Skip to Content

20 Best 1883 Characters Ranked

20 Best 1883 Characters Ranked

Our readers support us. This post may contain affiliate links. We earn from qualifying purchases. Learn More

Since taking the world by storm, the hit TV show Yellowstone has received multiple spin-offs.

One of those spin-offs is the popular show 1883, which follows the Dutton family who moves from Tennessee to Texas to Montana in hopes of a better life.

Full of hardships and drama, fans get to watch the Dutton family as they come to own the land that becomes the iconic Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.

The show is full of powerful, complicated, and fierce characters that make 1883 a must-watch. We have ranked the best 1883 characters from worst to best.

Warning, there are spoilers ahead!

20. Claire Dutton

Claire Dutton on 1883 TV show

Claire Dutton isn’t exactly the most likable character in 1883. She is stern and intense, always causing trouble due to her belligerent personality.

Claire also does not believe in James Dutton’s dream of finding new land and also regularly insults Elsa over her life choice. In addition, when a gang of bandits came to the camp looking for water she made it quite clear they were unwelcome, which only led to more problems.

Claire does have quite a sad backstory, as she is a widow and six of her kids died at a young age. When her only surviving child Mary Abel dies as a result of her confrontation with the gang, Claire ends up taking her own life.

19. Mary Abel Dutton

Mary Abel Dutton on 1883

Mary Abel Dutton is the daughter of Claire Dutton and is very much like her mother. She is rather intense and very much believes in the importance of being a proper lady.

Mary Abel often remarks snide remarks to her cousin Elsa, who she considers rebellious. Mary Abel ends up getting shot by a gang after her mother stirred up trouble at the camp. She dies from her injuries, leaving her distraught mother to take her own life.

Cookie on 1883

In the sixth episode of 1883, Cookie is hired as a cook for the wagon train after some convincing by Thomas. He is a rather foul-mouthed individual and lacks proper manners, which Margaret makes sure to teach him.

When a strong storm is approaching, he abandons the camp with the food as he doesn’t agree with the choice to stay in place. Though he does end up returning, Cookie’s poor decisions end up causing a confrontation with a group of upset Lakota.

Unfortunately, Cookie gets murdered by Lakota men who thought he was partially responsible for murdering their families.

17. Charles Goodnight

Charles Goodnight on 1883

Charles Goodnight is played by none other than 1883’s creator, writer, and director, Taylor Sheridan. Charles hunts bandits, saying that “killing cattle thieves is one of the West’s five great pleasures.”

While his motives may seem questionable, Charles does prove to have some morals. He believes in taking the time to properly bury bandits and say a prayer for them, even if they don’t deserve it.

16. Alina

Alina in 1883

Weary yet hopeful, Alina is an immigrant from Italy, who along with her husband, Mikel, joins the wagon train. She speaks very little English, but is a talented seamstress who helps make clothes for her fellow travelers.

Unfortunately, Alina became a victim of a misunderstanding between the wagon train and members of the Lakota tribe. Her husband was scalped and killed, while she was shot and scalped, barely hanging on to life. Lost to her senses from the horrible tragedy, Colton shot her in an act of mercy.

15. Risa

Risa in 1883

Risa is a young immigrant that joins the wagon train along with her husband, Josef. The couple hopes to start a family in Oregon.

While riding a horse, Risa takes a nasty fall after her horse is spooked by a snake. Unfortunately, the injury left Risa unconscious for most of the journey. Sadly, she passed away by the side of her husband after succumbing to her injuries.

14. Noemi

Noemi in 1883

Noemi is a Romani widow who after the loss of her husband is left with the responsibility of raising her two children. Upon the loss of her husband, she felt the need to find another man.

After originally showing interest in Shea Brennan, a leader of the wagon train, she began to form a relationship with Thomas.

Though Shea was willing to help Noemi, he wasn’t interested in being her husband. However, she and Thomas soon came inseparable and the couple along with Noemi’s children make their way to Oregon for a new start.

13. Colton

Colton, character in 1883

Colton is an experienced cowboy that joins the wagon train along the Red River. He knows his stuff, providing helpful insights into the dangers of the journey.

Colton immediately takes a liking to Elsa, however, Elsa is still grieving the loss of Ennis, so she is not interested. Colton informs her that Ennis was a friend of his and he is sorry for her loss. This helps Elsa feel better and she opens up more to Colton.

12. General George Meade

General George Meade in 1883

Though General George Meade only made a brief appearance in 1883, he deserves a spot on the list as he was played by the legendary Tom Hanks. Hanks, a good friend of 1883 stars Faith Hill (Margaret Dutton) and Tim McGraw (James Dutton).

Tom Hanks plays General Meade, a real-life Union General from the Civil War. He appears in a flashback with James Dutton during the Battle of Antietam.

Despite fighting for opposite sides, General Meade offers emotional support for James after he loses many fellow soldiers to the carnage of war.

Also read: Why Did Tom Hanks Make a Cameo Appearance in 1883?

