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Dead Man's Gun was a western anthology series that ran on Showtime from 1997 to 1999. The series followed the travels of a gun as it passed to a new character in each episode. The gun would change the life of whoever possessed it. Each episode was narrated by Kris Kristofferson. The executive producer was Henry Winkler.

Dead Man's Gun is about a pistol forged in hell which brings sorrow into the lives of those who possess it. Each week, a different guest star would have the gun come into their possession in one way or another; usually they end up dead. In a similar fashion to The Twilight Zone, there are often twist endings to the stories.

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Tropes:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: In "The Impostor", Leo reluctantly draws the gun and fires at at a fleeing bank robber. Despite not even looking where he is aiming, he hits the man at the far end of the street on a galloping horse. Of course, the gun itself may have had something to do with it.
  • Accidental Murder: In "Death Warrant", Bounty Hunter John Pike's troubles start when he gets in a shootout with an outlaw he is pursuing, and one of his wild shots hits and kills a young man in the street.
  • Accidental Truth:
    • The fake gold mine in the second episode turns out to really have gold as the con artist is being chased through it by the people he cheated. Not that they notice this.
    • In "The Fortune Teller" the eponymous character reads the fortune of a landowner whose allowed them to pass through his property) and tells him that his life will be in danger because of his gun. While the fortune teller merely is trying to trick the man into giving her his (valuable looking) gun, that gun is the eponymous Dead Man's Gun and he really was in danger by having it. Part of the reason the man is so quick to hand it over is because he has indeed been having bad luck since he got the gun.
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  • The Alcoholic: The Sheriff in "The Ripper" is always sipping from a flask or a glass of whiskey and even acknowledges himself a drunk.
  • All Just a Dream: The ending of "The Bounty Hunter", with hints of Here We Go Again! as the reappearance of the old crone indicates that fate is giving the protagonist the opportunity to decline the Dead Man's Gun.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: After a Frontier Doctor saves the life of a wounded outlaw and keeps him as a patient in his home in "The Healer", the meek townsmen turn against him and start making veiled threats about storming his house and lynching the outlaw.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: A title version. It is unclear if the title of "The Good Chef" refers to Villain Protagonist Emil, or one of the more moral other chefs of the episode (Sean Hannigan or his mother).
  • Anachronic Order: The episodes don't seem to be in chronological order. The first episode features Billy the Kid (who was an outlaw from 1877-1881 and wasn't well known until 1878) while the episode "The Oath" has the date 1876 on the headstone of a character who died in the episode's beginning. The second to last episode features a young Thomas Edison (who was born in 1847), who looks to be 10-13.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The fate of Edgar Thurlow who is buried alive in cement while functionally immortal. note 
    • Henry Jarrett is locked inside of a cellar on an isolated farm where he'll likely die of thirst.
  • Apologetic Attacker: In "The Fortune Teller" McCrory is being robbed by his assistant and another man who demand he hand over more money (which he doesn't have) in a very threatening tone of voice. With a deeply troubled expression, he reaches into the safe to take out the only thing left inside... the gun he just bought for protection, while saying "You don't leave me much of a choice, Billy" and then shooting them both.
  • The Artful Dodger: Jojo in "The Fortune Teller" is a traveling carnival version, a kid who helps call out people to the fortune teller's wagon and isn't above picking their pockets in the process. It's unclear if he's meant to be Gisella's son or just a kid she took in (the later is implied by how he calls her Madame Gisella even when their alone together but that might just be out of habit to make her seem more mystic and mysterious to the costumers).
  • The Atoner: In "The Sleepwalker" the main character is willing to turn himself in a more and more proof mounts up, believing he deserves it, Before the reveal that he's innocent.
  • Bad Habits: In "Sisters of Mercy", the gun is stolen by a pair of Irish con artist sisters posing as nuns, who soon become the unlikely heroes of a small town under the thrall of a corrupt banker.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • In "Buryin Sam", after people stop dying for a while, there's a scene of a coffin with a body in it, then it's revealed it's just Andrew the carpenter taking a nap.
    • In "The Healer" the episode opens with Christy talking to a woman whose clearly a Miss Kitty type, who says it's been a while since she spent so much time on her back. Christy, lying down, replies it's been so long since she hurt that much. Then it's shown that she's in the middle of childbirth, having a baby. Also, the background of the scene showing the doctor walking home from the delivery implies the women may have been workers at a dress shop rather than prostitutes.
    • In "The Fortune Teller", Peggy (the first customer Madame Gisella is genuinely able to see the future for) is visited by her boyfriend, Richard with flowers, just like Gisella predicted. Then the young man starts talking about how he's inherited a business in San Francisco and will be leaving to take it up. Peggy says she's happy for him, while turning away to hide her crushed face....then Richard says that it's a business he'd like to run with his wife, and proposes to her like Gisella saw.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: In "The Impostor", Leo is confronted by outlaw Wild Joe Tate, who knows that Leo is not the real John Hayes. Tate takes the gun off Leo and is about to shoot Leo with it, saying that even if he can't get revenge against the real Hayes, letting people think he did well enhance his Villain Cred. There is a gunshot, and then Tate topples forward. The camera then pans up to show Soiled Dove Angela standing on the stairs holding a derringer.
  • Bar Brawl: Leo Sunshine comes up with a unique way of stopping a bar brawl in "The Imposter": talking the man into going back to the wife who just kicked him out and apologizing.
  • Bastard Understudy: Played with a few times throughout the series.
    • In "Buryin' Sam", Andrew the carpenter spends most of the episode being bossed around by Sam and Theodore and lectured on the various cost saving methods (like using the old rusty nails rather than brand new ones on coffins) as well as getting enough information to realize that Sam killed Theodore (although he pretends to be oblivious to that) and rigging a Fright Deathtrap. At the end of the episode, he's dressed up in a fancy suit like Sam and Theodore, running the business and doing same of the same cost-cutting stuff as they did. Unfortunately for him however he also takes possession of the Dead Man's Gun.
