The Wild Wild West Chronology

 

by Mark Ellis and Win Eckert

 

 

The agents of Wild Wild West: Jim West & Artemus Gordon

 


Mark Ellis writes:

Establishing a solid timeline for the WWW was fairly simple. Fortunately, there were very few instances of contradictory information among the TV episodes or Gold Key's or Millennium's comic series. The WWW took place primarily in the decade of the 1870s, the last season occurring in 1875 to early 1876. I found only one exception to the 1870s time frame in The Night of The Samurai, a third season episode. A character makes a reference to Commodore Perry's 1852 and 1854 diplomatic expeditions to Japan as happening "30 years ago." Since the very next episode (The Night of The Arrow) states in no uncertain terms that the year is 1874, one must conclude "Samurai" is in error, or the character is speaking very, very broadly.

In the TV movie, The Wild, Wild West Revisited, the year is definitely 1885, Grover Cleveland is president and West and Gordon have been retired for about 10 years.

The three recent books written by Robert (Richard) Vaughan take place after "Revisited." In the first novel the year is established as 1889, which makes James West around 47 years old and Artemus Gordon close to 61. This ties in with one of the two areas where I "fudged" on dates -- the birthdays of West and Gordon. In the Signet novel The Wild, Wild West based on the TV episode The Night of the Double-Edged Knife it's stated West was 22 years old in 1865. That gives him a birth year of 1843. The month and day are Robert Conrad's.

Artemus has Ross Martin's birthday. As for the year, since there was about a 15 year gap in the ages of between he and Robert Conrad I applied that age difference to the character he portrayed so splendidly. I also assigned Michael Dunn's day and month of birth to Miguelito Loveless.

The second area wherein I fudged with material was Vaughan's The Night of The Assassin which depicts Garfield as the president. That would place the book in 1881 at the latest. Since this violates the timeline set forth in "Revisited" (Artemus is mad at West and the two haven't spoken since the late 70s -- not to mention both of them are retired), the author is clearly in error. Therefore Grover Cleveland is actually the president during The Night of The Assassin. I don't believe I'm being arbitrary here. Based on several conversations I had with Vaughan, it was apparent he did not know the series took place in the 1870s nor was he aware of "Revisited" or More Wild, Wild West. Therefore, applying the old "ignorance is no excuse" axiom, it makes sense to force his contributions to the canon to fit the larger, more well-established timeline than the other way around.

Win Eckert adds:

Mark is too humble to say so himself, but he is the author of The Night of the Iron Tyrants mini-series published by Millennium Comics in 1990. I thought it was great.

Finally, a glance at this timeline of the television series The Wild, Wild West will quickly reveal that this is a "purist's" chronology, including only the events of the series, the two television movies, and the few novels and comics that have been licensed. The events of the 1999 film Wild Wild West are not included herein, as the explanation for discontinuities between that film and the series has already been propounded in Dennis Power's inventive article The Wold Wold West.


Legend:

T = TV episode/movie

N = novel

GK = Gold Key Comics

Mini = Millennium Comics' mini-series


March 22, 1829

Artemus Gordon is born (Click here for more info.)

1836

Liston Lawrence Day/Diaz is accused of treason by the Texan government and imprisoned for life. In reality, it is father who is the traitor to the newly formed Republic of Texas.

October 20, 1837

Miguelito Loveless is born of a union between Dona Maria Concepicion DeVega and an American filibuster.

March 1, 1842

James T. West is born.

Conjecture: Artemus Gordon begins studying for the stage.

1846

War breaks out between America and Mexico.

Conjecture: Artemus and fledgling actress Lily Fortune have a brief romance (The Night of the Big Blast)

1847

Torres, a member of a six man American military cadre is crippled and mutilated when an enemy cannonball detonates the munitions depot he is guarding. One member of the cadre is Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant (The Night of The Steel Assassin).

1848

Mexican War ends. The vast California land holdings of Loveless's family are confiscated by the American government (The Night The Wizard Shook The Earth).

1849-1850

Sometime in this period, James West breaks his arm. He remembers the doctor's daughter better than the doctor (The Night Terror Stalked the Town).

1859

Conjecture: Miguelitio Loveless, Jr. is born of a union between Loveless and an unidentified woman.

1861

American Civil War begins. James West joins the Union cavalry, serving under General Buford. (The Night of the Double-Edged Knife (title of novelization is The Wild, Wild West)).

1862

Lieutenant James West saves the life of the badly injured Confederate colonel, Noel Vautrain (The Night of The Lord of Limbo).

1863

General Buford dies in Dec. and West is transferred to Brigadier General Harrison Ball's command (The Night of the Double-Edged Knife (title of novelization is The Wild, Wild West)).

