Leaving Hell on Wheels 'Pulled at My Heart,' Says Killed-Off Actor

Hell on Wheels Elam Dies

If you didn’t see this week’s big Hell on Wheels death coming, know that the actor who plays the ill-fated character did — because he himself had set the tragic twist in motion.

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Recently on the AMC drama, the character of Elam (played since Day 1 by the rapper/actor Common) resurfaced after having been presumed dead as the result of a Season 3-ending bear attack. Instead, Elam had survived — though the mauling left him with brain damage. That ultimately set the stage for Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) to exact a “mercy killing” of his sometime compadre, in this Saturday’s episode.

The storyline was born of Common’s want to refocus on his music career, something that was difficult to do while filming Hell on Wheels up in Calgary for much of the year, especially during tour seasons. So, just before Christmas of 2013, he reached out to showrunner John Wirth and proposed that he be written out.

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“It pulled at my heart because I really cherish the character,” Common told our sister site Deadline. “[It] wasn’t the easiest thing for me to do, but I have a lot of aspects to my career that I wasn’t able to nurture…. Acting is very, very important to me, but music is very important to me too.”

Explaining to Deadline the how of Elam’s exit, Wirth said, “We knew that if he was going to leave, he would have to meet some sort of appropriate and tragic end” — one that in turn fuels the remainder of Season 4. “It’s reinvigorated our storytelling [and] given us incredibly dramatic opportunities to put on film which we wouldn’t have had,” Wirth said.

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What did you think of Bohannon’s “mercy killing” of Elam?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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135 Comments
  1. Deborah Hairston says:

    I am so disappointed that Elam (Common) has been written out of Hell on Wheels. I had waited since the beginning of the season for his return. I would have preferred he stayed dead after the bear attack. The show has lost some of its appeal for me.

    • M3rc Nate says:

      It lost a lot of the characters that really added meat to the story line. Elam a big one…i mean whats left for Cullen? Lily is gone and was the best female on the show (and no female compares to her so fast on the show), Elam was Cullens best friend and a great character and now hes gone leaving a huge void…this show needs to hire some great actors/actresses to be leads and they need to write them really really well so they can fill the voids left by great characters/actors.

      • I agree. There is absolutely no chemistry between Anston and any of the other women on the show and that includes Ruth. No chemistry at all between Anston and the woman playing his wife now, there was between Anston and the first actress that played his wife but not this replacement. Just no chemistry at all. In most westerns beautiful women from all over get off of stagecoaches all the time. I don’t even see that happening in this show whether it be the stage coach or the train. Cullen doesn’t love the women he is calling his wife. She is so wrong for him in every way, so is Ruth. Cullen truly needs a real love interest. As I said in another post, get the Mormons outta here already-two seasons is more then enough!

        • The Happy Acorn says:

          His name is Anson.

        • bannerdog says:

          His name is Anson.

          However, I agree with you.

          There was chemistry between Anson and the actress initially playing his wife. Not so, the actress now playing it.

          The change was a major setback, imo.

          [I understand that the actress had a conflict. She was also on another show; one that ended up being cancelled. Maybe she was contractually obligated to the other show. If not, she made the wrong choice.]

          • Anna says:

            I must disagree. …the actress playing his wife first looked like a child of no more than 15….it was as if he was making out with his daughter. It was creepy. At least the new one looks like a young woman.

      • Michael Burt says:

        This comment is really off the subject. The original story is about Elam, not any of the female characters on the show, not even Eva.

    • bannerdog says:

      Elam was “written out”, as you put it, because the actor wanted to concentrate on other things. [Unfortunate, imo, as I don’t consider rap music; it’s simply garbage – and he’s quite a good actor.]

      However, if they were going to kill him off, the manner in which they did so was more dramatic, and lead to a complex, difficult decision for Cullen. Something that could impact future episodes, at least to a minor extent.

  2. Roger says:

    I agree with Deborah’s comment about it would have been better to just let Elam be dead after the Bear attack rather than to play out the brain damage angle and the mercy killing. The mercy killing angle wasn’t convincing to me – a true friend would have knocked Elam out and done all he could to help him remember his past even if that meant an asylum – not to have the stomach to kill him. They way it was portrayed lacked credibility with me.

    • I think it had great credibility. Putting a friend out of pain and misery.

