Thomas has become 1883‘s breakout character thanks to highly-quotable dialogue and a stellar performance by LaMonica Garrett, and we’ve got all his best quotes from the series for you right here. But be warned of major spoilers ahead!
“Know what I mean?”
Through the writing of series creator Taylor Sheridan, 1883 is breaking the mold for black characters in Westerns. But it’s LaMonica Garrett’s stunning talent that imbues this storied Civil War Veteran, Buffalo Soldier, Pinkerton Agent, and remarkable man, Thomas, with some of the show’s absolute best quotes. Below, we’ve gathered his timeless dialogue from the complete run of 1883.
Thomas’ Best Quotes from ‘1883’
As Garrett said himself in a recent interview, Thomas provides much of 1883‘s heart and humanity. His dialogue is a direct reflection of this:
“Hard time’s the only times out here, Cap’n. Laughin’ is how you get through ’em.”
“When there’s two leaders, there ain’t no leader. Know what I mean?”
“When you get to Portland, some handsome farmer’s going spot you in time and take one look at them big eyes of yours and chase you down the street with flowers and candy. You watch! Don’t want to be marrying out of fear. You’ll get by out here just fine. We’ll get you by. Then, let a man earn your love. Instead of you tradin’ for it.”
“I figure maybe, that one of they kids has a kid. And that kid does somethin’. Somethin’ that… The world’s better because their kid’s in it. Know what I mean?”
“Cool heads cross rivers. Hot heads drown.”
Shea: The most terrifying thing on this planet is the unknown.
Thomas: That’s cause you ain’t never been whipped, Cap’n. Let someone put a whip to your back. Then tell me the unknown is what scares you. These folks ain’t never goin’ home.
Episodes 4 & 5 Showcase LaMonica Garrett’s Wild Talent
But alongside Thomas’ enormous heart is a physique to match. Garrett imbues his Pinkerton agent and Civil War veteran with the presence of a grizzly bear. And when he angers, everyone listens:
“When I speak, and you don’t do what I say, you get hurt. That’s the pattern here. And it don’t stop ’til you do what I say or you run out of face.”
“You need to have a word with that farmer. A word that sticks. Let me do it, I’ll make sure it sticks.” – Thomas to Shea (Sam Elliott) on James Dutton (Tim McGraw).
As the series progresses, we get to know Thomas on a much deeper level, too. He’s been through hell and back, then back again. But despite this world-weariness, it never breaks his spirit.
“Marrying a black man ain’t gonna solve your problems, ma’am. It’s gonna create a whole bunch of new ones.” – Thomas as he falls in love with Noemi (Gratiela Brancusi).
“There’s degrees of freedom. Government says you can’t swim. Can’t protect yourself. Damn right the government can tell you who to love and how to love ’em. They shouldn’t, but they can.”
“Way I grew up, things I’ve seen? Shit. Wasn’t scared of no nightmares. Went to sleep to escape ’em.”
‘1883’ Episode 6 Gives Thomas True Love
“Don’t sell that shotgun. I can teach you how to use it. You gon’ need it,” Thomas tells Noemi as she offers her late husband’s things to trade. Thomas does so for her in town, spotting a beautiful gilded hand mirror. He immediately buys it for Noemi, bringing it to her that night.
Noemi: Why would you buy me this?
Thomas: Well, if I looked like you, I figure I’d stare at myself… Every chance I got.
Noemi: This is a present
Thomas: Yes it is.
Noemi: You won’t marry me. You won’t love me. But you’ll buy me gifts.
Thomas: You’re sad. Scared. Hell, have every right to be. If I can give you somethin’ that makes you happy and can protect you, I don’t see the crime in it.
Noemi: You want me happy?
Thomas: Of course I do.
Noemi: You want me to feel safe?
Thomas: Yes ma’am.
Noemi: That’s love.
Episode 9, ‘Racing Clouds’ Brings a Timeless Thomas Quote
Thomas to the crooked lawman who’s gang murdered a village of Indigenous women and children in Episode 9:
“You ain’t do deputy, you ain’t no judge. You ain’t no f*cking jury. Those folks weren’t no thieves. You the thieves. And you gon’ die for it.”
And by the series finale, Thomas has made it to Willamette Valley, Oregon, with Noemi and her boys. It is beautiful. And it is where they’ll live out the rest of their days.
What an actor, what a perfect character, and what a ride 1883 was. Stick with your fellow Outsiders as we continue to celebrate 1883, which is now streaming in full on Paramount Plus.