Luke pretty much met every big name in the Far West and some alt text is even given for some.
  • Horsing Around: Jolly Jumper, the horse of Lucky Luke. Besides being able to run impossibly fast and long, even while sleeping, and always coming when Lucky Luke whistles, as the series develops he gets the ability to speak and play Chess with Lucky Luke, as well as unhorse anyone who tries to steal him. In one case, an annoying Mountie confiscated him as Luke goes into the saloon. By the time Luke gets out, Jolly is back, and the mountie is asking help from a penguin.
  • Hypocrite:
    • One Congressman yells "Kick these foreigners out!" during a session, and a like-minded colleague tells him "Well said, Kowalski!"
    • Most villainous Cow-boys have no problem with old school six-shooters duel at noon, even looking forward to it when the opponent seems to have no chance. However when a foreigner suggests a different sort of duel (the Austrian with fencing and the British tenderfoot with pistol duel) the cow-boys are frightened by it and call it barbaric.
  • Iconic Outfit: See the page illustration.
  • I Have a Family: Parodied in one album, when the Daltons flooded the country with (faked, of course) Wanted Posters of Luke. Every person Luke meets after that does this, culminating in "I have fifteen children..."
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Most memorably when Luke shoots what seems to be random holes into a roll of waxed paper. Then he puts the roll and a coin into a player piano, and the piano starts playing Chopin's "Funeral March".
  • Inconveniently Vanishing Exonerating Evidence: Nonlethal variation in one Rantanplan story: A cavalry officer has left his grandson Douglas in the care of the prison's warden, but he ran off with the circus along with Rantanplan. In order to keep the colonel from investigating, the warden fakes letters from Douglas claiming that he's still in the prison. When both the circus and the colonel end up in the prison at the same time, the colonel demands to know about the letters he wrote, which of course Douglas knows nothing about. The warden quickly sweeps the fake letters off his desk where they're eaten by Rantanplan in the few seconds the colonel has his back turned. Having a bit of a breakdown, the colonel leaves.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Lampshaded. As the Daltons are about to fall down one, Jack reassures Joe, saying that in adventure stories something always comes up at the last second to save the characters. Unfortunately, in this case nothing does and the four brothers take the plunge (though they are rescued afterwards by an Indian fisherman).
  • Ink-Suit Actor: The colonel in "The 20th Cavalry" is quite obviously played by Randolph Scott, and in many ways an Affectionate Parody of Scott's usual Western character.
  • Intrepid Merchant: A short story has Luke meeting a travelling merchant with the most versatile inventory (and generous about offering them to Luke who volunteered to escort him) and even secure a peace treaty with the natives with a business deal. He even offers Virginia tobacco for the Peace Pipe.
    Lucky Luke: I'm nearly out of ammo!
    Merchant: Start with the Smith and Wesson, they are the best quality.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: After the prison doc declares the Daltons to be amnesiac following an explosion:
    Luke: You sure about your diagnostic, doc?
    Doctor: (offended) Medecine is an exact science, Mr. Luke! You might as well ask me if Rantanplan is a dog!
    (Rantanplan, legitimately amnesiac, starts purring and rubbing against the doctor's legs)
  • Institutional Apparel: The striped prison outfits worn by the Daltons and other jail inmates.
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: Luke has met almost every celebrity from the Old West.
  • Invincible Hero: Though it's not a negative case, specially as the colorful villains are usually the focus.
  • Jail Bake: Any cake cooked by My Dalton contains prison-breaking tools by default; it's part of the recipe. Inverted in one case: the loaf is so overbaked Averell breaks a tooth on it, so they just file the bars with the loaf.
  • Jerkass: Joe Dalton. Once, when they steal an Indian's dogsled, Joe takes the sled for himself and lets his brothers run by foot. And later, when they lack time to harness the dogs, he lets them pull the sled.
  • Joker Jury: Featuring Jesse James, Billy The Kid, the Daltons, and (due to Early Installment Weirdness) Calamity Jane.
  • Jumping Out of a Cake:
    • In Dalton City, a saloon dancer is concealed inside a giant cake, but the homemade pastry (baked by Averell Dalton) is so tough that, by the time she manages to get out of it, the party, the fight and pretty much the story are over. The cake is tough enough to withstand gunfire, actually. Averell Dalton is that bad of a cook.
