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Series / The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

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"One part Bond, one part Indiana Jones and 100% cool."
— The tagline used by Turner Network Television during reruns.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. was a mid-nineties TV show which provided a unique mix of the classic western and science fiction genres similar to The Wild Wild West TV series of the '60s. Created by Jeffrey Boam (screenwriter of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Inner Space) and Carlton Cuse (before Nash Bridges and Lost), the series starred B movie and television icon Bruce Campbell as the title character who, after the murder of his father (Marshall Brisco County, Sr, played by R. Lee Ermey) at the hands of the infamous John Bly gang, is hired by the wealthy members of the Westerfield Club to recapture John Bly (played by Billy Drago) and his gang of 12.

Brisco is a graduate of Harvard Law School (with a theater minor) who is an implausibly accurate gunman, One-Liner King and ladies man with killer jawline and an almost permanent 5-o'clock shadow (Hey, it's Bruce Campbell, you expected something else?). He is smooth, quick-witted, durable, extremely creative and annoyingly hard to kill (he was even brought back from the dead once). After being hired by the "Robber Barons" of the Westerfield Club, Brisco (along with his horse, Comet) is immediately paired with the club's personal lawyer Socrates Poole (Christian Clemenson), who will be the middle man between them and their employee, Brisco. While searching for the escaped members of John Bly's gang Brisco obtains a reluctant partner in fellow bounty hunter Lord Bowler (Julius Carry), comes to know (quite well) a woman by the name of Dixie Cousins (Kelly Rutherford), slightly crazed scientist Prof. Albert Wickwire (John Astin) and a large number of guest characters. The secondary plot of the show revolves around a mysterious golden "Orb" which was uncovered by Chinese railroad workers and contains possibly mystical powers. Its true origin and purpose is something Brisco must discover.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. ran on the Fox network for a total of 27 episodes from August 27, 1993 to May 20, 1994 and was then cancelled. And that despite the network having much faith in it, feeling it would raise their audience at the Friday Night Death Slot and even give some residual viewers to the sci-fi show that followed - The X-Files, which became the runaway hit Brisco County, Jr. was expected to be! The theme music is composed by Randy Edelman and was later used by NBC during their Major League Baseball and Olympics coverage.

This TV series provides examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Prof. Wickwire is a shining example.
  • The Ace: While it mostly makes sense, Brisco seems to be just a little too good to be true, especially when it comes to gunplay.
  • Actor Allusions and Casting Gags:
    • Hippie drug guru Timothy Leary's expertise in botany and pharmacology as Dr. Milo in "Stagecoach"...not to mention his Fauxlosophical Hand Contemplation scene.
    • John "Gomez Addams" Astin mentioning how the [John & John Q.] Adams family was "weird".
    • The series finale features a group of villains who are all played by football players, and discuss their plan to capture Brisco in the same style as a football play, including shouting "Break!" at the end. While running down a street, they encounter props which conveniently resemble a football training camp obstacle course, including tires.
    • The traveling scenes are denoted by a very Indiana Jones -style red line on a map overlaid with video footage, which falls more within Author Allusion.
  • Adaptation Decay: In "Mail Order Brides," Brisco and Bowler learn that writers back east are writing dime-store novels about their adventures. Some of the material tracks with what we've seen before, but others (like a cover picture of Brisco on a Bolivian adventure) not so much.
  • Air Guitar: Actually more like Dueling Air Banjos when Pete Hutter and Aaron Viva try to outdo each other while locked in a jail cell.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Subverted when the actual Amazons (the Schwenke sisters) are more interested in Prof. Wickwire than Brisco.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Lord Bowler demonstrates that of all the bounty hunters in the west, he's the best singer, as Brisco lies dying after being gut-shot by John Bly. (He gets better.)
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Comet, to the point it borders on parody. In the Pilot Movie, Brisco states Comet thinks he's a human and Comet certainly proves as much throughout the series, often tracking Brisco over impossible distances and managing to hold conversations with Brisco despite not being able to talk.
  • Anachronism Stew: The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. included such things as rockets, a mobile battle wagon (it's a freakin' tank, people!), steel horses (motorcycles), "machinery" guns, an inner-space suit (diving suit), a zeppelin and other items as well as modern popular culture references in the show dialog. Though these were supposedly early prototypes, their functionality and most people's understanding of them really strains suspension of belief.
