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There's Space Western for The West In Space!, and there's Cattle Punk for The West meets Steam Punk. The Weird West is for when The West meets the supernatural.

The West is, if you think about it, a logical choice for this treatment. The frontier as a whole was traditionally viewed (and still is viewed, to some extent) as the meeting place of civilization and the unknown. The lawless setting also meant plenty of violent deaths and unfinished business, fuel for ghostly tales. The Magical Native American cliché also tends to show up here, for obvious reasons. Daylight Horror and Light Is Not Good are common elements in these tales: in a region where the dry season resembles the Thirsty Desert trope, it is shade that is sacred.

Weird West works often invoke horror tropes. Ghosts, zombies, vampires, and werewolves are common elements. Also expect to see some elements from Native American mythology such as the wendigo. The West also has its own cryptids and urban legends, the most famous of them being the chupacabra. It is not unknown for an ongoing Western series to have an episode or two of weirdness, even an ambiguous one.

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See also: Samurai Cowboys, Supernatural Fiction, Aliens in Cardiff, Fantasy Americana. Compare Southern Gothic, Lovecraft Country, Campbell Country, and Überwald for other spooky regional settings.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime And Manga  

     Comic Books  

  • The Amalgam Universe one-shot Generation Hex was essentially this, combining the mutants of Generation X with the Old West setting of Jonah Hex.
  • The vampire villain Protagonist Skinner Sweet ofAmerican Vampire had started out as a Wild West outlaw, and several stories concerning him take place there.
  • Cowboys & Aliens and its film adaptation.
  • The Desperadoes comic book pits a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits against a magical Serial Killer in the Wild West.
  • Another DC Comics character, El Diablo, was basically made of this.
  • East of West by Jonathan Hickman is this in spades. Cowboy versions of the four horsemen of the apocalypse bump shoulders with powerful witches from the Endless Nation of the Indians. Also, there are talking eyeballs and living lakes. Weird West indeed.
  • Magazine Enterprises had a supernatural Western character the Ghost Rider, who was later taken over by Marvel Comics, renamed the Phantom Rider, made mundane, and eventually re-supernaturalized.
  • The Hack/Slash short comic "Home, Home on Derange".
  • Doug TenNapel's Iron West would just be plain old Cattle Punk, except that it's implied that the Engines (and perhaps the robo-cowboys as well) weren't actually built by anyone.
  • DC Comics The Justice Riders (Various Justice Leaguers reimagined in a Wild West setting.)
  • Manifest Destiny is about Lewis and Clark meeting all kinds of (usually quite dangerous) weirdness on their expedition to the Pacific Northwest.
  • Marvel Zombies 5 is a zombie western.
  • Parodied in one of the short stories published on Paperinik New Adventures: in the 23rd century they were shooting a western movie that featured such things as fire-breathing cougars, Indians with disintegrator tomahawks terrified by robotic birds and mutant desperados... Because the producer, usually known for extreme realism, accidentally documented himself with 20th century tabloids.
  • While most of Preacher is set in the present, the series has a very strong Weird West vibe, and the origin of the Saint of Killers is a pure example of the genre.
  • Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios. It stars Deathface Ginny, the Daughter of Death.
  • Rapunzel's Revenge is Fractured Fairy Tale of the Rapunzel story set in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Old West. All magical elements are retained, and expanded in the Steam Punk styled sequel.
  • DC Comics Golden Age character the Vigilante turned into this during the Seven Soldiers "megaseries."
  • After the death of his father, Adam Osidis from Seven To Eternity departs home on a mission to cleanse his family's name and confront the God of Whispers. He carries a rifle and five "nails"—bullets, one of which contains drops of his deceased brother's blood. He teams up with a group of Mosaks, supernatural knights, who are also seeking justice.
  • The Sixth Gun is a Weird western comic book series. Six revolvers with magical powers, when placed into the lock of a special vault, cause The End of the World as We Know It, and lets whoever did the wreckin' remake the world in his/ her image. The protagonists must keep them away from an undead confederate general, the remains of his unit, and a thief working for a shadowy organization.
  • Texas Strangers, which is essentially a Western story in a setting with magic and multiple fantasy races. Elves are the Native Americans, and Orcs come from Mexico; they and the humans of various stripes all use magic in their day-to-day lives.
  • Happens in both the two main Italian western comic books, Tex Willer and Zagor (both published by Bonelli)
    • Zagor regularly features vampires, werewolves, aliens, mad scientists and a number of other unusual creepy crawlies. Quite fittingly, it shares the same universe with other fantasy-based Bonelli series, such as Martin Mystere (better known internationally for its animated adaptation), Dylan Dog, and others, even if set much earlier in time.
    • Tex Willer is usually more down to earth and tends to feature mostly typical stories, but from time to time has shown magic users (including the warlock Mefisto, Tex' most famous enemy, and Tex' ally El Morisco. Plus, the medicine man of the Navajo village where Tex lives has genuine magical abilities, just not in the same league as the above two), Lizard Folk, dinosaurs, aliens... And very convincing scammers, leading to Tex usually doubting of apparent magic until he can verify it with his own eyes. Also, it's shown that guns kill much faster and better than magic, with the only exception being the Tibetan monk Padma (who once asked the "Voice of My Land" for permission to deal with Mefisto by making him drop dead but was refused).
  • The DCU's Weird Western Tales starring Jonah Hex. Despite the title, Jonah Hex is only borderline weird, at least in his original and current ongoing series. The two Joe R. Lansdale miniseries and movie have plenty of Weird West stuff, though.
  • Wynonna Earp is New Old West meets the Weird West.

