Dark Winds
Created byGraham Roland
Based onLeaphorn & Chee series
by Tony Hillerman
Country of originUnited States
Original languages
  • English
  • Navajo
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes12
Executive producers
Production locationNew Mexico
Running time39–53 minutes
Production companies
  • Rolling Cactus Inc.
  • Eleventh Northwest
  • Startling Television
  • Tina Elmo Productions
  • Fevre River Packet Co.
  • Wildwood Enterprises
  • AMC Studios
Original release
ReleaseJune 12, 2022 (2022-06-12) –

Dark Winds is an American psychological thriller television series created by Graham Roland based on the Leaphorn & Chee novel series by Tony Hillerman.[1] It premiered on AMC and AMC+ on June 12, 2022, with the first season consisting of six episodes.[2] After its premiere, the series was renewed for a six-episode second season, which premiered on July 30, 2023.[3] In September 2023, the series was renewed for a third season.[4]


The series follows two Navajo Tribal Police officers, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, in the 1970s Four Corners area of the American Southwest.[5][6] The first season is primarily based on Listening Woman (1978) and elements of People of Darkness (1980).[7] The second season adapts People of Darkness.[8]

Cast and characters




SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
First releasedLast released
16June 12, 2022 (2022-06-12)July 17, 2022 (2022-07-17)
26July 30, 2023 (2023-07-30)September 3, 2023 (2023-09-03)

Season 1 (2022)

This section's plot summaries may be too long or excessively detailed. Please help improve them by removing unnecessary details and making them more concise. (May 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
No. in
TitleDirected byTeleplay byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
11"Monster Slayer"Chris EyreGraham RolandJune 12, 2022 (2022-06-12)1.38[15]
In Gallup, New Mexico, robbers pilot a helicopter to rob an armored truck, killing two guards. The fleeing helicopter flies over the nearby Navajo reservation, where it is seen by an older man named Hosteen Tso. Three weeks later, Tso is found dead in a motel room along with Anna Atcitty, the granddaughter of a Medicine Woman he was visiting due to ailments since seeing the helicopter. Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police investigates the murders; Tso's body is mutilated, while Anna's body is unmarked. Leaphorn has a personal history with Anna's family, which he does not disclose to his colleagues. The medicine woman is blind, and in a catatonic state since witnessing the murders. Leaphorn's wife, Emma, a nurse, convinces him to investigate the living conditions of a pregnant girl named Sally Growing Thunder, who visited her clinic. Leaphorn's deputy Bernadette Manuelito visits Sally's home but is intimidated by her mother, a witch, and convinced the woman cursed her. As Leaphorn begins his investigation, his department is joined by Deputy Jim Chee, who is, in reality, an undercover agent for the FBI. Agent Whitover, who was responsible for planting Chee, believes the armored truck robbery was committed by a Navajo radical group called the Buffalo Society and wants Chee to use the motel killings as a cover to investigate this lead on Navajo land. Leaphorn visits Tso's property, where he finds that his water supply has been contaminated - the helicopter is at the bottom of his reservoir with a dead body inside.
22"The Male Rain Approaches"Chris EyreAnthony FlorezJune 19, 2022 (2022-06-19)0.984[16]
Flashbacks reveal that Anna Atcitty was dating Leaphorn's son Joe Jr., who worked at an oil drilling site with her father, Guy. At a Peyote ritual, a friend who had a premonitory vision warned Guy not to go to work that day. Guy warned several others, but not Joe Jr., who was killed in an explosion at the drilling site. Lester, the trading post owner, overhears the warning and tells Leaphorn about it. Leaphorn confronts Guy. The two fight. Leaphorn shoots Guy in the leg as he approaches with an axe. In the present, Leaphorn quickly identifies Jim Chee as an undercover FBI agent and convinces him to work as a double agent using the FBI's resources to assist in the double homicide case. Chee has water from Tso's property tested and confirms Leaphorn's suspicion that the helicopter is in Tso's well, and an autopsy report reveals that Anna was apparently "scared to death". Emma convinces Sally Growing Thunder to stay at the Leaphorns' home, believing her family's property is unsafe. The armored truck robbers revealed to include a man posing as Tso's Catholic priest grandson and a scarred man living on the Growing Thunder property, chase down and abduct a Mormon tourist family who unknowingly purchased a painting at a local gift shop where the money from the heist was stashed.
33"K'e"Sanford BookstaverMaya Rose Dittloff & Razelle BenallyJune 26, 2022 (2022-06-26)1.02[17]
Money from the robbery is funneled through Devoted Dan's car dealership. Wanda, the painter wife of gift shop owner Lester, is also part of the money laundering. Leaphorn and Chee ask Raymond Begay to dive the pond on Tso's property, looking for evidence of the helicopter. Emma invites her niece, Nanobah, to stay at the Leaphorns' home as she celebrates her Kinaaldá. Leaphorn retrieves Anna Atcitty's and Hosteen Tso's bodies when the coroner releases them. Manuelito and Chee investigate the whereabouts of the missing Mormon family. Chee shows Manuelito where he lived on the reservation before he and his mom left because of his mom's abusive boyfriend. Manuelito invited Chee to the celebration at the end of Nanobah's Kinaaldá. Sally gets scared when Father Benjamin Tso comes to thank Leaphorn for burying his grandfather and has to be taken to the hospital. While there, Sally gives Emma the name of the scarred man, Frank Nakai.
44"Hooghandi"Sanford BookstaverBilly LutherJuly 3, 2022 (2022-07-03)0.823[18]
Raymond finds a helmet, but is shot by Father Tso. He and Frank Nakai are revealed to be buying up land around the mine with the Buffalo Society. Leaphorn suspects all of the crimes on the reservation are related. He and Chee talk to Father Tso, who admits he has a brother who attended Catholic school. Leaphorn and Chee look through the school records and discover there are twin Tso brothers. James wears glasses, while Benjamin does not. They realize James has been impersonating Father Benjamin Tso. Leaphorn and Chee make a plan to arrest James, while James and Frank make plans to ambush them. Chee tells Agent Whitover about Frank and James, who the FBI knows as Hoski. Leaphorn invites Chee over for dinner. At dinner, Emma tells Leaphorn she wants Sally to stay with them when she gets out of the hospital. The next day, Manuelito goes to the pond looking for Raymond and hears the shoot-out between Leaphorn, Chee, James, and Frank. She helps to arrest Frank, but James escapes on Manuelito's horse, Taco. During the arrest, it is revealed that Frank and Chee had met before, which Leaphorn did not know, and Manuelito finds out Chee is an FBI agent. Outside the tribal police station, Chee tells Leaphorn the FBI will put in a request to have Frank transferred. Chee and Leaphorn fight.
55"Ha'íínlni"Chris EyreErica TremblayJuly 10, 2022 (2022-07-10)1.07[19]
66"HózhóoNaasháa"Chris EyreMaya Rose DittloffJuly 17, 2022 (2022-07-17)1.26[20]

