Where Does The Saying Get Out Of Dodge Come From? (It’s 50+ Yrs Old)

Where Does The Saying Get Out Of Dodge Come From

Here on A B.O.B List, we spend a whole lot of time talking about survival tactics, gear, how to guides, and a lot more. Having an understanding of these things is the main reason the site was created, but from time to time, we like to dive into other related topics of discussion. Today, we’re going to be figuring out just where does the saying “get out of dodge” come from.

If you’ve ever talked to a fellow prepper or watched a movie or TV show about people surviving some sort of disaster, you’ve likely heard this phrase thrown around at one point or another. It’s an extremely common pair of words that get’s thrown around a lot, but have you ever taken some time to think about just what it means or where it actually comes from?

The answer, although not particularly long, is extremely interesting to say the least. It’s an answer that requires us to go all the way back to the 1950s to fully understand, and it’s a pretty cool story to say the least.


Before we dive right into the answer, we need to provide a bit of context to fully understand things. And, in this case, that context has to do with talking about Gunsmoke. Some of you reading this might be very familiar with that title, but there’s a good chance that others may not be.


Gunsmoke was both a radio and television program that was one of the first super popular Westerns to hit the scene back in the 1900s. The series was directed by Norman Macdonnell, and the majority of the episodes were written by John Meston. Gunsmoke followed the story of cowboys and other individuals during the time in which the American West was being settled for the first time, and the primary character of this whole show was Marshal Matt Dillon.

Gunsmoke started out as a radio series in 1952, and it continued like this throughout 1961. At that time, John Dunning (an enthusiast of radio dramas) commented that, “Gunsmoke is routinely placed among the best shows of any kind and any time.” Even from a commentator back in those days, that was some mighty high praise.

The television version of Gunsmoke got started a few years after the radio series in 1955, and it played all the way throughout 1975. A total of 635 episodes were created during that time frame, and the series as a whole is best summarized by Los Angeles Times columnist Cecil Smith that wrote the following at the end of the show in 1975 —

“Gunsmoke was the dramatization of the American epic legend of the West. Our own Iliad and Odyssey, created from standard elements of the dime novel and the pulp western as romanticized by Buntline, Harte, and Twain. It was ever the stuff of legend.”

It’s easy to see that Gunsmoke was an extremely powerful and inspirational series, and while there have been tons of westerns throughout the years, few are as recognizable and notable as that of Gunsmoke.

Let’s get the hell out of dodge

Now that we’ve got a bit of background built up around Gunsmoke, we can actually talk about the saying “lets get the hell out of dodge.”

Get the hell out of dodge

As mentioned earlier, Gunsmoke took place in Kansas during the settlement of the American West. However, the exact area of the state in which this took place Was Dodge City. This was an area of the country that was extremely popular for a load of Western shows during this time period, but Gunsmoke is perhaps the show that made it the most iconic and recognizable.

Throughout Gunsmoke, Marshal Matt Dillon often had to deal with villains and all sorts of other bad guys that would pop up rather frequently. Being the lawman for Dodge City, Dillon would tell the evil-doers to “get the hell out of Dodge.”

A command to get out of Dodge City, Kansas may not have seemed like a very big line at that time, but as you know by reading this today, it’s grown into a vastly popular phrase that people all over the world have used from time to time.

Although the phrase still means generally the same thing as it did back in the 1950s, it took on the current understanding around the 1960s and 1970s when it became widely used by teenagers during that time.

Today, saying “let’s get the hell out of dodge” means to run away or escape a situation in which there’s trouble to be found. The modern translation makes sense when compared to what the original meaning was, and although it’s changed subtly over the years, it’s sort of fascinating to see that the main message has remained the same.

How does it relate to preppers?

As any prepper will tell you, they do what they do to be as ready and prepared for the worst possible outcome. Whether this preparation consists of gathering lots of food, storing water supplies, building underground bunkers, etc., the prepper lifestyle is all about being ready for tomorrow today.

When crap does inevitably hit the fan, there’s going to be a load of chaos, craze, and scary things going on. Bombs may be falling, bullets will likely be screaming every which way you look, and more.

Amidst all of this chaos, you can now take one look at it, realize it isn’t a place for you to be at all, glance to your group and say, “lets get the hell out of dodge” will a full understanding of just how the phrase got started.

Final Thoughts

Taking a break from how to guides and more to talk about other prepper-related topics can often be a refreshing pallet-cleanser, and hopefully this article acted as just that for you. The question of “Where does the saying get out of dodge come from?” isn’t one that gets asked all the time, but as you can see, the answer behind it is pretty neat.

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