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Weird West

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"The desert is a circle. To find them, we must travel in a spiral."
El Topo, El Topo

The Wild West is, if you think about it, a logical choice for the Speculative Fiction 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. Many smaller frontier settlements were gradually abandoned over time, becoming (literally haunted) Ghost Towns. 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. Indian Burial Grounds, Magical Native Americans, and various entities from Native American Mythology (such as skinwalkers and wendigosnote ) also tend to show up as sources of supernatural strangeness. If the setting is more like a modernized New Old West, then expect to see more relatively recent cryptids such as chupacabras, or Urban Legends such as the Roswell UFO and aliens hidden at Area 51.

The Weird West genre and settings tend to heavily overlap with Alternate History, Fantasy Americana, and Historical Fantasy (or Urban Fantasy if it's a Weird version of the New Old West). If the story is set in the backdrop of historical military conflicts (such as the American Indian Wars, Mexican-American War, American Civil War, or the Mexican Revolution), then it becomes a Weird Historical War. If it overlaps with Canadian Western, expect to see a Grim Up North where Evil Is Deathly Cold.

Compare and contrast with Cattle Punk and Space Western, which take more of a sci-fi approach to the Old West; although there is some occasional overlap. There's also Sinister Southwest, when a Western United States setting is invoked for (less fantastic and more mundane) horrors. Also see Southern Gothic, Lovecraft Country, Campbell Country, and Überwald for other types of spooky regional settings.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • American Vampire: The vampire Villain Protagonist Skinner Sweet had started out as a Wild West outlaw, and several stories concerning him take place there.
  • Billy The Kids Old Timey Oddities starts out this way, with Billy being recruited into a very strange travelling circus. However, the bulk of the series is actually set in Britain, with an arc set in Victorian London and a finale set at Loch Ness, where the monster is revealed to be Dracula.
  • The Chimp With The Brown Hat stars the titular chimp in the wild west circa 1880. Said chimp has a robotic hand, and the wild west is being plagued by space worms.
  • 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. Originally, Lazarus Lane was a bank teller but after almost being killed by thieves and then struck by lightning, Lane was revived by the shaman Wise Owl who possessed him with a demon that emerges whenever Lane is asleep.
  • 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.
  • The Amalgam Universe one-shot Generation Hex was essentially this, combining the mutants of Generation X with the Old West setting of Jonah Hex.
    • Prior to that, Joe R. Landsdale wrote three limited Jonah Hex series based around this trope. They would, amongst other things, involve voodoo and giant man-eating desert worms.
  • 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.
  • Figures into the backstory of The Goon, when the Zombie Priest turned a frontier town into zombies, leaving the sheriff - the only living human left - to kill them all. When the Priest tried to turn the sheriff into a zombie as well, the spell failed - you can't reanimate someone who isn't dead yet - turning the sheriff into a ghoul-like being who must feed on the flesh of the dead to survive. In the main story, the semi-undead sheriff - now calling himself The Buzzard, having long forgotten his real name, and driven entirely by his thirst for revenge on the Zombie Priest - shows up as a Creepy Good ally to the main characters.
  • The Hack/Slash short comic "Home, Home on Derange".
  • Iron West by Doug TenNapel 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.
  • Downplayed in Planetary, but the issue focussing on the All Pulp Fiction Is True universe's Expy of The Lone Ranger heavily implies that there was some powerful multidimensional force working behind the scenes that brought the Ranger back from the dead and turned him into some quasi-supernatural being.
  • 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.
  • The first arc of Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios. It stars Deathface Ginny, the Daughter of Death. Later arcs are set in later historical eras, with a Time Skip in between each.
  • 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 Steampunk styled sequel.
  • Rawhide Kid: Although most of Rawhide's adventures were standard horse opera stuff, he did also fight monsters which were not a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax. One particularly famous (or infamous) example was the Living Totem: a alien who looked like a totem pole with arms and legs.
  • 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.
    • A later mini-series using the Weird Western Tales title was a anthology series of western themed horror stories.
  • Wynonna Earp is New Old West meets the Weird West.