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     Film  

  • The Beast of Hollow Mountain: Cowboys versus a dinosaur.
  • The original script for Big Trouble in Little China set the supernatural shenanigans in the Wild West, but Executive Meddling updated it to modern day to be more relatable to the audience. Vestiges of the western setting can still be seen, such as Jack riding off into the sunset after the battle is won and walking around with saddle bags over his shoulder on a couple of scenes (even if he's a trucker).
  • Billy the Kid vs Dracula and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (and, yes, these are real movies).
  • Blood Rayne II Deliverance was a movie about vampires set in the old west. Also contained the ridiculous line, "Get out of town before high midnight."note 
  • Bone Tomahawk has a Cannibal Clan of proto-humans as the villains.
  • The Burrowers (2008) — Western meets subterranean ghouls.
  • Cowboys & Aliens. The title should tip you off.
  • 1959's Curse of the Undead features a vampire gunslinger, quite possibly the first example of such.
  • Dead in Tombstone: A murdered gang leader is sent back to Earth by the Devil to extract vengeance on the gang members who betrayed him.
  • The Dead Lands of the titular film are a forbidden, cursed place inhabited by ghosts.
  • Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill - Zombies.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn - Western meets Tarantino, Rodriguez and Vampires.
  • Gallowwalkers: A gunslinger battles his undead victims.
  • Ghost Town (2009): An outlaw gang composed of trigger-happy Satanists massacre an entire town and trigger a curse that makes it re-appear occasionally, which then leads to the ghosts of the outlaws killing anybody who wanders into town. The protagonists are a bunch of modern-day high-schoolers that got lost on the way to a game. Sy Fy Movie Of The Week, with everything that can be expected of it.
  • The Ghoul Goes West. An unproduced Ed Wood film that would have starred Bela Lugosi as Dracula in the Old West.
  • The movie Greaser's Palace, a bizarre Christ allegory which features supernatural resurrection.
  • Gun Town - Psycho cannibals.
  • Grim Prairie Tales fits this to a tee.
  • High Plains Drifter: Nothing explicitly supernatural happens, but it is strongly implied that the main character is not human.
  • High Plains Invaders (2009) — Western meets alien invaders
  • Third Jeepers Creepers film was supposed to be this when it was first envisioned.
  • Jonah Hex: After being brought back from the dead, but leaving part of his soul behind, Jonah acquired the ability to, as long as he maintains physical contact with the corpse, temporarily resurrect and communicate with the dead, bringing the corpse physically and mentally back to its condition prior to death.
  • The Lone Ranger was going to have heavier elements of this, with the villains planned to be werewolves. The final version still has a hint of this, with Tonto saying that the villain is a Windigo. It turns out he's just a regular guy, but those rabbits...
  • Near Dark: A vampire coven roam the modern-day west looking for prey to kill and places to lay low.
  • Night of the Lepus: A modern-day western with giant killer rabbits.
  • Pale Rider frequently associates the hero with Death, the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse.
  • Some parts of The Prophecy are reminiscent of this setting, as most of the story takes place in a barely populated Arizona town. The main characters go down a mine shaft that shows them visions and participate in an Indian exorcism.
  • Priest (2011) is set in post apocalyptic-earth with vampires and has many of the trappings of the wild west genre.
  • Purgatory is about a Western town in Purgatory, where the almost-damned are given a second chance.
  • The famous surrealist Western El Topo, which features mole people.
  • Undead or Alive (2007) — Western meets zombies
  • The Valley of Gwangi - A living Allosaurus is unleashed and it's up to cowboys to save the day.
  • The successful and unsuccessful uses of the subgenre in films is discussed with a fair amount of depth in this older io9 article.

