Years of service
Sheriff of Absaroka County, WY
Martha Longmire (deceased)
Cady Longmire (daughter)
"The Cold Dish"; December 29, 2004
Victoria Moretti, Jacob Nighthorse, Raylan Givens, Agent Jones, Kara Thrace
Walt longmire vic moretti branch connally at the rodeo
Sheriff Walter "Walt" Longmire is the main character of the "Walt Longmire Mysteries" series of mystery novels written by best-selling author Craig Johnson and the title character of Longmire, a crime drama television series that was developed by John Coveny and Hunt Baldwin. On the show, he is portrayed by Robert Taylor.
A native of Durant, Wyoming (the county seat of Absaroka County), Walt attended the University of Southern California, where he played offensive lineman for the USC Trojans and graduated with a degree in English literature. He was then drafted by the Marine Corps and completed boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and OCS at Marine Corps Base Quantico. He was assigned to the 1st Marine Division as a Military Police Officer, and served in country at Tan Son Nhut Air Base during the Vietnam War. He served in the Marines for four years, and earned, among other decorations, the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. After serving in Vietnam, Walt spent six weeks assigned as security at Johnston Atoll.
Upon his discharge from the Marines, Walt returned home to Wyoming where he was hired by Sheriff Lucian Connally as a deputy sheriff. Walt was elected as the Absaroka County Sheriff after Lucian all but threw the race and decided to retire.
In the series
In the first book, "The Cold Dish", it is mentioned that Walt has been the Sheriff of Absaroka County and plans to run for reelection again the following year. He investigates the murders of two white teenagers who had been found not guilty of raping a local Indian girl, Melissa Little Bird.
In "Death Without Company", Walt investigates the death of a Basque woman who was, for a few hours in the 1940s, married to Lucian before her family had the marriage annulled. It is also mentioned that during his tenure as Sheriff "of the least populated county in the least populated state in the union", there have been five murders in Absaroka County with three of them taking place since 2004 (in "The Cold Dish" and "Death Without Company").
In "Kindness Goes Unpunished", Walt visited Cady in Philadelphia, where he joined forces with the Philadelphia Police Department to investigate an assault on Cady that left her in a coma.
In "Another Man's Moccasins", Walt investigates the murder of a young Vietnamese woman, which reminds him of his first murder investigation – the death of a prostitute outside of Tan Son Nhut Air Base by an American officer in 1968.
In "The Dark Horse", Walt goes undercover as an insurance investigator from Billings, Montana, in Campbell County, Wyoming (at the unofficial request of the Campbell County Sheriff) to determine if a woman truly murdered her husband, a man with a dubious past and a gift for making enemies, after he allegedly burned down their barn and killed their horses for the insurance money.
In "Hell is Empty", Walt became lost on the Big Horn Mountains with a federal prisoner/serial killer. (This book was later adapted into the Longmire season 2 episode "Unquiet Mind".)
In "As the Crow Flies", Walt assists the newly-appointed Chief of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation Tribal Police, Iraq War veteran Lolo Long, with the investigation into the death of a young woman who fell from a cliff with her child in her arms, while simultaneously preparing for Cady's wedding.
In "A Serpent's Tooth", Walt deals with a multi-state polygamous cult when he tries to help a Mormon "lost boy" that leads to Big Oil, the Central Intelligence Agency, and a Mexican drug cartel which ultimately costs the life of one of his deputies and the grievous injury of another.
In "Spirit of Steamboat", Walt flashes back to Christmas Eve 1988 (his second month as Sheriff) when he and Lucian, a World War II veteran of the 38th Bombardment Group, transported an injured girl (the sole survivor of a car accident) from Durant to Denver during a snowstorm in a decommissioned North American B-25 Mitchell.
In "Any Other Name", Walt investigates the suicide of a Campbell County Sheriff's Investigator at the request of Lucian and Sheriff Sandy Sandburg, which nearly causes him to miss the birth of his grandchild in Philadelphia.
In "Dry Bones", Walt deals with the discovery of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton on Native American land within his county and the subsequent death of the property's owner, resulting in a joint investigation with the FBI under the scrutiny of the newly-announced Deputy United States attorney for the district of Wyoming. In the middle of the investigation, Walt learns that his son-in-law, Officer Michael Moretti, was killed in the line of duty in Philadelphia; although he desperately wants to fly east and assist in the investigation, he remains stuck in Durant to complete his own case (however, he does allow Vic–Michael's sister–to take a leave of absence).