    Film — Animation 
  • Played for laughs in the opening scenes of the first and third Toy Story films; the scenarios Andy creates when he plays with his toys seemingly start out as Westerns before he starts piling on elements such as forcefield-generating dogs and dinosaurs that eat forcefield dogs.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The successful and unsuccessful uses of the subgenre in films is discussed with a fair amount of depth in this older io9 article.
  • The Beast of Hollow Mountain: Cowboys versus a dinosaur.
  • The original script for Big Trouble in Little China set the supernatural shenanigans in 1890s San Francisco, just when Chinatown was beginning to develop, but it was eventually decided to give it a modern 1980s setting to be more relatable to the audience. Vestiges of the western setting can still be seen, such as Jack (now a trucker, instead of a cowboy, but still talking in a John Wayne impression) riding off into the sunset after the battle is won and walking around with saddle bags over his shoulder on a couple of scenes.
  • Billy The Kid Versus Dracula and its double-bill companion, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter are both exactly what you'd think.
  • 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.
  • In Curse of the Headless Horseman, a dude ranch is haunted by the ghost of a headless gunfighter.
  • 1959's Curse of the Undead features a vampire gunslinger, quite possibly the first example of such.
  • Dead Birds: Set in Alabama, where there's gory bank robberies, haunted houses, slavery, human sacrifice, black magic, necromancy, demonic possession, monsters from other worlds...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Ghost Of Slumber Mountain is a 1918 silent film created by Willis O'Brien (best known for his effects work on King Kong (1933)) involving dinosaurs on the American frontier.
  • Ghost Rock, but the supernatural element is only revealed at the very end of the film.
  • Ghost Town (1988) follows a deputy sheriff who finds himself amongst the dead residents of a ghost town while searching for a missing woman.
  • 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 only known footage of it was ultimately worked in Plan 9 from Outer Space.
  • The movie Greaser's Palace, a bizarre Christ allegory which features supernatural resurrection.
  • Grim Prairie Tales fits this to a tee: two travellers spend an night swapping horror stories round a campfire.
  • Gun Town - Psycho cannibals.
  • 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
  • The 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.
  • Left for Dead: A desperate criminal and a merciless posse become trapped in a remote Mexican ghost town by a vengeful demon.
  • The Lone Ranger (2013) 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...
  • Love And Monsters is a post-apocalyptic Western that features giant mutated creatures as the main threat, although Humans Are the Real Monsters.
  • Mulholland Dr. has the mysterious and menacing man known as the Cowboy who inhabits the Sunset Ranch, speaks with a typical Southern twang, and is strongly implied to be a supernatural creature.
  • 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 Bunny Rabbits.
  • Nope is a Sci-Fi Horror film set on a ranch training horses for Hollywood films, located next to a Wild West-themed amusement park that comes under siege from what appears to be an alien spacecraft.
  • Pale Rider frequently associates the hero with Death, the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse.
  • Prey (2022) is the first film of the Predator franchise to take place in pre-modern times, featuring Comanche warriors and fur trappers pitted against the alien hunter.
  • Priest (2011) is set in post apocalyptic-earth with vampires and has many of the trappings of the wild west genre.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ravenous (1999). Although it trades the prairies and deserts for the snowy mountains and woods of the Sierra Nevadas (giving it a bit of a Hillbilly Horrors flavour), it's very much a supernatural horror story set during the age of Manifest Destiny, dealing with frontier cannibalism and the wendigo legend.
  • Strong elements of mysticism run through the futuristic western movie Six Reasons Why, especially with regards to The Horse, which is supposed to possess mystic powers.
  • The Shadow of Chikara — Confederate veterans search for diamonds on a sacred mountain that might be protected by demons.
  • In Silent Tongue, Mad with grief after the death of his Kiowa wife, Talbot Roe awaits death under a tree with her body beside him. She begins to haunt him because he won't burn her.
  • Six Gun Savior: Injured after confronting the outlaw who murdered their family, a cowboy sells his soul to the Devil in a pact to save his dying brother. But the Devil is not known for keeping his word, making him a bounty hunter for hell.
  • Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat: The main setting is a small desert town inhabited by vegetarian vampires who get into a shootout with a lot of Mooks riding horses in the climax. The Big Good and his bodyguards also have a Cowboy vibe, although they show up for the final battle in a limousine.
  • Tremors has Sand Worm-type monsters attacking a secluded Nevada town, albeit during modern times. Tremors 4, which is a prequel set in the Old West, is a more textbook example of this trope.
  • Undead or Alive (2007) — Western meets zombies
  • The Valley of Gwangi has a group of cowboys discovering a Lost World full of Living Dinosaurs. When they try to bring an allosaurus back to town for their Wild West show, disaster strikes. One of the best-known examples of this trope.