     Literature  

     Live Action TV  

  • Some episodes of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr..
  • Bonanza dabbled in the weird more than once.
    • In one episode, Little Joe helped an isolated town defend against a gang that killed their sheriff, only to wake up in a ghost town that was destroyed by a gang years earlier.
    • In another, a new priest arrives in town just before Easter. He resolves a bitter custody battle over orphaned twins by counseling their extended family. Moments after their reunion, a man walks in and introduces himself as the new priest. The first one, naturally, has disappeared.
  • Xbox is reviving the setting of the Deadlands RPG (see Tabletop Games, below) for a new live-action TV series.
  • The Doctor Who episode "A Town Called Mercy" features the Doctor, Amy and Rory dealing with what is essentially a Terminator tormenting the titular town in the American old West.
  • On The Electric Company (1971), at least two Western parodies are this: the "galloping saddle" and "My Name is Kathy" sketches.
  • Season Three of Penny Dreadful features Ethan's arc in the New Mexico Territory, featuring black magic, werewolves, and a Magical Native American. This serves to take a break from the general Gaslamp Fantasy / Gothic Horror tone of the series and to explore Ethan's background more thoroughly.
  • The Outpost looks like Heroic Fantasy at first, but once Talon reaches Gallwood Outpost (a fortified town guarding a mine on the edge of settled lands) it takes on a lot of classic Western character archetypes. To name a few, you've got The Bartender at the local tavern (two of them in fact, one a money-grubber, the other an artist of a brewer), The Sheriff in Gate Marshal Withers, the Cavalry Officer in the dashing Captain Garret, and The Drifter in the form of main protagonist Talon.
  • Rawhide dabbled in the "Maybe Magic Maybe Mundane" variety of Weird Western territory quite often through its run, with storylines involving ghosts, curses, Bigfoot...
  • Supernatural as a whole could be considered a weird neo-western, but one episode featured Sam and Dean going back to the Old West to hunt down a Phoenix.
  • Even if it doesn't want to admit it, Teen Wolf loves to subtly feature the weird west, especially in later seasons.
    • Season 4 takes the pack to Mexico for the entire first episode, and the rest of the season features Mexican berserkers, who are controlled by the werejaguar of Brazilian mythology. The opening credits even feature a distinctly desert vibe.
    • Season 5 finds Kira going to New Mexico with her mother, to enlist in the help of the Native American Skinwalkers to aid Kira in controlling her powers.
    • Seasons 3, 4, and 5 all feature Malia's storyline where she looks for her parents. Her mother is an assassin who goes by the name of the Desert Wolf. The show's coyote mythology tends to heavily allude to the Weird West, even if it doesn't state it outright.
    • Season 6 features the Ghost Riders of the Wild Hunt, who wears a cowboy hat, rides a Hellish Horse, cracks a whip, and steals people from memory. As one does.
  • The television adaptation of The Walking Dead, beyond blatant western references right from the start, is a western story at heart with Western Characters. Gunslingers Rick Grimes and Shane Walsh, Young Gun Carl Grimes, Hunter Trappers Daryl and Merle Dixon, Wasteland Elder The Governor, the list goes on.
  • Westworld is an odd case. While it's clearly on the science fiction side of the Speculative Fiction spectrum, it also clearly isn't a Space Western or Cattle Punk. Rather, it's a collision of an A.I. Is a Crapshoot thriller and a classical Western, making it fit more comfortably here than in any of the other speculative Western genres.
    • In-Universe, some of the park's story-lines run into this category, such as the horror story involving cultists in the desert who became cannibals.
  • The Wild Wild West also frequently dabbled in Weird Western territory.
  • Wynonna Earp is set in modern day, but features a outlaws from the Old West killed by Wyatt Earp who return as demonic revenants due to a curse laid upon the Earp bloodline. The Ghost River Triangle area they're trapped in is a hotspot of supernatural activity and has been for a long time.

