–The Man with No Name to Don Miguel Rojo
An unidentified bounty hunter (best known by nicknames such as "Joe", "Manco", and "Blondie") was active as early as the Civil War and as late as the following decade.
During his time as a ranch hand, the man was constantly at odds with a fellow ranch hand named Carvell. The two faced off in a duel, the man victorious. Carvell was subsequently identified as Monk Carver, a fugitive with a $1,000 bounty, thus prompting the man to quit his position as a ranch hand and take up the profession of bounty hunting.
In the early part of his career, he had partnered with "Foot Sick" Feebly, who possessed a fetish for womens' shoes. After the man happened upon Feebly indulging in that fetish, he preferred to work alone.
Unrest in San Miguel
Sometime in 1873 or after, the man arrived in the small town of San Miguel, which was being run by two rival gangs: the Baxters and the Rojos. The man made friends with the town's saloon owner Silvanito and undertaker Piripero, who nicknamed the man "Joe." After being informed of the town's situation, Joe decided to become a member of the Rojo gang. He earned the interest of Don Miguel Rojo by gunning down four of the Baxters' members who had earlier spooked his mule when he first rode into town. Joe soon took notice of a young woman named Marisol living at the Rojos' home, but was warned to stay away from her.
Later, Joe and Silvanito witnessed a massacre of Mexican soldiers by Ramón Rojo, the toughest and cruelest of the three Rojo brothers. Joe later took two dead soldiers' bodies to a cemetery to pose as survivors and drew both the Rojos and Baxters to the cemetery while he searched the Rojos' house for the gold that Ramon had stolen from the soldiers. Though he eventually found the gold, Joe was interrupted when he accidentally knocked Marisol unconscious and he took her to the Baxters' house. The Baxters were then able to return Marisol the following day to the Rojos in exchange for their captured son Antonio Baxter.
After learning from Silvanito that Ramon had been keeping Marisol as his mistress under the threat of killing her husband and son, Joe decided to help free the poor family from their situation that night. However, he was soon after uncovered by Ramon for his deception and beaten by his men. Joe eventually managed to escape from the Rojos thanks to Piripero's help and witnessed the Rojos massacre the entire Baxter gang under the impression that they were hiding Joe.
After spending the next few days recovering from his injuries in an abandoned silver mine, Joe learned from Piripero that Silvanito had been captured by the Rojos and was being beaten for information on Joe's whereabouts. Joe then returned to town to confront the Rojos. Though Ramon shot Joe several times in the heart, Joe mysteriously kept getting back on his feet. After getting close enough to the gang, Joe revealed that he was wearing a steel plate underneath his poncho and then gunned down the gang, leaving Ramon for last. Unknown to Joe, Esteban Rojo was hiding in an upstairs perch and took aim at Joe, but was shot down by Silvanito before he could fire.
With the town now free from the Rojos, Joe gathered his belongings, bid farewell to Silvanito and rode off.
Hunting El Indio
At another point in time, the man began using his left arm for everything except shooting, thus earning him the nickname "Manco." He began to pursue "El Indio," an escaped prisoner with a large price on his head.
He soon reached El Paso, where he encountered Douglas Mortimer, a fellow bounty hunter also on the trail of Indio. The two decided to work together and Mortimer convinced Manco to join Indio's gang in order to "get him between two fires." Manco subsequently was allowed to be part of Indio's gang by freeing Indio's friend Sancho Perez from prison.
He was sent along with three others to Santa Cruz to rob a bank. While there, Manco killed the other men and sent a false alarm to El Paso to summon the sheriff of El Paso. When Manco returned to Indio alone, Indio accepted his account of the events that took place, despite his ally Groggy's suspicion.
Manco and the gang made their way to Agua Caliente, where Mortimer waited. Manco and Mortimer broke into the strongbox Indio and his gang took from an El Paso bank and hid the money, securing the strongbox before they are caught and taken prisoner by the gang.
Under orders from Indio, they were freed by his lieutenant Niño, but his associate Cuchillo was framed for the act killed by Indio. Indio's gang pursued Manco and Mortimer, and were killed by the men, Mortimer requesting Manco leave Indio for him.
The bounty hunters alone with Indio, Manco observed Mortimer duel Indio, killing him with Manco's pistol. Manco compared a pocketwatch belonging to Mortimer and one in Indio's possession, noting the resemblance between Mortimer and the photos of a young woman within the two pocketwatches. Mortimer confirmed that the photos were of his sister, who had committed suicide while being raped by Indio some time before.
