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A common plotline for a Western is the Cattle Drive.

Ranches raise cattle, but then they need to get them to market. Usually the target is a town along the railroad, but occasionally the destination is somewhere else. A Western based on a Cattle Drive is more likely to star plain old Working cowboys as the stars, rather than using them as scenery.

In Real Life these were among the great risks to a ranch. They need to transport the cattle to make money, but if something goes wrong they could lose everything. Dangers include a stampede, rustlers, snakes, storms, flash floods, drought, ect.

Often a form of MacGuffin Escort Mission.

Examples of Cattle Drive include:

  • The 50's TV series Rawhide, starring a young Clint Eastwood, was about a cattle drive.
  • The first City Slickers movie was set around some city guys temporarily joining a ranch and helping on the cattle drive, facing just about every stereotypical problem on the ways, plus a few others.
  • The novel Centennial by James Michener. It was specifically mentioned how much more hazardous this was than a normal cattle drive, because it was a mixed gender herd for a new ranch, this was late in the season, and they'd have to go through hostile Indian territory.
  • The Cowboys. With all the men in the district gone, Wil Anderson is forced to use high schoolers to take his herd to market.
  • Red River, also starring John Wayne.
  • The novel The Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams is a fictionalised account of a cattle drive written by a former working cowboy.
  • The characters from The Virginian appear leading one of these in the tele-movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of Draw which features cameos by cast members of many classic TV westerns.
  • Stan Smith of American Dad dragooned his son and son's friends into a cattle drive through city streets in an effort to make them "more manly." Hilarity Ensues, especially as Stan is more delusional than usual during the event.
  • The novel Lonesome Dove features a cattle drive to Montana, and manages to include the obligatory stampedes, rustlers, snakes, flash floods, storms, wild Indians, etc... and having to eat grasshoppers.
  • The movie Australia features a huge cattle drove across the Outback to Darwin.
  • Classic Australian film The Overlanders, herding cattle halfway across the continent under the threat of Japanese invasion.
  • A minor (and buggy) sidequest from Fallout 2 has the player escorting a cattle drive that can run into anything from bandits and scorpions to Super Mutants with rocket launchers and miniguns.
  • Predictably, the western "Cattle Drive" featured one of these.
  • In Broken Trail, rather than cattle, the animals being driven are horses, but apart from that the storyline follows the model of the Cattle Drive.
  • In the book and movie Old Yeller, one of the main plot point is that the father of the family has gone on a cattle drive, leaving his wife and two kids at home.
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