    • Some of the "anachronism" were more carelessness than playing with history - several of the "new-fangled" devices featured were already around by 1890, some for decades. The Gatling gun was patented in 1861, diving suits were a major area of research during the decade and would be manufactured before the end of the decade, and steam-powered airships had been flying since 1852. First motorcycle has been built in 1885 while similar vehicle powered by steam engine was constructed in 1868. Another episode featured denim being presented as the "next big thing" in textiles, despite having been used in American clothing for over a century.
      • Although Ned Zed's "machinery gun" was more like a Thompson sub-machine gun than a gatling gun, which makes it still fit into this trope.
      • The writers may well have been aware that these devices were around, albeit in primitive form, and that was the point.
    • It could be taken as Steampunk.
  • And Starring: With Comet.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The final episode, written under the assumption that there would be a second season, becomes this as Brisco and Bowler ride off after promising the President they'd be back in action after a "brief hiatus".
  • Angry Guard Dog: The jail dog in "The Orb Scholar" who has the keys to the cells clipped to his collar.
  • Arc Words: "The Coming Thing"
  • Artificial Limbs: Frenchie Bearpeaux has a bear paw for a hand because he got his hand caught in a Bear Trap meant for Brisco County Sr.
  • Artistic License – History: Of all the historic liberties the show takes with its time period, the biggest is probably in "Baby Makes Three" where Brisco, Bowler, Dixie, and Whip have to look after a kidnapped Chinese baby who's the rightful emperor of China. Of course, no Chinese emperor was born in 1894. The actual emperor of the time had reigned since 1875. The next (and last) Chinese emperor was born in 1906.
  • A-Team Firing: From most of the bad guys, and from Brisco, whenever the plot requires that the bad guys get away in the first act.
  • Awesome McCoolname: "This here's Utah Johnny Montana. It used to be Utah John Cougar Montana but he dropped the Cougar 'cause he thought it was pretentious." (And he's from Idaho.)
  • Badass Biker: A whole gang of them, really (yes, this is still largely a Western show...largely).
  • Bank Toaster: The episode "Crystal Hawkes" features a scene where Brisco steps into a bank offering a free branding iron to anyone opening a new account.
  • Bears Are Bad News: In "Hard Rock," Brisco and Bowler wind up trapped in a cave. Before they can blast their way out, they have to fend off one angry bear.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Many Orb episodes have someone tell Brisco that he has a destiny to fulfill.
  • Being Good Sucks: In "Hard Rock," Sheriff Viva recognizes Hondo as a criminal, but can't arrest him since no one can prove he's broken any laws that are "on the books."
  • Berserk Button: Subverted. Supposedly, Pete Hutter will flip his shit if you touch his gun. In practice, every time someone does (even if it's a repeat offender like Brisco), he's so shocked that he'll stand there, gibbering that they "touched his piece", for several minutes, giving the would-be victim plenty of time to get rid of it, compelling Pete to waste his time finding it.
  • Betty and Veronica: Amanda Wickwire and Dixie Cousins, at least in the pilot. Amanda's the law-abiding Nice Girl looking after her eccentric father, while Dixie is the sultry singer with taste in outlaws.
  • Big Eater: Sheriff Aaron Viva. He's later shown BRUTALLY winning a pie-eating contest.
    Sheriff Viva: Uh, Miss Raymond? Any chance we can get something to gnaw on?
    Lenore Raymond: Of course, Sheriff. What'll ya have?
    Sheriff Viva: Four chicken-fried steaks, two top sirloins, six baked potatoes, a loaf of bread, a stick of butter...ahhh pound of tapioca and ahhh gallon of buttermilk. Mister County, you want anything?
    Brisco: Uh, no thanks.
  • Big Fancy House: Bowler, much to Socrates and Brisco's surprise; apparently they thought he was stuffing his mattress with those big bucks he was making as a bounty hunter. He even has a cabinet full of top-of-the-line crystal, which he asserts he will make Socrates pay for in full if there's so much as a chip in it. So it's unfortunate that the reason they're even having the conversation is because Socrates has managed to acquire a Psycho Ex-Girlfriend in record time, and needs a place to hide out.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Swill Brothers and their extended family:
    Gil Swill: You remember our cousin Ed?
    Bill Swill: The one who married Aunt Merriam?
    Phil Swill: I thought he married his mother.
    Bill Swill: That's what I said.
    Gil Swill: Until recently, Ed was one of the Army's top test drivers. The man is fearless.
    Phil Swill: You have to be fearless to marry your mother.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Brisco, in a showdown, actually manages to put a bullet through his opponent's barrel and into the chamber, causing it to explode.