    Folklore & Legends 
  • There was a whole string of UFO sightings around the western United States in the 1890s, and even alleged encounters with their Ambiguously Human pilots (who were often claimed to be visitors from Mars). A man from Stockton, California even claimed that three alien beings tried (but failed) to kidnap and drag him back to their spacecraft.
  • The belief in skinwalkers is still widespread among the Navajo people of the Southwestern US, to the point that there's a taboo against openly discussing tales of sightings and encounters with skinwalkers for fear of drawing their attention. Skinwalker-like monsters have also been reported in modern urban legends amongst some non-indigenous people of the region as well.

  • Age of Steam by Devon Monk.
  • World Fantasy and Nebula award-winning author Cat Rambo's collection of Steampunk and Cattle Punk stories, Altered America, includes a few Weird West stories.
  • John Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise mention that somewhere in the West is the Lost World of Hohoq (also known as "Ar"), the 51st state, also a floating plateau populated by thunderbirds, Magical Native Americans, and Germans, who appear to be "simply German". Samples of Ar's soil were combined with samples of Kansas' soil to synthesize the hybrid state of Arkansas.
  • Blood Meridian, Or the Evening Redness in the West, by Cormac McCarthy, repeatedly suggests that the Judge is a supernatural being.
  • Michael Spradlin's Blood Riders novel is a Weird West bughunt which pits vampires against a pair of ex-Union soldiers and their steampunk battle-train.
  • Mike Resnick's Buntline Special and its sequels pit Steampunk science against Indian magic.
  • Arianne 'Tex' Thompson's Children of the Drought series is a Weird West world set in a supernatural post-apocalypse (there was a war between magically talented races) Wild West where whole towns are haunted by the dead and roaming supernatural beings.
  • Cthulhu Armageddon is an After the End post-apocalypse New Old West where humans scrape an existence by in the shadow of the Great Old Ones. Humanity continues to live in frontier towns and tribes but there is a vast monster-filled wasteland between them all.
  • Lee Collins has a duology involving Cora Oglesby, an unstable aging sharp-shooting monster hunter in a Wild West haunted by supernatural activity.
  • The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger involves Jacob Tracy, a cowboy cursed/blessed with great psychic powers which make him a beacon for ghosts and other beings of the spirit world. Working in an uneasy partnership with the occultist Miss Fairweather to control his powers, Jacob also must contend with Russian circus mesmerist/ master of the black arts, Mereck and the products of his horrific supernatural experiments.
  • The Dark Tower series is a sort of western (more so in the first book than in later installments) with elements of fantasy and science fiction. It has demons and magic as well as technology left over from before the world moved on.
  • Author Joe Lansdale had his book-length debut with 1986 novel Dead in the West where a town is haunted by the undead and it's up to a preacher/gunfighter to deal with them.
  • Justine Ireland's post-US Civil War Zombie Apocalypse Dread Nation duology features a United States largely devastated by "shamblers". It also has "Iron Ponies" - small armoured trains that go on streets and roads, a magical penny, a ghost that keeps haunting the main character and a rail gun used by a town to blow up shamblers. The Wild West vibe ramps up in the latter half of the 2nd book Deathless Divide, as the heroes go to California.
  • The The Dresden Files short story "A Fistful of Warlocks" features a young Warden Luccio fighting Warlocks alongside Wyatt Earp in late 1800's Dodge City. Jim Butcher has expressed interest in creating a spin-off series based on it.
  • Eric Scott Fischl has a pair of Weird West/dark fantasy novels Dr. Potter's Medicine Show and The Trials of Solomon Parker. The first involves a group of travelling entertainer's led by the sadistic body-swapping Lyman, this troupe hawks a snake-oil cureall known as Chock-a-Saw Sagwa Tonic which is actually a flawed alchemical elixir that can heal or mutate those who imbibe it. The second book follows some of the survivors from the first book, a few decades later, the broken main character meets a medicine man who offers to change his past if he beats the medicine man in a dice game.
