The Clueless Deputy
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Basic Information

Sheriffs and marshals often have deputies to assist them. One very common variant on this type of character is the Clueless Deputy. He probably has some redeeming feature (or family relation) to explain why the Sheriff keeps him around, but more often this Western Character is just a Plot Device.

Trainees and na├»ve hicks who have never really been exposed to much in the way of criminality can also serve in this slot - especially for small town, rural settings. These characters often also act as redshirts to be killed off by miscellaneous villains, monsters and the like. Subspecies include the Fat, Lazy Deputy, the Old Jobsworth and the Idiot Boy … and the less sympathetic types that are various forms of dumb muscle with a minor in bullying and/or extortion. Many of these are probably well adapted to a job with little oversight or much in the way of demands on their time, effort or skills … up until plot ensues anyway.

See deputy for the undifferentiated job role.

Related Tropes:



Game and Story Use

  • Who else is gonna leave the jail cell keys where the PCs can reach them?
  • For the redshirt version, observe the luckless deputy in the opening sequence of No Country for Old Men who is quite efficiently eliminated by an prisoner far more dangerous that he was equipped for. This is a typical example of the type.
  • Likewise he can also be a useful plot device for allowing villains to escape custody, missing vital evidence or leaving a hole in a dragnet.
  • These also make good mooks where the PCs and law enforcement are at odds, or foils when they need the local cops to do something and the deputy is too incompetent, lazy or jobsworth to do it.
  • Mine canary is another good role for these guys - if you need a redshirt to poke the dormant eldritch abomination, meddle with the alien device or be the guy the zombies or werewolf jump on when they take the group by surprise, this is him.
    • Unexpected heroism can also ensue - possibly as a result of the deputy being too dim to realise what they are actually up against, possibly genuine.
  • The corrupt hick version is generally also self-distracting with food, lechery or laziness. Actual bribery is likely to be inefficient due to his stupidity and laziness.
  • Maybe he's not quite as clueless as he lets on?
    • This might actually be fairly adaptive when the redshirt phenomenon is ongoing. Usually in this case the deputy serves as a double act with the county bloodhound - the two exchange glances, decide not to investigate "whatever that was" and keep sharing their doughnuts/barbecue/whatever.
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