1864

West serves as General Grant's aide de camp until called back by General Ball (The Night of the Double-Edged Knife (title of novelization is The Wild, Wild West)).

The Knights of the Golden Circle is secretly organized around this time by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (The Night of the Iron Tyrants).

1865

James West is promoted to Major (The Night of the Double-Edged Knife (title of novelization is The Wild, Wild West)). Conjecture: In the novel based on this episode, West states, "I didn't make Major until till my twenty-second birthday, toward the end of the war." This rank is at variance with "The Night of The Inferno", where he is referred to as Captain West. More than likely his rank of Major was a field promotion and rescinded after the war, as happened to brevet Major-General George Custer who was reduced in rank to Lieutenant Colonel at the end of hostilities.

April 9, 1865

General Robert E. Lee surrenders to General Ulysses. S. Grant. The Civil War is over.

April 14, 1965

President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, in service to the Knights of the Golden Circle (The Night of the Iron Tyrants).

April 26, 1865

Booth is reportedly shot and killed in a Virginia barn.

April-May 1865

West and Gordon's first mission together for the newly-created Secret Service. The mission is to safely deliver Lincoln's body to Illinois for burial (The Night of the Assassin).

Shortly after this, West receives a grade reduction to Captain and remains in the Army (The Night of the Phantom from the Past).

Conjecture: Carmelita Loveless is born of a union between Miguelito Loveless and an unidentified woman.

Conjecture: With the help the Knights of the Golden Circle, Booth escapes to England and assumes a new identity (The Night of the Iron Tyrants).

1866-67

Sometime around this period, Gordon is arrested for counterfeiting and sentenced to the Federal penitentiary in Atlanta. With West's help, he manages to beat the rap (The Night of the Double-Edged Knife (title of novelization is The Wild Wild West)).

1868

Ulysses S. Grant is elected President of the United States. He makes West and Gordon special agents of the Secret Service, answerable only to him. Although Grant had yet to officially take office, West still refers to him as "Mr. President."

T The Night of the Inferno

GK 2 The Night of the Phantom from the Past

GK 5 The Night of the Tongs (West and Gordon have been working separately for 8 months)

1869

T, N The Night of the Double-Edged Knife (novel title is: The Wild Wild West)

T The Night of the Casual Killer

T The Night of the Fatal Trap

T The Night of the Deadly Bed

T The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth (West and Gordon's first encounter with Dr. Miguelito Loveless)

GK 3 The Night of The Stolen Empire

1870

GK 1 The Night of the Outlaw Empire

T The Night of the Sudden Death

T The Night of the Thousand Eyes

T The Night of the Glowing Corpse

T The Night of the Dancing Death

T The Night That Terror Stalked the Town (Loveless returns)

T The Night of the Red-Eyed Madmen

T The Night of the Human Trigger

T The Night of the Torture Chamber

T The Night of the Howling Light

T The Night of the Steel Assassin (Torres, now the world's first cyborg, plans to assassinate President Grant in New Mexico.)

T The Night of the Whirring Death (Loveless again. This episode takes place around Christmas time.)

Conjecture: Loveless is first contacted by the Knights of the Golden Circle (The Night of the Iron Tyrants).

1871

GK 4 The Night of Montezuma's Gold

T The Night the Dragon Screamed

T The Night of the Flaming Ghost

T The Night of the Grand Emir

T The Night of the Puppeteer

T The Night of the Bars of Hell

T The Night of the Two-Legged Buffalo

T The Night of the Druid's Blood

T The Night of the Freebooters

T The Night of the Burning Diamond

T The Night of the Murderous Spring (Loveless)

T The Night of the Sudden Plague

1872

T The Night of the Golden Cobra

T The Night of the Big Blast

T The Night of the Infernal Machine

T The Night of the Raven (Loveless)

T The Night of the Man-Eating House (Liston Lawrence Day/Diaz escapes from Federal custody and leads West and Gordon into a house possessed by the spirit of his dead mother -- where she restores his youth, but not his sanity -- unless of course, this episode is only one of Gordon's nightmares, as is implied in the conclusion.)

T The Night of the Eccentrics (West and Gordon's first encounter with Count Manzeppi)

T The Night of the Returning Dead

T The Night of the Bottomless Pit

T The Night of the Ready-Made Corpse

T The Night of the Flying Pie Plate

T The Night of the Poisonous Posey

T The Night of the Watery Death

T The Night of the Green Terror (Loveless)

T The Night of the Lord of Limbo (Colonel Noel Vautrain repays West for saving his life during the Civil War by forcing him and Gordon to accompany him on a time-travel jaunt to the past.)

T The Night of the Skulls

T The Night of the Totering Tontine

T The Night of the Gypsy Peril

T The Night of the Feathered Fury (Manzeppi returns)

T The Night of the Brain (It starts on July 11)

T The Night of the Vicious Valentine

T The Night of the Tartar

T The Night of the Deadly Bubble

T The Night of the Surreal McCoy (Loveless). Conjecture: Sometime following this episode, West and Gordon meet Miguelito, Jr., inasmuch as West comments in The Wild, Wild West Revisted that he's known him since he was "that high." This episode seems the most likely, since Loveless returns from another dimension inside West and Gordon's train-car. It's possible he was arrested and in the period before his inevitable escape from custody, West and Gordon meet his son. Perhaps Miguelito introduced him to the two agents to play on their sympathies.

T The Night of the Colonel's Ghost

T The Night of the Deadly Blossom

T The Night the Cadre

T The Night of the Wolf

T The Night of the Bogus Bandits (Loveless)

1873

T The Night of the Jack O'Diamonds

T The Night of the Firebrand

T The Night of the Assassin

T The Night of the Bubbling Death

T The Night of the Cutthroats

T The Night of the Hangman

T The Night of Montezuma's Hoards

T The Night of the Amnesiac

T The Night Dr. Loveless Died (Loveless)

1874

T The Night of the Samuri

T The Night of the Arrow

T The Night of the Circus of Death

T The Night of the Falcon

T The Night of the Legion of Death

T The Night of the Running Death

T The Night of the Turncoat

T The Night of the Iron Fist

T The Night of the Headless Woman

T The Night of the Underground Terror

T The Night of the Vipers

T The Night of the Death Masks

T The Night of the Undead

T The Night of the Simian Terror

T The Night of the Death Maker

1875

T The Night of the Fugitives

T The Night of the Doomsday Formula

T The Night of the Egyptian Queen

T The Night of the Pistolaros

T The Night of the Spanish Curse

T The Night of the Big Blackmail

T The Night of the Gruesome Games

T The Night of the Avaricious Actuary

T The Night of the Juggernaut

T The Night of the Kraken

T The Night of the Sedgewick Curse

T The Night of Fire and Brimstone

T The Night of Miguelito's Revenge (Gordon goes to Washington on assignment - Loveless, Agent Jeremy Pike)

T The Night of the Camera (Pike)

T The Night of the Pelican (Pike)

T The Night of the Janus (Pike)

T The Night of the Winged Terror, Parts I and II (Agent Frank Harper)

T The Night of the Sabatini Death (Agent Ned Brown)

Early1876

T The Night of the Bleak Island

T The Night of the Tycoons

T The Night of the Diva (Gordon returns)

T The Night of the Plague

T The Night of the Cossacks

GK 6 The Night of Maximilian's Treasure

GK 7 The Night of the Buccaneer

Late April-May 1876

Mini The Night of the Iron Tyrants (Loveless, The Knights of the Golden Circle)

June 1876

At the Philadelphia Exhibition, the Knights of the Golden Circle are exposed and their power broken (The Night of the Iron Tyrants).

Late Summer 1876

N The Night of Death Train (On their last official mission for nearly 10 years, West and Gordon ride security on a super-fast train, the America.)

President Grant is defeated for re-election by Rutherford B. Hayes. West and Gordon leave government service. They have a falling out and go their separate ways, West to Mexico and Gordon to return to the stage (The Wild, Wild West Revisited).

1882-85

Conjecture: Sometime during this period, Dr. Miguelito Loveless allegedly dies.

May-June 1885

T The Wild Wild West Revisited (West and Gordon are recruited back into the Secret Service to oppose Miguelito Loveless, Jr. It is stated that they have been retired for ten years.)

June-July 1885

N The Night of the Assassin (Cassius Lear is a John Wilkes Booth imitator - therefore there is no conflict with The Night of the Iron Tyrants. West and Gordon return to retirement after this adventure. Naming Garfield as President is an error -- it is in reality President Grover Cleveland.)

1886

T More Wild, Wild West (West and Gordon are recalled from retirement yet again, this time to oppose Albert Paradine II. They remain in the service for another few years.)

1889

N The Wild Wild West (West and Gordon rescue Amber Morris, daughter of Arizona's governor, from T. Marcus Cosgrove. NOTE: This novel should not be confused with an earlier novel of the same name, which is a novelization of the episode The Night of the Double-Edged Knife.)

1910

"My Life in the Secret Service, The Memoirs of Artemus Gordon" privately published (The Night of the Iron Tyrants)


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The Wild Wild West Chronology was created for the sole purposes of entertainment and information. All rights reserved. The text of this page is 2000-2004 by the authors, Mark Ellis and Win Eckert. The design of this page is 2000-2004 by Win Eckert. No copying or reproduction of this article or any portions thereof in any form whatsoever is permitted without prior written permission and consent of the authors.