     Manhwa  

  • Priest: In contrast to the movie, the main story line takes place in the American West, with the protagonist battling fallen angels and zombies with blessed silver weapons, voodoo, and demonically-enhanced strength.

     Music  

  • Johnny Cash's Ghost Riders in the Sky is about a cowboy who runs afoul of a herd of demonic cattle being herded by damned souls.
  • The music video of "Promises" by The Cranberries pits a sheriff against a witch that returned from the grave on the local boot hill... and the witch winning easily.
  • Ghoultown fit this trope to a tee, with a horrorpunk/rockabilly country sound, and plenty of songs about undead gunslingers and ghoulish curses. They even stretched into comic book territory briefly with a story about a vampire-cowboy.
  • Murder By Death have at least their entire album Who Will Survive and What Will be Left of Them?, which is "about the Devil wiping a small town off the map." Portions of Red of Tooth and Claw may qualify as well.
  • Orden Ogan's album Gunmen is referred to by frontman Sebastian "Seeb" Levermann as a "Dark Fantasy Western".
  • Volbeat's Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies is a Concept Album that is solidly Western but also contains Lovecraftian elements. This is best exemplified by the songs "Dead But Rising," and "Nameless One."
  • To this genre belongs the song Fear and Anguish, of Voltaire's country album: Hate Lives in a Small Town. It's about the effect strange ocurrences start having over a town with a Continuity Nod regarding a song of the same album.

    Podcasts 
  • The Adventure Zone: Dust is set in the wild-west inspired Crescent Territory, home to all sorts of supernatural creatures, such as werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and demons.