Feeling satisfied in avenging his late sister, Mortimer declined his share of the bounty and left Manco, who loaded up the bodies of Indio and his men into a wagon and rode away along with the money they had hidden.
Search for Confederate gold
During the time of the Civil War, the man had formed a partnership with bandit Tuco Ramírez, who nicknamed the man "Blondie." Their partnership entailed Blondie turning in Tuco for the bounty on his head, then rescuing him just before he was to be executed for his crimes and splitting the bounty.
After Tuco's price reached $2,000, Blondie rescued him from three other bounty hunters and claimed his prize from a local sheriff. As Tuco was about to be hanged, Blondie shot the rope, severing it, and the two escaped on horseback.
Following one more escape, Blondie grew weary of his partnership with Tuco, believing the price on his head would not go up any further. Thus, he ended their partnership and abandoned Tuco in a desert.
Blondie made his way to a town being abandoned by Confederate troops and successfully foiled an ambush by three gunmen inside of a hotel, having heard their spurs outside his door. However, during the commotion, Tuco climbed in through the window and made Blondie prepare to hang himself. Just at that moment, the hotel was shelled by Union forces and Blondie managed to escape.
Tuco managed to track Blondie down again and forced him to march through a desert. The two reached a runaway carriage holding a near-death Bill Carson, who informed Tuco of a cemetery where a cache of gold had been hidden. As Tuco went to retrieve water for Carson, the dying man told the dehydrated Blondie that the gold was buried in a grave marked "Unknown" next to that of Arch Stanton. Carson then died and Blondie told Tuco that he knew where the gold was buried, thus motivating Tuco to let him live, taking him to a nearby mission to recover.
Following Blondie's recovery, the two left the mission in Confederate uniforms from Carson's carriage. However, the two encountered Union soldiers and were taken to a prisoner of war camp. At the camp, Tuco gave into torture by mercenary Angel Eyes, who was disguised as a Union soldier, revealing to him the name of the cemetery and that Blondie knew where the gold was buried. This prompted Angel Eyes to form a partnership with Blondie, agreeing to half of the fortune.
Blondie found Tuco in a nearby abandoned town and decided to resume their partnership and killed Angel Eyes' men, finding that Angel Eyes himself had already escaped.
Blondie and Tuco found their way to Sad Hill, held by Union soldiers. The two "enlisted" in the Union Army and decided to destroy a bridge separating the troops from the Confederate forced, dispersing them so that they could reach the cemetery. As Blondie and Tuco prepared the explosives, they decided to reveal their knowledge of the hidden gold in case one of them died. Tuco revealed to Blondie that the gold was buried in Sad Hill Cemetery while Blondie lied, saying that the gold was buried in Arch Stanton's grave.
After destroying the bridge, Blondie tended to a dying soldier as Tuco stole a horse and made his way to the cemetery. As Tuco rode, Blondie fired a cannon at him, knocking him off his horse before running the rest of the way to the cemetery and digging up Arch Stanton's grave.
Blondie soon made it to the cemetery, encouraging Tuco to continue digging and the two were soon joined by Angel Eyes. Blondie them revealed that he had lied about the location of the gold and offered to write the name on the grave onto the bottom of a rock, challenging Tuco and Angel Eyes to a duel, resulting in Blondie killing Angel Eyes.
Blondie revealed to Tuco that he had written no name on the rock and that the gold was buried in the grave marked "Unknown" next to Arch Stanton. Tuco dug up the gold, only to find himself at the end of Blondie's gun. Blondie ordered Tuco into a noose and stand upon an unsteady grave marker. He took his share of the gold and rode away before shooting the rope and riding away from Tuco for good.
