A New Old Western
that premiered on A&E on June 3, 2012 based on the series of mystery novels by Craig Johnson. It follows the adventures of Walt Longmire, a Wyoming sheriff attempting to keep the peace in his county while recovering from the loss of his recently-deceased wife.
Initially cancelled by A&E after its third season, the series was rescued by Netflix for a fourth season.
This show provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Ed Gorski is one for Vic after it's revealed they carried on an affair when they were both on the force in Philadelphia.
- All-Natural Snake Oil: Elk velvetine is a remedy made from elk pancreas and powdered elk horn. When ingested it can sometimes cause an otherwise healthy young man to develop a debilitating wasting sickness.
- Ascended Extra: Branch. In the book series, his character only appeared in the first book.
- Animal Assassin: A bear is baited into killing a convicted killer who was granted early parole in "The Worst Kind of Hunter".
- Badass: Sheriff Longmire of course. In the premiere he escapes gunfire by counting the exact amount of time it takes to reload that particular gun and running only during the reloading time, as he makes his way to his truck.
- Played with a bit: Longmire is clearly absolutely terrified.
- Back from the Dead: David Ridges... maybe.
To explain: In the season 2 finale, Branch goes to the rez to interrogate Ridges for sabotaging Cady's car, only to learn he's committed suicide and Jacob Nighthorse has ceremonially burned the body. However, when Branch goes to collect ashes for DNA testing, he's assaulted and shot by someone he swears is David Ridges. During surgery, a peyote-laced feather is found inside Branch's wound and DNA tests on the ashes confirm they belong to Ridges, so Longmire thinks Branch simply hallucinated his shooter's identity. However, Branch conducts a test of his own, using a rabbit, his own blood and hair samples, to create more ashes that come back positive as belonging to Ridges. On top of that, Hector positively ID's Ridges as his killer before he expires. However, both Branch's mental state and Hector's condition—scalped, shot, and bleeding to death—cast doubt onto whether or not Ridges really is alive or if the power of suggestion is in play. Ultimately proven right at the end of "Harvest."
- Bait and Switch:
- "Harvest" ends with Vic giving Walt what looks like her two-weeks notice. It turns out to be a list of transgressions Branch has done while on his personal crusade, including lying about abducting a peyote dealer and choking Cady while under the influence of peyote.
- Another one in "Reports of My Death" when Henry goes to visit his girlfriend, Deena Many Camps:
Henry: Deena, I have a question for you.
Henry: (gets down on his knees)
Deena: (tearing up) Oh my god...
Henry: ...Where the hell is my forty thousand dollars?!
- Bears Are Bad News: One Victim of the Week was drugged, tied up, covered in meat and left in an area where a bear was known to live. It was one of the most gruesome crime scenes Longmire and his deputies have ever seen.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- Walt Longmire and Henry are two nice guys who work hard to support their community and do the right thing. But piss either of them off, and God help you.
- Branch is a quite decent man who really believes that he can be a better sheriff than Walt. When he finds out that Cady's car was sabotaged he goes after the perpetrator full bore, not caring that he is digging into things that his most powerful backer would rather leave hidden.
- California Doubling: the series takes place in Wyoming, but is filmed in New Mexico.
- Calling Card: David Ridges puts crow's feathers soaked in peyote in the people he kills. This helps link the man who killed Longmire's wife with the man who attacked Branch.
- Clueless Deputy: The Ferg is something of a joke in the sheriff's office, as Wlat employed him as a favour to his father. However, while he is not much of a street cop, the later seasons do show him to be a canny investigator.
- Cut Short: Due to policies at A&E, the series was cancelled. Read about the details here: http://deadline.com/2014/08/longmire-cancelled-by-ae-will-be-shopped-elsewhere-826379/ As a result of being cancelled, while some plot lines have been resolved, particularly that Walt's wife's murder was orchestrated by Branch's father using Joseph Nighthorse's minion, nothing about the fallout is resolved. The finale for Season 3 ends on a Cliffhanger, leaving a main character's survival uncertain, a villain poised to achieve victory, and Walt possibly about to go after the wrong man.
- Can't Bathe Without a Weapon: When Vic is being stalked by Ed Gorski in "A Good Death is Hard to Find", she starts taking her gun into the shower with her.