    • The book cover shows Luke himself burst out of a cake, surprising the Daltons. It's also in the opening of one Animated Adaptation.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Parodied with Jesse James, who gives his stolen spoils to his poor brother, who gives it back, since giving away the stolen goods makes him poor as well.
  • Just Take the Poster: In the "The Bounty Hunter", when the sheriff puts up posters for a wanted Indian, the titular bounty hunter follows him and takes every poster so he'll be the only one after the reward.
  • Kangaroo Court: In the album Lucky Luke against Joss Jamon. Complete with Joker Jury.
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: In a cartoon episode, the Dalton Brothers are trying to be honest, and to have a honest work, they open their own bank. At one point Averell Dalton is commanded to open the safe, but he can't remember where the key is, so he opens the safe with dynamite. It turns out that the key is inside, and Averell closed it in there "for safety". Joe Dalton is not amused.
  • Kick the Dog: Joe Dalton really doesn't like Rantanplan.
  • Kung-Shui: The obligatory Bar Brawl. In one episode the saloon owner routinely removes the mirror behind the bar whenever a brawl is about to begin. At least one occasion has the mirror smashed just as he's putting it back.
  • Land in the Saddle: Repeatedly.
    • Subverted on at least one occasion, when he jumped through the wrong window and fell flat on the ground instead of ending up on his horse, much to the latter's amusement.
    • On another occasion, as he didn't know from which window Luke would jump, Jolly Jumper posted a fellow horse under each window of the building.
  • Language Fluency Denial: One Indian that ambushed a convoy is pretending to not understand the language, Luke spots him when the stagecoach interrogates them and the Indian is blushing.
  • Lethal Chef: Despite his great fondness for food, Averell is a horrendous cook, the only dish he can prepare with any degree of edibility is eggs with curry.
  • Light Is Good: Parodied, whenever the comics feature a character who performs as The Paragon cowboy in a stage show (such as the fake Daltons from "Western Circus", or the title character from "The Dashing White Cowboy"), they will always wear an entirely white outfit to showcase what good guys they are. This is a parody of the cowboy heroes from early Wild West fiction intended for kids, such as the movies by Tom Mix.
  • Lighter and Softer: The earlier comics were a bit darker and mostly based on Old West action and adventure (though not without some comedy). Luke even killed at least one man (lampshaded by Joe Dalton in Belle Starr). One of the most famous effects of this trope is Luke quitting smoking and having a straw of grass in his mouth instead. Later lampshaded when a guy offers him a cigarette. Luke refuses, saying he quit. The guy apologizes, and offers a straw of grass. Luke then says, "No thanks, I'm trying to quit." Also lampshaded in the Go West movie, where he is offered a cigarette again and says he quit. He's asked if quitting was hard, and Lucky Luke admits to chewing on a straw for quite a long time.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Luke is seldom seen without his blue jeans, yellow shirt (originally, it was plaid), black vest, red scarf, and white hat. The Daltons are usually seen in prison garb, but tend to pick up (matching) civilian clothes when they can. Their civilian clothes tend to be green shirts and jean pants, such as the ones they were using in their original appearance.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: The Daltons are serving a 4200-years hard labor sentence in the beginning of La Ballade des Daltons before escaping. In another comic, an escaped convict lampshades this when his hostage tells him that if he turns back now, he will get a lighter sentence. The convict responds with "I can't see much of a difference between being sentenced to 236 or 295 years in prison".
  • Made of Iron: Ironhead in Going Up the Mississippi, whose name becomes obvious when he headbutts an alligator.
  • Militaries Are Useless: The comic is an Affectionate Parody of the Western genre, so of course the cavalry is always either critically late to the action, or completely useless despite anything they might attempt.
  • Minion with an F in Evil:
    • Averell Dalton. In every episode that revolves around the Daltons going straight, he is the only one on who it ever works.
    • He even has his own "Not Wanted" poster! In Daisy Town he does have a "Wanted" poster like the other brothers. The posters are shown throughout their childhood and teens until adulthood with older faces and larger bounties. Everybody's bounty rises continuously. Averell's bounty stays at $4... Until it is lowered to $3.
  • Misplaced a Decimal Point: In the episode Outlaw, the Daltons (the original ones, not the cousins from the later stories) try to divide their loot among themselves. Having had no actual schooling, they fail horribly, turning a simple long division into a mathematical nightmare. Bob Dalton uses his gun to place a decimal point "to simplify things".