    • What??? If I am attacking and trying to kill one of my best friends – and let’s be clear, that’s exactly what these two were – because I had lost my mind, I’d rather him kill me than send me to an asylum. What kind of life is that? For Elam, that would have been as bad as slavery. To not know that means you really haven’t been paying attention to the show. And yes, letting the bear kill him would have been an option, but here’s the bottom line: Common was leaving one way or another. The repercussions and ripples that will come out of Cullen doing it instead of the bear will make for much better TV. And since this is TV we’re watching, it’s the better option. That simple.

      • Vonn says:

        I agree with you. He wouldn’t have made it in an asylum. ..physically and mentally. I think it was strong way to leave. The bear attack would have been typical of the old west. Common came up with the story. I admire his idea.

      • Carol WheelsWatcher says:

        Absolutely. This is a much better way to go and adds to what is to come in the series

    • IMHO says:

      According to Deadline the Bear attack caused a “brain infection” along with brain damage. That is why his eye was damaged from within.
      No asylum or doctor during that time period would of been able to heal him. Maybe not even today. At least we have antibiotics and psychiatric hospitals. An Asylum back then was a pit of despair. Something you wouldn’t wish on a friend.
      Eva was right, Elam wasn’t there anymore.

      • Sheree Voshell says:

        That is correct but they did have another option….no one is irreplaceable. They could have found another actor to replace Common’s character of Elam. It could have been done. It would have had to be just the right guy. He’s out there. It would have taken some getting use to but it works for other shows, it could have worked here as well. At least the character would have not been killed off.

        • I will miss the character Elam. Perhaps they could have left him out for a while, then brought him back as an amnesiac, or falsely imprisoned, or something to explain his absence.

        • I COMPLETELY agree!! Many times actors have been replaced by another. There is the well-known two Darrens of Bewitched fame. It happens alot it soaps. It happens all the time in the theatre when the understudy steps in, Elam was too pivotal a character to have had him taken away like that.

        • Carol WheelsWatcher says:

          What? You mean like a soap opera? He goes away as one person and comes back the same person only completely different? Yeah…no. Let’s respect common and his vision of the character. Maybe they can use your idea by just bring in another actor developing his story line with Cullen and allowing their chemistry to build. People still talk about what a terrible idea it was to switch one Darin (Bewitched) for another as was suggested by another comment.

      • gwen says:

        Iwant him back

    • E.J. says:

      I fully agree. That would also have left an opening for a return if so desired at a later date.

    • quallasings says:

      It also lacked talent of the writers. He will return….that’s my story and im sticking to it. Lol

  3. tahina45 says:

    So sad to see a good character go, and even more sad his best friend had to kill him. It’s time to wrap this once good show and let it be. Loved Cullen and Elam friendship, what else is there worth watching on this story line anymore? The train, the train! :(

  4. wrstlgirl says:

    That episode was so well done. Truly one of the shows best. Sad to see Elam go but I still love the show. It’s one of my favorites.

  5. Some chick says:

    You have wont instead of want when it explains his reasons for leaving.

  6. I found the ending of the episode to be quite touching. Well done!

  7. rifraf says:

    I love this show, including the relationship between Cullen and Elam. Elam being dead after bear mauling would have been frustrating to a lot of viewers. Although this death is rather confusing I think it build more to the show and gives Elam better closure to the show. Common, you did a great job playa your character got me hooked on the show. I honestly think being on this show would have opened more opportunities, but I respect your passion for music…God bless brother!…this show still rox

  8. Ruby bell says:

    I was ok with Elam’s demise because I didn’t want the show to go down some rabbit hole about the Eva/Elam relationship. I was sorry we spent 2 episodes on this. Some have commented that viewers would have been frustrated if Elam would have simply died from the bear fight. In my opinion it wouldn’t have been any worse than Lilly Bell’s 5 minute send off. I continue to enjoy the show, but I think it’s dying a slow death. There are too many open story lines, it’s frustrating. And we keep bringing back the swede – that story line should have ended a long time ago. I would appreciate some continuity and resolution.

