‘1883’: Taylor Sheridan Calls James Jordan His ‘Pinch Hitter’ When He Needs To Kill a Character

by Shelby Scott

Parallel to the realities of the 19th century, “1883” featured more than a few character deaths. And while we saw major and minor characters alike perish, the last few are definitely the most significant. That said, Taylor Sheridan shared that, when it’s to kill off a character, actor James Jordan is his “pinch hitter.”

Following the “1883” finale, Taylor Sheridan spoke exclusively with Deadline about some of the most dynamic episodes, scenes, and characters. However, while some character deaths marked a pivotal moment within “1883,” that of the caravan’s cook, Cookie, was a means to an end. No offense to the actor, James Jordan.

During the exclusive interview, Deadline ironically recalled the multiple times James Jordan’s characters have died. “1883” saw his character shot through with Lakota arrows, falling off of his wagon, and sustaining more than a few bullet wounds. On another occasion, his character on “Wind River” suffered an equally harsh demise. If you haven’t seen it yet, however, I won’t give it away.

Nevertheless, while James Jordan is a dynamic actor within Taylor Sheridan’s universe, the creator said, “James Jordan, he’s my pinch hitter, when I need to kill somebody.”

As to the term “pinch hitter,” it originates from baseball. Pinch hitter refers to a player who bats in place of a teammate, especially during high-stakes points in the game. So I guess if it’s a core cast member or James Jordan, it’s James Jordan that’s going to get axed.

Taylor Sheridan Made ‘1883’ a ‘Rollercoaster Ride’ for Viewers

James Jordan’s frequent “deaths” have, practically, become a staple within the Taylor Sheridan universe. And as such, it removes some of the tragedy that typically follows a favorite character’s demise. However, in “1883,” Taylor Sheridan had the audience’s emotions in mind, hoping to bring fans on an emotional “rollercoaster ride.”

The “1883” finale was a doozy for Outsiders, with multiple character deaths in a period spanning less than an hour. However, because of Sheridan’s plan for the series, we have to assume that the heartbreak we’re feeling is the result he imagined.

In speaking with Deadline, Sheridan explained, “The goal with ‘1883,’ I wanted to tell this really abstract odd structured story. If you were paying attention, I tell you exactly what was going to happen [to Shea and Elsa], in the first scene of the first episode.”

From there, he “hopefully made you fall in love with the world, and forget that stuff, and play with your expectations that there’s no way what I’ve already told you could actually happen.”

While most television series might build up to a significant character’s death, Taylor Sheridan unveils the conclusion from the get-go. And although we watch the tragic events unfold right before us, the beauty of the world contained within “1883” forces us to step outside of that bleak reality. So when the characters’ deaths actually took place, they held a stronger significance because the build-up saw detailed character development.

Overall, he summarized, “To play with structure that way, felt like a new rollercoaster ride for an audience, and hopefully a really reflective and beautiful one.”