Hell on Wheels: Season 1 (2011 - 2012)


Season 1
Hell on Wheels

Critics Consensus

Its Old West setting and central revenge plot may be overly familiar, but Hell on Wheels holds just enough intrigue to keep things interesting.



Critic Ratings: 35


Audience Score

User Ratings: 162

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Air date: Nov 6, 2011
Air date: Nov 13, 2011
Air date: Nov 20, 2011
Air date: Nov 27, 2011
Air date: Dec 4, 2011
Air date: Dec 11, 2011
Air date: Dec 18, 2011
Air date: Jan 1, 2012
Air date: Jan 8, 2012
Air date: Jan 15, 2012

Hell on Wheels: Season 1 Photos

Tv Season Info

Former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) and his quest for revenge on the Union troops who killed his wife are followed in this Western series. Season 1 sees Cullen head west to take a job helping to construct the first transcontinental railroad, a project spurred by scheming entrepreneur Thomas "Doc" Durant (Colm Meaney). After being hired as a foreman, Cullen meets crewman Elam Ferguson (Common), an emancipated slave who butts heads with Cullen after impeding Cullen's search for his wife's killer. The actions of Lily Bell (Dominique McElligot), the wife of a railroad surveyor killed by the Cheyenne, also play a prominent role in the season.


Anson Mount
as Cullen Bohannon
Colm Meaney
as Thomas "Doc" Durant
as Elam Ferguson
Ben Esler
as Sean McGinnes
Philip Burke
as Mickey McGinnes
Phil Burke (II)
as Mickey McGinnes
Eddie Spears
as Joseph Black Moon
Wes Studi
as Chief Many Horses
Ted Levine
as Daniel Johnson
Tom Noonan
as Rev Nathaniel Cole
Gerald Auger
as Pawnee Killer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Hell on Wheels: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Hell on Wheels Season 1

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (21)

This one's hell by any measure.

Nov 6, 2011 | Full Review…

None of Hell on Wheels' juicy eruptions of pulp or sporadic glimpses of soul impedes the myth-belching progress of a story about the little engine of empire that could.

Nov 6, 2011 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Hell on Wheels is a big and ambitious stab at the genre, with a lot going on and much to recommend.

Nov 6, 2011 | Rating: B | Full Review…
Top Critic

A dark, complex and intense drama about a group of damaged people who come together after the Civil War to help build the Transcontinental Railroad.

Nov 6, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Solid cast, intriguing premise, and - best of all - the Old West.

Nov 6, 2011 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
Top Critic

The characters - including Meaney's monster - are promising, the racial tensions are bracing, and the atmosphere is transporting.

Nov 6, 2011 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

The folks who make this show are clearly playing a long game, and I'm unsure if I found myself dazzled throughout the season; entertained, for sure, but not blown away.

Mar 2, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Hell On Wheels might not be groundbreaking, but it is captivating and eager to tell multiple stories of the men and women struggling to find purpose after the end of the Civil War.

Nov 6, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

It's not original, not witty, and not creative.

Nov 6, 2011 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

May prove to be just interesting enough: justice served Western-style, with a quick draw or sharp knife, as evil men get their due.

Nov 6, 2011 | Rating: 7.2/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Hell on Wheels: Season 1

  • Jun 07, 2019
    Three seconds into Season I, Episode I, three lousy freaking seconds, and the whole show is already ruined for me. The caption says "Washington, DC 1865" yet the background is a COMPLETED Capitol dome. Phuck, any history nerd worth his history-nerd badge KNOWS that the work on the Capitol dome was not completed until 1866. So where is the scaffolding?!
  • Dec 27, 2018
    Fantastic characters, both real and not real, help overcome the feeling of "this has been done by other westerns before."
  • Dec 21, 2017
    Cullen Bohannon is a rare character and makes the show.
  • Feb 25, 2017
    Phenomenal show is all I can say. One of the best shows I have watched. Heard speculation that there might be a spin-off or another season and that people have leaned in the direction of the spin-off. Myself personally would LOVE to see another season released. I was pleased with the endingirls although I want to know how life moves on and the final verdict with Durant. Let's get another season!!!
  • Feb 12, 2017
    Brilliant and Fantastic, I love Colm Meaney a great actor and Anson Mount is superb as is the rest of the cast. The era and historical background is brilliantly written and I cannot wait to watch more
  • Aug 05, 2016
    Gritty western with a great and very believable cast.
  • Jul 23, 2016
    Love this show for its audacity to portray the human condition, the grit, and fortitude of the pioneers, rapists, evil-intentioned, good-intentioned, the greedy, the survivalists, and everything else you can think of that dwells in humanity. Something extremely intriguing about the human spirit and its quest for its perceived betterment.
  • Jul 04, 2016
    Omg this is the best serie we ever watched !!! We couldn't stop 3 days in a row !! When is the next season coming !!!
  • May 25, 2016
    Just got done rewatching season 1 and it was as good if not better the 2nd time around. I only seen each ep once so it was like watching it for the first time. The racial slurs are a little much but it was right after the civil war(still its too much). Common really shows how good of an actor he could be come. Anson Mount also plays the part of Bohannon to the T. the Swede" is a great bad guy too. I can't wait to dive back into season 2
  • May 15, 2016
    There's something compelling in HoW; I have to give it four stars.

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