The cowboy has become something of an icon of American culture, and this is especially true for the awesome cowboys in movies. Ranging from the old days on the American West to the contemporary period, these awesome cowboys have become emblematic of the cinema and of the western in particular.

  1. Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne). Certainly one of the most recognizable movie cowboys of all time is Rooster Coburn, originally portrayed by John Wayne in the film “True Grit.” With his gruffness, eyepatch, and his signature demeanor, this is one movie cowboy that has become synonymous with John Wayne.

  2. Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). When the Coen Brothers decided to remake “True Grit,” they cast Jeff Bridges in the role of the character Rooster Cogburn. Although not quite as gruff or taciturn as Wayne, the great acting talents of Bridges bring this movie cowboy to life in entirely new ways.

  3. Will Kane. This movie cowboy, who stars in the film “High Noon,” is one of the strongest cowboys in the history of the American cinema. With his courage and bravery, even in the face of huge adversity and almost certain death, Will Kane, played by Gary Cooper, has become something of an American icon.

  4. Ennis Del Mar. Ennis Del Mar, one of the two main characters from the immensely successful and popular film “Brokeback Mountain,” brought some change to the conception of the American cowboy, while also maintaining some of the old conventions as well. At times harsh, taciturn, and unable/unwilling to connect with his feelings of love for the character Jack Twist, Ennis allows viewers to see a version of the cowboy in contemporary times.

  5. Josey Wales. Clint Eastwood brings this hard-bitten cowboy to life in the powerful and gruff film “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” Although he is a hard and ruthless character, Josey Wales is nevertheless a powerful figure that many viewers can identify with. With a demeanor that only Eastwood can capture, Josey Wales has gone down as one of the most famous awesome cowboys from the movies.

  6. Calamity Jane. This famous woman of the Wild West has been portrayed many times in cinema, but one of the most famous depictions was by Doris Day, who played her in a musical of the same name. Day managed to show that this woman was a person of formidable strength of personality, and so deserves a place among the best cowboys in the movies.

  7. Ethan Edwards. This cowboy character, also portrayed by John Wayne, in the famous western “The Searchers,” is one of the most complex and nuanced cowboys ever to be seen in a movie. Although seemingly bent on nothing than revenge (he even threatens to shoot one of his relatives, simply because she has adopted the ways of the Comanche), you cannot help but feel compelled by the strong characterization that Wayne brings to one of his most famous roles.