''Young Guns'' is a 1988 [[TheWestern Western]] action film featuring an AllStarCast in a dramatized retelling of the adventures of UsefulNotes/BillyTheKid during the Lincoln County War, which took place in New Mexico in 1877-1878.
William "Billy The Kid" Bonney (Emilio Estevez) is a young man who's hired by a cattle rancher named John Tunstall in Lincoln County, New Mexico, to protect his property. After a disagreement with a fellow rancher named Murphy (Jack Palance) results in Tunstall's death, Billy and several other men working at the farm, including Richard Brewer (Charlie Sheen), Gordon "Doc" Spurlock (Creator/KieferSutherland), Jose Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips), "Dirty" Steve Stephens (Dermot Mulroney) and Charlie Bowdre (Casey Siemaszko) convince a lawyer friend to deputize them and let them get revenge on one of Murphy's men.
The newfound group of deputies handle the situation by shooting Murphy's man and a group of his men without arresting them. What follows is a collision course as the six men run afoul of the local law enforcement, Murphy himself and the army, while the populace grows to respect and idolize their exploits. Many of the newfound outlaws die along the way as they try to evade the authorities and carve out an existence for themselves.
The film proved popular enough to warrant a sequel, ''Film/YoungGunsII'', which was released in 1990.
Though the films played ''very'' [[ArtisticLicenseHistory fast and loose with a lot of the details]] of the Lincoln County War and Billy's role in it, they are nonetheless held up as one of the better retellings in modern times.
!!This film contains examples of the following tropes:
* AgeLift: Tunstall is depicted as an older British gent (Terence Stamp in this version), when in fact, he was 24 when ambushed and killed. He was 4 years older than William Bonney.
* AmbiguouslyBrown: Chavez, who is Mexican-Navajo, played by Lou Diamond Phillips, who is of Filipino, Spanish, and Cherokee descent.
* AnachronismStew: In the opening sequence, at least two characters are seen brandishing Smith and Wesson Model 1899 double action revolvers. That model of revolver wouldn't be made for another 21 years after the events shown in the film.
** In real life, Alexander [=McSween=] died in the middle of a furious shootout, while the movie shows him being gunned down by US army soldiers for no apparent reason at a time when there was no other shooting by anyone.
** Lawrence Murphy was not present at the actual final battle of the Lincoln County War, nor was he shot by Billy the Kid as the movie depicted. In fact, he was in extremely poor health at the time, and died of cancer a few months later.
* BadAssCrew: The Regulators.
* BadAssLongCoat: Many characters wear one, of the Old West "Duster" variety.
* BandOfBrothers: Though the group itself uses the term "pals" to mean the same thing.
-->'''William Bonney:''' "If you got three or four good pals, why, then you got yourself a tribe. Ain't nothin' stronger than that."
* BattleCry: "Regulators!" Notably, Chavez yells it when he [[TheCavalry arrives with the additional horses]] at the end of the final shootout.
* BoomHeadshot: [[spoiler:How Billy kills Murphy at the end]].
* BountyHunter: An exceptionally badass and old one named [[MeaningfulName Buckshot Roberts]] takes on Billy the Kid's entire gang by himself.
--> '''Dick Brewer:''' We've got a warrant for you, old man.
--> '''Buckshot Roberts:''' I ain't got no business with that war no more, peckerhead son of a bitch. I'm on my own. I've come to pick up the 150 dollars Sheriff Brady has put out for the Kid. The rest of you little shits're only worth about 110, but I'll take it.
--> '''Doc''': What a sweet disposition.
--> '''Buckshot Roberts:''' All right, let's dance. (starts shooting)
* TheCameo: Country musician Randy Travis had an uncredited cameo as the gatling gun operator stationed in front of [=McSween=]'s farm.
* CatchPhrase: "Yoohoo! I'll make you famous..."
* CynicismCatalyst: Charlie goes through one long case of this throughout the film, having realized that the group's actions will inevitably lead to their messy deaths. By the time they're trapped at the [[=McSween=] farm, he eventually realizes the futility of the situation and decides to act recklessly to save his friends.
* DeadStarWalking: Creator/CharlieSheen's character, Richard "Dick" Brewer, shows up just long enough to establish friction with Billy before being ruthlessly gunned down by an assassin soon after the group's formation.
* DeathByAdaptation: While several of the outlaws who participated in the Lincoln County War survived and went on to live for many more years, they are killed off in the films to provide narrative weight. [[spoiler:In real life, Charlie Bowdre died during the Stinking Springs shootout, but he dies in the first film in the final shootout at the [=McSween=] farm]].
