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Hatfields & McCoys is the story of a clash of clans that evoked great passion, vengeance, courage, sacrifice, crimes and accusations, and includes a cast of characters that changed the families and the history of the region forever. The Hatfield-McCoy saga begins with 'Devil' Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy. Close friends and comrades until near the end of the Civil War, they return to their neighboring homes--Hatfield in West Virginia, McCoy just across the Tug River border in Kentucky--to increasing tensions, misunderstandings and resentments that soon explode into all-out warfare between the families. As hostilities grow, friends, neighbors and outside forces join the fight, bringing the two states to the brink of another Civil War.

Starring Kevin Costner as 'Devil' Anse Hatfield and Bill Paxton as Randall McCoy, the first part premiered on The History Channel on Memorial Day 2012.


Relevant tropes:

  • All-Star Cast
  • The American Civil War: The series starts at the end of the war. Much of the tension is a result of a McCoy siding with the Union over the Confederacy.
  • Artistic License Gun Safety: A scene at a shooting contest has a character standing right next to the targets casually drinking and heckling the shooters. Averted in that he very nearly gets shot.
  • Artistic License History: Largely averted, as the producers made sure it was as close to historically accurate as they could. However, many historians believe the feud was largely motivated by money and not just revenge. The series glosses over those aspects of the feud.
    • Historically, a lot of the writing about the feud was exaggerated and embellished to sell more newspapers and books.
    • In-universe Frank Philips has a book published about his exploits during the conflict. When he insults Perry Kline, Kline calls the book a bunch of lies.
  • A-Team Firing: During the bigger gunfights a lot of ammunition is expanded but there are few casualties. Most of the participants are not very good shots and even the good marksmen don't always keep their cool under fire. Notable exceptions are Devil Anse Hatfield, Cap Hatfield, Jim Vance and Frank Phillips.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The feud finally ends and the families manage to move on and prosper. However, over a dozen people are dead and many more will be tried and imprisoned for their roles in the fighting. The two families will always be remembered primarily by how eager they were to kill each other.
  • Blatant Lies: During a shooting contest Cap Hatfield misses the target and instead hits a nearby lamp. However, Jim Vance claims that Cap hit the center of the target and is the winner of the contest. It is a blatant attempt to provoke the McCoys into a fight.
  • California Doubling: Most of the filming was done in Romania rather than West Virginia or Kentucky.
  • Composite Character: Preacher Anse Hatfield was the actual justice of the peace presiding over the "pig trial". Since he had no substantial role in the feud his character is combined with that of judge "Wall" Hatfield who was a major figure in the feud and presided over the trial of the killers of Bill Stanton.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The events portrayed in the series took place during a period of 25 years. The feud did not seriously start until the death of Ellison Hatfield which occurred 17 years after the death of Harmon McCoy. The viewer can easily get the impression that it all happens in the span of a one or two years if one doesn't notice the children, like Johnse and Rosanna, aging from preteens to adults in short frames.
  • Cycle of Revenge: The revenges over quite petty things get blown further and further out of proportion till we get a drunkard being killed for running his mouth.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The entire feud, which was essentially started by Perry Kline because his attempt to screw the Hatfields for their timber rights failed, resulting in him calling for "justice".
  • The Dragon:
    • Jim Vance is Devil Anse Hatfield's Dragon and Cap Hatfield acts as Vance's
    • Perry Kline usually acts on Randall McCoy's behalf though he is also a Dragon with an Agenda
    • Ransom Bray is Frank Phillip's right hand man
  • Eye Scream: A wood splinter hits Cap Hatfield in the eye during a tree cutting accident.
  • Feuding Families: The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys is the most (in)famous example of this trope in US history.
  • The Fool: Ellison "Cottontop" Mounts
  • Gone Horribly Wrong:
    • Devil Anse sought justice for the murder of his brother by the McCoys but he did not anticipate the level of misery that would bring on his family.
    • The raid to seize Randall McCoy not only fails to capture Randall but results in in the deaths of two of Randall's remaining children
  • Gone Horribly Right: Frank Philips is the right man to send after the Hatfields but his brutal methods escalate the conflict. Randall McCoy is appalled by what Philips is doing.
  • The Gunslinger: "Bad" Frank Philips
  • Heroic BSOD / Villainous BSOD: Ambiguous, since there aren't any heroes or villains during the feud, but Devil Anse has one near the end of Part 3 in the middle of a full-scale battle with the McCoys
  • Honor Before Reason: Throughout the series people take offense at small insults, start fights over this and someone ends up dead.