    • In "Medicine Man" The Dragon turns on his boss and tries to take the gun, and they get a Mutual Kill, although it comes across as more of a The Dog Bites Back moment than any major scheming.
    • In "The Photographer" the eponymous character takes up an apprentice who follows him and offers to work for free. The young man is subjected to somewhat unpleasant treatment, and observing a lot of the crooked and cold-blooded methods of his boss. At the end of the episode, he figures out what Travis is up and sets him up to get arrested, which he gleefully photographs (although its unclear if he's intending to become just like Travis or that is merely a one-time deed he felt Travis deserved). He also takes possession of the gun, but implies that he's Genre Savvy enough to not hang onto it for any longer than necessary.
    • In "The Regulator" Susan is introduced as a reporter following the hired gunman Slattery, wanting to write his memoirs. She begins to get more involved in his criminal activities though, while appearing to still be loyal to him. It turns out that she's already a professional assassin who uses the reporting as a cover and has been preparing to kill Slattery the whole time but was genuinely trying to learn some tools of the trade from him first. She also takes the gun, leaving the possibility open that it's bad luck will affect her
  • Bee Bee Gun: The episode "The Medicine Man" involves Styles, one of the henchmen, being badly stung by bees from a trap left by the hero.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Katherine is caring and protective towards her younger sister in "Sisters of Mercy."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Some episodes such as "The Sleepwalker", and "Next of Kin", and The Pinkerton" have relatively happy endings which are tempered with the betrayal and/or death of someone the more sympathetic characters cared about.
  • Black Widow: "The Black Widow": After inheriting the gun from her deceased husband, a "black widow" killer plans to strike again...only to learn that her husband has a secret of his own.
  • The Bluebeard: In "Black Widow", the eponymous Black Widow finds herself married to a Bluebeard, and a battle of wits ensues.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: "Death Warrant" ends with John Pike riding through the mountains, being chase by half-a-dozen men with their guns blazing.
  • Bounty Hunter:
    • In "Bounty Hunter", a shopkeeper plagued with ennui decides to take up bounty hunting, shortly before the gun finds its way to him.
    • In "Death Warrant", John Pike a ruthless bounty hunter, who took the gun from a target, gets a taste of his own medicine when the mother of a boy he accidentally killed puts a bounty on his head.
    • Also in "Death Warrant" are various rivals tuned hunters of Pike who are portrayed as fairly cold-blooded themselves, not above robbing the dead and both being willing to pursue an unsanctioned bounty, as well as to break their contract when offered enough money.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: In "Sheep's Clothing" the local schoolteacher uses the gun to threaten a bullying saloon regular whose repeatedly picked on him and a puddle of urine is shown appearing at the man's feet.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Happens on occasion with both wielders of the gun and people picking fights with them. Notably, in the pilot, the guns wielder bullies a man in a store, resulting in a duel on the streets while brushing off the storekeepers attempts to tell him that the man he's fighting is Billy the Kid.
  • Buried Alive:
    • The eponymous character in "The Mermerizer" in a very creepy And I Must Scream way.
    • Heavily implied to be the fate of The Real Inspector McCann in "The Ripper".
  • ...But He Sounds Handsome: In "The Highwayman", when his guests are discussing the Red Mask Highwayman, Robert Cosgrove (who secretly is the Highwayman) cannot help himself and says the Highwayman sounds Just Like Robin Hood as he only robs rich men. He quickly discovers he is alone in this opinion, and everyone thinks he is a dangerous cutthroat who is going to wind up murdering someone.
  • Buy Them Off: In "Death Warrant" Pike twice offers money to other bounty hunters who've come to kill him if they'll give up on it. Griff and Brody plan to take his money and kill him anyway (which ends badly for them), while Joe Rule agrees to this deal (albeit partially because Pike is holding him at gunpoint, and is only holding back from killing him because it would cause a legitimate bounty to be placed on his head if he did shoot the unarmed Rule).
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Billy's cellmate in "Ties That Bind", the one who really did the crime he's in jail for is quick to point out that Billy can't kill him because if he dies there will be no one to clear his name. Billy has to kill him anyway when he tries to rape a woman.
  • Carnival of Killers: In "Death Warrant", John Pike—a ruthless, hard-bitten bounty hunter carrying the Dead Man's Gun—accidentally kills an innocent young man in a shoot-out. The mother of the dead boy puts a bounty on Pike's head, and he finds himself being hunted by every bounty hunter, hired gun, and chancer across three states.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: In "The Ripper" the sheriff figures out the killers sure identity based on A telegram eh sent to Scotland Yard about McCann which mentions the real inspector was older than the man he knew but doesn't arrive until after the man has already been killed by an intended victim.
  • Clip Show: In the clip show based Grand Finale "A Just Reward", a criminal is hired to retrieve the gun for the enigmatic Mr. Smith, killing the guns' most recent owner in the process. But his employer seems to know quite a great deal about the gun...and some of its previous owners and is happy to tell him about them.
  • Coincidental Dodge: In "The Impostor", Leo's deputy Floyd leads him into an ambush at the corral. Floyd drops his hat as a signal for his partner on the roof opposite to shoot. Leo's sees this and bends over to pick up the hat just as the rifleman fires. The shot kills Floyd and, in his panic to get away, the assassin falls off the roof and dies.
  • Cold Sniper: John Pike's Establishing Character Moment in "Death Warrant" is him setting up on a hilltop, adjusting the sights on his buffalo rifle, and then using it to pick off the man driving a wagon along the road far below. He then rides down to the body, ignores the justified attacks and accusations of the man's widow, loads the body on to his horse, and rides off without a backwards glance.
  • Comforting the Widow: In "Buryin' Sam", the unscrupulous eponymous Undertaker specialises in doing this. So does the phony preacher in "Wages of Sin."
