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The All-American Boy

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"Grantville, West Virginia was the mold that produced Jeff Higgins. All things said and done, it was as good a mold as any and a better one than most."

This species has seldom been seen in recent decades, and naturalists have put it on the endangered species list. The All-American boy is male, almost always white, often blond-haired, sometimes brunette, but always blue-eyed; add buckteeth and Youthful Freckles for extra appeal. He loves baseball, apple pie, his mother, his pet dog, and Jesus; he has aptitude with rural machinery and firearms far beyond his years. He's known to emit sounds like "Jeepers!" and "Gee Whiz!".

The All-American boy makes his home in Everytown, America, in the heart of Eagleland, within which he is as free as the air, pedaling everywhere on his bicycle or spending hours having innocent fun in his treehouse. He is naive but charming and always polite (the worst he dishes out is "You shut up!"), and he treats his parents (who most likely are a Standard '50s Father and a House Wife) and other elders with respect. He is probably a Boy Scout (or a Cub Scout if still in elementary school). If he has a sibling, it will be an older brother to idolize or a little sister to protect — perhaps both. It is likely that he and his family will be Minnesota Nice.

There are variants of this trope. The geeky variant is similarly characterized by ingenuity, self-reliance, and wholesomeness, but he applies his interest to at-home science experiments and the like, and wears Nerd Glasses. The high-school variety wears a letterman's sweater, plays football or baseball, and spends his off hours using his mechanical skills to restore an old car. You might have a "wilder" boy with a mischievous streak in him, but he'll grow out of it eventually and become the fine, upstanding man his parents raised him to be.

An All-American boy often gets a job as a Kid Detective. If he joins the military when he grows up he will almost inevitably become a Southern-Fried Private. He may want to see more of the world and venture into The City, but expect him to return to his hometown, disillusioned with the citygoers' air of cynicism and greed. Your All-American Boy will almost certainly marry his high school sweetheart, and then settle down to raise a family, with at least one son just like him.

The closest Distaff Counterpart would probably be Girl Next Door. Likely grows up to be the All-American Face.


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  • Used in some commercials for Smuckers jams and jellies. Typically feature young boys (apparently the guys who would later found the company) on bicycles riding through orchards and playing together during The '50s (or thereabouts).
  • Ditto for the Blue Bell Ice Cream commercials, especially the radio variety.

  • Norman Rockwell depicted many variations of him in his paintings, notably "A Day in the Life of a Boy," illustrations for the Boy Scouts of America, the Willie Gillis series, his illustrations for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn... Really, it's probably easier to list his paintings that don't have this character.

  • Steve Rogers (aka Captain America): In one way he pretty much fits the general personality of this trope, although he was a terrible athlete as a child, in large part due to his Geek Physique. After he got the Super-Soldier Serum, he was able to embody the trope even more. By contrast his childhood is the exact opposite as the child of Irish immigrants growing up in the slums of NYC during the Great Depression. Steve's complex like that.
  • Archie Andrews of Archie Comics, especially in The '40s through The '60s. Archibald "Archie" Andrews is a clean-cut, usually wholesome Ambiguously Christian teenage boy. He lives in suburban Riverdale and one of his two love interests is a tomboyish Girl Next Door who he's been childhood friends with for years. Archie originally had buck-teeth but they were gone by the mid-1960s. Whether Archie is a bit of a geek or a popular Chick Magnet varies Depending on the Writer.
  • Clark Kent is often this in stories about him growing up in his hometown Smallville.
    • His son Jon also counts, being a sweet, charming boy who grew up in rural towns in upstate New York.
  • Steve Trevor's backstory has been subject to alterations over the decades but usually he is from a rural background, though he moved more than most due to being a Military Brat, idolized his mother and followed in her footsteps to become an Ace Pilot, has an older brother and a distant but caring veteran father and is a charming man who is incredibly respectful of everyone, save Nazis, for his entire life.