    • Beau says:

      I agree with you Ruby, and I think the two episodes to “write off” Elam were a big waste. I worry the show becomes vulnerable when several episodes a season lose momentum like this. I really enjoy this show and don’t want it canceled anytime soon, but it’s a tough business so no room to slip up…

  9. Jonathon says:

    A couple years ago if Elam was killed off I may have actually quit on this show but there have been many great performances by other actors on this show and Common was amazing before but was at his best the last couple weeks and I wanted to cry right with Cullen at the end. I am glad the bear didn’t maul Elam but I’m also glad the writers didn’t miraculously give him his sanity at the end of this episode. It made this feel more realistic and even harder to handle. This has been my favorite season since season one and I can’t wait to see what happens with the swede, Mickey, Ruth, psalms, Durant, Cullen and everyone else next week! We will miss you Elam but you certainly left your mark on this show

    • Jeremy says:

      I was Norwegian in my past life, not swede. lol

    • Jeremy says:

      You’re right about Common. That man is a great actor. I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I think he should receive an Emmy for his performance in the last two episodes. Now that Breaking Bad is all done and over, I hope some of these other well-deserving actors will have a chance to win some awards. I will miss you Common. You were a big part of the show. I wish you well in your pursuit of music. I’m glad to have had you for the last four seasons. I hope the swede finally gets what’s coming to him. But don’t call him the swede, because he is Norwegian lol. There are a lot of angles left to this story. I want to see Bohanan hook up with the preachers daughter. Then there will be the power play to get the Sheriff and crew out of Cheyenne. I think Cheyenne is going to get so dangerous that Cullin’s current wife is going to opt to move back into the fort. There can also be a chance that the Swede might break free of the fort and come after Cullen and end up killing his wife and child.

      In this show Cullin is always losing. He lost his family, he lost his old civil war friend, he lost is job as the head of the railroad construction, he lost Elam; I am fairly certain that Cullin will lose more friends as the show moves forward. I hope the show ends with Cullin being rich, owning a lot of stocks in the railroad, and chillin at the country club with Mr. Huntington. I want to see the guy who owns the bar being the biggest king pin in the old west lol. I want to see Mr. Durant broke on the streets. But in this show, Mr. Durant always goes from rich, to broke, and then back to being on top of the world. Any how, I will miss you Common. You and Cullin worked through a lot of heated racial issues on this show. I like how brutally honest it is race wise. It shows how the North stopped slavery, but they still mistreated the Blacks; and they still considered them to be subhuman. Cullin is actually going through a huge transformation character wise. He has humbled himself to work for a black foreman, and he does so without disdain. This show is very brutal, but it is also very inspiring. Please let there be another season or two of this show. I truly look forward to watching many more episodes.

      • Sheree Voshell says:

        I agree with what you said about Cullen always seems to be the one on the losing end of things. You forgot to mention of of his greatest losses of all besides his wife and child in the civil war and that was losing Lily.
        I also don’t understand this: General Grant really likes Cullen. Durant only got the railroad back because Cullen was kidnapped by the Mormons. Everyone really liked Cullen – why the people didn’t get a posse and go after Cullen and try to find him was a bad writing mistake. They didn’t have to find him but by gosh they should have tried. But this is what I don’t get…Durant only got the railroad back because of Cullen’s kidnapping. Now that Cullen is back and since Durant was reluctantly given the railroad back – why hasn’t General Grant and the other powers that be given the railroad back to Cullen? He was doing a much better job then Durant ever did and it wasn’t his fault he was kidnapped. After all, General Grant and the Bankers all like Cullen better. So why isn’t that being addressed now that Cullen is back. Also, there is something I really dislike about Cullen’s wife. She is supposed to be such a Mormon and yet she lay with Cullen his first night at their ranch. Cullen didn’t rape her. How many others could she have lain with? I question if that baby is Cullen’s at all. Swede is not a Bishop or minister and she knows this, he married them, so she knows she and Cullen aren’t really married. Yet she tries to play the Mormon card often. What a hypocrite!!!! Also, Cullen doesn’t really love her. I am really, really tired of this Mormon storyline involving Cullen. Set him free already!!! Enough is enough already, two seasons of this storyline and yet again another loss for Cullen when he loses yet another son.
        They are also aging Cullen way too fast!!! At this rate he will look like an old man in the next couple of years. Come on, Anson, cover some of that grey. A little is distinguishing but too much just looks old. You shouldn’t be looking as old as you do. Your far too handsome to let that become a distraction. He’s starting to look older then Durant with all that grey all over his face and hair.

  10. Cloudy says:

    I have to admit to tears. Very fitting and sad send off for our beloved Elam. Heartbreaking to see him go. He did an excellent job in these 2 episodes (as usual). Anson also. There should be a couple of EMMY nods to these 2 fine actors. Love the show!

