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Samurai Cowboy

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Konnichiwa, pardner.

But every day there's a new thing comin'
The ways of an Oriental view
The sheriff and his buddies with their samurai swords
You can even hear the music at night
The Doobie Brothers, "China Grove"

Essentially a melding of The Wild West and Feudal Japan, even if the setting also takes place in the future or has Cattle Punk elements.

The earliest association between samurai and gunslinger tropes was probably Akira Kurosawa, who modeled several of his samurai films after American Westerns. Fittingly, several of his films were remade as actual Westerns (e.g. Yojimbo into A Fistful of Dollars, and Seven Samurai into The Magnificent Seven). This helped tie in the close association between these eras.

Also, Rōnin and The Gunslinger seem to occupy the same place in the stories of their respective cultures. Both are essentially an updated version of the Knight Errant (or rather, Ronin serve as a bridge of sorts between the Knight Errant and the Gunslinger, having at various points been the contemporaries of both), drifters with Mysterious Pasts Walking the Earth, dueling rivals, fighting bandits, embodying stoicism and self-reliance, and aspiring to self-discipline, often while struggling with their inner demons.

The similarities between the idealized forms of the Bushido code and the Code of the West are undeniable, as well — placing honor and duty above all, protecting the weak, killing only when required but unflinchingly doing so when it is, valuing equally intelligence, Heroic Resolve, and physical ability. This makes it only natural that the two characters should begin to blend together in an East-meets-West world. The fact that they're both iconic warrior-types of their respective nations is also a plus.

Note that a cowboy moving to old Japan, or a samurai or kung fu master moving to the Old West, does not count. Such situations often lead to this trope, which is about explicitly blending the two — but not always.

May be a result of wanting to justify the combination of Sword and Gun with Katanas Are Just Better and Revolvers Are Just Better.

A Sub-Trope of Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot.

Compare Samurai Shinobi, Street Samurai, Corporate Samurai, Cyber Ninja, The Gunslinger, Rōnin, Sword and Gun, Space Western, Western Samurai.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Justice from Afro Samurai at first seems like a straight example of The Gunslinger, fighting Afro's father (who is using a katana) to a standstill with two pistols in one of the most badass fights of the series. He eventually plays this straight when it is revealed that he has a hidden third arm that wields a katana.
  • In Bleach, Coyote Starrk starts off with the typical trappings of an Espada, including a long robe and a katana. His Resurrección gives him a gunslinger outfit with a pair of pistols to match, and he also demonstrates the ability to summon energy swords.
  • Cowboy Bebop:
    • Andy, the crazy cowboy from the episode "Cowboy Funk", decides to become a samurai (complete with katana) at the end of the episode after Spike beats him.
    • Spike himself counts as a less overt example than Andy, if you believe Tropes Are Flexible. He's a Bounty Hunter by trade and quite The Gunslinger, but he also uses Jeet Kune Do and his character arc is taken straight out of a Yakuza story.
  • In the Captain Harlock spinoff Gun Frontier, the Old West incarnation of Tochiro is one of these. He shows some traits of this in other entries in the franchise like Cosmo Warrior Zero.
  • GUN×SWORD which takes place on a Space Western planet where cowboys and mecha roam. The protagonist Van is a cowboy who wields a metallic cloth that can turn into a sword, with its hilt looking an awful lot like a gun handle with a trigger included. Plus he pilots an Armor that uses a sword. In addition, his rival uses a gun that looks like a Japanese sword handle, with his two very long magazines kept in his belt, making it look like he's carrying a daisho.
  • Sazanami in Naruto is a former swordsmith turned bounty hunter. His katana has a hilt shaped like a rifle stock and he wears a cowboy hat. In the English dub, he's voiced by Steve Blum and gets an Actor Allusion for that other bounty hunter he played.
  • Azuma Mutsu's arc from Shura no Toki is arguably this. Azuma, while isn't a samurai or a cowboy, is a Japanese man thrown into a cowboy/frontier setting and ended up mixing characteristics from both sides.
  • The prequel chapter of Silver Spoon either manages to be an example or an aversion, depending on how you look at it, since the story centers on the lives of the actual Samurai Cowboys (and cowgirls) of historical Hokkaido. After the conflicts that began the Meiji period, many samurai families were driven north to the province of Hokkaido, where they began new lives as farmer pioneers (with all the attendant tropes...including an unfortunate fate for the native Ainu tribes).
  • The one-off antagonist Rai-Dei the Blade of the Gung-Ho Guns in Trigun is basically a samurai on a Wild West planet. He is treated as outrageous and insane. He dodges bullets. He wears a fringed leather vest with hakama, his katana can fire its blade if necessary, and its sheath also doubles as a revolver rifle. In the manga, he does all of this on rocket skates.

