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Series / Klondike

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This place kills.
Jack: The Yukon is the only place in the world where a dumb shit can be a king and a king can be a dumb shit.

Klondike is a 2014 miniseries about the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s. It is the first scripted series to be broadcast by the Discovery Channel.

The miniseries revolves around Bill Haskell (Richard Madden), a real-life adventurer who took part in the gold rush. Together with his friend Byron Epstein (Augustus Prew), he travels to Yukon, Canada, for the opportunity of quickly amassing a fortune. As they make their way to Dawson City to establish a mining claim, Bill encounters the following individuals:

  • Belinda Mulrooney (Abbie Cornish), an entrepreneur who owns the town's lumber mill;
  • Father Judge (Sam Shepard), a priest establishing the first church in Dawson City;
  • The Count (Tim Roth), a self-proclaimed aristocrat who will stop at nothing to make a fortune;
  • Joe Meeker (Tim Blake Nelson), a bartender working for Belinda;
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  • The superintendent (Marton Csokas), Dawson City's chief law enforcement officer;
  • Sabine (Conor Leslie), a young woman looking to make her money as a courtesan;
  • Soapy Smith (Ian Hart), a conman out to swindle the miners coming into Dawson City;
  • Jack London (Johnny Simmons), an adventurer with ambitions of becoming an author; and
  • Goodman (Greg Lawson), a miner who previously served in the military.

Harsh conditions and unpredictable weather threaten the two friends, but they soon find out that the real danger comes from those who share their pursuit of riches.


Tropes Include:

  • Actor Allusion: In the opening credits, Richard Madden's name appears alongside a wolf. His character also has an encounter with a wolf, albeit a not very pleasant one.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The real-life Belinda Mulrooney looked nothing like Abbie Cornish, who plays her on the show.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Charles Eugene Carbonneau, the real Count, was French Canadian. Here, he's English.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Count is loosely based on Charles Eugene Carbonneau, Belinda Mulrooney's ex-husband. Although he also went by self-proclaimed title of "count", he was a champagne salesman and barber, not a ruthless businessman willing to burn down a church and murder anyone who got in his way.
  • Advertised Extra: Augustus Prew is billed as one of the leads in the opening credits, but his character dies halfway through the first part. His inclusion was likely due to his Small Role, Big Impact in the series and to conceal his status as a Decoy Protagonist.
  • Affably Evil: Soapy is generally polite and charming, even when his cons are exposed. He only loses his cool when the superintendent arrests him, but regains his composure after he's released.
  • Age Lift: Father Judge is portrayed by 70-year-old Sam Shepard. The real Father Judge died at 48.
  • And Starring: Tim Roth (The Count) receives a "with" and Sam Shepard (Father Judge) receives an "and" in the opening titles, making them the only members of the cast to not be billed alphabetically.
  • Asshole Victim: It's hard to feel sorry for Soapy, Goodman, and especially the Count.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The superintendent demonstrates his combat skills when the Tlingit attack Dawson City.
  • Authority in Name Only: As his title indicates, the Count claims to be an aristocrat, but Jack notes that nobody has been able to prove it.
  • Bathtub Scene: Both Belinda and Sabine get one, with the latter being the more explicit of the two. Cavendesh also receives one.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: While posing as a friend to Bill, Goodman has secretly killed Byron and is behind the attempts on Bill's life.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Bill finds gold and becomes rich, but loses Byron and Joe during his journey and winds up disappearing when he returns to the Yukon.
    • Jack dies at a young age after achieving fame.
    • Father Judge dies only a year after establishing his church, although he does leave Dawson City a better place.
  • Call-Back: When Bill and Byron are climbing up a mountain on their way to Dawson City, they encounter a well-worn man coming down the mountain. After Bill leaves Dawson City with his gold, he's now a well-worn man coming down the mountain encountering people climbing up.
  • Cool Old Guy: Despite appearing to be in his 70s, Father Judge saves Bill from a wolf attack and stands up to the Count on multiple occasions.
  • Con Man: Soapy, just like his real-life counterpart.
  • Confessional: Twice with Father Judge. The first is the Count threatening to kill him. The second is Byron's killer, creating the ethical dilemma of what he should do with this information. He eventually confirms to Bill that Goodman is the killer.
  • Danger — Thin Ice: How Joe dies.
  • Death by Irony:
    • Soapy buys a claim from a prospector who says it has brought nothing but bad things for him. As soon as Soapy walks outside with the claim, he's stabbed to death by a Tlingit.
    • Belinda dies a penniless housekeeper, a fate she was attempting to avoid.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Established as the leads are Bill and Byron until Byron is killed halfway through the first part.
  • Defiant to the End: Cornered by Bill and Belinda, Goodman chooses to draw a gun on them instead of surrendering and is shot dead.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After he stops paying them, the Count's men betray him and leave him to freeze to death in the wild.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": A literal example with Jack's dog "Dog".
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: Mainly due to being based on historical events with real-life figures from the 19th century. The only main characters who technically survive are the superintendent, due to his real-life death being omitted from the closing titles, and Sabine, due to being a fictional character who doesn't exist outside of the miniseries.
  • Evil Brit: The Count. He's evil, he's British, and he's played by Tim Roth.
  • Evil Wears Black: The color of the Count's clothing.
  • Failed a Spot Check: When Bill and Byron first meet Goodman, he warns them that they're intruding on his claim and when properly introduced, Bill learns that Goodman is a military veteran. Bill doesn't realize Goodman has the motivation to kill Byron and the ability to pull of the shot that killed him until they spend more time together.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • While the shots of Joe relieving himself are done discreetly, the latrine he uses is later shown in full detail because that's where he's been hiding his and Bill's gold.
    • When the Count has Sabine disrobe in public.
    • The superintendent barges in on Cavendesh taking a bath.
  • A Father to His Men:
  • Gold Fever: The miniseries portrays the various people who participated in the Klondike Gold Rush and the extremes some of them went to find gold. Miners are shown dying of disease and starvation every day and their bodies are sometimes just left on the side of the road. Most of the characters end up with a Downer Ending or a Bittersweet Ending, with a few Shoot the Shaggy Dog endings thrown in.
  • Good Shepherd: Father Judge, who became known as "The Saint of Dawson" in real life for a reason.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Good Smoker in this case. Joe, who becomes a key ally to Bill, is usually seen smoking a pipe.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Belinda goes from a potential culprit in Byron's murder, to a potential love interest of Bill, then selling him out to Soapy, and finally becoming probably Bill's most important ally in the series.
  • Hero of Another Story: Cheyeho, whose main objective is to protect his tribe.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Father Judge brings those afflicted with typhus into his church and personally takes care of them at the cost of his own health, eventually leading to his death.
    • Cheyeho makes the Mounties chase him so the rest of his tribe will escape.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Sabine, who becomes a loyal assistant to Father Judge.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: The superintendent's response to being offered a promotion from Cavendesh. Rather than continue working for an Obstructive Bureaucrat, he removes his badge and melts it.