- Casual Kink: Ed Gorski did this to Vic during their affair to the point where it freaked her out and made her want to stop the whole thing. He decided otherwise.
- Cell Phones Are Useless: Longmire does not own a cell phone and refuses to buy one.
- Chained to a Railway: A woman who tries to run away from a cult ends up tied up to railroad tracks as a train is approaching. The other members of the cult lie down on the track voluntarily.
- Chekhov's Gun: There's at least one in every episode.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Early in season 3, a religious sect of "White Warriors" is introduced to cast doubt on Branch's story that David Ridges shot him while dressed like one of them. Guess who took Ridges' body in the season finale?
- Cowboy Cop: Walt is a good detective, but a rubbish sheriff, and as he spends less time keeping his workmates in the loop, he risks losing his job.
- His predecessor was one too.
- Crime After Crime: A man starts out by simply buying an illegally manufactured natural remedy for his sick wife. When he cannot afford more he resorts to poaching elk to make it himself. However, he ends up killing a witness and then frames another poacher for the crime. When that fails he adds attempted murder of a police officer to the list when he attacks Walt with a hunting knife. The remedy is primarily All-Natural Snake Oil and he was simply deluding himself into thinking it helped.
- Dark Secret: Something happened in Philadelphia that caused Vic to relocate to Wyoming.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: She blew the whistle on a fellow cop who was involved in corruption. This caused the corrupt cop to kill himself. His partner retaliated against Vic by stalking her. Said partner was also her superior with whom she was carrying on an affair.
- Deadpan Snarker: Walt and Henry
- Death Seeker: Lampshaded in the season two premiere. A group of armed prisoners escape into the mountains and Walt goes after them alone in the middle of a snow storm. The other characters start wondering if Walt is trying to get himself killed. When Walt starts to hallucinate, one of his hallucinations accuses him of this which means that he is actually thinking that dying up on the mountain might be a solution to his problems.
- Department of Child Disservices: Joseph Nighthorse accuses the DCF of being this in "Dog Soldiers" and accuses them of profiting off taking Cheyenne children from perfectly fine homes and he's right, though it also turns out that the "Dog Soldier" who's been abducting them back is Nighthorse himself.
- The Determinator: Branch is a not-so-nice one. To prove that David Ridges isn't dead, he's pulled himself out of a peyote-induced stupor and returns to the job before he's truly ready, but before long he's abducting a local peyote dealer and dosing him with his own product, circumventing protocol and asking friends to perjure themselves, conducting his own forensic test without Walt's knowledge, and more recently ignoring Cady's search for her mom's killer and snooping into Vic's personal laptop to prove himself right.
- Drink Order: Longmire only drinks Rainier brand beer. It becomes important when he crashes his truck and scatters empty beer cans all over the accident scene. He is accused of drinking too much and drinking and driving. He explains that he picks up litter and points out that none of the cans are his brand.
- Subverted in "Of Children and Travelers." Apparently he's not above drinking a Coors if Rainier is not available.
- Evil Is Petty: Ed Gorski has a serious vendetta against Vic for turning his partner in and cutting off their affair.
- Jacob Nighthorse and Barlow Connally will cheerfully screw each other over in any way they can, no matter how minor. Subverted a bit when it's revealed Barlow paid Nighthorse to kill Walt's wife, and that he's also been doing business with Nighthorse's shell companies in return. Doesn't make him like Nighthorse any better, though.
- Faking the Dead: Branch is convinced that David Ridges did this before shooting him. Season 3 episode "Harvest" reveals that this is true.
- Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Cady, midway through Season 2, loses her job at the law firm, and ends up working at Henry's bar (much to Walt's disapproval).
- Flaying Alive: Poor Hector is scalped, shot, and seconds from death when Longmire and his deputies find him.
- Foreshadowing: In the pilot Walt sees an owl outside his window in broad daylight as he's making coffee. In Cheyenne mythology owls are a symbol of foreboding or a messenger of evil things. Later, a stuffed one appears in the background of a scene when he's talking to Dan Estes, who turns out to be the killer.
- Gay Panic: One of Walt's cases turns out to be a case along these lines: A son is unable to handle his father having sex with the local beer distributor.
- Hidden Depths:
- Walt Longmire speaks German, quotes Winston Churchill, and is a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Hand Waved simply with "I read."