    • Jeremy says:

      Exactly, it’s time to break out the Emmy’s for Anson and Common. Breaking Bad has had way too much time in the sun taking over all of the Emmy awards. Can a brother get an Emmy please lol?

      • Sheree Voshell says:

        I so agree about these two getting Emmys. They should have received them in the past. I like Brian Cranston but sorry Brian, Anston Mount has out performed you for several years. And Common and Anston should beat you by miles in the Best Actor category for this past episode for sure! Hollywood just slays me… I know Breaking Bad is popular but all that recognition for a show about making Meth. Sends the wrong message some how. H.O.W is a wonderful refreshing western that could be a great, great western if AMC and the owners of the series would just let it be. I say Emmys all the way!!!!

    • Linda M. Crawford says:

      COMMON MADE THE SHOW !!

    • Yep. Last episode just screamed EMMY BAIT, and this one put the bow on top.

      I mean that in the best possible way. Outstanding two-episode arc and the performances just KILLED (pardon the pun).

  11. Sheree Voshell says:

    I’m a bit surprised that no one else saw this coming but me. I knew Common was coming back and I heard back last Spring that he wanted to leave the show. I said that something was going to happen that would force Cullen to kill him. I saw it all the way. I love this show. The events with Common wanting to leave left me with questions. I have seen just about every thing he has done in acting, Hell On Wheels is by far the best thing he has ever done. He finally found a vehicle that showed how good of an actor he is and wants to leave…… I can’t understand his love for music, however he a hip hop artist that has been gone for quite some time. He is no Spring chicken any longer and many new younger artists have come along since he’s been away. His window of opportunity may have shrunk somewhat. Oh they’re will be fans that remember him but I don’t know if the younger kids will take to an older hip hop artists. By quitting H.O.W. he may have just shot himself in the foot. Because instead of sending him to an asylum they flat killed him off so he can never return.
    Also, they could have chosen to pulled the ole Darrin Stevens routine and replaced Elam with another actor. No on is irreplaceable. It might have taken us all some time to get use to the new guy and comparisons would surely be made but with the right actor it could have worked…..shows do it all the time now.
    Another thing that really bugged me was Elam’s brother’s attitude. For Pete sake Elam was trying to kill Cullen and was crazy as a loon! Did Moses expect Cullen just to let Elam kill him???? I know Elam was his brother but there were snipers everywhere, there is no way Elam was walking out of that corral!! So his brothers attitude is extremely unwarranted and quite frankly out of place.
    The show was one of the best since the death of Lily. Another thing that bothers me…I understand the felt like the had to kill Elam off (they still could have replaced the actor) because Common was leaving the show. But when are they going to kill Swede off???!!?? We’ve all had enough of Swede and his storylines. Enough is enough already! Speaking of Swede, it is bound to come out that Cullen and his wife aren’t really married as Swede married them. I’m also wondering if that’s really Cullen’s baby at all, I have some major thoughts on this which I will keep to myself. Anyway, they keep bringing in bad mean characters anyway, it’s like no nice people ever lived in the West. I sure hope they are shopping around for some great actors for next season, please let there be a next season. Also, has anyone else noticed how they used to have great music on the show but they have gotten away from that wonderful music this season. It has been a great season so far, much better then last year. Sorry to see Common go.

    • Sara says:

      Moses is really Psalms…not his brother. He only thought (in his TBI head) that Psalms was his brother, Moses. Remember him asking “Moses” to go to the house and get something for his headache? The quizzacal look Psalms gave him was because he realized that Elam didn’t really know who he was afterall. So his attitude was spot on and very warranted!!

      • Sheree Voshell says:

        How can you say that? My mistake was for using the wrong name for Psalms. Elam was still trying to KILL Cullen. For Heaven sake he had a knife at his head and would have used it if Cullen hadn’t turned it around on Elam. Elam was trying extremely hard to kill Cullen!! That’s why his attitude was extreme unwarranted and out of place! Was Cullen suppose to just stand there and let this crazy man kill him to make Psalms a happy camper? Elam was a nut job abusing the women he had with him and anyone that got on his way. He was trying to sell those women as slaves and thought he had “bear magic”. Psalms witnessed all of this but most of all him calling Cullen a white devil and trying time and time again to stab and kill Cullen. Everyone heard Cullen trying to reason with Elam to no avail. Also Cullen’s 15 mins were up and Campbell was about to have his henchmen shoot Elam. Another reason. for his unwarranted and out of place attitude – Elam was already a dead man! Now, because of Eva’s own guilt they will even make her dislike Cullen. After everyone witnessing all this unfold – no one should Cullen responsible for anything!!!!!

