• Network: AMC
  • Series Premiere Date: Nov 6, 2011
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 150 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 150

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  1. Jan 21, 2013
    7
    Vampires who don't drink blood, werewolves who kill only game, serial killers who hunt only other killers: lately, TV likes its predators de-fanged, de-clawed, and loaded with conscience. So it was with approval that I watched the hero of AMC's new series, a former Confederate soldier on a mission of vengeance, shoot a man point-blank in a confessional. No kinder, gentler predation here, no sir! And it was with equal dismay that I learned our hero had freed his slaves a year before the war, as though the only way audiences can sympathize with a southern veteran is to give him northern values (and a dead northern wife). I don't know about any of you, but I am weary of TV executives' assumption of moral and intellectual idiocy in the viewing public. Note to Hollywood: our tiny brains can manage to sympathize with a Confederate veteran without immediately wanting to repeal the 13th Amendment. "Hell on Wheels" would be a lot better if it stopped dividing characters into bad guys who never met a racist slur they didn't like and good guys who could, after a bath and a week in detox, teach ethnic studies at UCLA. Things were much more muddled right after the Civil War, as former enemies, former slaves and former masters, immigrants, beleaguered natives, fortune-hunters, and scoundrels dealt with new social realities. Fortunately, not much more is needed to make "Hell on Wheels" genuinely compelling. Visually, it's breathtaking, contrasting the unspoiled landscape all around with the local human squalor of the camp. It has a range of compelling characters played by competent (or better) actors. Though scripts still seem a little unfocused, the story of the transcontinental railway, as well as the individual stories of its builders, supporters, and detractors, are unusually promising for a new series. I'll be watching and hoping that the many critical comparisons to "Deadwood" turn out to be apt. Expand
  2. Jan 3, 2012
    9
    Awesome raw performances. Strong characters! Anson Mount is the new Clint Eastwood of the era in respect to classic spaghetti westerns and gives commanding quiet performance. Colm Meaney is wonderful in his role as the town boss and ambitious witty politician. Common is natural not as an actor but fit as the naive apprentice trying to fit into a new world as an unappreciated free working man leading his people. The show is as gritty and real as it gets when it comes to dealing with pride and prejudices. Shock! Expand
  3. Nov 7, 2011
    5
    Disa **** pointing. not terrible, but it needed to be miles better than this. The direction pretty much sucked. what the **** kind of directing is it? This ain't no goddamn sitcom! And some of the lines were god-awful. The actors looked as if they were cringing. The period detail was phenomenal, but it's crowded with **** and ****
  4. Dec 11, 2011
    4
    Visually this show is intriguing but nothing really stuck with me and made me want more so I'm afraid I'm only giving this show a little more time mostly because the dialogue is pretty bad and when your up to shows like Mad men, breaking bad, and the walking dead then you better bring your A game writers.
  5. Aug 19, 2013
    8
    Season 3 starts out pretty impressive with stunning visuals and devious actions. I think Hell on Wheels has finally gotten to a point in its run in which it wanted to be. Hell on Wheels writing has improved greatly along with the likeness of the characters; although some I find boring and dislike. For example Common's character. Common's character has seemed to get a lot of leeway working for the not fictional railroad, and which often the story revolves around this characters life as he completely involved with himself thinking he has all the privileges of a white man. I feel like Hell On Wheels in season 3 has done a tremendous job with showing the struggles of the union pacific railroad which very greatly could have happened, but Commons character does not make absolutely any sense in the context of a 1867 western drama, it just doesn't. Acting is fantastic and has characters which you develop a relationship with. Episode two was great and the series has gotten really hard-hitting for the viewer. I am disappointed that it has such a low critic score on meta, but as I will say I recommend this show to anyone and that it is one of the best western dramas ever to hit television. A must watch for the television enthusiast. My review: 8/10 for meta and IMDB Expand
  6. Oct 6, 2014
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I like this show...original story, cast is believable...well, thankfully they got rid of the Elam character. Maybe had someone else played the part it might have been good but that guy, Common I think his 'rapper' name is (seriously, just because you can speak word to a beat does not an actor one make....yes, Will Smith is not a good actor) was terrible. Ah wait, the whole Mormon cult thing as well drags a lot on the quickness of the story. And the Swed, yeah terrible character. Overall though, the series has something to offer the viewer which is rare nowadays. Expand
  7. Nov 20, 2011
    9
    so far i am really enjoying this series, the cinematography is fantastic, and the acting is very strong, and i'm loving the variety of the characters. i'll update this review at the end of the season but it looks like great things are bound to happen with it
  8. Nov 16, 2011
    10
    After watching the second episode, we're hooked. Lots of interesting history, but more importantly, an engrossing story with lots of action & tension. Pretty intense. I Hope people give it a chance. Another quality drama from AMC. We already know who to like and who to hate, as we get to know more of who the characters are and some background. Definitely worth watching, and we're not usually western fans. This is different. Expand
  9. Nov 11, 2011
    8
    Strong pilot episode. Completely disagree with Maureen Ryan's assessment that the main character (Anson Mount) isn't engaging and imminently intriguing. Bohannon fits well into the archetypical gun slinger set out on a course for answers and revenge. I very much look forward to seeing how this first season develops.
  10. Nov 7, 2011
    5
    The first episode was really disappointing. Visually it was interesting, but substantially it felt incredibly contrived and none of the characters were very compelling at all. The dialogue was clumsy and uninteresting, and the acting was awkwardly flat and unconvincing. Unfortunately, the most interesting aspect of this apparently multi-pronged story, the corrupt federal government and the corrupt business people they were in bed with, received the least attention. Hopefully that changes and the rest of it (slaves, love, indians) all takes a back seat. Overall pretty boring, bordering on teen-drama quality. Expand
  11. Mar 7, 2012
    3
    Poorly acted and poorly written. Hell on Wheels is the definition of the word bore. Here we have a man in the post-Confederate US who exists solely to be a "badass". Filled with cheesy dialogue and all-around failed attempts at being serious. Maybe I've just been spoiled by Deadwood, but I just can't take this show seriously at all.
  12. Feb 15, 2012
    9
    Hi, I stopped watching the show after episode 4, but I restarted with it and IT GOT BETTER. At the end, I will be definitely watching season 2.
    Do not quit after first episodes, as Spartacus (season 1), the show gets better with time.
  13. Nov 28, 2011
    9
    Great show. Nice to have a western. Just dont care for the actor playing the head guy on the train with the Shakesperian like accent. I love all the interesting charactors, and its well written. Visually quite beautiful, too.
  14. Mar 7, 2012
    8
    Building a railway through the whole country connecting the west and east is a difficult undertaking. Especially when you're fighting against Indians and have to manage the corruption. Set in the 1860s this is what the series is about. A man searching for the murderers of his wife, a railway built through the country and Indians fighting against it. Brilliant settings and characters, realistic plot and action. Definitely worth to watch it. Expand
  15. Aug 31, 2014
    8
    I really like this show. I have waatched every episode. I'd give it a 10, but I have one big criticism at this time. The Swede need to go! That character has run his course. Get him to Cheyenne, let the kid ID him as the murderer and hang him. ASAP!
  16. Nov 26, 2011
    8
    This is a great idea. Sadly, the dialogue tends to confuse me at times. I love the plot line, and the timeline. Right after the Civil War, when America was on the mend, a southern soldier, who married a northern woman, and was convinced of the evil's of slavery, seeks revenge on a small group of northern soldiers who slaughtered her and others. The show seems to be progressing nicely and I can't wait to see more. Hopefully the dialogue won't continue to suffer. Expand
  17. Feb 10, 2012
    9
    Hell On Wheels is no Deadwood, but it doesn't aspire to be. The story is a bit lighter, the drama a bit more spoon-fed and the characters just shallow enough to not break your brain over their motivations. But it is done really well, shot beautifully and delivered with a certain authenticity that the show could have easily skipped. HOW is not really a period piece, but it comes close enough to it.

    One issue is the story, which draws itself really thin and flat in the end. Much of the complexity built into the characters is abandoned for the sake of moving the script forward. This is a pity, but not a deal breaker. Also, the last four episodes of the first season are easily the best. What HOW does do well is explore aspects of American history often ignored: former slaves, American Indians, industrial barons, the brutality of the Civil War and Southerners are all present. Themes often avoided by other programs are looked at here. It is brave and makes HOW one of the most compelling shows of the year. Looking forward to season 2.
