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New Old West

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"Hands where I can see 'em, pardner."

"I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride,
And I'm wanted—dead or alive."
Bon Jovi, "Wanted Dead or Alive"

The Western genre is a rich one, but has been decidedly played out over the years, to the point where it's hard to do a Western series without looking like you're ripping off a rip-off. The easiest way to revitalize the genre is to set it in the future, when man's expansion onto other planets has created a similar state of lawlessness and grit in the off-world colonies in a distant galaxy—hence the Space Western, where the sheriff has a laser blaster.

A less frequent but still popular choice is the New Old West, in which Western traditions and tropes are shifted forward a hundred or so years into the modern day. Now the bandits drive pick-up trucks or ride motorcycles, the outlaws hole up in grungy No Tell Motels at highway rest stops, the sheriff has a modern handgun and rifle (possibly a revolver and lever-action rifle if the creators want to contrast, in a Good Guns, Bad Guns way, against crooks' submachine guns and assault rifles), and the great plains of America are surrounded on all sides by airports, highways, and cities.

Of course, this means that it's harder to do stories about outlaws because advances in technology mean that it's much easier for law enforcement agents to pursue and capture criminals. As a result, many New Old West stories are about the perceived loss of freedom in America now that such days are gone.

There's an overlap with the Twilight of the Old West trope if the New Old West story is set in the early part of the 20th century and is about elements of the Wild West fading away. If there is a fantasy or supernatural element to the story, expect an actual cowboy, or some other person from the actual Old West, to somehow make an appearance.

Because of its proximity to Texas, the overwhelming power and presence of drug cartels, and the numerous poor desert towns that any criminal can hide in and find an Abandoned Warehouse or scrapyard to run an illegal operation in, a good number of New Old West stories take place South of the Border in northern Mexico. California, Arizona, New Mexico, and — of course — Texas itself are also popular locations for a modern Western story for the same reasons as El Norte.

Not to be confused with Cowboy Cop, although some overlap is possible.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • El Cazador de la Bruja is clearly influenced by westerns and takes place (probably) somewhere near the US-Mexico border, but is set in the modern day as of the 2000s prduction time.
  • Fist of the North Star has a fallout-covered nuclear Wild West.
  • Trigun could be considered sort of a cross between this and Space Western—it's on an alien planet, but space travel has been lost and the tech is kind of schizy. The level of order is deplorably low, which is treated as kind of a problem because bandits and other abuses of the violent kinds, but the hero would be in big trouble if 'the Feds' could actually exert any authority, and the 'awesome' factor is milked for all it's worth.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds dips into this with the Crash Town arc, which combines the wild west setting with card games, motorcycles, and card games on motorcycles.

    Comic Books 
  • The modern Amazing Fantasy anthology series was headlined for a few issues by Vegas, a shiftless luck-stealing bounty hunter on the trail of the old mutant gang he used to run with after they hospitalized his sister.
  • The DCU:
    • Cinnamon: El Ciclo was an updating of a female Bounty Hunter from the 1970s book Weird Western Tales to the present day, where she was a security operative for hire. In the miniseries, she tangles with people smugglers (a.k.a. 'coyotes') along the US/Mexico border. Several other DC Western characters have modern-day counterparts, although how Western their stories are varies considerably.
    • The Rafael Sandoval version of El Diablo, who had his own short-lived title in the early 1990s, patrolled a modern-day border town while confronting issues that face Mexican-Americans.
    • The Hitman (1993) annual is a modern-day Western, right down to the coffin full of money. Several other DC Comics Annuals that year were modern westerns (the "theme" being pulp fiction genres). These included Superman as the Mysterious Stranger flying into town, Impulse teaming with the original Vigilante (now running a dude ranch), and Robin facing down the modern-day Trigger Twins alongside the modern-day Pow-Wow Smith and Nighthawk.
    • Parodied in a Lobo Elseworld annual in which Lobo takes the role of various Western characters (Geroni-bo, The Main Man With No Name, Anne Bo-kley, etc). The final story is about "The Last Despera-bo"... who promptly gets hit by a truck.
    • The Golden Age DC Comics characters Pow-Wow Smith (Native American sheriff) and Vigilante (singing cowboy) were 1940s Western characters, although sometimes DC forgot and put them in the real Old West. This was eventually explained as Pow-Wow having an Identical Grandfather and Vigilante getting Trapped in the Past during an adventure with the Seven Soldiers of Victory.
  • Two of DC's licensed comics of the late Golden Age, Dale Evans Comics and Jimmy Wakely, starred the two then-popular celebrities in western adventures set in the present day of the early 1950s.
  • Tom Strong:
    • Tom and Solomon find an old West town whose population were abducted by aliens and brought back in the modern day.
    • An alternate Tom is asked how he can be a cowboy if it's the year 2000. Cowboy Tom guesses that the "great malechanical progress abolition" never happened on other worlds.
  • A frequent setting in Disney Ducks Comic Universe. It's almost like Twilight of the Old West never happened there... except that according to The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, it did.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • The Cursed Earth is essentially an After the End version of the Old West, with Dredd and his fellow Judges often taking the role of The Sheriff.
    • Texas City even more explicitly so, as Judges wear cowboy hats and other stereotypical paraphernalia.
    • The Moon city of Luna-1, meanwhile, is The Wild West IN SPACE!, down to offensive Mexican stereotypes serving as Judges and hoverbikes as horses.
  • The Legend of Red Wolf by Enrique Villagran is a dark tale of sexual terror in the modern West. The land and people are exploited by the rich, and it a takes a brave native American to try and get justice. What he gets is a front row seat to decadence and depravity.
  • Preacher takes the whole thing so far it even features an unkillable cowboy and the "ghost" of John Wayne.
  • Scalped focuses on the Oglala Lakota inhabitants of the fictional Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in modern-day South Dakota as they grapple with organized crime, rampant poverty, drug addiction and alcoholism, local politics and the preservation of their cultural identity.
  • Sherwood, Texas is a Setting Update of Robin Hood which re-imagines Robin as the leader of an outlaw biker gang on the Texas/Mexico border, battling the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham County and the rival Nobles biker gang.
  • The Marvel Comics miniseries Six Guns features present day legacies of five Western characters: the Tarantula, the Two-Gun Kid, the Black Rider, Matt Slade: Gunfighter, and Tex Dawson.
  • Wynonna Earp is New Old West meets Weird West.