  • Ironic Name:
    • Goodman. He's not.
    • As a good Christian, Father Judge is not judgmental.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As cruel as the Count's treatment of Sabine is, she can't protest the treatment when she's being paid to do as men tell her. This prompts Belinda to berate her for her occupation after saving her from further humiliation.
  • Just Between You and Me: The Count lets Father Judge know during a confessional about his plans to kill him and burn down his church.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The Count's men get away with robbing Joe and Bill, although they fail to steal most of their gold.
    • Cavendesh, despite being a major Jerkass and Obstructive Bureaucrat, emerges unscathed, but his actions do cause him to lose a good lawman in the superintendent.
  • Karmic Death: The Count's scheme to go into the wilderness to steal from Bill results in him being abandoned by his men and freezing to death.
  • Kick the Dog: The Count makes Sabine strip in public and pushes her outside into the rain simply because he can.
  • Lady in a Power Suit: Belinda in conjunction with her entrepreneur status.
  • The Lancer: Byron is an energetic thrill-seeker in contrast to the more cautious and thoughtful Bill. After his death, Bill becomes more reckless.
  • Large and in Charge: The superintendent is played by the 6'2" Marton Csokas.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Sabine, especially during her Bathtub Scene in front of the miners. Later becomes Fan Disservice when the Count has her disrobe in public, which leads to her dressing more modestly.
  • Nature Is Not Nice:
    • On the way to Dawson City, Bill is almost killed by an avalanche, nearly drowns after falling off his boat, and is attacked by a wolf before Father Judge saves him. And then he almost freezes to death in his pursuit of Goodman.
    • The Count does end up freezing to death in the wilderness.
    • While crossing a frozen river, Joe falls through the ice and drowns.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Caring for the sick causes Father Judge to become ill and he eventually dies within a year of establishing his church, although the citizens of Dawson City show their appreciation for him and his good deeds.
  • No Name Given: The superintendent and the Count are never referred to by their real names, although the former is directly based on Sam Steele and the latter is loosely based on Charles Eugene Carbonneau.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Count's Kick the Dog moment with Sabine leads to her working for Father Judge and turning her life around.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Government official Cavendesh repeatedly undermines the superintendent's attempts at ensuring justice is properly maintained in Dawson City, namely refusing to hold a trial for the captive Tlingit natives, demanding to have innocent men hanged, and having Soapy released.
  • Opt Out: Jack chooses to leave Dawson City before the winter arrives. And his career benefits because of it.
  • Police Are Useless: In no part thanks to Cavendesh, the Mounties are unable to correctly identify Byron's killer and arrest the wrong individuals, forcing Bill to find the culprit on his own.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Byron is the former, Bill is the latter. Bill's chronological introduction is him graduating from college while Byron's chronological introduction is him gambling with gangsters. Bill becomes more of a Red Oni after Byron is killed.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The superintendent wants to make certain justice is serviced and is the only Mountie to doubt the Tlingit's guilt in Byron's murder. Unfortunately, he's working under Obstructive Bureaucrat Cavendesh.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • When Bill finds out that Goodman killed Byron, he pursues him through the wilderness without any regard for his own well-being.
    • The superintendent also goes on one after his men are killed.
  • Sanity Slippage: Bill grows increasingly paranoid and unhinged following attempts on his life and Byron's murder.
  • Saintly Church: Father Judge makes sure his church becomes one, right down to using it to house and care for the sick.
  • Self-Made Woman: Belinda, who doesn't take this status lightly. It doesn't save her from dying broke, unfortunately.
  • Shameful Strip: The Count has Sabine publicly strip down to her undergarments until Belinda intervenes.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • Belinda's main objective is to open a hotel in Dawson City and profit from it. She ends up losing all the money she earns from the hotel and dies in poverty as a housekeeper.
    • Father Judge's church burns down after his death, although his contributions are not forgotten.
    • While mining for gold, Joe battles an illness, suffers a broken arm, and is threatened by the Count's men, only for him to fall through ice and drown while leaving Dawson City with his gold.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity: During Sabine's Bathtub Scene, her Toplessness from the Back is shown as she rises out of the tub, but the camera cuts to a shot of her from the shoulders up when she turns around.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Byron only makes it halfway through the first part, but his presence is felt throughout the remainder of the series, with his murder serving as one of the primary storylines and motivation for Bill to remain in Dawson City until the culprit is found.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Belinda is played by the 5'8" Abbie Cornish and Sabine is played by the 5'9" Conor Leslie.
  • The Stoic: Joe is rarely phased or intimidated.
  • The Watcher: Jack takes little part in the events of the series, preferring to observe them play out.
  • Undignified Death: A Mountie gets shot in the chest while urinating.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The superintendent takes the Tlingit prisoners out of their jail cell and orders the man to make a shot at the distance that killed Byron, threatening to kill the man's son if he misses. It's all a ruse to demonstrate that the Tlingit man is incapable of making the shot that killed Byron and is therefore not the killer, with the superintendent never intending to actually harm the boy.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's never revealed what became of Jack's dog, although like the protagonist of one of Jack's novels, it's implied that his primal instincts returned.

What you want to be is the trailblazer.