Butch Cavendish is a murderous outlaw of the Old West and archenemy of The Lone Ranger and his Indian friend Tonto.
Cavendish was the sadistic leader of a gang of merciless bandits who stopped at nothing to gain riches and power. He orchestrated the ambush at Bryant's Gap that supposedly claimed the lives of a posse of Texas Rangers led by Captain Daniel Reid. With a man named Collins (who was actually a spy for Cavendish) as their guide, a posse of six Texas Rangers were on their way to capture Cavendish and his gang, but they were intentionally misled by Collins about where the gang was hiding; the Rangers were ambushed by Cavendish and his men who had taken up positions on both sides of the Gap. The outlaws continued firing on the Rangers from their positions until they were sure that all of them were dead. Convinced they were all gone, Cavendish and his gang went on about their business, but unbeknownst to them one Ranger, Daniel's younger brother John, was found to be still alive and was nursed back to health by an Indian named Tonto, a childhood friend. John made sure his own grave marker lay next to that of Dan and his fellow Rangers, then donned a mask and outfit that marked his status as The Lone Ranger. As the Lone Ranger, John kept his survival a secret and rode the Plains with Tonto bringing justice to a lawless land.
With Tonto's help, one of the Lone Ranger's first achievements was the smashing of Cavendish's gang and the eventual capture of Cavendish himself. The Lone Ranger and Tonto had gradually rounded up other members of his gang and were chasing Cavendish himself when he shot at them from ambush killing the Lone Ranger's horse; as they continued their pursuit the Lone Ranger had found and rescued a powerful mustang from a fight with a buffalo. Calling the horse Silver, the Lone Ranger trained it and, with the new horse's help, was able to finally catch up with and capture Cavendish. Some members of his gang were hanged while Cavendish and the others were sent to prison for life.
Cavendish was the last surviving member of his gang by the time the show's 20th anniversary episode "The Return of Butch Cavendish", aired. In this episode Cavendish escaped from prison to find the Lone Ranger; he catches up with him and his nephew Dan Reid Jr. at Bryant's Gap and from the top of the gap 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 fight furiously. The Lone Ranger temporarily fights Cavendish off, and when he charges at him to finish him off 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 makes one last weak attempt to grab the Lone Ranger by the throat.
The depravity of Butch Cavendish created not one but four icons of justice: aside from the Lone Ranger and Tonto in the late 19th Century, by the first half of the 20th Century, Dan Reid's grandson Britt would become the vigilante Green Hornet, assisted by his valet Kato. (The Green Hornet radio show was created and first aired three years after the Lone Ranger debuted.)
Several actors have portrayed Cavendish on the radio and on the television screen, and at least one on the silver screen. In 1981's The Legend Of The Lone Ranger, Cavendish was portrayed by Christopher Lloyd as a disgruntled Army Officer seeking revenge on the US Government by kidnapping President Ulysses S. Grant. He ambushed and killed the Texas Rangers to keep them from interfering with his plans, but the Lone Ranger and Tonto rescued the President, who all but swore to see Cavendish hang for his crimes.
The Lone Ranger (2013)
- Main article: Butch Cavendish (2013 film)