Forgotten Western TV Gem is Finally Available on Prime for Free in May

Forgotten Western TV Gem is Finally Available on Prime for Free in May
Image credit: AMC

High-octane drama, authentic period detail, emotions running high — 7 years after it ended, we offer a look back at this excellent western series.


  • From 2011 to 2016, AMC aired a western series that is hardly talked about anymore.
  • It's a deep story about a Southern soldier who goes to work on the Union Pacific Railroad construction site in the early years after the Civil War.
  • The series is now available to stream for free.

What could get us more hooked than movies and TV shows of the Western genre? From light-hearted tales of glorious adventures to heart-pounding dramas of violent showdowns between lawmen, outlaws, and ordinary bystanders, they're all wildly entertaining. And in the 2020s, we seem to be experiencing a new heyday for the genre.

Last year alone saw the release of such Westerns as 1923 and Lawmen: Bass Reeves developed by Taylor Sheridan, the satirical Strange Way of Life with Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal, Martin Scorsese 's Killers of the Flower Moon, Australia's Faraway Downs with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, and even a South Korean take on the genre in Song of the Bandits. All in all, Western has not stagnated and continues to thrive on both the big and small screen.

Among these many projects, however, the one that stands out is the series that aired on AMC from 2011 to 2016. It deftly blends reality and fiction, historical accuracy and high-octane drama, New World and Old World, the experiences of white people and people of color, North and South, in the first years after the Civil War. Never before has the American frontier felt so real and honest in pop culture. Check out this series while it's streaming for free in May.

A Critically Acclaimed and Unjustly Neglected Gem

We're talking about the AMC series Hell on Wheels, created by brothers Joe and Tony Gayton.

1865. The Civil War is over, and the US is actively developing infrastructure and attracting capital to the West by laying the first transcontinental railroad. These were hard times, and while they marked the formation of the United States as we know it today, they were actually the height of conflict, as industrialization and the massive influx of immigrants led to regular clashes along ideological, class, ethnic, and religious lines.

It is in this milieu that former Confederate Cullen Bohannon (brilliantly portrayed by Anson Mount ) finds himself still reeling from the murder of his family by Union soldiers. He takes a job building the Union Pacific Railroad westward, where, along with the construction, a mobile camp nicknamed Hell on Wheels is in constant transit.

It's also worth noting how deeply and thoughtfully the screenwriters portrayed the experiences of different people, whether they were freed slaves, Cheyenne, Irish, and Chinese people working on the railroad, or women going through the postwar experience. As a result, the show has impressed critics and audiences alike, with a 73% critics score and 90% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Where and How to Watch the Series, Including Free Options?

If you're intrigued by this undeservedly neglected Primetime Emmy-nominated Western series, there are several ways to go about it. One of them, as we've already mentioned, is completely free streaming.

  • AMC+ — Because Hell on Wheels has aired for all of its five seasons, it is primarily available for viewing with an AMC+ subscription. The series can be streamed via The Roku Channel or Prime Video.
  • Freevee — But now you don't even need a subscription to watch the show, because all five seasons have been added to the Amazon Freevee library. This is a free, ad-supported service available through Prime Video.
  • Purchase — With the dominance of streaming services, it's easy to forget about the more traditional methods of on-demand entertainment. Like buying a specific movie or TV series! Hell on Wheels is available on most major platforms including Amazon, Apple TV, Microsoft Store, Fandango at Home and Google Play. Season purchases in HD quality start at $24.99.