The Situation: Let’s face it, some guys are just too tough, crafty, or out-and-out evil for regular law enforcement agencies to take down. That’s why we need bounty hunters. Bounty hunters have been a part of American pop culture since the days of the Old West (if not longer), and they seem quite capable of morphing into pretty much any genre you can think of–westerns, sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries, you name it.
The Criteria: Since bounty hunters are so prevalent in popular culture, there are countless examples that you can choose from. But, since I had to limit myself to four, I decided to pick guys (Domino Harvey came close to making the cut…would that I could pick five) who were obviously doing what they do for a tangible reason–whether it’s money, revenge, freedom, or a combination of one or more–as opposed to characters who claim to be bounty hunters, but end up regulating out of concerns more noble than money or vengeance.
1. Brisco County, Jr.
A Harvard-educated lawyer, Brisco never wanted to follow in his father’s bounty hunting footsteps. That is, until County Sr. is brutally gunned-down by John Bly and his gang. With sidekick Socrates Poole, rival-turned-associate Lord Bowler, and Comet the Wonder Horse, Brisco County, Jr. straps on his dad’s six-shooter and searches the Old West for the men responsible for his father’s death. Oh, there’s a weird golden orb from the future involved, too.
2. Ezekiel Stone
Zeke Stone was a cop. When his wife was raped and the man responsible goes free, Stone murders him in cold blood. Then, wouldn’t ya know, Zeke gets killed and gets sent straight to hell. Fifteen years later, there’s a prison break in the underworld and the Devil makes Stone a deal: return to Earth, track down and return the 113 escaped souls, and earn a second chance at life. Bounty hunting + damned souls = awesome.
3. The Man With No Name
C’mon, it’s Clint. The Man With No Name more or less re-invented the western, as well as cementing the idea of the laconic anti-hero in American culture.
4. Boba Fett
Fett’s like Eastwood’s Man With No Name in a helmet and jet-pack. Forget everything that’s been done to and with this guy since 1983, when he first showed up in Empire Strikes Back, you knew he was a badass. He didn’t speak more than a dozen words in Empire or Return of the Jedi, and he still managed to become one of the most (if not the most) popular characters in the trilogy.