  • The Mob Boss Is Scarier: When Billy the Kid is captured, everyone is too afraid of him to testify against him. Same goes for the cousin of Jesse James where the townsfolk spin the situation that his derailent of the train was heroic while blaming Luke for driving the train without license.
  • Naïve Newcomer: The titular "tenderfoot" from the album of the same name. In a bit of a twist, he easily outdoes all the wild west tough guys at nearly everything (among other things, he was school boxing champion at Oxbridge and is a very good horseman from years of avid fox-hunting), but is very much stuck in his upper-class British mannerisms.
  • The Napoleon: Joe Dalton, the shortest Dalton brother, has a temper and a sense of arrogance as great as his stature is small, though his height is never used as an insult.
  • Napoleon Delusion: The character of Smith, convinced he is the Emperor of the United States, references the historical "Emperor" Joshua Norton, with the important difference that he is a millionaire ranch owner who can afford full Napoleonic costumes, paraphernalia and army. He names Napoleon as his "model" and insists on full-on First Empire protocol in all circumstances, to the hilarious dismay of his employees-turned-soldiers.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Ma Dalton. Luke even says he'd never been so scared as during his quick-draw with her, as there's no way he could shoot an old lady even if she was in fact very much about to kill him. Good thing Sweetie chose that moment to jump into her arms, allowing Luke to disarm her.
  • Never My Fault: The bandito assigned to teach the Daltons how to sing in Spanish ends up crying on his boss shoulder that sure he's stolen, killed, plundered... but he never did anything to deserve that. Later he has to be prevented from hanging himself.
  • Nitro Express: One comic is devoted to this. It's just too bad that the Daltons decide to hijack the train, thinking it's a heavily-guarded crate full of gold headed to a place called Nitro, and run close to blowing themselves to kingdom come.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Minor characters are often "played" by famous Western actors or other celebrities, e.g. Lee Van Cleef, Randolph Scott, Alfred Hitchcock or Louis de Funès.
  • No Fourth Wall: Jolly Jumper makes up for his speech impairment by addressing the reader all the time.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: Most of the time, though a notable exception is The Dalton's father (who was killed in an explosion prior to the series when he tried to break open a safe with dynamite).
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: A derringer up the sleeve is the typical armament of gamblers in Lucky Luke.
    • Taken Up to Eleven by the villain from "The One-Armed Bandit", a professional gambler who has derringers stashed almost everywhere on his person. His secret weapon is a miniature derringer hidden in his ear!
  • Not So Stoic:
    • The Indian member of Joss Jamon's gang gives a long, elaborate speech, using Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, that he sums up as "they outnumber us twenty to seven, I'm not dying here and I'll scalp any of you stupid enough to stop me". After a whole album in which he said nothing but "howgh".
    • Luke is pretty much composed, aside from bouts of Enraged by Idiocy. When he reads an old friend's postmortem letter he tries to roll a cigarette only to shake too much and tore the cigarette paper, showing he is moved.
    • Despite his normally ice-cold demenour under pressure, Luke can get flustered in situations he's not used to. Gun fights and other mortal dangers is no problem for him, but as seen in "The Bride of Lucky Luke" he's very uncomfortable around women. "The White Cowboy" also shows him suffering badly from stage fright. The psychologist from "The Daltons Cure" lampshades this, and gets under Luke's skin by pointing out that he clings to his "lonesome cowboy" persona as a safety blanket. Of course, said psychologist later decided to embark on a life of crime himself, so who knows?
  • Offstage Villainy: Used with many of the desperados Lucky Luke encounters in order to explain their notoriety. If rumours are to be believed, Phil de Fer, the original Dalton gang, Pat Poker and most specifically Billy the Kid have quite a remarkable body count. In Billy's case it is said that many of his victims were fellow criminals and Luke himself calls him worse than the Daltons (the new ones at least).
  • Once per Episode: Luke rides into the sunset, singing "I'm a poor lonesome cowboy, far away from home..." Often lampshaded and parodied, such as the time he does so around page three and Jolly Jumper expresses his pleased surprise at this early ending. Sure as rain, the bridge they were riding on blows up. In Where The Sunset Is, Averell has a rare moment of Genre Savviness. After the Dalton brothers escape from jail again, Joe decides that rather than head for the nearest town (where they are bound to be found and arrested by Lucky Luke sooner or later), they will hide out in the wilderness. Soon they have found a nice peaceful place where they want to settle for the night — all except for Averell, who feels uneasy about the place and wants to leave. Just as the sun sets, Luke comes riding along, spots the brothers and arrests them. Back in jail, Joe wonders how Averell knew that Luke would be there, and Averell replies, "Didn't you notice? That's the place where..." Cut to the closing scene with Luke riding into the sunset at that exact location. That is "where the sunset is".
  • One-Note Cook: All the station cooks they encounter on a travel with the stagecoach can cook nothing but potatoes with bacon (well, and coffee, or something similar). Except for one, who makes beef with beans (because the gambler bribed him to win a bet). Even in a party organized by that stagecoach company, all the dishes contain potatoes and bacon, with an extra random ingredient thrown in for each one.
  • One Steve Limit: In his first appearance, William Dalton was called Bill, but since the (deceased) real Daltons were Bob, Emmett, Bill and Grat, this was considered potentially confusing. So he was subsequently always referred to as William.
  • Oral Fixation: After chain smoking for much of the series, Luke eventually switched his cigarette for a straw of grass. Referenced when a government secretary offers him a cigarette, but Luke tells him he quit. So he offers him a straw of grass... only for Luke to tell him he's trying to quit.
  • Outlaw Town: Dalton City from the similar titled album.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: At one point, Luke is tied to a post with handcuffs and talking to Jolly Jumper. Rantanplan overhears this, runs to the drawer where he remembers the keys are kept, runs back to Luke with the keys in his mouth (astounding both of them) and promptly faints. Luke mentions he must have had a fit of intelligence.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In Barbed Wire on the Prairie, Luke infiltrates a cabal of cattle ranchers by donning a suit, putting on a fake moustache, and dragging a single scrawny cow in tow. The disguise fails him, however, when someone realizes he's too thin to be a real cattle rancher (all of whom are badly overweight).
  • Parental Favoritism: Ma Dalton heavily favors Averell, her youngest son, over the other three, which is a possible reason why he is a much nicer person.
    • However, the same album also reveals that she personally favors Joe because he reminds her so much of Pa Dalton. That's why she's so much tougher on him, because he's the brains of the group and has to look after his brothers.
  • Peace Pipe: A Running Gag in the series is that the peace pipe by Native American tribes makes everybody feel so sick that they would rather continue fighting than smoke it.
  • Peeling Potatoes: * Spoofed in Le Vingtieme de Cavalerie. After an Indian raid during which the food stores are burned. Luke sees four men sitting on the ground around a bucket making peeling hand motions. When he queries the Sergeant, he is informed that these men have been assigned to peel potatoes, and life in the cavalry goes on, potatoes or no potatoes. The sergeant then berates the men for not pretending to peel thinly enough and tells them that the colonel will pretend to inspect the pretend peels personally.
  • Photo Doodle Recognition: In one story, charlatan Dr. Doxey changes his name, shaves his moustache and beard, and has a new picture of him taken for his ads. However, a kid Doxey pissed off defaces the ad to the point it looks exactly like Doxey's old face, allowing Luke to recognize him.
  • Pinball Projectile: Used many times to show off Luke's skill.
  • Pink Elephants: Luke escorts a circus for a while, prompting the town drunk to claim their elephant is the wrong color. Inverted when Luke tries to calm the elephant down after it's been shot at by telling it it saw little pink men.
  • Pocket Protector: In Lucky Luke et Pilule, Pilule ("Pill") is shot but not hurt, to his confusion. Then he realizes that the bullet hit the box of pills that was in his pocket.
  • Produce Pelting: in the 1-page story "The Concert", Lucky Luke meets a travelling singer who has this happening to him because of his bad singing. He doesn't mind, however, because it means that he gets free fruit and vegetables after each concert.
  • Professional Gambler: Characters like that often crop up in Lucky Luke stories. In fact this is kind of a stock character for Lucky Luke, like many other western trope characters.
  • Quick Draw: Luke of course but a few other characters are shown to be fast on the draw too. Bob Dalton was fast enough to shoot hanging from a branch and catch himself back.
  • Rain Dance
    • In one episode, an area inhabited by Native Americans is suffering from serious draught. As it turns out, their shaman has fallen from a horse and hit his head. He is otherwise ok but can't get the dance right and his various attempts only produce minor weather anomalies (like a small blizzard conjured by doing the macarena).
