Follow TV Tropes


Meek Townsman

Go To
Meek townsfolk in their natural environment

An inhabitant of an Adventure Town who isn't too keen on that "adventure" bit.

The Meek Townsman lives in a village or town that has a certain amount of danger associated with it, but wants nothing to do with that danger. He (and it's almost always a "he", due to gender stereotypes) will be among the first to demand that The Sheriff or U.S. Marshal do something about an Outlaw or renegade natives threatening the town, but will be among the last to actually offer to help fight the threat. In the worst cases, you can almost see the yellow streak up his back.

By contrast to the standard Western protagonist, the Meek Townsman is usually a bit short, skinny and has a tendency to wear glasses. Typical occupations for the character include Clerk and the shopkeeper, but can be any non-combat position up to and including the mayor. This character may be a Henpecked Husband as well.

The Meek Townsman may remain a cowardly bystander for the entire story, but is often forced to rise to the occasion and can be surprisingly effective, especially if the hero spent some time Training the Peaceful Villagers. Sometimes, the Meek Townsman will turn out to be a Retired Gunfighter or other Retired Badass. If there's an unusual focus on the character, with pointed reference to him never carrying a gun or having renounced violence, or he's played by an actor who's "above" a meek townsman role, this subtrope might be in effect.

In comedic works, a Meek Townsman might himself be appointed The Sheriff or otherwise forced by the town to deal with impending danger. After all, he's too spineless to turn down the job!

This is often the characterization given to the Western Union Man.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Vash, of Trigun, tries to play this trope a time or two. Trouble always seems to find him and he ends up leaving town to take on the adventure again.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blazing Saddles: Just about everyone in Rock Ridge, though ironically they prove to be armed to the teeth when approached by a friendly black man who wants to help them.
  • BloodRayne II: Deliverance: Once the sheriff is turned into a vampire, the townsfolk of Deliverance just capitulate and allow Billy the Kid and his vampire cowboys to take over the town. Granted Billy is holding their children hostage, but no one shows any spark of resistance till Rayne rides into town.
  • Cowboys & Aliens: Doc, the bartender.
  • In Ghost Rock, only the madam Mattie Baker, Sheriff Clay and Determined Homesteader Weng and his family put up any resistance to Jack Pickett taking over the town. Everyone else meekly capitulates and will not even meet the eye of Pickett or his enforcers when they pass them in the street.
  • In Ghost Town (1988), it is the refusal of the meek townsfolk to join the sheriff in opposing Deviln and his gang that causes the town to be cursed and then to be trapped in a state of undeath under the rulership of the equally undead Devlin.
  • Gun Fury: Twice in his pursuit of Frank Slayton's gang, Ben Warren stops in towns in an attempt to raise a Posse to help him, only to be met by fear and indifference from the townsmen.
  • Most of the male characters in High Noon, to the point where you wonder why the town marshal bothered protecting the town in the first place.
  • The Legend of Frenchie King: The Wild West is a World of Action Girls, resulting in almost every male character being this. And they're all henpecked by the women in their lives to some extent. The few that aren't meek aren't much help either; the sheriff is a ditz who hates his job, for one.
  • In Lone Hero, Pablo, Tim and all of the other customers in the bar develop amnesia about the robbers looked like after Bart and Dog threaten them with what happens to people who inform against the Iron Bandits. Only John stands up to them.
  • In One Foot in Hell, Ellie dies in childbirth in a small cattle town in Arizona because of what Mitch sees as the heartlessness of three local men – George Caldwell the hotel keeper, Sam Giller the general store owner and Ole Olsen The Sheriff.

  • In The Undertaker series of novels, Barnaby Gold kills the son of a powerful rancher. The meek townsfolk burn down Barnaby's business and pay him off so that he will leave town, because they don't want to face the trouble his actions will bring to the town.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Black Saddle: In "Client:Meade", the only witness that can prove Clay's client innocent of murder is a meek shopkeeper who allows himself to be bullied by the dead man's family into changing his testimony.
  • In an episode of The Untouchables, the Untouchables and some of Capone's men go to Kansas, and the mayor is the Meek Townsman. He makes a speech, talking as if he's saying something noble, but he's telling his townspeople not to help Eliot Ness and co. fight the gangsters — "live to farm another day. To father, another day."


    Western Animation 
  • In The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Mayor Temoroso's reaction to any situation that might be considered even slightly threatening is to hide in a barrel.