In 2004, HBO released a western unlike any other. David Milch's Deadwood made a conscious choice to prioritise not the shootouts and train robberies that the genre is known for, but the authenticity of the time period, Shakespearean level dialogue and impeccably drawn characters. Deadwood enjoyed mixing real historical figures with fictitious individuals and watching them bounce off each other. It made for some of the greatest television ever produced.
Every character in this list stands on their own. Each one, completely unique and distinct from the next. We'll cover: lawmen, prostitutes, saloon owners, drifters, doctors, all the way up to a future senator of the United States. They're all so memorable that the list could easily have an extra 10 entries.
Deadwood's 2019 movie will also be taken into consideration as well as its three seasons. The show was a constant struggle of power between its players, so it's fitting we can finally decide who was the best of them all.
Spoilers will follow.
15. Mr. Wu
For a man who would feed dead bodies to his pigs, Mr. Wu was one of the more light-hearted elements of the show. Leader of the Asian community in Deadwood and Al Swearengen's opium supplier, Wu was often under immense pressure to provide safety for his people as well as make money through his illegal dealings.
The reason he is on this list is his surprisingly endearing relationship he had with Al Swearengen (or 'swedgin' a he called him). Wu speaks very little English and his boisterous business dealings with Al were a comedic highlight of the show. Both men trying to ascertain what the other is attempting to say using sign language, props and drawings never ceased to be hilarious.
What started off as both men shouting at each other soon became a more respectful relationship as they grew to trust each other. Wu was never treated as an equal in the camp but Al came closest and watching Wu protect an ailing Swearengen in Deadwood: The Movie was especially touching.