    • In another, a group of irate native dignitaries enters the local saloon to deliver an angry message to the townspeople. These include their shaman... and his unruly apprentice, who is far more interested in the saloon girls than their mission, and decides to start dancing on the stage. Afterwards, it starts raining in the girls' dressing-room.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: In "Bounty Hunter" rich ranch owner thinks his favorite horse was kindnapped y his help, when Luke asks if he is sure the horse didn't run away by itself the owner asks if Luke knows a horse that can pick locks.
    Luke: Mine, but he is special.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Every album ends with Lucky Luke riding off into the sunset singing "I'm a poor lonesome cowboy...". Strangely, this includes the album that ends on a beach in California.
  • A Round of Drinks for the House: When the Dalton Brothers come to a city in Canada, a gold digger arrives and uses his gold to buy a round. The saloon owner says that the gold diggers all do that and then go back to digging gold for another six months. Cue to Joe Dalton planning to take over the saloon...
  • Rule of Funny: A huge percentage of the series runs on either this or Rule of Cool.
  • Running Gag: Mention Lucky Luke to Joe. He will jump up and down yelling "I HATE LUCKY LUKE!" followed by Jack and William saying "Calm down, Joe". Averell saying "When's food?" optional.
  • Russian Roulette: Yes, it is possible to cheat.
    Luke: You're right, one bullet. Now unlock the cell, I just lined it up with the barrel.
  • Sapient Steed: Jolly Jumper often talks, but usually does this with other horses or with himself, in the same vein as Snowy with Tintin. Mainly, but he also does talk to Lucky Luke sometimes. He's also exchanged the occasional word with Rantanplan, though not often — probably because he detests the dog.
  • Scooby Stack: The Daltons often do this. It helps that their height doesn't exactly change.
  • Serious Business: For cattle barons, barbed wire is a personal insult, as it means their cows can't go there. Luke has to go to a land mostly inhabited by farmers to get some because no one sells or will deliver it in cowboy's territory. They even go out of their way to make their cattle trample the farm of the person who put barbed wire.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The typically quiet Indians will sometimes indulge in this for throwaway gags. A memorable example happens at the end of Lucky Luke versus Joss Jamon when a villainous Injun (who had up to that point not uttered a single word beyond the characteristic "Ugh!") delivers an elaborate, long-winded "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his ringleader. The criminals are stunned.
    • At another story, a Christian preacher tries to convert Indians through teaching the "savages" simplified lessons on Christian beliefs. A confused listener asks his friend to explain what the preacher is talking about. The other Indian gives a detailed explanation of the preacher's worldview, analyzing it from a philosophical perspective and using technical terms. This particular "savage" happens to be better educated than the preacher in question.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Joe Dalton. Smartest of the Daltons, which isn't saying much. Luke calls him the moronic brain of the gang. Though some stories place his intelligence in question. Due to his bad temper and obsession with Luke, Joe sometimes makes essential mistakes that undermine their plans. And is criticized for it by his less smart, but calmer and more observant brothers. Word of God is that Joe isn't smarter, just meaner than his brothers.
  • Shout-Out: Various cameos of movie actors have appeared in the comic strip over the years.
  • The Shrink: Otto von Himbeergeist, who tries to cure the Daltons. While his diagnosis is usually right on-spot, he doesn't manage to turn them. And then, he gets the idea that he should've started a career in crime rather than in academics...
  • Sinister Schnoz: The Daltons all have large bulbous noses.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Hank the stagecoach driver and Calamity Jane. The latter is contagious, as by the end of the story the three prim-and-proper ladies are also swearing like sailors.
  • Sitting Sexy on a Piano: most saloon singers do that.
  • Sky Cell: "Tortillas for the Daltons" has Joe escape from Luke onto a mesa... only to find that he's trapped on maybe four square feet of dirt. When Luke suggests he come back in a year or so, Joe (having run out of bullets) quickly surrenders.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Dr. Doxey and several others, including one poor sap who sold a cure-all to a bunch of people who'd broken out in hives due to eating whalemeat. He then tells them his elixir is made from... whale oil.
  • Soap Punishment: Done by Ma Dalton to one of her foul-mouthed sons when he insults Averell.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Jolly Jumper and Rantanplan can only chat with members of their own species. Though most of the time, Jumper seems to be able to have conversations with Luke. Well, he understands Luke, anyway. And occasionally they'll talk to each other as well, but these conversations are extremely spare. Probably because Jolly Jumper really doesn't like Rantanplan and either ignores him or makes sarcastic comments about him.
