Deadwood Wiki

"This is God's purpose, but not knowing the purpose is my portion of suffering."
―Reverend Smith to Doc Cochran about his declining health[src]

Reverend Henry Weston "H.W." Smith, simply known as the Reverend, is a supporting character during the first season of HBO's Deadwood.

He was one of the early residents of Deadwood, South Dakota and served as the camp's preacher.

He is portrayed by Ray McKinnon.


Guarding the hardware store

Smith was a field nurse in the Civil War, serving at Shiloh and 2nd Manassas, until he received a "sign from God." He subsequently left his wife and children and became a reverend in Deadwood. He takes on the job of guarding the hardware store in that was recently opened by new arrivals Seth Bullock and Sol Star. He quickly befriends the two men.

Funeral of Wild Bill Hickok


Wild Bill Hickok was murdered by the cowardly Jack McCall in one of the camp's saloons. The residents of Deadwood that aren't hovering near the trial of McCall attend Hickok's burial. Bullock and Sol are both at the sad event, which is presided over by the Reverend Smith. Star takes notice of Smith's pale appearance and stranger-than-usual demeanor, but Bullock doesn't seem to care, as he's still seething over the death of Wild Bill. Bullock's demeanor doesn't improve when A.W. Merrick arrives, bringing the news that McCall has been found innocent.

the Plague

When the plague arrives in camp, realizing that it is a growing smallpox threat, a small group of town leaders meet at the Gem Saloon. The Reverend is among them. It is decided that they will put together money to pay for riders to get the smallpox vaccine. They also decide to set up a tent for those afflicted. At the end of the meeting Smith collapses and has a seizure. Saloon owner Al Swearengen recognizes the symptoms and knows how to help, as his brother suffered from epilepsy.

Although he has frequent seizures, Smith assists Calamity Jane and Doc Cochran in the "pest tent" (quarantine section). Exhausted, the Doc, the Reverend Jane continue to tend to the sick. The matter is complicated somewhat by Smith's seizures, which the Doc attributes to a lesion, but the reverend feels may be divinely inspired.

With a bad eye and a bad arm, the Reverend Smith's health continues to deteriorate, and he is beginning to imagine that his body is emitting an odor of decay. He also frets that he no longer feels the full love of Christ when he reads his scriptures. He quickly annoys Calamity Jane with his delusions and she wastes no time in cursing him out for being a fool and for hiding his condition from Doc Cochran.

Brain tumor

Smith's health issues continue, and Cochran finally feels the need to step in. He examines the Reverend, but Smith seems to attribute his physical and mental problems to the will of God. Cochran doesn't take to this explanation, but he also realizes that there isn't much he can do without Smith's full cooperation.


The Gem has a surprise guest in Reverend Smith, who is having a world of a time listening to the piano, despite his obviously worsening condition. Swearengen asks Smith to frequent another joint, as men of the cloth are bad for business. Some time later, Smith is back in the Gem, wildly enjoying the piano, which seems to make many observers uncomfortable. Al chews him out, but it is clear the Reverend is losing touch with reality; Doc Cochran says he believes it's a brain tumor.

God have mercy


Reverend Smith is worse than ever, twitching and repeating scripture manically. Weaving with whiskey, Swearengen watches from his balcony as the Reverend delivers a sermon to an oxen. Al seems unable to stop watching Smith, and becomes emotional as the rant continues. He drinks more and more.

Later, the Reverend lies in Doc Cochran's office, twisting and talking deliriously. The Doc is clearly upset by the grim spectacle. He speaks with Swearengen about the Reverend, asking him to arrange a girl to care for him, at the doc's expense. Al feigns indifference. "A human being in his last extremity is a bag of shit," he says, but he still accepts the arrangement.

Trixie takes care of the Reverend, but he is clearly on his last legs. Across town, Doc Cochran is kneeling in anguished prayer, asking for Smith to be taken from his pain, and recalling the hundreds of screams he witnessed on the battlefield. He doesn't know that at that moment, Al has been summoned to the reverend's room. Filled with emotion, he takes Smith in his arms, then holds a cloth over his face to smother him. "You can go now, brother," he says gently.

Behind the Scenes[]

The real reverend Smith was murdered by Indians or thieves. In the show, the circumstances of Smith's demise were changed to a gradual decay due to a brain tumor, though he was mercy-killed by Al Swearengen before dying from the cancer.


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