  • Hypocrite: Randall McCoy and Perry Kline cry out for justice and for God to smite the Hatfields for being 'savages', while murdering and hiring bounty hunters to illegally kidnap Hatfields, in particular calling for justice in regards to the deaths of three McCoys who started a fight with and murdered Anse's little brother in front of a large crowd.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Cap Hatfield is an amazing shot with the rifle especially since he is blind in one eye. However, when his gunsight is damaged, he cannot compensate and keeps missing relatively easy targets.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted tragically. One of Randall McCoy's children is shot and killed during the attack on his house when "Cottontop" Hatfield panics and fires his shotgun wildly.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield
    • Johnson "Johnse" Hatfield
    • William Anderson "Cap" Hatfield
    • Valentine "Uncle Wall" Hatfield
    • Elias "Good Lias" Hatfield
    • Ellison "Cottontop" Mounts
    • Frank "Bad Frank" Philips
  • I Have No Daughter: Randall does this to his daughter after she falls in love with and gets pregnant by Anse's son.
  • Jerkass: "Bad" Frank Phillips and Perry Kline.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The Hatfields lived in West Virginia and the McCoys in Kentucky. Both states claimed jurisdiction and neither would honor the arrest warrants from the other state. West Virginia would not arrest the Hatfields for the execution of the McCoy brothers and Kentucky would not arrest Frank Philips for the kidnapping and killing of Hatfields in West Virginia. The legal battle over jurisdiction went all the way to the US Supreme Court.
  • The Mole: Nancy McCoy, who married Johnse for this reason.
  • No Sell: Ellison Hatfield is brawling with the three McCoy brothers and he is easily able to fend of their attacks. Even when they start stabbing him it barely seems to faze him. He only goes down when they shoot him.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • "Wall" Hatfield initially tries to defuse the situation and calls out both Devil Anse and Randall for their culpability in the death of Stanton. He tries to have the feud ended through legal means and turns himself in to Kentucky authorities to answer for his actions.
    • Johnse Hatfield really does not want to have anything to do with the feud and only participates out of family loyalty. One of his reasons for marrying Nancy McCoy is that it might help end the feud
    • Devil Anse Hatfield becomes this when he stops the other Hatfields from attempting to raid the Pikeville jail to free the Hatfields imprisoned there. The plan would escalate the conflict to a new level of lunacy.
      • Throughout much of the story, Anse is a voice of reason to both the Hatfields and the general populace, and in comparison to Randall is far more sane. However, even he is prone to violent emotions and tempers.
  • The Patriarch: Both Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy qualify.
  • A Plague on Both Your Houses
  • Revenge Before Reason: Once people start getting killed most of the participants stop caring about the consequences of getting revenge.
  • Sanity Slippage: Randall McCoy begins to have hallucinations of Devil Anse after Roseanna's and Alifair's deaths.
    • Sally McCoy gets progressively worse during the series as her children are killed and is rumored to have died in a mental institution.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Anse deserts from the Confederacy. Randall tries to stop him, but can't resort to shooting him. Randall is later captured and sent to a horrible Union POW camp. This is another sour point between the two patriarchs.
    • Johnse leaves Kentucky to escape the murder and feuds after the death of his beloved Roseanna and the betrayal by Nancy McCoy.
  • Serious Business: While it seems silly now to start a feud over a pig, in 1878 it was very valuable property. The series barely mentions the dispute over timber rights between Kline and Devil Anse but it was the cause of much of the early bitterness between the families
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: It's implied a lot of Randall's hate and anger is due to trauma from being in a POW camp. Prior to the initial Time Skip, every appearance of his has Dull Eyes of Unhappiness, and they're still common afterwards.
  • Shoot the Dog: Literally in the form of Jim Vance's dog, and figuratively in form of hanging Ellison "Cotton Top" Mounts.
    • Narrowly averted when Devil Anse thinks that he has to kill Johnse because his carelessness got Hatfields killed. He changes his mind in the last minute,
  • Simple Country Lawyer: Perry Kline, cousin of Randall McCoy. The feud might never have happened had this man not tried to cheat the Hatfields. He also exposes the McCoy daughter's pregnancy after she refuses to marry him, knowing that her brothers would attack the Hatfields son, which is one of the primary fuels for the feud.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With Hatfield's son Johnse and McCoy's daughter Roseanna.
  • There Is No Higher Court: Averted. West Virginia challenges the legality of the arrests of the Hatfields and the matter is appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court. Wall Hatfield plans to appeal the sentences the Hatfields receive in Kentucky court but dies before he has a chance.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Jim Vance is this for the Hatfields. Devil Anse thinks that one day Vance will go too far and Devil Anse will have to kill him for it.
  • Undignified Death:
    • Randall McCoy accidentally sets himself on fire.
    • Frank Phillips gets drunk and tries to start a brawl. When his friend attempts to restrain him, he pulls out his guns. His friend shoots him in self defense and Frank bleeds out on the bar floor.
  • You Killed My Father: Or uncle, or brother, or sons, or cousin. Played straight with Nancy McCoy, as her father is the first person from either family killed.

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