    • Sorry for all of my typos. I was in too big of a hurry and didn’t take time to proof.
      I didn’t mean to say I can’t understand Commons love for music….it should have read: I can understand his love for music.

  12. quallasings says:

    Before reading the above (Common asking to be written out to focus on his music carrier), I was a bit hurt that Cullen choice to kill him. When Elam had the knife at Common’s forehead, Cullen should have just kicked him in his jingle bells or something, tied him in the barn or something until he got his memory back. Im really gonna miss Elam. He was the only reason I watched the show. Im gonna think about continuing to watch.

    • Sara says:

      That is just it…he would not have gotten his memory back!! They did not have modern medicine or psychologist’s and such in the wild west! His brain was broken and it wasnt gonna get “better”. If he would have had a miraculous recovery it wouldn’t have been believable at all or held true to the time period. I m sorry Elam is dead…but it was an incredible, jaw dropping episode…certainly Emmy worthy!!

      • Kathy says:

        Thank you Sara- he wasn’t going to get his memory back. His brain was damaged and infected. It was only going to be a matter of time before the infection killed him. The show is Hell on Wheels, not Happy on Wheels. While I will miss Elam and Cullen’s and Elam and Eva’s relationship this is a reality of life at that time that people die and it’s not pretty. I would have rather had Cullen take him out than one of Campbell’s men or a random person. For me Elam died in the bear attack, this was not the Elam we had known and loved.

  13. Debs says:

    Get rid of Cullen’s wife – she adds nothing & is not a very good actress

    • charlie says:

      I agree, at least they got a different somewhat older actress to play the role of his wife. I found myself feeling uncomfortable with the almost child he had sex with when she got pregnant,

  14. Wow! I started watching “Hell on Wheels” because of Common…I read most of the comments before I wrote this comment. And I also liked Anson Mount/Cullen. It took me a while to realize that Elam had brain damage, because the bear actually bit into his head.Now, I was glad that both Cullen and Common were able to see each other once again, but I wished that someone else had killed him instead of Cullen. I will miss Common…and Common is not just a mere rapper…younger people popping up with new fresher music has nothing on Commo’s unique style of rap music infused as poetry with a message….i love his music, as well as his acting…he will truly be missed!!!

    • Sara says:

      It reminded me Of Mice and Men…and when a friend does it more out of love and not wanting to see them suffer…than a stranger who just wants them dead.

  15. MerMill says:

    Sad to see Elam go, but what an affecting episode. Very well acted on all the cast’s parts.

  16. danoregon says:

    Thought it played out well – I figured Elam would have been caught and taken to Cheyenne for taking part in the cavalry attack. Bohannon still could have killed him himself, Eva would have seen him…thought it did a good job of foreshadowing with the “we both know there are men that need killing” at the top of the show with Durant.

  17. Steven Plagman says:

    Great works demand great sacrifices, and the railroad is no different. From the moment Cullen became involved with the building of the railroad, it has tried as hard as it can to strip everything of meaning from his life, leaving him only the job itself. The railroad is a jealous mistress, and bit by bit, Cullen is losing everything he loves on its behalf, sacrificing all he has both willingly and unwillingly, on the altar of progress. It’s no surprise that every time there is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, the railroad demands another sacrifice, and the greater the obstacle, the greater the sacrifice it demands. In that sense, Elam is simply one more offering to the ravening beast that Cullen worships.

    While on the surface, it may have seemed Elam’s death was pointless (other than to provide closure to the fans), that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cullen’s visceral reaction to having killed his best friend–the one man he could count on no matter what the circumstances–made him take off his guns and lock them away, perhaps for good. While I doubt he will be able to renounce violence completely, I think he feels that he’s finally done with killing. He’s had enough of blood and death.

    While I’m very sad to see Elam/Common go, it makes a great deal of sense in the larger narrative, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here.

  18. christopher bee says:

    That was a big heartbraking goodbye of Common´s character, another great Wheels Moment. Love that Show.

  19. JWB says:

    I find it hard to believe Hell on Wheels is still around. I really enjoyed the first two seasons. They fired the creators Joe and Tony Gayton after season 2. The show was never the same after that. . I gave up during season 3.

  20. terry says:

    I’m guessing this is the last season of HOW.