  • Concealing Canvas: No safe, but in "The Highwayman", Robert Cosgrove has a hole in his bedroom wall where he conceals the eponymous gun and his illgotten gains that is hidden behind a painting.
  • Contract on the Hitman:
    • In "Death Warrant", a ruthless Bounty Hunter, who took the gun from a target, gets a taste of his own medicine when the mother of a boy he accidentally killed puts a bounty on his head.
    • In "The Regulator" Slayton finds out too late that his employers have hired another assassin to kill him after his murder of a Union speaker, to eliminate any potential threats.
  • Convenient Terminal Illness: In "Death Warrant", Katherine Morrison takes advantage of the fact that is dying and has three months to leave to frame John Pike for her murder: ensuring that he will not live much longer than hers, and thus avenging her son.
  • Cool Gun: The eponymous Dead Man's Gun is a black enameled Smith & Wesson Schofield with gold chased engraving and ivory grips. Shame that it's cursed.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Or rather, could have avoided every plot that didn't take place before it. In "Buryin' Sam" the eponymous character and his partner Theodore are told to bury the gun with its latest owner by the man's widow (who clearly seems to blame the gun for her husbands death and possibly a souring in their relationship). If they had sealed the gun inside a coffin and buried it six feet under, then scores of future possessors of the gun (including Sam himself) would have been spared their misfortune and/or adventures. Instead, Sam and Theodore take the gun for themselves, as they normally do with the heirlooms and keepsakes their customers want to be buried with.
  • Cramming the Coffin: In "Buryin' Sam", a sleazy undertaker hides a murdered body inside a cabinet while claiming the man went out of town. Later, that cabinet is made into a coffin for a special funeral in order to dispose of the body. That funeral is his own, after he himself is killed.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In "Black Widow" Sanford Decides to kill Tanya with the Dead Man's gun in a staged robbery but also rigs a nitroglycerin trap to the bed that will kill her if she somehow beats him to the punch.
  • Creepy Housekeeper: Not exactly evil, but in "Black Widow" Sanford Hogan has a crabby elderly housekeeper who is not shy about vocalizing her dislike for her master's new wife Tanya. Tanya arranges for her to take a fatal Staircase Tumble to clear the way for her own plan.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: In "Snake Finger" the eponymous safecracker is goaded into a fight by a man whose blocked up the barrel of his gun. This maims Snake Finger's hand, but it wasn't done out of cruelty, but in order to ensure that he'd be unable to crack anymore safes and thus would be more inclined to stay with the woman who loves him, something Snake Finger seems to appreciate at the end.
  • Cultured Badass: Retired gunman Wilf Otis in "The Bounty Hunter" has a book of Walt Whitman poems.
  • Dead Person Impersonation:
    • In "The Imposter", a peddler finds the gun on the corpse of a deceased marshal, along with with a letter offering him a job with room, board and $25.00 a month in "The Imposter." He takes the gun, the letter and the dead man's name, rides into town and is promptly sworn in as marshal before he realizes what's happening and sent to force the local gunslingers to back down. Although he ultimately proves fairly competent at the job (albeit largely just because of how his reputation is able to make people back down easily).
    • In "The Ripper" the eponymous murderer assumes the identity of The English detective who was hunting him after the man caught up with him and was killed after a fight.
  • "Dear John" Letter: Robert Cosgrove receives one at the end of "The Highwayman", and learns that all of the acts he has been performing that he thought were drawing his wife closer to him (and the crimes he committed to be able to afford them) have actually driven her away, to the point where she leaves him.
  • Death by Gluttony: One episode's Villain Protagonist is repeatedly warned by people that one of his vices will kill him. However, he ends up being a Karma Houdini until in the end gluttony does him in. With no friends or loves ones, he spends all his time eating and becomes morbidly obese. He dies of a heart attack and a wall has to be removed to take his body out for burial.
  • Death of a Child: Notably in "The Oath" were two children die of the sickness.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Played with in "The Gambler" where the eponymous character is motivated by the increased luck the gun lends his game even though he's a decent card player on his own. Once he realizes killing with the Gun does improve his game, after much mental wrestling he decides against deliberately seeking out another gunfight and plays one last game based on his own luck and skill, managing to win the pot.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • In "The Imposter", Deputy Floyd is a coward and extorting money from the local merchants.
    • In "Ties that Bind" the local Sheriff is the Big Bad, framing a man for a robbery which he was behind, He has an accomplice in the form of one the chain gang guards (who is willing to help murder the witnesses). Although the sheriffs chief deputy is an honest man and the other chain gang guard is somewhat thuggish but less brutal than his partner, and apparently honest.
    • The Sheriff in "The Trapper" is an unpleasant man (albeit one who dislikes Boucher the villain) who makes no effort to punish Boucher for raping a Native American girl and openly says that he believes Boucher is guilty but is too prejudiced against Indians to care even if Boucher is the man he'd be arresting. He also loots Boucher's body for the Dead Man's Gun at the end of the episode, implying he will be the next victim of its curse.
    • In "The Photographer" Linden Davenport forces an unarmed petty thief who surrender peacefully to draw on him (while Lindens' gun is already pointed at him) just to gun him down and have a picture taken of it, and also tries to force himself on a woman at one point before falling to his death when she shoves him back in a panic and he falls through the balcony railing.
  • Disguised in Drag: The eponymous character when sneaking out of town at the end of "The Womanizer" which leads to a possible Black Comedy Rape ending when the stage he's on is robbed by outlaws who find him attractive in his disguise.
  • Doting Grandparent: The member of Jeb's family he's closets to in "Next of Kin" is his granddaughter, although the relationship has some tension, particularly over the situation he set up.