  • Book Dumb: Bowler may be slow on intellectual matters, but he's quite brilliant when it comes to tracking fugitives.
  • Boom Town: No Man's Land, a boom town with a population made entirely of women.
  • Bounty Hunter: Aside from Brisco and Bowler, many other bounty hunters also appear in the show. Most notably in the episode "Bounty Hunters Convention".
  • Butt-Monkey
    • When at odds with Brisco, Bowler tends to wind up as this.
    • Socrates fits this category to a tee.
  • Card Sharp: Played to the hilt in one episode where Brisco is in a poker game and both he and his opponent are cheating extensively. At one point Brisco even reaches down to pet a dog and pulls an ace from its collar. Even the cigarette girl is in on it. Even more fun is that despite Brisco's obsession with the "coming thing," he's relying on classic low-tech cheating while the other guy has all kinds of steampunk gadgets to help him. Though Brisco's opponent has a hand of five kings, he concedes defeat to Brisco's five aces:
    "Ya cheated me fair and square!"
  • The Casino: One of Brisco's cases involves him and his crew busting up a riverboat casino owned by one of Bly's gang.
  • Chained to a Railway: In the pilot episode, Brisco and Lord Bowler are tied to the railway tracks by the John Bly Gang.
  • Character as Himself: "...with Comet" - actually played by four horses, each with a specific area of training (gestures, riding tricks, etc.). Bruce Campbell mentions on the commentary that there were a few times where he had to break it to an episode's director that a shot they wanted with Comet was impossible, due to requiring two different horses.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Quite literally with Brisco's own gun, which has a connection with the Orb.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Professor Wickwire's daughter Amanda is never heard from after the pilot.
    • The reporter from the pilot was meant to be a recurring character as the paper's regular correspondent for Brisco's exploits, but as Socrates fulfilled the same function in a different venue, the idea was quickly dropped.
  • Clear My Name
  • Cliffhanger: Of the Commercial Break Cliff Hanger variety. Usually Once an Episode, but earlier on, twice. When the episode would return from a break, a chapter title would appear.
  • Conqueror from the Future: The Big Bad of the series, John Bly, is revealed to have come from the 26th century, having gone back to the 19th-century to procure the Orb and use its power to rule the world.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Examples include Brisco being tied to a log in a sawmill, tied to railroad tracks, tied up with wet rawhidenote , stuck in a soon-to-be exploding boiler room, tossed into quicksand, dumped down a well, stuck in a burning barn, the ax-throwing trick, tied to a metal pole in a thunderstorm, acid bath (actually intended for the victim in the room above Brisco but nearly gets him when it falls through the ceiling) and much more.
  • Cool Horse: Brisco's horse Comet can even open combination locks. And knows Morse code. So naturally, Brisco is inclined to quibble over small details.
  • Counting Bullets: Brisco tricks a young gun-shooter into wasting his bullets before he shoots off his gun-belt.
  • Covers Always Lie: The DVD synopsis ends with "Let's play cowboys and aliens!" There are no extraterrestrial beings on the show.
  • Cowardly Lion: When forced into action Socrates is always going to be utterly terrified, but he will NEVER abandon Brisco.
  • Creator Cameo: Carlton Cuse as an artist Pete hires in the pilot.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: While certainly not stupid, Socrates often finds himself out of his element and struggling to keep up with Brisco and Bowler. Every once in a while however he manages to do something EXTREMELY brave and competent, often to the surprise of his friends.
  • Deadly Dodging: In the first episode, Brisco is about to be shot by four bandits who form a perfect cross around him. He decides to duck at the last moment and the bandits kill each other simultaneously.
  • Deadpan Snarker: U.S Attorney Breakstone.
    Socrates: Rita Avnet is obsessively in love with me.
    Breakstone: I'm sorry. You'll forgive me for laughing.
    Socrates:'re not laughing.
    Breakstone: Trust me. On the inside...I am.'
  • Double Entendre: Dixie is a master at these, which is frequently Lampshaded by Brisco.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Bob from "Showdown" was Brisco Sr.'s right-hand man and a longtime family friend. He helped round up Bly's gang, but he lagged behind during the breakout on the train, with Brisco Sr. ultimately gunned down. According to Annie, Bob hit the bottle hard and never let up. He only comes out of it towards the end of the episode, thanks to Brisco.
  • Elite Mooks: Pete Hutter enters the show in the pilot movie as the somewhat elite mook of Big Smith. After his initial appearance he becomes a minor Anti-Villain, periodically showing up while working out his own villainous schemes. Pete has a special love for his gun, a la Sledge Hammer!, which is known as "Pete's Piece."