  • Spin-Off Babies: Kid Lucky, portraying Lucky Luke in his childhood. It had only two albums.
  • Stars Are Souls: In Kid Lucky, Kid and the Daltons believe that the stars are the souls of sheriffs dead with their boots on.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Luke slinks away every time people are starting to talk about rewarding him.
  • Sticky Fingers: Fingers, from the album Fingers.
  • Straw Character: Infamous case in the last story The Man of Washington. The main villain is a hitman called Sam Palin (YES, Palin, and it was released around the 2008 American Elections?) who is a violent supporter of gun-owning rights. In a panel, his eye pupils become red, foam comes out of his mouth as he says "Just because we have guns doesn't mean we are dangerous! Grrrr!" Not to mention that the comic was also about a fictional oil millionaire from Texas who wants to become president and doesn't coincidentally look like George W. Bush. Laurent Gerra is just that subtle.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: The Dalton brothers, who not only look identical to each other aside from their height differences, but are also identical to their cousins, the real Dalton brothers who got killed off in their first appearance, as well as their mother, Ma Dalton. An uncle and a few other relatives have been depicted, all with the same facial structure, though their personalities differ. The uncle is a banker.
  • Suicide as Comedy: Tortillas for the Daltons has the Daltons try to pose as mariachis and taught to sing by one of the Mexican bandits. They're so horrible at it that he breaks down crying, so the leader gives him a noose to encourage them. The bandit is about to hang himself, and later the gag is repeated when the Daltons rehearse one last time.
  • Super Window Jump: Repeatedly. Usually leads to Land in the Saddle.
  • Surprisingly Good English: Non-Japanese example. At the end of each story, Luke sings, in English, "I'm a poor lonesone cowboy". In the original animated series, this is turned into a full song for the closing credits (also in surprisingly good Englishnote ).
    • Possibly explained by the background of the series' creator. Morris spend six years (1948-1954) as an expatriate in the United States. He was associated with the publisher EC Comics, particularly a magazine called "Mad" where his colleagues included Jack Davis and Harvey Kurtzman. He had to learn the local language.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In their first appearance The Daltons were actually shot dead by Lucky Luke! Since the characters proved to be very popular Morris brought them back, or rather their cousins, who looked and acted exactly the same and were also four brothers of differing height! So the Daltons we know today are actually copies of the original.
  • Take That!: In The Man from Washington, there's a not so subtle jab at a character named Sam Palin.
  • Tar and Feathers: A common form of mob justice for professional gamblers who get caught. Also, in one story the Daltons got tarred and feathered repeatedly, to the point where Averell decided to stay that way.
  • Telegraph Gag STOP: Whenever the telegraph is used (and of course, particularly prevealent in "The Singing Wire", where Luke escorts the telegraph builders.
  • Those Two Guys: Jack and William, the two middle Dalton brothers; Goscinny actually had trouble remembering which was which, so they tend to switch names between books. They work as an ensemble anyway.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: Lucky Luke has the reputation of never killing his enemies, and several media refer to him as never having killed anyone, a theory supported by Goscinny's daughter, Anne. This is close to Critical Research Failure: Luke has canonically killed Evil Twin Mad Jim, and this story was in the first album of the series. This fact is ackknowledged by Joe Dalton in the album Belle Star. In the original run of Lucky Luke vs. Phil Defer story, Luke kills Defer at the end in a duel. This was later retconned in the album releases by Defer only being injured but rendered crippled for life. Also, the original Daltons gang was hanged after Luke caught them. In first publication, Luke actually kills Bob Dalton by headshot... and it's onscreen. In the album version, it is censored and replaced by a simple caught with a barrel — before their hanging.
  • Tonto Talk: The natives usually speak like that with some subversion either to make the cavalry look dumb or because it's good for tourists.
  • Track Trouble: In "Jesse James", Jesse's gang pull one rail to the side to flip the train. One of them decides to improve on it by bending both tracks at a time, letting the train jump the tracks and coast to a stop in a nearby town (eliciting locals remarking they didn't know the railway was coming to their town and what this'll do to property prices).
  • Training from Hell: On their debut adventure, The (replacement) Daltons start out as pathetic joke characters uncapable of anything bad, so they grind themselves through a brutal training regime to become more like the original Daltons. It works.