11. Spotted Eagle

Spotted Eagle character from 1883 TV series

Spotted Eagle is a Crow elder who points James Dutton in the right direction to Paradise Valley, the Dutton’s final destination. Though his role is small, he plays an important part in where the Dutton family ends up.

He, along with the Crow tribes, tries to help heal Elsa when she is injured. He leaves James with an important warning: “In seven generations my people will rise up and take it back from you.”

10. John Dutton Sr.

John Dutton Sr. character

John Dutton Sr. is the son of James and Margaret Dutton. He is just five years old at the beginning of the show and is eager to help out with tasks along the journey.

He is an adorable kid who wants to learn as much as possible. John’s personality blooms along the journey and he is a small piece of innocence in the rugged reality of life on the wagon train. He is also the grandfather of John Dutton, the star of Yellowstone.

9. Josef

Josef in 1883

Josef is a German immigrant who is hired as a guide to help lead the immigrant families to Oregon. He is married to Risa, who dies by his side after struggling with injuries from a fall.

Josef is not a natural-born leader, so he often looks to the other cowboys for help. However, he does have some stand-out moments on his own. He challenges the man who stole his family’s supplies and fights off a bandit from attacking his wagon.

Josef also does a great job at reminding others that everyone has their own unique experiences in life.

8. Sam

Sam in 1883

Sam is a Commanche warrior who avenges his wife’s killer by taking his life and name. While meeting up with the travelers on the way to Oregon, he takes a liking to Elsa.

The two face off in a one-on-one horse race and gain an interest in each other. Sam nicknames Elsa ‘Lightning with the Yellow Hair.’ On two separate occasions, Sam saves Elsa’s life.

As they grow fond of each other, they decide they want to spend the rest of their lives with each other. Sadly, they are forced to go their separate ways but hope to reunite after Elsa’s journey.

7. Wade

Wade 1883 character

Wade is a young cowboy who joins the caravan out West in hopes of finding a better life. He becomes part of the crew thanks to the many years of experience under his belt.

Wade decides to escort the Dutton family on their journey because he enjoys the open country and it is the ‘gentlemanly’ thing to do. He is a close friend to Ennis and the two often provide delightful banter when tensions get high. Wade is also reliable in a gunfight and he has great tracking skills.

Also read: Where is 1883 Filmed? All Filming Locations

6. Thomas

Thomas 1883 character

Thomas is a Pinkerton Agent who teams up with Shea Brennan to lead the group along the formidable Oregon Trail. A former slave and Buffalo Soldier, he doesn’t let the trauma of his past cloud his judgment.

Thomas is sharp-witted and great at understanding people and their motives. His insight is often welcome among the group of travelers and he provides Shea with the support he needs to keep going. Thomas grows close with widow Noemi and the two stay together in Oregon along with her two children.

5. Margaret Dutton

Margaret Dutton 1883 character

Margaret Dutton is the wife of James Dutton and mother of John and Elsa. She heads out West with her family in hopes to make a better life, leaving poverty behind.

Both a lady and a cowgirl, Margaret is one of the most capable people on the wagon train. She is a fierce mother and wife, willing to do anything to protect her children. Though she can be fierce-tempered, she does love her family intensely.

4. James Dutton

James Dutton

James Dutton is the husband of Margaret and the father of Elsa and John. A former Confederate soldier, he takes his family from Tennesse in hopes to flee from poverty for a better life.

James loves his family dearly and is willing to do anything to protect them. He struggles with PTSD from the war, making him not the most approachable person as he copes with the trauma. Unlike others of his time, he is accepting of his daughter Elsa’s cowgirl lifestyle.

3. Ennis

Ennis character in 1883

Young and handsome, Ennis travels along the wagon train to help ensure the safety of the families. Though he is not the most qualified cowboy, he makes up for his lack of experience with plenty of enthusiasm.

Ennis quickly falls for the beautiful Elsa, putting his all into courting her. Though at first he comes off as goofy, he grows to be mature and dependable. Sadly, he dies trying to help others in a bandit attack.

2. Shea Brennan

Shea Brennan

Wagon boss and Pinkerton Detective Shea Brennan may be a little rough on the edges, but he is also vulnerable. The former captain of the Union Army has faced many hardships, including watching his wife and daughter die of Smallpox.

Down on life, he finds new meaning in guiding settlers along the Oregon Trail. During the journey, his goal is to make it to the ocean, as it was his wife’s dream. Once he sees the fierce waves of the ocean, he takes his life to reunite with his wife, believing he has no more reason to live.

Also read: 5 Yellowstone Actors Who are Cowboys in Real Life

1. Elsa Dutton

Elsa Dutton character in 1883

Elsa is the daughter of James and Margaret and sister of John. She is intelligent, emotional, and authentic.

Elsa’s love life never goes as planned. Her first love Ennis tragically dies from bandits and after falling for Sam, the two are forced to go separate ways.

Elsa often finds herself in tough situations, but in true cowgirl style, she always pushes through. Sadly, after being unable to recover from a terrible injury, she passes away in her father’s arms. Her unfortunate ending happens on the land that becomes the Dutton’s home.

Also read: 20 Best Yellowstone Characters Ranked