  • Embarrassing First Name: U.S Attorney Breakstone
    Socrates: U.S Attorney....uh, Mister Break...oh, this is silly. My name is Socrates, what's your first name?
    Breakstone: Ginger. But that's on a need-to-know basis.
    Socrates: Ginger....?
    Breakstone: That's right, Ginger.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Peter Leviticus Hutter.
  • Embarrassing Last Name: James "Lord Bowler" Lonefeather.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Pete Hutter is introduced giving a rant about his appreciation for classical art over the newer Impressionist movement as he observes a painter painting a mound as part of a Train Job, and then tells the painter that his landscape should have a sunset to complete the look. The painter remarks that it's in the middle of the day, so a sunset would ruin the illusion they're going for, whereupon Pete gets cranky over how he won't accept "constructive criticism." This tells us that Pete is nothing but your typical Western outlaw that think's he's smarter than he really is.
    • We're introduced to Lord Bowler trying to pick a fight with Brisco Jr unprovoked after a lifetime of losing to Brisco Sr. After failing to intimidate Brisco with a lit pack of dynamite, he get both of them landed in jail. While Brisco manages to get out of a jail-sentence with his knowledge of the law, Bowler fails to do the same. This tells you everything you need to know about Bowler; he's manly, but as dumb as a rock and lives his life to try and inconvenience Brisco, only to be made to look like an idiot because he isn't as clever as his Foil.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones
    • The Swill brothers and the extended family are very protective of their own.
    • Played with in "Hard Rock." Hondo previously shot his brother for cheating him, but he can't bring himself to shoot his own son when threatened. He also urges his son to be a good man in memory of his mother.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: More like "even perpetual nuisance has standards", but Pete, when accused of committing every crime on the books short of murder, adamantly insists that he's never violated an agricultural quarantine.
  • Evil Minions: Every one of John Bly's evil minions has at least one evil minion of his own.
  • Expy: Lord Bowler was based on Lord Baltimore from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: While trying to escape, LaCutte from "Pirates!" stumbles right into quicksand. Brisco tries to save him, but LaCutte prefers Taking You with Me instead. Brisco's only saved by Bowler's sudden arrival.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Bly is sucked inside the Orb by a trick bullet in the handle of Brisco's gun.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: Brisco often gets told he has to do this in regards to the Orbs.
  • Framing Device: The episode "Ned Zed" is framed by a father reading to his son from a "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr" dime novel.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Unearthed Foreign Object
  • Funny Foreigner
    Enzio Tataglia: [Sitting at a table in the middle of town] In my country we have a saying "If you yodel in the forest , the yoohoo that you yoohoo will be the yoohoo that you get back."
    Brisco County Jr.: Where were you from again?
  • General Ripper: General Quarry is a thoroughly cynical version of this, deliberately framing a Mexican revolutionary to start a war with Mexico, solely to satisfy Quarry's own political ambitions.
  • Genre Savvy: Brisco is this. Unfortunately circumstances usually end up leading him to the dramatic climax that he's already described in detail and was trying to avoid.
  • Genre Shift: Starting with "Bye Bly" where John Bly is killed and the Orbs returned to the future, so the genre shifts slightly out of fantastical Sci-Fi and into less fantastic western espionage for the rest of the series.
    Bowler: Brisco, can we just be cowboys from now on?
  • Girl of the Week: Somewhat subverted in Dixie Cousins as a regular Love Interest, but played straight in almost every other episode...including with New Old Flame Annie Cavendish, whom he promised to return to one day. Next week, she's forgotten. of course.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Given a certain twin German Amazonian blacksmiths kinda twist. The good cop flirts, while the bad cop makes to beat the hell out of the person.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: Though Brisco has some notice for his career (which is how he got the job hunting Bly's gang), he's still considered a small fry compared to his more illustrious father. However, he returns to the old homestead in "Showdown" and gets a warm welcome from the lawful citizens. He further improves his reputation with them by taking down the Brackmans for their crimes.
  • Hidden Depths: Bowler is actually very careful with his bounty money, getting himself a lavish and well-furnished mansion. He also later reveals that he served in the military.
  • Historical In-Joke
    • Mexico has a county named Brisco out of gratitude for his actions in "Brisco in Jalisco."
    • Sheriff Viva invented sunglasses (though he called them "dayglasses").
  • I Lied: A villain does this to Pete Hutter in the episode "And Baby Makes Three".