  • Dust Devils is a horror vampire novel set in the Wild West.
  • In R.S Belcher's The Golgotha Series, the background is of the town of Golgotha which is run by a fallen angel and All Myths Are True, features such things as Lilith-worshipping female pirates, a hereditary line of Mormon supernatural defenders, the resident mad scientist, etc.
  • Diane Morrison also edited and published an anthology, Gunsmoke & Dragonfire, featuring Weird West, Cattle Punk, Space Western and Fantasy Americana Western stories, including Riders of the Rainbow Ridge by Diana L. Paxson, and the seventh of her own Wyrd West Chronicles stories.
  • The Half-Made World takes place in a West that is an Eldritch Location. Still in the process of being created, the further west you go, the more unstable the laws of physics become. Supernatural creatures are fairly common; aside from the concept of the Magical Native American being merged with The Fair Folk, the entire West is a battleground between two factions of malevolent spirits: the Guns, which are sentient guns that empower their wielders with superhuman abilities as gunslinging outlaws, and the Engines, which are sentient trains that run on/command a Line that's an industrialized empire slowly spreading its oppressive authority across the West.
  • Gemma Files' The Hexslinger Series, a post-Civil War trilogy about fallen preacher turned sorcerer Ash Rook, his sharpshooting gunslinger boyfriend Chess Pargeter, and the hell they unleash on the West when Rook makes a deal with a fallen Mayan goddess to get the one thing his magic can't give him: a way to save him and Chess from killing each other when Chess's magic awakes as well, since magicians can't co-exist or cooperate in this universe without sooner or later destroying each other.
  • Several of the InCryptid short stories count as Weird West, especially The Flower of Arizona (published in the anthology Westward Weird), and Stingers and Strangers (published in the anthology Dead Man's Hand). These focus on Jonathan and Frances Healy in the 1920s and 30s investigating cryptids in Arizona and Colorado, respectively.
  • S.A Sidor's The Institute For Singular Antiquities books are Weird West/Horror with a big dollop of archaelogical adventure. A promising young Egyptologist, an orphan Chinese boy, a wealthy occultist heiress and a famed bounty hunter cowboy have an adventure involving mummies brought over from Egypt, ancient worms, jiangshi parents and Mexican ghouls in the first novel. The second involves a Wendigo hunt.
  • Jill Kismet is chiefly an Urban Fantasy series, but it is set in the modern West and draws inspiration from it: Jill buys many of her charms from a Native American medicine woman, and the local flavor of werewolf seems to take inspiration from skinwalker legends.
  • Lots and lots of stories by Joe R Lansdale. Even some of his stories that aren't weird west still borrow elements.
  • Robert E. Howard's Weird West stories. Most of these stories are included in the collection Trails in Darkness.
  • Although Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars novels are typically categorized as definitive examples of the Planetary Romance, the first novel (A Princess of Mars) in particular has elements of this genre. The first chapter has Carter chased by Dene warriors through the Arizona desert before finding himself on Mars somehow, and his adventures on Mars have a very Western feel, with a desert setting, a Damsel in Distress, and hordes of Green Martians rallied under the Noble Savage chief Tars Tarkas, who can be seen as kind of an analogue for Geronimo, a man Burroughs respected immensely. As the novels go on and Carter rises in Martian society, however, the action moves away from the Martian frontiers, Tars Tarkas gradually fades into the background, and this flavour becomes more minimal.
  • The Jon Shannow trilogy by David Gemmell. An After the End setting where most of humanity has access to civil war era technology, but which also has half-beast mutants, devil worshiping sorcerers and gun wielding lizardmen from the past of another dimension invaded by Atlantis.