    Film — Animated 
  • Despite what the trailers would lead you to believe, Barnyard is less the wacky comedy that it was advertised as and more of a Western with farm animals. The chickens and other animals who can't defend themselves are the helpless townsfolk, Dag and his pack are bandits threatening the, farm's livelihood, and Ben is the Sheriff who keeps the town safe with Miles as his deputy. And after Ben's death, Otis and his friends become the posse aiming to bring the bandits to justice, with Otis essentially becoming the new "Sheriff" at the end.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 3 Ninjas: Knuckle Up features the brothers going up against a greedy, influential Caucasian businessman with lots of Cowboy Mooks trying to avoid justice for his crimes against the local Native Americans. The setting is more rural than in the other films, and the climatic fight takes place in a western Ghost Town.
  • The Swedish film Babas Cars depicts a used car salesman and his apprentice fighting The Mafiya. It's set in the northern town of Kiruna, which is portrayed exactly like the Old West, with wide open plains, canyons, etc, only they're covered with snow and ice instead of sand.
  • Bad Day at Black Rock is set in a Western "cowboy" town that, for all its isolation, has by the 1940s managed to acquire such modern technologies as rental cars, telephones and streamlined trains. The pseudo-drifter protagonist served in World War II, and the anti-Japanese racism of the era is an important theme.
  • Big Trouble in Little China started out as a western before being moved to the present. It still retains some of the trappings, especially Jack Burton carrying a saddlebag around on his shoulder and riding off into the sunset.
  • Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia: An American bartender and his prostitute girlfriend go on a road trip through the Mexican underworld to collect a $1 million bounty on the head of a dead gigolo.
  • Brokeback Mountain, though it's not a shoot 'em up.
  • In Bronco Billy, Bronco Billy and his troupe are nostalgic for the Wild West. Their show is an attempt to revive the Old West. At one point, they even try to rob a train.
  • Crush Proof plays like The Wild Bunch recast with a bunch of Dublin teenagers.
  • Cry Macho, directed by an starring a 90-year old Clint Eastwood, tells a story about an old washed up rodeo star and horse breeder who's tasked to bring a young man from Mexico to Texas in 1979.
  • In Day of the Wolves, a gang of outlaws take over a small Western town. It would not take much of a rewrite to have the plot take place in 1871 instead of 1971.
  • Dead Man's Shoes is a rare British example, taking Western themes and setting them in Matlock.
  • Disturbing the Peace: A small town marshal has to fight off a gang of outlaw bikers who take over the town in order to hijack an armoured car. In the final confrontation, Marshal Dillon chases after head biker Diablo while riding a horse and wielding a Winchester repeater.
  • The Electric Horseman takes place in the contrasting worlds of the modern West: the glitzy Las Vegas Strip and the unspoiled wilderness of Utah's Zion National Park.
  • Johnnie To's Exiled: It's 1998, and the Portuguese colony of Macau, a city along the Southern coast of China, is about to be handed over to Chinese authorities under a long-standing agreement. As the people of Macau ponder how their new leaders will deal with the criminal underground that's long been part of the city's support system, a pair of hit men from Hong Kong arrive in town to execute a gangster who has turned his back on the syndicate to make a new life for his wife and children. While the Chinese syndicate want to be sure he doesn't share anything he learned while in their employ, two strong-arm men also arrive in Macau, determined to see to the former gangster's safety.
  • Extreme Prejudice (1987) used this trope as the background for an action movie where a Texas Ranger teams up with a high-tech black ops unit to take down a former friend-turned-Mexican druglord. Emphasis is placed on how the Old West ways are being destroyed by the easy money available from the drug trade, and the violence that accompanies it.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn: After a string of robberies that left a river of blood in the Geckos' wake, the sadistic siblings head to Mexico to live the good life. To get over the border, they kidnap Jacob Fuller, a widowed preacher, and his two children, Kate and Scott. Once south of the border, the quintet park their RV at a rough-and-tumble trucker bar called The Titty Twister, where Seth and Richie are supposed to meet a local thug. After a couple of drinks, they realize that they're not in a typical bar, as the entire place begins to teem with vicious, blood-sucking vampires.
  • Ghost Rider (2007) plays up these elements, also tying in an older Western character by the same name (who existed in the comics but was unrelated to the modern character).
  • Ghost Town (1988): Even before stumbling upon the Ghost Town and the revenant outlaws, Langley is a lone deputy scouring the vast wastes of the Arizona desert for a Runaway Bride; albeit in his (Ford) Bronco, rather than on it.
  • The Korean The Good, the Bad and the Ugly remake, The Good, The Bad, The Weird, transplants the setting of the story from the American Civil War to 1940s Manchuria.
  • Guns, Girls and Gambling: This story throws Elvis Impersonators, Native Americans, a cowboy, a drop dead beautiful blond assassin, a frat boy, two corrupt sheriffs, the girl next door and a prostitute into a chase for a million dollar Native American artifact stolen during a poker game at a casino.
  • Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man is set in the New Old West. It features a gang of outlaws (with one of the lead outlaws, the Marlboro Man, being an actual cowboy), riding motorcycles rather than horses, robbing an armored car (instead of a train), to get money to save the cowboy bar (set near a modern airport and skyscrapers, representing the last bastion of the old way of life) they all love.
