With as popular a genre as the Western, there are numerous Western movie heroes who are some of the most archetypal movie heroes of all time. These Western movie heroes are from Westerns made throughout the history of cinema, ranging from old to new films. To see the best Western movie heroes in action, check out the movies off the list below to see why they embody the true Western spirit.

  1. Shane in "Shane." The classic western about an ex-gunslinger who is trying to lead his old life behind was made in the early '50's and still holds up as one of the greatest Westerns ever made today. The titular character Shane is played by Alan Ladd, who is both a handsome and stone cold killer in the movie.

  2. Rooster Cogburn in "True Grit." This classic Western tale follows a bounty hunter named Rooster Cogburn as he tries to help a little girl take vengeance on the man who shot her father. The original film stars the one and only John Wayne in this role and the spectacular remake stars the one and only Jeff Bridges.

  3. The Magnificent Seven in "The Magnificent Seven." "The Magnificent Seven" is a Western remake of Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai," and this film does the Japanese master's original justice. All seven gunslingers who are brought on to protect a small Mexican town have different aspects of Western movie heroes and all of them are noble as they risk their lives to protect what is right from Mexican banditos.

  4. Lt. John W. Dunbar in "Dances With Wolves." This Academy Award-winning Western about a Civil War lieutenant who heads West is a different type of Western hero; he is a modern day classic one. This basic storyline has since been repeated in large blockbuster films like "Avatar."

  5. William Munny in "Unforgiven." Still considered one of Clint Eastwood's greatest performances, William Munny is an ex-gunslinger who takes on one last job. This also won Eastwood a whole slew of Academy Awards to add to his mantle.

  6. The Wild Bunch in "The Wild Bunch." Director Sam Peckinpah's incredibly violent Western about warring gangs on the open range created the world for The Wild Bunch to exist as they try to track down one last score. This film represents, in some respects, the death of the classic Western.