Season 2 (2023)

No. in
TitleDirected byTeleplay byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
71"Na'niłkaadii"Chris EyreJohn Wirth & Rhiana YazzieJuly 30, 2023 (2023-07-30)N/A
82"Wonders of the Unknown"Chris EyreMax Hurwitz & DezBaa'August 6, 2023 (2023-08-06)0.788[21]
93"Antigonish"Michael NankinSteven Paul JuddAugust 13, 2023 (2023-08-13)N/A
104"The March"Michael NankinJason GavinAugust 20, 2023 (2023-08-20)N/A
115"Black Hole Sun"Billy LutherBilly Luther & Max HurwitzAugust 27, 2023 (2023-08-27)N/A
126"Hózhó náhásdlįį"Chris EyreGraham Roland & John WirthSeptember 3, 2023 (2023-09-03)N/A



In July 2021, it was announced that AMC had greenlighted Dark Winds for a six-episode order.[5] The series is created by Graham Roland, who executive produces with Zahn McClarnon, George R. R. Martin, Robert Redford, Tina Elmo, Vince Gerardis, Vince Calandra, and Chris Eyre.[5][9] Redford previously produced four other adaptations of the Leaphorn & Chee series: The Dark Wind (1991), Skinwalkers (2002), Coyote Waits (2003), and A Thief of Time (2004). Calandra served as showrunner, and Eyre directed the pilot. The series is produced by AMC Networks and Dark Winds Productions.[9][22] In May 2022, Sanford Bookstaver was announced as an additional director.[23]

In June 2022, AMC renewed the series for a six-episode second season.[7] John Wirth replaced Calandra as showrunner for the second season.[24] Billy Luther, who wrote for season 1, directed an episode of season 2.[25]

In September 2023, the series was renewed for a third season, which is expected to premiere in early 2025.[4]


The writers' room is all Native American.[26] In addition to Roland, writers on the series include Anthony Florez, Maya Rose Dittloff, Razelle Benally, Billy Luther, Erica Tremblay, John Wirth, Rhiana Yazzie, Max Hurwitz, DezBaa', Steven P. Judd, and Jason Gavin.[27]


Alongside the series announcement, Zahn McClarnon and Kiowa Gordon were cast as Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.[5][9] In August 2021, Noah Emmerich was cast as Whitover.[6] Jessica Matten was cast as Bernadette Manuelito.[10] Rainn Wilson was cast as Devoted Dan in early September.[13] In February 2022, it was revealed that Deanna Allison would make her television acting debut on the show as Leaphorn's wife, Emma.[12]

