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and Other Musings
|What we're trying to do on this page is separate canon from common fanon so writers will know the difference. We also have our opinions on various fanon conventions and naturally aren't afraid to voice them. This page will never be finished because we're hoping for reader input, comments, additions disagreement, whatever. We'd also like to post links to other canon v. fanon resources, web sites etc. We have some links inserted into the relevant text. They can all be found at the bottom of this page above the site map. If you know of any others please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org|
We admit to being canon fanatics. We rarely like stories that deviate from series canon out of ignorance or distort it in service of an attempt to change characterization. In a series with so few episodes there's really no excuse not to be aware of what little canon there is. We can't remember ever finding a really good story that was prefaced with the warning that the author hadn't actually seen the series, so that her knowledge of the series & characters came only from other fanfic. Even when the author has read good fanfic, she tends to lose (not loose) nuances or make mistakes that stand out to a lover of the series. There are so many empty spaces in character backstory and so many legitimate ways to interpret ambiguous events and statements that anyone writing fan fiction has plenty of scope for literary imagination. We aren't about to say that there's only one correct interpretation of canon, though we'd be lying if we said we didn't prefer some over others. Certainly the stories on this list contain many variations -- probably because we seven don't always agree with each other.CHARACTERIZATION
Our appreciation for series canon doesn't mean we don't sometimes like alternate reality stories where canon is deliberately bent or satirized. And of course, translation of Mag7 into other AU's requires canon to be translated as well. Precise carryovers of the old West backstories obviously wouldn't work in a modern AU -- gunslingers, a greenhorn would-be gunslinger, a bring-'em-back-dead-or-alive bounty hunter, an unlicensed doctor. Interesting that a defrocked priest doing his best to find his way and a professional gambler seeking his fortune are two "occupations" that would translate directly into a modern AU but neither of them is often used - probably because in modern setting it would be harder to make them part of a team. [Check out Tiffany's story Too Good to Be True for an interesting look at an all too precise carryover of one man's old west persona.]
Characterization is a tricky thing. Sometimes we'll read a story and think, that's not quite how we envision [whoever] but it's not an unreasonable interpretation based on canon or based on the experiences the author has written for the character to go through. On other occasions we'll just scratch our heads and ask, did this author watch the same show we did? Sometimes an author is kind enough to preface her story with a warning that she's indulging in extreme characterization or the story is clearly a satire. On other occasions, it appears an author truly believes her characterizations are within canon even though she's made one, two or sometimes even six of the seven despicable, incompetent or unpleasant in order to make her favorite character all things brave and true. Sometimes it seems as if a writer is so indisposed to creating an OC that she'd rather distort o canon character into a villain.FANON v. CANON
We assume that's the desire to avoid OCs is the impetus behind kid fic using children carrying the names of one or more of the Seven. There are some compelling stories to be written about the men as fathers or uncles or big brothers, but we don't see shrinking one or more of the seven as the answer to avoiding OC children. Using the names Vin, JD or Ezra and giving them eye colors to match the adults of those names doesn't change the fact that they're really OCs who cannot take the place of their adult counterparts in the dynamic of the Seven. There are some kid fic stories that are so compelling we created a small kid fic section (see The Kiddie Corral). However, we confess that we read these stories only after we've used a search/edit function to change the kids names. We find it really distracting to hit that particular bump. And we've found the ones we do like generally are written in the POV of an adult character.
Although fanon is, of course, the stuff the fans add to canon, some of it is so deeply entrenched, a reader or writer not familiar with the show would take certain things as canon, depending on which authors she's read. Below is some of the common fanon we've noted in our reading. We'd love to hear from folks out there who know the origins of something listed here or who can offer other examples. We have our guesses on some.CHARACTER CANON/FANON
FOUR CORNERS: ALERT While what we wrote below might have been true at the time - someone in charge has adopted Four Corners. On the summaries of the episodes included in the Showtime Extreme guide the town is called Four Corners. [Is that art imitating other art?]
The most basic fanon is the name of the town - Four Corners. When someone first told us it was fanon, we didn't believe it. However, we reviewed the episodes with an ear for anyone mentioning the name of the town and an eye for a sign with the town's name. We have to admit we never heard or saw Four Corners, even in the stage driver's fairly unintelligible response to JD's question about where they were. We still think it must have been mentioned by the producers in pre-release publicity but can't prove it. Otherwise, how to explain its universal acceptance? Mass hypnosis? Anyone know where it started? Our verdict: It's certainly a nice enough name. Why not? It's useful to have consistent fanon so everyone knows the guys are at home base when the name is mentioned.
PATROLS: Yes, Ezra's nightmare - those early morning patrols, in fact, all daily patrols, are pure fanon. Of course, in a situation such as the serial killer scenario in Penance, they had the men make patrols around town to see that all was well. But otherwise Ezra was generally free to sleep in. [Ezra does bemoan the "ungodly hour" they were forced to depart in Wagon Train so there is some canon basis for his tendency to complain - but not in relation to patrols.] Our verdict: These guys were being paid a dollar a day plus room and board. They should earn it. Bank robbers weren't blowing into town every day (elsewise how could all seven of them desert the town to go off guarding a wagon train, checking on the welfare of Chinese railroad workers, chasing down Cletus Fowler or parading to Ella's ranch). Patrols were a good idea. Of course, the series writers couldn’t include them because then one of the stars would be missing during the big mandatory shoot-out every week.
FOOD: The series made very little of the men and their food. JD's milk was about the only distinct food preference. Buck grabbed the food off everyone else's plate before riding out in Achilles from which we might surmise that he was a man of more than one hearty appetite. Everything else is fanon and we're guessing most of that started with ATF and trickled down to the OW stories. Vin's junk food fetish, with an emphasis on his sweet tooth, undoubtedly started with the ATF AU where it has more potential for fun, what with Nathan's better understanding of nutrition and the availability of a vast array of amusing munchies. He's often paired in junk food consumption with JD. Even Vin's overly-strong coffee is pure fanon. Ezra is usually shown as a man with appreciation for fine cuisine. Nathan in the modern AU's is often depicted as a champion of nutritious dining. Josiah and Chris don't seem to get much attention in the food selection fanon, although ATF Josiah apparently makes a mean chili. Our verdict: Food was pretty boring in the desert territory. Sweet tooth/junk food fanon is usually more amusing in ATF than OW (e.g. Hilary Fox's The Challenge) though Vin's lusting for Nettie's pies or jelly cake is sometimes used to good effect in OW fic. Buck's penchant for manly junk food like pizza just doesn't translate -- not much amusing about steak, chops and stew. However, Ezra's longing for the fancier food he's partaken of during his travels translates very well. (E.g. Meg Tipper's poignant little vignette, Of Fish )
WAR EXPERIENCE: Nathan's war experience is the only canon on the subject. Fanon often has Buck and Chris in the Civil War together, usually on the Union side, but sometimes as Confederates. Ezra is sometimes pictured as a Rhett Butler type smuggler in the South. We've seen one good story in which Josiah's friendship with Nathan started when they both tried to alleviate suffering in Union field hospitals. (See Helen Adams' gentle Days of Friendship) Occasionally Vin is portrayed as a very young sharpshooter drafted to the Confederate cause. [We asked ourselves if that was so, why would he be whistling the Battle Hymn of the Republic in Sins of the Past? However, we have since found out from, DeathSprite - who obviously knows much more about musical history than we do - that, "'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' is written to a popular tune, also familiar as 'John Brown's Body,' but originally 'Say Brothers Will You Meet Us,' a camp meeting song. Like many songs during the Civil War, both the North and the South had parodies of this tune." We thank DeathSprite and stand corrected. The whistling gives no hint as to which side he might have fought on, if either.
Our verdict: Although anything is possible with the lack of specific canon and the producers' failure to set an exact date for the series, it seems unlikely that Buck and Chris were in the war which ended in the spring of 1865. We know Nathan was born in 1839 [Penance] and was probably around 32 in the show, as was Rick Worthy, setting the show around 1871 or 72. Chris & Buck had known each other for 10 or 12 years by the second season of the show. [Love & Honor] Chris's family had been dead for three years by the end of the second season [Obsession]. Five or six years were taken up with courtship, marriage and the birth of Adam who was probably 5 at the time of his death [at least the actor who played him, MB's son, was 5.]. That uses up 8 to 9 of those 10-12 years. If 1872 is an accurate date, that would put Chris's marriage to Sarah around 1863 or 1864. A lot of men in the Western territories didn't fight in the war. [If the bold and brave Cartwrights didn't rush East to get in on the slaughter, there would be no shame in Chris & Buck failing to do so, especially if Chris was married.] Josiah and Nathan having met in the war is as good an explanation as any for their pre-existing friendship. The value of attributing war experience to either Ezra or Vin would depend on a story line.