     Theme Parks 

     Tabletop Games 

     Video Games  

  • Alone in the Dark 3 is set in a Ghost Town in Mojave desert populated by undead cowboys and outlaws.
  • The largely forgotten First-Person Shooter Darkwatch: Curse of the West was about an outlaw-turned-vampire named Jericho Cross, who was hired by the titular organization to track down the vampire lord who turned him. It featured, among other things, a Hellish Horse named Shadow that served as Jericho's steed.
  • Fallout: New Vegas embraced this fully after having briefly played with it in Fallout and Fallout 2. One of the first people you encounter in the game is a security robot with the face of a cowboy displayed on its screen. And things only get weirder from there. Comes almost with the territory of being a 50s-style pulp-fiction sci-fi game set in a post-apocalyptic Mojave desert.
    • And, if you so choose, you can turn it Up to Eleven with the "Wild Wasteland" perk, which introduces "the most bizarre and silly elements of post-apocalyptic America".
  • Hard West is set in a grim western frontier beset by gun-toting demons, an inexplicable force driving people to madness, ancient curses, and a dark-suited stranger offering wealth and power to those down on their luck.
  • Pirate 101 has a world known as Cool Ranch. The setting is western featuring piratesnote , Petting Zoo Peoplenote , and Hoodoonote .
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: One of the time periods featured in the game is the Wild West... overrun with appropriately-themed zombies such as cowboys, gold prospectors, saloon pianists, rodeo bulls, and... chicken wranglers.
  • Pulp Adventures has a mission in which the Lone Ranger and Tonto explore a Wild West town which population has been brainwashed by a cursed artifact buried nearby (a golden mask with telepathic abilities).
  • Gameloft's tablet 3rd person shooter, Six-Guns: Gang Showdown, has Arizona and Oregon haunted by vampires, cultists and other creatures of the night. But that's okay, because your cowboy can beat them back with his trusty revolver or with flamethrowers, gatling guns, chainsaws, magic scythes, Tesla rifles and holy energy guns. All while riding a mechanized or demonic horse.
  • Undead Nightmare, an expansion pack for Red Dead Redemption, focuses around the (normal) Western frontier getting overrun with a zombie invasion. Bigfoot, chupacabras, and the four horses of the apocalypse also appear.
    • Though otherwise averted in the main game, the optional sidequest "I Know You" features a mysterious stranger who seems to know Marston even though he doesn't remember ever meeting him. The quest's climax heavily implies this man is some sort of supernatural being, as he's shown to be Immune to Bullets and your final confrontation with him takes place at the site of Marston's future grave. Players have interpreted him as God, Satan, or even Death, but his true identity is ultimately left ambiguous.
  • While the main storyline averts this entirely, the side content in Red Dead Redemption 2 features a lot more "abnormal" phenomenon, including sidequests concerning ghosts, aliens, robots, and giants, and characters that are heavily implied to be time travelers, vampires, zombies, and Bigfoot.
  • Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz has a wild west themed world... made entirely out of cardboard drawn on with crayon. Don't let the scenery fool you though, it's levels are bound to give you a headache.
  • West of Loathing is a western themed RPG set in 1895 California near San Francisco. It features a sorcerer class ("Beanslingers", who throw magic beans of various effects at enemies), demonic cows, a necromancy cult bringing back entire graveyards worth of skeletons back from the dead, and eldritch-abomination-haunted "El Vibrato" ruins driving miners crazy. It's all played for laughs, of course; Asymmetric Productions being the bunch of jokers that they are.
  • The Wild ARMs series has a Western-like setting, but includes fantasy and sci-fi elements such as spellcasting and robots.

     Webcomics  

     Web Original  

  • The "Normal Western Movie" sketch from Brandon Rogers is this in spades. For some context, it tells the story of a Cluster F-Bombin', horse humpin' outlaw and a sex addicted prostitute, both of whom are irrationally afraid of indians and, more importantly, are going through each and every town in the Wild West that has a map maker in the hopes of getting a map to Grimehollow, a town where no one ever dies. The real kicker, though, is at the end, when its revealed that they were on Grimehollow all along, that all the mapmakers they've killed were actually the same guy, and that no matter where they try running off to, they will always end up coming right back to Grimehollow.
  • Behold the brave Lawrence Brecker and his... uh... hoverhorse thingy.
  • The Backwater Gospel is about what happens when a creepy undertaker shows up in a fearful frontier town under the thrall of a sinister fire and brimstone pastor (hint: it doesn't end well).
  • The Creepypasta Home on Derranged is about a cowboy who gets lost on his ranch one day, and chased back to his house by an undead horse.
  • Nomad of Nowhere follows two women, the tough-as-nails Captain Toth and her bright-eyed companion Skout, hot on the heels of the most wanted man in the world, the enigmatic Nomad, in an anime-esque wild west setting where The Magic Came Back... to the Nomad, the only person in the world who can use it. In case you're wondering "Say, that sounds a lot like Trigun", then yes, have a cookie. Even before meeting the Nomad, there's a buzzard with a long lizard tail and a two-headed armadillo.

    Western Animation 


Alternative Title(s): The Weird West, How The West Was Weird

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