I’ve been obsessed with moustaches for as long as I can remember. And it all comes down to my love of Westerns.


I use an illustration of a moustache to break up every single one of my wordy reviews. Hell, I even have two extremely iconic moustaches tattooed on my legs. So ranking the best moustaches (or mustaches) in Western movies and TV shows was DEFINITELY the most appropriate topic to celebrate my 250th review.


I was born ready to write this piece. Let’s go.

But First: Is it Moustache or Mustache?

Are we talking about the best “moustaches” in Westerns, or the best “mustaches” in Westerns? First you ‘mustache’ yourself this important question: which variation of English do you use?


Americans love a good ol’ mustache, while people from the UK appreciate a formidable moustache. Canadians use a hybrid of American and UK English in our daily writing (plus a little French Canadian for those perplexing spellings like litre, colour, flavour, and fibre). Our vocabulary is a hot mess of both worlds that regularly confuses TF out of even professional writers like myself.


So really, you can use whichever spelling you want, as long as you keep talking about the awesomeness of moustaches.

How Were These Moustaches Ranked?

I’m a serious journalist, doing serious journalism over here. This isn’t just some random list that I got drunk and wrote down, although beers were involved in the ranking because beer and Westerns are the perfect pairing.


Each actor in each category is nominated for a single moustachioed performance in a Western. He may have had multiple amazing Western moustaches across his career, but he can only be ranked for ONE per category.


I chose which one.


But I recognize my personal bias, so I devised a system using a 1-5 scale, then asked a celebrity guest judge (okay, it was my husband) to help me rank each moustache on these critical elements:


  • Density – This one is pretty obvious: it’s about a thick, healthy set of whiskers.
  • Tidiness – This rating is tricky because some soup-catchers go through stages throughout the movie/show, in which they are freshly trimmed or wild. A cookie duster can still look great when it’s not freshly shaven, so this is really in the eye of the beholder.
  • Length – Is the flavour-saver an appealing length on the face (which can be dramatic OR conservative)? Is it a functional length, or is it curling over the lip, getting in the way of Western activities like eating and smoking?
  • Style – Is the nose neighbour kind of just part of the overall facial hair situation, or does it have its own personality? Does it bring any flare, such as curls or points? None of these are necessary, and again, in the eye of the beholder.
  • Authenticity – Does the bro-merang look authentic to the era? And does it look like it’s the actor’s moustache, or entirely fake, or like the actor’s real moustache got some lift/tint/volume added for effect?

THEN I polled my Facebook group to get even more input, and to spread the moustache love.

Presenting The Best Moustaches in Westerns

Finally, the reason you’re all here – the awards segment of our event.


They are broken out into four categories.

  1. Best Moustache on a Hero or Anti-Hero
  2. Best Moustache on a Villian or Nemesis
  3. Best Moustache on a Supporting Character
  4. Most Memorable Background Moustache

There’s also plenty of wiggle room to add more nominees later and shuffle the rankings, in case I’ve missed an iconic Western moustache – or if an award-worthy one appears in a new production later on.


Category 1: Best Moustache on a Hero or Anti-Hero

1. TIE: Kurt Russell, Tombstone; Sam Elliott, 1883

Kurt Russell’s moustache in Tombstone is a thing of shapely, stylish awesomeness that moustache artists must study to attain greatness. Everyone on the set of Tombstone except one actor grew authentic facial hair for their roles – or just rocked what they already had, in the case of Sam Elliott. Knowing that fact makes Russell’s all the greater.


screenshot of kurt russell in tombstone


Sam’s moustache is arguably the most famous of all time, and the one all other moustaches aspire to be. It was hard to choose which one of his to nominate, but in 1883 his whiskers tell as much of a story as his dialogue. The moustache speaks of time and experience, of successes and failures and a life lived.


sam elliott in 1883


Both actors achieved near-perfect scores.


2. Tom Selleck, Last Stand at Saber River

You can’t fight me, or Chandler Bing, about the greatness of Tom Selleck’s moustache.


Choosing one of his to nominate took me FOREVER. They all have a defined part in the middle, if you look closely… and let me tell you, looking closely at this moustache was a highlight of my day. This particular moustache of his was my top pick for the sheer novelty of seeing Selleck’s naturally dense lip duster venture out into handlebar territory.


screenshot of tom selleck on horseback in last stand at saber river


3. David Oyelowo, Bass Reeves

This ‘stache takes on quite a few different shapes throughout the course of the show, and all of them look great. At its peak, Oyelowo’s upper lip is capped with a thick, neatly styled duster that turns up at the ends in a pleasing and flattering way.


david oyelowo as bass reeves


4. Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight

All of the top four moustaches on this list were extremely close in points, including this one! Jackson’s salt-and-pepper moustache appears to wind into a full curl at the ends in some of his scenes. It’s a little unruly, but that suits the movie’s setting to a tee.



