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This whole world is a story. I've read every page except the last one. I need to find out how it ends. I want to know what this all means.

–The Man in Black

William is a main character in HBO's Westworld, played by Jimmi Simpson. William is a first time guest to the park. He arrives with a Westworld veteran, his soon-to-be brother-in-law, Logan. Before arriving at Westworld, William was promoted to an Executive Vice President at Delos (the company owned by Logan's family). In the first season finale, William is revealed to be a younger Man in Black, played by Ed Harris.

The Man in Black is a Westworld veteran who has been visiting the park for over 30 years. He believes that the original park creator, Arnold, hid some mystery in the park before he died 34 years earlier, and is focused on finding out what this secret is. In "The Bicameral Mind", the Man in Black reveals that he is the majority shareholder, and thus, the owner of Westworld.

The Man in Black and Robert Ford are on a first-name basis with each other. In the episode "Contrapasso", he greets Ford by saying, "How'm I doin', Robert?" Likewise, in "The Bicameral Mind", Ford greets him by saying, "William, so you found the center of the maze.".


William is engaged to marry Juliet (Logan's sister). William is made an EVP (Executive Vice President) at Delos (the company owned by Logan's family). Logan invites William to Westworld and accompanies him.

The Man in Black says he's been visiting Westworld for over three decades, and wants to visit the deeper levels of the game, which he believes are hidden in the park. He says he regularly visits Dolores Abernathy, a host who lives on the outskirts of Sweetwater. He is also acquainted with Teddy Flood and Lawrence.[1]

The Man in Black is a businessman and philanthropist outside Westworld, wealthy enough to operate a foundation and to be recognized by other guests in the park. However, he becomes annoyed when having his vacation interrupted by guests who recognize him, or by anyone else for that matter, such as Charlotte and Robert.


Season One

"The Original"


"The Stray"

"Dissonance Theory"


"The Adversary"

"Trace Decay"

"The Well-Tempered Clavier"

"The Bicameral Mind"

Season Two

"Journey Into Night"


"The Riddle of the Sphinx"


William has a strong moral compass and inquisitive mind. While at Westworld, William shows respect toward all of the hosts and is eager to learn more about the story lines. As William becomes more frustrated with Logan's behavior, he is forced to make difficult decisions that conflict with his moral compass.

William seems to be more interested in the narratives of Westworld than most people who visit the park.

Over the course of the first season, William begins to become affected by the experiences in the park. He is at first hesitant to 'kill' hosts; and his first time is during a shootout in town when he saves a prostitute, Clementine whom he befriended in a previous episode. His second isn't until much later - during the nitroglycerin robbery in the episode "Contrapasso" - and appears to deeply upset him. He becomes more violent as his frustration with Logan and infatuation with Dolores both increase.

This eventually, after Logan cuts Dolores open to show William her mechanical innards, results in William dismembering and butchering an entire company of host soldiers in the night. After this event, he becomes obsessed with "saving" Dolores, to the point that he begins to brutally kill other hosts in the park (until even Logan is disgusted by the violence).

It could also be argued that William puts Logan at risk when he straps him naked to a horse near the park's boundary and sets the horse free. He justifies this as necessary, to humiliate Logan in order to gain more control in the park (as William is marrying into Logan's family, and thus William could take more control from Logan).

These events: the violence; the obsession with Dolores; and his increasingly brutal behavior in the park, appear to be steps on the road to becoming the cruel and sadistic Man in Black.

The Man in Black is a ruthless figure who has no compunctions about killing, torturing or mutilating hosts in a number of ways. He sees them as nothing more than tools, or toys, to be used or discarded. For example, at one point he uses the "blood" from Lawrence (whom he shared many adventure with) to revive another host. He relishes the game, and slips in and out of character when talking to the hosts, occasionally mocks or taunts them, repeatedly demonstrating the limitations of their programmed personalities.

The Man in Black alternatively sees Westworld as a park and as a game. He feels that he's seen almost everything about the park except the "Final Chapter", although he notes along the way that there are some characters and story lines he had not yet indulged in his 30 years of visits. While he takes advantage of the inability to be killed, he appears to crave a worthy adversary, and the real danger of the possibility of death. On some level, he is aware he is attempting to run away from his growing wreck of his home life, his wife having committed suicide and his daughter being driven away by his cold personality.

In the real world, the Man in Black is at least connected to a foundation that saves people's lives. However, at least while in the park, he has no problem threatening a real human. It's unknown how much of that is him playing to the ruthless black-hat character he is in the park, but it's close enough to his true personality that it drove his family away from him.