  • Alan Dean Foster's short stories about "Mad Amos" Malone, a giant Mountain Man with a vast knowledge of all things arcane and mysterious who battles assorted dragons, ghosts, and other occult goings-on in the Old West.
  • "Ghost Town At Sundown" from The Magic Tree House series.
  • The Red Night Trilogy by William S. Burroughs: The Place of Dead Roads centers around a gunfighter in the American West who is also fascinated with magic and occultism, and the story features many supernatural elements.
  • Make Me No Grave by Hayley Stone is explicitly billed as "a weird west novel" in its subtitle. The plot features a US Marshal and a "flesh witch" known as the Grizzly Queen of the West.
  • The Merkabah Rider stories are about a Hasidic Jewish mystic who wanders the Old West battling demonic forces of evil.
  • Lila Bowen's The Shadow series is Weird West Dark Fantasy - a young cowboy who's fated to be a champion against rogue supernatural forces.
  • Sheep's Clothing is a vampire story set in the United States territories in 1874, while its sequel, Hungry as a Wolf, features flesh-eating zombies by way of the Wendigo myth.
  • Appalachia rather than the West, but the Silver John stories by Manly Wade Wellman are if not this trope, related.
  • Despite taking place in the 1950s, A Stitch In Crime is a pretty pure example of the trope. It's just that most of the cowboys don't have heads.
  • The The Tales of Alvin Maker stories by Orson Scott Card are all about this.
  • Emma Bull's Territory is a Weird West exploration of the Tombstone mythos, and the events surrounding the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral.
  • Unicorn Western, with its presence of magic and unicorns.
  • The Vampire Hunter D light-novel series by Hideyuki Kikuchi is heavily Western-based, even taking place in what is known as "The Frontier".
  • Vermilion by Molly Tanzer features the adventures of Lou Merriwether, a Taoist exorcist in old San Francisco.
  • Wax and Wayne: Given Brandon Sanderson and his extensive use of Magic A Is Magic A, this series straddles the line between this and Cattle Punk. It's in a Wild West setting with use of magic, but said magic is highly tied into the development of new technologies such as Depleted Phlebotinum Shells. Weapons reach to the advancement of dynamite, revolvers and bolt-action rifles, and transportation technology has advanced to the point of making Traintop Battle scenarios feasible, but one such battle includes someone grabbing dynamite and blowing it up in his own hand.
  • Although it's somewhat subtle, The Will Be Done takes place in a western-style setting, along with sorcerers and magical priests (No, they don't get along).
  • The Wyrd West Chronicles are a Weird West serial by Diane Morrison that takes place in Western Canada After the End, following a magical World-Wrecking Wave. It might also be considered a Fantasy Americana setting. There are also elements of Cattle Punk and Schizo Tech, and The Gunslinger trope features prominently. The first six stories were later published as a novel Once Upon a Time in the Wyrd West through a Kickstarter, which received good critical reviews.
  • The Lee Nez series is a Vampire Detective Series focusing on an New Mexico state trooper of Navajo heritage who was turned into a vampire in an encounter with Ghostapo during World War II. Lee continues to work for the state police in the New Old West.
  • The 1908 short story "The Monster of Partridge Creek", originally published in Je Sais Tout magazine, is a tale of the Weird Northwest, describing an encounter with a live "dinosaurus" in the Yukon Territory of Canada. From the description, the creature sounds like an oversized Ceratosaurus.
  • "Harold", one of the more infamous tales in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, is about two cowboys and a scarecrow.
  • Larry Blamire's anthology book Tales from the Callamo Mountains and its sequel More Tales From the Callamo Mountains are collections of short stories set in the Weird West. The only connecting tissue between them is that they are all set in the same (fictional) mountain range, implied to be some kind of Eldritch Location.