  • Hell or High Water involves a string of bank robberies on the Texas High Plains, and the efforts of the Texas Rangers to bring the perpetrators to justice... in the wake of the 2008 recession. The Comanche Indians show up as well, but they aren't involved in the robberies, or the resulting shootouts; rather, their casino serves as a convenient way of laundering the stolen money.
    • What with writing the script for this movie, writing and directing Wind River (see below), and co-creating the series Yellowstone (see a little farther below), this trope is clearly Author Appeal for Taylor Sheridan.
  • Hud is set on a Texas cattle ranch during the early 1960s and involves the undermining of the Old West's traditional values by the amorality and ruthlessness of the modern West represented by the film's title character.
  • John Carpenter:
    • Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) was originally conceived as a straightforward, period-set Western, but he didn't have the budget for it. As such, he retooled the script into a modern-day version of Rio Bravo, the setting moved from an Old West town to an inner-city ghetto and with many allusions to the films of Howard Hawks.
    • He chose to direct John Carpenter's Vampires because he thought the script resembled a Western, and even described as a "Western disguised as a horror film." The film itself is full of Western landscapes and ghost towns with a vintage feel.
  • Parts of Kill Bill. Instead of a brothel, you've got a dingy titty bar; instead of a sinister mustachioed gunslinger, you've got a shotgun-wielding sadist who listens to Johnny Cash...
  • Last Man Standing brings the chain of adaptations begun by Red Harvest full circle, putting the familiar story of Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars back in a 1930s border town.
  • Last of the Dogmen: The film is set in 1995 but features a Hidden Elf Village of Native Americans, a Bounty Hunter, and the Montana wilderness. The narrator even calls it a modern-day Western.
  • The Last Stand is about an aging sheriff of a Arizona-Mexico border having his own High Noon-like experience.
  • Logan is described as a Western, with elements drawn not just from Old Man Logan but James Mangold also cites the modern Western classic, Unforgiven, as one of its inspirations. It also bears more than a passing resemblance to the story structure of the Neo-Western video game The Last of Us.
  • The oft-overlooked Lonely Are the Brave, set in 1962. The protagonist, Jack Burns (Kirk Douglas), is an itinerant ranch hand who still rides everywhere on horseback and sleeps wherever he ends up in the evening; he refuses to join modern society, claiming that he resents its emphasis on telling people where they can or can't go and what they can or can't do. His Old West lifestyle, however, has been growing increasingly difficult to maintain.
  • Lone Hero: An actor in a Wild West show must become a mythical Western Hero when a biker gang descends upon a small Montana town.
  • Lone Wolf McQuade has David Carradine and Chuck Norris kick martial arts butt in the New West. The soundtrack is pure Western goodness, the open horizon of the border is an important location, and Texas Ranger McQuade is pretty much a man Born in the Wrong Century who enjoys cold beer and racing around in his souped-up truck as much as he does kicking criminal ass. The movie was the inspiration for Walker, Texas Ranger.
  • The present day portion of Lust for Gold shows that not much has changed since The Wild West; with a killer still picking off anyone they think is getting too close to the mine.
  • The Lusty Men (1952) by Nicholas Ray is set in the late 40s and deals with Rodeo Performers in the Midwest, living nomadically in trailer parks. The sleazy Rodeo culture is seen as a Nostalgia Filter and The Theme Park Version of the Wild West with cowboys becoming little more than exploited performers who risk their lives riding wild broncos, all for little pay and no insurance.
  • The Mad Max films are essentially Westerns set After the End in the Land Down Under.
  • 1961 film Man with a Shotgun is set at the time the film was made but hits the usual Western beats, with a mysterious drifter coming into a town teeming with bandits and thugs, getting himself made sheriff, and getting the bad guys while also pursuing a private vendetta. (The other thing unusual about this film is that it's Japanese.)
  • The Mariachi films, made by Robert Rodriguez, are "Burrito Westerns" taking place in modern-day Mexico, and feature the adventures of El Mariachi, a traveling guitarist who finds himself drawn into the violent world surrounding Mexico's drug cartels. Each of the three films (four if you count the third one that they never made) shows his Character Development from an unemployed musician to a sort of national vigilante folk hero.
    • El Mariachi depicts him as a young and hopeful (and currently seeking employment) musician who gets caught up in a gang war when he is mistaken for a pistolero dressed in black who carries his guns in a guitar case.
    • Desperado picks up on El a few years later, where he is now a vigilante going from town to town seeking out the local Cartel men so he can kill them and disrupt their drug trade. On the way he falls in love with a local girl who runs a book store.
    • The third film details El and Carolina's fight against General Marquez, a corrupt army officer in league with the cartels. Or it would detail this had Rodriguez ever made it. Inspired by his discovery that many fans of Desperado didn't realize it was a sequel and were confused by the numerous Call Backs to the previous film.
    • The fourth (well, third) film, Once Upon a Time in Mexico has El caught up in a CIA agent's plot involving a power play in Mexico involving a Cartel drug lord and the reformist Mexican President. El only signs on because it's his chance to get his revenge against General Marquez, currently in the drug lord's employ.
  • Mystery Road, and its sequel Goldstone, are set in Australia rather than the US, but deal with a Cowboy Cop trying to fight crime and keep the peace in the vast expanse of the Outback, with very little in the way of resources or backup. Both films end with a shootout that would not be out of place in any western.
  • Near Dark is a film that follows a band of outlaw vampires on the backroads of Oklahoma.