In the second season, Nicholas Logan and Jeri Ryan joined the cast as Colton Wolf and Rosemary Vines, respectively.[28]


Filming took place in numerous locations in the Navajo Nation (Navajo: Naabeehó Diné Biyaad),[22] which occupies portions of northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southeastern Utah. Filming for the first season took place in all three states, beginning on August 23, 2021, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[29][30] Location shooting in New Mexico occurred in Española, Tesuque Pueblo, Cochiti Pueblo and Abiquiú.[31][32] In mid-October, the series filmed in Mexican Hat, Utah, and Arizona's Monument Valley and Kayenta.[33] Filming was expected to wrap on November 11, 2021.[29][30]

The second season began filming in November 2022 in Santa Fe and Tesuque Pueblo and wrapped in March 2023.[34][35]


Critical response

For the first season of Dark Winds, review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 100% approval rating with an average rating of 8.1/10, based on 36 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Zahn McClarnon is riveting as a coiled cop in Dark Winds, a solid procedural that derives much of its texture from an underrepresented cultural milieu."[36] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 80 out of 100 based on 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[37]

For the second season, Rotten Tomatoes reported a 100% approval rating with an average rating of 8.2/10, based on 17 reviews. The critical consensus reads, "Dark Winds' sophomore season is just as captivating as its predecessor, with Zahn McClarnon reaffirming his indispensable gravitas as a leading man."[38] Metacritic assigned a score of 84 out of 100 based on 9 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[39]

The Navajo Times criticized the series for lacking authenticity in its representation of Navajo people and language.[40] Series director Chris Eyre responded to the criticism, and commented, "It's critically important to all of us that we represent the culture correctly. If there's course-correction to be made, we're happy to do that."[41] For the second season, the series hired Navajo cultural advisor George R. Joe to help create more accurate portrayals of the Navajo culture.[42]

Awards and nominations

In April 2023, the first episode of the first season, "Monster Slayer", was honored as an Outstanding Fictional Television Drama by the Western Heritage Awards of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.[43][44]

In May 2023, Dark Winds received several Vision Awards from the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC). It received the award for Best Drama, and for Best Performance in a Drama Series, awarded to Zahn McClarnon.[45]


  1. ^ Allison is a Navajo member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes[11][12]
  2. ^ Guerra is a member of the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma[14]


