Most of the characters (Al Swearengen, Sol Star, Reverend Smith, the Metz family, et. al., in addition to the more famous Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, and Jack McCall, ) have real-life counterparts.
Ellsworth is also the name of the Air Force Base located near Deadwood, South Dakota.
SPOILER: The corset that Alma Garret takes off before sleeping with Bullock for the first time is called the "Merry Widow". Appropriate considering her recently losing her husband.
SPOILER: The series shows Seth Bullock and Sol Star witness Wild Bill Hickok's arrival in Deadwood, however in reality, Wild Bill arrived in Deadwood two weeks prior to Bullock. Bullock arrived in Deadwood on August 1st, 1876, the day before Bill was killed by Jack McCall.
The real Seth Bullock was born in a town called Amherstburg in Ontario, Canada.
For a long time there was a bar called Bullock's Tavern in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, which was originally owned by Seth Bullock's parents and was also the place he was born.
SPOILER: In season two, the actor playing Francis Wolcott, 'Garrett Dilahunt' , also played Jack McCall, the killer of Wild Bill Hickock, in season one. David Milch has a habit of reusing actors.
George Hearst was the father of William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaperman on whom Citizen Kane (Citizen Kane) was based, and the great-grandfather of Patricia Hearst. When Hearst tells Merrick that he will start his own newspaper in Deadwood to tell lies for his side, it is a reference to the fact that W. R. Hearst is largely credited with the creation of the concept of "yellow journalism" and the use of his own newspapers to shape and even create political and social opinion and actual events. The most famous example of this was what many historians characterize as W. R. Hearst's whole cloth creation of the Spanish-American War through his newspapers' inflammatory and lucrative headlines.
Until the end of Season Two, the character of Ellsworth did not have a first name. When it was decided to give him a first name, the actor portraying the role, 'Jim Beaver', requested that he be given the first name Whitney, after Whitney Ellsworth, producer of Adventures of Superman, whom Beaver knew from his research for a book on the life of "Superman" star George Reeves.
The word "fuck" and its derivatives are used 2,980 times throughout the series.
Despite appearing in 32 out of 36 episodes, Jeffrey Jones (Merrick) was listed as a guest star in the first season. Similarly, Gerald McRaney (George Hurst) received a "special guest star" credit in Season 3, even though he appeared in all 12 episodes of that season.
According to a 2004 'Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles' interview with show creator David Milch, when John Hawkes first met Milch to audition for the role of Sol Star, Hawkes told Milch that he was not actually Jewish (unlike both the real-life Star and the "Deadwood" character). Milch's response was to ask Hawkes, "have you ever felt shame or sadness or ostracized?" and when Hawkes responded, "every day," Milch told him, "then you're Jewish."
Garret Dillahunt pursued the role of Seth Bullock but Olyphant was already cast. The only role that was available at the time was of Doc Cochran so Dillahunt auditioned for that. He played the recurring role of Jack McCall in season 1. Dillahunt was then considered for the role of George Hearst in season 2 but it was decided that Hearst would not appear on screen until the season finale. Dillahunt played the recurring role of Hearst's employee, Francis Wolcott.
At one point, David Fincher was set to direct the pilot.
The series takes place from 1876 to 1877.
In this hour long pilot episode the word "fuck" is heard 51 times.
When Seth Bullock and Charlie Utter are in the Bella Union questioning Mose Manuel, Cy Tolliver calls Charlie Utter "old man". In real life, Powers Boothe, who plays Cy Tolliver, is 8 years older than Dayton Callie, who plays Charlie Utter.
Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, who both play uncredited townspeople in this episode, are better known as the two heavily bearded members of the classic rock trio ZZ Top. This was not their first time acting in an period western; ZZ Top also played the onscreen band in one of the scenes set in 1885 in the movie Back to the Future Part III.