BUCK & CHRIS BEFORE THE 7: The relationship between Chris and Buck prior to reuniting in the pilot is almost a clean slate. At the time of Love & Honor they had known each other for 10-12 years. We know from Nemesis Chris was with Buck in Mexico delivering horses at the time Sarah and Adam were murdered and that Buck feels some guilt over keeping Chris an extra night in Mexico. We see in Chris's flashback that Buck had an affectionate relationship with Adam. We know from Vendetta Buck was around when Chris courted and married Sarah and he most definitely approved of the union. We know from Obsession Buck met Chris about the time he broke things off with Ella Gaines and when he knocked Chris out with a sucker punch in Purgatorio, he told JD he'd done it before. We know from the pilot Chris already knew Buck was in town when he started gathering up men to protect the Indian village. Chris knew Buck well enough to know Vin wasn't risking a bullet through the door when he started pounding on it claiming to be Buck's paramour's husband. We also saw that Buck was damn pleased to see Chris after he fell out the window at his feet. And that's about all we "know" about their past. The most common fanon has Buck helping to keep Chris from hitting rock bottom after the murder of his family, taking a lot of crap from him in the process. They finally do split at some point prior to the pilot -- because Chris was taking Buck down with him, or Buck thought he was no longer doing Chris any good or because Chris beat the crap out of him and took off. Our verdict: We like the idea of the ever-loyal Buck as long as he doesn't become a doormat so we find most of the fanon quite pleasing on this point, but we remind writers, it is just fanon.
HORSES: There's no canon about the horses on the show other than what can be gleaned about their color, breed, size etc. on screen (as confirmed by folks who saw them in person). It's the practice in some fandoms for horses to be called after the names of the horse actors if there are no names used on the show (e.g. Adam's horse is called Sport almost universally in Bonanza fanfic - the actors playing Cochise, Chubb & Buck had stage names, poor Sport didn't.) In Mag7, none of horses have a universally used name though all of them at times are referred to by the equine actors' names - Vin's Peso most often, Chris's Pony frequently, Buck's Beavis and JD's Milagro occasionally, the others rarely. Chaucer has been popularized for Ezra's horse - it would seem to be reasonable switch for Ezra to have made if he purchased a horse named Chester (one of the horses Ezra rode in the series.) [In J. Brook's Fellow Travelers Ezra is reading Canterbury Tales at the time he gets a horse named Chester.]
Oh, how woman love to fantasize about the bonds between men and their horses. The only men who showed any affection to their horses on the show were Josiah (i.e. the frequently seen video grab in which he kisses his horse in the pilot) and Buck (who talks to his horse in Witness and Penance and can occasionally be seen showing affection as when, in a probably unscripted bit of business, he strokes his horse's nose in a group shot in Wagon Train II). In real life, Andy was reputed to be the best rider. In the series, it was Chris - with some help from Buck apparently - who raised and trained horses. But in fanfic, it's Vin with the fractious Peso and Ezra with Chaucer the wonder horse who get the horse bonding stories. We had assumed the now widely adopted persona of fractious Peso started with SueN's excellent story In for a Peso, In for a Pound. However, a reader let us know that it either started with Painted Eyes superb For Faith or was just one of those simultaneous fanfic inventions. In the stunning opening scene of For Faith we see Peso in all his fractious glory and, as the story continues, -- we see why Vin keeps him despite the hassle -- he's a horse with heart and a horse that's hard to steal. However, we have no reason to believe SueN's version was sparked by Painted Eyes story - more of a case of an idea that struck two authors. We also assumed that Chaucer the wonder horse was either started or popularized by NotTasha in many of her delightful stories, although she gives Kristen credit for the name. (See especially NotTasha's Horse Tales Series) We were told recently that Eleanor Tremayne actually started Chaucer the wonder horse. [But if we're still wrong, we hope someone will let us know.]
Our verdict: While we wish there were some stories featuring Buck & Beavis or JD & Milagro, the Vin/Peso, Ezra/Chaucer stories fill a gap in the canon for those of us who grew up horse crazy. Both horses, especially Chaucer, do some very unlikely things in the name of protecting their beloved owners - but then so did Fury, Trigger, Flicka, the Black Stallion etc. We do have to laugh when occasionally writers turn Chaucer from a gelding into a stallion. A lot of us grew up with Fury and The Black Stallion series; the fantasy of the hero (or heroine) riding a stallion is a strong one, especially among writers who have never been around horses. While stallions are the norm on race tracks where the horses are separated off the track and there's reason to want the animals in breeding condition, to keep one as an every day riding horse would be a heap of trouble Ezra would never bring upon himself. [For some good horse facts not specific to the show see
SEVEN SPEECH: Vin and Ezra had the most distinctive speech patterns on the show and these patterns are the most often exaggerated in fanfic. Ezra especially is often made almost unintelligible with lengthy sentences chock-a-block with fancy, polysyllabic words even in times of stress or when help is being summoned. Yet Ezra actually spoke quite clearly. He did use fancier words and phrasing than the others - as in "Have you come to effect my emancipation?" Or "You gentlemen occasionally lack the basic skills of tact and diplomacy." Or "A gentleman does not debase himself by engaging in menial labor." Or "I abhor gambling and as such leave nothing to chance." He used words like "libations" and "ablutions" but usually as the "stand-out" noun in a sentence, not in a sentence full of such words. Much of the distinctiveness of his speech came simply from his more formal manner of speaking and the way he rolled his words around -- as in the way he said "How very reasonable." in New Law. His drawl often added an extra syllable to one syllable words - like "floor." JD occasionally had trouble understanding certain words (like parsimoniously) but the others didn't seem to. [For some detailed Ezra speak, check out Starke Raven's The Gambler Speaks page.
Although the rest of the Seven used "ain't" and had other marks of casual speech, Josiah and Chris sounded more educated than the others, Josiah more than Chris (and they, along with Ezra, were the only ones seen reading books in the show although there's an assumption JD read dime novels). There is nothing in JD's speech to suggest where he came from back east. Josiah quotes from literate sources, including the Bible and the Illiad but he never quotes the Bible in a small-minded, condemning way.
Buck uses "ain't" and other markers of casual speech like dropping "g's" at the ends of words but his speech doesn't bring to mind any particular section of the country. He tends to use speech as homespun as Ezra's is polished - with terms like blue blazes, hooey and "I don't want to go to feudin' words with ya." [Love & Honor.] or "lot a frostin', no cake." [Penance] His off-the-cuff take on Top Hat Bob in The Collector is "To me a man'd remember an ugly, one-eyed coward, six and a half foot tall with no hair and a sissy hat." Asked by Ezra to insult the cheating gambler in Achilles, Buck comes up with "You are crookeder than a yellow-bellied snake making his way through a prickly pear patch." Although there's nothing overtly special about the phrases "okay then" and "all right then," Buck had a very distinctive way of saying them and they turn up in fanfic a lot.
Buck's fanfic speech is so liberally sprinkled with "darlin's" that we can "hear" it when we think of him. We were shocked to see how seldom he actually said it - only four times. He claims to be, "your knight in shining armor darlin'," to Inez in Chinatown, greets an unknown prostitute in Working Girls with "hello, darlin'," tells the female bounty hunters in Lady Killers, "A little huntin' party with you darlin'" and says "Louisa, darlin'" when he proposes to Louisa in Serpents, but we haven't been able to locate any additional usage. (Ezra calls Li Pong darlin' twice, and calls Casey darling girl and Maude addresses Ezra as darling or darling boy several times so the usage isn't exclusive to Buck.)
Vin had the thickest dialect of the Seven but he was not ignorant, even of the meaning of many of Ezra's fancy words which only JD seemed to have trouble with.. Many men who can't read, nevertheless have a good vocabulary, especially a passive one (i.e he understands more words than he uses). Vin's ability to "write" poetry speaks to that, as does his use of such phrases as "railroad corridor" in The Collector. One odd thing we've noticed in Vin fanon-speak is the frequent addition of "I's" or "I'se" to his speech, something we never heard in the show. We've even seen him quoted as using "I's" in places where he clearly said "I was" - as in his little speech to Nettie about his mother in The Collector. We wonder if this usage was added by someone who actually knows Texas dialects and speech patterns better than Eric Close did.
Watch Your Back: One interesting fanfic convention is that when Chris tells Vin to watch his back (as he did in Vendetta, Wagon Train and Chinatown), writers invariably have Vin respond, "I always do." Yet he never said that on the show that we've heard. It was Maude who said, "I always do" when Ezra told her to take care of herself in Witness. DarkSkies was absolutely sure Vin responded that way in Safecracker when he and Chris parted in Purgatorio. However, in rewatching Safecracker, it turns out Chris never even told Vin to watch his back in that episode. He told him if they weren't back within the allotted time, to "come hunting." Of course, there's nothing wrong with the "always do" response - after Chris had nagged him often enough to watch his back, Vin might well have eventually started making that comeback. (Although it might have been more truthful to respond, "That's what I've got ya'll fer.") In New Law, Vin has his own spin - he tells Chris to "watch his backside" as he heads off to Purgatorio although he reverts to the familiar, "watch your back" in Lady Killers. We never heard anyone but Chris and Vin use this admonition.
Foreign Languages: Although both Chris and Vin disclaimed knowledge of Spanish in Safecracker as they headed into Purgatorio, Vin spoke a decent Spanish in Penance. When riding through town in New Law to give the fake warning about the army coming, Ezra alternates between English and a very good Spanish [though we can't tell if Tony Starke was actually speaking].. Josiah speaks some Chinese in Chinatown though he admits his Chinese is "as rusty as a shoe on a dead horse." Ezra uses occasional French or Latin phrases but none that aren't used by English speakers. No other language skills are evident in the series. Ezra and Josiah, especially Ezra, are often given foreign language expertise in fanfic.
What They Call Each Other:
The fanon myth of Ezra addressing his friends only by their last names. One interesting fanon myth for Ezra is his insistence on addressing and referring to his friends by their surnames only. In the series he often did so, but he would more often use their first names. One rainy weekend when Starke Raven had way too much time on her hands, she made a study of Ezra-speak. [See her Gambler Speaks page for an over-abundance of details about what Ezra said and to whom.]
Ezra addressed his friends by name 47 times: 18 by their last names, 29 by their first names. He never addressed Josiah and JD by their last names, [He used "Josiah" 6 times; "JD" 4 times; he called JD "son" 3 times.] He addressed Buck the most often, and usually by first name. [10 "Buck's" to 3 "Mr. Wilmington's".] The pattern was reversed for Vin though. [7 "Mr. Tanner's" to 1 "Vin."] And Chris got 4 "Mr. Larabee's" to 2 "Chris's." Nathan almost broke even with 5 "Mr. Jackson's" to 6 "Nathan's." When Ezra referred to his friends in coversation, the first names similarly predominate: 8 first names to 3 last names.
Ezra's fanfic reputation for using only last names probably arose because he's the only one who ever used the more formal mode of address, but no fan fic writer should feel bound by it as it is definitely not canon.
JD gets called kid a lot in fanfic and it comes from canon. Vin, Buck and Chris call him "kid" often, starting in the pilot; Josiah did a few times. Ezra and Buck call him "son" on occasion as Chris did once (in the pilot).
Buck calls Chris "you old war dog", "old pard" and "old dog" in the pilot. Chris responds the first time with, "Easy, big fella" but that wasn't a nickname and wasn't used again. Vin calls Ezra "pard" a couple of times in the pilot. Buck and Chris call each other "stud" (Buck to Chris in Lady Killers and each to the other in Obsession.) We never heard the appellation directed at anyone else except when Buck used it as a tease to JD in Obsession. Stud and Old Dog are used often in fanfic, sometimes by Vin as well as Buck. We've seen Buck and Chris both called Big Dog in fanfic. Presumably it relates to Buck's size and Chris's position as leader. We like it better for Buck - using it along with calling Chris Old Dog (or occasionally Top Dog or Lead Dog) recalls the rowdy friendship between them prior to the Seven.
We never heard anyone call Ezra "Ez" though it seems like an abbreviated version Buck or Vin would use - if only to aggravate him. It's very common in fanfic and Ezra often rails against it to nice humorous effect.
We doubt the debate will ever be settled as to whether Vin called Buck "Bucklin" or "Buckley" in Love & Honor. One transcript we read says Buckley, but the seven of us and another transcriber heard "Bucklin." There's also some debate over whether Vin was just using an affectionate elaboration or if Bucklin/Buckley was Buck's real name. Of course, the matter can never be resolved via canon. We see Bucklin more often in fanfic than Buckley. Most writers have only Vin call Buck Bucklin. It sounds odd coming from the others.
In the modern AU's, especially ATF, Buck often calls Vin "Junior" and Ezra "Slick." We're not sure why Junior stuck for Vin but Slick seems like a natural nickname for Ezra. Both sound too modern in OW stories but we've seen them used, especially Junior. Usually only Buck uses these names. Pure fanon of course.
What they say -- those phrases once used in the series, oft used in fanfic: In a series with so few episodes, anything interesting any of the Seven say is likely to be frequently repeated or referenced in fanfic. JD told Buck in the pilot that he was "full of crap." That's an expression that translates to most any AU and is used often.
Vin had the most interesting expressions - the ones that end up in whole or in part as story titles: "Like lickin butter off a knife," "So much fer easy," "Don't come much livelier," "I got no problem killin' you," "a man never drowned in his own sweat Ezra" "Wooly to the bone" and "I wasn't plannin' to die with a broom in my hand anyway." He also uses expressions like "on the worry" [Wagon Train, Serpents) and "alrighty then." [Sins of the Past.] "He's lyin' so loud his teeth are rattlin'" [Serpents.]
Ezra is often quoted for his statement in The Collector, "A gentleman does not debase himself by engaging in menial labor." (Often misquoted as "manual" labor) We also see often his "I abhor gambling and as such leave nothing to chance." [Pilot] His claim to "a certain tactile sensitivity" pops up sometimes. [For more detailed Ezra speak, check out Starke Raven's The Gambler Speaks page.]
Chris's "You don't shoot nobody in the back," from the pilot was an oft ignored sentiment as the show progressed. "Lady, I am the bad element" from the pilot is essential Chris. Fanfic Chris is always threatening to shoot his friends and his friends are always feigning fear of same. There's some canon basis for this, though his speech is not as peppered with this threat as it often is in stories. He joked about not having shot Buck when he had the chance in Safecracker and tells Ezra he doesn't want to have to shoot him in Serpents.
A nice concise source for 7-speak is Zeke Black's Quotes & Audio Clips In fact, we recommend her entire Magnificent Seven Handbook
Our verdict: We love it when writers truly capture the speech patterns of the Seven. Ezra had a charming, formal mode of speaking and sometimes used words that would have been unfamiliar to someone like JD, but he was not unintelligible to an educated person. Vin's speech, when written down with all the ya's, ta's, jist's, git's, ain't's, fer's, yer's, dropped g's, etc. can be difficult enough to read. Why add anything not used by Eric in playing him? [But then again, it's not a big deal either.]
Ages: There are no canon ages for the characters. Only Nathan has a birthdate - 1839. [Penance] The closest to semi-canon we have is a comment attributed to a producer (?) that JD was supposed to be about 19. Although we can approximate within a year how old the actors were when the show was filmed, that isn't much help as actors often play "younger" and occasionally play older.
For what it's worth, according to the IMDb, at the time the show was filmed Ron was 48, Michael was 42, Dale was 39, Tony was 35, Eric and Rick were 31, Andy was 27. Andy, playing 8 years younger, was actually older than Laurie Holden who was 26 when she played Mary but younger than Dana Barron who was 30 when she played Casey (if the IMDb is right - we still find that a little hard to believe)..
Fanfic generally puts Chris at 35-40, Buck at 34-38, Josiah in his early 50's, Ezra around 30 and JD at 18-20. Vin seems to have the most variation with some making him only a few years older than JD (23?) and others close to Ezra in age (28?). We think 25-28 is the most likely, given Vin's experience as a buffalo hunter then a bounty hunter. He just couldn't be too young. According to what Chris says in Sins of the Past, Vin had the bounty on his head for years. (He talks about "all those years" Vin had to live with it.) That bounty had to have ended his career as a bounty hunter so that suggests he had already gone through two professions years before he met the others. Eric played Michael Wiseman at 26 the following year so 25 isn't unreasonable but neither is anything up to his real age of 31. Vin certainly had the bearing and confidence of a mature man.
Those Hands/Those Eyes: When it comes to "handedness" the only thing fic writers have to remember is that Josiah/Ron is left-handed and Ezra/Anthony is ambidextrous. In the pilot, most of them shot with a revolver in each hand but generally JD and Ezra were the only ones who carried more than one handgun. We have no real basis for thinking JD could do more with his left hand than shoot but we're willing to stand corrected.
Eye color is damn hard to tell on TV, especially on a series where men wore wide-brimmed hats and squinted a lot. [And the show used that camera filter to make things look more Gothic.] Rick/Nathan's dark brown and Ron/Josiah's pale blue eyes are the only ones easy to discern and then one has to wonder if the latter might be described as blue/gray.
In some cases a writer would have to get background on the actor in order to catch the right eye color for a character. Although Eric/Vin's eyes are almost universally written as blue, it's sure easier to see the color in WAT, Now & Again and Sisters than it is in episodes of Mag7. [We hereby profusely apologize for ever rolling our eyes at the fic writers who described Vin's blue eyes with extravagant adjectives. After seeing the WAT episodes in which Eric sported close-cropped hair and got some nice close-ups - his blue eyes suddenly came to life - cornflower blue, sky blue, sapphire pools, nothing seems too outrageous. His eyes are spectacular.]
Buck's eyes are frequently mis-described in fanfic as brown when they're dark blue, but for someone who hasn't seen close-ups of Dale, especially from Time Trax, that's understandable. There were some excellent closeups of Ezra in the show exposing his wonderful clear green eyes and at least of one of JD's brownish hazel eyes (often mis-described as brown). Laurie/Mary's eyes were seen in several close-ups and are the same beautiful green as Tony/Ezra's (something the two actors confirmed in an interview).
Michael/Chris's eyes are the hardest to discern and they're described in fanfic as green, jade, emerald, hazel, blue, bluegreen, bluegray, greengray, gray and even turquoise. Our research suggests they're a greenish shade of hazel like Michael Landon's (Little Joe on Bonanza). Bonanza fanfic often uses the same lavish descriptions of Joe's eyes as Mag7 writer do of Chris's - emerald orbs, flashing greens, jade pools, etc. -- descriptions we find more suited to Ezra's eyes. We'd like to see what MB's official bio says. A reader told us that she freeze-framed the close-ups on the eyes during the gunfight scene toward the end of Tombstone and John Ringo's [MB's] eyes definitely appeared to be gray.
Heights: We haven't been able to precisely pin down heights, either for the actors or the characters. (Sometimes the characters are taller than the actors who play them if they enhance their height with tall boots.) The characters whose heights are most often exaggerated in fanfic are Chris and Josiah. Even in his tall boots, Chris was no more than 6 feet tall although there seemed to have been a concentrated effort to use camera angles to make him look taller. If you watch MB in shows like Adventure Inc. or Aliens you can tell 6' is generous. Yet we've seen stories in which he's referred to as being 6'2" or even as tall as 6'4. And Josiah/Ron Perlman, who really is 6'2', is often referred to as the tallest of the Seven or matched in height with Nathan, though he's clearly shorter than Buck. He's somewhat bulkier in build than either of his taller friends but not nearly the giant he's sometimes made out to be. In Time Trax Dale's character is referred to several times as being 6'3" tall. We won't claim to know exact heights for everyone though we are clear on the order. From shortest to tallest JD (5'8"), Ezra (5'9" - 5'10"), Vin (5'10 - 5'11"), Chris (5'11 - 6'), Josiah (6'2"), Buck (6'3"- 6'4"), Nathan (6'4"+).
Clothes: While style of dress might be canon, we don't think the actual clothes are. Even if characters wear the same clothes for continuity on a TV show, we doubt that it's intended to suggest that the men never changed their clothes. But try to tell that to someone who writes Bonanza fic. In Bonanza (and some other Westerns like Laredo) the characters wore the same clothes every week, occasionally making changes from one season to another. Many writers have decided they're violating Bonanza canon if they suggest the Cartwrights had more than one set of clothes. Luckily, most of the Mag7 men were filmed with at least a few extra shirts though they did tend to keep the same boots, pants, hats (of course) and except for Ezra, jackets. JD had at least two brown, three-piece suits - one obviously checked, the other not. We saw Vin, Buck, Ezra. Nathan and Chris with suspenders and there's no reason to believe JD and Josiah didn't wear them on occasion.
The Man in Black did usually have the same black pants, boots, hat and rig (except in the Nemesis flashback, Inmate 78 prison scenes and the Obsession party scene). But in addition to switching his black duster on occasion for the multi-color poncho Josiah gave him, he did have at least a couple of lovely shirts - one green striped and one that's rust, reddish or brown depending on the color settings on your TV, in addition to the white one he wore at the end of Inmate 78.
Ezra appears to be mostly closely identified in fanfic with the red coat from the pilot, in our opinion he was sexier in his other jackets - black, very dark plum and very dark green. And we certainly assume that he wore a clean shirt every day. Ezra was the only one with noticeable jewelry - often a square cut ruby or what appeared to be a gold band on his left hand [though generally a close look will show it to be the ruby ring]. He wore other rings on occasion; in a couple of shows he sported a bulky turquoise ring on his left hand. His watch fob was noticeable as was a tie tack.
Josiah wears what looks like something between a beaded necklace and a fancy bolo. He sometimes wore a second beaded necklace that was somewhat less bulky. Josiah most always wore a knee length coat with trim that resembled an Indian or Mexican blanket pattern. Like Nathan and Chris, he wore a flat brimmed hat.
Buck and Vin both most often wore high waisted pants with suspenders and both had a pretty decent selection of shirts. Vin looked especially good in his red and blue ones. Vin generally wore a pink bandanna (in those days most red faded to pink with sun and washing - which is why the men often wore pink long Johns.) Buck's bandannas were as varied as his shirts and much larger than Vin's. Vin had two different buckskin jackets, but we're guessing we weren't supposed to notice when they changed over. It wasn't like he alternated them - he wore the ones with the "angel wings" during the first episodes then showed up with a different one later with fringe on the shoulders. Nathan tended to dress in dark clothes. Both he and Buck wore jackets that looked like something out of a Goodwill store.
Firearms: We refer people to Mattie's page at http://www.geocities.com/colt45.geo/index.html or Gloria's at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~poindexterfamily/M7Guns.html for details on the firearms about which we admit ignorance. We basically know that JD wore two ivory-handed colts, Ezra wore a device to pop a derringer into his hand and sometimes wore both a shoulder pistol and one on his gun belt. He was also comfortable shooting a rifle. The others usually wore only one revolver but most of them were shown shooting two in the pilot.
One of the most common errors we see in the firearm descriptions is calling Vin's sawed off rifle a shotgun. These days sawed off shotguns are more common, but his was definitely a rifle. We met the man who made Vin's sawed off Winchester. It's a copy of the one made for Steve McQueen in Wanted Dead or Alive. (His is also often misdescribed as a sawed-off shotgun.) The gun maker has a web site at www.eaglesquadron.net but he only mentions Steve McQueen on the site. The maker wears the sawed-off to a lot of Western Film Festivals, promoting sales of both working and display replicas. However, he's not going to make any sales to Mag7 fans. He was pretty snooty about how awkward Eric was in handling the rifle. In fact, he had nothing kind to say about anyone's gun handling. He seemed put out that they refused to hire him to train the cast. He said the show was stupid and he knew it was going to fail.
Another error related to Vin's sawed off was mentioned by a reader (thanks Bri). The accuracy of a firearm increases as the barrel length increases. When Vin was making a long shot or a shot requiring precision, he used a long gun not the sawed off. Watch him make the long shot in Nemesis using a rifle of conventional length. Of course, in Serpents he used the fancy German rifle taken from Stutz senior. He used the sawed off when firing at the fleeing Ella in Obsession - and missed.
Smoking: Although Chris is the one in fanfic often shown smoking - those sexy little cheroots - he wasn't the only one of the Seven to indulge. Buck is smoking a cigar at the barber shop in One Day Out West when Chris "accosts" him. Ezra uses the little cigar he's smoking in the pilot to light the cannon. Ezra and Nathan are both smoking cigars in the opening scene of Love & Honor. Both are seen smoking in at least one other episode.
The Indian Villages: Some fanfic confuses the Seminole village from the pilot with the Indian village on the reservation just outside of town. The men met at dawn to reach the Seminole village by afternoon and in Penance, Nathan notes to Rain that they have a long ride back to her village. The path into the Seminole village was narrow and steep. The Indian village [also referred to as the reservation], as shown in New Law and Manhunt was much closer and on much flatter ground.
Borrowed from the Movie: The series pilot borrowed more than the title and the music from the cinema version of The Magnificent Seven. The producers borrowed some of the catchier lines and the flavor of many of the scenes from the film. For example, Chris and Vin come together in the movie because the townspeople won't allow an Indian to be buried in their cemetery. Chris drives the hearse to the cemetery with Vin riding shotgun. Much less mayhem ensues than in the series. The necessary violence quota had risen considerably in the almost 40 years between the movie and the series.
Other than Chris [last name Adams], Vin [no last name] and Chico the novice gun fighter who watches the initial Chris/Vin encounter [he's rejected when he tries to join up and follows them to the village], there's little one-to-one parallel between the characters in the movie and those in the series. Even for those three there's only a superficial similarity. The characteristics, actions and words which carry over are not necessarily assigned to the same characters. Robert Vaughn dresses something like Ezra and prefers the finer things but, like Vin, has a price on his head. Charles Bronson has the simpatico with the children of the Mexican village and Brad Dexter (Harry) is after the gold he believes will be found there. James Coburn is the knife thrower but shares nothing else with Nathan. As noted below, the ladies man character comes from the 1966 sequel, Return of the Seven.
A few of the lines/scenes adapted from the original movie or the sequel:
The ladies man character from Return of the Seven is Colby, played by Warren Oates and has some resemblance to Buck - though not in looks. The first we see of him, he's rolling off the roof from a second story window where he's been rousted by the real husband of the woman he's in bed with. He agrees to go with Chris after Chris tells him all the men have been taken from a village, leaving a lot of lonely women. There turns out to be more to Colby than his love of women. He shows both courage and insight into the aspirations of others. He takes a young tag-along under his wing - the one they brought for luck to make them seven.
The Seven of the original movie prepare the Mexican village for the bandits in much the same way our Seven prepared the Indian village - teaching them to shoot, putting up a netting to block the way in, etc. As in the series, the women are hidden away not from the bandits but from the Seven. In the sequel, the Seven direct the building of walls as Josiah did in the series pilot.
"$5 a day?" (series Buck to Chris before he finds out it's $5 for the whole job) "$20 a week?" (movie Vin to Chris before he finds out it's for the whole job, liable to take 6 weeks.) Movie Vin tells Chris he's taking a job as a clerk in a store.
"wouldn't even pay for my bullets." (series Ezra to Chris; movie Vin to Chris)
"A man comes to you because he respects you, because he'd be proud to work with you and this is how you treat him?" [series JD to Chris.] "A man comes to him because he respects him, because he'd be proud to work with him and he makes me look like 2 cents with some kid's game." (movie Chico about Chris)
"Where'd you come from?" "Saloon." "Where you going?" "Saloon." (Series Chris to Mary then series Chris/Vin/Nathan to Mary.) In the movie there's a saloon on either side of the street. When a man ask Chris where he came from, he points to one. When he asks where he's going, he points to the other.
James Coburn makes a long shot in the movie much as Vin does in Nemesis - to similar admiration from Chico - "That was the best shot I ever saw." Coburn responds like Ezra in the pilot when Vin compliments him - "the worst, I was trying to hit the horse." Ezra responds in a similar fashion when Vin compliments him, about the shot he took using the mirror in the saloon and again about the shot he made with the cannon.
As in the series pilot, when the leader of the bandits in the movie asks how many of them they are, the men make themselves visible as they rise from their vantage points. Similarly in the sequel, when Chris tells the leader there are five Winchester's pointed at his head, the men appear in silhouette from high vantage points.
In the sequel, Claude Akins plays Frank who's been spending the past few years wanting to get killed because he never got over the death of his wife, even after he tracked down and killed the men responsible.
VIN: We flipped a coin and started with Vin instead of Ezra. The two of them seem to have been endowed by fanfic writers with more alternate personas, quirks, phobias, childhood traumas, etc. than any of the others. The Vin we saw in the show was scruffy, confident, quietly humorous, warm, not reticent about acting as leader, not adverse to being touched and with tracking and distance shooting skills beyond those of the others. He showed no shyness around Charlotte in Wagon Train -- he was perfectly willing to dance with her in a public place. Nor was he shy around Inez when he encouraged her to make a stand and then protected her in Love & Honor. Nor was he shy around Mary. He took over as leader in Chris's absence (as in Inmate 78 & when taking back Nettie's property from Guy Royal in The Collector). He could even take equal part in an investigation when Chris was right there (notice who asks a lot of the questions in Chinatown.) And notice who has words for the Eagle Bend prosecutor in The Trial while Chris stands by silent. He did say he would be too nervous to speak in front of a crowd as would be needed by the man acting as Obediah's advocate inThe Trial.
We know Vin's mother died when he was five -- "just a little fella" but not whether he had other family. He lived with two different Indian tribes (Kiowa and Comanche) and learned tracking from a friend in one of the tribes who was later killed. He was a buffalo hunter who turned bounty hunter when the buffalo ran out. He was framed for the murder of Jess Kincaid by Eli Joe when he was hunting him for bounty and had turned to working in a store for the week before he met Chris. Although having his name on a wanted poster suggested he should have taken on an alias, his mother's dying admonition about remembering he was a Tanner may have deterred him. Vin was not without what might be described as a vicious streak. He wasn't above shooting a man in the back as we saw in Nemesis. His admissions to Nathan in Serpents indicated a man wanted dead or alive might very well be brought in dead when Vin was bounty hunting. His "brag" to Chris in Sins of the Past that his time with the Kiowa and Comanches taught him how to get the truth out of a man didn't seem to be an empty boast.
St.Vin of the Tortured Soul: " Present you bought me a present, no one's ever given me a present/don't touch me/don't put me in a small space/it's nothing, I'm fine/shy with women/major trust issues/never had a close friend before (except maybe one that was killed)/very abusive childhood/obsessively independent" Vin. Although this is not the Vin we saw in Mag7 and none of it is canon, he certainly could have had an abusive childhood after his mother died. And a man with a bounty on his head is likely either to have some trust issues or be unwilling to risk exposing friends to the dangers presented by bounty hunters. [But let's hope an OW writer doesn't use the term "trust issues."] And between spending time with Indian tribes and making his living as a buffalo/bounty hunter and then being on the run, he must have spent most of his life away from what most would consider civilization. In the hands of a very skillful writer, St. Vin can be a compelling persona with strengths to match his traumas. In the hands of a writer who just throws fanon conventions around or who loves to pile on torture for no purpose, he can seem pathetic. SueN is one of the most skilled proponents of St. Vin of the Tortured Soul but she's a hard writer for others to live up to. Many of her tortured Vin stories are full of sparkling dialogue, compelling descriptions, interesting background, humor and, in the adult stories, great sex. [And she has a sly way of mocking slash in her gen H/C stories.] There are other good St. Vin writers we've included here, but none with as large a body of good work mainly centered on this persona. [We don't equate H/C stories where Vin is injured with this Vin persona. H/C writers are perfectly capable of hurting Vin whether or not he has a tortured soul.]
Humorous Vin: The practical joking Vin is sometimes paired with JD in the ATF Terror Twins version of humorous Vin. For those writers who see him as older, he's sometimes paired with Ezra to make a mockery of the rest of the seven. In other versions he's an almost-Michael Wiseman Vin. [Check out stories by NotTasha in which Vin is sometimes paired with Ezra to make sport of the other five. And he can be pretty funny in Linda B's Colors too.]
Gritty Gay Vin: Often slash, regardless of the pairing, is more of the "we're not gay, we just love each other" variety even if some off-hand reference is made to someone being gay or bi. However, there is some really touching AU fiction that delves into what it would mean if Vin really had grown up gay in Texas. The best example of this is C.V. Puerro's Vignettes, a superb examination of Vin as truly part of the gay lifestyle from his youth to joining ATF. The matter is also touched on with more than the average grittiness in the excellent "first time" fic Call Me by Maygra.
EZRA: While much of the complexity brought to the Vin of fanfic is pure fanon, Ezra's wonderful complexities are much more clearly part of canon. He's a man with a core of courage and honor raised to reject both in favor of protecting his self-interest. He's a cheater (Pilot, Chinatown) and wanted for property crimes of which he was likely guilty. (One Day Out West) We never saw him cheat his friends, although the fanon idea of him cheating when he plays with them for his own amusement but then arranging for them to win most of it back is a cute addition to the Ezra mystique. He was subject to the racial prejudices of his upbringing as he showed by his initial refusal to ride with a group that included Nathan, and his later refusal to accept Nathan's medical help. (Pilot) But from the moment he asked Nathan if he was willing to ride with an "old Southern boy" at the end of the pilot, he never thereafter showed the slightest prejudice toward him. In fact, we knew he'd gotten beyond it with the way he looked after Nathan when Nathan fixed his dislocated shoulder. And he was never a KKK type bigot or truly mean spirited.
Ezra joined the group to protect the Seminole village in order to look for gold and when it was apparent there wasn't any (and the cannon started firing), he rode off, bracing himself with drags from his flask and branding himself with words about a third kind of man. And in this first crisis of conscience, he ends up returning to help save the others despite the odds he'll be killed. He joined the group on their second escapade at the James ranch to get out of jail and it appears he stayed with them to get a pardon. [One Day Out West]. And yet we feel there was more to it. [Meg Tipper captured that feeling in her story title taken from a poem A Summons Faint Yet Absolute.] We met Ezra's mother Maude three times [Witness, The Trial and Sins of the Past] and thus we're well aware of the values with which Ezra was raised (to the limited extent Maude actually participated in raising him). [See the section on Maude below.]
Ezra at war with himself provided some of the most compelling scenes in the series. His scenes in Serpents - with Josiah and with his own image in his mirror were the epitome of that battle. It was evident in his change of course in the pilot as well. But his battle was there even in Chinatown where he protested he was no social reformer when Nathan wanted money to save Li Pong. Although he wouldn't hand over the money until Nathan threatened to expose his cheating at dominoes, there was something in his eyes when he finally looked into Li Pong's frightened face that showed great compassion. She must have seen something too, because it was "the man in the red coat" she sought out to take refuge with. And of course, he both risks his life to help her people and parts with cash to see her safely back to her family.
Ezra's charming interaction with children is something from canon used to great effect in fanfic. There are several scenes in the pilot and two in Safecracker with Olivia the little cardsharp that are enough to warrant the assumption it's part of his basic character.
Although we know all the Seven are men of courage, Ezra was given the scenes to prove it -- beyond the willingness to go up against bad odds in a gunfight. No one could have any doubts about him after the whiskey bottle maneuver in Vendetta and his action against the assassin in Serpents. So we have to ask ourselves why, presented with a character of unquestioned bravery, wonderful internal conflicts and interesting contradictions, some writers want to revise his history and whitewash his motives, in effect slapping happy faces on his character.
Ezra the Misunderstood Plaster Saint: Some writers seem to go to great lengths to reinterpret both Ezra's backstory and his actions in the series to make him into Ezra the-is-and-always-was Perfect. The most obvious tip-off that a writer is presenting St. Ezra the Misunderstood is when the writer tries to justify his initial reaction to Nathan - passing it off as Nathan looking like an old enemy or Ezra wanting an excuse not to ride with the others. Another is when the $10,000 he tormented himself with, and finally succumbed to, in Serpents is reduced to a mere 1/7 of that sum - as though he was taking "his" share. We can't understand why anyone would want to downplay the temptation he faced, the weakness he hated himself for and the courage and sacrifice he made by giving it up and protecting Mary at severe risk of his own life. We loved the obvious joy Ezra took in being told by Mary that he'd saved her and by Chris that he'd "done good." It was also nice to see Chris smile so broadly at the end, even though he knew Ezra had been set to take off with the money. Another unfortunate result of a whitewashed Ezra is the tendency to villainize others of the seven - almost always Nathan, often Chris as well and sometimes one or two of the others. Of course, there is canon support for problems between Nathan and Ezra. There's also some canon support for Chris's distrust -- his "don't run out on me again" in the pilot and his "figure you're dead" threat in One Day Out West before he lets Ezra out of jail. And he still distrusted him with money in Serpents. But nothing in the series supports making Nathan and/or Chris into a thoroughly unpleasant person, constantly making snide remarks and doubting everything Ezra does.
Ezra the Pathetic, Nobody Loves Me, Needy Outsider: "Since I'm lost/trapped/imprisoned in this snowstorm/mineshaft/collapsed building with Buck/Vin/JD I guess the others will bother looking because they'll want to find Buck/Vin/JD." And "I'll turn down the invitation to join the others for Thanksgiving/Christmas/4th of July because they don't really want me/it will ruin Chris's holiday/they invited me out of pity." Of course there's some leeway to see Ezra as the outsider, the odd man out and good stories use it. But there's really no need to turn him into a pathetic little boy with his face pressed against the glass watching the others bask in the warmth of their friendship or to allow him to be the team scapegoat who takes abuse with a poker face and wounded heart.
Ezra the Superhero: There are stories about all the Seven in which the writers make their particular favorite the superhero, but we've seen many more in the Ezra category than in the others. Of course all the Seven, including Ezra, should get his turn in the spotlight, his chance to be hero of the day, but sometimes Ezra comes across as a Mary Sue (though by definition a lead canon character can't actually be a Mary Sue). He's better at everything than any of the others, gaped at with admiration by a special friend (often Vin or JD) as he saves the day time after time (even when he is gravely injured) and along the way is more compassionate, wittier, more handsome and a better rider, cook, fighter, shooter, etc. than anyone. He is often portrayed as a brilliant multi-linguist and a self-made but covert millionaire. Those stories should be sub-titled The Magnificent Gambler and His Pathetic Friends.
Nathan: Poor Nathan is often treated as medical window dressing. He's just not very interesting, even on the show. Hard to apportion out the blame between a rather colorless character and an actor with a limited range. He had some good moments, especially in his interaction with Rain. But even what could have been other shining moments - e.g. his ventures into the world of forensic pathology in Nemesis, Manhunt and Penance - just didn't have much juice.
One of Nathan's most common fanon characteristics is his constant nagging to everyone to stay confined after being hurt. That actually never happened on the show. And on the show no one, except Josiah in the pilot and JD in Vendetta, actually showed the proclivity to pretend they weren't badly hurt when they were. Even Vin, who in fanfic is notorious for refusing to admit when he's sick or injured, had no problem in Lady Killers letting Nathan know he'd been badly injured when the bad guy's horse plowed into him. ["I'm busted up good Nathan."] Nor did he object to Nathan helping him down the stairs later. And when Vin is injured in Manhunt, Nathan doesn't support Chris's attempt to prevent Vin from tracking down Chanu, he offers to go with him.
Of course, like most shows which attract a bushel of H/C fanfic, there was little of it actually shown on screen. Buck's bedside vigil in Lady Killers after JD is shot is the only example we have. [And the director/writers badly betrayed the same Buck/JD bond in Safecracker when Nathan is working on a stabbed JD and Buck comes in and goes out without so much as a "how is he?"] But the stoic, good guys who refuse to be slowed down by their injuries and their loving but persistent medic is a realistic enough scenario. Still, it's unfortunate that's the only spot Nathan earns in most fic.
On the other hand, although it would be nice to make Nathan more interesting, using him as a near-villain in relation to Ezra violates canon and the dynamic of the Seven too much to be palatable for us. Of course, there's a sound canon basis for conflict between Nathan and Ezra but it's not nearly as interesting when it's "St. Ezra the wonderful" versus snide, small-minded, boorish Nathan. These men are both part of the Seven. As psuedo-family there are going to be misunderstandings and conflicts that can be used in fic but it violates canon to make it completely one-sided. A good fiction writer can write justification for one of the Seven at odds with or hurting another that doesn't cause the reader to wonder what show she was watching. That's what creating realistic motivation is all about. For some good examples of well motivated conflict see SueN's poignant Fade to Black , KetTanner's exciting Brass Ring Series - Part 2 Painted Eyes For Faith or Jody Revenson's tender Unexpected in Common Hours.
Nathan had reason to doubt Ezra at times - he'd watched him cheat in the shooting competition in the saloon, listened to an insult based on his skin color and then later had Ezra, though obviously in pain, refuse to let him treat his injury. Yet Nathan persisted in fixing the shoulder and patted him on the good shoulder in what could only be considered a friendly fashion. He saw Ezra cheat the Chinese laborers in dominoes and refuse to give him a few dollars to save the distressed Li Pong. He was also badgered by Ezra in Wagon Train over the land deed Ezra coveted and he saw Ezra taking bets on Buck's gunfight/swordfight in Love & Honor.
But Nathan isn't blameless - he could be sanctimonious and there's nothing wrong with fic that calls him on it. He clearly over-reacted to Ezra's attempt to polish the working girls to make them more suitable for respectable husbands. [We understand it was Anthony Starke who suggested the confrontation.] Nathan was also pretty quick to jump to conclusions in Chinatown - accusing Ezra of keeping a slave girl and later asking Li Pong if Ezra was "vexing" her. He jumps on Ezra about his compliments to Olivia over her card playing prowess in Safecracker. And he's the one who voices the opinion that the result of Josiah trusting Ezra with the money in Serpents would be "making Ezra rich." Given Nathan's history, it's not completely unreasonable for him to be overly sensitive when he sees someone possibly being exploited, especially by someone who makes no secret of his avarice. Yet in general, the relationship between Ezra and Nathan was friendly. If Nathan insulted Ezra as frequently and with as much animosity as some fanfic would have it, the rest of the Seven would have avoided him unless they were injured. In short, there's plenty of room for misunderstandings and recriminations between Nathan and Ezra. But they're both part of the Seven. Their misunderstandings can be explored to great literary effect without transforming a basically decent man [Nathan] into a villain or an interesting, conflicted man [Ezra] into a plaster saint.
Chris: It's a toss-up between Chris and Buck as to which one has the most consistent stereotype. Chris is too often reduced to glares, empty threats to shoot his friends, waves of black despair, anger, drunkenness, being saved from the dark side by the ever faithful Buck and sharing his soul with Vin. In most of the stories in which he's portrayed well, he shares the spotlight with Vin or Buck. Of course, it's natural that Chris's despair over the murder of his family would be a dominant feature in many stories - it certainly hadn't abated between Nemesis and Obsession and was evident in a quieter way in Witness and Vendetta. But still - it would be nice to have more stories that explored parts of Chris not related to his feelings over the murder of his family. We have yet to find the perfect Chris story in the sense that Atwater's All the Reasons Why is the perfect Buck story.
We know less about Chris's early history than any of the others. Top Hat Bob calls Chris a low down Yankee liar and we learn in that episode [The Collector] that Chris was in a rail splitting contest in Indiana when he was 17. From that there's some assumption he's from Indiana or environs but nothing really nails it down.
Chris is sometimes used as a villain, especially by the St. Ezra writers. Again there's ample room for conflict in their relationship without making Chris unbearably unreasonable or Ezra unbearably perfect. Chris is a man who doesn't trust easily - note his question to Vin about how well they really knew anyone, when Josiah was suspected in Penance. Vin's faith in Josiah seemed virtually absolute; Chris's clearly was not. And Chris didn't support JD against the townsfolk the way Buck wanted him to in Achilles. And in Love & Honor when Chris wanted to stop the duel, he chided Buck about his brains dropping below his belt over Inez. When it was Buck and Ezra expressing doubts about Vin in Manhunt, Chris was definite enough in supporting him. But his initial reaction in Obsession was to doubt Vin when he reported on Ella's duplicity. So the fact that in Serpents Chris didn't want to put a strain on Ezra's ability to resist his greatest temptation is hardly surprising.
There is also canon basis for Chris's temper, although it appears to be ignited solely in relation to the loss of his family. He almost kills an innocent man in Nemesis just because he owned a paint horse - he might have if Nathan hadn't stopped him. The way he shot through the whorehouse walls at a man making too much noise in Obsession could also have resulted in the death of an innocent man. And although his razor to Buck's throat in One Day Out West was not seriously life threatening, it was not the way a "normal" man shows his displeasure to a close friend.
In Safecracker, he jokes about regretting not having shot Buck when he had the chance. In Serpents he tells Ezra he doesn't want to have to shoot him (over the $10,000). In One Day Out West he tells Ezra "figure your dead" if he runs out on him. In fanfic, both OW and modern, Chris's threats to shoot his friends are common. But it does seem rather silly when writers working in the POV of one of the friends has him truly afraid Chris will shoot him. Fear his disapproval, fear his wrath, but would even Ezra believe Chris would just shoot him down, especially in the ATF AU?
Buck: While Vin is sometimes a tortured saint, Nathan a boring saint and Ezra a revisionist saint, in fanon good, old Buck is almost uniformly an affable saint -- loyal, [especially to Chris] brave, protective [especially toward JD & women], self-sacrificing, intuitive, open-minded, humorous, etc. etc. Canon pretty well supports most of these qualities but not the extent they are developed in fanfic. But at least canon doesn't contradict the common fanon. Buck lost his temper only when one of his friends or a woman was in danger or being abused as in Working Girls, Inmate 78 and Lady Killers. He took an almost mortal saber slash for JD in the pilot and a few more for Inez in Love & Honor. He swallowed his righteous anger at Chris over the razor incident in One Day Out West and followed them out to the James' ranch to save the day at the end. The only time his support for one of his friends faltered was in Manhunt when he questioned whether Vin was "right for this job" but that rose out of his feelings about Chanu's apparent abuse of a woman. His expression when he handed Vin the reins to his horse at the end of the episode was clearly one of apology, which Vin appeared to accept. (Talk about silent communication.)
Of course, Buck's "weakness" is women and he's certainly shown as lustful, "magnetic" and protective, especially in Working Girls, Love & Honor, New Law, Witness, Serpents, Obsession and Lady Killers. In Working Girls, Buck tells JD he was raised in a brothel by the working girl mother he describes as "a saint." We learn nothing about Buck's father. He could have been an known or unknown customer or his mother could have taken up the life as the only way to support a baby or young child after being widowed or deserted.
Fanfic does seem to forget that Buck's conduct in Sins of the Past was less than honorable as he flees responsibility for a child he apparently believes is his. Of course, he does come around toward the end, but his first instinct was not very chivalrous. (To tell the truth, we'd all be happy to forget that bit of canon. Sins was a disconcerting mix of one very serious story line - Vin being taken away to be hanged - and two comedy storylines - Ezra's competition with his mother and Buck's evasion of Lucy. It did have a lovely view of Buck's backside though - and a good deal of his frontside as well.)
Buck's bond with JD started in the pilot with the endless giving of advice, punctuated by a couple of punches - to the jaw and shoulder. His "what will I do without you" speech to JD in Achilles is very touching as is his bedside vigil in Lady Killers. (And we swear we heard him call JD "little brother" though it trailed off into a whisper.)
Josiah: In the series Josiah was a complex man: a gentle father figure/confessor/advisor [Achilles, Sins of the Past, Love & Honor, Chinatown]; an articulate scholar and seeker of wisdom [The Trial, Manhunt, Love & Honor et al]; a rather goofy Lothario [Collector, Witness, Sins of the Past] ; a self-sacrificing warrior [Pilot]; a mean tempered and self-destructive drunk [Collector, Penance]. Fanfic rarely touches on any qualities but the first two. It's really a shame that such an interesting character has been stripped of his more colorful attributes in most fanfic.
Although Buck's near sacrifice of his life to save JD from the Colonel's saber is more often referenced in fanfic, during the pilot Josiah makes that sacrificial gesture twice. He's already been shot once when he risks another bullet shielding the body of an Indian boy. He takes a second bullet shielding Buck's body after he falls to the saber.
One fanfic notion we've seen in a number of stories is his supposed paternal feelings toward Ezra. There's no canon support for this notion beyond his lustful feelings for Ezra's mother. Not that such feelings couldn't have developed - but we apparently missed the fanfic stories [if there are any] showing how or why they did. Josiah was certainly warmly paternal toward JD as shown in their tender scenes in Achilles and his affectionate advice in Love & Honor but we never saw it with Ezra. In fact, he didn't ever call Ezra son, something he did call JD.
Josiah's Religion: In the pilot, Josiah tells Ezra he was a priest once but he had trouble turning the other cheek. When an Indian objects to Josiah's attempt to comfort a dying man because "we don't believe in your white man's religion." Josiah responds, "Nor do I my friend." In Nemesis, Nathan tell Steele about Josiah's tendency to go "Old Testament," but he's not referring to any tendency to spout religion. In The Collector, Josiah tells Nathan about leaving the woman he wanted to marry to embark on a two years of spiritual study with a Cherokee holy man. He discusses his problems with the religion of his father with Kojay in Manhunt and Vin in Penance. Although we often heard Josiah quoting the Bible and other great books, we never heard him use Biblical authority to condemn anyone - something that happens all too often when Josiah is made a semi-villain in fanfic.
JD: The JD of the series started out a blustering, naive greenhorn. Although he didn't remain a wide-eyed innocent, he didn't lose his youthful enthusiasm, bravado or impetuousness during the run of the series, nor did he lose his need for counsel from Buck and Josiah. (Though he didn't bounce like he often does in fanfic.) His bond with Buck is one of the defining things in the series and it remains a constant in fanfic. He was in harm's way twice when he ran out of ammunition in the pilot. On both occasions it was Buck who saved his life, the second time almost losing his own. It's Josiah who yanks JD out of harm's way in Sins of the Past when he bravely (but foolishly) tried to take on the men leading Vin away. Chris makes him stand down when he might have taken on Raphael in Love & Honor. He was a genuine hero in Achilles - his moment to shine - although it was preceded by his greatest mistake [the accidental killing of Annie]. The three-legged dog joke he tells in Inmate 78 sparked the fanon of JD as the perpetual bad joke teller. In Obsession, JD takes Buck's advice not to fan his guns and wins a shoot-out against his "counterpart" in Handsome Jack's gang.
MARY: Mary, editor of the Clarion, was the only female regular in the series. Her first appearance is a brave one as she faces down the gang of drovers set on lynching Nathan. There was an attempt in the series to suggest an attraction between Chris and Mary but few fans seem to have bought the chemistry and many slash writers positively villify her (although to be fair, Chris did seem more upset over losing Vin to Charlotte than Mary to Gerard in Wagon Train.) Aside from the failed attempt at romance, Mary was a strong and positive figure. Although she initiually came across as self-righteous in Working Girls, once she put a face on the situation by talking with Nora, she quickly became sympathetic. She's portrayed as a champion of fair treatment for Indians (especially in Manhunt & Serpents) and statehood (Serpents again). Her husband Stephen was murdered before he could use the Clarion to expose some nefarious goings on. The killer is brought to justice in The Witness - the title refers to young Billy, Mary's son. The best (and most complex) portrait of Mary (and the Mary/Chris relationship) we've found is in the wonderful novel Moved by Silent Hands by Painted Eyes though it is not a central theme in this lengthy Vin-centric novel..
NETTIE: Nettie Wells is such a consistent presence in fan fic that it's hard to believe she was in only one episode. [The Collector] She was a fine example of a feisty old lady and made such a wonderful connection with Vin, it's a shame she didn't appear again. A lot of colorful phrases are attributed to her but "my stars and garters" is the only one she actually used. Use of terms like "fancy man" or "fancy pants" to describe Ezra is often attributed to Nettie. Although she never said them, they do sound like something she would say. [Buck called Don Paulo "Fancy Pants" in Love & Honor.]
CASEY: Nettie's niece Casey was a recurring character as JD's scrappy, tomboyish, potential love interest. [The Collector, Achilles, New Law, Love & Honor, Vendetta, Lady Killers.] Two of her best scenes are with Vin and Ezra in Lady Killers as she attempts to recruit them to sow her wild oats after JD is somewhat forciably seduced by the lady bounty hunter, Mattie Stokes.
INEZ: The beautiful and fiery Mexican barkeep (okay, it's a stereotype but handled well in this very likeable character) showed up looking for a job at The Standish Tavern in Sins of the Past. Hired by Ezra after she proves able to handle an obnoxious customer, she subsequently shows herself to be a good cook as well. When Maude picks up the title to Ezra's pride and joy, she make Inez the manager. Although Buck is the only one who tries to woo her (Chinatown and Love & Honor), she has good chemistry with Ezra in Sins of the Past and with Vin in Love & Honor. Vin talks her into making a stand instead of fleeing Don Paulo in Love & Honor and then saves her when she tries to shoot him rather than have him fight Buck. In the same episode, Buck gives his beautiful "what kind of man would I be" speech when she tries to talk him out of fighting for her. She's paired in fan fic to good effect with Buck (e.g. Four Corners Police Dept.), Vin (check the Moar Sisters site) and Ezra (e.g. The Day of the Dead by Lady Chal and a few stories by Helen Adams).
MAUDE: Maude is like a long-running, soap opera villain - a manipulator, self-centered, controlling, but not without some saving graces. In our opinion, she should be treated like those soap villains - care should be taken not let her do anything unforgivably "ugly evil." Soaps save "ugly evil" for villains destined for a single story arc (though it may run for many months) before they are killed or sent away to prison. (From which they sometimes escape years later when a vengeful villain is need to begin a new arc of evil.) Long-running villains (think Adam Chandler on All My Children) need to stay just on the tolerable side of evil - they can cheat, steal, knock people around a little, perpetrate fiendish plots to get rid of their children's suitors or to trick a woman into marriage (or divorce or giving up custody of a child). But they can't molest children, physically torture people or commit murder. And most interesting, although they are frequently unbearably snobbish, they are seldom racist. (Maude, when in a jail cell next to Nathan's father in The Trial , does not demonstrate any racial prejudice when she talks to him.) Canon would allow fanfic Maude to be a less than admirable character who remains consistently selfish and critical or she can somehow show some hidden compassion for Ezra in a critical situation -- either would fit canon. [See Estevana Rey's Darkest Hours for an example of the latter.] But in our opinion she shouldn't be so evil as to make Ezra look pathetic.
In the series, Ezra's clearly caught up in the typical cycle of a neglected child - alternately angry with and then trying to please or impress the neglectful parent. She's a con artist who was less than motherly to young Ezra, but making her truly ugly evil would make him look weak for tolerating her as an adult. In Witness, she scolds him for his loyalty to his new job and says she raised him better than that. Ezra reminds her that she had less hand in raising him than a cat with a litter of kittens. She dumped him on other family members unless she needed him for a con. In Sins of the Past, when she scolds him for buying the saloon with his own money, she says, "I taught you better than that. What have all my efforts been for?" Ezra snaps back, "Your efforts? Your efforts? Exactly what effort have you ever exerted that wasn't entirely self-serving?" At the end of Sins, he acknowledges, "Well, you win mother, you always do." And then she tells him she's bought his saloon. She doesn't even ask him to manage it for her, she leaves that to Inez. The only thing she was going to give him was a job as the bartender. At the end, he asks her, "Why? Why here? Why me?" She answers, "Somebody's got to keep you sharp son. We're business people and we're the best at what we do." After she kisses him and leaves, he looks after her and says, "Yes, indeed, an amazing woman." He parts with her in Trial and Witness with sentiments of admiration or solicitude. In Wagon Train, Buck reads the beginning of a friendly letter Ezra is writing to Maude and in Serpents, he reads one to Buck that she's written to him. All in all, he's maintained a bond with her, something he wouldn't have done if she'd been truly evil - in the sense of having murdered his father or left him to the care of someone she knew or suspected was sexually molesting or torturing him.
RAIN: Nathan's "lovely paramour" from the Seminole Village they fought for in the pilot [Ghosts of the Confederacy] came to town to ascertain his feelings for her in Penance. Her conclusion "you are crazy about me" is one commonly reflected in fanfic in which they are very often married, engaged or courting.
JUDGE (ORRIN? ORIN? OREN?) TRAVIS: The Judge, played by Robert Vaughn, (one of the original Magnificent 7 from the movie), was the one who hired the Seven to watch over the town - originally for thirty days. [One Day Out West] He also appeared in The Trial, New Law, Wagon Train I and Lady Killers. He's depicted as a man of great physical courage in One Day Out West as he confronts three gunmen, not knowing the Seven will arrive to back him up. He often appears in Modern and SciFi AU's as a higher up in the chain of command in whatever law enforcement or military organization the Seven work for.
Minor canon characters who often pop up in fanfic:Chanu: Although only seen on-screen in Manhunt, Chanu is frequently seen in fanfic. In modern AU's he's often written as a childhood friend of Vin's, a foster brother or a blood brother. He's the only person other than Chris who Vin is seen using the warrior's grip handshake with.
Claire Mosley: Although Chanu's wife Claire died by her father's hand in Manhunt, she lives again in modern AU fanfics, usually married to Chanu. Her brother Rafe Mosley also appears in some modern AUs
Reverend Mosely: The bigoted reverend from Manhunt was last seen being led off to be imprisoned or hanged. However, he is sometimes resurrected - along with his daughter Claire - in modern AU's.
Kojay (Ko-Je?): Chanu's father, also seen in Manhunt, often turns up in the fanfic featuring Chanu. In modern fic he's occasionally written as Vin's foster father.
Check out Cin & Heidi's Four Corners Police Dept.for nice portrayals of the Mosleys and Chanu/Kojay. You will also like them in Charlotte/Maygra's Skip Trace AU novel The Big Score** which unfortunately is still a WIP as of September 2005.
Gloria Potter: The storekeeper widowed in One Day Out West was a very minor character but frequently used in fanfic - probably because she's one of the few townsfolk whose name is known. Fanfic often gives her young twins probably based on the children with her at the end of One Day Out West although the boy and girl briefly shown in the episode don't appear to be the same age. They looked about 7/8 and 10/11 while fanfic usually likes them about Billy's age. Mrs. Potter sold Josiah his boiled shirt in The Collector and made a brief appearance in New Law speaking out in support of the Seven. Mrs. Potter is a mainstay of fan fiction, modern and old West.
Mr. Conklin: Another of the few townsfolk whose name is known. Where Gloria Potter is an example of the good townsfolk the Seven are inspired to protect, Conklin represents the cowards who would rather bend to evil than stand up to it. He leads the group trying to get JD and the others to release Lucas James to avoid the wrath of his uncle in One Day Out West. We believe this was his only appearance. No first name was given. He's often seen as a minor irritant or villain in fanfic.
Stuart James: James is the uncle of Lucas James who murdered Gloria Potter's storekeeper husband in One Day Out West. Presumably Lucas was encouraged to terrorize the town's business folk by his uncle though he was apparently unaware of any plan to kill Potter. The men who busted Lucas out of jail presumably were sent by James. Lucas was protected at the James' compound afterwards. Some fanfic confuses him with Guy Royal. He appears again in New Law.
Guy Royal: The villain from The Collector joined forces with Stuart James to destroy the town after the Seven were fired in New Law. We can't really figure why Royal was on the loose. With the help of a little pressure on Top Hat Bob's cohorts they should have been able to get him convicted of hiring out the murder of Cody Porter. At the very least, they had witnesses to and evidence of his personal commission of numerous armed robberies, including the robbery of Nettie Wells. Guy Royal is the more evil of the two villains as Stuart James was unwilling to murder women and children when they tried to destroy the town in New Law.
Ella Gaines: Ella was a love interest of Chris's he broke up with about the time he met Buck. Their relationship was apparently quite wild and meant more to her than to him. It seems likely from the hints dropped in Nemesis that the development of Ella as the person behind the murders of Chris's family was not one anticipated when Nemesis was written. As Ella escaped in Obsession, she frequently re-appears to get her just deserts in fanfic.
Cletus Fowler: As he died at the end of Nemesis, he's not generally available to be used as a villain in OW fanfic. He often appears in modern AU's. He's used to great effect in Diamondback's Comino del Diablo as a master vampire villain. [She was careful to check the episode to see that he was never seen in sunlight.]
Eli Joe: A dead villain used frequently in modern and scifi AU's usually with the same relationship to Vin as in the series - the man who frames him or otherwise manages to get a price on Vin's head.Yosemite: JD sells his horse to Yosemite before he leaves in Achilles. We know nothing about him except that he's large and probably works in or owns the livery. But since we know his name, he's a canon character and often used.
Tiny: Chris hands his horse's reins to Tiny with a "thanks Tiny" in Love & Honor just before he talks to Raphael. We barely see a profile on the far left hand side of the screen as he leads Chris's horse into the livery. Like Conklin and Yosemite, he gets used in fanfic just because his name is known. We understand that Tiny and Yosemite are actually the same person, Yosemite being the actor's nickname. However, they are often used as two different people in fic.
Sarah/Adam: Sarah and Adam are seen in flashback in Nemesis when Chris and the others try to bring their murderers to justice. Adam was played by Michael Biehn's real-life son who was five at the time. For some reason fanfic often refers to Adam as a blond though he and his mother had brown hair. Perhaps writers confuse him with Mary's blond son Billy.
Lydia: Lydia was the prostitute from Wickestown in Working Girls who (it was implied) was regularly sought out by Chris in a professional capacity. She attempted to come to Nora's defense when Wickes sent Nora off with an abusive patron. She led the other working girls when they escaped and sought refuge in the town guarded by the Seven - much to Mary's initial dismay. For a nice fanfic which follows Lydia after she and the others leave town check out Foxfire's Debts & Decisions
Hannah: Josiah's sister Hannah is seen only in Penance. She is apparently mentally ill due to her father's self-righteous, brutal response to rebellion and running wild on her part (which for a woman on those days generally meant men and booze). Josiah spent most of his money to keep her in a nunnery near Vista City. Vin finds out about her when he needs to establish an alibi for Josiah after the Pinkerton detective sets him up to take the blame for a series of murders i Penance. Josiah feels guilty for not saving her from their father's wrath. For a nice fanfic utilizing Hannah check out J. Brooks Small Sacrifices
Raphael Cordova de Martinez: Raphael was the less-than-enthusiastic bodyguard to Don Paulo (based on loyalty to Don Paulo's father) when Don Paulo came to town to drag Inez back to Mexico. He and Chris developed a strong mutual respect during his sojourn. Raphael ends up shooting one of Don Paulo's hired killers before Chris can do so and subsequently believes Don Paulo's father will put a price on his head. Raphael was such an attractive character, it's surprising he doesn't appear more often in fanfic although he is used the great effect in some, as in Nancy's Borrowed Time and Cin & Heidi's Four Corners Police Dept.
Louisa Perkins: Louisa was the woman who finally tamed Buck Wilmington - or least so it appeared in Serpents. As the show was cancelled without any final resolution of the engagement issue, fanfic is free to go either way with that though most people don't bother with her at all. Buck is much more frequently paired with Inez - though generally in the guise of a fruitless or casually flirtatious courtship.
Some Useful Links
Two-Stop Shopping for lots of delightful or nagging details [visit them both]
We didn't find these two sites until we were about 3/4's thru this page or we might have skipped some of what we have here. Our intent as we add on to this page is to try not to duplicate their research.
G.M. Atwater [who was also a most excellent author in the fandom but moved on to LOTR] has a wonderful site with listings on even the most minor characters, a town map with buildings, horse lore, gun facts, slang, names and lots of other good stuff. Check out her site at: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~poindexterfamily/Mag7Fic.html
Zeke Black is another superb Mag7 writer who maintains a font of Mag7 information. Descriptions of places mentioned in the episodes, lots of information about the characters, major and minor from appearance to drinking habits to injuries to clothing. An interesting miscellaneous page. Index is at: Magnificent Seven Handbook
Transcripts, Episode Guides, Quotes,Video Clips
http://zekeblack.slashcity.org/m7/m7transcripts.html Although she hasn't finished them all, the transcripts she has posted include not only dialogue but a description of location and physical action. A nice source for 7-speak is found in Zeke Black's Quotes & Audio Clips
http://www.geocities.com/zennerd/transcripts.html [Dialogue only.]
http://blackraptor.net/m7transcripts/00episodes.htm [Also dialogue only]
Episode Guides: [w/cast lists]:
Location Facts and/or Photos
Some Valuable Historical Essays -
Dime Novels, Shady Ladies, Medical Facts & Stagecoaches
Not Quite Canon But the Most Popular AU Fanon
ATF/AU Guidelines can be found at http://tidiap.tripod.com/begin.html MOG and Tidia purposefully [and we think wisely] rode that horse bareback with a halter not a saddle, curb bit and bridle. The guidelines don't ask much (not even to the extent of demanding that writers follow them precisely). You'll find that most of the fanon seen in ATFG stories, even that which seems like virtual ATF canon, is not. Yes, Vin can be a health food nut (just ask Maygra). He can even make gourmet coffee in the hands of the right writer.
TO BE CONTINUED
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