Already have an account?
Get back to the

Best Westerns on Netflix: 10 Pistol-Packing Standouts, Ranked

Tip your ten-gallon hat to 10 of the streaming service’s top selections in the genre.


With all due respect to John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn, who, in 1969’s True Grit says, “Looking back is a bad habit,” we’re going to take a shot at looking back at some of the best Westerns on Netflix that you should saddle up on your couch to watch. After all, as Rooster also said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

The Western, after all, is a tricky genre, as it’s evolved a great deal since its heyday from 1940 to 1960, often referred to as the Golden Age of the Western. Directors like John Ford, Anthony Mann, Sam Peckinpah, William Wyler and Sergio Leone were among the biggest and the best in the field at that time, but a lot has changed in the past to 60 to 80 years.

“One of the things that’s actually really exciting about the Western genre is probably more than any other genre that there is — even though they all take place 100 and something years ago — Westerns reflect the decade in which they were made more than musicals, more than period dramas, even comedies, actually,” Quentin Tarantino has noted.

“The westerns of the 50s reflected an Eisenhower America in every way, shape and form,” he explained, and “the 70s reflected a Watergate era, an era of where you didn’t believe in the myths anymore. All those myths you were told about Billy the Kid actually being a cool guy and Jesse James actually being the lovable rogue? ‘Well, those were lies!’ And the 70s took great joy in ripping the scabs off of that and showing you what hadn’t been shown before.”

His best advice on tackling a Western, which he’s taken himself? “If you’re really going to try to make the Western genre really work its magic, then you’ve got to do your version of it,” he noted. “It would be silly for me to try to do a John Ford type movie now.”

Clint Eastwood in ‘High Plains Drifter’
Clint Eastwood in ‘High Plains Drifter’ (1973) Best Westerns on Netflix

Clint Eastwood, a legend in these here parts himself, agrees about the need to put one’s own stamp on any new project … that is, if one can find a good script. “What makes a Western is just a really good story,” he told the American Film Institute, noting that they are often hard to rassle up. “I know I’ve had trouble finding stories over the years when I wanted to do a Western.… Everybody says, ‘Why don’t you do another Western?,’ but it’s easier said than done. Because you don’t have the material. And if people don’t write an interesting take on it, then it doesn’t add up to anything except repeating yourself. Or imitating somebody else.”

And Eastwood and Tarantino have always been true originals, which is why you’ll see them galloping through this list of the Best Westerns on Netflix, below. Forget chilling. It’s time to Netflix and giddy up with one of these 10 offerings.

10 best Westerns on Neflix, ranked

10. The Highwaymen (2019)

This Netflix original chases down the legends of Bonnie and Clyde, but tells its story from the viewpoint of the duo (Frank Hamer and Maney Gault, played by Yellowstone’s Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson) who tracked them down and killed them.

While not a hardcore film of the best westerns on Netflix, it is “a sturdy saga that fulfills all the obligations of the classic Western, just without the horses and six-shooters,” according to The Atlantic. Kathy Bates co-stars as Texas Governor “Ma” Ferguson.

9. The Hateful Eight (2015)

Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Roth headline this Quentin Tarantino take on the genre about a bounty hunter and his prisoner seeking shelter from a blizzard at a stagecoach stopover, where they meet another bounty hunter and some more suspicious characters.

MUST-READ: Kurt Russell Has the Same Hunky Charm He Did in the 70s and 80s — Check Out His Best Movies & TV Shows Over the Years

“The film that I ended up making ends up being a really serious examination of both the Civil War and the post Civil War survivors. But I really was coming more from a mystery angle, creating a little Agatha Christie thing,” Tarantino told EW, which describes it as a “bloody, brain-splattered whodunit” in which “paranoia —and racial rancor — run high.”

8. Silverado (1985)

“The western is back,” raved the Washington Post when this film came out in the 80s, calling it “a Great Rock Candy Mountain of a movie, in which every time you think you’ve hit the summit, [director Lawrence] Kasdan throws on another thrill.” Kevin Costner, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover and Kevin Kline star as the cowboys who take aim against a sneaky sheriff (Brian Dennehy) and the corruption he’s brought to town. Rosanna Arquette and John Cleese co-star.

7. My Heroes Were Cowboys (2021)

Now for something a little different. This is a short documentary about an Australian man named Robin Wiltshire, who had a difficult childhood back home as a boy but found inspiration in Western films, their cowboys, heroes and, most importantly, the horses they rode on.