  • Drunk Rolling: In "The Highwayman", Robert Cosgrove obtains the eponymous gun (and $93 in cash) by rolling Jonathan Barrett—a guest at his boarding house—when he is passed out drunk.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Most (but not all) episodes where the gun has a more sympathetic (although often poor and/or unhappy) wielder have the gun putting that person through danger and/or imparting a powerful lesson but leaving them off in better circumstances than the start of the episode, such as "The Imposter", "The Gambler," "Stagecoach Marty," "Four of a Kind," "Bad Boys," "The Bounty Hunter,", "Sisters of Mercy", "Winner Takes All," "The Healer", and "The Pinkerton."
  • Eureka Moment: One leads to the solution of "The Sleepwalker" when a man sentenced to hang gives the sheriff his boots, saying their the same size and he dosen't want them to go to waste. The sheriff is seen thinking about this, and later explains that he realized that the boot prints found near a dead man's body were bigger than his, meaning that, since he had the same shoe size as the man in jail, he was innocent.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Theodore, Sam's partner in "Buryin' Sam" is fine with robbing the dead and being a Mean Boss to their carpenter/janitor, but he grows guilty and uneasy at the idea of setting up gunfights to drum up more business, and completely draws the line at personally killing an innocent person just to get the fee for the funeral. He's also shows gradual disgust with Sam's habit of Comforting the Widow (although its indicated this is more out of personal jealousy).
    • The Dragon in "Medicine Man" is more reluctant than his boss to leave one of their companions to die after the man is injured by a rock slide.
    • In "Stagecoach Marty" the guy who seduced her to set her up to be robbed can't bring himself to let his partner kill Marty.
  • The Executioner: Phineas, the eponymous character in "Hangman" and his assistant George.
  • Eye Scream: In "Death Warrant", John Pike stabs a sharpened stick into the eye of one of the Carnival of Killers pursuing him.
  • Faking the Dead: In "Death Warrant", Pike kills one of the bounty hunters on his trail. He then swaps clothes with the dead man, and smashes the his face in with a rock in an attempt to convince the rest of the Carnival of Killers that someone had succeeded. However, Joe Rule sees through the ruse immediately because Pike did not swap guns with the dead man.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: In Sisters of Mercy the Big Bad is killed by his fancy chandelier breaking loose from the roof due to being weighed too heavily and shaken lose by the vibrations of a gunshot (something which is foreshadowed throughout the episode).
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: In "The Impostor", the first crime Leo Sunshine has to deal with as marshal of Apache Springs is a bunch of drunken cowhands shooting up the main street.
  • The Fool: While smarter than most examples of the trope. Leo in "The Imposter" manages to go through various successes in a jb as marshal he has no experience for with a few clumsy shots, speaking the honest truth to people at times, and occasionally moving at just the right moment to avoid being shot.
  • Frame-Up: In "Buryin' Sam", Sam and his partner Theodore drum up business by stealing a horse and planting it the corral of a suspected horse thief: leaving a deliberate trail for the marshal to follow, knowing one of them will die in the ensuing shootout.
  • Frontier Doctor:
    • After delivering a baby, Dr. Butler is paid with the gun, that awakens painful memories in "The Healer".
    • In "The Oath", a female doctor, who now owns the gun, must overcome the prejudice towards someone in her position to cure an epidemic.
  • Fright Deathtrap: In "Buryin' Sam", Sam—who has a weak heart—dies of a heart attack when his Beleaguered Assistant disguises himself as Sam's business partner, whom Sam had murdered earlier.
  • Gaslighting: Turns out to be fully in play in "The Sleepwalker".
  • The Ghost: Mrs. McCrory in "The Fortune Teller" never appears onscreen but it was her bad feeling about her husbands new employee causes him to see Madame Gisella the fortune teller. going to get his fortune told ends up saving McCrory's life and this incident spread her reputation and causes people with more importance to the plot to visit her.
  • Gold Digger:
    • Alexa in "Wages of Sin" is courting a local rich man and while drawn to Early wants him to bring something more to the table first.
    • In "Next of Kin" the main character claims that his brother's Bitch in Sheep's Clothing wife only married him in hopes of cashing in on that someday.
    • In "The Black Widow" Tanya is both this and... you guessed it a Black Widow.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Played with. Zane and Irene play it straight in “Fortune Teller” with the equal balance and tenderness of their love scene. Johnny and his wife Kate seem to play this straight in “Sleepwalker” but only one of the two turns out to be “good” in the end Johnny, who is being framed by his wife. The eponymous character in "Stagecoach Mrty" looks uncomfortable throughout her sex scene (she's a good character, he isn't). There’s also plenty of steamy love scenes with unsympathetic characters like in “The Black Widow” and “Next of Kin”.
  • Got Volunteered: Zigzagged in "Medicine Man" Styles is drunk and not really aware of what's going on when his saddle partner volunteers them to go hunt and kill an Indian just for the heck of it. Once he sobers up, he doesn't turn back or display any horror at the situation though (although he does decide to Screw This, I'm Outta Here! after being injured by a trap soon afterwards).
  • Healing Hands: Snake Oil Salesman Reverend Early becomes convinced that the Dead Man's Gun has given him one for real in "The Wages of Sin". Really, his simple-minded assistant Bill is the one with the healing touch.
  • Heel–Face Turn: On occasion such as in "The Wages of Sin". Leslie is aware Early is a fraud and continues to serve as his stooge but he's had it with Early when he tricks their companion Bill into killing a man. Initially, he still wants some money of his own (or at least the gun after being denied that) but later decides not to take the gun and to try and help Bill more instead.
  • Here We Go Again!: "The Bounty Hunter" ends with the events being All Just a Dream, However, as the protagonist goes about his business the next morning, the old crone reappears and begins the conversation that will end with him being offered the gun.
  • Hunter Trapper: In "The Trapper", a cruel trapper who owns the gun gets what's coming to him when the grandfather of a young Native American woman he raped resorts to the supernatural for payback. Earlier in the episode he robs and murders a couple of other hunter-trappers as well.