- The Ferg in the second season; he goes from cuddly doofus to a very competent and smart investigator.
- Lucian Connally, who fires off shotguns in nursing homes and snarks at anyone and everyone available, is a poet.
- Hit Me, Dammit!: In "8 Seconds", Walt walks into the Red Pony and asks Henry to shock him with a cattle prod. Walt claims to be doing this so he can check if the mark left by the prod matches the marks he found on the victim, but Henry suspects he is doing it to punish himself. After some provocation, Henry obliges.
- Hypocrite: Jacob Nighthorse, full stop. He will happily talk up his heritage when it suits his purposes, but will also cheerfully discard it if it gets in the way of his business enterprises. For example, his paying for Cheyenne graves to be defiled so he can build his casino.
- Also Detective Fales: He gives Longmire a long rant about corruption in small town police departments, yet he himself is revealed to have suppressed evidence pointing to Henry's innocence, as well as to have screwed over a fellow cop, all for the sake of getting a promotion.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Longmire is able to fire his rifle and hit the driver of a moving SUV that is a fair distance from him and driving over very bumpy terrain. Just hitting the car would have been a very good shot. Somewhat justified in that he takes his time and uses a sniper's technique instead of just jamming the rifle into his shoulder and firing.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: A murder suspect incriminates himself when he claims that Longmire has no jurisdiction because the murder occurred on the reservation. However, the official story is that the murder occurred just outside the reservation. Only Longmire, the tribal police chief and the actual murderer know where the real crime scene is.
- Instant Sedation: Averted. Vic is hit with a Tranquilizer Dart meant for a bear and she stays on her feet and talking for quite some time before becoming incoherent and losing consciousness. She is taken to the hospital where she spends some time recovering from the effects. Walt realizes that if the dart was really meant for a bear, the dose would have killed her. The shooter shot her on purpose but did not want to kill her.
- Inspector Javert: Detective Fales from Denver. He's investigating Walt and Henry for the murder of the crackhead who killed Walt's wife. This bites him in the ass big time when Longmire discovers Fales suppressed evidence that would link David Ridges to said crackhead, and gives it to his daughter, allowing the charges against Henry to be dropped.
- Malcolm Xerox: Detective Fales distrusts Walt because of his own experience growing up in a small Southern town that had a corrupt sheriff who abused his power.
- Insult Backfire: A white security guard tries to insult Henry by calling him "kemosabe". Henry points out that the Indian was called Tonto and Kemosabe was the white guy's nickname.
- Interrogation by Vandalism: In "The Cancer", Branch interrogates some teenagers by confiscating the case of beer they had bought illegally and starting to empty each can on to the ground till they tell him what he wants to know.
- Jerk Ass: Jacob Nighthorse and Barlow Connally, the latter to the point where Branch finds it actively humiliating.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Nighthorse, at least, turns out to be dead on about Cheyenne children being taken by the DCF for a profit.
- Matthias the tribal police chief to a lesser degree, but he slowly gets over it as Walt demonstrates respect for his jurisdiction and helps him root out problems.
- Branch's shooting and self-propelled crusade to find the supposed-dead shooter has turned him into one, to the point where he tells Cady that she should forget who killed her mom and focus on his problems.
Branch: "Cady, your mom's dead. I'm still alive..."
- Jurisdiction Friction:
- The sheriff's department and the reservation's tribal police really don't get along at all. Must have something to do with Longmire arresting he tribal police chief. Things are so bad that he has to sneak onto the reservation at night in the back of a pickup truck just so he can speak with a witness who lives there.
- Both Longmire and the tribal police hate to get the feds involved.
- When Longmire's investigation leads him to a neighboring county, the county's sheriff is not happy that Longmire did not check in with him before interrogating a resident. Then when Henry independently follows the trail to the same location, the sheriff thinks Walt is responsible.
- Inverted when the tribal police is nice to them and asks for their help. Longmire and Vic suspect that they are about to be set up for something bad. They are proven right when Longmire discovers that the tribal police chief moved a dead body just outside the reservation border so Longmire is the one who has to investigate a politically sensitive murder that could scuttle his chances at re-election
- Vic punches an FBI agent when he refuses to send a helicopter to search for Walt who is alone on a mountain looking for escaped prisoners. She is then booted off the investigation and barred from the room.
- Oddly enough, the tribal police seem to get along well with the Denver police, but that may only be because they're investigating Walt.