  • No Country for Old Men is a neo-noir/neo-western crime thriller set in Texas in the year 1980; featuring a local man stealing a stash of drug money that was left behind in the desert, which leads to him being chased by and fighting with a ruthlessly persistent hitman and the Mexican drug cartel that hired the hitman.
  • No Man's Land, set in the isolated deserts of Xinjiang, China.
  • Nope is a Sci-Fi Horror film set in the present day, but is otherwise filled with Western motifs. The protagonists OJ and Emerald own a ranch where they train horses for Hollywood productions, specifically noting the fact that the jockey featured in the first motion picture ever made, The Horse in Motion, was their great-great-great-grandfather, and the Former Child Star Ricky "Jupiter" Park now runs a Wild West-themed amusement park. The third act especially makes heavy use of Western music as the main characters set about their plan to get photo or video proof of alien life, complete with an outright Western theme playing over the end credits.
  • Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders opens in and is shot on location in Marfa, Texas and also focuses on Houston, while the main character, played by Harry Dean Stanton, is likened to be a cowboy in Modern America. The film shows the diversity of different landscapes in Texas, from scorching hot and rocky Marfa to ultra-modern Houston. Wim Wenders has generally stated many times that he considers the modern Road Movie to be the true successor of The Western.
  • The Professionals is a classic 1966 Western set in 1917. A group of experts are hired to go into Mexico and rescue the wife of a rancher who has been kidnapped by Mexican revolutionaries. Comments are made about the Great war raging in Europe and the heroes have to face the traditional dangers of the West combined with more modern threats such as machine guns and artillery pieces.
  • Rambo: Last Blood is set in modern Arizona and Mexico, with Rambo as a modern lone gunslinger seeking revenge on the Mexican sex trafficking ring that kidnapped his niece. Rambo even rides off into the sunset at the end of the film.
  • Red Hill, set in modern-day rural Australia (which works perfectly).
  • Replace town with bar and sheriff with bouncer and you have Road House (1989).
  • Shoot to Kill: The second and third quarters of the movie follow an FBI agent and his Mountain Man guide chasing a killer through the mountains of Washington state, braving blizzards and treacherous cliffs with barely any technology in sight.
  • Six Reasons Why takes the tropes of the old west and places them in an unknown time with modern technology.
  • Sky High (1922) is set in the present day, but has all the trappings of The Western—a hero on horseback wearing a cowboy hat (Tom Mix), bad guys who conspire in a Bad Guy Bar, the desert, a climactic fight on the side of a cliff.
  • Stake Land Heavily invoked by the plot, where the lock down towns battling vicious outsiders (vampires and collaborators), as The Hero and his companions travel through dangerous territory. The fact that Mister wears a hat that would do a cowboy proud helps.
  • Streets of Fire emphasizes the trope with Tom's duster.
    • By his own admission, everything Walter Hill made is a contemporary Western.
  • Alex Cox's 1987 cult film Straight to Hell is a parody of spaghetti westerns set in modern times, with a cast of punk rockers and character actors.
  • Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat: The setting is a Monster Town that is raided by a rival bunch of vampires, riding horses and blazing away with guns, with The Cavalry arriving in a limousine in one scene, with a bunch of men dressed in suits and cowboy hats getting out to fight the invaders.
  • The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is a 2005 Mexican-American neo-western film set on the US-Mexican border.
  • The first three Tremors films are a Horror Comedy take on the genre, set in small, dusty Western towns (in Nevada in the first, the third, and the TV series, in Mexico in the second) in which the locals battle monsters in true frontier fashion. The fourth film, a prequel to the series, was a straight Western set in the 1880s and had to change little about the series formula. Later films, though, moved away from this setting, with the fifth being set in South Africa, the sixth in northern Canada, and the seventh in Thailand.
  • The Walking Hills: The setting is 1949, but several people (cowboys, a bar owner, a prospector, a drifter, a private detective, and others) venture into the desert after a nineteenth century treasure and can't trust each other. There's little technology and lots of desert scenery.
  • There are a lot of Western plot elements in The Warriors, with the Warriors essentially running through a lawless Injun Country of hostiles while themselves sporting a Native American theme. Further, the Warriors are "outlaws" being pursued by the "Posse" of the NYPD. Two of the Warriors even have Western motifs; Cowboy, who wears a stetson, and Cochise, who wears Native American style clothing with his vest. Big Bad Luther wears a sheriff's badge pinned to his vest, giving him elements of the Lawman Gone Bad.
  • West World is set in a theme park full of robot cowboys where tourists can live out their cowboy fantasies. Problems start when the robots malfunction.
  • Wild at Heart provided some of the inspiration for Preacher (see Comic Books, above).
  • The Wild Bunch takes place in 1913, basically showing the last hurrah of the wild west.
  • Wild Horse Phantom begins with a breakout from a modern prison where the guards are armed with Tommy guns, and the convicts hijack a car in order to escape. However, they swap the car for horses to get to the mine and from this point on the film could be set The Wild West. Even the scenes in the town of Piedmont show no cars or other modern contrivances.
  • Wind River is set on the titular Indian reservation in Wyoming, sometime in The New '10s, and its plot centers around the death of a Native woman. The harsh elements, exploitation of native land and people, and social tensions erupting into violence all produce an impression that little has changed since the bad old days in parts of the West.