  • Iconic Item: Brisco's gun is a custom-made revolver. Anyone who sees it instantly knows that it's the gun of his legendary father, and immediately assumes that Brisco is his son.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: And how! Brisco's gunplay in the final act is usually without error. During his duel with Utah Johnny Montana, he's able to shoot a bullet up Montana's gunbarrel and blow up his revolver in his hand.
  • Ironic Echo: As a Running Gag throughout "Socrates' Sister", people keep commenting that Socrates is carrying "too much weight" during his ill-planned quest to rescue his sister. At the end of the episode, after the rope that leads to Jack Randolph's diving suit snaps, dooming him to death by drowning, Prof. Wickwire ruefully comments that there was "too much weight."
  • It Was with You All Along: "Fountain of Youth" reveals that Brisco's gun has a connection to the Orb, with the handle containing a special bullet forged from the Orb's alloy. Brisco is rather displeased to find this trope was the case for half a season.
  • Jail Bake: Played with in "Socrates' Sister". Iphigenia brings a "birthday cake" to Jack Randolph, but the warden lampshades how often people seem to have birthdays in jail and cuts the cake to pieces, only to find nothing in it. He and his deputies gleefully devour it themselves and subsequently fall victim to the sleeping powder Iphigenia had laced it with.
  • James Bondage: Brisco gets captured and strapped to any number of deathtraps many, many times, only to escape after the commercial break.
  • Kangaroo Court: In "Brisco for the Defense," Brisco's old school pal is the prime suspect for a murder. The judge is actually a reasonable (if stern) person, but the sheriff and other citizens actively try to obscure evidence and push for an innocent man to be hanged.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Pete Hutter, most definitely. He will drone on and on about something he thinks he's an expert on, much to the irritation of colleagues.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: Lord Bowler. His real name is James Lonefeather.
  • Lady Land: The titular town in "No Man's Land" is a refreshingly understated example. The women of the town don't hate men so much as they're waiting for the rest of the world to catch up with their way of thinking, and Brisco and Professor Wickwire are perfectly willing to play by their rules during their stay. The only woman to be openly hostile was the saloon owner, and she came around after Lord Bowler risked being blown up to save her life.
  • Literal Cliffhanger: A humorous example as Brisco is hanging out a window with Socrates (who is holding onto Brisco's belt). There's a wagonful of sharp pointy things under them and a Chinese gangster stepping on Brisco's fingers.
    Brisco: " hands are slipping."
    Scorates: "Don't worry, I've got a good grip on your belt."
  • Love at First Punch: Amanda Wickwire is introduced in the Pilot Movie trying to hit a man who was assaulting her and accidentally decking Brisco, who takes a liking to her. Unfortunately, it never went anywhere because she was Put on a Bus immediately afterwards.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Subverted with the daughter of Prof. Wickwire who is outgoing and packs a pretty mean punch.
  • Made of Explodium: Slow-moving rocket car meets slow-moving tank and....kaboom.
  • Magic Compass: In one episode Socrates is given an object which glows when pointed towards Brisco.
  • Moody Mount: Brisco's horse Comet is like this sometimes, when they've had a spat. He also gets this way in "Steel Horses" when he's initially outclassed by the motorcycles.
  • Mook Promotion: In the first Swill brothers episode, they're led by the eldest brother, Gill. At the end of that episode, Gill is Killed Off for Real, but Will, Bill, and Phil are all caught alive. In their second episode, the next eldest brother, Will, is in charge.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Dixie Cousins by far. Often wearing Of Corsets Sexy or very beautiful dresses. She is pretty much the eye candy to all the male characters.
    • Karina, the naked time traveler, from “Bye Bly” also counts. While mostly covered by Scenery Censor, we do see a fair bit of skin from her. Even when only wearing her blazer, she shows off some nice legs.
  • New Old Flame
    • Annie Cavendish for Brisco in "Showdown" and Lenore Raymond for Bowler in "Hard Rock".
    • In "Ned Zed," we meet Jennifer Hart, who was engaged to Brisco during college and dumped him without a second thought. She expressed interest in rekindling things before finding someone else.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: A member of John Bly's gang, Blackbeard LaCutte, former High Seas Pirate who becomes a High Plains Pirate.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sheriff Aaron Viva is a take-off of Elvis.
  • Non-Action Guy: Socrates, bordering at times on being The Load.
  • Noodle Incident
    • An example from the episode "Hard Rock" where there's a buckboard wagon stuck in the side of the second floor of a building:
      Brisco: What's with the buckboard?
