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The Battle of the Legendary Outlaws (Movie Edition)

Billy the Kid


Pat Garrett

Guns were mildly popular in the Old West.

After watching 3:10 to Yuma last night, I have westerns on the brain. Of course, everybody will agree that Charlie Prince is the king of badassery in that movie and kindly move on. The more important debate here is between that most notorious of outlaws, Billy the Kid, and his dear ol’ friend and reported killer, Pat Garrett. The result of the face-off between the two has never reached a definite conclusion, thanks to Brushy Bill Roberts’ claim in 1950 to be Billy the Kid, and that the scuffle with Garrett did not end in his death after all, oh-ho.

So instead, let’s judge these two based on their actors’ careers after playing them in Young Guns II. Emilio Estevez, all-star member of the Brat Pack and ’80s heartthrob extraordinaire, took on some of his most memorable roles in the years prior to Young Guns. The Breakfast Club, Repo Man, St. Elmo’s Fire, and The Outsiders all debuted in the five years before Young Guns. After presenting the charismatic, lovable, yet still highly deadly Billy for two years, Estevez made the move to comedies and eventually black holes. Men at Work, The Mighty Ducks (and its plethora of sequels), and finally an appearance on Two and a Half Men opposite his brother all nailed the lid to his acting coffin. Estevez’s profile image on IMDB is from Young Guns—his final hurrah.

William Petersen’s career after Young Guns II followed a more serious path to his massive TV starring role: Gil Grissom on CSI. Nine years as the brilliant entomologist have solidified a place in our hearts and memories for Petersen, who will move back to theater after leaving the lab behind. Petersen’s career had only begun when he played Garrett, while Estevez’s was prematurely aged. Petersen slew Estevez, and thus, Garrett does remain victorious in this legend.

Pat Garrett, for the win.