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Saloon Owner

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The saloon is where all people of the frontier gather after a rough day out in The Wild West. The Saloon Owner is the one who makes sure the taps keep a flowing, the dancers dancing, and the wenches wenching. He or she often keeps tabs on anyone and everyone who comes through the pub, from the Bounty Hunter looking for a lead on his latest mark, the Railroad Baron trying to get frisky with one of the dancers, or The Gunslinger who's just busted several jawbones.

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The Saloon Owner comes in several varieties: He might be the somewhat-sympathetic pub owner willing to help the sheriff (or some other heroic character) for the right price. Other times, the Saloon Owner cares for nothing but power, and he uses his drinking establishment as a front or center of operations for illegitimate enterprises. In either case, he may be a Wasteland Elder who lavishes preferred customers or allies with free goods and services.

Newcomers and unfamiliar patrons best take heed: most of the people working at the saloon are the Saloon Owner's eyes and ears. Depending on their moral fabric, some Saloon Owners may bring you in to the deputy, while others will instead gladly exploit you for their personal gain.

See also: Miss Kitty. May overlap with The Bartender, but usually the bartender is hired help.

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Examples:

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     Film  
  • Joan Crawford's Vienna from Johnny Guitar is one of the most iconic protagonist examples in Western films, with a sympathetic and tragic backstory moreover. She was a moll to gunslinger Johnny Logan who abandoned her, leaving her to find work as a showgirl and prostitute until she saved enough money to become a legitimate competent businesswoman. Vienna takes so much pride in her work that even when her saloon is targeted by the vengeful and evil posse, she pays off her employees and resolves to stay in the saloon and go down with her ship.
  • No Name on the Bullet: Well-dressed Henry Reeger owns the local hotel and saloon, and spends most of the movie as one of the many townsmen terrified that he might be the target of hired assassin John Gant. This causes Reeger to take part in several efforts to run Gant out of town through legal chicanery or mob force (although he remains more sympathetic than some of the others paranoid about Gant). It's never revealed why he thinks Gant is after him, although it's implied that Reeger might be a retired outlaw or saloonkeeper from a less peaceful town, given that Gant seems to know his name (although it isn't Reeger he's after) and twice addresses him as "Dutch", a nickname no one else in town has ever heard Reeger called before, and which makes him more nervous and defensive about Gant.
  • Milt, the owner/operator of the saloon in Tombstone where the Earp brothers set up their card game. He really only has one scene and doesn't do much; he's mostly memorable for not believing Wyatt when he introduces himself.
  • Skinny, from Unforgiven. Decides to put Ned's corpse on display (or was told to by Little Bill), prompting Clint Eastwood to blow him down with a shotgun and deliver one of the best lines of his career: "He should've armed himself, if he's gonna decorate his saloon with my friend."
  • In Yojimbo and its remakes, the Nameless Protagonist is helped by the local tavern owner.
  • Stake Land features a post apocalyptic example with a guy running a bar in one of the last towns holding off the vampires and discussing things about the local threats with Mister. While his actual ownership of the place isn't confirmed, given how people and jobs are stretched thinner, its implied.

     Literature  

  • Mr. McGarrity in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn owns the saloon where Johnny Nolan indulges his alcoholism. He's a Jaded Washout type with rotten kids (he wanted a "refined" family and it's specifically mentioned that he hoped his children would be ashamed of him for owning a saloon; instead, they're proud) and a wife who fits the typical female mold of this character and cheats on him with the patrons. To combat the disappointment of all this, he begins to live vicariously through Johnny, listening to his stories about his wife and children and pretending they're his own, and even tries ineffectually to get in with Katie after Johnny dies.
  • Will Fitzgerald, uncle of the main characters in The Great Brain is this in the tie-in novel Papa Married a Mormon, running the local Den of Iniquity but sometimes helping friends and relatives out of jams.
  • Louis L'Amour had several, coming in different variants.
    • Many of his salloon owners are bosses of the local outlaws, Wicked Cultured types with a thinly contained air of cruelety, such as John Daniel from the short story Hattan's Castle or Martin Hardcastle in Dark Canyon (although he also has ranching interests).
    • Some are portrayed as influential, bold figures who embody the pioneer spirit, often observing things from the side lines and occasionally assisting the hero at a pivotal moment. One such character is Nita Riordan, who becomes the lover of the titular character in the Kilkenny series, who travels across the west, opening multiple such establishments, alas noted for being luxurious, yet respectable enough.
    • Many stories have saloon owners who are henchmen or associates of the main villain, such as Poker Harris from The Trail to Seven Pines and Tielhet from The Rustlers of West Fork, both of them strong-willed, but shady figures who set up saloon/trading posts in the middle of nowhere which whole towns (a midsized one in Tielhet's case, and a handful of buildings in Harris's) arose from, catering largely to outlaw.
  • Undead on Arrival: Nunez runs the local bar in the zombie-surrounded town, making makeshift whiskey and trying to maintain friendly ties to the local big wigs.

     Live Action TV  

  • Bea Arthur's part in The Star Wars Holiday Special was as the saloon owner of the cantina (yes, that one) on Tatooine which was inexplicably shut down by the Empire. A nice but gruff character, she treats all her customers to one last round on the house before singing a farewell song.
  • In Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Hank is the owner of the town saloon. He is mostly a Jerkass, but has some Pet the Dog moments.
  • Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a futuristic version, with synthehol for booze and holosuites instead of prostitutes.

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     Video Games  

  • Lou and Becky from Fallout 2 are the Pub Owners in Redding and The Den. Compared to their competition, they are tough yet honest. Lou actually Lampshades you on how the hooker you just bought out is merely using the money to buy more jet. However, the rest are usually much less honest and honorable.
    • Fallout 3, in contrast, has Colin Moriarty, the inexplicably Irish owner of Megaton's main saloon. He lets his browbeaten ghoul debt-slave Gob serve the drinks, forces his worker Nova to prostitute herself to customers, and has the connections and blackmail material to rival Sheriff Simms as Megaton's boss. He's part of the main questline, so players will have to either bribe him (or break into his files) for information on where to go next, though he'll also offer you payment if you go kill his former worker Silver, since she ran out on him. Many players enjoy making the world a better place by killing Moriarty, so that Gob takes over the bar, Nova stops selling herself, and Silver starts a new life in peace.
    • Trudy of the Prospector's Saloon in Goodsprings is the nice kind. She is willing to help form a militia when the Powder Gangers came knocking, though you have to sweet-talk her first.

     Western Animation  

  • Cat R. Waul of An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is of the villainous variety, as his saloon is used as a powerbase for his ultimate plan. However, he also wants to make it a good saloon, which is why he hires the mouse with the enchanting voice (Tanya) as his personal diva.


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