  21. I love this show and am so sorry to see Elam go but seems it was his choice. I agree with most of the comments below, too many characters with open ended story lines. I am tired of Swede too let him go somewhere. Cullen needs a happy life soon, I don’t think he cares at all for his new little, young wife and only married her because of the baby. He needs to find some sort of happiness soon. Maybe Psalms will step up and become another Elam to Cullen. I did want Elam to come back and be happy with Eva but that was not to be.

  22. LaBete says:

    I could tell during the previous week’s Elam-centric episode (which I thought was great, btw) that our Elam was gone for good. I did feel really bad for both Cullen and Elam that Cullen had to kill him like that, putting him down like a rabid dog in the dirt. That was harsh!

  23. Clay K says:

    Call me a conspiracy theorist but I don’t buy Common’s exit cover story. Admittedly, I was skeptic when I first watched Hell on Wheels, thinking I wouldn’t be interested in a seemingly limited show; the pacific railroad company completes the railroad, roll credits.

    But I was surprised at the stellar performances of certain cast members, in particular Elam.
    The dynamics of his “friendship” with Cullen and his refusal to be treated as anything less than the common man speaks to a rebelliousness that we all can understand and love.

    It seems that sometimes in shows the “supporting cast” receives a bit too much unwarranted attention which begins to threaten the importance of the shows proclaimed protagonist.

    Before you tell me that he would have had brain damage and memory loss or any other realistic grievous injury from getting attacked by a bear and surviving, I’d ask you why the hell was he attacked by a bear in the first place? He could have rode off into the sunset to make a cameo in a later season if need be.

    Killing Elam during a botched attempt to rescue Cullen was an attempt at a noble death for a much adored character. Bringing him back twisted and forever changed to be put down was closure for Cullen pure and simple. He didn’t have to leave town to return the favor AND he gets to add another nightmare to his already blood-ridden “mysterious” background littered with the deaths of his friends and family.

    I’ll continue watching this now subpar show but am no longer a fan, merely a viewer.

    *cranks up Common – Go*

    • Kamillionaire says:

      I agree with you sir! 100% to think that this will satisfy the viewers even more is falsified. This episode made me cringe and I wish they thought it out more!

  24. Michael Perry says:

    It was like of mice and men ending. I thought it was another strong black man being killed off a very good series. Now that I know it was his Choice I’m ok with it. So it was a powerful and sad ending. And it was done tastefully.

  25. judith starks says:

    I started watching hell on wheels because I love Common. I was sad when he died but I will continue to watch it because I love the show and some of the characters. Hey I wanted to cry too.

  26. sermet ayhan says:

    Yes, I’m shocked to see Bohannon’s killing Elam, a man who is closest to a brother for Cullen. I thought the same thing: Cullen could spare his best friend, why he killed him? And it was better to leave Elam as killed by the bear. Then, another thought has come to my mind: If the scriptwriters want to show some psycho-emotional tsunami, which would shake the entire show to its foundations, nothing could do it better than making Cullen kill Elam. That’s my thought.

  27. John Moshier says:

    should of let him stay with the Indians that nirsey killing just didn’t do it any way still a great show don’t cancel it like longmire

  28. wade says:

    Why did you bring him back from death to make bohannonkill him its like bat man killing robin I halved watched since first episode don’t care to watch it you must lost a writer if not you need to!!!!!!!

  29. connie says:

    I was disappointed to see him go that way, it had to.be really hard for his friend Cullum. I really like his character and his crazy friendship he.shared with Cullum. I would have seen he go due to the bear, for this is another burden for his friend to carry . I will miss Elam and what he might of.had with Eva.

  30. Scarlett says:

    There are only 10 episodes a season, and they wasted 2 on killing Elam. I am afraid that I may feel short changed at the end of this season.

  31. Della says:

    It’s okay. No problem with assisted dying. Will miss the character though. He was very good

  32. Nadine Pickard says:

    Wow…heart broken!!!
    I will be watching to see where the writers will “railroad”us next!!! I am happy to see Common go out on top!!! I love Bohannon, but he need to hurry up and get on the job and set those so call government officials straight. Showing them he is Hell On Wheels!

  33. Tim Parks says:

    Been a fan of this show from the beginning, actually kind of preferred it to the Walking Dead even though I enjoy that show as well.

    I may be one of the few, but I really wanted to see where the Eva and Elam storyline could go as I like stories about apparently tragic couples. Did I want Elam’s character to continue on the show? Yes, especially after his face was all torn up by the bear to see if what Eva felt for him was actually real and not partially superficial.