      Sheriff Viva: Wagon-jumpin' out of hand.
    • A more serious example in another episode when Brisco calls Bowler on being distrustful of others, asking if he even has any friends. Bowler responds that he did once, but "It didn't work out."
    • As Bowler explains his New Old Flame to Brisco, he has to reveal his last name was originally "Lonefeather." When Brisco asks why he changed it, Bowler simply asks him which story he'd rather hear at this point.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: what Dixie wears to seduce Brisco, and later, she wears a corset and fishnets in her burlesque show.
  • Official Couple: After several episodes of playful flirting, Brisco and Dixie eventually realize they actually do love each other and become this.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome:
    • Lord Bowler is an excellent tracker and has a good record of success, but to dime store novel readers, passers-by and even a woman from the very distant future, he is just Brisco's "faithful companion."
    • The father in "Pirates!" feels this sting, as Brisco's the ass-kicking cowboy that impresses his son, whereas he's just a simple farmer.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In order to hide his identity, Brisco often introduces himself as Roscoe Merriweather or "Kansas" Wylie Stafford (at least until the episode AKA Kansas, where "Kansas" Wylie Stafford actually shows up to set the record straight).
  • Parental Abandonment
    • In "The Brooklyn Dodgers". Okay, actually The children weren't abandoned, they thought both their parents were dead but their mother was still alive although she also believed they were both dead.
    • Bowler himself, having lost his father while a baby and his mother later on during childhood.
    • And, of course, Brisco. His father is gunned down in the pilot and his mother died years earlier.
  • Parental Favoritism: In "Mail Order Brides," Ma Swill says that her dearly-departed son Gil was her favorite.
  • Parents as People: Brisco Sr. was often away as part of his job, leaving a young son often feeling neglected and ignored (though it's pointed out he was never checked out during their conversations). "Senior Spirit" has Brisco come to terms with the fact that, while not perfect, the old man was doing the best he could as a widower with a full-time job.
  • Parody Names
    • Sheriff Aaron Viva is a parody of Elvis Presley, including looks, mannerisms and even occasionally speaking in well-known Elvis song lyrics.
    • From "No Man's Land": Dr. Rosa Quintano, Medicine Woman.
  • Piano Drop: John Bly arranges this as Brisco is chasing him, used as a Commercial Break Cliffhanger. Brisco shoots the pully clamp to stop it just before it hits him and his Girl of the Week.
  • A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: One member of John Bly's gang and his lackeys were a group of actual pirates. Somehow or another they'd gotten driven off the high seas, so they took to pirating on the American plains. It's also a literal example of this trope, as they're very much classical pirates (maybe 17th century-ish), but the show is supposed to take place right around the turn of the 20th century.
  • Power Trio: Brisco (ego), Bowler (id), and Poole (superego)
  • Prochronic Product: One of the running themes in the series is Brisco fascinated by "the coming thing," various advanced inventions from side characters, villains, and his friend Professor Wickwire. The inventions are common to our time, but astounding in the Old West setting. Examples include an "inner space suit" (a diving suit) "motorized steel horses" (motorcycles), and Wickwire rigging up a rocket sled on a train track.
  • Pun-Based Title: Almost every chapter title per episode. After the pilot, always two there are: EX: "I'll be Sawing You in All the Old Familiar Places"; "When All is Zed and Done").
  • Quicksand Sucks: Quicksand surely does suck for Blackbeard La Cutte.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Judge Gatt is a grouchy and impatient old man, but is also extremely fair, willing to delay a trial so that Brisco can do his research, and firmly wants to further justice.
    • Mr. Emmerson. When the other robber barons weren't interested in having Brisco work for them due to his unorthodox behavior, Mr. Emmerson immediately stands up and hires Brisco. And through the rest of the series he proves to be the most wise and moral of Brisco's employers.
  • Really Gets Around: This exchange between Brisco and Dixie tells a lot about the latter's character.
    Dixie: You like the bed? It comes from France.
    Brisco: Louis the 14th?
    Dixie: No, I think Louis was the 9th or 10th. But then a lady never counts.
    Brisco: Oh, yeah, then what are those notches on your bedpost?
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Lord Bowler is a tough son of a gun. He is also a tough Son of God who won’t tolerate any weapons in a church.
  • Reckless Gun Usage
    • While Brisco is tussling with a bad guy. The Girl of the Week wants to help, and grabs a nearby pistol by the barrel and is about to hit the bad guy before Brisco stops her. He beats up the bad guy himself, then demonstrates that fact that if the woman had struck someone with the butt of the loaded, flintlock pistol, it would've gone off. Directly into her.