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  18. Nov 30, 2011
    7
    Hell On Wheels is a God awful working title at best, so don't let that deter you. It hasn't shown me anything new here that you can't get from seeing Deadwood or Boardwalk Empire. The setting is grand landscape paintings come to life and there are some genuine emotional scenes. However, I find the story too often running in place and just looking around at the scenery.
  19. Nov 11, 2011
    1
    Simply dreadful. They obviously had a large budget to work with, but despite the scenery, there's stilted dialogue, wooden acting, and the main character, whose only form of expression is his ridiculous-looking "icy stare". It's clear they were trying to cash in on Deadwood, but they missed out on the genius writing, the multifaceted characters, and the rich story. What a shame.
  20. Apr 28, 2012
    2
    Started out good then got worse and worse. Too slow to tell the story. You keep waiting for something to happen and waiting and waiting after episode 4 I was done.
  21. Aug 13, 2013
    10
    This show is not a series like any other. Good storyline, perfect characters and much more badass. Loved this season, watched all the episodes in 2 days.
  22. Jan 22, 2013
    2
    Just started on this, somehow missed it in the mountain of shows available. What can I say ? Compared to AMC's Breaking Bad and HBO's Deadwood, this is just godaweful. It looks okay - a tad cheap around the edges, but ok, but the dialog, acting and storyline are very bland. Just like The Walking Dead before it, this seemed like a nice idea for a show, but evidently nobody who knows how to write a script or direct was available. If you haven't yet, don't waste your time. Expand
  23. Nov 6, 2011
    9
    A true masterful old fashioned western. Hell on Wheels packs it in with all the bells and whistles found in only the best of it's genre. I couldnt take my eyes off of the screen. Visually unlike any western Ive seen on cable television and a story told paced naturally with brewing temperament, AMC's done it again with this fine tale of payback and payoffs.
  24. Jan 8, 2012
    9
    Never been a fan of westerns, but this one kept me chained to the screen so far. Characters are drawn fine the main is a bad-ass, what u want more? :) Let's see if it goes to season 2.
  25. Mar 21, 2013
    10
    Hell on Wheels is a very captivating show. The characters are great and the authenticity of the era is so realistic. I can hardly wait until this show comes back on TV.
  26. Oct 10, 2013
    0
    I have enjoyed this show despite some historical inaccuracies. Seasons 1&2 are great, but season 3 has ruined it for me. Let me explain: My ancestors were Mormon. One such ancestor join the Mormon faith Missouri and a short time there after was a Captain in the Mormon Militia. After Governor Boggs signed the "Mormon Extermination Order", a law that made it legal to kill Mormons up to 1976 in the state of Missouri, my ancestor left Missouri and settled in Nauvoo, IL. He was a farmer by trade, but once again he served as a Captain of the Nauvoo Legion. He was even charged with the protection of Joseph Smith Jr. Prior to being cast out of Nauvoo, my ancestor was ordained a High Priest in the Nauvoo Temple and was sealed to his wife for time and all eternity (an ordinance that can only happen in the temple according to the Mormon faith). My ancestor then left for the Salt Lake Valley in Utah. There he was once again a Captain and he establish logging business. He owned a canyon that still bares his name (even though it is misspelled). The reason that I gave this score is due to not just the complete historical inaccuracy of the Mormons, but the defamation of their story. The Mormons were commissioned to build much of the rail road, in-fact the two rail ways finished in Salt Lake City. But there are some points that I must make clear: (1) Bishops never had that kind of authority, the authority to kill people (2) One cannot become a Mormon without being Baptized into the church (3) Being sealed for time and all eternity cannot happen in a city square or by a Bishop. It has to happen in a Temple by a Temple Sealer. (4) Mormons were anti-slavery and never kidnapped people.

    Ask yourself this: If this show had gotten the Jewish Faith, Catholic Faith, Protestant Faith, or Native American Faith this wrong; would the rest of these scores be this high? I think not. I watched the entire season to see if things would turnaround, they did not. Season 3 is nothing short of hate speech, but then I guess many people dislike and misunderstand the Mormon community. Maybe some of you will agree with me, but my bet is that most of you just won't care.

    Shame on those that made this show, they just didn't care to get it right or they were actively attacking the Mormon religion.
