|Season 1, Episode 1|
|Air date||1 Jan 1993|
|Written by||Beth Sullivan|
|Directed by||Jeremy Kagan|
Pilot is the first episode of Season 1 of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Dr. Michaela Quinn leaves Boston for Colorado Springs to answer an ad for a town doctor. After arriving she isn't greeted with the open welcome/acceptance that she was expecting. She gets assistance from Charlotte Cooper, who runs the boarding house, and Sully, a mountain man who tries for peace between the U.S. Army and the local Cheyenne Indians. After Charlotte dies from a rattlesnake bite, Dr. Mike is entrusted with the care of Charlotte's children (Matthew, Colleen, and Brian). Eventually Dr. Mike begins to gain the town's acceptance.
Michaela and David had been engaged after they both graduated medical school. However David decided to join the Civil War as a doctor and after a series of explosions died. Michaela used her medical degree to practice alongside her father, until his sudden death as well. Her patients didn't wanted a lone female doctor and she soon had to close up. Wanting to continue to practice medicine she decided to accept a letter from a rural town in the middle of rural Colorado. However, when she arrives in Colorado Springs, the Rev. Timothy Johnson is surprised because he expected a male doctor named Michael Quinn. While talking to the Reverend, Michaela watches a negotiation between Colonel Chivington and Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle. She also notices Sully, a former miner who is now living in the woods and is a friend of the Cheyenne. Not watching her step, she falls down in the mud, which draws the attention of the men to her. The Reverend takes Michaela to the Post Office where they learn that Horace, the telegraph operator, thought the final 'A' of Michaela was the initial of her middle name and left it out. The Reverend apologizes to Michaela and wants to send her back to Boston. She insists on staying but he is reluctant because no one around has ever heard of a lady doctor. He introduces her to the midwife, Charlotte Cooper, and explains the misunderstanding. Charlotte is delighted and Michaela's luggage is brought into her house. At dinner Michaela has a conversation with Colonel Chivington, who thinks the Indians are in the way of progress and should be killed.
Michaela wants to post a notice in Loren Bray's store that she is looking for lodging. But Loren is against a female doctor and claims there is no room for her notice. When Sully and Black Kettle come in, he shows them a sign that says that no Indians are allowed in his store. Michaela takes down the sign and puts up her notice. She leaves the store with Charlotte and they go to the town's African American blacksmith, Robert E., to buy a horse for Michaela. Michaela has problems mounting the horse and is helped by Sully, who is also answering her notice. He leads her to his old homestead outside the town and rents it to her. Later, Michaela, Charlotte, and her children bring the luggage to the homestead. During the ride they talk about Sully. Michaela learns that Sully came to Colorado Springs in 1859 and fell in love with Loren's daughter Abagail, who died giving birth to their first child. Loren blames Sully for it.
Charlotte tries to introduce Michaela to the other townsfolk, but they turn away. When Hank calls for Jake Slicker, the town's barber who is doing all the doctoring in town, to help a sick man, Michaela wants to examine him but the men don't want her help. Michaela also wants to treat Maude Bray, but her husband Loren sends Michaela away. Later she sees Sully at Abagail's grave. She saw him talking to Black Kettle about her earlier and wants to know what they said. Sully tells her that Black Kettle thinks that since among the whites only men make medicine, she must be a "crazy white woman".
Michaela has trouble settling in because she is not used to housework and except for Charlotte no one in town is taking her seriously as a doctor, even after she saves Emily's life during childbirth. When she still doesn't get any patients, she decides it is time for drastic measures. She lets Jake pull a tooth from her though there was nothing wrong with it, showing people that she is tough. She also gives him an ointment for an infection on his hand. A few weeks later, Jake tells her that the ointment helped and says that he asked Robert E., who has lumbago, to let her have a look at him. Robert E. is against a woman doctor, but when she reminds him that he should know what it is like to be judged unfairly, he lets her treat him.
Charlotte is bitten by a rattlesnake, and, on her deathbed asks Michaela to take care of her children Matthew, Colleen, and Brian. After their mother's death, they move into the homestead with Michaela. Brian doesn't want to live with her and says that he wants to live with the Cheyenne. Michaela writes to her mother, asking for advice on raising children.
Brian breaks a candy jar in Loren's store. When Michaela tells him to clean up the mess, he says that he hates her. Michaela secretly gives Maude a powder that will help her with her arrhythmia. She then goes to the post office to send her letter. Horace has problems with his hearing and reluctantly agrees to let Michaela examine him. She pulls earwax out of his ear and he promises to get her letter right out. Myra, a prostitute in Hank's Saloon, asks Michaela for help. Despite Hank's objection, Michaela examines her and tells him that Myra has to remain chaste for a month. When Michaela wants to leave the saloon, she is bothered by the men in the saloon. Sully comes in, fights the men, and gets her out.
Brian, who is still angry at Michaela for what happened at Bray's store, runs away and Michaela goes looking for him on her own. She is found by Indians and brought to Black Kettle and Sully. Michaela asks Sully to tell them to let her go. He explains that they brought her to the camp for safe keeping because she was lost. She tells him that Brian ran away to live with the Cheyenne because Sully is his hero. Black Kettle and his people offer to look for Brian as soon as the light is up. Michaela insists on coming with them. She thinks that she let Charlotte down but Sully comforts her and says that sometimes things happen and no one can do anything.