The "Man With No Name", as personified by Clint Eastwood, embodies the archetypical characteristics of the American movie cowboy — toughness, exceptional physical strength or size, independence, and skill with a gun — but departed from the original archetype due to his moral ambiguity. Unlike the traditional movie cowboy, exemplified by actors John Wayne, Alan Ladd and Randolph Scott, the Man with No Name will fight dirty and shoot first, if required by his own self-defined sense of justice. Although he tends to look for ways to benefit himself, he has, in a few cases, aided others if he feels an obligation to. Such examples include freeing Marisol's captive family from the Rojos in A Fistful of Dollars, giving his own pistol to Douglas Mortimer to allow him to get his revenge on El Indio in For a Few Dollars More, and comforting the dying soldier he encounters after the bridge explosion in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
He is generally portrayed as an outsider, a mercenary or bounty hunter, or even an outlaw. He is characteristically soft-spoken and laconic. The character is an oft-cited example of an anti-hero, although he has a soft spot for people in deep trouble. While rescuing Marisol in A Fistful of Dollars, he responds to query about his motives with a curt "I knew somebody like you, once... there was no one to help." This, along with the comment "I never found home that great" and stating that he hails from Illinois (in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), sums up the only personal history the viewer ever receives about the character.
The character's distinctive appearance consists of a battered brown hat with a telescope crown, pin-striped "railroad" shirt, dark blue pants, rough out leather boots, a patchwork sheepskin vest, and an olive green patterned sarape or "poncho". He is usually armed with one revolver with a silver rattlesnake on the grip, which is holstered on a right-handed gunbelt. One of the reasons why The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is considered to be a prequel to the earlier Dollars films is because it shows how the Man gradually acquires this outfit that he wears throughout the first two films; he is given the majority of the clothing (as well as the revolver, gunbelt and holster) by Angel Eyes before they leave the Union prison camp, and he later finds the green poncho lying next to the dead Confederate soldier he had wrapped up in his coat. In the first and second movie, he carried a Colt Single Action Movie, while during the prequel he sported a cartridge converted Colt 1851 Navy. By the release of the comic book sequel, the Man now carries two revolvers instead of one. Other weapons he carries are lever action rifles, a sharps rifle, a machete, and dynamite. In contrast with other Western heroes of the early- to mid-1960s, the Man is unshaven, almost to the point of sporting a full beard. He habitually smokes a cigarillo while working.
Due to budget considerations, Eastwood made the initial investment for his character's appearance and demeanour. Most of the clothing was purchased second-hand in California (with the exception of the sarape or poncho, which was provided by Sergio Leone); the gunbelt and holster were from Eastwood's previous TV series Rawhide. The Man's trademark cigars were also from California; their harshness put Eastwood in what he called a "scratchy mood", which aided in his characterization. The trademark squint was partly due to these cigarros, as well as due to both the intense sunlight on set and Eastwood's allergy to horses.
Director Sergio Leone has admitted that the iconic green poncho, so indelible to the character now, was less a style decision than an attempt on his part to make the conventionally built Eastwood look more like the actor he originally had in mind: American muscleman Steve Reeves, fresh from his years starring in Italian Hercules movies. He found it in Spain where the shooting took place.
In each film he was included in, The Man with No Name was nicknamed by other characters, even if only briefly, to help in identifying him; seeing as he seemingly has no name.
- In A Fistful of Dollars - Joe (Potentially his real name, however only the undertaker Piripero refers to him as this; Clint Eastwood is also credited as "Joe" in the film's end credits)
- In For a Few Dollars More - Manco (Spanish for "one-armed"; he is called this because he supposedly does everything left-handed in the film, except for shooting)
- In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Blondie (only Tuco Ramírez refers to him as this, most likely due to his relatively fair complexion)
- When he "enlists" for the Union at the Battle, the Captain asks for his name. He doesn't respond with a name and instead just says, "Uh..." (just as Tuco does when he is asked for his name). Even though he revealed in this scene that he was from Illinois, he still has no answer for his name; thus keeping to the motif of "the Man with No Name".
- The Man with No Name is known for being a heavy smoker. Unfortunately, this habit allowed Tuco to track him down by the smoked cigars he would leave at his old campfires. But on set Clint preferred to just have an unlit cigar in his mouth, unless he had to be seen definitively smoking the cigar.
- In commentaries for the Dollars Trilogy, it is usually joked that Clint would keep his wardrobe with him, including his hat and famous poncho, instead of letting the crew keep it. That is because if he were to lose any article of his character's clothing everyone would have to hastily find the lost item or find a replacement off-set or else filming of the movie would come to a halt. The Wardrobe Department for each film had no replacements whatsoever for Blondie's attire.
- "Blondie" is the most popular of nicknames for The Man with No Name, mainly because Tuco calls him Blondie more frequently than any other given nickname (even though he is truly not blond but does have lighter hair color than most of the other actors in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).