    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.
  • Short-lived series Dead Man's Gun's final episode retroactively changes the whole series into this with The Reveal that the eponymous gun's original owner is The Grim Reaper.
  • The Doctor Who episode "A Town Called Mercy" features the Doctor, Amy and Rory dealing with what is essentially a Terminator tormenting the title town in the American old West.
  • Used as a challenge in seasons 2 and 4 of Dragula, with the challenge in the latter season explicitly being named "Weird West."
  • In The Electric Company (1971), at least two Western parodies are this: the "galloping saddle" and "My Name is Kathy" sketches.
  • Outer Range: A mysterious portal appears, like the sinkhole from Hell, in a ranch in Wyoming.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Preacher (2016) is set in the American South, mostly Texas and Louisiana. The main character has an angelic/demonic power, and another main character is a vampire. The first season features angels and a telephone call to heaven. In later seasons there are arcs involving undead assassins from hell, vampires, voodoo, and shadowy religious organizations.
  • The Prisoner (1967): The episode "Living in Harmony" has the scifi/espionage action of the main series transposed to an Old West setting.
  • 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 (2010), beyond blatant western references right from the start, is a western story at heart. 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 storylines 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.

  • 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.

  • The setting for several tracks by the Blue Öyster Cult. '"Then Came The Last Days Of May" on Blue Öyster Cult (1972) sees three buddies die on a trip into the desert border with Mexico. "The Golden Age of Leather" on Spectres sees the shifting Western desert sands obligingly bury any trace that Hell's Angels fought a battle to the death here. And the video to Take Me Away from Revolution By Night moves the action of Alien Abduction and The Men in Black to a deserted dude ranch out in the mid-west.
  • The Cat Empire: "Voodoo Cowboy" conjures up an El Topo-esque psychedelic dreamscape of an Old West. The chorus of the song riffs on the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    His mother was a snake
    His father was a scarecrow
    Born in the desert with his hat on his head
    Never missed a shot
    Sharp as a Pharaoh
    Tequila in the sunrise
    The desert was his bed
  • The Cog Is Dead: "The Copper War" is a song about a small western mining town defending itself against an outlaw trying to take it over by building Steampunk mechanical steeds to ride against his posse.
  • The Cranberries: The music video of "Promises" 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: The album Gunmen is referred to by frontman Sebastian "Seeb" Levermann as a "Dark Fantasy Western". The album features songs about everything from the "Gunman" seeking revenge on his Love Interest's murderers and escaping his hanging to a "Vampire in a Ghost Town".
  • Stan Jones: "Ghost Riders in the Sky" (most well known by the Johnny Cash cover from the '70s or the The Blues Brothers' version) is about a cowboy who runs afoul of a herd of demonic cattle being herded by damned souls.
  • Tom Waits: "Black Wings" (off of Bone Machine) seems to imply this kind of world. The song is a dark, acoustic-guitar driven track in the vein of Gothic Country Music, describing an Ambiguously Evil being, implied to be a Humanoid Abomination or even an angel, on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    When the moon is a cold chiseled dagger
    And it's sharp enough to draw blood from a stone
    He rides through your dreams on a coach and horses
    And the fenceposts in the moonlight look like bones
  • Volbeat: 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."
  • Voltaire: To this genre belongs the song "Fear and Anguish", of the 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.

