Monday, June 13, 2016

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Cowboy Hats

A cowboy hat is a wide-brimmed, high-crowned hat, one made famous in the American Old West.  A symbol of American potency and style (thanks to wearers like John Wayne), the cowboy hat is as American as apple pie.

Cowboy hats have appeared frequently in cult-TV history, even in series that have nothing (or very little…) to do with cowboys and the Old West.

For example, The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) features several Old West-styled episodes, including “Mr. Denton on Doomsday,” and “Mr. Garrity and the Graves.”

In Lost in Space (1965-1968), an alien duplicate of Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris), is also a Western-style bandit, hailing from a Western-style planet in the episode “West of Mars.”

In the espionage series, The Prisoner (1967), one episode, “Living in Harmony,” sees Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) awaking in an Old West town instead of the Village, and becoming a sheriff there.  He refuses to wear a gun and holster, but willingly wears a cowboy hat.

The Star Trek (1966-1969) episode “Spectre of the Gun,” sees the xenophobic Melkotians punishing Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and landing party personnel. The manner of their punishment is unusual: they are cast as the Clantons -- destined to battle the Earps at the OK Corral -- in the Old West.  Cowboy hats are in evidence in the “fantasy” town.

The Space: 1999 (1975-1977) Year Two episode “All that Glisters” features a geologist, Dave Reilly Patrick Mower), who fancies himself an American cowboy, right down to the ten gallon hat.

The original Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979) features a few Old West episodes, including “The Long Warrior” and “The Magnificent Warriors.” In both episodes, wide-brimmed cowboy hats are evident.  In “The Long Warriors,” cowboy hats are silver and metallic.

The holodeck-centric episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), “A Fistful of Datas” sees a variety of the series characters -- including Worf, Troi, and Data -- dressed in Western duds, and hats.

The SeaQuest DSV (1993-1996) episode, “Sea West” involves an undersea frontier town replete with cowboys and cowboy hats.

The X-Files (1993-2002) episode “Bad Blood,” finds a dopey sheriff (Luke Wilson) in Texas donning a cowboy hat, and garnering Scully’s (Gillian Anderson) attention.

And Doctor Who (1963-1987; 2005 – present) has featured cowboy hats in serials such as “The Gunslingers” and “The Impossible Astronaut.”

On The Walking Dead (2010 - ) cowboy hats have appeared regularly. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) was seen wearing one in season two. And Rick's sheriff's hat, passed on to Carl, is also, technically, a cowboy-styled hat. 


  1. Fun subject.

    What was #11?


    1. Hi SGB! #11 was Cliffhangers (1979)

    2. Thanks, John. I never would have got that one.