  • Implausible Deniability: Emil in "The Good Chef" is starting to unbutton the dress of a woman he drugged to rape her when her boyfriend walks in and he claims he was just trying to give her more air after she passed out.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail:
    • In "Death Warrant", John Pike kills one of The Carnival of Killers pursuing him, swaps clothes with the dead man, and smashes his face in with a rick to make it look like he had been killed. However, Joe Rule, who finds the body, isn't fooled because Pike neglected to swap guns with the dead man.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness:
    • Leo Sunshine in "The Imposter" is notable for never abusing his power and being perfectly nice to the people around him after assuming the role of town marshal. He just wants to talk to Soiled Dove Angela instead of getting her to sleep with him. He takes good care of Marshal Hays horse. He shuts down his deputy's protection racket, saying that the salary the town pays them is what they agreed to and they shouldn't take more. He refuses to let a saloon owner run another peddler out of town (the way he used to get run out of town) and buys something from the man while encouraging others to do so. When he hears that Angela is leaving town to open a dress shop he doesn't get jealous or upset, but is instead happy for her, despite thinking that he'll miss her. And at the end of the episode once he decides to leave he initialyl contemplates leaving his horse behind due to feeling the town will be able to feed it better than he will.
    • Played with in "The Sleepwalker" where the eponymous character isn't perfect (he suspects that he's murdering people in his sleep walking and once had an affair with a married woman. However in the present he's both faithful and caring to his wife, hard-working and generous, mentioned as having never participated in his best friend pranking their teacher as a kid, and eventually turns himself in and is willing to take whatever punishment the court decides (believing that even if he isn't responsible for what happened he'd pose too big of a danger to people if released). He even gives the sheriff his boots while in jail so they won't go to waste with no sense of resentment.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Stickman, one of the other prisoners in "The Ties that Bind" has a bad cough (possibly as the result of being forced to eat a lot of dirt) that he worries means he won't live to the end of his sentence and soon starts coughing up blood and soon does keel over.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: The Evil Nephew in "Next of Kin" attempts to gun down his uncle after being given the gun instead of any money, only to find the bullets have been removed, causing him to leave in disgrace with his jinxed inheritance, having provided additional proof of his unworthiness.
  • Jay Walking Will Ruin Your Life: In "The Ties that Bind" Stickman laments that he's spent three years on a chain gang for stealing a chicken to eat, and that he'll likely die there.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Invoked by Robert Cosgrove in a ...But He Sounds Handsome moment in "The Highwayman", when he attempts to justify the actions of his alter-ego 'The Red Mask Highwayman' by saying that the Highwayman is like Robin Hood because he only robs the rich. None of his guests agree with this: possibly because Robert is keeping the money for himself and not giving it to the poor.
  • Like a Son to Me: Jeb seems fond and approving of his groom Peter in "Next of Kin", who he offered a job after Peter's father died killed by Jeb in self-defense while try gin to rob his mine, even saying he wishes Peter had been his own son at one point.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: In "Buryin' Sam", the eponymous Undertaker suffers a Villainous Breakdown after killing his partner and, for the first time ever, finds himself unable to 'comfort the widow'.
  • Mail-Order Bride: In "Mail Order Bride", a blacksmith sends away for a bride, but his delivery includes the Dead Man's Gun.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • In "Black Widow", Tanya kills her husband's Creepy Housekeeper by giving her a fatal Staircase and makes it look like an accident. Later, her husband reveals that his previous wife's fatal fall from a horse was caused by him slicing her saddle cinch with a razor.
    • In "The Ripper" inspector McCann is standing in the street when he's nearly hit by a horse and wagon that comes riding down. The inspector argues that it was an attempt to murder him without looking unnatural, while the sheriff feels that it probably was a genuine accident. The end of the episode reveals that that McCann, the actual killer, deliberately went out onto the road to nearly get himself hit by a wagon so it would look like someone was trying to kill him.
  • Mama Bear: The eponymous character in "The Good Chef" is poisoned by the mother of a disgruntled employee he shot (although fortunately the man survived) largely out of spite after getting a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Master Poisoner: Lillian/Tanya in "Black Widow". She murders her first husband by injecting poison into the bottle through the cork; concocts a poison that she soaks into the cloth cage cover and drapes over the lovebirds' cage to kill them; and kills Stanford by serving him a toxic mushroom that is completely harmless, unless consumed with wine.
  • Mile-High Club: In "Black Widow", Tanya and Sandford have sex in a hot air balloon on their 'honeymoon'.
  • Moe Greene Special: In "The Bounty Hunter", Raymond Jakes' first kill is a penny-ante thief who tries to rob his store. Jakes' shot from the eponymous gun nails the crook right through the eye.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: In "The Fortune Teller" when her assistant and crush Zane falls for local girl Irene, Madame Gisella tries to get rid of Irene, first by advising her to privately approach a man about getting Zane a job when (through her visions) Gisella knows that man to be a serial killer of women resembling Irene. Then, when Zane finds out about this and goes to intervene, Gisella tries to just stab Irene herself.
  • Never Suicide: In "Next of Kin", Winston apparently commits suicide using the eponymous gun. However, during the denouement Jeb points out that if he had shot himself, there would have been powder residue on his hand.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Charles Madicott in "Sisters of Mercy" ends up robbed and going through some further humiliations in "Sisters of Mercy" after stopping his wagon two give tow women he thought were nuns a ride. Of course he brought a lot of it on himself by uttering some very racist comments about Native Americans and the Irish.
    • In "Hangman" Phineas deliberately botches a hanging of a Reverend accused of murder, only to realize the man probably is guilty after all and might kill again, With Phineas himself facing murder charges after stopping him.
  • "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: In "The Bounty Hunter", Raymond Jakes has a nightmare in which he confronts his mentor Retired Gunfighter Mr. Otis is a Showdown at High Noon, and he is wearing nothing but his long johns.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In "Next of Kin" a seemingly infirm man is revealed to be in perfect health at the end of the episode and is lulling those disloyal to him, and who would pose a threat to his successor, into a false sense of security.
