The more that I prep and plan for potential games, the more that I like the idea of pregen characters. High School Me would be furious if he ever found this out.
Though one of my favorite parts of playing RPGs in character creation, it's something that I have a lot of practice doing. When you buy as many games as I have over the past ten years or so and only get a few chances to actually run them, you tend to spend a lot of time making characters in assorted systems. For a system that I'm fairly familiar with, like Savage Worlds or any of the Cinematic Unisystem games, I can whip up a PC in about 5-10 minutes and I'm sure that most experienced RPers can do the same thing. However, point-buy games like these two can often be daunting for the complete novice or occasional gamer. When I did character creation for my failed Deadlands game with my friends, there was a lot of that uncertainty on what they were going to play, until they took a look at the character ideas section of the Deadlands book.
In this way, I think class-based systems really have the edge in terms of novice player buy-in. Roles like Fighter, Magic-User and Thief are iconic: you immediately have a picture in your head of what kind of character you would be as one of those classes. For a western, there are plenty of these iconic roles, but I never really thought that they fit into a traditional class-based structure. So instead, I'm making pregens. For those of my friends who already have an idea of what kind of character they want to play, we can hammer out character creation on our own and hopefully, it'll be a painless experience. But for anyone who just wants to pick an archetype and play, I'ma have them covered.
My list of pregens came from a wide variety of sources, including the Deadlands Reloaded and Wild West Cinema corebooks, as well as countless movies and TV series.
Any other suggestions?