There is no single "Swiss Army knife" solution because the ports have changed over the years.
Older Macs could of course use FireWire, but then there's FireWire 400 vs FireWire 800. So if it's FireWire 800 to FireWire 400 in either direction, there are different ways to do just that. A FW800/FW400 cable, a FW800/FW800 cable with an adapter to FW400, or a FW400/FW400 cable with an adapter to FW800.
The Thunderbolt 3 machines can all be read in Target Disk Mode by any Mac with a USB port. So that would require a USB-C/USB-C cable and USB-C (female) to USB-A (male) adapter. Maybe a USB-C/USB-A cable. However, I think the big deal will be that anything with an SSD and High Sierra is going to be in APFS or auto-converted to APFS. So you'd need a machine that could read an APFS volume (i.e. loaded with High Sierra).
There are just way too many permutations between target and host machine that there really is no single cable where you can "be prepared". Just considering all flavors of FireWire alone I think it would probably require two cables (FW400/FW400 + FW800/FW800) and a FW800 female to FW400 adapter to cover all the bases.