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A spiritual leader for the believers in a small community. In Westerns, the preacher is usually dressed semi-formally in a black broadcloth suit, and may sport a clerical collar, depending on denomination. (Many preachers will have "no denomination given" for the broadest appeal.)
When played straight (or idealistically if you happen to be a cynic), the preacher is a Good Shepherd, a force for reason and peace in the community. He usually understands that violence is an option the law has to take sometimes, but weighs heavily against it for civilians or for less-than-emergency situations. Don't think this makes the Preacher Man an easy target, though--when push comes to shove, they'll fight for what's right with all their might.
Towns too small to have their own church may share a "circuit rider" with other communities in the same fix. Like the Circuit Judge, the circuit preacher moves from place to place on a schedule so that any necessary weddings, baptisms or general preachifyin' can take place once a month.
May come with a "preacher's wife", who is usually long-suffering. (Preachers weren't paid much in the Wild West, and had to work any time of day or night they were needed.) The son of a Preacher Man will most likely be either a saint or a devil.
Most often spotted at weddings, funerals and town meetings.
In terms of rank, the Authority Tropes arguably equal are Badass Preacher, Corrupt Corporate Executive, Irish Priest, Landlord, Pedophile Priest, Schoolteachers, Sexy Priest, Sinister Minister and The Vicar. For the next step down, see Student Council President. For the next step up, see Dean Bitterman.
- Nicholas D. Wolfwood in Trigun, although he owes more to the Preacher With No Name than to any particular church.
- Baskerville in Et Cetera.
- The Quick and the Dead featured a preacher that was a Retired Gunfighter.
- "Fuck off, Grasshopper!"
- Parodied (of course) by Reverend Johnson in Blazing Saddles. Among other things, he attempts to save Sheriff Bart from execution but desists when someone shoots a hole through his Bible.
- The Preacher With No Name, played by Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider. Armed with Improbable Aiming Skills.
- The little frontier town in Caddie Woodlawn had a circuit rider.
- David Grantland in Christy (the book and corresponding short-lived TV series) was a recent seminary graduate who tried to preach to an entire area poverty-stricken, uneducated residents of the Appalachians in 1912. His efforts were met with mixed reactions.
- Shepherd Book of Firefly. Who was also remarkably accurate with firearms. Are you seeing a trend here?
- River even calls him "preacher-man" while 'fixing' his Bible.
- Reverend Samuels of Kings plays Preacher Man to an entire kingdom.
- Father Mulcahy of MASH. Who was also an accomplished boxer, a go-between with the black market, and not opposed to raising orphanage money by gambling.
- "Reverend Mr. Black" by B.E. Wheeler & J. Peters is a song about a preacher facing down a lumberjack.
- The only one who could reach and teach Dusty Springfield was the Son of a Preacher Man. Worth mentioning.
- A storyline in Latigo starting here concerns an ex-gunman who goes straight after four years in prison, and becomes the preacher in the town of Rimfire. It originally ran in 1981.
- The Whitmans
- Matthieu in The Spirit Engine.