Butch Cavendish is the ruthless leader of a band of outlaws and is the archenemy of the Lone Ranger in the original radio and TV series and in the 1981 film. He is the secondary antagonist in the 2013 film.

History[edit | edit source]

Cavendish is an outlaw leader and the most frequently used foe of the Lone Ranger. He has appeared in somewhat different forms in radio broadcasts, TV episodes, comic books, print stories and movies. In all media, Butch Cavendish is a sadistic outlaw who robs and kills just for the sake of doing it. His actions attracted the attention of the Texas Rangers and Captain Dan Reid.

Cavendish secretly hired a scout named Collins to act as a guide for Reid and his band of Rangers (In some versions, Collins was secretly a member of Cavendish's gang while in others he was a Ranger who Cavendish bribed), luring them into a narrow pass called Bryant's Gap where Cavendish and his men were waiting in ambush.

Convinced that all six of the Rangers were dead, Cavendish continued about his business. Unfortunately for him, one of the Rangers, Dan's younger brother John (the name John was first used in the 1981 movie), survived after being found by Tonto, who had nursed him back to health. As he recovered, John vowed to bring Cavendish and his gang to justice. He took on the identity of the Lone Ranger and set out after the gang. Over an unspecified period of time, the Masked Man and Tonto pursued and captured most of the other members of the gang including Collins, causing Cavendish's organization to disintegrate. Eventually, the Lone Ranger caught up with Cavendish himself, who was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for his crimes. Cavendish went on to be the last surviving member of his gang as the others were either killed before their arrest, executed by hanging, or died while in prison.

In the radio series' 20th anniversary episode "The Return of Butch Cavendish", the outlaw escaped from prison to hunt down the Lone Ranger; he catches up with him and his nephew Dan Reid Jr. at Bryant's Gap and from an elevated position begins firing on them grazing the Lone Ranger's shoulder. Unaware of who is doing the shooting, The Lone Ranger has Dan fire back as a diversion while he sneaks up behind the shooter. Seeing that it's Cavendish, the Lone Ranger attacks him and the two mortal enemies fight furiously. The Lone Ranger temporarily fights Cavendish off, but when he charges at him to finish him once and for all the Lone Ranger manages to throw him over the cliff. The Lone Ranger then takes off his mask and forces the mortally injured Cavendish to see his face, making sure that Cavendish would die knowing the true identity of the man who ended his criminal reign, the sole survivor of the massacre at Bryant's Gap. Cavendish recognizes him but swears he saw him die. Furious that the man who broke up his gang was a survivor of the ambush, Cavendish finally dies as he weakly makes one last attempt to grab the Lone Ranger by the throat.

Radio[edit | edit source]

The Lone Ranger, at first, had no origin story. But after the 1938 serial introduced the ambush idea, this origin was incorporated into the radio program. Bill Saunders played Cavendish on the radio program.

Glenn Strange as Butch Cavendish.

Television[edit | edit source]

Glenn Strange played Cavendish in the three-part origin story of the television show. After the ambush of the Rangers the Cavendish Gang embark on a plan to take over the town of Colby. The plan is foiled by the Lone Ranger and Cavendish is sent to jail.

Cavendish was not featured in the 1980-82 Filmation animated version of The Lone Ranger.

The Legend of the Lone Ranger[edit | edit source]

In 1981's "The Legend of the Lone Ranger," Christopher Lloyd portrayed disgraced former Union Army Major named Bartholomew Cavendish. This version of Cavendish was nicknamed "Butcher" or "Butch" because of his brutality in the Civil War. After being court-martialed by General Ulysses S. Grant and cashiered out of the Union Army, Cavendish travelled to Texas and formed his own private army. When Dan Reid and the Rangers tried to arrest him, he arranged the ambush in Bryant's Gap.

Christopher Lloyd as former Union Army Major Bartholomew "Butch" Cavendish.

Once the Rangers were out of the way, Cavendish managed to kidnap President Grant in an attempt to get him to sign a document declaring Texas a sovereign nation. Fortunately, the Lone Ranger and Tonto were able to stop Cavendish and rescue the president.

Dynamite Entertainment[edit | edit source]

Dynamite Entertainment's Butch Cavendish

In the 2006 Dynamite Entertainment comic book series Butch Cavendish likes to run things more behind-the-scenes. This version of Cavendish is a politician and railroad magnate who orders the ambush of the Rangers from several states away. The Lone Ranger is able to piece together enough information to trace it all back to Cavendish, however.

The Lone Ranger 2013[edit | edit source]

In the 2013 Disney Productions / Bruckheimer Studios production of The Lone

William Fichtner as Butch Cavendish in the 2013 movie "The Lone Ranger"

Ranger, Butch Cavendish is played by William Fichtner as a sadistic madman who heads an outlaw band of mercenaries. He not only robs and murders, but delights in eating parts of his victims' bodies. Following the ambush at Bryant's Gap, Butch cuts out Dan Reid's heart and eats it. Later in the movie it is implied that he once ate the prostitute Red Harrington's right leg, forcing her to wear an ivory prosthetic thereafter. Tonto explains Butch's inhuman actions by claiming he is a cannibalistic evil spirit, called a wendigo. He dies in the film by jumping off a car which was not on rails then gets run over by a train.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • In the 2013 movie, he is portrayed by William Fichtner.
  • Glenn Strange, who played Cavendish on TV, also played Frankenstein's Monster in several Universal Studios movies. He is better known as "Sam", Miss Kitty's bartender at the Long Branch on the TV series Gunsmoke.
  • He was responsible for The Lone Ranger's transformation because he killed his brother, Dan Reid Sr.
  • In the TV series, Cavendish's gang was sometimes referred to as "The Hole in the Wall Gang." This may be a nod to the historical Hole in the Wall Gang led by the similarly-named Butch Cassidy.
  • Unlike the old films and T.V. shows, he dies in the 2013 movie.
  • In the 2013 movie, he's the brother of Latham Cole.
  • In Disney Infinity's Lone Ranger Play Set which takes place after the movie, he somehow survives getting run over by a train and instead dies from falling rocks.
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