The best men was big and their yarns was too
Their tallest tales folks believed was true
So the more they were told, the more they grew
— The Ballad of Davy Crockett (from Davy Crockett and the River Pirates)
A five-part serial on the Disneyland television program, featuring Fess Parker in the lead role and Buddy Ebsen as his sidekick George Russel. The original serial was only in three parts, the success convinced them to make the remaining two parts. The serial was rereleased as two Compilation Movies, Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates. The two movies have been released on DVD, and the serial was released unedited as part of the Walt Disney Treasures line.
The Disney version proved insanely popular in the early 1950s USA, with Davy Crockett merchandise greatly in demand among kids, and is arguably the first modern children's media cultural phenomenon of its type. In terms of crazes it and other westerns would only succumb to science fiction media derived from The Space Race, a fact that became a major plot point in Toy Story 2's backstory.
Davy Crockett provides examples of:
- Adapted Out: "Busted Luck", the non-English speaking Indian that Davy and the others meet on their way to The Alamo, was completely removed from the comic book adaptation and the record version of Davy Crockett at The Alamo, although he's still featured on the album's cover◊
- Ascended Extra: In the real-life Crockett's autobiography, George Russell is briefly mentioned as a skilled woodsman who Crockett chose to accompany him into Creek territory. In fact, George's father Major Russell is mentioned more.
- The Bard: Georgie is often seen playing a lute and singing songs about Davy. He also published an exaggerated novel about Davy's exploits, leading to his reputation as "King of the Wild Frontier."
- Bears Are Bad News: The theme song claims that Crockett killed a bear when he was three years old.
- Bloodless Carnage: The final scene at the Alamo, when all the heroes are killed.
- Brandishment Bluff: Crockett and Russel scare off an entire Creek war party by making enough noise to convince them they're a much larger force. It helps that the scene takes place in heavily wooded areas and that they're both crack shots.
- Bragging Theme Tune: This series had one of television's earliest examples:Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee
Greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree
Killed him a bear when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier!
- Bring Help Back: Before Davy and his friends arrived at the Alamo, people have been sent to other towns to get reinforcements. None of them have ever made it past the Mexican army or returned alive. Eventually, Georgie becomes the next person to volunteer for the mission, and while he survives both ways, he doesn't succeed.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: By the time Crockett becomes a congressman, his reputation as a larger-than-life hero with many comically unlikely accomplishments to his name is already well established. He's happy to play to the stereotype.
- Catchphrase: George's "Give 'em what for, Davy!", which are also his Famous Last Words.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Crockett has this in spades. After the Creek War is over, he and Russel move to a new territory and just want to settle down. However, when he finds that a local posse of Politically Incorrect Villains has been running Indians off their land, he makes it his business to stand up to them and get them locked up. Then, he's convinced to run for Congress to prevent a lawyer sympathetic to said posse from becoming the next representative. Then, after leaving Congress and having nothing left to do, he finds the nearest worthy cause (the Texas Revolution), joins it, and ultimately dies for it.
- Compilation Movie: As noted above.
- Cool, Clear Water: Often seen in the series.
- Cowardly Lion: Thimblerig, the riverboat gambler who signs on with Davy and Georgie to go to Texas. He's given a chance to escape the Alamo before the final battle, but ultimately chooses to stay.
- Dawn of the Wild West: The battle of the Alamo takes place in 1836, placing the series in this era.
- Defeat Means Friendship:
- Mike Fink becomes friends with Crockett after he beats them in a river race.
- Also between Davy and Red Stick during the Indian Wars.
- Thimblerig decides to join Davy and Russel after Davy sees through his trick.
- The Native American they dub "Busted Luck" attacks Davy out of a misunderstanding but is subdued and joins their party.
- Downer Ending: The end of the movie is the Alamo.
- Drugs Are Bad: In River Pirates, George gets drunk with Mike Fink, gets his head dunked in a horse trough, and swears never to drink again. According to Disney Family Album #19, Buddy Ebsen was concerned about backlash for depicting a drunk character on a Disney show. Walt Disney answered that it was okay for a character to get drunk so long as he shows remorse for it.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Everyone at the Alamo.
- Russel gets shot several times while trying to light a cannon to fire at the invading soldiers.
- Jim Bowie is lying in bed, sick. When enemy soldiers bust down his door, he fires two pistols at them, grabs a third and stabs him with a knife before dying.
- Davy is the very last one to die, swinging Old Betsy at the enemy.
- Establishing Character Moment: Davy's is killing a bear with a knife. He's actually introduced trying to grin down a bear, as per the legend. When Major Norton angers the bear, Davy has no choice but to kill it with a knife. Since the entire scene is concealed by bushes, there's no way to know whether he actually tried to grin him down or whether he and Russel are just messing with Norton... but that's their story and they're sticking to it.
- Expecting Someone Taller: Mike Fink's reaction to meeting Davy.
- Expository Theme Tune: The show's opening theme, The Ballad of Davy Crockett, recaps both the previous episodes and briefly covers what's about to come in the current episode.
