Slicker came from a Western term for an orphaned calf. It referred to the naive nature of people from the Eastern cities. City slicker was derisively given to these Easterners for their assumption that their "book-learnin' " gave them superior intelligence. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century Westerners, particularly cowboys, used the Easterners' perceived snobbish attitudes as justification for playing tricks—sometimes violent tricks—on them.
City slickers appeared often as deceitful characters in U.S. comic strips and movies before the middle of the 20th century, but usually to be "outsmarted" by the native wisdom and common sense of the locals or to somehow otherwise get their just deserts in the end.
The archtypal city slicker is depicted as a spoiled selfish lazy rich person who consider people living on farms to be poor and ignorant. They are depicted as being unacustommed to hard labour and as a result, tire very easily and complain when working.
The term is seldom used in rural areas today except in a joking manner by which both rural residents and urban visitors may explain missteps.