It never occurred to me before, but of course Harry Callahan is just a US version of Commander Bond, who was himself just Bulldog Drummond with added libido.
Like any number of people, I originally saw the character as an update of the Western characters Eastwood had been known for. But those were lawless men in a lawless environment, living by their wits and weapons, as such people must.
The others are different. They are all portrayed as traditionalist guardians of a social structure under threat from within as well as without. The last line of defence for use when all the soft and fluffy ‘modern’ ideas have failed. Big, threatening, brutal men will will finally do what should have been done at the start.
The scary part is that, when I watch an episode of Criminal Minds, and see the BAU team corner some frothing maniac, then try to reason with him, I find myself wishing for good ol’ Dirty Harry to march in and blow the head off that waste of skin!