    • Also lampshaded in the pilot, when Big Smith's gang is going to shoot Brisco.
      Pete: "Dixie! I'm kind of a stickler for gun safety." *waves the gun in her direction* "Could you move a little to the left?"
    • Taken to a ridiculous extreme in "Bad Luck Betty" when Betty walks up to a man who was just shooting at them and tries to yank his shotgun from his hands by the barrel while it's still pointed right at her!
  • Recurring Character
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: Professor Wickwire, though he may be just a little unhinged.
    • In "Socrates' Sister," he is forced by Jack Randolph and Pete Hutter to use his new dive suit for their scheme
    • In "Senior Spirit," Bly has him kidnapped to study an Orb and threatens a hostage to force his compliance.
  • Resurrection Revenge: The episode "Bad Luck Betty" features a man who's apparently come back from the dead after (allegedly) being wrongly convicted of his wife's murder and hanged. It turns out his daughter was the murderer, he let himself hang to protect her and she's been doing the killings after being driven mad by guilt.
  • Retroactive Precognition
    • Brisco and his obsession over "the coming thing." Which he runs into quite frequently, even when he doesn't know it (such as drive-thru windows and the hitchhiker's thumb.)
    • In "Steel Horses," Wickwire unveils his one-way glass for an interrogation. Bowler muses that he'd want something like that at home that he could turn on and watch anytime he wants.
      Bowler: Did I just think of a comin' thing?
      Brisco: It's fun, isn't it?
  • The Reveal: In "Fountain of Youth," Bly is revealed to be a time-traveler from 612 years in the future. He came to get the Orbs so that he could conquer the world in his time.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Generally averted with Brisco himself. He's hunting the men that murdered his father, but as personal as the loss was, he is content to bring them to justice. Played straight, however, when Brisco encounters the man responsible for his mother's death. Brisco takes two beatings when he tries fighting head-on as opposed to using his wits.
  • Scary Black Man: Both played straight and subverted in Lord Bowler. He tries to be this trope and sometimes succeeds...when his own dimwittedness and/or soft heart don't subvert the attempt.
  • Sentenced Without Trial:
    • In the pilot episode, Brisco and Lord Bowler find themselves in jail when the latter picked a fight with him in a cafe. The Judge tries to convict them to two months of community service, only for Brisco to invoke his law degree and demand his constitutional right to a trial by a jury of his peers. Not accustomed to such rights being invoked (and already having a workload too big to do so), the Judge throws his case out and lets Brisco go free while Lord Bowler is saddled with community service.
    • In "Brisco for the Defense", Brisco's old Harvard friend Dr. Matt Carter is framed for a murder, and the entire town is convinced that he did the dirty deed and are intent on seeing him hanged as quickly as possible. The fact that the Sheriff tries to be as obstructive and unhelpful as possible certainly doesn't help.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Karina in "Bye Bly". She is a naked time traveler from the future. She travels naked because it's easier for the process. Though she appeared to have no problem being seen naked by Brisco and his friends, but she does cover up when she realizes Brisco found her nudity distracting. Of course the only thing she wears is a blazer.
  • Shout-Out: Several, typically to old western series.
    • In "Riverboat" Brisco's gambler outfit is a duplicate of the one worn by James Garner in Maverick.
    • One episode has John Astin's character remark that the John (John Quincy Adams') family was said to be weird.
    • In "Stagecoach", the captured agent is named Emma Steed.
    • One of the residents of "No Man's Land" is Dr. Quintano, Medicine Woman.
  • A Simple Plan: Usually a plan constructed by Pete Hutter which he often pulls off with the same success of anything by Wile E. Coyote. Though he does seem to be fairly successful at causing trains to run into giant rocks that are painted to look like the continuation of the train tracks.
    Pete: That's why they came to Pete Hutter. Because they know if you're gonna pull off this type of operation, what you need is big rocks!
  • Spinning Paper: Used in the opening credits to tell the pilot's back story of Brisco's Dad getting killed, millionaires hiring his son, and Lord Bowler on Brisco's trail as a competitive Bounty Hunter. After Brisco and Bowler became partners, that part was excised.
  • Spiritual Successor to The Wild Wild West.
  • Story Arc: The Orb and tracking the John Bly gang which are part of the same arc.