During his career, he has become well-respected by not only his county, but also by the Wyoming State Attorney General's Office (including the Attorney General, Joe Meyer, himself), the DCI, and even the Governor of Wyoming. It is later mentioned, somewhat jokingly, that if a police officer is murdered in Wyoming, Walt Longmire is on the case.
As Sheriff, Walt carries a M1911A1 in .45 ACP (the same one he used in the Marine Corps) as his primary weapon, and drives a pickup truck that he calls the Silver Bullet (or just Bullet).
Walt is a widower; Martha, his wife, died from cancer. With Martha he had a daughter, Cady, who is now an attorney in Philadelphia. In "As the Crow Flies", Walt mentions that he dated Martha before he was drafted, and that their relationship resumed after he came home from the War. The two eloped and were married by a justice of the peace in Miles City, Montana when her father refused to pay for a big church wedding. In the same book, Cady married Philadelphia Police Officer Michael Moretti, the brother of Walt's undersheriff, Vic Moretti, on the Rez; she and Michael had been seeing each other since "Kindness Goes Unpunished" and engaged since "The Dark Horse". In "Any Other Name", Cady gave birth to a daughter, Lola Longmire Moretti.
Walt's closest friend and confidant is Henry Standing Bear. They have been friends since they were 12 years old, and both went to Vietnam (although Henry was a member of the United States Army Special Forces while Walt was a Marine MP) where they were both highly decorated. When Cady was born, Walt appointed Henry her godfather.
After Cady was assaulted in Philadelphia, he and Vic (who were assisting the police in the investigation) had sex. In the aftermath, Walt mentions that he has only had sex with six women in his life. The two continued their relationship after returning to Durant; in "A Serpent's Tooth", Walt learns from the doctor that Vic was pregnant, but lost the baby after being stabbed during the confrontation with Tomás Bidarte. As of "Any Other Name", neither Walt nor Vic know that the other is aware of the pregnancy, but in "Dry Bones", Vic reveals that she knows Walt had been told.
In the books, Walt is assisted in his duties by a number of deputy sheriffs.
Walt also frequently consults with T.J. "Little Lady" Sherwin, the director of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation's lab unit.
In addition, Ruby runs the sheriff's office and serves as dispatcher, and retired Sheriff Lucian Connally works part-time as the dispatcher on the weekends.
To date, Walt has appeared in the following books:
- The Cold Dish – December 29, 2004
- Death Without Company – September 2006
- Kindness Goes Unpunished – March 15, 2007
- Another Man's Moccasins – May 26, 2009
- The Dark Horse – May 25, 2010
- Junkyard Dogs – October 22, 2010
- Hell is Empty – October 7, 2011
- "Divorce Horse" (eBook) – April 16, 2012
- "Christmas in Absaroka County" (eBook) – December 4, 2012
- "Messenger" (eBook) – April 23, 2013
- As the Crow Flies – May 28, 2013
- A Serpent's Tooth – June 4, 2013
- Spirit of Steamboat – October 17, 2013
- Any Other Name – May 13, 2014
- Wait for Signs: Twelve Longmire Stories – October 21, 2014
- Dry Bones – May 12, 2015
- The Highwayman – May 17, 2016
- An Obvious Fact - September 13, 2016
Absaroka County native Walt Longmire is the well-respected sheriff that resides there. When the series begins, it is believed by most that his wife, Martha Longmire, died of cancer.
His father was a rancher who managed the stables of Absaroka County's most wealthy family, the Van Blarcoms. He is a graduate of Durant High School Class of '81 [71?], and his football jersey still hangs in the school's trophy case.
Walt has been the Sheriff of Absaroka County since at least 2005; his immediate predecessor is Sheriff Lucian Connally (Peter Weller), the uncle of Branch.
In 2010, Walt arrested Malachi Strand (Graham Greene), the Chief of the Cheyenne Reservation Tribal Police, for extortion; he also has an adversarial relationship with the current CRTP Chief, Mathias (Zahn McClarnon), although the two have a bond of mutual respect.
On the series
Laconic and introspective with a strong sense of duty and justice, Walt is a throwback to the iconic lone hero of classical Westerns. He is an able detective, who has a knack for finding the truth behind the various crimes that have been committed in his county.
As the series starts in 2012, Walt is slowly coming out of a deep grieving period where he delegated most of the day-to-day police duties to Deputies Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), "The Ferg" Ferguson (Adam Bartley), and Victoria "Vic" Moretti (Katee Sackhoff). This is complicated by Branch running against Walt in the upcoming Sheriff election.