    But the manner of his death I felt was quite fitting. After Cullen stabbed him, the look on his face was almost pleading for death. It was as if his soul was torn between the insanity he was experiencing, and a moment of clarity in the situation at hand. what Cullen did, I hope I would have a friend in this world who would care enough to do that for me.

    And as far as Psalms comment on what gave him the right. I felt this was a powerful scene too, well placed. The Right was that he was truly his friend.

    And the finale of Cullen’s wailing, that probably was one of the most powerful scenes from the episode for me, as it showed what internal turmoil the character was having. It brought me back to when Cullen was told by Psalms about Elam missing and his wife asking about who he was. It was at that moment you were waiting for him to say “my friend”.

  34. Alex says:

    Absolutely outstanding!!!!!

  35. connie says:

    It had to be so hard.for Cullen to kill his friend. I sure he wanted to fine another way to save him, but he seen enough of these things to know there was no other way out. This will be the burden he’ll have to carry. My.heart.broke for him.

  36. Wayland Burton says:

    Everyone has stated my comment and Deborah is absolutely right. The antagonistic nature of Bohannon’s and Elam’s relationship was always interesting. To see how Black men actually helped to settle the west not as laborers but as men with ambition was exciting. It has lost its appeal. I like Anston Mount but he has to have a side kick and that was Elam his equal.

  37. Carolyn says:

    I am so disappointed that Elam was killed off. The relationship with Cullen and Elam and Eva is what made the show as good as it waS. The other actors are good, but the story will not be the same without Elam. I am not trying to take away from the other actors, but I can’t see the storyline for good now. I know that singing is his passion, but I like his acting a lot more than I like his singing. Maybe somehow, they will find a way to bring him back, because he did say that since he was mauled by the bear, he could not die. I probably will not be looking at it anymore.

    Carolyn

  38. Ruby Bell says:

    Psalms can easily replace Elam. Psalms is the smarter, shrewder black antagonist for Cullen, also a better actor in my opinion. I don’t think you leave a hit show like HOW after 3-4 years to concentrate on your music. I think you didn’t negotiate the contract you wanted – aka you’re not worth as much as you think you are. Wait to see if his music career skyrockets. If it does, then I stand corrected. I think the only 2 actors who can’t leave or be replaced are Mount and Meany. Please, let Elam go. We can recover as we did when Lilly was killed.

  39. Kristy says:

    I loved Cullen before, I love him more now. Elam was his best friend. He cherished his friendship. As hard as it was to do, he provided Elam the best death possible in consideration of his mental state. Cullen is the epitome of strength, courage, and dedication. His character is all that a man should be. This act is simply one more display of this.

  40. danspiegel says:

    One option was to replace Elam with USA goaltender Tim Howard. There’s certainly a resemblance. Lol.

  41. eve c says:

    It made for engrossing TV but it’s disappointing to lose such an appealing central character. I agree that the Mormons, the wife and most of all, the impostor are all story lines that aren’t working.I’d like more focus on relationships, daily life, and attitudes of the time. Let’s see what medicine and the local doctor are all about. What goes on in the school? How about a snake oil salesman? The peek into the Indian lifestyle was great. Love the show and opening images/music. Anson is the perfect choice for the lead.

  42. Sah says:

    This show is done. No good characters left other than Cullen. Killing off Lily Bell was big mistake. She was perfect for him, such a wonderful beautiful woman. Great character no other female is even close on this show. The chemistry between Cullen and Lily was amazing. Now they kill off his best friend, guess they had no choice because Common wanted out, but still. Beginning of the end for Hell on Wheels.

  43. Sah says:

    Killing off amazing integral characters like Elam and Lily Bell that make your lead more interesting. Then you fail to replace them. Its like the show wants to be cancelled. This ain’t game of thrones which has endless awesome characters. They can get away with Killing leads and survive, hell on wheels cannot.

    • Lanette says:

      I cannot watch it anymore. I would have preferred Elam left for dead than to have it end the way it did. It just worked between Elam and Cullen. The whole Mormon wife thing doesn’t work and the Suede or Norwegian gets on my last nerve. Why do they keep this man going? I just cannot bear to watch it again with Cullen’s role as is. I know a lot of people who feel the same way. The carpetbagger and his group have nothing to offer. What is the point? Are you trying to get the show cancelled? Find a way to make it work and bring Elam back. Get back to the old storyline of a smooth-rocking Bohannon. What a twisty boring mess they have come up with. The first women for Bohannon was the best… why kill her off? Sad indeed.