  • All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, as well as the film adaptation by Billy Bob Thornton. Texas teenager John Grady Cole finds himself alone in the world after his mother sells the ranch where he grew up, forcing him to leave the only life he has ever known. Joined by his pal Lacey Rawlins, John Grady sets off on horseback for Mexico where the cowboy life still exists.
  • Bret King Mysteries: The series is set in 1960 in an isolated area of New Mexico, with plenty of desert and mountain chases and shootouts, the local Navajo community playing a prominent role, and a lot of the rugged pioneer spirit still intact.
  • Louis Lamour set his novel The Broken Gun in the 1950's, with a reporter following up on century-old journal pages stuffed in a revolver.
  • In Cassie Dewell novels, Cassie starts as a sheriff's investigator in Montana, and then becomes a deputy, and later Private Detective, in North Dakota. A lot is made of small police forces attempting to police large, wide open spaces with little in the way of resources or backup.
  • Several stories Walt Coburn, most likely a result of him having grown up in the Twilight of the Old West.
    • "Broken Wings" is set shortly after WWI and makes a point of throwing an airplane into a story about a gold mind and a Mexican coup.
  • The Continental Op short story "Corkscrew", written in 1925, must be one of the earliest examples of this trope. The Op is appointed Deputy Sheriff of Corkscrew, Arizona, where cowboys keep getting killed.
  • Cthulhu Armageddon by C.T. Phipps is a post-apocalypse After the End Weird West series set in the aftermath of the Great Old Ones rising. Humanity has been reduced to a Scavenger World where they scrape on the slow road to extinction.
  • The Dark Tower series by Stephen King has elements of this; much of the action takes place After the End, but there are also parts in which Roland and his fellow "gunslingers" enter the modern world for a while. Most of these instances are grim (Eddie taking on the drug dealers he used to work for), but once or twice Hilarity Ensues.
  • Decomposing Angel by Asi Hart is this; set in modern times El Paso, all the horses have been replaced by cars and the SA Army Colts have been replaced with Smith & Wesson Sigmas, the Mexican bandits are drug runners, not revolutionaries. It looks to be at least partially based on Sergio Corbucchi's Django. A lot of spaghetti is thrown in.
  • Though The Dresden Files was originally written as Noir Detective/Urban Fantasy fusion set in the present, before diversifying into a far more complex world full of supernatural politics, it arguably owes most to this, particularly in the early books, with Dresden hunting down monsters that are beyond the reach of mortal police forces. He lampshades this in book 9, White Night, when he says that he's playing 'supernatural sheriff of Chicago' and should therefore get spurs and a ten gallon hat. He even rocks a leather duster (formerly a canvas duster), which is admittedly enchanted, that looks like it belongs on the set of El Dorado. His signature weapon, a .44 Magnum Revolver (a Dirty Harry Special), which succeeded his .357 Chief's Special, sort of fits too.
  • The Joe Pickett novels by C.W. Box are set in the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. Joe is a game warden whose 'beat' covers thousands of acres. He is often far from any kind of back-up. Adding to the 'old west' feel is that many of the locals regard themselves as cowboys and prefer to take the law into their own hands.
  • In the Kate Shugak novels, much is made of the frontier atmosphere of Alaska, and the fact that the beat of single trooper can cover 300 miles or more.
  • Also by Cormac McCarthy is No Country for Old Men (the basis for the film, which is also a good example). The story occurs in the vicinity of the Mexico–United States border in 1980 and concerns an illegal drug deal gone awry in the Texas desert back country.
  • There's also the short-lived Pulp Magazine character Peter Rice, a sheriff who investigated murders in contemporary 1930's Arizona.
  • The Rockabye County series by J.T. Edson, which mixes Police Procedural with western style gunfights. One of the main characters is even a competitor in sports Quick Draw competitions.
  • The Sheriff Joanna Brady mysteries by J.A. Jance. Joanna is sheriff of Cochise County in Arizona; the jurisdiction of which happens to include Tombstone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The A-Team is essentially telling the classic story of hired guns protecting the good farmer from the evil rancher in most episodes.
  • Banshee has elements of this, despite being set in Pennsylvania. The main character is basically an outlaw with a Mysterious Past who becomes sheriff of the titular county. The Western elements get played up whenever the Kinaho Indians are involved.
  • Bearcats! — 1971 TV series (13 episodes plus 2-hour pilot film Powderkeg), a Western set in the year 1914. The heroes were freelance adventurers who drove around in a Stutz Bearcat sports car instead of riding horses. The 20th-century setting allowed the writers to add modern elements such as the aforementioned Bearcat, oil companies, Imperial German spies and World War I, Mexican revolutionaries, and belt-fed machine guns. Ended up as something of an Anachronism Stew anyway because they often skimped on research — one episode featured a Renault FT-18 tank (the tank was not invented until 1915), another a Curtiss JN-4 biplane (first flight 1915) in Mexican Air Force colors (Curtiss "Jennies" were exported only to Britain). The show's continuity was a little soft from week to week, particularly with regard to those Mexican revolutionaries—one week, our heroes were working with the Mexican government against the rebels, the next week they were siding with the rebels. Despite all that, was quite fun to watch.
