The Lone Ranger
By Melissa Camacho,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Classic cowboy series still great, but lots of stereotypes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
It's meant to entertain, not educate. But kids will learn about classic TV tropes.
Taming and "civilizing" the West is the ultimate goal, which sometimes involves fighting bad guys, but sometimes looks like killing off Native Americans and their culture. Themes also include friendship, being honorable, loyal, and truthful.
Positive Role Models
Both The Lone Ranger and Tonto conduct themselves by strict moral codes, including shooting only to disarm or defend one's self. They are loyal friends. Tonto reinforces stereotypes of Native Americans, and other Native Americans sometimes appear in exaggerated form.
Violence & Scariness
Shootouts are everyday occurrences; people are frequently shot, injured, and killed, but there's little blood. Attacks, murders, and hangings are frequently discussed.
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"Redskins," "savages," "half-breeds," and "injuns" are commonly used to refer to the Native American and other indigenous groups.
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Products & Purchases
General Mills was a major sponsor of the show, and is noted as such by the narrator at the end of each episode (as was the practice of the time).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
References are made to whiskey. Cigar smoking is sometimes visible, too.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the classic series The Lone Ranger features lots of western-style shoot outs (though little blood), and continual discussions about attacks, murders, hangings, etc. Expect references to General Mills (the show's original sponsor), and occasional cigar smoking. Though it's nostalgic and fun, many of the depictions of, and references to, Native Americans are considered offensive by today's standards, but the show also offers positive messages about friendship and loyalty.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
The popular classic series THE LONE RANGER (1949-1957) tells the quintessential story of the Western hero. When the notorious Butch Cavendish and his gang ambush a posse of six courageous Texas Rangers in a canyon known as Bryant's Gap, only one nameless Ranger (played by Clayton Moore) survives. A stroke of luck brings Tonto (Jay Silverheels), a Native American who, in his youth, was once rescued by the same nameless man. Tonto nurses his Kemo Sabe, or "trusted friend" to health, and teams up with him to stop Cavendish and others who are threatening the Southern Territories. Wearing a mask to protect his identity from his enemies, and with his trusted horse, Silver, and trademark silver bullets, the Lone Ranger rides with Tonto by his side to restore and maintain law and order in the Wild West.
Is It Any Good?
The nostalgic series, which was adapted from a popular 1930's radio show for television, features all the traditional components of the classic Western story, like pitting good guys against obvious bad guys, and highlighting values like courage and patriotism. In this tradition, it also celebrates America's desire to conquer the West, and its efforts to subdue or eliminate those who stand in the way of this progress.
Many folks will bristle at the references to, and depictions of, Native Americans and and other groups, which were standard for the time. But the stories offered here also contain strong, positive messages about friendship and loyalty, as well as fighting for what one believes is right and just. Ultimately, its a series that has earned an important place in popular culture, and one that remains just entertaining today as it was over 60 years ago.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how accurately life in Southwest Territories during this time in history is portrayed in the series. Can you identify any generalizations or stereotypes that are used? If this series were produced today, how would it differ from the classic version?
What makes an older show a "classic" series? Is it the characters? The stories? Specific music, clothes, or themes? What are some of your favorite classic shows? Parents: Are there TV shows that you enjoyed as a kid that you wish were still popular today?
- Premiere date: September 15, 1949
- Cast: Clayton Moore, Jay Silverheels
- Network: Hulu
- Genre: Action
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Horses and Farm Animals
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: June 1, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
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Where to Watch
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