  • 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.
    • Downplayed but present in The Adventure Zone: Balance arc The Eleventh Hour. Set in the frontier mining town of Refuge, complete with saloons, sheriffs, and slide guitar soundtracks, the western setting revolves around a puzzling "Groundhog Day" Loop that begins hours before the town's cataclysmic destruction. And that's not even mentioning how it all ties into the very weird broader strokes of Balance's interdimensional cosmic horror saga.
  • Ain't Slayed Nobody is a Call of Cthulhu online podcast in the "Down Darker Trails" setting, with the first season telling the story of a ragtag posse who set out to seek justice from a notorious outlaw, and end up on a series of nightmarish misadventures.
  • The Twilight Histories miniepisode “Lakota Thunder” takes place in a world where the Ghost Dance allowed the Lakota to access the power of thunder and lightning.
  • Welcome to Night Vale is set in a desert with extremely hot weather and a Ralph's, and is home to a 5-headed dragon, a two-headed teenage boy, and many other weird people, things, and happenings.

    Theme Parks 
  • Phantom Manor, Disneyland Paris's version of The Haunted Mansion. It has a distinctly western twist on the original Haunted Mansion concept, as it is located in Frontierland, and the French have a thing for Spaghetti Westerns.
  • Also at the Disney Parks, every version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a jaunt through this trope. The premise is that you're riding a Ghost Train through an abandoned Gold Rush-era town. Different versions have different backstories explaining how the train became possessed by ghosts, and notably, the Disneyland Paris version ties directly into the Phantom Manor's backstory.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Alder's Blood from Shockwork Games describes itself as a Victorian/Western where your exiled team of hunters fight monsters born of the decaying of your slain God.
  • Alone in the Dark 3 is set in a Ghost Town in Mojave desert populated by undead cowboys and outlaws.
  • Bladeslinger from Kerosene Games, is an iOS game set in a fantasy Wild West, where you are a Bladeslinger (an order of gunslinger/mages with a wrist blade and six-shooter) who's trying to discover why undead and other monsters are infesting his hometown.
  • Blood West sees you as an undead cowboy fighting assorted zombie enemies in the Wild West.
  • Bounty of One takes place in a fantasy Wild West with goblins, orcs, fireball-throwing mages, as well as flaming skeletal Hell Hounds as enemies, with one of the Sheriffs being a three-headed, flaming skeletal hellhound, and the Big Bad is a skeletal necromancer with a Hellish Horse. Meanwhile, playable character Ollin is a desert spirit with a Magic Staff that gives him cactus powers.
  • 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.
  • In Endless Frontier, Hakan Browning hails from "Lost Herencia," which is a post-apocalyptic western populated by mutants and robots and peppered with Lost Technology.
  • Evil West from Flying Wild Hog is set in a version of the Wild West filled with the vampiric monsters called Sanguisuge, your gunslinger protagonist Jesse Rentier is a Power Fist-wielding agent of the 18th century Rentier Institute which was made to protect pioneers from these vampires.
  • Fallout: New Vegas embraced this fully after having briefly played with it in Fallout and Fallout 2. Six-shooters, Winchester-looking carbines, and cow-boy hats are everywhere, while more modern guns are common too. The starting town looks like a typical Old West settlement and one of the first people you encounter here 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. The Honest Hearts DLC, entirely set in Zion Canyon, is basically the story of a war between Native American tribes... where the Natives descend from survivors of a nuclear holocaust, wield firearms from the 1950s-1960s, and the local fauna are giant mutated variants of normal animals. And, if you so choose, you can use the "Wild Wasteland" trait, which introduces "the most bizarre and silly elements of post-apocalyptic America".
  • Grim Dawn: The setting is rather high fantasy but technologically equivalent to the late 1800s, meaning players and enemies alike can wield enchanted revolvers and lever-action rifles. Act 2 is set in a region of dry hills and canyons that has a very Southwestern feel and the main antagonists are Cronley's Gang, a group of bandits and desperados that experiment with magic-infused super soldiers and lair in abandoned mines that are occasionally haunted. The town of Homestead in Act 3 is populated by determined frontier farmers who are menaced by bug monsters rather than angry natives.
  • Gunslingers of the Wasteland vs. The Zombies From Mars. Yes, that's the title. The game have you playing as a gunslinger in the west fighting a zombie infestation caused by a rogue Martian scientist who destroyed his home planet and is now targeting earth.
  • 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.
  • Hunt: Showdown: Members of a Creature-Hunter Organization wage a secret war on monsters during the late 1800's using all kinds of weapons that, for all of their bizarre Steampunk looks, actually existed during that period. The game doesn't happen in the Wild West (most of the currently available arenas are set somewhere deep in Louisiana), but everything else fits.
  • League of Legends has its own hefty, skin-based Alternate Universe called "High Noon Gothic", transplanting several champions into a fantasy western setting. The backstory involves mortals having accidentally destroyed Heaven in a land rush and thus allowing the legions of Hell to ravage the west, resulting in a war between demonic hellbeasts, surviving angel warriors, and the mortal cowboys in between.
  • Pirate101 has a world known as Cool Ranch. The setting is western featuring piratesnote , 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).
  • 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 II 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. There's also a fair bit of mundane, non-supernatural horror on the frontier, though that typically has more of a Hillbilly Horrors flavour.
  • Six-Guns: Gang Showdown from Gameloft, has Arizona and Oregon haunted by vampires, cultists and other creatures of the night. But that's okay, because your cowboy Buck can beat them back with a trusty revolver, shotgun or rifle. And then Buck can eventually get flamethrowers, gatling guns, Hand Cannon, BFG, chainsaws, magic scythes, Automatic Crossbow, Tesla rifles, Wolverine Claws and holy energy guns. All while riding a mechanized or demonic horse and wearing exotic armor like Death's very own shroud.
  • SteamWorld Dig is set in a Wild West-inspired mining town, populated entirely by Steampunk robots. That's already reasonably weird, but as you dig deeper below the town, things get weirder and weirder.
  • 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.
  • Weird West, from former Arkane Studios developers and published by Devolver Digital, has five protagonists making their way in a very mythical version of the Wild West.
  • West of Dead, which follows a solemn undead gunslinger on a quest to liberate Purgatory from dark forces corrupting it. The afterlife is portrayed as an eclectic mixture of Judeo-Christian motifs, Native American mysticism, and old world pagan mythologies like those of ancient Scandinavia and Egypt, but its all filtered through a Spaghetti Western vibe. Interestingly, there's a bit of Genre Shift going on; the game starts out leaning harder into the "West" part, but emphasizes the "Weird" more and more as it goes on.
  • West of Loathing is a western themed RPG set in a place based on 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.
  • Wildstar was an MMO that mixed the Space Opera and Wild West genres together, and often featured Clarke's Third Law-related weirdness, such as dead settlers coming back as holographic ghosts.