    Films — Live-Action 

  • Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: the two eponymous boys are good fits for this trope, but the world they exist in is far less idyllic than the Eagleland they might expect to appear in. The Deliberate Values Dissonance is sobering in terms of the racism and casual violence the two boys come across. Tom Sawyer in particular is dedicated to whimsical pranks regardless of the people that get caught up in them.
  • The Hardy Boys: Friendly, very handsome, mostly well-behaved teenage boys who are polite and respectful to their elders by default. They have harmless mischievous sides, excel at sports, get good grades, and are liked by most of their schoolmates. This is especially true in the older series, where their personalities were more similar to each other and more generic. And, of course, they're a quintessential example of Kid Detectives.
  • Doug Spaulding, his younger brother Tom, and most of the boys in their hometown of Green Town, IL are perfect examples of this trope in Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine.
  • A pair of Kid Detectives in The Crow and the Castle by Keith Robinson.
  • Jeff and the "four horsemen" in 1632, who lean more toward the geeky variant in this case.
  • Some of Robert A. Heinlein's works are this Recycled In Space.
  • Henry Huggins, from the book series of the same name, was one of the earliest characters embodying this trope.
  • Galen Waylock in War of the Dreaming is an example, with the slight variation that he is a warlock trained to follow in the family Ancient Tradition of guarding humanity.
  • Billy Coleman in Where the Red Fern Grows.
  • Jem Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. He's itching to join the school football team, receives a gun for Christmas, and hides up in his treehouse from time to time when not carousing around the streets with his younger sister and neighbor.
  • Good Omens: Adam Young is this in all respects but being American (he's British instead): because he's The Antichrist, he has enormous but subconscious Reality Warper powers, but because he loves reading old boy's magazines from the 50s his village seems to exist unperturbed by the march of time (urban developers show up and forget why they were there in the first place). Strangely, a grown-up version of The All-American Boy shows up as well (an embassy guard) who finds himself teleported home to his mother baking a pie and his brothers in the fields.
  • Todd Bowden of Stephen King's story "Apt Pupil" is a very dark subversion of this trope. He initially seems to be the perfect example of one, complete with blonde hair and a cheerful smile, but after developing a fascination with Nazi concentration camps and then striking up an Odd Friendship with a real-life Nazi war criminal, he grows more and more corrupted until he finally becomes a full-blown serial killer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Boys, the Vought company fakes Homelander's childhood as this, while he was in fact Raised in a Lab.
  • Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, from Leave It to Beaver.
  • Opie Taylor and his pals on The Andy Griffith Show.
  • Cory Matthews of Boy Meets World is a late 20th century example. He begins by caring about more baseball than anything and seeing his father as Superman. Since the show follows him from grade school to college, it gradually shifts from playing the trope straight to deconstructing it at times.
  • Joey Newton in Fury.
  • All three of the titular sons in My Three Sons, though Chip is the most straightforward example.
  • Mikey Fuccon of The Fuccons is a parody example, and he's also a mannequin.

  • Early on, Eminem liked to play with the image of being a mischievous 1950s sitcom youngster whose horrible life turned him to criminal, self-destructive depravity.

    Newspaper Comics 

  • Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes is an interesting subversion, fitting some but not all, of the characteristics, and parodying the rest. He is white, blond-haired, and blue-eyed, but dislikes baseball (after being injured playing it). He lives is Everytown, America, which appears to be somewhere in the Midwest (borrowing many elements from Watterson's home town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio), but set around 30 years after the trope's prime, in the 1980s.
    • He uses words like 'heck', 'darn', and rarely 'gee(z)' as opposed to actual swearing, but has a much more macabre sense of humour (as shown in his snowmen and his picture of a squadron of B1's nuking New York, among other things) really wants a flamethrower, and is more cynical and less nice than the typical straight example. He is disrespectful to parents, teachers, etc., inattentive to school work, and behaves anything but respectfully or courteously to girls, with Susie being the butt of pranks.
    • He does participate in cub scout events, but tends to get lost and hang out with Hobbes. He is generally quite independent, also has a treehouse, and spends a lot of time outside in the woods. However, he also enjoys the more indoor, less wholesome hobby of television-watching much to his father's (who probably lived in The '50s) dissaproval. He also hates camping and is averse to anything that is likely to build character.
  • Dennis the Menace is closer to this than the name suggests, unlike his British counterpart. (Of course, having him called "The Menace" does undercut this a bit.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This was Bob Backlund's Red Baron during his active career.
  • Gleefully parodied by The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond), who are both French-Canadians. As part of their 1988 Heel Turn, they sided with manager Jimmy Hart, claimed to be from Memphis, Tennessee and would carry little American Flags with them to the ring. Their "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune was called "All-American Boys" and the second verse included the lyrics, "On peut pas les sentir/Dans le monde ils sont les pires/On aime les faire facher quand qu'on dit 'We love the USA'." The French lyrics translated to "We can't stand them/They are the worst in the world/We like to anger them when we say 'We love the USA'." This elevated what may have appeared to be a standard Funny Foreigner act to something nastier for the benefit of French-speaking fans.

  • Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy; launched in 1933 and continuing on radio through 1951, with adaptations in movie serials and comic books, Jack probably deserves the title of Trope Namer if not Trope Codifier; unlike most versions, though, his Wheaties-fueled adventures took him all over the world.

  • Biff in Death of a Salesman is this as a kid. As he grows up, not so much.
  • Bye Bye Birdie: The number "A Healthy, Normal American Boy" describes Conrad Birdie as this in a series of Blatant Lies.
  • Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees is presented as the model of this, complete with a fictional Hannibal, Missouri upbringing. Few people know that Deal with the Devil is what really made him a baseball star.

    Video Games 

  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! — As the epitome of stereotypical American averageness, it's not very surprising when we see that Bob's childhood was more or less like this — when his life starts flashing before his eyes when he's at death's door in the Cone arc.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: Lampshaded in the episode “A Smith In The Hand”. The character of Timmy Johnson - introduced as a “healthy, athletic, all-american boy” - features in a fictional parody of 1950’s-style sex education films. Used to explain the dangers of masturbation, the film goes a long way towards explaining Stan’s hangups on the subject, which he tries to pass down to Steve.
  • Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy: Augie Doggie is a parody of this.
  • Davey and Goliath: Davey Hansen.
  • The Jetsons: Elroy Jetson is a futuristic version of this. He's a blonde, cheerful Child Prodigy who is shown to be a Boy Scout in one episode. He loves his family, but he is closest to the dog Astro.
  • Jack Armstrong was nearly developed into a cartoon by Hanna-Barbera; when the deal fell through, HB retooled it into Jonny Quest.
  • Johnny Test: The title character is very much a subversion of this. While he meets many of the aesthetic requirements, some of his most iconic traits include being lazy, spoiled, and stubborn in a very un-endearing way. While his dog IS his best friend and he loves outdoor activities, he’s also addicted to video games and willing to resort to manipulation and blackmail to get them.
  • King of the Hill: Hank Hill thinks Bobby should be one. Bobby's knack for marksmanship and attending meetings of the Order of the Straight Arrow means he fulfills it from time to time.
  • The Magic School Bus: Ralphie Tennelli.
  • Moral Orel: Orel Puppington is a Deconstruction of this; it's specifically a parody of Davey and Goliath.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: According to Word of God, Rocky is an All-American Boy in squirrel form.
  • The Simpsons: Creator Matt Groening conceived Bart Simpson as very much a subversion of this trope; inspired by previous characters like Dennis the Menace and Eddie Haskell from Leave It to Beaver, with the mischief heavily dialed up.
  • Teen Titans Go!: In the episode "Hey You, Don't Forget About Me In Your Memory", Robin is fixated on being the All-American Boy while making sure the rest of the Titans stick to their labels. He ends up failing every aspect of it and realizes he's meant to be the bully.
  • The Venture Brothers: Hank and Dean Venture, at least initially. They eventually outgrow their "gee-whiz" naivete, but never quite shed the dorkiness completely.

    Real Life 
  • Institutionally invoked by the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Boys' Life magazine is marketed to this demographic, which makes sense as it's published by the aforementioned Boy Scouts.

Alternative Title(s): All American Boy