  • Off Bridge, onto Vehicle: In "The Highwayman", Robert jumps off the scarp on to the roof the stagecoach and holds his gun on the driver and guard to force them to stop.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Sheriff in "The Ripper" when he gets a telegram which reveals the killer's identity to him As someone he'd trusted and let work with him.
  • Old-Timey Ankle Taboo: In "The Highwayman", a group of traveling salesmen in a boarding house are admiring the pulchritude of a female guest arriving at the house. As she climbs down off the buckboard, the camera zooms in on her foot as she lifts her skirt. Of course, one of the salesmen sells ladies shoes, and so has particular reason to pay attention to her feet.
  • One-Hit Polykill: In "The Fortune Teller" McCrory the assayer shoots two robbers (one of them his own treacherous assistant) with a derringer which he'd purchased after Gisella's crystal ball warned him he was in danger of being robbed and murdered. His first bullet goes through both men, killing them, and McCrory doesn't need to fire a second time.
  • Out with a Bang: In "Black Widow", having poisoned her husband, Lillian Posey has sex with him: riding him till he expires.
  • Paper Key-Retrieval Trick: In "Death Warrant", Pike gains access to Joe Rule's hotel room by sliding a "Wanted!" Poster under the door and using his dagger to poke the key out of the lock on to the poster and drawing it back under door.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: In "Next of Kin", several of Jeb McKinney's potential inheritors are displeased when his will read, which divides his fortune among his granddaughter. his nurse and Arthur, the groom whose father he was forced to kill many years ago. Particularly displeased is his feckless ne'er-do-well nephew Bruce, who had planned on inheriting control of Jeb's silver mine, only to discover that the only thing his uncle has left him is the eponymous Dead Man's Gun.
  • Pet the Dog: In "The Fortune Teller" Madame Gisella is a selfish and conniving character overall, but she does seem genuinely concerned for McCrory based on the vision she sees of him and urges him to take precautions to avoid being murdered in a robbery. She also has a scene where she compliments Jojo and rubs his head affectionately.
  • Pinkerton Detective: In "The Pinkerton", a Pinkerton detective is called in to investigate the kidnapping of a wealthy man's wife.
  • Professional Gambler: In "The Gambler", luck finally smiles on a down-and-out gambler when he becomes the gun's latest owner, and has a winning streak. The only catches are that his luck has a time limit...and is only activated when he uses the gun to kill.
  • Public Execution:
    • In "The Bounty Hunter", Raymond Jakes is convicted of the murder of a Texas Ranger and finds himself on a gallows in front of the entire town with a noose round his neck. As the trapdoor opens and the noose pulls tight he awakes to discover it is All Just a Dream.
    • In "The Judgment of Joe Dean Bonner" the final scene reveals that Bonner is being hanged in public, and the whole rest of the episode was apparently a My Life Flashed Before My Eyes moment, possibly with a supernatural intervention to try and make him repent.
    • "The Hangman" has three men hanged in the town square throughout the episode, Including Phineas himself although The later two both have the condemned man survive and be reprieved due to the rope being rigged.
  • Quicksand Sucks: In "The Phrenologist" the current owner of the gun falls into a bog's quicksand and sinks to his death. Later in the episode, one of his partners meets the same fate.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • The Mayor in "The Imposter" was smart enough not to make Deputy Floyd (who is a coward and extorting money from the local merchants) the new marshal, never asks Leo to do anything unreasonable as marshal, and even offers him a raise, unprompted at the end out of respect for his shrives (although by then Leo has decided to give up the gun and leave town).
    • The sheriff in "Wages of Sin" is a polite and decent man even, as best shown in the final scene. Although the fact that his son has just been healed helps.
    • Dawson the storekeeper in "Sisters of Mercy" who gives some of the townspeople supplies on credit, for which his boss threatens him.
    • The Sheriff in "Hangman" ultimately understands Phineas's decision to take the law into his own hands and ensures his hanging isn't fatal.
    • Sheriff Ward in "Sheep's Clothing" is a brave lawman who tries to give the main character good advice about not letting the gun change him.
    • Sheriff Blythe in "Death Warrant" holds little sympathy for Pike and his methods but at the same time tries to get the bounty on him lifted out of a sense of duty, to keep more people pursuing it form dying, and perhaps to keep Mrs. Morrison from going to jail.
    • Wesley in "The Sleepwalker" does fail to catch the killer for a while but only because there genuinely aren't no clues, is professional and friendly with a man whose his prisoner and helps figure out the truth to the solution at the end based on a brief Sherlock Scan. A lot of it helps that the main character is his best friend.
    • The local lawmen in "The Oath" help quarantine the town and one of them tries to talk down a man blaming the doctor for the deaths of his sons.
    • Sheriff Tom Bradford in "The Regulator" is a former hired gun himself, but one who recognizes that society is evolving and that there's no place for that kind of thing anymore. He tries to convince Slayton not to cause any trouble or kill anyone in town and when Slayton does anyway, Tom uses his old knowledge and expertise to get some evidence and makes good on his promise to arrest Slayton (although he can't get him convicted).
    • The sheriff in "The Fortune Teller" in an arguable Noble Bigot with a Badge way. He makes his dislike for the gypsy carnival plain and tells them not to stay in town too long, but immediately rejects the idea that their behind the murder of a young woman (being able to tell that the body has been exposed to the elements since before they came) and ultimately consults the fortune teller for information about the killer with some prodding from his Agent Mulder deputy. When Gisella (falsely) claims that she can't; see the past, only the future, and that none of her previous customers have revealed anything useful for the sheriff, he displays disappointment about the news, but no disrespect towards Gisella before leaving.