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  27. Jan 20, 2012
    8
    Great characters and setting... several ongoing stories that overlap each other combined with the idea of a moving town makes each episode new and interesting. I actually got into this show much quicker than "Deadwood", which seemed to drag on and take forever for anything to happen. The cliff-hangers at the end of episodes don't quite get me to the edge of my seat like "The Walking Dead" does, but I was still always excited for each new episode. Some of the dialogue and acting of side characters is not great so don't go in with high expectations and a critical mind because it is an entertaining series. Expand
  28. Jan 25, 2012
    9
    Best western since Deadwood and a lot more violent. Revenge story/ historical drama. I really enjoyed my time watching it. Yes, it takes some time to get in to, there's a definite slow build, but once that intial phase is over it gets really interesting.
  29. Nov 8, 2011
    10
    The best premiere of the year. AMC se ha vuelto a lucir esta vez, respira un aire a Deadwood, espero que la iguale. la auguro un buen futuro a la serie, espero que la AMC la trate bien
  30. Nov 28, 2011
    8
    I grew watching Clint Eastwood westerns with my dad and grandfather. If you like gritty and entertaining westerns this would be your only hope on TV right now. AMC is starting to have quite the monopoly on my DVR.
  31. Dec 12, 2011
    10
    Look forward to this program. The realism fits the time frame of the story. Finally a program worth watching. Keep up the good work. Thank goodness no vampires and things that crawl in the night.
  32. Jul 29, 2012
    9
    For those saying this show is dreadful, boring, ect. Get your eyes and ears checked out. This show got me hooked from the second I started watching it. Bad ass acting, beautiful scenery, just a cool show.
  33. Sep 17, 2012
    10
    Hell on Wheels has high production values, good acting and good scripts. I like the way it's filmed on location and has a feel of authenticity about the production not found into many television series
  34. Nov 28, 2012
    10
    Hell on wheels is bar none the best show around today. The main character is badass with a gentle soul and is what every man aught to be. The show also accurately depicts what it would be like to live in a post civil war world as well as paints a picture of what it was like to be on the losing side. A southern man, made out to be evil by the union but in actuality, with his priorities in order, is the most upright man around, union or confederacy. Collapse
  35. Mar 23, 2013
    10
    Amazing show, loved both seasons, wish AMC would put more episodes per season tho. Everyone I tell about the show, loves it, you've got a decent show here AMC.
  36. Sep 28, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Amazing show, loved both seasons, wish AMC would put more episodes per season tho. Everyone I tell about the show, loves it, you've got a decent show here AMC. Expand
  37. Nov 18, 2013
    2
    Ambitious, beautiful and well cast with an interesting premise filled with promise. That's it for the praise though. Pacing, dialogue, acting and character development leave much to be desired. So close to being great that it skipped straight over being mediocre and went right to crap.
  38. Sep 13, 2014
    10
    This has to be on of the BEST shows on TV. If I could only use one word to describe it I would use... EPIC. If you enjoy shows like Game of Thrones I highly recommend this. At a time when mot shows are cops/law this is most definitely refreshing
  39. Oct 10, 2014
    10
    Hell on wheels is the one show that I NEVER miss. I watch and enjoy a wide variety of shows, and Hell on Wheels Stands alone as the only "Western" that I'm aware of. The storyline is rock solid, as is the acting, and the character's are interesting & intriguing to waitch. It's fascinating knowing that many of the small cities & towns scattered across the American West, were first "Hell on Wheels" tent towns, where people who worked upon or serviced the trains, resided, then moved further west, following the train. Many stayed, and these wild, lawless communities eventually became legitimate towns & cities. If I was told that I could only watch one series, Hell on Wheels would be my choice. Expand
Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 28
  2. Negative: 1 out of 28
  1. 60
    Hell on Wheels didn't turn into a great drama, but it settled into a distinctive groove, growing more relaxed and confident by the week.
  2. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Nov 7, 2011
    88
    This drive for revenge is what makes the pilot spark, smoke and go chug-a-chug-chug. [14 Nov 2011, p.45]
  3. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    Nov 7, 2011
    70
    That's a lot of stories to tell, and the sweeping Hell on Wheels does a good job of chopping them into bite-size pieces.