After his father and brother are murdered by rustlers, mild-mannered railroad surveyor Clay O'Mara is deputized and investigates—helped and hindered in the process by the genial outlaw Whitey Kincaid.
Tropes present in Ride Clear of Diablo
- Affably Evil: Whitey, clear through.
- Blasting It Out of Their Hands: to Whitey.
- Blunt "Yes":Sheriff: "You don't think I'd shoot you in the back, do you?"Whitey: [totally matter-of-fact] "Yeah."
- Clueless Chick Magnet: it takes Clay a frustratingly long time to realize Laurie is hinting he needs to ask her for a dance.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Clay is a young, easy-going, straightforward guy who makes a living not as a gunman but as a railroad inspector...he's also mighty handy with a gun and just as handy with his fists.
- Friend to All Children: Clay gets along well with kids.
- Gilligan Cut: Whitey's horse is killed while Clay is escorting him in, leading Whitey to observe that one of them is going to walk the rest of the way.Clay: "Guess which one of us it's going to be."Whitey: "From the way you do everything else, I figure it'll probably be you."
- Guns Akimbo: Clay does this briefly, albeit just to threaten.
- The Hyena: Whitey Kincaid has a distinctive cackle, which he doesn't hesitate to use.
- Ideal Hero: Clay O'Mara isn't interested in revenge or murder; he wants to bring his family's killers to justice.
- Psycho Sidekick: Whitey takes up a liking to Clay...which is not the healthiest or safest thing ever to happen to Clay, given Whitey's sense of humor.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: partial example. Whitey is caught in the crossfire after having led Clay to the killer, and while encouraging them to shoot it out, rather than for the villain to surrender.
- Heroic Sacrifice:Whitey Kincaid: "I told you, if I ever felt like a human being again, I'd shoot myself."
- In the Back: Kincaid is given a smuggled gun while in prison, but can't bring himself to use it while Clay's back is turned.
- The Ingenue: male example in Clay, who is naive and trusting, and doesn't quite figure out what's going on until the end of the movie.
- Pintsized Powerhouse: don't get into a fistfight with Clay.
- Uriah Gambit: Sending Clay after Whitey was supposed to be this.
- Woman Scorned: Saloon girl Kate to Whitey.