What Teddy's Many 'Westworld' Deaths Tell Us About the Show's Future

Teddy Westworld James Marsden

This post contains spoilers for the third episode of Westworld, "The Stray." Head to our Westworld show hub for more reviews, theories, special-effects analysis, and deep dives.

When we first meet Teddy, the square-jawed bounty hunter played by James Marsden on HBO's Westworld, he looks like the potential hero of the show. Gazing out the window of a moving train as he makes his premiere episode debut, he's got that "main protagonist on a cable drama" swagger, and later orders whiskey, romances a girl, and rides a horse with real gravitas. He's Don Draper with spurs -- at least until he's taunted mercilessly and shot in the heart by the Man in Black. And then he's killed again. And again. And again.

If you've watched the first three episodes of Westworld, you've seen Teddy die four times, each one more brutal and undeserved than the last. He's the Mr. Bill of Westworld: a happy-go-lucky clown who exists to be disfigured. But just as Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) holds the key to unlocking Westworld's many secrets, the meaning behind Teddy's deaths could be the broken door-knocker you just keep banging till someone answers.

So, let's pour one out for unlucky Teddy and honor his many deaths with a closer look at each one to see if there are any insights, clues, or mind-boggling theories to glean from his repeated executions, particularly now that Ford has implanted him with a backstory that connects him to the villainous Wyatt. RIP, Teddy: Let's pray you're not dying in vain.

Westworld Teddy Death The Original

Teddy death No. 1

When does it happen: 13 minutes into Episode 1
Who kills him: The Man in Black
How does Teddy die: "Teddy, any special tricks for us?" asks the Man in Black when he sees Teddy standing in front of Dolores' house. "They teach you to sit up, beg. How about I give you first shot? After all, every dog has his day." Sadly, this is not Teddy's day: He gets shot by the Man in Black.
What does it reveal: Well, it sets up an ongoing conflict between the Man in Black and Teddy, which will likely be paid off later in the season. Close watchers of the "weeks ahead" trailers provided by HBO may have noticed a snippet from a later episode where we see Teddy wearing an army outfit, similar to the one he's shown sporting in his quick backstory flashback in Episode 3, and firing a Gatling gun. We then hear the Man in Black say, "You think you know someone... " and Teddy goes, "You don't know me." Like the modifications made on Arnold between Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, we could be seeing some new moves from old Teddy. In the first episode, the Man in Black insists that Teddy's only reason for being in the park is "to be the loser." But it's pretty hard to stop a loser from committing mass slaughter with a Gatling gun.

Westworld Teddy Death The Original

Teddy death No. 2

When does it happen: 52 minutes into Episode 1
Who kills him: The bearded bandit in Hector's gang named Tenderloin
How does Teddy die: During the "Paint It Black" shoot-out that ends Episode 1, Dolores makes the not-so-bright decision to run across the street to get back to her glitched-out father. Ever the gentleman -- he even says "just trying to look chivalrous" after he gets shot -- Teddy follows Dolores and catches a bullet in the process.
What does it reveal: This death ends with the most heartfelt conversation between Teddy and Dolores, a bittersweet moment that speaks to the larger themes of the show. "At least I got to see you one last time," says Teddy as he takes his dying android breaths. In the midst of her tears and sniffles, Dolores articulates one of the central truths of the show: "There's a path for everyone. My path is bound with yours." Thanks to the twisted machinations of Ford and the rest of the writers, these two crazy kids can't quit each other... yet.

Westworld Teddy Death Chestnut

Teddy death No. 3

When does it happen: 48 minutes into Episode 2
Who kills him: A drunken guest at the saloon
How does Teddy die: In addition to flirting with Dolores, part of Teddy's story loop involves commiserating with Maeve, the madam of Westworld played by Thandie Newton. Right before he dies this time, he's raising a glass to toast her and celebrate their equally sinful pasts when -- bam! -- he gets shot repeatedly by a rowdy bar patron, who finishes off his act of robot homicide by yelling, "Now that's a fucking vacation." Not cool, bro.
What does it reveal: "Chestnut," the episode this death occurs in, mostly involves the gradual awakening of Maeve as she undergoes a series of maintenance tune-ups meant to increase her productivity in the brothel. Before Teddy dies, she tells him, "My transgressions wash off a little easier than yours." This line takes on twisted double-meaning later in the episode, when Maeve wakes up in the Westworld compound, goes for a naked run, and discovers Teddy's dead body getting "washed off" by hose-wielding workers. Symbolism!

Westworld Teddy Death The Stray

Teddy death No. 4

When does it happen: 48 minutes into Episode 3
Who kills him: Wyatt's gang of sand-people
How does Teddy die: After being given a new backstory by Ford, one that ties him to the mysterious figure Wyatt, Teddy sets off on an adventure with a gang of hosts and guests. Of course, they run into what looks like Wyatt's mysterious occult goons, who quickly stab Teddy to death after he once again valiantly sacrifices himself for others.
What does it reveal: It's hard to say. For one thing, it's very possible that Teddy is still alive -- we don't see him get finished off when the gang members attack him -- but judging from the way the fight played out, he won't be drawing breath for long. For one thing, Wyatt and his gang have the same bullet-averse power we've seen displayed by guests like the Man in Black, in addition to an aroma of mystical power created by their creepy Halloween costumes.

Will these bulletproof figures perhaps be the ones who give Teddy the upgrade he needs to face off against the Man in Black once and for all? Are we heading towards a "Teddy goes on a vision quest" episode? Is Teddy gonna do peyote and have a Burning Man experience out in the desert? Perhaps the group will give him enough fighting skills to make him a real menace to the park in the same way the Yul Brynner gunslinger was in the original film. Or maybe Teddy will just keep getting killed. We know he's good at that already.

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Dan Jackson is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment and a founding member of his own Teddy fan club. He's on Twitter @danielvjackson.