  • Breaking Bad is a neo-noir/neo-western crime drama set in modern New Mexico of the 21st century. It's a story of power, corruption, betrayal and revenge with showdowns, stalemates and gunfights set in the backdrop of Albuquerque's streets, nearby deserts and Indian reservations. There's even a train heist featured at one point. The criminals in the show are essentially Western outlaws reimagined as drug-trafficking gangsters, who utilize modern technology, vehicles and weapons. Even the show's theme music deliberately invokes this, with a twanging guitar riff that's pretty obviously meant to channel a classic Western theme.
    • The prequel series Better Call Saul also delves into neo-western territory at times, especially whenever the criminal underworld subplots involving Gus, Mike, Nacho, and The Cartel come into play; though it's less apparent this time around, because the main protagonist (Saul) isn't really a violent outlaw (though he's still a greedy criminal in his own right). The present-day segments with Saul in hiding as a wanted fugitive are more in the style of neo-noir, especially because of the black-and-white visuals.
    • Lampshaded in the sequel movie El Camino, when Jesse challenged the film's antagonist to a pistol duel (his opponent even asks if he means having a duel just like in "the Wild West"). Sure enough, we get to see a tense showdown leading straight to a shootout, with Jesse being quicker on the draw.
  • Cade's County is a Police Procedural about the sheriff of a rural county somewhere in the American Southwest. It's set in The '70s, which was The Present Day when it was made, although it lampshades this trope with an episode where the delusional villain believes he's Billy the Kid.
  • Defiance is a Western set on a heavily terraformed Earth after a war between humanity and several alien races ended in a draw, leaving humanity and the aliens to work together (at least in the title city, built over the ruins of St. Louis).
  • Fargo has had elements of this from season one, but fully dips into it in seasons two and five, which both largely take place in the most desolate stretches of North Dakota and feature tons of callbacks to classic cinematic westerns.
  • Firefly is really more of a classic Space Western, but although it’s set approximately 500 years in the future, most SF elements are noticeably missing, most of the time: there are no robots (at least until Serenity), laser weapons are very rare, and the only alien in the series is revealed to be a mutated, upside-down cow fetus in a jar. The title theme heightens the effect by heavily featuring western guitar/banjoes. Hence, it has something of a New-Old-West feel.
  • The Highwayman — 1988 TV series (ran for 9 episodes). Set 20 Minutes into the Future, chronicles the adventures of a U.S. Marshal and his cohorts in the lawless West of the near-future. Unexplained throwaway lines such as "re-colonizing the West" are common. Sometimes described as "Mad Max Meets Knight Rider."
  • Justified is set in the present day, the main character will never be seen without his cowboy hat, and the show features many quick-draw gunfights. However, it also draws attention to how weird this trope can look to bystanders, with its protagonist being given endless amounts of crap both for his hat and for his Cowboy Cop tendencies.
  • The Toku show Kaiketsu Zubat is a Genre Mashup of New Old West and Superheroes. Though it takes place in Japan in The '70s, with modern technology plainly visible, the characters all dress and act as if they were in The Wild West.
  • Longmire and the novels on which it's based, taking place in modern-day Wyoming. One episode even has cattle rustling-just with tractor trailers instead of horses.
  • The Man in the High Castle: The Neutral Zone has a distinct Wild West feel to it despite existing within an alternate 1960s world dominated by the victorious Axis Powers, being a near-lawless frontier setting roamed by bounty hunters, gangs of outlaws (trading in horses for motorcycles), grifters, and small-town settlers. Several of the main characters who visit it spend much of their time in season 3 hanging out in a saloon to boot.
  • While it is infinitely less cynical than most of the examples on this list, The Roy Rogers Show is indisputably a Western despite being set in the present day (the 1950's). Really, the only indication that it is the present, a lot of the time, is the existence of Pat Brady's jeep, Nellybelle.
  • One episode of Sliders had the group slide into a world where all of America (and possibly the whole world) was wild-west-ey, including such things as the stock market being gambling (stocks are traded in poker games) and lawyers being gunslingers (trials are a quick-draw duel). And California is part of Texas, because the results of the Alamo were different in that alternate universe.
  • It doesn't seem like it at first glance, but Star Trek: The Original Series was originally pitched as a sort of space western. Elements of this show through as the ship visits various frontier outposts, Chief Medical Officer Doctor McCoy is presented as a Frontier Doctor, and Harcourt Fenton Mudd is a disreputable conman and trader that they have run-ins with from time to time.
  • Supernatural is New Old West meets Weird West and Urban Fantasy.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger has many episodes set outside Dallas, especially those on the Indian reservations.
  • The Walking Dead (2010) is also both this with Weird West, being a modern Western set in the backdrop of a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Yellowstone: As with virtually all Taylor Sheridan creations, this show is a neo-western, taking place during modern day on a ranch in rural Montana. Most of the cast are ranchers or Native Americans, all violently feuding over the land. The show's opening credits juxtapose traditional Wild West imagery of horses, bison, tipis, open plains, and rugged mountains with strip mines, dump trucks, oil derricks, refineries, and wind turbines, all drawn in the same sepia tones evocative of older Westerns as if to highlight the continuity between the land's history and its present.
  • Pick any Latin American telenovela that focuses on the drug trade (and there are a lot of them). It's a very short walk from an Old West outlaw gang to a modern South of the Border drug cartel.

  • Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive,", which relates being a touring musician to the mythical idea of a western cowboy.
  • MC Solaar's "Nouveau Western" depicts a sheriff/detective type (named Harry) making his way through Paris's wild wild Gare de L'Est.
  • "Heartbreak Kid" from Icehouse's Man of Colours sounds like it's in an Old West setting, were it not for the mention of "the TV news".

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Modesty Blaise arc "Butch Cassidy Rides Again" thoroughly embraces the tropes of The Western while maintaining a modern day setting.

  • The old-time radio show Tales Of The Texas Rangers started in 1950 and chronicled relatively recent exploits of the famous Texas law enforcers.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Bastion is sort of a fantasy New Old West; it's about forging a new life in a hostile land after a cataclysm destroyed everything familiar, and the hero's journey is accompanied by a hard-bitten old-timer's narration.
  • Borderlands:
    • Borderlands counts as this, since it's a Space Western in which you cannot escape the planet Pandora. While Pandora is not a Single-Biome Planet, the parts you can reach (those not fenced off by the Atlas Corporation) are mostly desert and badlands. Oh, and Revolvers and Sniper Rifles are noticeably more effective than assault rifles and rocket launchers. Also, the few established towns are subject to frequent raids by local bandits. Guns by the Jakobs corporation (particularly in the second game) are specifically meant to invoke this as most of them are modeled after weapons of Westerns.
    • Borderlands 2 has a much wider series of settings... including Lynchwood, a town specifically designed to evoke this. The missions in the area are distinctly western-themed, including standbys like a train robbery, robbing a bank, and having a gunfight with a corrupt Sheriff, who is also the girlfriend of the Big Bad. Jakobs Revolvers and Sniper Rifles have also become some of the most popular weapons with the fanbase, as they retain their high damage and reliablity from the first game, along with a new attribute-they now fire as fast as you can click (for most guns) or have an enormous critical damage boost (for a sniper rifle).
    • In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, you can play as Nisha, the Sheriff of Lynchwood, and unsurprisingly, her kit is focused heavily on dual-wielding pistols, with her action skill giving her instant rapid-fire auto-aim and boosted damage.
    • Borderlands 3 plays around with this. Half of the game is set in high-tech futuristic Cyberpunk metropolises ruled over by the various Mega Corps or until-recently peaceful monastery worlds. The other half takes place in more lawless Western-style wilderness, including the scrapyard desert world of Pandora and the bandit-riddled swamps of Eden-6, which is ruled over by the heavily Western-themed Jakobs Corporation.
  • Call of Juarez: The Cartel advertised itself as this, proclaiming "Welcome to the new Wild West." In practice, however, it's simply a shooter set in modern-day LA with no real elements of this trope save for character Ben McCall's appearance and a few of the settings (an abandoned frontier town and a Mexican graveyard).
  • Dustys Revenge is set in a World of Funny Animals and follows the classic tale of a gunslinging cowboy out for revenge against the desperadoes who killed his wife. The second level is even a shootout in a Bad Guy Bar. With a neon sign and the shell of a pickup truck as part of the decour, setting it about a hundred years south of 1850, even before we meet the bear with a rocket launcher.
  • Fallout has several aspects of this despite (or perhaps because of) being a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Especially the second game, in which the New California Republic was spreading its influence north and east resulting in several "frontier towns" (although many did exist before the NCR). This would have been explored further in the cancelled Van Buren version of Fallout 3 which had a major sub-plot about the NCR establishing railways. There's a good reason for it: the Fallout universe never left the 1950s USA aesthetic behind, and 1950s America adored cowboys.
    • Fallout: New Vegas (which uses many concept and crew members from the aforementioned Van Buren concept) clearly evokes this trope up and down. Two hundred and two years after the nuclear war, the American Southwest starts to look less like an irradiated wasteland and more like it has returned to late 19th century with heaps of schizotech. People finally start producing their own technology alongside with scavenging the ruins. As a result, laser pistols run side-by-side with .44 revolvers, while cowboy hats and dusters are worn next to Powered Armor; the driving theme is no longer survival on the ruins of civilization but rather the reconquest of the frontier and the conflict between civilization and lawlessness. There's even a Perk called "Cowboy" that grants extra damage for "old fashion" weapons like revolvers or lever-action longarms. Also like the canceled Van Buren, New Vegas canonizes that the NCR has been restoring the region's railways with several locomotives for the "Barstow Express" scattered throughout the game.
    • The FNV Game Mod The Someguy Series, especially its two sub mods, New Vegas Bounties and Russell add in bounty hunters, wanted posters, conflicts between natives and pioneers in the new frontier, outlaws and bandits combined with all the typical gizmos you've come to expect from a Fallout setting.
  • Full Throttle is set 20 Minutes in the Future. Most of the places Ben visits (with the exception of Corley property) are desert, and biker gangs are everywhere.
  • Interstate '76, where the main difference is that both vigilantes and outlaws mount their guns on classic muscle cars.
  • Only about half the actual story of The Last of Us takes place in the west (they go from Boston to Pittsburgh to Wyoming to Colorado and end in Utah), but thematically, musically, and visually the game is very much a western set in the early 2030s. Joel is a quick draw outlaw making his way across the vast, unsettled interior of the US. He’s also the character archetype of the typical western protagonist: a gruff, badass man who’s spent his whole life fighting and being put through the ringer. The premise of said grizzled old man helping a Little Miss Badass is also evocative of the classic western, True Grit.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain sets up 1980s Afghanistan as this sort of setting. It too is a rocky desert land with a lot of violence, and Snake starts off by riding into it on a horse along with cowboy-wannabe Ocelot.
  • The Outer Worlds is a spiritual sequel to Fallout that takes place in the far-flung future of an alternate universe where robber barons conquered the world in the 1800s, and centuries later corporations are near-absolutely unregulated (even by our standards). As a result, everything is a retro-futuristic version of the old west; colonies are stuck between surviving in a dog-eat-dog world or serving the whims of the warring megacorporations.
  • In the interest of creating a World Half Full, Overwatch apparently has this in the mid-west. Gangs roam the country-side on hover-bikes, bothering small communities, but also engage in weapon dealings and other, more modern criminal acts. One of the larger, more notorious gangs' member, Cassidy, was captured and had a Heel–Face Turn, worked for Overwatch as a Black Ops soldier, and now roams the land as a drifter. In one comic, Cassidy prevents a train-hijacking like a classic Western hero... Only the train is a modern, luxurious bullet-train, and the bandits are Talon Operatives with automatic weapons and five helicopters of back-up. And Cassidy only has a revolver. He still wins. Without missing a shot.
  • PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
    • The Miramar map is a Mexican border town with Spaghetti Western influence scattered all over it, combining vast expanses of desert and ghost towns with vehicles and heavy industry. Its exclusive weapons also include western staples such as the Winchester Lever-Action and a Sawed-Off Shotgun alongside a modern revolver.
    • Parodied in the Studio location in the Taego map, based on South Korea in the '80s. One of the sets is a stereotypical American old west town, which is a nod to the Korean take on the western genre ("kimchi" westerns, if you will).
  • Pokémon Colosseum lifts a fair bit of the western genre, including character archetype and setting (and a soundtrack with a decent use of harmonica), but is clearly futuristic in setting. Also, it includes the cowboy fashioned "Rider" trainer class.
  • Red Steel 2 is set in a futuristic wild west town. So you have tumble-weeds, a grumpy sheriff, six-shooters and a roaming band of bandits mixed up with samurai, cars, machine-guns and robots.
  • Santo Ileso from Saints Row (2022) is a textbook example of the modern wild west: It is located in the American Southwest, both the Los Panteros and Nahuali's crew fit the outlaw archetype (the former even substituting horses for cars and rigs), Marshall Defense Industries have a cowboy aesthetic, bounties are placed via "Wanted" app, and the Saints (and Panteros) plan a Train Job to rob a Marshall supply train. The final fight between Boss and the Nahuali even have the two settle the score by drawing pistols, Quick Draw style.