5. Viggo Mortensen, Appaloosa

The character of Everett Hitch may be quiet, but Mortensen’s moustache commands the damn room. Although his moustache in The Dead Don’t Hurt is also solid, the overall shape and style of his facial follicles in Appaloosa deserve the highest praise.


viggo mortensen in appaloosa


6: Timothy Olyphant, Deadwood: The Movie

I wasn’t a fan of Seth Bullock in the first two seasons of Deadwood, but I can NOT deny the power of that moustache. In the 2019 movie, both the character and his thick, shapely moustache are the law in Deadwood. The downside is that it’s fake.


screenshot of timothy olyphant in deadwood: the movie


7. Christian Bale, Hostiles

Bale’s moustache in Hostiles is HUGE. Just massive. You could lose something in that moustache, and frequently that thing is Bales’ mouth. It’s a little unkempt in most scenes, but that’s what makes it so authentic. The shape really accentuates the character’s grim facial expressions.


screenshot of christian bale in hostiles


8. Jeff Bridges, Wild Bill

I love me some Wild Bill Hickok. Like the movie’s plot, Bridges’ moustache is a little uneven – but he still looks absolutely friggin’ great, and visually speaking, he’s one of my two favourite cinematic Wild Bills. The other one is also on this list.


screenshot of jeff bridges as wild bill


9. Robert Duvall, Open Range

One of the best Westerns of all time in my humble opinion, Open Range features Duvall looking his finest in a moustache styled into a neat horseshoe shape. It’s a little thinner than some of the other ‘staches in the category, but it’s just right for the character.


screenshot of robert duvall in open range


Fan Favourite: Richard Farnsworth, The Grey Fox

“Farnsworth’s moustache in The Grey Fox reads so much of his character. Well kept, but also not at all hiding itself. Also gets my vote for the mustache most natural to the face it inhabits.” – Rex Harris


screenshot of richard farnsworth in the grey fox


Category 2: Best Moustache on a Villain or Nemesis

1. Powers Boothe, Tombstone

There are a lot of Tombstone moustaches on this list, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that they swept the win in two categories. And not just because I’m a judge and it’s my website.


Boothe’s moustache is EPIC. I could stare at it all day. He achieved the only perfect score in all categories, racking up half-a-point more than his Tombstone co-stars Sam Elliott and Kurt Russell.


screenshot of powers boothe in tombstone


2. Peter Sarsgaard, The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Despite Bartholomew Bogue’s utter creep factor, you can’t help but want to stare at his moustache.


He’s got this thick horseshoe shape going on, cleanly separated from his beard so it can stand on its own. The topline is great, and the length is fantastic.


screenshot of peter sarsgaard in the magnificent seven (2016)


3. TIE: Ian McShane, Deadwood Seasons 1-3; Michael Biehn, Tombstone

These two characters may have bad tempers, but they sure do have good moustaches.


screenshot of ian mcshane in deadwood


If you want dark and sinister, look no further than McShane’s glistening moustache. It’s as black and pointy as his character. Meanwhile, Biehn’s handlebar heightens the sharpness of Johnny Ringo’s predatory gaze.


screenshot of michael biehn in tombstone


4. Lee Van Cleef, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

This is such a good moustache that it pains me to put it in fourth place – and it was a difference of only a half point. His lip accessory in this movie isn’t dramatic, because it doesn’t need to be. You can appreciate the shape without getting distracted from the gleaming glare of Angel Eyes.


lee van cleef in the good the bad and the ugly


5. Alan Rickman, Quigley Down Under

Rickman’s moustache in Quigley is a little shorter and thinner than his co-star Selleck’s, but it’s still quite impressive and a fan favourite. Its length and shape make it totally practical for doing dastardly things in the sweltering heat of the Aussie Outback.


screenshot of alan rickman in quigley down under


6. Jorge Rivero, The Last Hard Men

Rivero was carpeted with such thick, black hair that he probably already had a five o’clock shadow on one cheek when he finished shaving the other. His moustache in The Last Hard Men is neat and glorious, if a little too perfect for a criminal on the run for a long time.


screenshot of jorge rivero in the last hard men


7. Gian Maria Volontè, For a Few Dollars More

Indio is one of the most epic Western villains of all time, and Volontè’s moustache in this film is no slouch either. It’s kind of unhinged and makes its own rules, just like the character.