Walt is investigated by Denver PD Detective Fales (Charles S. Dutton) for the murder of Miller Beck, a meth-head who was suspected of murdering Walt's wife, Martha Longmire. It is revealed that Fales is pushing the case of Beck, a drug-using suspected mugger and killer, so hard because of Fales' own experience with a small-town sheriff, whose racism and abuse of authority left Fales with a deep distrust of those particular law enforcement officers.
In 2015, after killing Barlow Connally (Gerald McRaney) on his own front porch, Walt spends six weeks on administrative leave while the death is investigated by the FBI. A number of weeks later, Walt learns that he is being sued for wrongful death by Barlow's estate.
As Sheriff, Walt carries a Colt Government Model in .45 ACP and a Winchester Model 1894 in .30-30 as his primary weapons, and drives a Ford Bronco as his duty vehicle. He does not own a cell phone (although he will on numerous occasions borrow one from his deputies or Henry) and takes his calls on a land line at home or in the office or over the radio in his vehicle.
On the TV series, Walt has been forced to use deadly force on a number of occasions.
- Chance Gilbert’s brother – Shot
- Mexican drug cartel hit man – Shot
- Wayne Durell – Beaten
- Zip – Shot
- Chance Gilbert – Shot
- David Ridges – Stabbed
- Barlow Connally – Shot
Walt was married for 25 years to Martha Longmire, with whom he has a daughter, Cady (Cassidy Freeman), an attorney. Martha was diagnosed with cancer in the late 2000s/early 2010s, and died in 2011. Although Walt let everybody (including Cady) assume it was the cancer that took her life, Martha was murdered in an apparent mugging in Denver, Colorado, by a man named Miller Beck. During his own investigation into his wife's death, Walt learned that Beck was hired to kill Martha, and then he was killed shortly thereafter to prevent him from talking to Walt. In "High Noon", Walt got a drunken confession out of Barlow Connally admitting to killing his own son and having Martha murdered; in the ensuing confrontation, Walt fatally shot Barlow and avenged his deputy and his wife.
Walt's closest friend and confidant is Henry Standing Bear. They have been friends since they were 12 years old. When Cady was born, Walt appointed Henry her godfather.
Recently prior to the date when the show starts, Walt hired Vic Moretti, a former Philadelphia PD homicide detective, as a Deputy Sheriff. The two are believed by many to be having an affair, including at one point Vic's husband, Sean Keegan (Michael Mosley).
Walt's relationship with the Cheyenne Nation is strained, but Walt is still liked by many members of its community.
On the series, Walt is assisted with his duties by three deputy sheriffs. After Branch's death, Walt hires Zachary Heflin, but fires him after he assaults a rejected deputy applicant who was stalking him.
In addition, Deputy Sheriff Eamonn O'Neill was on loan from Cumberland County to assist the office when both Walt and Branch were otherwise occupied, leaving Vic to run day to day affairs.
Also, Ruby (Louanne Stephens) runs the sheriff's office and serves as dispatcher.
Differences between the books and TV series
One of the key differences between the books and the TV series is the character's age and subsequent backstory. In the books, it is established that Walt is a college graduate and Vietnam War veteran, and has been the Absaroka County Sheriff since the early 1980s. However, no mention of college nor a military career has ever been specified or even alluded to on the show (although it hasn't been ruled out either), and Walt's age has been established multiple times, having graduated from high school in 1981 and having been friends with Henry since they were 12 years old, 38 years earlier.
In a significant departure from the books, Walt's wife Martha does not die from cancer. While she is still diagnosed with the disease, in the TV series she is murdered, the details of which are slowly revealed over several seasons, significantly affecting Walt's relation with his deputy Branch and the Connally family.
While the TV series portrays Vic as interested in Walt, her feelings aren't reciprocated like they are in the books. Instead, the TV series has Walt slowly recovering from losing his wife, unable or unwilling to maintain a relationship with a woman called Lizzie Ambrose, before finally showing enough interest in a member of the opposite sex to actively court Dr. Donna Sue Monaghan.
In the books, Absaroka County has seen five murders in 24 years. The TV series has seen 27 confirmed murders in the two first seasons alone.
In both the books and the TV series, Walt's friendship with his confidant Henry Standing Bear is significant but in the books Standing Bear is a person of physical strength, good judgement and moral character. In the TV show he is initially written as a little low-key though of great moral character but with more attitude than substance. By Season 4 however, this character becomes much more assertive and involved in the plot.