- Mind Screw: Season 3 seems to be one long one for Branch. From getting shot and nearly dying, having the wound laced with peyote so he hallucinates his shooter, and seeing a self-deleting picture on his cell of the supposed dead shooter standing behind him in a bar to being the only one who believes his attacker isn't dead has made everyone around him question his sanity.
- Morton's Fork: Walt presents the bad guy with one of these in the episode "Dog Soldiers". Namely, "Turn yourself in for murder and go to jail, or get beaten and possibly killed by the guy you framed for the murder."
- He does it again next episode. Turn yourself in or get mauled by a bear.
- He (with Vic's help) does it again in "The Great Spirit". Confess, or get dragged off by a horse.
- New Old West: Takes place in modern Wyoming and features pickup trucks and modern bars alongside cowboy hats and horses.
- Noble Savage: Totally averted with Lou Diamond Phillips's Henry Standing Bear, a Deadpan Snarker modern-day Native American (i.e. wearing usual modern American western clothes rather than traditional garb) who is Walt's best friend.
- Played a bit straight with Hector though, minus the traditional garb. He's an enforcer for the local Cheyenne, has a constant look of stoicism on his face, speaks in somewhat simple and old-fashioned terms. However, as Walt himself points out in the Season 2 finale, he's the only one whose conscience wouldn't allow him to play judge, jury, and executioner of Walt's wife's killer
- Completely subverted with Jacob Nighthorse. Not savage, but definitely not noble. Being a powerful businessman/politician, he happily flip flops between the Native American community and the White corporate world, depending on whatever will profit him the most.
- Offing the Offspring: It appears this is what Barlow does to his son Branch at the end of Season 3 after Branch finds out it was his father that set up the death of the man who killed Longmire's wife.
Barlow: I don't have time to make another fortune. But I do have time to make another son. (causes distraction and a gunshot is heard).
- Oh, Crap: Longmire gets one when he sees David Ridges in full corpse paint, bearing down on him on horseback, carrying a rifle and yelling wildly.
- Papa Wolf: Barlow Connally comes roaring into the station when he finds out they have Branch locked up for attacking Vic. His version is less than heroic, more concerned with appearances than his son's safety, causing him to do things like threatening Ferg's father with joblessness if he doesn't free his son, up to and including paying his business rival to assassinate the wife of the man currently holding the job his son wants so he can have it. Somewhat subverted in the season 3 finale where it's indicated he shot and possibly killed Branch after his son followed the money trail and realized his dad was paying for Longmire's wife's death.
- Parents as People
- Perfect Poison: Averted. A man drinks poisoned tea and it takes quite some time before he starts convulsing and vomiting. Longmire pours water into the man's throat to induce more vomiting. The man is miserable but lives.
- Pop the Tires: In "Wanted Man", Walt and Lucien shoot out the tyres of a fleeing suspect. Lucien calls Walt weak for choosing to go for the tyres rather than the windscreen.
- Racing the Train: Longmire and his deputies must outrace a train to free someone who is Chained to a Railway.
- Rape and Revenge: In "Unfinished Business", someone starts using a bow and arrow to pick off four boys who had been tried for rape and acquitted.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Malachi Strand gives one to Henry, saying (actually gloating) that Henry, like most other Native Americans, does nothing but whine about how he's being mistreated.
- Red Herring:
- Two from "In The Pines." The first is the sociopathic teen nicknamed "Wolverine," since he has a fascination with death, is generally unlikable, and even has a sketch of the dead man in his sketchbook depicting the way he died. The second more subtle one is Marshall, who first found the body and was hiding a juvy record with a violent criminal past. The actual killer turns out to be one of the other guides, who was angry that the dead man was having an affair with his wife, another guide.
- "Harvest" has the snarky, greedy landowner who leased the land to the dead man. The real killer turned out to be the family lawyer, who helped the dead man fake his own murder instead of the suicide it was, so his family would get his benefits.
- Played with and ultimately subverted regarding who shot Branch.
- Retired Badass: Lucian Connally is implied to be this in the TV series, and more obviously one in the books.
- The Rez: A major setting, and Walt's history with the police there make up a major source of conflict in the show.
