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This article contains spoilers for all three seasons of Deadwood and Deadwood: The Movie.
Discretion is advised.

"If there's anyone who can fuck up the gathering of a bell, it's Johnny."
Dan Dority[src]

Johnny Burns was a barman at the Gem Saloon, who served as one of owner Al Swearengen's most trusted enforcers and closest friends until Swearengen's death in 1899. Alongside Dan Dority and later Silas Adams, Johnny worked as an enforcer and errand boy for Al, fiercely loyal to his boss. Unlike the dangerous and violent Dan, Johnny was a more kind-hearted, simple-minded man, of sometimes questionable intelligence. Burns also spent much of his time working as a regular bartender and caretaker at the saloon, during which he was in a relationship with Gem whore Jen who he was teaching to read using articles of the Deadwood Pioneer. Dority, Burns and Adams were vital in protecting Swearengen and Sheriff Seth Bullock during the fight against George Hearst, the power-hungry mining executive who threatened to bring laws to Deadwood to get his hands on its gold. Burns' loyalty was put to the test when, after Al's favorite whore Trixie made a botched attempt on Hearst's life and Hearst in turn ordered her killed, Al decided to show him Jen's corpse instead. Johnny protested and even tried to stop Al from killing her, but he was restrained by Dan and, even after Jen was killed and the ruse payed off, remained loyal to Swearengen to the end.[2] His loyalty was again proven when he was later shot by one of Hearst's agents while defending Al, surviving the encounter.[3] On the night Hearst was defeated and arrested, Johnny was in the Gem bar with Dan when they heard Al singing in his final moments upstairs.[3]


Time in Deadwood[]

Johnny Burns was one of the early residents of the gold-mining town Deadwood, South Dakota. An American man who was relatively simple-minded but knew how to handle a gun and could serve as a useful extra hand, during his time in Deadwood Johnny would make the acquaintance of Al Swearengen, the criminal owner of the Gem Saloon and at the time the closest thing to a leader in the town. Burns ended up working both as a barman and enforcer for Al, a job he shared with Swearengen's old ally Dan Dority with whom Johnny became friendly. To Al, Johnny was of little value beyond his unfaltering loyalty, but in time he did become a close friend to Swearengen and Dority.[4]

Behind the scenes[]

Johnny Burns was played by Sean Bridgers in all three seasons of Deadwood, appearing in every episode. Bridgers reprised his role in Deadwood: The Movie.