Dolores Abernathy

William and Dolores are attracted to one another and their relationship continues to grow as they work together. They don't hesitate to defend each other when in times of danger. William shows great concern for her well being, deciding to help get her out of the park. However, his love for Dolores eventually becomes an obsession; he begins to narrow-mindedly search for Dolores to save her, even at the cost of his own morality. Eventually, Dolores is reset after the events with William, and her inability to remember William results in him becoming the cruel and sadistic Man in Black: a cynical, jaded man. After this event, he still recognizes Dolores as something he wants to save; but sees her more as a pawn in the game-play of Westworld.

The Man in Black seems to have some kind of connection with Dolores, having known her for a long time, perhaps as long as he has been coming to the park. He delights in causing her anguish and pain, but it is unknown whether he truly feels anything for her or thinks she is part of his search for the Maze. In the events of the finale, it is revealed that the Man in Black is in fact William; Dolores was the reason for William's eventual moral decline as he became obsessed with finding and freeing her. William eventually does find Dolores again, but due to the fact she was reset, she had no memory of him - leaving him even more cynical and jaded. He becomes obsessed then with finding the maze, in order to potentially free not just Dolores, but also the other hosts, so that the game can have real stakes.


William and Logan have a strained relationship. They seem to be friends by circumstance - co-workers and soon to be brothers-in-law. Personality-wise, William is a foil for Logan. In Westworld, while William earnestly tries to learn more about the hosts and story lines, Logan doesn't care for them at all because he's only interested in drinking, killing hosts and host prostitutes. Eventually, the conflicting nature of the two comes to a dangerous ending - William, fully embracing the brutality of the park in his narrow-minded quest to save Dolores, is seemingly unconcerned with Logan's well-being. He binds Logan's hands, strips him naked, seats him on a horse, and then spooks it.


Lawrence Pedro Maria Gonzalez, or "El Lazo", met William during the episode "Trompe L'Oeil". Though their relationship doesn't start off well, with Lawrence betraying William, Logan and Dolores initially, the two go on to become good friends after William leaves Logan behind, with Lawrence later helping William in his quest to find Dolores.

As the Man in Black, William no longer cares for Lawrence, even though they've had many adventures together. He instead treats Lawrence as something to be used and discarded in his quest to find the Maze, killing his family, and later him, without remorse.


Emily is the Man in Black's daughter. They don't have a good relationship, as she blames him for her mother's death, claiming that she committed suicide because of his dark nature. It's unknown what their relationship was like prior to her mother's death.


Juliet and William were married for 30 years before she allegedly committed suicide. According to Emily, her mother's suicide was due to the fear she felt and the darkness she saw in William. 


  • The Man in Black's clothing (a black hat and gray shirt) is similar to that of the antagonist from the original Westworld film, the Gunslinger (portrayed by Yul Brenner). In the film, the Gunslinger was a robot programmed to antagonize guests into dueling with him. He is supposed to lose these duels, but malfunctions and kills humans. The Man in Black being a human may be representative of the TV series' willingness to subvert the original movie, and/or a perspective change in that now, the humans are the ones acting evil and the robots are the innocents that are killed. The Man in Black, at least in a conversation with Lawrence, sees himself as the potential hero for the hosts, claiming he's there to set them free.
  • When William changes his shirt in Pariah, it is into the same grey shirt that the Man in Black wears. Right after he changes his shirt color, he goes on a heist to steal nitroglycerin. On the heist, William shoots dead an unarmed man, referencing the Man in Black's ruthlessness.
  • William is also shown with the same knife that the Man in Black is always seen with.
  • When one asks about the Man in Black on the Westworld Website, this is the response they receive:


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This gallery is automatically generated and contains images in the category "Images of Man In Black". Images added to that category turn up in the gallery after a short amount of time.



That gentlemen gets whatever he wants.

–Stubbs about the Man in Black, Chestnut

You know what I wanted. I wanted the Hosts to stop playing by your rules, the game is not worth playin' if your opponent is programmed to lose. I wanted them to be free, free to fight back.

–Older William to Dr. Ford, The Bicameral Mind

They wanted a place hidden from god (...) we had something else in mind entirely, but I have received my judgment all the same Lawrence and I take issue with it, because up until this point the stakes in this place haven't been real, so I'm gonna fight my way back and appeal the verdict, then I'm gonna burn this whole fucki'n thing to the ground.

–Older William to Lawrence, Reunion

Who said anything about a good deed? You wanted me to play your game... I'm gonna play it to the bone.

–Older William to Lawrence's daughter (Robert Ford), The Riddle of the Sphinx


  1. The Original
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