* DeathByCameo: Creator/TomCruise appears in an uncredited role as one of Murphy's men who's shot by Charlie as he's running down the outdoor stairs during the final shootout.
* DecoyProtagonist: After being established as the moral voice of the group, the film has Dick Brewer ultimately appear long enough to create the Regulators but dies after an assassin ambushes him. He doesn't even live long enough to see the group become famous.
* GilliganCut: Used when Doc is briefly back in Lincoln to visit Yen Sun while the rest of the pals are elsewhere and discussing whether Doc is really coming back, as he's been gone a long time.
-->'''Billy:''' He'll come back. Doc likes me.
-->'''Doc:''' I can't stand him.
* GreatEscape: One thing Billy was great at: breaking out of jail or getting out of death traps.
%%* TheGunfighterWannabe: Charlie.
* GunsAkimbo: During the final shootout at [=McSween=]'s farm, Billy duel-wields revolvers and fires them at the same time after jumping out from the chest.
* TheGunslinger: Billy, though notable for [[GuileHero using treachery]] rather than a fast draw to get the drop on opponents.
* HiddenDepths: Billy shows he is quite adept at reading current events. Something the other Regulators were implied to be taught how to do so.
* IntoxicationEnsues: "Did you see the size of that chicken?"
* TheIrishMob: A western variation of it: Murphy's organization - which monopolized a lot of businesses and ranching throughout Lincoln County - is pretty much made up of gangsters in dusters and cowboy boots. When Brit Tunstall shows up looking to compete in the markets, Irishman Murphy doesn't take it very well...
* ItWorksBetterWithBullets: Billy the Kid does this to a bounty hunter. Pretending to be awestruck by the bounty hunter's boasts, he asks if he can touch the gun with which the hunter plans to kill Billy the Kid. The bounty hunter hands it to him, and Billy secretly unloads it before handing it back. Billy then reveals his true identity. The bounty hunter tries firing several times with the empty gun before Billy shoots him down.
* KnifeNut: Chavez, who wields a dagger which he throws at enemies and uses their bodies to wipe the blood off.
* LargeHam: A good amount of scenery chewing takes place by Estevez, but Palance as mob boss Murphy outclasses even that.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Doc has several moments of self-reflection where he laments what's happened, especially after the Regulators kill a turncoat and the man they were sent to arrest, and Doc looks on in shock at the lifeless corpses in the area. This motivates his eventual decision to reform for a time and become a teacher.
* NobleSavage: Chavez, who's referred to as "the Indian" a few times, is portrayed as "the wise one" of the bunch and acts as a de facto shaman during the peyote sequence, bordering on MagicalNativeAmerican.
* SmallRoleBigImpact: For a one-scene character, Buckshot Roberts gets one of the best speeches in the film, single-handedly holds off the entire group and kills Brewer. Even when the group fires several rounds into the outhouse he's hiding in, they are forced to run and can't confirm if he actually died, leaving his fate ambiguous.
* SociopathicHero: Billy consistently behaves as one. He is excited every time there is bloodshed, and kills perhaps more people than any of his companions, often ignoring the original plan they agreed on just so he can kill more opponents. He pretty much [[NiceJobBreakingItHero single-handedly screws up Henry Hill's arrest]] by gunning him point-blank instead of arresting him, and leads to six more deaths on the spot, and makes the Regulators outlaws.
-->'''Billy:''' By the way, you're under arrest! (Chuckle)
** He begins to change in the sequel after [[spoiler: Tommy dies]].
* TakingYouWithMe: During the final shootout, [[spoiler:Charlie takes out Kinney with his dying breath before collapsing dead on the ground]].
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill: Murphy and his men use a ''gatling gun'' to unload more than 30 rounds into [[spoiler:Alex McSween]], even though the gang has already escaped and the character has made no violent action towards them.
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: Although wildly embellishing a lot of the details of the Lincoln County War and Billy the Kid's part in it, both films were relatively better at sticking to the facts than a lot of earlier re-tellings.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: While the real-life Buckshot Roberts died the day after killing Dick Brewer (due to sustained injuries), the film version is left in ambiguous circmstances. The Regulators are forced to retreat after Brewer dies, and can't check to see if Roberts is dead inside the outhouse he's hiding in because Murphy's posse are already on their way and they don't want to risk more casualties.
** Yen Sun disappears between the first and second films after riding off with Doc, and her whereabouts are never explained. Though Doc does mention that he has a wife and son in ''II'', he never refers to her by name and her reaction to [[spoiler:his death at Stinking Springs]] is never shown.
* YoungGun: TheMovie