- Running Gag: Longmire does not own a cellphone but somehow they are still able to reach him by calling the cell phone to the person he is with at the time. This once occurs while he's in the middle of a Cheyenne ceremony at a lodge and one of the Cheyenne's phones goes off in the middle. Played with when Longmire asks to borrow someone's cell phone, causing Henry, Cady, and Vic to shoot shocked looks at each other.
- Sanity Slippage: Branch seems to be sliding into madness after getting shot by the supposedly dead David Ridges and trying everything he can to prove it.
- Screw Politeness Im A Senior: Lucian Connally (And how). The man gets kicked out of a retirement home for firing off a shotgun.
- Secret Relationship: Branch and Cady. Also, Vic and Gorski, which is part of what drove her out of Philadelphia into Wyoming.
- Stalker with a Crush: Ed Gorski.
- The Sheriff: Walt Longmire himself.
- Vomiting Cop: Happens to Ferg when he dscovers the body of a man who has been mauled to death by a bear in "The Worst Kind of Hunter".
- Wham Episode: "Death Came In Like Thunder": Walt didn't kill the man who murdered his wife. Henry did.
- Season 2 finale gives us a few more details. Walt tracked the guy down, but he and a few friends of his damn near beat Walt to death. So Henry goes to Denver, finds the guy and tells him he's a dead man, then sends Hector, a local thug from the rez, to handle it. But Hector isn't a killer, and just kicked the guy's ass and took some of his teeth to give to Henry. Teeth that Detective Fales finds, and thus has Henry arrested. So the real killer is still out there, Walt's best friend is more than likely going to prison for something he didn't do, one of his deputies is being stalked by a man from her past, and Branch got shot out on the rez. Oh, and Walt also learned his wife's death was quite possibly a paid hit. Walt's episode ending office trashing is entirely justified under the circumstances.
- Before that, "Election Day" features Cady being hit by a drunk driver, Branch discovering the man backing him in the election was playing dirty, and the Ferg showing a fairly serious case of Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass. The election, which the show has supposedly been building to since the first episode, is mentioned only in passing.
- Season 3 finale "Ashes to Ashes" has Henry and Longmire discover Detective Fales suppressed evidence in his investigation of Longmire, something that allows Cady to link the dead man to David Ridges and get the murder charges against Henry dropped, Branch seemingly quits the force and goes to work for his father, Longmire finally lets his wife's ashes go, and swears vengeance on Jacob Nighthorse for taking her from him. Finally, during a skeet shooting session, Branch confronts his father with the knowledge that Barlow Connally paid Jacob Nighthorse to kill Longmire's wife, so that his son would be able to take the sheriff's job from him. The episode ends with Walt hearing a gunshot and seeing an owl on his front porch, signaling the possible death of one of the Connallys.
- Wham Line:
Walt: Who shot you?
Branch: A dead man.
- Wham Shot:
- The end of "Harvest" pans out of the bar where Branch is drinking to the parking lot, where the very-much alive David Ridges is standing.
- "Ashes to Ashes" has a Branch find a video of his dad's car paying a visit to Jacob Nighthorse's business around the time that Walt's wife was murdered.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- When Longmire accuses Henry of being a pimp, Henry calls him out on the fact that they have been friends for 37 years and Longmire still does not seem to trust him. He also gets very snarky over the fact that Longmire was basing his accusation on a vague description of "the Indian at the Red Pony" and only found out later that it was referring to Henry's also-Cheyenne busboy.
- The Ferg gives a pretty good one to Longmire, berating him for treating him more like a secretary and junior officer than the very competent law enforcer he's become and for keeping him out of the loop while Longmire and Vic rush around conducting their secret investigations, and Branch is compromised but still given a lot of leeway. Somewhat subverted when Longmire throws a fit by sweeping Branch's desk clean onto the floor and making a show of placing Ferg's nameplate on the now-clean desk before walking off like nothing's changed.
- Would Hit a Girl: Branch hits October reasonably hard in "An Incredibly Beautiful Thing" to stop her attack on Cady. Ironically, he also chokes Cady pretty damn hard when his peyote-induced state makes him think he sees David Ridges attacking him in his hospital bed. He also went after Vic angrily when he accuses her of spilling the beans on his personal investigation.
- Would Not Hit a Girl: When Lucian Connally shoots up his room at the retirement home Longmire sends in Vic on the assumption that Lucian would not shoot at a woman.