  • Tunnel King: The Dalton Brothers are experts in escaping through tunnels. With spoons no less. Often digging one tunnel per Dalton.
  • Two Decades Behind: The comic strip is more or less a satire of western movies, especially the classics by John Ford and Sergio Leone. Morris never liked the westerns that were made after the 1960s, when political correctness stepped in and many of the ancient stereotypes were removed for a more realistic and historically accurate approach of the Wild West. Thus many of the later Lucky Luke albums are still referring to western movie iconography that died out since the sixties and western films most of his younger audiences have never seen.
  • Underside Ride: When a train is derailed, it's usually revealed a tramp was travelling on the axles.
  • The Unfavorite: Joe Dalton routinely gets the harshest treatment from his mother, while she dotes on Averell constantly. She later tells Joe that she loves him the most, mostly because he reminds her so much of their father; the only reason she's hard on him is because she expects so much more from him than the others.
  • Unfulfilled Purpose Misery: When a backwater town is raided by Indians, the telegraph operator is overjoyed that he finally gets to use the machine and dusts off his codebook for the occasion. He then breaks down sobbing because the Indians cut the telegraph lines.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • In-Universe. One episode centered around oilfields has one guy going "I've been had! This field is stuffed full of oil!" back when petroleum's value hadn't been discovered.
    • Luke calls a bandito a pepperbelly in an early album, although it was to be accurate like the use of tenderfoot.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Nelson the circus lion who only eats lentil soup, because the lion is just too old to chew on solid food. When he is sent loose in the street he only scares the sheriff so he can eat the grub he was serving to the prisoners.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Joe Dalton, whenever someone mentions Lucky Luke in his presence. Inverted, in that it usually happens at the beginning of an episode, and once he regains his calm he devises a plan to take his revenge.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: As another staple of Western, about Once per Episode. Some gags are milked out of the Daltons' wanted posters, as mentioned above.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Rather subtle, but Lucky Luke's invariable combo of black vest, yellow shirt and red neckerchief mirrors the tricolor of Morris's native Belgium.
  • Weather Saves the Day: An aversion: A bunch of cattle barons have leagued together against the homesteaders, as the former can no longer drive their cattle through what is now the latter's property. A drought hits, but it only hurts the ranchers as they didn't dig wells as part of their livelihoods. They come to an agreement... and rain starts falling just after it is signed. The ranchers maintain their agreement anyway.
  • We Sell Everything: Any general store Lucky Luke patronizes. "For the impossible," as one store manager puts it, "we request a two-week delay."
  • White Sheep: Marcel Dalton, introduced in the album named after him, is despised by his family for being a straight-up good guy.
    • Possibly a shout-out to the historic Dalton brothers' elder sibling Frank Dalton, a deputy U.S. Marshal in Arkansas who was killed in the line of duty.
  • Windbag Politician:
    • At the end of "Fingers", the mayor wishes to say a few words. Cut to several hours later, where he is still talking.
    • One story has Luke help build a bridge across the Mississippi which isn't completed by the time the opening ceremony comes around. Luke tells the governor to stall for time, which he does by announcing that on this day praise must be given to the Lord, and starts reading from the Bible, page 1. The bridge is finished by the time he gets to Job.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Sarah Bernhardt's manager tries to get out of an Indian attack by throwing around glass beads and fake jewelry. The chief's response: "The paleface with beaver teeth is thinking of the wrong continent. Seize them!"

The animated series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adapted Out: The adaptation of Sarah Bernhardt replaces the title character with a generic opera singer from Boston for some reason. (The German dub is still called "Sarah Bernhardt", inconsistently.)
  • Ascended Extra: In the 1980s' animated series, Rantanplan was frequently added as an extra character to episodes based on comics in which he did not appear.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Lucky Luke frequently does this to enemies as shown on the trope page's picture.
  • Lighter and Softer: Some of the darker plots of the earlier Lucky Luke comics are toned down severely in the animated adaption. For example; in the animated adaption of L'Élixir du Dr Doxey the titular elixer merely gives people a green skin but no other ill effects, while in the original comic it was a lethal poison.
  • Race Lift: in the animated adaption of the comic Le Pied-tendre, the native American servant of Waldo Badmington is replaced by a caucasian man.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Averted. The Daltons are still alive at the end of the 1990's animated adaptation of "Hors-la-loi"...because these are the fictional Daltons, not their real-life "cousins".

