‘1883’ Star Eric Nelsen Understands Fans Frustration Over Ennis Leaving Show

by Leanne Stahulak

Although “1883” star Eric Nelsen knew that his character’s death would shock fans onscreen, he didn’t expect the number of them who mourned Ennis.

And who mourned the loss of Nelsen in the show. The “1883” star did a fantastic job of bringing this charismatic cowboy to life, especially as his relationship with Elsa Dutton grew. We saw him transform from a shy boy into a young man determined to fight for his love.

Eric Nelsen opened up about his “1883” journey (and specifically his memorable exit) earlier this year. The actor spoke with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at a preview for the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame exhibit “1883: The Journey West.”

“You know, coming into it I knew it was going to happen — you know obviously, I had read the script and it was all part of the plan from day one,” Eric Nelsen explained. “So getting into it, I had an idea of the heartbreak and the disappointment that might come.”

He added, “But boy oh boy, I tell you what — the fans, you know I didn’t expect the amount of support and the amount of love that I received.”

Eric Nelsen might’ve been surprised by his warm reception from “1883” fans. But anyone who watched the show remembers the pure shock in Episode 5 when we realized that Ennis was gone for good. It felt too soon and too sudden. But ultimately, Ennis’s death did help Elsa progress and grow as a character.

Fans Ask ‘1883’ Star Eric Nelsen ‘Why’ He Had to Leave the Show

Without Ennis’s death, Elsa never would’ve lost her child-like innocence and embraced the world as a grown woman. She also never would’ve met Sam and fell in love with him. Her love for Sam and his culture ultimately set Elsa free to live the life she’d dreamed of.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t be sad that Eric Nelsen had an abrupt “1883” exit.

“It was truly overwhelming and mind-blowing for me,” Nelsen shared. “Even to this day, you know, I get stopped on the street and ‘Why did that have to happen? Why?’ They get personally offended, and I understand and I feel the frustration.”

Nelsen understands the frustration, but he also understands that Ennis’s death needed to happen for Elsa.

“But what an incredible journey and life to have lived on the show,” he concluded. “And the fact that it impacted so many people the way that it did really just showed to me that what Isabel May and I were able to do together on camera really resonated and hit closer to home. In a lot of hearts and a lot of homes. So to me, that’s everything I could have asked for.”