    • Zigzagged with The sheriff in "The Ripper". He takes a while to be convinced there is a serial killer but displays some professionalism in questioning people and checking facts after it becomes clear he was wrong. He then decides to keep the death of the Ripper a secret, partially out of fear for how the man's deception would reflect on him and give fodder to the anti-prostitution legislators of the states, although he seems to see this as a harmless deception.
    • Downplayed with The Sheriff in "The Good Chef" is a bit dim, but he does bother to question Emil over a couple of suspicious incidents Emil had some involvement with (although he's quickly misled) and based on the ending. Didn't arrest Sean Hannigan for supposedly trying to kill Emil, a crime which he was in fact innocent of.
    • The marshal from “The Trial of Joe Dean Bonner” who went to arrest Bonner over a shooting but, as his ghost reveals, was aware of the Crime of Self-Defense nature of it (even if Bonner had prodded the guy) and wanted to bring Joe back peacefully for a fair trial. He also delayed drawing his gun due to the presence of children, which got him killed.
  • Red Baron: "King Snake" Dawtry, a con man in the second episode, is called that because King snakes only eat other snakes and he only cons other con men.
  • Retired Gunslinger:
    • In "The Bounty Hunter", after obtaining the Dead Man's Gun, storekeeper Raymond Jakes visits retired Bounty Hunter Mr. Otis, who retired after being shot In the Back, for advice on becoming a bounty hunter. Unfortunately, the advice that Otis gives in not what Jakes wants to hear.
    • In "The Resurrection of Joe Wheeler", a town drunk must return to his former life as a legendary gunslinger to save his town from a group of outlaws...with a little help from the Dead Man's Gun.
  • Retired Outlaw: The first man John Pike kills in "Death Warrant" (shooting him from an ambush) robbed one bank eight years ago and has been a good citizen ever since.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Henry (a haberdasher) and Claude (a ranch owner) in "The Phrenologist". The trope is amusingly played with a bit though in that Claude is relatively laid back and dresses like an average cowpoke while Henry is a fussy Sharp-Dressed Man.
  • Right Behind Me: In "The Good Chef" Emil spends a long time insulting Bernard, one of his best customers (who'd offered to loan him money to be a partner in his restaurant), calling the man pretentious and unworthy of standing in his shadow. Unusually, for the trope, Bernard sneaks away in hurt embarrassment rather than making his presence known, and Chef Emil never knows he was there.
  • Robbing the Dead: "Buryin' Sam" centres on a pair of unscrupulous Undertakers who steal anything of value on their clients before burying them. In general most wielders of the gun get it this way as well.
  • Roll in the Hay: In "The Healer", Dr. Butler's wife Anna is an old flame of the outlaw Dalton Coe. A flashback shows their assignation in a barn that was rudely interrupted by her father and his cronies.
  • Scars Are Forever:
    • In "The Healer", outlaw Dalton Coe has a distinctive scar below his left eye. In flashback, it is revealed that he received this scar from Bob Morris' lash when they were both teenagers.
    • For the second half of her episode, Marie has a small yet noticeable mark on her cheek from where she's injured by Boucher when he rapes her.
    • When Emil's waiter quits in "The Good Chef", he reveals a scar on his forehead from when Emil broke a plate over his head for getting an order wrong.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: This becomes the fate of the former poisoner turned arrogant chef in "The Good Chef".
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: In "The Imposter" Angela shoots Joe Tate, and Leo asks if she heard their conversation—where he revealed he was an imposter, and she denies it. But later, after Leo leaves town, Angela seeks him out with a wagon for "Sunshine's Emporium" revealing that she did hear and has opened a store for both of them.
  • Secret Test of Character: In "The Phrenologist", Hannah lies to both Claude and Henry that she's pregnant out of a one night stand with an old friend to see if either or both of them will consider her Defiled Forever, wanting someone more accepting and forgiving as a spouse. Henry passes the test. Claude doesn't.
  • Serial Killer:
    • Sanford in "The Black Widow" is known as The Merry Widow Killer, marrying widows and then killing them both for their money, For the Evulz and to keep their beauty form fading as they age.
    • "The Fortune Teller" has a subplot of several blonde woman being turned up dead with their hair cut off. The killer is a local rich man doing it for the pleasure of hunting them down in his hedge maze.
    • "The Sleepwalker" seems to be this as people are being shot throughout town and the eponymous character worries he's doing this, as they are people he'd had petty squabbles with and his gun keeps missing bullets.
    • "The Ripper" follows a mining town which a detective insissts is being targeted by Jack The Ripper after his flight from London as prostitutes end up dead and carved up.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: In "The Sleepwalker" four people are murdered for the purpose of framing one person, and disguising the murder of one of the four (a blackmailer).
  • Serious Business:
    • In "The Imposter" when Leo finds one of the casino games is rigged, he's also concerned about how much dust is under the table and advises the owner to clean it more often.
    • In "Sisters of Mercy" Elizabeth and Katherine are outraged to see that the Morally Bankrupt Banker keeps his businesses open on Sunday. This is partially because it ruins their robbery plan, but some of it is out of genuine shock at the disrespect and how it keeps the families of drunks from even having a day of reprieve.
    • In "The Good Chef" Emil is willing to shoot anyone who insults his cooking, or his notion that cooking should be about the chef's genius rather than the customers benefit.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: In "The Highwayman", Robert Cosgrove uses some of the money he stole to buy his wife Brenda a fancy dress and insists she wear it at dinner that night. Brenda is astounded by the looks and compliments she receives from the boarders.
  • Sherlock Can Read: In "The Bounty Hunter", would-be Bounty Hunter Raymond Jakes goes to Retired Gunfighter Otis for lessons. During their conversation, this exchange happens:
    Otis: You're a storekeeper, right?
    Jakes: *gasps* How did you know?
    Otis: *nods over Jakes' shoulder* The signage on your wagon.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: When Robert robs the stagecoach in "The Highwayman", he uses the eponymous gun to shoot the lock off the strongbox. However, diverting his attention to the box allows the shotgun guard to grab a pistol and shoot, and things start going seriously wrong for everyone involved.
