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This article contains spoilers for all three seasons of Deadwood.
Discretion is advised.

"Tell the Lord you died stupid."
―Cy Tolliver[src]

Cyrus "Cy" Tolliver is a main character in HBO's Deadwood.

He is the hot-tempered, cruel and selfish owner of the Bella Union and former rival to Al Swearengen. He can be considered as an antagonist throughout the course of the series.

He is portrayed by veteran actor Powers Boothe.


He is the owner of the high-end Bella Union brothel in the lawless town of Deadwood, and chief rival to Al Swearengen of the Gem Saloon. Tolliver and his employees arrived in the town long after Swearengen had opened the Gem and started operating his criminal affairs from within it, and Cy quickly gained a reputation as the only businessman in Deadwood who could match Al's ruthlessness and cunning - perhaps even doubling it with a cruel ego of his own.[2] Tolliver's chief employees upon his arrival in the gold-mining town were Joanie Stubbs, the chief prostitute whom he bought from an abusive father and had been sleeping with for years, and Eddie Sawyer, a card sharp who Cy had trusted for years. Both, however, would end up leaving Cy within their first year in Deadwood, losing faith in their boss after a series of incidents convincing them of Tolliver's evil - first dumping their old friend Andy Cramed in the woods to protect the Bella Union's image when he caught smallpox staying there,[3] then brutally torturing and executing young siblings Flora and Miles Anderson after the kids were caught stealing by Joanie.[4] Joanie was the first to become disillusioned and decided to start her own brothel, the Chez Amis, and despite her protests Eddie helped fund it by stealing money from Cy and skipping town. As a result of losing his two longtime allies, Cy slowly began to grow increasingly unstable, and when cold-hearted mining executive George Hearst arrived in Deadwood threatening to take it over and bring laws in order to gain most of the gold in the area, Tolliver was the only major business owner not to join the fight against him, choosing instead to help Hearst in order to further his own power. But with his number of enemies rapidly increasing and all his trusted employees replaced by incompetent criminals, Cy's descent started to quicken, only worsening when Andy returned as a minister and stabbed him near to death, leaving him immobilized.[5] As the war on Hearst built up around him, Cy soon came to blame him for his misfortune, and when Hearst was driven out of camp, Tolliver almost shot him from the Bella Union balcony in a last act of desperation, but instead ended up stabbing his dope-selling employee Leon to death in view of the entire camp.[6]

By 1889, Cy Tolliver was no longer a resident of Deadwood and had passed the Bella Union on to Joanie.[7]

Behind the scenes[]

Cy Tolliver was played by Powers Boothe in all three seasons of Deadwood, appearing in every episode from Season 1's "Reconnoitering the Rim". Boothe was nominated for a Gold Derby TV Award for Supporting Actor in a Drama for his role in the show.[1]

Unlike almost every other cast member of the show, Powers Boothe was not able to reprise his role in Deadwood: The Movie due to his death in 2017. Ralph Richeson (Richardson) was the only other cast member to pass away before its production.


Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
The Movie
Appears Appears as a corpse Appears in a flashback