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Secret Service agents: Jameson Robert Quade, the charming gunslinger , and Artemus Johnathan MacCloud the brilliant gadgeteer and master of disguise. Their unending mission was to protect President Ulysses S. Grant and the United States from all manner of dangerous threats. The agents traveled in luxury aboard their own train, the Wanderer, equipped with everything from a stable car to a laboratory. Jameson Quade had served as an intelligence and cavalry officer in the US Civil War; his "cover" during the series is that he is a railroad president. After retiring from the Service by 1880 he lives on a ranch in Mexico. Gordon's past is more obscure; when he retires in 1880 he goes on the road as the head of a Shakespeare traveling players troupe
The Wild Wild West featured numerous gadgets. Some were recurring devices, such as James' sleeve gun or breakaway derringer hidden in his left and right boot heels. Others only appeared in a single episode.
Most of these gadgets are concealed in both Jameson Quade 's garments:
- Sleeve gun (a Remington derringer, featured in many episodes). In a few episodes the ejecting support-arm of the device had other useful gadgets attached to it instead of the derringer, such as a tiny squirt-can containing acid, iron climbing-claws, and various blades.
- Lock-pick in the lapel of the bolero-style jacket.
- Throwing knife in the collar of the jacket.
- Various explosive devices (i.e. smoke bombs, impact-flares, gas grenades, etc.) carried in pockets or hidden inside in his belt buckle, his hat, a secret compartment in his holster, and the hollowed-out heels of one or both of his boots. Various lengths and types of removable fuses were often sewn into the hem of his jacket or the waistband of his pants.
- A flat metal barbed climbing-spike and a thin, but strong attachable rope or cord that could be shot into a wooden beam or wall from either his derringer or revolver. These were usually carried in one of his jacket's many inside pockets.
- A small hand-held rod with a built-in spring-loaded motor-driven winch. When used in conjunction with his climbing-spike and rope, the rod-winch could either hoist him upwards to a building's roof, for instance, or lower him down into a deep pit, the distance depending on the length of rope or cord deployed.
- A thin metallic, telescopic probing rod (similar to a long modern-day car antenna). When extended fully, West could probe approximately ten feet or so all around him. He used this to probe and trigger traps in the Living Room
- A spring loaded, swing-out knife-blade in his boot, just between the outer sole and toe-box of the boot.
- A glass cutter consisting of a central hand-held knob. Protruding from this knob was a small metallic arm, approximately six inches long that swiveled. At its end was a rolling V-shaped cutting wheel of hardened steel. On one end of the knob was a small suction cup that was attached to the glass, allowing the cutting arm to be swung so that the cutting wheel could score the glass in a complete circle then lifted away using the knob with the cut piece attached to the suction cup.
- A thin but extremely strong wire, flexible enough to be coiled and fitted in the inner lining of the crown of his hat; the wire had multiple uses, and was even capable of sawing through a steel bar, using friction.
- Breakaway derringer (featured in numerous episodes). Usually the handle and trigger mechanism was located in the hollowed-out heel of one boot, while the barrel assembly was located in the other boot's hollowed-out heel; the two pieces snapped together and locked. Often bullets for this breakaway derringer were dispensed from a secret compartment in his belt-buckle, but most of the time it was preloaded.
- A breakaway blow-torch, each piece hidden in each hollowed-out boot heel.
- A battery-powered (or high-tension spring-driven) electric drill, that in one episode, was roughly the size of a large avocado and used to effect West's escape from a metal cage.
Aboard the train:
- Two pistols on a wooden swivel-stand on desk, activated and controlled by a knob on the fireplace.
- The fireplace conceals a secret escape door and an emergency flare signal.
- Several pistols, rifles, shotguns, and other assorted weaponry were mounted on a sliding pull-down panel in a small chamber at one end of the train car. A sliding closet containing his clothes and other useful paraphernalia was located in the same area also.
- A shotgun hidden under a revolving table-top.
- Cages for two carrier pigeons hidden in the walls. In the pilot episode, these pigeons (named Henry and Henrietta) were located in a compartment above the door in the same back room where West usually dressed and equipped himself, but in subsequent episodes the carrier pigeons were located elsewhere.
- Decorative molding carved in the shape of lion heads that spew knockout gas when triggered.
- Exploding billiard ball (shown in the series' pilot episode as the cue ball, but sometimes other billiard balls served that purpose).
- Cue stick that has a hidden sword inside (featured in ).
- Cue stick that can shoot a bullet (featured in ).
- Stage coach with ejector-seat (featured
- A telegraph mechanism in a cane.
- A blow torch disguised as a cigar.
The villains often used equally creative gadgets, including:
- An earthquake making device.
- A brainwashing device using intense sight and sound.
- A cyborg, i.e., a man who replaced much of his flesh and bone with metal, making him strong and nearly invulnerable.
- An early flamethrower.
- Man-sized steam-driven puppets.
- Jars that could preserve disembodied human brains and draw upon their knowledge and psychic force.
- The Juggernaut, a steam-powered triangular tank with a battering ram.
- A potion, made from liquefied diamond, which enabled a man to move so fast as to be invisible.
- An LSD-like hallucinogen, capable of driving men into fits of killing madness.
- A cathode-ray-tube (television).
- A torpedo disguised as a dragon and capable of homing on a radio signal.
- An invisible electronic force field that disintegrates anything that came in contact with it.
- A drug capable of shrinking a man down to a height of 6".
- A suit of armor that acted as an exoskeleton.
- A tidal wave-making device that generated giant bubbles.
- A sonic device that allowed the use of paintings as a portal to other dimensions.
- Crystals that, when surgically implanted inside the brain and then shattered by a high-pitched noise, caused the subject to turn into a criminal.
- A giant falcon-shaped cannon, capable of devastating a small town with a single shot.
- A giant tuning fork device mounted on wheels.
- A locomotive modified with a large battering ram to collide with oncoming trains and derail them.