Top 10 Western Movie Heroes

Western movies have evolved quite a lot over the years and so did the genre's different character tropes, but one thing is for sure, it always gave us some great heroes who fight the villains and save the day. Let's dive right in and rank the greatest Western movie heroes.
The Top Ten
1 The Man With No Name - Dollar Trilogy

The character which made Clint Eastwood famous and who is the protagonist in all three of director Sergio Leone's series of three films, known together as the Dollar Trilogy, which helped establish the Spaghetti Western genre. When you think of westerns, the first character that comes to mind for most fans of the genre will be without a doubt the "Man With No Name". This character embodies the archetypical characteristics of the American movie cowboy: toughness, exceptional physical prowess, independence and skill with a gun, but departed from the original archetype of the classic westerns with actors such as John Wayne due to his moral ambiguity.

This character continued to evolve past the "Dollars" trilogy, and by the time of "Pale Rider", Eastwood pretty much admitted in an interview that the character was "The Angel of Death".

Legendary. None of the other characters can top this list.

Clint Eastwood is such an icon in westerns, and this is why.

2 Doc Holliday - Tombstone

Doc Holliday was portrayed by Val Kilmer, a performance many think should of won him an oscar. The character, like the real life Doc Holliday, is dying of tuberculosis and his worsening health makes him reckless and headstrong. Doc has a strong sense of friendship and morals. He is a cultivated jokester and a very good shot.

3 Colonel Douglas Mortimer - For a Few Dollars More

The character is played by Lee Van Cleef who co-starred with Clint Eastwood in For a Few Dollars More. He is an army veteran turned bounty hunter who is after the same bounty as Clint Eastwood's "Man With No Name".

4 Rooster Cogburn - True Grit

Rooster Cogburn is the main character in the film True Grit, the movie adaptation of the novel of the same name. He is an uncompromising, cantankerous, relentless, merciless, "one-eyed fat man" who doesn't know fear. At first, he seems like a old jerk, but as the movie progresses, you can't help but like the guy.

5 Harmonica - Once Upon a Time in the West

The hero of Sergio Leone's highly praised spaghetti western movie "Once Upon a Time in the West" and portrayed by Charles Bronson. The character is motivated by vengeance, he is quiet, has a ice cold stare and has only one idea in mind: avenge his brother's death. Harmonica is essentially that stoic, badass cowboy you don't want to mess with.

I found him to be a boring character, but other than that, pretty good.

6 Wyatt Earp - Tombstone

The character and movie are obviously based on the real life Wyatt Earp and events of his life like the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the famous Earp Vendetta Ride. Earp is often described as brave, courageous, moral, law-abiding and honorable, all traits you can see in Tombstone's Wyatt Earp. Add to that a clear thirst for vengeance and you have yourself a great movie hero.

7 Bernardo O'Reilly - The Magnificent Seven

Portrayed by Charles Bronson, Bernardo is one of the seven gunmen hired to help a village of farmers who are being terrorized by bandits. He was once a highly-paid Bounty Hunter, but now works chopping wood for his breakfast so he's willing to accept the measly pay the villagers are offering. At some point in the movie, he was the only one to notice the villagers were living off tortillas while they were being fed the best meals the village could make. He was also the one kids in the village wanted to befriend. A character with a tough outside, but a heart of gold.

8 Tonto - The Lone Ranger Tonto is a fictional character, the either Potawatomi or Comanche companion of the Lone Ranger, a popular American Western character.

Johnny Depp, who portrays Tonto, actually is part Native American himself. Yet he was the subject of controversy for being a "white man".

Ostensibly a supporting character but actually the real scene stealer outside of the horse Silver. He has all the best lines.

9 Will Kane - High Noon

In High Noon, Will Kane, played by Gary Cooper, is a town marshal of the fictional Hadleyville, New Mexico Territory. It is both his wedding day and his last day as a marshal. He is about to leave town with his bride, Amy, to start a new life when the clerk of the telegraph office brings bad news: a man he sent to prison some years earlier, Frank Miller, has been released from prison and is arriving on the noon train. Kane, and the townsfolk who remember Miller, know Miller's visit is for one reason: revenge. Upon his conviction years earlier, Miller swore he would kill Will Kane. Kane's friends tell him to leave town, but he feels that running away is not a solution, so he returns to face Miller and the gang. Will tries to find support from his friends and others, but no one wants to help. Will chooses to stand up against this gang alone, even though it could result in his own death.

10 Django Freeman - Django Unchained
The Contenders
11 John Reid - The Lone Ranger
12 Shane - Shane

The best way to describe Shane is that he is a stoic, mysterious man, he says little about himself, no one even knows his last name. It's clear that the man has a past he wants to put behind him. He prefers to use words or his fists rather than to have to resort to using his pistol. His most famous line in the film is "A gun is only as good or as bad as the man using it".

13 James West - Wild Wild West
14 Augustus "Gus" McCrae - Lonesome Dove

Portrayed by Robert Duvall in the first movie of the Lonesome Dove series of movies, Gus is one of two main protagonists and he is the kindest of the two. The character is one that is calm, understanding and also brave. And he is quite a good shooter as he was a Ranger in his youth.

15 King Schultz - Django Unchained

Christoph at his finest... charming, compelling and incredible one of the best performances in American Westerns.

16 Chris Mannix - The Hateful Eight
17 Ethan Edwards - The Searchers

Ethan Edwards is a civil war veteran in search of his kidnapped niece who was kidnapped years ago by a band of Comanches. The character of Ethan Edwards is one that is very different compared to other heroes in western films. He is obsessive, lonely and has an absolute hatred of Comanches and all Native Americans, mostly due in part for their kidnapping of his niece and the brutal attacks on settlers Native Americans were known for.

18 Artemus Gordon - Wild Wild West
19 Chris Adams - The Magnificent Seven
20 Butch Cassidy - Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are not your typical western movie heroes as they are in fact outlaws (the movie itself is based on the real Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid who were indeed outlaws), which breaks the norm for western movie protagonists. The movie came at a time where heroes in a western were starting to be portrayed as unperfect.

21 Albert Stark - A Million Ways to Die in the West
22 Josey Wales - The Outlaw Josey Wales

Personally, Josey Wales is my favorite Clint Eastwood character, because this character has much more depth than the Man with no name from the Dollars trilogy.

23 Mattie Ross - True Grit, 2010

She's a tough kid.

24 Virgil Earp - Tombstone

Sam Elliott is a great actor.

25 Lieutenant Dunbar - Dances With Wolves
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