  1. ^ a b Virtue, Graeme (October 18, 2023). "Dark Winds review – this brooding Navajo murder mystery begs to be binged". The Guardian. Retrieved May 1, 2024.
  2. ^ Complex, Valerie (April 18, 2022). "AMC's Western Noir Series 'Dark Winds' Gets June Premiere Date, Trailer". Deadline. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  3. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (June 15, 2023). "Dark Winds Season 2 Trailer: Leaphorn Is Chasing 'Monsters in Broad Daylight'". TVLine. Retrieved June 16, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Otterson, Joe (September 19, 2023). "'Dark Winds' Renewed for Season 3 at AMC". Variety. Retrieved September 19, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Hibberd, James (July 9, 2021). "Graham Roland, Robert Redford, George R.R. Martin Making 'Dark Winds' Series Starring Zahn McClarnon". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 9, 2021. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Andreeva, Nellie (August 19, 2021). "'Dark Winds': Noah Emmerich Joins AMC Series From Graham Roland, George R.R. Martin & Robert Redford". Deadline. Archived from the original on August 19, 2021. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  7. ^ a b White, Peter (June 21, 2022). "'Dark Winds' Renewed For Season 2 At AMC & AMC+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  8. ^ Schaefer, Stephen (July 30, 2023). "Big changes ahead for Kiowa Gordon in 'Dark Winds' second season". Boston Herald. Retrieved July 31, 2023.
  9. ^ a b c d e Andreeva, Nellie (July 9, 2021). "AMC Orders 'Dark Winds' Series From Graham Roland, George R.R. Martin & Robert Redford Based On Tony Hillerman Books; Zahn McClarnon & Kiowa Gordon Star". Deadline. Archived from the original on July 9, 2021. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Petski, Denise (August 23, 2021). "'Dark Winds': Jessica Matten Joins AMC Series From Graham Roland, George R.R. Martin & Robert Redford". Deadline. Archived from the original on August 24, 2021. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  11. ^ Easterling, Mike (July 22, 2022). "Farmington High School graduate revels in role on AMC series 'Dark Winds'". Farmington Daily Times. Archived from the original on February 8, 2023. Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  12. ^ a b c Petski, Denise (February 23, 2022). "Dark Winds: Deanna Allison Joins AMC Series From Graham Roland, George R.R. Martin & Robert Redford". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation.
  13. ^ a b Petski, Denise (September 2, 2021). "'Dark Winds': Rainn Wilson Joins AMC Series From Graham Roland, George R.R. Martin & Robert Redford". Deadline. Archived from the original on September 2, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  14. ^ Bardwell, Neely (June 29, 2023). "Q&A: Two-Spirit Actor and 'Reservation Dogs' Star Elva Guerra". Native News Online. Archived from the original on June 29, 2023. Retrieved July 27, 2023.
  15. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (June 14, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Sunday 6.12.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
  16. ^ Salem, Mitch (June 21, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Sunday 6.19.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  17. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (June 28, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Sunday 6.26.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  18. ^ Salem, Mitch (July 6, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Sunday 7.3.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  19. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (July 12, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Sunday 7.10.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  20. ^ Salem, Mitch (July 19, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Sunday 7.17.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  21. ^ Pucci, Douglas (August 8, 2023). "Sunday Ratings: CBS Wins Among Younger Adults with 'Big Brother' Sunday Return". Programming Insider. Archived from the original on August 9, 2023. Retrieved August 9, 2023.
  22. ^ a b Vitu, Teya (August 31, 2021). "Hillerman-based TV series Dark Winds in production in Santa Fe". The Santa Fe New Mexican. Archived from the original on August 31, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  23. ^ Ekong, Uduak-Abasi (May 22, 2022). "'Dark Winds': Trailer, Release Date, Cast, and Everything We Know So Far About the AMC Thriller Series". Collider. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  24. ^ White, Peter (August 10, 2022). "'Dark Winds': John Wirth Replaces Vince Calandra As Showrunner For Season 2". Deadline. Retrieved July 30, 2023.
  25. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (November 9, 2022). "'Dark Winds' Actor Zahn McClarnon and Director Billy Luther on Why Native Representation in Hollywood Needs to Go Beyond the Screen". Variety. Retrieved November 20, 2022.
  26. ^ Hibberd, James (July 17, 2021). "The Decades-Long Road Behind AMC's 'Dark Winds' Native American Drama Series". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 17, 2021. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  27. ^ "Dark Winds (2021-2022)". Writers Guild of America West. February 1, 2022. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  28. ^ Petski, Denise; Andreeva, Nellie (January 12, 2023). "'Dark Winds': Nicholas Logan & Jeri Ryan Join Season 2 Cast Of AMC Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  29. ^ a b Esquivel, Jennifer (August 31, 2021). "The New Mexico Film Office Announces A New Television Show, Dark Winds, is Currently in Production in New Mexico" (PDF) (Press release). New Mexico Film Office. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 3, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  30. ^ a b "#1261 08/26" (PDF). Production Weekly. August 26, 2021. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 10, 2021. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  31. ^ Gomez, Adrian (August 31, 2021). "'Dark Winds' filming in northern New Mexico". Albuquerque Journal. Archived from the original on August 31, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  32. ^ Ghost Ranch, Abiquiú, New Mexico, per episode 4 ("Hooghandi") on-screen closing credits
  33. ^ Dotson, Bernie (October 19, 2021). "'Dark Winds' TV series based on Tony Hillerman books to film on Navajo Nation in October; extras being sought". Navajo-Hopi Observer. Archived from the original on October 19, 2021. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  34. ^ Martinez, Dolores (December 16, 2022). "New Mexico Film Office Announces, "Dark Winds" Season 2 Begins Filming" (PDF) (Press release). New Mexico Film Office. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 19, 2022. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  35. ^ Gomez, Adrian (April 25, 2023). "'Dark Winds' second season to premiere July 30". Albuquerque Journal. Archived from the original on July 27, 2023. Retrieved July 27, 2023. The second season began filming in late 2022 and wrapped in March.
  36. ^ "Dark Winds: Season 1 (2022)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  37. ^ "Dark Winds: Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  38. ^ "Dark Winds: Season 2 (2023)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 31, 2023.
  39. ^ "Dark Winds: Season 2". Metacritic. Retrieved July 31, 2023.
  40. ^ Krisst, Rima (June 23, 2022). "'Dark Winds' fails authenticity test". Navajo Times. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  41. ^ Krisst, Rima (June 30, 2022). "'Dark Winds' hears critics: Director says TV series will 'course-correct' for accuracy". Navajo Times. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  42. ^ R. Joe, George (August 6, 2022). "Stereotypes. Taboos. Critics. This Navajo cultural advisor is no stranger to stress". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  43. ^ "Western Heritage Award Winners". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved July 27, 2023.
  44. ^ Martin, George R.R. (July 27, 2023). "The Wrangler Comes to Town". Not a Blog. Retrieved July 27, 2023.
  45. ^ "NAMIC Announces Recipients of Annual Vision Awards". NAMIC. May 23, 2023. Retrieved July 27, 2023.