During different periods of his depiction, the Cisco Kid has alternately been bad, good, and good-bad. He was bad with just a touch of Latin redeeming generosity in his portrayal by Warner Baxter in In Old Arizona. He was a good, highly effective, virile protector of the oppressed, nevertheless respectful to señoritas in the manner of Don Quixote, during the Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo period. He was a good-bad do-gooder during the Gilbert Roland cycle.

With respect to the first Cisco Kid sound film, the character is far from good in any conventional sense. He has a certain Latin sense of honor (the original story of Cisco in the Warner Baxter and César Romero era is that his father was Portuguese and his mother was born in San Luis Obispo, California) since he refuses to steal individuals' money when he holds up a stagecoach, taking only the company strongbox. That's about it on the good side of the ledger. He steals cattle, kills other evildoers who are out to steal his ill-gotten money, has plenty of sex with Tonia, and fulfills the denouement of O. Henry's story "The Caballero's Way" by successfully conspiring to have her Anglo lover, Sergeant Dunn, kill her, mistaking her for Cisco.

Cisco starring Duncan Renaldo is a lighthearted, clean-cut hero who is frequently mistaken for a bandit but who instead is a carefree adventurer whose exploits generally center on his ardor for beautiful señoritas. Despite this key motivation, in seven films Renaldo's Cisco kisses a woman only once, in The Cisco Kid Returns, as his gentlemanly code of conduct means that he habitually restricts himself to courtly praise of female beauty. One line specifically is repeated throughout the films: "You are the most beautiful señorita in all the world. On my heart, I swear it." The films are fast-paced and comic, with Pancho, Cisco's sidekick, providing much of the humor. Both Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo make a conscious effort to emulate the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza but without the feebleness and without most of the human frailties.

Gilbert Roland's Cisco is an altogether more earthy character. In contrast to Renaldo's perfectly turned-out, pure, and gentlemanly character, Roland's Cisco is more in the mold of a traditional Western gunslinger. He is undoubtedly a bandit, albeit a Robin Hood whose motives are above reproach, and he constantly smokes and drinks tequila. He is also far less proper in his advances to women, whom he courts far more directly than his predecessor. Renaldo's oft-repeated flirtation is mirrored in this Cisco's penchant for presenting the ladies he admires with necklaces.

Good, Good-Bad, and Bad Depictions of the Cisco Kid