  44. A Davis says:

    Sad. I really enjoyed the relationship between Élan and Cullem. Lost interest in other characters.

  45. RDS says:

    I couldn’t wait for the shows return so that I could watch Elam & Cullen – they were the reason I loved watching “Hell on Wheels.” When Cullen cried – so did I – it was such a touching scene when he shot Elam and when he was burying him…it was well done – but, I wish they hadn’t killed off Elam – so that maybe down the road should he have decided to put his music career on hold – he could have returned….now my interest in the show had deminished due to the loss of Elam…:o(

  46. Laurie says:

    It was sad. I’ll miss Common. He played one of the original characters that drew me into the story line and kept me rooting for his passion to drive on. Maybe they will strengthen the relationship between Psalms and Cullen. Still want Lilly back. Think it could be done. Interested to see what happens. I really like Eva. Loved Mickey too, though the bath tub scene gave me the creeps. I’m still rooting for Mickey to perservere , and stand up with Cullen to remove the carpet baggers. Hope they renew for season 5. Love the show!

  47. Man I am so bummed! I do not listen to Common’s music but he did a marvelous job acting in this series. He is talented and I am sure his fans will miss him. It will leave a gaping hole in the series. The only 4 characters I care about better the circle the wagons because if they don’t, it could mean the end of this series. Any fan can name the four that are crucial to this series- Eva, Colin, Durant, and the Sweed lol. Everyone else is doilies on a fine made table.

  48. Deborah Lewis says:

    I did not like it. I would like for you all to make this a long bad dream and dream and please please please bring Common back. He is such a big part of the show..he gives it a lot of character. Find a way to shoot around him, but please do not get rid of him. He and Eva have such a strong bond on screen , no one can replace that. Thank you.. PS also he is a sight to behold

  49. sunny says:

    I am know longer interested in watching hell on wheels.

  50. THe show will have way better ratings now. Most of the people who watch this show are either history nuts or history Scholars such as myself. I stopped watching because of the total and complete incorrectness of the history or the times right after the “war between the States” there would have NEVER NEVER been any black man who had that much power anywhere especially on the railroads; Yikes. Changing Cullen’ wife was a mistake fhat is for sure, but she will catch on soon enough, she is a strong woman and there were plenty of those from the south that had been ruined that took to the railroad. The ratings are already up this year. One of the other problems that is our of place is the fact that there are no Chinese working the R/R there were way more of them then any other workers. fiction or not the show needs to have a better “Correct” event time line to survive. The new Sheriff is an actual person, but was not in the manner that he is in this show. I hope it gets as good as I think it will.

    • Kami says:

      So, you feel no black people should be on the show….? Your happy that Common is off? Well, if I wanted to watch history as it was I would watch the history channel…. To say that history scholars watch the show mainly is false. Its a television show it can be written however it wants. If a black man wants to work on the railroads, then okay (its television). Ugh! Ignorance…

    • Robin Moore says:

      Chinese are accurately represented in HOW. They’re on the Central Pacific, laying tracks in California and Nevada. Blacks and Irish worked for the Union Pacific, so we shouldn’t see Chinese in Nebraska and Wyoming.

      As far as there NEVER EVER being a black man who rose to power immediately after the Civil War — well, maybe not, but if there ever was, for whatever unique circumstances, it sure wouldn’t make it into any newspaper, or history book. I think the fact that Elam is of mixed race, and achieves prominence, is written in a very believable way. At the end of the fourth season, Durrant says to Bohannon that only he, Durrant, will be remembered when all is said and done. No matter what Bohannon does to complete the railroad, no one will ever know that he ever lived. That is the way power really works — by who is chosen to be remembered and who is written out of the minds of a future society.

      I was floored by Elam’s end — for Common’s relentless portrayal of the smallest nuances of mental illness — for Anson Mount’s raw grief. I have never seen anything like that in a western. You said “scholars and history nuts” watch this show. Yep. I’ve watched everything western and everything trains for pert near 60 years, and I’m thinking this is the best I’ve ever seen. Those duel episodes of Elam’s death cinched it for me.

      I think Cullen killed Elam much like he killed his other closest friend, Doc — out of knowing he was being begged to end a life with dignity, and not let strangers do it.