  • Shovel Strike: In "Death Warrant", a farmer attempts to claim the bounty of Pike's head by attempting to smash his head in with a shovel while Pike is sleeping in his barn.
  • Shower Scene: In "Death Warrant", John Pike takes a bucket shower with a pair of prostitutes.
  • Small Town Boredom: The kids who get mixed up with the bank robbery in "Bad Boys" although they change their minds at the end due to feeling a new sense of responsibly and Heel Realization.
  • Snake Oil Salesman:
    • Reverend Early in "The Wages of Sin" is a drinker, womanizer and con artist who sells healing elixir with his two assistants (one of whom believes it's real, one of whom doesn't) that is really just river water mixed with molasses.
    • In "The Oath" during the middle of an outbreak of illness a man shows up selling bottles of a supposed cure that's really just corn syrup. He turns out to be working for the sleazy mayor. He ends up sick himself.
  • Sniper Pistol: In one episode, a Professional Killer buys an old shotgun, breaks it apart and uses the pieces to turn his pistol into a makeshift carbine. This gives him the range and accuracy to kill his victim. He easily disposes of the evidence and when he is arrested, he argues that he was too far away to make that shot with a pistol.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: In "The Healer" after delivering her baby, Christy mentions that the "no account who fathered this little girl" (the previous owner of the dead man's gun) ended up at the end of a rope.
  • Staircase Tumble: In "Black Widow", the eponymous Black Widow arranges for her new husband's Creepy Housekeeper to take a fatal fall down the grand staircase.
  • Suicide, Not Murder: In "Death Warrant", Katherine Morrison extracts her final revenge on Bounty Hunter John Pike by framing him for her murder. Dying of a Convenient Terminal Illness, she waits until he is holding the eponymous gun on her, then suddenly reaches forward, grabs Pike's hand, and squeezes the trigger. With her dead by his gun, and no witnesses to prove his innocence, Pike is forced to go on the run: hunted like the outlaws he had pursued.
  • Taking the Heat: The villains father in "The Pinkerton" tries to take the blame for his crimes.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: In "Black Widow", Lillian Posey poisons her husband by using a hypodermic to inject poison into a sealed bottle of wine through the cork.
  • Tasty Gold: In "Buryin' Sam", Sam steals the wedding ring of a corpse in his mortuary, then bites it to test its purity.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: "Next of Kin" is a downplayed example as a dying mining magnate invites all of his potential heirs to his mansion for the weekend to allow him to observe them and decide who deserves to inherit his fortune. Anyone who leaves before the three days are up is automatically cut out of his will. Over the weekend, potential heir begin dying: all shot with the Dead Man's Gun. Downplayed because only two people actually die -one of whom didn't even want to inherit anything-, although several others leave the house voluntarily.
  • Tricked Into Escaping: In "Ties that Bind" the main character and another chain gang prisoner are sent to fill up water buckets by the creek and the other man realizes that both of them are connected to a corrupt sheriff and that "we're in the middle of an escape attempt that's supposed to fail" as they see the head of the chain gang (an accomplice of the sheriff) lurking nearby with a gun, at which point they hurry back to the camp to make it clear they aren't trying to escape.
  • Undertaker: "Buryin' Sam" centers around a pair of immoral undertakers who rob the dead who come into the possession of the cursed gun when widow asks for it to be buried with her deceased husband. A few other undertakers occasionally appear in minor roles, like one on "Hangman" who Phineas gives the gun as sarcastic compensation for his fee after a failed hanging.
  • Undying Loyalty: In "Hangman" Phineas's assistant George acts as his friend and confidant under any circumstances, and When Phineas has been sentenced to hang, begs him to tell him how to tie the noose so it won't kill him.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In "The Phrenologist" Alvie tries to save a man sinking into the bog in the opening scene, grabbing onto the barrel of his gun when he holds it out. When the man keeps sinking, he threatens to shoot Alive if he doesn't save him, causing Alvie to yank the gun away and let the man sink in self-defense.
  • Unluckily Lucky: In "The Collector" the eponymous character gets a buffalo hunter drunk and then swindles the gun out of him. A confrontation the next morning is defused when the hunter's friend reminds him about how the gun has only brought him bad luck, and sure enough it brings the collector even worse luck. A few other owners of the guns have similar things happen to them.
  • Unreliable Expositor: The mysteriously omniscient Mr. Smith (the guns creator) gets a moment of this in the finale, as when he tells the story of Raymond from "The Bounty Hunter". [spoiler:His story makes it out so that Raymond really did die on the gallows rather than it being All Just a Dream.]]
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Several of the more morally bankrupt owners of the gun (such as the eponymous characters in "The Good Chef" and "Buryin Sam", and Early for part of "Wages of Sin") are viewed by their communities as affable and trustworthy people who provide essential services.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: In "The Bounty Hunter", shopkeeper and wannabe Bounty Hunter Raymond Jakes keeps a sheath of wanted posters in the drawer of his shop counter.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: People seen taking the gun at the end of several episodes don't show up in future ones, where it's unclear if they died or simply sold or abandoned the gun.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: In "Ties That Bind" the villain is tricked into confessing when he thinks a snake has been released near him, having a deathly fear of snakes after one bit him in the past.
  • Working on the Chain Gang: In "Ties That Bind", a farmer is arrested for a crime he didn't commit, and is put on a chain gang.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In "The Wages of Sin" one local is suspicious that Reverend Early is a Fake Faith Healer and that the blind man he cured was just a shill working with Earl, an old cliche in such stories of faith healers. He's wrong (it has been shown that Early himself was surprised that the blind man could see again) although It wasn't Early who cured the man but rather his assistant Bill.
  • Young Future Famous People:
    • The kid aspiring to be a boxer in the episode "Winner Takes All" later becomes Heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.
    • A young homeless Thomas Alva Edison appears in "The Phrenologist"


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