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Native Guide

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A Great White Hunter follows his trusty native guide

Being The Hero can take characters to lands far beyond their homes, and not all of them are easy to navigate. Perhaps the hero finds their goal is on the other side of the Rapids of Death or somewhere deep in The City Narrows. It's time to enlist the help of the native guide.

The native guide knows about the place they hero needs to pass through, whether they live in the area, have made the journey themselves, or are simply Closer to Earth and know more about the lands around them. The hero convinces or hires them to guide them where they need to go and the guide takes them there. Sometimes an unsavory guide will take advantage of the outsider's lack of knowledge to lead them into a trap, others may go out of their way to take shortcuts or take lesser known routes to show them some wonder of nature, and others simply get you from point A to point B. Either way, the native guide will take you exactly where they want you to go.

A Bold Explorer or Mighty Whitey often hires this type of character. May also be a Scarily Competent Tracker if the story is set in the wilds. May overlap with Army Scout.

Compare and contrast the Great White Hunter, who is a non-native often acting as a guide in the wilderness.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Appare-Ranman!, the Japanese protagonists who are taking part in a car race across America are joined by Hototo, a young native American who helps them navigate and survive in the wild through their cross-country trip.
  • Ali from A Bride's Story, a youth from central Asia hired by English anthropologist Mr. Smith to guide him from Bukhara (modern-day Uzbekistan) to Ankara (Turkey) during The Crimean War. Ali sits between this trope and the Hypercompetent Sidekick; he is multi-lingual and able to speak Uzbek, Farsi, and Turkmen/Turkish, well versed in most of the cultures on the way, and above all an extremely pragmatic and practical man who helps Smith maneuver through the increasingly volatile political landscape.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in Les Tuniques Bleues. A prospector in Canada wants to send his fortune to the South, so Blutch and Chesterfield are sent to convince him not to. They hire a coureur des bois to take them to the prospector, only to discover that he's anything but. Once they finally reach the prospector, the Confederates are there as well, having hired the coureur's equally inept brother. The prospector learns of their efforts and dies of laughter, since it turned out the brothers had been lost in the forest for years and had just gotten out. In the end the six are rescued by natives before all the game is scared away by their antics.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The team searching for yeti in The Abominable Snowman hires a Sherpa guide, much as real-life Himalayan explorers were doing at the time.
  • Xhabbo, a Bushman in A Far Off Place, guides Nonnie and Harry through the Kalahari desert, helps them find water, teaches Harry how to hunt, can communicate with elephants
  • Subverted in the Cecil B. DeMille movie Four Frightened People. Native guide George gets the party lost within a couple of hours of entering the jungle, and later refuses to ask directions from a Wacky Wayside Tribe as this would make him seem inferior to them.
  • The Hunter: Jack Mindy is a Red Leaf employee who is familiar with the territory, sets Martin up with a place to stay, and guides him into the mountains until Martin feels familiar enough with them to continue on his own. Hes also monitoring Martin for Red Leaf, and Martin is a bit unhappy about this due to having secrets to keep.
  • In The Proposition, the British colonial troopers have an Australian Aboriginal guide named Jacko. He's a master tracker, and much more complicated character than this trope usually suggests.
  • Downplayed in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indy is accompanied by two shady local guides during the opening quest set in the Peruvian jungle.
  • Sheena: Vic and Fletch get some help getting around, both in the city and the savannah from two locals, Juka and Boko.
  • A European version in Third Man on the Mountain, a Disney film about a boy who grows up in a Swiss town that provides guides to the surrounding mountains as their main industry.
  • Howard in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. As a veteran gold digger and being fluent in Spanish, he gets hired by the two novices to lead them to the right grounds.
  • White Hunter, Black Heart: Kivu is a local animal tracker Wilson hires to help him find game. He dies protecting Wilson from the prize bull elephant he has been stalking.

