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‘1883’: Sam Elliott’s Best Quotes as Shea Brennan

Pictured: Sam Elliott as Shea of the Paramount+ original series 1883. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2021 MTV Entertainment Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Sam Elliott shoulders much of 1883‘s weight with his stellar performance as Capt. Shea Brennan, delivering some of the series’ best quotes.

“You know what I’m doin’ here? Lookin’ for a reason. You wanna be my reason?”

There is no Western icon alive today more revered than Sam Elliott. So when Taylor Sheridan revealed his Yellowstone prequel, 1883, Elliott was the top of every fan’s casting wish list. And his work as Pinkerton Agent and Civil War veteran Shea Brennan showcases why.

From the premiere’s perfect one-liner above to his stirring summaries of the deadly Westward Expansion, we’ve gathered the best Shea Brennan quotes delivered through 1883 by the one and only Sam Elliott. But be warned of major spoilers ahead.

Sam Elliott Brings Raw Emotion to ‘1883’s Shea Brennan Quotes

The best of Shea Brennan from 1883‘s Premiere:

“You have no horses. No guns. You can’t ride. You are a f***ing fool for thinking you can travel two-thousand miles with no skills to survive it.” – Shea to the immigrants attempting the Westward Expansion.

Helen. Didn’t work.” – Shea to the French saloon girl attempting to seduce him through memories of his late wife.

“You know what I’m doin’ here? Lookin’ for a reason. You wanna be my reason?”

“You have smallpox and you’re gonna die. In three days you’ll give it to everyone you meet. If you have a soul you’ll leave the city. Find a river and lay down beside it and die in peace. If I see you again I’ll kill you myself.”

“If these folks can’t survive six hours sitting by a river I’d rather know it now.” – S1 E2.

‘1883’ Season 1, Episode 3 Showcases Sam Elliott’s Talents

“I had a wife, and I ain’t lookin’ for another one. You understand? I will get you to Oregon. You have my word.” – Ep 3

“If you steal you will stay where you stole!”

“Go East. Go South – Go any way but my way! If I see you again I’m going to kill you.”

That is a free country. That is Comanche land. Beyond it is no man’s land and that’s where we’re going. You ain’t free yet!”

“Take three steps to the right… So I don’t kill the women standing behind you.”

“During the war, we fought a battle at this place called ‘The Wilderness,’ because there was nothin’ around but the wilderness. I fired my rifle so many times it melted. Just drooped like rotten fruit. So I killed with my pistol. And when I ran out of bullets I killed with my sword. And when my sword broke I killed with my boots and bare hands. When the battle was over and I looked behind me, the wilderness was gone. Not a tree left standing; chopped down chest high by bullets. We killed five-thousand men that day. When I say killing you means nothing to me, I mean it. Killing you means nothing.” – Shea to one of 1883‘s immigrant thieves.

“What did I say I’d do the next time I saw you? What did I say? I said I’d kill you, didn’t I? It’s what I said. This is your only chance to make a liar out of me.”

Season 1, Episode 4: ‘The Crossing’

“It takes a lot to surprise me, Thomas. These people… They’ve never been allowed to think for themselves. Hell, they can hardly think at all. The fact that they ain’t headed for Galveston begging their way onto a boat for home… Shocks me. It shocked me, Thomas. That they haven’t quit yet.”

“The most terrifying thing on this planet is the unknown.”

“No! He’s not a musician! And you’re not a carpenter! And he’s not a f*cking blacksmith! You are pioneers! And that’s all you are until you get there!”

“You have no home, no job, no farm! You have the journey. That’s it!”

Season 1, Episode 5: ‘The Fangs of Freedom’

“Find your own way to Oregon. If you follow us, I’ll kill you… I mean it. You follow us and it’ll be the death of you.”

“The only way you survive this is working together. Leaning on each other! This trip ain’t even gotten hard yet! But hard’s coming. The river is what happens when you don’t work together. That is your leader. You chose him. Now follow him! Or choose someone you will follow.”

‘1883’ Season 1, Episode 6, ‘Boring the Devil’

After Ennis’ tragic death, Shea comes to the aid of Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) while revealing much of himself.

“I know how you feel. A lot of people are gonna tell you that. Whether it’s truthful or not, I don’t know. But I know its true when I say it,” Shea tells her. “I’ll tell you a secret. I’ll tell you why I’m still sucking air today. I’m headed to the ocean. An Apache scout told me once, that when you love someone you trade souls with them. They get a piece of yours, and you get a piece of theirs. But when your love dies, a little piece of them dies with you. That’s why it hurts so bad. But that little piece of him is still inside you. And he can use your eyes to see the world.

“So I’m gonna take my wife to the ocean. And I’m gonna sit on the beach and let her see it. That was her dream. Then I’m gonna see her. That’s my dream.”

Episode 7, ‘Lightning Yellow Hair’

 In a gripping exchange after a full-out gunfight, Shea removes a bullet from James’ hip by squeezing it out.

“Little souvenir for your son. The bullet that didn’t kill you,” Shea smiles.

Thomas has one in his backside, too. “I think you used up the last of your luck, Thomas,” Shea tells his partner.

But there’s blood on Shea, too, dripping down to his boot. He can’t find the wound. Thomas makes him turn around, and there’s a bullet hole in the front of his hat. A bullet grazed his skull, bloodying his snow white hair.

“Used up all your luck, too, Cap’n,” Thomas smiles.

‘1883’ Episode 9, ‘Racing Clouds’

“You get tough or die in this country, that’s for sure,” Shea smiles late in the episode.

As night rolls in, Shea finds Colton still digging Alina’s grave. He’s torn to pieces over having to take her life.

“You did the right thing,” Shea tells him.

I know!” Colton screams. “But… It don’t feel right.”

“Don’t do that. You made a decision. You did what you thought was decent. Was it decent? Who knows. What the hell is decent out here? What’s the gauge? You’re the gauge. You made a decision. Now stand by it! Right or wrong, you f*cking stand by it,” Shea replies. “I’ll find you a shovel. And help you use it.”

‘1883’ Finale: Episode 10, ‘This Is Not Your Heaven’

As Elsa awaits death, Shea tells James of his own daughter he lost.

“I’ve lost a daughter, too. You’ll come to blame yourself. Think it’s your fault, for giving her so much rain. Maybe it is your fault. But I’ll say this. I’ve watched this girl for the last six months, and she has outlived us all. I’m 75-years-old. And she has outsmiled me, outloved me, outfought me. She’s outlived me. She’s outlived all of us.”

Then, as Shea fulfills his own destiny, he sits on Oregon’s ocean shore:

“Isn’t it beautiful?” he asks his wife, showing her her dream through his own eyes. As he does, a hummingbird visits, bringing tears to his old eyes before ending his life.

What an actor and what a show. Stick with your fellow Outsiders as 1883 continues only on Paramount Plus every Sunday, and we’ll add the best quotes from Sam Elliott’s Shea Brennan here.