'Longmire' was a hidden gem throughout much of the 2010s for A&E. The modern Western captivated the interest of audiences as Sheriff Walt Longmire and his band of misfits solved crimes taking place in rural Wyoming.
'Longmire' was refreshingly different with a rural setting that also explored conflicts with the nearby Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. Lou Diamond Phillips, who stars in the series alongside Robert Taylor, portrays a Cheyenne tribal officer that sometimes provides insights into the crimes taking place within Sheriff Longmire's jurisdiction. Episodes in the series were not afraid to examine issues that impact contemporary Native American life. Moreover, 'Longmire' dived into some of the heavy issues that devastate these communities such as alcoholism and gambling.
Therefore, when AMC released 'Dark Winds' in 2022, there were many wondering if the series is a spin-off of 'Longmire'.
Yes, while 'Dark Winds' does borrow certain elements from its predecessor (not to mention being a competing network), the two Western dramas are based on entirely different works of fiction.
First, 'Longmire' was developed by John Coveny and Hunt Baldwin at A&E. The TV show is based on the 'Walt Longmire Mysteries' – a series of novels that were authored by Craig Johnson. On the other hand, 'Dark Winds' is a TV adaptation of the 'Leaphorn & Chee' novel series penned by Tony Hillerman.
For this reason, 'Dark Winds' is NOT a direct spin-off of 'Longmire' even if the two series share several parallels. Nevertheless, it is not the first time Hollywood has utilized a blueprint of another, successful program to draw inspiration for a series of their own. Thus, when AMC was determining what new dramas would replace iconic series like 'The Walking Dead' and 'Better Call Saul' in 2022, 'Dark Winds' seemed like a revelation.
Of course, it didn't hurt that 'Dark Winds' was backed by Hollywood heavyweights like Robert Redford and George R.R. Martin. While audiences may have been surprised to find Martin ('Game of Thrones') linked with a modern crime drama about tribal police, Redford has always been an advocate for indigenous rights. And, being able to sprinkle in Martin's ability to explore the supernatural, seemed like a perfect fit for the psychological thriller.
As a result, the network opted to roll the dice with 'Dark Winds' and the gamble paid off. 'Dark Winds' garnered enough viewership to prompt AMC to pick up the series for a second season. Notwithstanding, 'Dark Winds' will have big shoes to fill considering 'Longmire' ranks as the highest-rated original drama series ever on A&E.
Be that as it may, fans of 'Dark Winds' desperately hope that the series will not endure the same fate as 'Longmire' which was infamously not renewed for a fourth season yet finished its six-season run on Netflix. For now, only time will dictate whether 'Dark Winds' concludes with the same reputation (or even better) than 'Longmire'.