    Comic Books 
  • The title character from the Image Comics comic Cowboy Ninja Viking is essentially one of these (just ninja instead of samurai) also crossed with a Viking.
  • The Judge Dredd Alternity special had Shimura appear as one of these in The Wild West, helping a family of former slaves by fighting the Angel gang, who had been slavers and fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War until they'd been locked up by Dredd (who appears briefly as a Union General) after the war.
  • The Comic Book Shaolin Cowboy.
  • The Ultraverse: Tugun, a member of the villain group TNTNT, is a samurai who wields two guns instead of two swords. He combines the ethos of the Samurai with the tactics of The Gunslinger.

  • Bunraku features a gunslinger without a gun and a samurai without a sword as its two heroes.
  • The Good, The Bad, The Weird, being a remake/adaptation of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly set in Manchuria.
  • Kill Bill
    • The Bride spends much of the first film in the duology in Japan, and is adept in and proud of her skills with a katana. Upon returning to America, she starts wearing leather clothes and resorts to carrying a pistol for her planned confrontation with Bill.
    • Budd is an ex-assassin with a cowboy hat and a sword made by Hattori Hanzo, which he falsely claims to have sold off.
  • The Last Samurai goes the other way around. Nathan Algren is a veteran of the Great Sioux War of 1876, goes to Japan and learns the ways of the samurai.
  • The Charles Bronson film Red Sun is about a Wild West Outlaw who must help a samurai (played by none other than Toshiro Mifune) recover a stolen sword.
  • Shanghai Noon merges Western tropes with kung fu action — not Japanese, but Tropes Are Flexible. At one point a character uses a sheriff's badge as a throwing star.
  • Star Wars, having a chronic habit of mixing pre-existing settings like gumbo, often features gunslingers like Han Solo teaming up with Shaolin monk/Knight Errant/samurai-like Jedi like Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke Skywalker is the closest thing to a direct Samurai Cowboy in the series, equally at ease with a lightsaber or a gun by the time of Return of the Jedi, and even then he starts focusing more on the former in the Expanded Universe.
  • Sukiyaki Western Django takes place in the town of Yuta, Nevata, which is a mashup of Old West and feudal Japan, and features a gunslinger entering a town dominated by two rival gangs.
  • The Warrior's Way deals with an Asian assassin who settles in the Old West and is ultimately tracked down by his past associates. Essentially, it's Cowboys Versus Ninjas.
  • While not featuring any literal cowboys, The Wolverine definitely evokes this trope, with Wolverine filling the role of the grizzled gunslinger who journeys to Japan and battles the machinations of an ancient Yakuza clan. For bonus points, the Big Bad styles himself after samurai and bases his Powered Armor on their outfits, meaning the final battle is effectively a duel between a cowboy and samurai.
  • The Heavy of Yojimbo, Unosuke, returns to the gangster-led village after a bit of wandering. He wears a katana with a pinstriped kimono, and uses a cavalry revolver as his weapon of choice.

  • The Ole Devil Hardin series by J.T. Edson are set in Dawn of the Wild West during the the Texas Revolution. Hardin's companion is an exiled samurai named Tommy Okasi who fights with typical samurai weapons such as sword and bow, while Hardin fights with pistol, rifle and Bowie knife.
  • Jenny Midnight Summers in Suburban Senshi Rise Of The Magical Girl is one of these, having been a Texas Ranger who was given the skills by a dying Samurai via Mental Fusion . Unlike most examples, she is active in the modern day.

    Live Action TV 

  • The main character in the Knights of Cydonia music video is a practitioner of Kung Fu kicking butt and taking names in a Schizo Tech Wild West.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Deadlands allows for these kinds of characters with a little artistic license. A character with a saber (refluffed as a katana), martial arts, and a trusty revolver is so easy to make that it can be done during character creation.
  • In Pathfinder you can do this fairly easily by multiclassing between samurai and gunslinger, or by focusing entirely on one class and just getting the necessary proficiencies to use the other's weapons.

