‘1883’: Does Sam Know That Elsa Died? 

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The ever-expanding Yellowstone Universe, created by the brilliant Taylor Sheridan, has left us speechless over several shows and their spinoffs. The first spinoff – or rather, a limited prequel series – was ‘1883,’ where our favorite couple was Elsa Dutton and her Comanche husband, Sam. We know that they separated, and Elsa eventually passed away, but does Sam know that, too?

There’s no way of knowing if Sam eventually found out what happened to Elsa or not. Perhaps he simply thought that Elsa abandoned him and didn’t plan on coming back, or perhaps, he heard of her fate from other Native American tribes – specifically, the Lakota tribe that shot her with the poisoned arrow.

The Lakota tribe realized there was a misunderstanding, but it was already too late by then. I believe Sam would have ways to find out what happened, though, so we might rest easy, knowing that he didn’t believe his wife abandoned him forever, and knew the journey out west took her life. That being said, there are other things fans are wondering – is Sam even alive at the end?

Who is Sam in ‘1883’?

Sam is a Native American warrior – a Comanche, to be precise – who met Elsa Dutton and her caravan while they were on their way through the United States, starting in Texas and heading out west, trying to find Oregon, their own land, and a better life for their family.

Elsa had a cowboy lover on their journey, and their love was fiery and quick. However, the cowboy lost his life on the journey, leaving Elsa devastated – until she met Sam.

sam 1883 alive

The Comanche warrior’s real name wasn’t Sam, however. He, too, lost his lover to a white man called Sam. So, he tracked down his wife’s murderer, killed him, and took his name so as to never forget the name of the man who took everything from him.

Sam and Elsa met in a wild storm and survived it together, and almost instantly, their love blossomed. By Episode 8 of 1883, the couple unofficially married, calling themselves husband and wife. Their happiness was short but wonderful, as Elsa decided to continue her journey out west with her family until they reached Oregon.

Elsa wanted Sam to come along, but he told her that he vowed to care for and protect the land of his ancestors and that he had to stay where he was. That’s when Elsa promises to come back to him after her family reaches Oregon and settles. That day, unfortunately, never came.

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How did Elsa die in 1883?

As the Dutton caravan continued their journey to Oregon, Elsa continued wearing a traditional vest given to her by Sam, which also served as a protective garment. However, her mother told Elsa she should change so that she looks like a decent woman should they encounter anyone on the road.

Reluctantly, Elsa agreed and changed into a dress, which would ultimately be her undoing. The caravan encountered another Native American tribe along the way, known as the Lakota tribe. Due to a misunderstanding, they fired a poisoned arrow at the caravan, hitting Elsa Dutton directly in the liver.

The misunderstanding was then settled, but it was already too late for Elsa. Had she been wearing the vest, the Lakota tribe might’ve not attacked them in the first place. And even if they did, it would likely protect her from the arrow or at least cushion the hit enough to make the wound superficial instead of deadly.

sam elsa vest

Elsa survived for a while longer, but the Dutton journey had to come to a halt as she could hold on no more. Elsa chose the Paradise Valley in Montana as her final resting place, and so the Duttons decided to stay there and settle instead of continuing their way to Oregon. That’s how the Dutton Ranch in Montana was founded – at the resting place of Elsa Dutton.

She died due to the poison in her system and the medicine of the age not being sufficient to save her life, especially on the road like that. Elsa passed away in her father James’ arms, telling him she was not afraid but happy. 

There’s even a scene where we see Elsa in her version of heaven, so even though it was an absolutely heartbreaking season finale, we could find comfort in knowing that our hero found happiness and peace in the afterlife.

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Is Sam with Elsa when she dies?

Elsa’s death was absolutely heartbreaking. However, what was even more heartbreaking for me was the fact that Sam wasn’t by her side when it happened. Not just that – Elsa’s own husband didn’t even know she was in danger, let alone on her deathbed.

Sure, she had her family around her, as she died in her father’s arms, but I’m absolutely positive that should Sam find out about Elsa’s fate, he would be devastated for not being able to hold her hand and let her know everything is going to be alright in the end.

sam elsa james

Instead, Sam was miles away, waiting for her to return to him ‘by June,’ as she promised when they said goodbye. That leads us to another question – does Sam even know Elsa died?

Well, there’s no way we could know that without an official confirmation from the showrunners, but as far as we know, Sam never found out what happened to his beautiful wife. 

Perhaps the poor guy thought she simply abandoned him, not wanting to take the perilous journey back after settling in Oregon. Or maybe he believed something happened to her – he just didn’t know what.

My theory is that he’d look for her as months passed, which would probably lead him to the Lakota tribe, asking if they saw her. That’s likely when Sam found out about Elsa’s fate, at least giving him peace, knowing that she never abandoned him and that Elsa is now in a better place.

But, one little detail about the final scenes of 1883’s finale still bugs fans and confuses some of them to the point of asking – is Sam even alive by the end of 1883?

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Was Sam dead at the end of 1883, too?

In the final scenes of 1883, we saw the Duttons settle in Montana as their beloved daughter Elsa died from her wounds right in her father’s arms. As heartbreaking as the episode was, the writers have at least spared us of that emptiness and void that comes with the death of a loved one. 

We saw that Elsa was happy in her afterlife; she narrated, as we saw her reunite with Sam in what she called her version of Heaven, and they ran off into the sunset across the Great Plains. Seeing that it was happening in the afterlife, fans wondered – does that mean Sam died as well?

Well, if you listen closely to Elsa’s narration while the scene is taking place, you’d likely figure out the answer:

“There is a moment where your dreams and your memories merge together and form a perfect world. That is Heaven. And each Heaven is unique. It is the world of you. 

The land is filled with all you hold dear, and the sky is your imagination. My Heaven is filled with good horses and open plains and wild cattle and a man who loves me.”

That would mean – Sam wasn’t actually dead, meeting Elsa in the afterlife. Instead, it was her own version of Heaven, and he was a part of it. Perhaps, when Sam died, Elsa would be a part of his Heaven, too, as every person has their version of Heaven, unique to them, their memories, emotions, dreams – and loved ones.

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