gian maria volontè in for a few dollars more


8. Alfred Molina, Maverick

If you want to see one of the best handlebar moustaches in cinematic history, look no further than Molina as Snidley Whiplash. While his facial hair in Maverick can’t compare, it’s still got a good shape and length.


screenshot of alfred molina in maverick


Lifetime Achievement: Yosemite Sam, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

This pint-sized badass and his mighty ginger moustache appeared in 33 cartoons between 1945 and 1964, harassing the popular leads. He was based on the artist, Friz Freleng, who was also short, fiery, and red-bearded.


screenshot of a yosemite sam cartoon


Category 3: Best Moustache on a Supporting Character

1. Keith Carradine, Deadwood Season 1

Carradine is my absolute favourite Wild Bill Hickok. Look at that face! It was a crime that he didn’t last long in Deadwood. This moustache is thick yet tidy, well-shaped, and everything you need in authentic Western whiskers.


keith carradine in deadwood


2. Kurt Russell, The Hateful Eight

Technically there is no real lead in The Hateful Eight, but based on how much time the audience gets with their characters, I put Samuel L. Jackson in the hero category, and Russell in this one. Are you really going to argue any logic that gets this EPIC beast of a natural ‘stache on the list?! Most unique in any category, hands down.


kurt russell in the hateful eight


3. Wilford Brimley, Crossfire Trail

Crossfire Trail is an amazing Western, with a heaping serving of moustaches. Brimley’s is the most impressive of the bunch, with its bushy density and twirled tips. It gives me so much joy to look at it, every single time I rewatch this movie.


wilford brimley in crossfire trail


4. Tim Rozon, Wynonna Earp Seasons 1-4

It pleases me to my core that there are TWO Doc Hollidays on this list. Tim Rozon’s thick, dark moustache may be a far cry from the real Doc Holliday’s pale blond locks, but this Doc is also an immortal demon fighter so I think we can accept a few more tweaks to the character.


screenshot of tim rozon in wynonna earp


5. Brad Dourif, Deadwood Seasons 1-3

Doc Cochran is such a quiet character that I almost forgot he had such a wonderful moustache until mere moments before sending out the voting poll. But it’s truly excellent, especially the way the ends curve under his chin in some scenes.


brad dourif in deadwood


6. Val Kilmer, Tombstone

I thought Kilmer was a shoe-in for first place in any category, but now that I’ve spent hours zooming in on photos of all of these moustaches, I can see how his Tombstone co-stars edged him out in points. But only slightly – it’s slim and dandy, just like Doc Holliday. His placing speaks to the quality of all moustaches on this list.


val kilmer in tombstone


7. TIE: Jason Robards, Once Upon a Time in the West; John Hurt, The Proposition

These two actors sport wild, unkempt moustaches while playing wild, unkempt men.


jason robards in once upon a time in the west


Neither is perfectly trimmed and styled, but both are exactly correct for these gritty characters.


john hurt in the proposition


8. Burl Ives, The Big Country

Make no doubt about it, this is a strong moustache. The only reason it’s not higher up on the list is because it kind of gets lost in the overall look of his massive beard and bushy eyebrows. Still completely worthy of applause.


screenshot of burl ives in the big country


9. Ethan Hawke, The Magnificent Seven (2016)

It was a tough choice between Hawke’s moustache in The Kid and in this movie, because both are contenders. But his ‘stache in The Magnificent Seven just fits the character completely in how it kind of comes apart throughout the film.


ethan hawke looking rattled in the magnificent seven


Category 4: Most Memorable Background Moustache

1. Sam Waterson, Godless

Although his screen time in Godless was brief, Waterson’s hearty soup-catcher made a lasting impression in my household. It could hold its own against many of the top contenders in other categories.


screenshot of sam waterson in godless


2. Barry Corbin, Crossfire Trail

Corbin’s moustache has appeared in plenty of movies and TV, and it’s always a thing of beauty. His character in Crossfire Trail is kind of the worst, but his moustache is tops – even out of focus, next to Tom Selleck (because that’s the only photo I could find!).


barry corbin standing with tom selleck in crossfire trail


3. Keith David, The Quick and the Dead

As the covert gun-for-hire Sgt. Cantrell, David’s moustache lingers on your mind even longer than his character’s brief time in The Quick and the Deads town of Redemption.


keith david in the quick and the dead


4. Nick Searcy, The Old Way

This moustache is tidy, well-shaped, and significantly more pleasing to look at than co-star Nicholas Cage’s.


nick searcy in the old way


5. Josh Brolin, Into the West

Brolin has given us some seriously great facial hair throughout his career, including True GritOuter Range and No Country for Old Men. Although this particular miniseries was totally forgettable, his moustache was not.


josh brolin in into the west