  • The premise of Dersu Uzala, in which a Nanai local guides Soviet soldiers through the harsh remote Siberian taiga.
  • Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory. Steampunk Great White Hunter Lord Cockswain employs a "homeless Venusian savage" as such on his hunting trip to Venus (who's only homeless because Cockswain crashed his Retro Rocket on top of his hut). The Venusian watches in horror as Cockswain blasts every creature in sight with his arsenal of Ray Guns, then ends up with his head mounted on the wall with the rest of them.
  • Several of the Gor novels starting with the fourth book involve Tarl going to a new and different culture on Gor where he meets up with and befriends a local, who serves as a tour guide and cultural (if not verbal) translator. Specific examples include Kamchak the Tuchuk of the nomadic Wagon Peoples in Nomads of Gor, Torvaldslandean pirate captain Ivar Forkbeard, in Marauders of Gor, wily desert bandit Hassan in Tribesmen of Gor, and Imnak, a Red Hunter (aka Eskimo), in Beasts of Gor.
  • Several exist in H. Rider Haggard novels, sometimes a Badass Native Proud Warrior Race Guy (Umslopogaas in Alan Quartermain, the wandering King of the Kukuanas in King Soloman's mines).
  • Swanny and Rorq, a pair of tunnel workers who show the main characters around the City (and its crime lords) in one Jedi Quest book.
  • Used as Loophole Abuse in The War Against the Chtorr. When the protagonist pisses off one-too-many people and gets thrown out of the military, the Uncle Ira Group reenlists him under an old law as an 'Indian Scout'.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Justified: The third to last episode has a rare case of characters seeking out a native guide even though they live in the same area, the mountains of Kentucky. Ava and her uncle are trying to escape Harlan County with $10,000,000 in stolen drug money and are being chased by the authorities and two rival gangs. They go to the cabin of a retired moonshiner named Grubes to bribe him to help them navigate the hidden, maze-like moonshining trails they can use to get out of Harlan County without being spotted. Grubes turns out to be Dead All Along (from natural causes), triggering an Oh, Crap! moment from his would-be clients.
  • In the pilot of Star Trek: Voyager, a local junk dealer named Neelix offers Captain Janeway his services as guide in exchange for passage for himself and his girlfriend Kes. For the first two seasons, Neelix is generally competent in this role except when the plot requires otherwise. Midway through the third season however, Voyager crosses the frontier of Neelix's geographic knowledge (in "Fair Trade"), and his usefulness as a guide comes to an end. Neelix panics, thinking he might be put off the ship. Captain Janeway has to point out that they're all in the same situation.
  • Played for Laughs in one episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Drew announces that the next game will involve an explorer in the Amazon and his native guide. Wayne Brady immediately points out the troubling implications of this, and as soon as the game starts, his first words are, "Hello, guide!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu:
    • Supplement The Asylum and Other Tales, adventure "Black Devil Mountain". The Investigators (PCs) can hire an Indian guide named Black Tom. He claims to know the area (and especially the mountain) quite well, but has a sinister manner. He once guided five hunters to the mountain: two were killed, one went mad and two were never seen again.
    • Supplement Curse of the Chthonians, adventure "Thoth's Dagger". When the Investigators arrive in Cairo they are approached by a person who offers his services as a dragoman (guide) to show them around the city.
    • Supplement The Fungi from Yuggoth, section "Mountains of the Moon". When the Investigators arrive in the village of Huancucho they can hire a native guide named Sancho who can guide them to the New World Incorporated mine.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the Underdark Guide Prestige Class, a person specifically experienced at moving around the Underdark.
  • Paranoia adventure The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues, Mission 3 "No One Here Gets Out Alive". The Computer sends the traitorous Oregon Warbler along with the Troubleshooters (PCs) to act as their guide through the dangerous passages of Alpha Complex. Of course, this being Paranoia he takes every opportunity to get the Troubleshooters killed.

  • In Jasper in Deadland, Jasper is guided through Deadland by a tour guide named Gretchen, who has been in Deadland so long that she can no longer remember her time in the Living world.

  • White Rooms: Rits has survived in the white rooms for weeks before meeting the group, and knows how to keep them safe from the many dangers roaming around in them.

    Web Original 
  • In Moonstuck, Woona's seapony friend offers to guide her through the moon waterways, as he knows the area "like the back of his hoof."

    Real Life 
  • Sacagawea was a Shoshone Indian woman who served as a guide for Lewis and Clark.
  • La Malinche guided the conquistadors in present day Mexico.
  • Tenzing Norgay Sherpa made a career as this and was one of the first two on top of Mt Everest (neither he nor Edmund Hillary told who was first).