    Video Games 
  • Borderlands 2: Zer0 got a Tombstone-themed head and skin for Community Day. Given that the game itself is a Space Western, it's quite fitting. He also has Vladof class mods built around improving his skills with pistols.
  • Kyle Katarn of the Dark Forces Saga has shades of this, starting as a mercenary who only works for the Rebellion/Republic because they pay him before learning he's Force-sensitive and ultimately becoming a Jedi who continues packing his personal blaster right alongside his lightsaber.
  • The Player Character in Fallout: New Vegas can easily be this; wearing cowboy hats and dusters while wielding a katana, all while adhering to a strict code of honor. This is even lampshaded by the achievement for dealing damage with melee weapons, 'New Vegas Samurai', which is represented with the Vault Boy dressed up as Buddy from the post-apocalyptic movie Six String Samurai.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • The Berserker version of Miyamoto Musashi (who by the way is female) dresses like a sexy cowgirl and wields katanas and gunblades.
    • Space Ishtar has a form where she dresses like a sexy cowgirl and wields a handgun, a rifle, and a katana.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Shadow in Final Fantasy VI is a Rōnin ninja with a whistling, jaw-harp-twanging Spaghetti Western theme and the appropriate personality.
    • Both Cloud and Barret in Final Fantasy VII have very similar backstories (hometown gets burned down due to Shinra's evil, a charismatic old friend does a Heel–Face Turn and becomes The Rival, vowing revenge...) but Cloud's takes place in a little rural town with swordsmen going off into the mountains at the orders of their master, while Barret's takes place in a desert/mining town with rogue gunfighters, infinite deserts and whistling Spaghetti Western music.
    • Gravey from Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is pretty much this trope. The very first commentary he gets during his introduction is that his weapons of choice, a pair of katanas, doesn't seem to fit his appearance of a stereotypical Western gunslinger. His bio in the game explains that Gravey gets bored really easily and is constantly changing and mastering weapons to keep boredom at bay.
  • One of Lumisa's optional outfits in La-Mulana 2 invokes this, giving her a pink kimono top with a cowboy hat, leather chaps, boots, and shorts. It's even called Kimono Cowgirl.
  • Erron Black from Mortal Kombat X: He is an Old Western style gunslinger from another dimension who also use a Tarkatan blade sword.
  • Red Steel 2. The main character is a duster-wearin', sword-swingin', pistol-packin' hombre with a very nice hat. He is in fact from an entire TRIBE of them, the Kusagari.
  • Rising Zan: The Samurai Gunman stars a gunslinger who was trained by and subsequently became a samurai.
  • Gemini Sunrise from Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love is a Texas cowgirl — right down to having a super-effective horse and a Colt Peacemaker on her belt. She also carries a katana, and was trained by an exiled samurai.
  • The appropriately named Samurai Western, starring a samurai traveling the old west trying to find his brother.
  • This Game Mod for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, replacing Wolf with Sheriff Woody from Toy Story of all people.
  • Jack in Wild ARMs has more than a bit of this—he wears a classic Western duster, jeans, and cowboy boots with a hat to match(in out-of-game art), but is a Master Swordsman specialising in Iaido. Of course, his past is as something more like a European Knight in Shining Armor, and his current role before being swept up in the plot is more Indiana Jones than Man With No Name...
  • In Your Only Move Is HUSTLE, there is a Cowboy character that has a sword that is very much like a katana.

    Western Animation 
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Zuko Alone," complete with a Showdown at High Noon. Though Zuko uses Chinese-style swords, the effect is the same.
  • Often utilized in Samurai Jack; the title character would often take the role of the Lone Stranger who comes to help a town in need. By the fifth season, he takes to using samurai armor, guns, and a motorbike.
  • Kanan Jarus from Star Wars Rebels has outright been described as such by the creators, adding that he's as likely to shoot someone with a blaster as he's to use his lightsaber. He lived up to this spectacularly in the Season 1 finale duel against the Inquisitor, utilising Sword and Gun by simultaneously using his lightsaber with Ezra's blaster-lightsaber to keep his opponent off-balance.
  • One episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) is basically a Whole-Plot Reference to The Last Challenge, with Leo playing the sheriff and the villain playing the punk gunslinger kid who calls him out. To drive the point home, the episode starts with Splinter watching a Western (implied to be The Last Challenge) and comparing the main character to a "samurai of the Old West".
  • Wielding twin katanas as well as a gun, and being an explosives expert and being a lone ranger type, Transformers: Prime Wheeljack could well be said to be one of these.

    Real Life 
  • There is actually a kernel of truth to this concept. The end of the samurai era and the Wild West occurred at the exact same time. During the 19th century many Japanese chose to emigrate to the American west seeking greater economic opportunity, mostly the non-firstborn sons of rural farmers, but also no small amount of suddenly jobless samurai. Like most immigrants, over time they adopted some western mannerisms, while maintaining many elements of their original culture. Subverted in that most ended up becoming miners, shopkeepers, or farmers rather than the wandering heroes this trope implies. Also notable is that this went both ways; it was not an unusual sight to see 19th century samurai wielding the early examples of what we would come to recognise as modern firearms, purchased from their new American and European trading partners.