The Lucky Luke movies provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Badass: Pat Poker in the 2009 live action film, his gambling motif also has magic trick and is far more cunninng than his comic book counterpart, who was never a threat to Luke even in times where Luke weren't flanderized into being invincible.
  • Badass Longcoat: Worn by Jesse James in the 2009 live-action film. Exaggerated Trope: his coat is really long.
  • But Now I Must Go: In Go West: A Lucky Luke Adventure, Lucky Luke brings his group to California but decides not to stay.
  • The Cameo: The cockroaches from Oggy and the Cockroaches make a brief cameo in Go West: A Lucky Luke Adventure.
  • Composite Character: Jesse James's character in the 2009 movie has taken on several character traits of his brother Frank from the comic, most notably the obsession with Shakespeare.
  • Credits Gag: Too many to list here for the 2009 movie.
  • Darker and Edgier: Warning - if you expect a standard list of running gags, the 2009 movie Played for Drama instead.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The animated film Lucky Luke: The Ballad of the Daltons has one of these. Although it is caused by Mushroom Samba.
  • Enemy Mine: In the 2009 movie, Jesse James and Billy the Kid are one Lukes side...but only because they want the honor of having killed Luke for themselves. It's postponed.
  • Faking the Dead: Major plot point. In the 2009 movie, Pat Poker smuggled duds into Lukes colt and got "shot".
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Three of them:
    • Lucky Luke, 1991: stars Terrence Hill as the title character and is infamous for being an In-Name-Only adaptation.
    • Les Dalton, 2004: is centered on the Dalton brothers and star French comedian duo Éric and Ramzy as Joe and Averell. Lucky Luke is played by German actor Til Schweiger.
    • Lucky Luke, 2009: stars Jean Dujardin as the title character. Got much better reception than the two previous adaptations.
  • The Mole: Belle in the 2009 live-action film.
  • On One Condition: In Lucky Luke: The Ballad of the Daltons, the Dalton brothers learn that their Uncle Henry Dalton died by hanging (which Joe considered a "natural" death) and left them their fortune on the condition that they kill the judge and the jurors who sentenced him to death and that Lucky Luke provides testimony confirming the fulfillment of the condition. The judge and the jury convicted the Daltons for attempting to murder them and Lucky Luke provided testimony. The money went to charity.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Cooper in the 2009 live-action film, when he makes a racist remark on Luke's Native American mother.
  • Polka-Dot Paint: An Indian camouflaging his horse in Daisy Town swipes his brush back and forth on the horse, and behold! the horse is coated in an elaborate landscape.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Referencing drug use in a children's movie? Horrible! Devoting more than five minutes in a eighty minute children's movie to a musical number that is very clearly an extended drug trip by characters (after explicitly having their drink spiked with "mushrooms" by a snake doctor), including a desecration of Jingle Bells ("Shooting guns, shooting guns, shooting all the way")? Awesome! (The entire segment, even in the French original, is in English, so this may actually count as Getting Crap Past the Radar after all... but probably not.)
  • Taking the Bullet: In the 2009 live-action film, happens with Luke's mother and Belle.
  • Heroic BSOD: When Luke kills Pat Poker (even in a fair duel and as revenge for the murder of his parents), he is Driven to Suicide and Jolly Jumper has to talk him out of it. Poker faked his death to enforce the trope, since he knew "no bullet would ever kill Luke". Only when Luke is shot with his own revolver by Billy The Kid...with blanks, he realizes he has been had.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: In the 2009 live-action-film, one of the main plot elements is about Lucky Luke's oath to never kill anyone.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers of the 2009 live-action film give away the facts that Jolly Jumper talks to Luke (which is meant to be a surprise in the film) and that Jesse James and Billy the Kid go Enemy Mine with Luke.

The Licensed Game series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Minecart Madness: Explosive Mine from the GBC title "Lucky Luke Desperado Train", complete with this trope's basic premise despite it can get a lot better with practice (as pointed out in the page for the trope itself). It's the third-to-last level and if you want to see it, the password is Gun-Gun-Star-Horseshoe.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: all over the place for the sake of plot (if any), in the GBC title "Desperado Train". For a noteworthy example, you get to play as Rantanplan as soon as you get stuck in a cage, only to guide the dog through an underground dungeon in order to get the key and backtrack the whole stage to free Luke. And the level ends as soon as you free him.

I'm a poor lonesome cowboy
And a long way from home...

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