    Visual Novels 
  • Wicked Lawless Love is a romance game set in a frontier town called Wisp Willow near the Devil's Backbone in the fictional world of Embarca. The heroine is a wanted outlaw at the start of the story, and the cast of love interests include ghost cowboy Nathan Cayde and vampire ranger Cecelia Visconti.

    Web Animation 
  • The Backwater Gospel is about what happens when a creepy undertaker shows up in a fearful Southwest frontier town under the thrall of a sinister fire and brimstone pastor (hint: it doesn't end well).
  • CliffSide is a story about a young man who wants to be a notorious outlaw. While failing to do so, he gets caught in the web of a spider-like Cute Monster Girl and makes an enemy of Death Itself.
  • Long Gone Gulch involves two wannabe gunslingers becoming the sheriffs of a strange world adrift in an ever-moving dust cloud, where creatures from mythology, folklore, and urban legends all over the world coexist in a Wild West-style town.
  • 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.


    Web Original 
  • Behold the brave Lawrence Brecker and his... uh... hoverhorse thingy.
  • 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 mapmaker 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 in Grimehollow all along, that all the mapmakers they've killed were actually the same guy getting resurrected into a different form each time, and that no matter where they try running off to, they will always end up coming right back to Grimehollow.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):

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


This is Cliffside

The intro shows just as much as you'd expect from a western... with monsters.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / WeirdWest

Media sources: