Scholarship on the theme of Alexis de Tocqueville's changing roles in American culture constitutes a remarkably coherent discourse with distinctive conventions, structures, metaphors, and plots. Especially pronounced in the literature is a constantly repeated narrative – really a myth – that portrays Tocqueville as a vanished hero who suffered a prolonged period of oblivion and then made a celebrated return to play the role of guide to Americans as they faced the perils of the postwar world. Because of the lack of empirical support for this narrative, scholars inadvertently find themselves violating or disregarding elementary rules of evidence and logical argument when they address it. The extraordinary stability and coherence of this discourse are its most notable features: they have persisted, with no oppositional counternarrative, decade after decade for the past forty years. But all discourses have cracks and fissures. This essay reveals the ubiquity as well as the banality of the standard tragic-heroic narrative, and it provides a taxonomy of Tocqueville metaphors – Tocqueville as Orpheus, as Proteus, and as Christ. The supposed facts of Tocqueville's reception (with which these metaphoric clusters are identical) are false. There was no departure, oblivion, or triumphant return of Tocqueville. The mythic discourse advanced an account that had no support in the historical record.