- Foregone Conclusion: When you find out he's going to the Alamo, you know what's going to happen.
- Grimy Water: Davy, Russel, and Busted Luck drink from a pond with algae growing in it. Thimblerig is a bit reluctant to join them.
- Hate Sink: Major Norton, especially during Davy's Congress storyline. Though Andrew Jackson and various wealthy land speculators are ultimately responsible for the Indian Bill, Norton is the most prominent advocate of the bill in the storyline and most directly involved in manipulating Davy. Even during his epic speech denouncing the bill, Davy expresses respect for Jackson right after punching Norton in the face.
- Heroic Sacrifice: As history dictates.
- Heroic BSoD: A toned down version when Davy gets a letter telling him that his wife is dead.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Davy and Georgie. Thimblerig and Busted Luck also show signs of developing this kind of relationship, although it's tragically short-lived.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Not quite heroism, but the Red Sticks are portrayed in a much better light than history shows. They were actually a bunch of racists who attacked other Creeks that they deemed insufficiently pure, and massacred civilians gladly.
- Andrew Jackson is also dubiously absolved of his part in the Indian Bill and maintains Davy's personal respect, which is in stark contrast to actual history and how the real historical Davy viewed the real historical Jackson.
- Averted with Davy Crockett. He really was a good guy who argued vehemently against the Indian Removal Act.
- I Call It "Vera": Davy calls his gun Betsy. Although it's never mentioned in the show, it was named after Davy's sister.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Red Stick's "promises no good. White government lie" is tragically borne out by the Indian Removal Act, much to Davy's disgust.
- Killed Offscreen:
- Davy's beloved wife, Polly, dies from fever while he's away.
- The last we see of Davy himself is him fighting to the last at the Alamo.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Thimblerig, who complains and grumbles as he fights alongside the other Alamo defenders.
- Large Ham: How Mike Fink is portrayed in the series. And if the stories about him are true, it's pretty accurate, too.
- Meaningful Name: Thimblerig is named after the scam game that he plays.
- Mildly Military: Crockett, Russel, and all the Tennessean militia in the Creek Indian War, have a very loose relationship with the chain of command. Somewhat justified in that they're volunteers, not regular military.
- Mountain Man: This version of Davy is arguably a Trope Codifier.
- Nice Hat: Davy's coonskin cap, of course.
- Noble Savage: The series' portrayal of Native Americans.
- Patriotic Fervor: Plenty of examples. But eloquently summed up when Davy suggests going to Texas, which is in the middle of a revolution:Russel: Texas?'' Why we've got the whole damn country to choose from, and you've got to pick... Well there's nothing there but a heap of trouble!
Crockett: ... Americans in trouble.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Major Norton.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Crockett and his friends when they get to the Alamo. A former Congressman and Indian fighter, another Indian fighter, a disgraced riverboat gambler, and an exiled Comanche warrior.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The alligators.
- Shades of Conflict: Davy, along with his companions and friends throughout the years as well as all the fighters at the Alamo are of the white morality. Congress, of course, is a grey area, as are the American Indian tribes, including Red Stick. The rest, not so much.
- Shirtless Scene: Georgie gets one.
- Short-Lived, Big Impact: The series only consisted of five one-hour long episodes, but managed to spark a national (and international thanks to countries like England and Japan) craze that lasted from 1954 to early 1956. Allegedly, Walt Disney himself once said "had I known that (the Davy Crockett episodes) would be so popular, I wouldn't have killed him in the third episode."
- The Siege: The Alamo
- Sleazy Politician: Norton, after becoming Andrew Jackson's political adviser.
- Tall Tale: Davy Crockett has become accrued with legends that sometimes stray into Tall Tale territory.
- Too Dumb to Live: Major Norton is this during the Creek War.Norton: [on a boat where he'd be a sitting duck if attacked, on a river that marks the edge of enemy territory] CROCKETT!!! CROCKETT, DAAAAAAVY CROCKEEEEEETT!!! [sees Russel desperately motioning him to silence] WHERE'S CROCKETT?! SPEAK UP, MAN! [reaches Russel, but barely lowers the volume] WHERE IS HE? [Russel silently points at some bushes, from which growling is emanating] WHAT'S HE DOING IN THERE?!
Russel: [quietly] He's tryin' to grin down a b'ar.
Norton: GRIN DOWN A— YOU BACKWOODS BUFFOONS THINK THE REST OF US'LL BELIEVE ANYTHING, DON'T YOU? [storms over to bushes] CROCKETT, CAN'T YOU HEAR ME?! COME OUT OF THERE, MAN! I'VE GOT A MESSAGE—
- Then there's the occasion when he ignores Davy's warnings and follows a trail...a trail that, naturally, the Creeks use. His unit gets attacked and has to be bailed out, of course.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Depending on your view of the U.S. government, Crockett's incendiary speech opposing the Indian Removal Act is either this or a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
- He occasionally gets these from Russel, most especially at the Alamo when Russel discovers that Crockett knew about the ammunition shortage all along and declined to tell him.