Category: Archetype of the Week Created on Thursday, 07 January 2010 Written by SteveThe lawman is, as you can probably guess, someone who has sworn to uphold the law. Most lawmen are members of a recognized law enforcement organization, but there are a some freelancers (including some super-heroes and particularly law-abiding bounty hunters) who could be considered members of this archetype. Unlike the loose cannon, the lawman works within the system to carry out his goals. It should be noted, however, that this doesn't necessarily make him a good person. For every lawman who became an officer to help his community, there's an ex-high school bully who joined the force for the power trip.
The lawman can be found in any type of story where criminals exist, which means just about any genre or setting. In addition to the obvious detective and modern crime genres, lawmen are particularly common in Westerns. Additionally, most conspiracy stories are crawling with government agents, and some science fiction settings feature powerful (and often oppressive) law enforcement agencies.
The Name Game
Many lawmen are often fine, upstanding citizens with fine, upstanding-sounding names. Others follow action movie conventions, with names that reflect their style, attitude, and abilities.
Most law enforcement agencies have some minimum physical fitness requirement, so lawmen will generally have an average or higher Body Number. A high Nerve Number is useful for facing down criminals, interrogating suspects, and dealing with the community. Lawmen whose job focuses on investigation will also need a good Brain Number.
Suggested Jobs: Beat Cop, Bobby, DEA Agent, FBI Agent, Federal Marshall, Gang Investigator, Grand Theft Auto Investigator, Harbor Patrol Officer, Highway Patrolman, Homicide Detective, Inspector, INTERPOL officer, K-9 Officer, Motorcycle Cop, Mountie, Narcotics Detective, Organized Crime Investigator, Plainclothes Officer, Police Detective, Robbery Investigator, Sheriff, State Trooper, S.W.A.T. Officer, Texas Ranger, Undercover Cop, U.S. Marshall, Vice Cop
Suggested Gimmicks: Car-Fu, Clue Magnet, Crack Shot, Danger Sense, Drive Anything, Friends in High Places, Good Instincts, Grizzled Veteran, Gun-Fu, Hard to Kill, Iron Will, Local Hero, Lightning Reflexes, Lucky, Man Without Fear, Prepared, Sheer Determination, Square-Jawed Man of Action, Tough
Suggested Weaknesses: Adrenaline Junkie, Ammo Clip A Has a Sense of Drama, Bad Reputation, Bully, Chain Smoker, Enemies, Getting Too Old For This Shit, Glass Jaw, Impulsive, Lecherous, Luddite, Punching Bag, Red Tape, Strange Vehicle Magnet, Victim of the Past, Unlucky, War Wound, Wrong Place/Wrong Time
Suggested Skills: Area Knowledge, Ballistics, Block Streets, Contacts, Crime Scene Investigation, Criminal Psychology, Crowd Control, Emergency Driving, Expert Witness, First Aid, Forensics, Frisk, Fourth Amendment Circumvention, Harass College Students, History, Horseback Riding, Interrogation, Law, Police Brutality, Politics, Profiling, Quick Draw, Research, Self Defense, Social Work, Sports Trivia, Stealth, Surveillance
WWPHITM? Antonio Banderas, Gary Busey, Nicholas Cage, Jackie Chan, Sean Connery, Chris Cooper, Russell Crowe, John Cusack, Kevin Costner, Johnny Depp, Vin Diesel, Robert Duvall, Sam Elliot, Vivica A. Fox, Brenden Frasier, Brendan Gleeson, Danny Glover, Pam Grier, Andy Griffith, Gene Hackman, Holly Hunter, Ice Cube, LL Cool J, Samuel L. Jackson, Mila Jovavich, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Matt Keeslar, Brian Kerwin, Delroy Lindo, Ray Liotta, Lucy Liu, Viggo Mortensen, Liam Neeson, Nick Nolte, Chuck Norris, Gary Oldman, Timothy Olyphant, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillipe, Ving Rhames, Michelle Rodriguez, Kurt Russel, Rene Russo, Arnold Schwartzeneggar, Tom Selleck, Sonny Shroyer, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Gina Torres, Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Patrick Warburton, Sigourney Weaver, Chow Yun-Fat
Tag Line: "I am the law."--Judge Dredd
Tools of the Trade
Like most cops, the lawman's most essential pieces of equipment are his gun and his badge (and unlike the loose cannon, he doesn't have to turn them in every week). Most cops will also have some means of transportation, which can range from a horse to a spaceship depending on the genre. Lawmen may also carry handcuffs, notepads, MagLites, pepper spray, tasers, and a whole host of other equipment, with specfics depending on their primary mission or area of expertise.
Where You'll Find Him
Most lawmen are assigned to a particular area, but some (especially government agents and lawmen in non-modern settings) range far and wide in their pursuit of bad guys. When they're not working, most lawmen live in middle-class neighborhoods and spend their free time doing the same kinds of things other law-abiding citizens enjoy. Those who aspire to advance through the ranks may also spend some of their time attending social functions that will make them the right connections.
Lawmen often have families, and are generally on good terms with their neighbors (though whether the neighborly goodwill is due to respect or fear depends on the lawman and the neighbor). In addition to other cops, their professional circle will probably include lawyers, judges, EMTs, firemen, and local business owners. Many work in the communities they grew up in and therefore frequently interact with relatives, high school pals, and other long-standing acquaintances. Finally, lawmen are often active in their communities and may have connections from church, community outreach programs, or political organizations.
Commissioner James Gordon
Job: Police Commissioner (14)
Gimmick: Leadership (13)
Weakness: Getting Too Old For This Shit (13)
Skills: Super-hero Contacts +3; Gotham Area Knowledge +3; Hunch +2
WWPHITM? Gary Oldman
Dumb Fact: Could figure out Batman's identity if he wanted to. He doesn't want to.
Tag Line: "No. Gotham doesn't die--not on my watch!"
2000AD Comics (Judge Dredd)
Batman comics, especially the Gordon of Gotham and Gordon's Law mini-series (Commissioner Gordon)
Movies & TV
The Andy Griffith Show
Cagney & Lacy
Deadwood (Seth Bullock)
Hill Street Blues
Homicide: Life on the Streets
Law & Order
The Lone Ranger
The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show (Dudley Do-right)
Tombstone (the Earp brothers)
"Big Iron," Marty Robbins
"Highway Patrolman," Bruce Springsteen (or Johnny Cash cover)
"I am the Law," Anthrax