Western is a genre of fiction set primarily in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th century in the Western United States, which is styled the “Old West”. Its stories commonly center on the life of a nomadic cowboy or gunfighter who rides a horse and is armed with a revolver and/or a rifle. Cowboys and gunslingers typically wear broad-brimmed and high-crowned Stetson hats, neckerchief bandannas, vests, spurs, cowboy boots, and buckskins (alternatively dusters). Recurring characters include the aforementioned cowboys, Indians, Spaniards, Mexicans, bandits, lawmen, prostitutes, bounty hunters, outlaws, gamblers, soldiers (especially mounted cavalry, such as buffalo soldiers), and settlers (farmers, ranchers, and townsfolk). The ambience is usually punctuated with a Western music score, including American folk music and Spanish/Mexican folk music such as country, Native American music, New Mexico music, and rancheras.
Westerns often stress the harshness of the wilderness and frequently set the action in an arid, desolate landscape of deserts and mountains. Often, the vast landscape plays an important role, presenting a “mythic vision of the plains and deserts of the American West.” Specific settings include ranches, small frontier towns, saloons, railways, wilderness, and isolated military forts of the Wild West. Many Westerns use a stock plot of depicting a crime, then showing the pursuit of the wrongdoer, ending in revenge and retribution, which is often dispensed through a shootout or quick-draw duel.