  • Superstition Episode: In a Halloween Episode Briso & Bowler have to deal with Bad Luck Betty, a superstitious deputy, while on a case. Where she goes bad luck follows, although she always says it's an accident - while also following various superstitions. For example, she managed to put the sheriff in a full body cast: she tossed salt over her shoulder just as he came in, which made him lose his footing and a grandfather clock fell on him.
  • Super-Strength: One of the benefits of possessing the Orb.
  • Suspect Existence Failure: There's a Ten Little Murder Victims episode with a gathering of Bounty Hunters at a secluded hotel.
  • Tempting Fate: When Brisco is framed for murder and captured by another bounty hunter, he easily escapes the ropes she ties him up with and advises her to invest in chains instead as he escapes. Not long afterward she catches him again, and it turns out she took his advice.
  • They Killed Kenny: Pete Hutter is supposedly killed more than once and other characters are usually surprised to see him again.
    Brisco County Jr.: We heard you were alive, Pete.
    Lord Bowler: We just didn't believe it. We saw you get killed by that Chinese death star with our own eyes.
    Pete Hutter: Well that's the thing about your Chinese death stars, An hour later and you're alive again.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Comet just loves green apples.
  • Twilight of the Old West: Given the prominent themes of science and technology in the series this is inevitably referenced. Brisco interestingly is actually hoping this happens, not too perturbed over the age of cowboys ending thinking it will signal in a bright new age of law enforcement.
  • Twofer Token Minority : Bowler is referred to as a "half-breed" in the pilot, and other episodes refer to him being part Cherokee. He is black, but Bowler's hair, clothing, earrings, and aspects of his character come from his Native American heritage. Also falls under Truth in Television, as Julius Carry does have Native American ancestry.
  • Villain Decay: Pete Hutter was a menacing, if highly eccentric antagonist in his first two appearances. After that, he turns into a completely ineffectual goof-villain played for laughs.
  • Weird West: The series occasionally veers into light Steampunk. The Orb is straight up Sufficiently Advanced Science with no clear limits to what it can do.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: "Senior Spirit" highlights Brisco had these kind of issues with his father.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Brisco's father is killed by Bly and the 12 members of his gang. By the time of "Bye Bly," Brisco and Bowler corner the "last one" before going on to defeating Bly himself. However, we'd only seen eight members defeated prior to this (plus a tenth member in the Whole Episode Flashback that aired right after "Bye Bly"). The 12 number is repeated in a later episode, so the three remaining members were apparently dealt with off-screen, but some fans nonetheless found the development curious.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In "Showdown," Brisco goes to his hometown to help out an old friend and her father, Bob. As he tries to deal with the local outlaws, Brisco gets sick of Bob's self-destructive behavior and unwillingness to admit to it.
    Brisco: All those years where dad was gone all the time, you're the closest thing I ever had to a father! You were the sheriff! You held this town together.
    Bob: I'm still holding it together.
    Brisco: Like the hell you are! You're a drunk! If my father were still alive, he'd be ashamed to ride with you. And so am I.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Ned Zed," which tells a story early into the hunt for Bly and his gang—well before Brisco and Bowler officially teamed-up. (Surviving production codes suggest it was filmed after the Pilot Movie, but it wound up being held back for most of the season.) The framing device is a father and son reading a dime store novel.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: While on the run in "Deep in the Heart of Dixie," Dixie dons a matching black wig and dress, and performs under a different name.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Brisco and Dixie. A Sexy Discretion Shot strongly suggests they did in the pilot and while they clearly have feelings for each other, they never really get together until near the end of the season.
  • Women Are Wiser: In "Deep in the Heart of Dixie," it's Dixie that makes Brisco and Bowler finally realize they'd get more done working together than separately.
  • The Worf Effect: Bowler gets a dose of this whenever some new character needs to be established as physically strong, like Crystal Hawks, or Ned Zed.
  • Worthy Opponent: Bly calls Brisco exactly that in "Fountain of Youth."
  • You Have Failed Me: In "Deep in the Heart of Dixie," after a botched attempt to kidnap Dixie, lead villain Smiles poisons the subordinate that screwed up.


Video Example(s):


Pete Hutter

Pete Hutter is introduced giving a rant about his appreciation for classical art over the newer Impressionist movement as he observes a painter painting a mound as part of a Train Job, and then tells the painter that his landscape should have a sunset to complete the look. The painter remarks that it's in the middle of the day, so a sunset would ruin the illusion they're going for, whereupon Pete gets cranky over how he won't accept "constructive criticism." This tells us that Pete is nothing but your typical Western outlaw that think's he's smarter than he really is.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / EstablishingCharacterMoment

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