Follow TV Tropes



Go To
The Gaucho is the archetypical character in the gauchesque poetry and fiction, a quintessential inhabitant of The Pampas, and a common stereotype of the Argentinian and Uruguayan peasant even today. In the simplest terms, a gaucho is merely a native inhabitant of the South Cone countryside, a common worker of the fields, maybe even a rural soldier or policeman. In the early days of the revolution, they became an archetype of the Argentinian character.

The Gauchos are a national symbol in both Argentina and Uruguay, as well as a regional symbol in the Southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. They became greatly renowned in legends, folklore and in literature and became a central point of their regional cultural tradition. They are traditionally depicted as brave, a bit lazy, free and violent folk that inhabited the pampas, with many similarities with the Cowboy, but very different at the same time.

The Gauchos historically are very diverse, as they came from diferent regions and provinces of the Spanish colonies in South America. They are similar to the Chilean huasos, the Cuban guajiros and the Venezuelan llaneros, as they descend of Spanish commoners that went to the countryside and mixed with the indigenous people (even the women of the gauchos are called chinas for the almond-shaped eyes), forming the main native population of many lands. They were primarily cattle herders, hunters and soldiers, minor owners of the fields surrounding the small towns in the Southern Cone, specifically the Center and North of Argentina, the South of Brazil (Gaúcho is also the common denomination of the current inhabitants of the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul), Southern Paraguay and the entire Uruguay. They were superb horseriders and cattle herders, as their main possession is a horse.

In the Independence Wars, and later in the Civil Wars, the most basic unit in the armies were cavalry composed entirely by gauchos, using the "montonera" tactic: a sort of horseback guerrilla, they swarm over an enemy army, strike and retreat faster than lightning. This tactic was a major drawback for the "civilized" Spanish armies, that were unable to fight them. The typical "montoneros" were armed with lances or spears for charges, boleadoras (bolas) for ranged or melee attacks, and faconesnote  for close-quarter fights.

The gauchos usually wore "ponchos", -long, thick blankets which doubled as a saddle blanket and as sleeping bag,- loose-fitting trousers called bombachas belted with "tiradores", and a chiripá, a type of loincloth. In the head, they often used a vincha (a type of bandana) or a medium-sized hat. The common gear was very similar to the military equipment of the montoneros, but lacking the spear. The bolas and the facón were very important as tools and weapons for the gaucho, as guns weren't very common yet. The bolas were the main hunter's weapon of choice, as they can trap easily the legs of the prey, or knock them down by the mere impact of the hit, and the facón was the primordial weapon and tool for everything else.

After the Civil Wars, they became a problem for the modernization idealists, as they were the backbone of the provincial and rebel armies of the caudillos. People like Sarmiento had a love-hate relationship with them, as they admired them by their horse prowess and bravery, and hated them due to their "barbaric" looks and behavior. For the common folk of the 1880s, the Gauchos were ignorant, illiterate, murderous, lazy scumbags, an anathema for their "civilized" and European views.note  Obviously, the problem on what to do with the Gauchos had a solution. The Argentinian government sent them to the frontier as soldiers in the wars against the indigenous people, while the Brazilian and Uruguayan governments sent them against Paraguay. Then, the Gauchos were replaced in the countryside by a large number of immigrants brought mainly from Italy, Spain and Germany.

They are usually depicted as long-haired, bearded badasses with tanned skin who raid the Pampas prosecuted by the law, or sitting in a pulpería (a sort of bar and general store) or a fogón (bonfire) drinking mate and playing the guitar. They may be represented both as noble, proud, tragic and free warrior poets; or as hideous, treacherous and murderous "malevos", as opposed to to fair, gentle and well-mannered "European" heroes.

This trope appears mainly in the South American literature, and depictions of the Southern Cone culture. Contrast Latin Land and Mayincatec, for stereotypical views of Latin America.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

  • Amalia, a long novel by José Mármol, depicted them as dangerous and treacherous murderers.
  • Many works of Jorge Luis Borges depicts gauchos as antiheroes, violent but noble folk.
  • Ricardo Güiraldes' Don Segundo Sombra plays a modern version of this trope. There, the unnamed protagonist is educated in the traditional ways by an ancient gaucho, working in an estancia (ranch).
  • Facundo is a work of the former Argentinean President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, that goes all Tsundere about his distant cousin Facundo Quiroga, a caudillo that leaded armies entirely composed by gauchos.
  • There is an entire literary genre called "Gauchesca", with plenty of works both of poetry and narrative.
  • La Guerra Gaucha is a novel of the praised author Leopoldo Lugones about the Independence Wars in Salta province.
  • Written by Eduardo Gutierrez, Juan Moreira is a fictionalized account of the life of one of the most notorious "gauchos malevos" in Argentine history. It's been adapted for both theatre and cinema.
  • Of course, the main archetype of the Gaucho is Martín Fierro, by José Hernández. Here, the gaucho is a victim of the cruel government, that sends him to the Frontier to fight the Indians. He later deserts and rages when he sees that his farm has been abandoned by his family, and spreads death to anyone that crosses his path.
  • The works of the Uruguayan Bartolomé Hidalgo, named generically "Un gaucho de la Guardia del Monte", are mostly praised as the first works of the Gauchesque genre, belonging to the early XIX century. Hidalgo goes by the Warrior Poet stereotype.

    Film — Animated 
  • Saludos Amigos has a short animation called El Gaucho Goofy, were the character travels to the Pampas to learn the ways of the gauchos.
  • The Three Caballeros goes further and makes a short story called The Flying Gauchito, depicting a young gaucho from Uruguay.

    Film — Live Action 
  • La Guerra Gaucha is an award-winning 1942 Argentinian film based on the novel by Leopoldo Lugones.
  • La Tierra En Armas depicts the life of Martín de Güemes, a Caudillo and national hero of the independence wars, that leads an army of gauchos against the Spanish army.
  • The Way Of The Gaucho is a 1954 "western" depicting an alternate version of Martín Fierro, where The Hero deserts the Army and leads a group of bandits that attacks the railroad lords.
  • In Moonraker, James Bond (Roger Moore) dresses like a gaucho when riding in the pampa towards a Q lab hidden in a monastery (with the theme of The Magnificent Seven playing, somehow).

  • Steely Dan had an album titled Gaucho, though there's no clear relation to Argentinean cowboys (except maybe the cover art) in its overall theme. However, the Title Track seems to be narrated by a gay sugar daddy whose lover brings home a younger hunk of possibly Latino origin, whom he contemptuously calls "gaucho", with perhaps a hint of class derision:
    Who is the gaucho, amigo?
    Why is he standing
    In your spangled leather poncho
    And your elevator shoes
    Bodacious cowboys
    Such as your friend
    Will never be welcome here
    High in the Custerdome

  • El Fausto is a parody in which two Gauchos discuss Goethe's play Faust. Hilarity Ensues.
  • El Gigante Amapolas is a XIX century play from Alberti that depicts the armies of the Buenos Aires' dictator Rosas with an army of cowardly gauchos.

    Video Game 
  • In Hitman 3, they appear as part of the security detail in the fifth mission which is set in an Argentinian vineyard.

    Western Animation 
  • The Gallopin' Gaucho: As the title implies, this Mickey Mouse short is intended as a parody of Douglas Fairbanks's The Gaucho, a film first released on November 21, 1927. Following the original film, the events of the short take place in the Pampas of Argentina with Mickey cast as the gaucho of the title.


Video Example(s):


Goofy the Gaucho

Goofy and the audience are shown the ways of the gaucho, including how they dress, their horse, their way of life and so much more.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / Gaucho

Media sources: