Outlaws and Rebels

Built America’s Core

The Outlaw archetype is a very American one and is in many ways is a common behavior of freedom loving American individuals. Today we revere the off-beat risk takers like Lady Gaga and Tom Cruise.

Lady Gaga

But in different eras, Outlaw types consumed the wild, lawless West with all its renegades, lawbreakers and rebels. Let’s give credit to early colonial America too.  It was founded by Outlaws beginning with the Pilgrims and Puritans rebelling against the British monarchy of King George III.

Noting that we celebrate the Outlaw archetype every Thanksgiving Day is a fabulous way to remind us of our rebellious past!  We are thankful and appreciative because these risk-takers moved us to the glorious country we live in today.

Early mountain men were outsiders or mavericks and the wild freedom of America appealed to this type. The Outlaw archetype continued to play out on the American theater in the light and shadow with the destruction of Native American tribes to the rise of abolitionists and the overthrow of slavery.

The Confederate States of America formed prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War are an example of a collective type of Outlaw.  Interestingly, the Confederate army soldier was known as Johnny Reb, a clear reflection of the Rebel archetype.

Later, Outlaws like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller propelled America into the age of invention and technology.  It proved that Outlaws are very powerful types.

In our time, we see The Outlaw as a counterculture capable of releasing society from its taboos – sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.

This is achieved by tapping into the shadowy part of human nature. For instance, any brand marketed that tries to liberate itself (or others) from repression of the prevailing culture is an Outlaw.  The iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycle brand is often feared, rebellious, shocking and disruptive.  It appeals to Outlaws.

“Easy Rider”

The classic Outlaw brand is Harley-Davidson, which has been the subject of many branding case studies. Harley has created an iconic Outlaw feel to their brand (the daredevil rather than the American hero). Rather than try to compete with Japanese makers who sold better products at cheaper prices, Harley-Davidson decided to market meaning (making it much easier to develop brand extensions into clothing and accessories).

Harley owners are typically professionals who want to express their wild side.  To see them as unconventional thinkers would be an understatement. These dudes and dudettes make it a point to confidently motivate others to think differently, and ignore conformity. This revolutionary radical takes a stand for freedom and a sense of social consciousness.

When the developed side of The Outlaw is sitting at Command Central, as opposed to the shadow side, people will meet a surprisingly humble, honest individual, living on the cusp of life and death. These types achieve balance between exercising responsibility to their ideals when confronting contrary ones.

It’s easy to see how The Outlaw (remember the Big Lowbowski?) can give in to the dark side and cross over into criminal and violent acts. Their anger and feelings of powerlessness and mistreatment can make them this way. And don’t we love movies about a cop gone bad?

Here’s a list of some of the Top ones:

Training Day

Eva Mendes, Snoop Dogg, Denzel Washington

The Departed

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin

Léon: The Professional

Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Jean Reno

Dirty Harry

Clint Eastwood, Suzanne Somers, Hal Holbrook

American Gangster

Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Idris Elba

These characters are reckless or even unstable. They might be careless with their own safety and the safety of others, putting loved ones in danger. The ideals and philosophies they are fighting for become all-consuming.  Addictions and compulsions, emotional/physical abuse, murder, and are all possibilities.  

Here’s what makes rebels and Outlaws roll:


To disrupt/destroy

To change/overthrow what isn’t working

To let go of their anger/driving force and return to balance


To be powerless, trivialized  

To be ineffectual

To be annihilated


Rules are meant to be broken

Core Desire

Revenge or revolution, reform and ultimately renewal is at the heart of this powerful archetype.


Structure, humility, good boundaries, acceptance for who they are.

The Outlaw/Rebel archetype is the last of 12 designated by Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung in the 1930’s.  They have provided the basis for contemporary psychology which now has expanded in to 630 personality types. If you have further interest, you might take the free Meyers-Briggs test.  Click  Free Personality Test.