Now living in America, he trains the animals for movies, such as Django Unchained, and commercials, for companies like Budweiser and Marlboro. Wiltshire’s “whole face [lights] up every time he discusses his passion for horses, Westerns, or recreating the Old Wild West,” says Decider, who called My Heroes Were Cowboys “a mesmerizing, heartfelt meditation on one man’s dream.”

6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen (2000’s O Brother, Where Art Thou?) delivered this unique six-part anthology set on the American Frontier, which Time magazine says “is dazzling to look at” and a “a reinvention of classic literature of the old west [that has] a storybook feel.”

Look for stars such as Tyne Daly, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits and Tim Blake Nelson throughout the Oscar-nominated film, which won Best Screenplay honors at the Venice Film Festival. “Every segment has a unique tone, ensuring that there’s something here for everyone,” Collider promises.

5. Godless (2017) best westerns on Netflix

“Mister, we’re a lot fu—ing stronger than you think we are.” That line from Mary Agnes (Merritt Weaver) sets the tone for this well-received series about a fugitive criminal in the 1880s hiding out in La Belle, New Mexico, which is run mostly by women. When that criminal’s former gang leader closes in on him, the women rally and load up for battle.

Michelle Dockery and Jeff Daniels head up a strong cast. “This isn’t your typical outlaw revenge story,” TV Guide says, adding that “Godless reveals there are still plenty of ways to make the Western seem fresh and exciting.”

4. The Power of the Dog (2021) best westerns on Netflix

In the spirit of all Westerns, it’s time for a duel: Sam Elliott fired multiple shots at this film from New Zealander Jane Campion (The Piano), before apologizing and admitting “I wasn’t very articulate.” “I think it’s really unfortunate and sad for him because he’s really hit the trifecta of misogyny and xenophobia and homophobia.… Plus he’s not a cowboy, he’s an actor,” Campion shot back at the time to Deadline.

Make up your own mind about the movie, which is set on a Montana ranch and examines the story of two brothers (Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons) at odds over one’s new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and stepson, plus internalized secrets. Campion went on to win an Academy Award for Best Director, and the film was the first from a female director to earn more than 10 Oscar nominations.

RELATED: ‘1883’ Star Sam Elliott: 12 Photos of His Life, Love & 50 Years as a Silver-Screen Cowboy

3. Blazing Saddles (1974) best westerns on Netflix

How the West was fun! This irreverent Mel Brooks classic (starring Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn and Harvey Korman) lands at No. 7 on the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s 20 Greatest Westerns Ever Made list, though it notes it’s a divisive entry.

“This film is known as a comedy classic in some circles and a complete misfire in others,” they wrote, while adding that “after nearly three decades of Western films that took themselves seriously, Blazing Saddles took the wagon in the opposite direction and created a controversial and memorable commentary on cowboys and the West.”

RELATED: Mel Brooks Movies and Shows: 27 Surprising Behind-the-Scenes Facts

2. The Harder They Fall (2021)

“This ain’t your grandaddy’s Western!,” Netflix promises of this original, starring Idris Elba, Regina King, Delroy Lindo and Zazie Beetz.

Rolling Stone says this debut from director Jeymes Samuel about Nat Love and “the Old West’s Black cowboys … is a history lesson wrapped in fast, flashy, and fantastical storytelling.” “It’s almost like [130-minute-long] Tombstone was too short a movie. I wanted more!”

Samuel, a fan of the genre from a young age, told The Guardian. “So I’d go and get more information about these characters and then I’d wanna know, where are the Black people? And where are the women?!” The result is this work that uses bits of reggae music to introduce viewers to Nat Love, Stagecoach Mary and outlaw Rufus Black.

1. High Plains Drifter (1973) best westerns on Netflix

Topping our list of Best Westerns on Netflix is a classic. In 2020, an Esquire columnist said this “strange and surreal Western … is Clint Eastwood’s mysterious, overlooked masterpiece.” The Dirty Harry actor stars as an unnamed drifter who, upon landing in a frontier town, “begins to toy with the locals, playing judge, jury, and executioner for their sins” as they fear an approaching gang of outlaws.

Eastwood, directing a film for just the second time in his career, “quickly demonstrated he could make a first-rate frontier-revenge tale as good as anyone else,” Rolling Stone said of the Hollywood legend.

Click through for more Netflix round ups, keep reading!

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Shows on Netflix, Ranked — Sure to Leave Your Heart and Mind Racing!

13 of the Best Mystery Series on Netflix, Ranked — Perfect For Slashing Stress!

11 Best British Crime Dramas, Ranked — Sure to Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.