    Web Original 
  • A weird case is the Dino Attack RPG, in that this and the more traditional Wild West seem to be happening at the same time note . On the one hand, we have Engineer who has a clear Western vibe but is also quite skilled with handling modern technology. On the other hand, Clint Wayne and Angel Eyes are still very much the sort of old-fashioned gunslingers you'd see in a Sergio Leone Western. The town of El Paso that we see also resembles the more classical Wild West, even going as far as to have the majority of the population being misogynistic bigots, drunkards, bandits, or otherwise unlikeable outside of those in the Dino Attack Team (though the primitive nature of the town could be justified by the fact that it was quickly built up after the main Western town was destroyed by a mutant dinosaur apocalypse).
  • Madness Combat started off as one, with the presence of a Sheriff, and Hank as a sociopathic Made of Iron Gunslinger. After the Sheriff's death, and the Improbability Drive became a key feature, the series immediately shifted to a science fiction theme. However, the series is set in concrete buildings on top of a giant canyon, there's virtually no law and two characters prefer revolvers. Oh, and Tricky drives a train at one point.

    Western Animation 
  • Mars is depicted like this on Futurama. They have ranches, cowboys, Native Martians and herds of Buggalos.
    • Silicon Valley is depicted as an Old West mining town. It’s explained that all the electricity is used to mine bitcoin, so the whole place operates at a 19th-Century level of technology.

    Real Life 
  • This trope is Truth in Television on a much more profound level when you consider that the American West didn't just disappear sometime between 1890 and 1920, but simply evolved into the modern Western United States on the basis of infrastructure and culture laid down in the 18th and 19th centuries and on the same land. The "Twilight of the Old West" as a trope might have meant that the rest of America stopped seeing the West as a wild and untamed frontier, but that didn't mean that the West itself didn't continue to develop on the distinct path it was already on.
    • Western cities that used to be more in the "Wild West" style are now the epitomes of this trope. Sure, there are still lots of ranches, farms, cattle, horses, and such in area like that of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, but those are now among skyscrapers, ten-lane highways, massive urban sprawl, bright lights, and metro lines. Telluride, Colorado, home of the famous Telluride Film Festival, is essentially an Old West town with modern technology, set among impressive mountains and still possessing its distinctive main street and Victorian architecture.
    • People still ranch and farm outside the big cities. Land titles in many states are still traceable to Spanish and Mexican land grants that stretch back to the 18th century. There are still regular conflicts over who owns and controls what land between the federal government, ranchers, developers, mineral prospectors, Indians, and now also environmentalists and conservationists. You can still only settle where you have or can bring water (even if that means building thousands of miles of dams and aqueducts to water the cities and farms), and between that and conservation efforts, a lot of open country still looks like it did when the settlers arrived.
    • The region's economy still tends to run on boom-and-bust cycles (it was gold, silver and copper mining in the 19th century; oil, aerospace, manufacturing and gambling in the 20th century; and now IT, finance and real estate in the 21st, all headed by larger-than-life figures). Immigrants still come from all over the world to settle and work in whatever the latest booming industry is.
    • There are still gangs of outlaws even if they're now called "La Eme", "Hells Angels", "Crips" or something else.
    • Unless you live in California's more restrictive counties in Los Angeles or the Bay Area, you can legally conceal-carry a gun in public if you're a law-abiding citizen and apply for a permit (which are more expansive gun rights than visitors to Dodge City, Abilene, or Tombstone had at some points, and you don't even need the permit in some other states), and all but four states west of the Mississippi (not counting Hawaiʻi) have "stand-your-ground" self-defense laws (even California).
    • Highways and later Interstate superhighways through the deserts were built along the routes of the railroads, often directly line-of-sight with each other leading to places like Ludlow, CA which was built as a watering stop along the Union Pacific and now holds on because it has the only gas stations for 50 miles in any direction.
    • The Texas Rangers (the law-enforcement agency, not the baseball team) encourage their members to "wear clothing that is western in nature", essentially making this an Enforced Trope. That does not mean they can't use customized, modern weapons or drive cars to get from place to place, however.
  • And of course, in many backwater rural areas of third-world countries (hell, even in second- or first-world countries if they suffered some kind of severe social dysfunction), you may find a barren land where civilization isn't advanced enough, and people solve their problems with lead instead of words in lawless towns. Essentially, the Old West with new tech.
    • Northern Mexico in the 21st century has plenty of material that is rife for New Old West stories, as mentioned above in this page's opening description. Featuring big and expansive deserts, and many lawless towns with corrupt and/or ineffective authorities that are unable to stop the local criminal factions from fighting and killing each other on a regular basis.
    • Life in some war-torn countries of the "Greater Middle East" region (like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, or Libya) can seem pretty evocative of the Wild West; with terrain that is mostly deserts or mountains, rural areas that are inhabited by tribal communities (some of which are still nomadic), and severe lawlessness and violence resulting from a constant state of civil war and unresolved political tensions.
    • One recent example was when an American film production company decided to make a Western-style movie about the 2011 shootout in the small Russian village of Sagra, where a local militia fended off an attack by a bandit gang. However, the residents of the town refused to allow such a movie to be made, because they personally felt the events were too dramatic to turn them into a work of entertainment.