Matthew and the men of the town ride out to look for Michaela and Brian. When they see Indians off the resort, Loren is suspicious and sends for Colonel Chivington. Michaela and Sully find Brian; who has a broken leg. They bring him back to the Indian search party, Chivington's men start an attack. Michaela and Sully step in front of them and explain that the Indians were helping her search for Brian. Chivington and his men reluctantly withdraw.
Maude has an attack in the store. Michaela can't help her because her medicine was not delivered on time and Maude dies. Michaela receives a letter from her mother, who writes that she hopes Michaela will give up being a doctor and come back to "civilization". Her advice on children is to come home, settle down, and have a family of her own. Michaela starts crying and is comforted by Colleen.
In the middle of the night, Sully and two Indians bring Black Kettle, who has been shot, to the homestead. Chivington and his men ambushed their village, burned it to the ground and massacred nearly everybody. Michaela needs to do a tracheotomy on Black Kettle and gets the bullet out. She offers for him to hide in her barn until he is better. Chivington's men search the homestead and also check the barn, but Sully and the Indians are gone. Black Kettle later gives Michaela her Cheyenne name: Medicine Woman.
On Christmas Eve, the homestead is snowed in so that Michaela and the children cannot go to the church dance. Sully pays them an unexpected visit and brings gifts for all of them. Michaela invites him to stay for dinner and he accepts.
- Michaela Quinn was born on February 15, 1833 in Boston as the youngest of the Quinn sisters. She becomes known as Dr. Mike in Colorado Springs. Dr. Mike slips and falls in the mud on her first day in Colorado Springs. Dr. Andrew Cook also slips and falls in the mud on his first day in Colorado Springs in When a Child Is Born. Michaela has Jake Slicker pull one of her teeth as a way of gaining the town's acceptance even though nothing is wrong with her tooth. Her missing tooth is never seen again, and she isn't shown to have any trouble eating with her missing tooth. When Dr. Mike first arrives in town she learns that the Reverend was expecting a man because Horace took the "middle initial" (her A) out of the telegram before giving it to the Reverend. Dr. Mike later finds out that the Reverend is still advertising for another doctor which upsets her. Dr. Mike rents the homestead Sully built for 1 dollar a month.
- First appearance of Elizabeth Quinn, Michaela's mother, and Josef Quinn's wife. Her first name is revealed in The Visitor. Elizabeth Quinn's first appearance is portrayed by Mary Gregory.
- First appearance of Josef Quinn albeit in a casket. He is Michaela's father, Elizabeth Quinn's husband, and known as Dr. Quinn. Dr. Quinn, and the casket scene will be shown again in Michaela's flashback dream in Mike's Dream: A Christmas Tale. Dr. Quinn's first name, Josef, is revealed in The Library. Michaela tells Sully that her father had a cerebral hemorrhage (stroke), and was in a coma for three days before dying in Promises, Promises.
- First appearance of Larry Sellers as the character Black Hawk. Larry Sellers will return in Epidemic as the character Cloud Dancing for the rest of the series. Larry Sellers is one of the few actors who plays double roles in the series.
- First appearance of Black Kettle. He gives Dr. Mike her Cheyenne name "Medicine Woman" which is the same name as his wife. The Army and the Indians are "negotiating" for the lands around Sand Creek.
- Character reference: Ethan Cooper. Charlotte Cooper's husband didn't die. She's called Widow Cooper out of politeness. Charlotte says that she and Ethan had a farm in Topeka, KS that they took four years to get up and running. Charlotte says that Ethan just one day up and sold the farm without asking her. Charlotte tells Michaela that Ethan told her that they were going mining for gold at Pike's Peak. She continues to say that when the gold mine went bust that Ethan lost his good sense, and disappeared with her money sock. Charlotte dies of a rattlesnake bite leaving the children with Dr. Mike. Ethan Cooper makes his first visit to Colorado Springs in Father's Day.
- Robert E. is diagnosed with lumbago, and arthritis of the hands, but neither are spoken of again after the Pilot. It is never revealed in the series what his initial stands for. Robert E. is also the only character that is always referenced as his first name then his initial.
- Character reference: David. Dr. Mike says that her fiancé David didn't talk about the Civil War. Dr. Mike says that one evening at dinner David showed up in an officer's uniform, and said he was leaving two days later. Dr. Mike says that David died during the Civil War, and that he was also a doctor. Michaela met David in a hospital. It is alluded that David might be alive in the episode Portraits.
- Story Arc: Holidays. The first Christmas is celebrated at the end of Pilot. The first Thanksgiving would also have been celebrated during the timeline of the Pilot story although it isn't seen or spoken of like the first Christmas is. Sully's Christmas gifts are: one of Wolf's puppies that Brian later names "Pup", a wooden hair comb to Colleen supposedly carved by Sully just like the wooden wolf was carved by Sully, a multitool to Matthew, and a big wooden shingle to Dr. Mike. Michaela invites Sully to join them for Christmas Eve dinner. The first full episode to focus on a holiday is Halloween.
- Plot Device Arc: Women's Quilting Circle. First appearance. The group is seen quilting outside the church. The name of the group is not mentioned until the episode Father's Day.
- Plot Device Arc: Dances. The first dance of the show, the Church Christmas Eve Dance, is mentioned at the end of Pilot although it isn't seen. Colleen wants to attend, but cannot due to the homestead being snowed in. The first dance seen on the show is the Founder's Day Dance in Father's Day.
- Maude Bray is given digitalis for her arrhythmia. Maude dies of arrhythmia after the digitalis runs out, and the new shipment of digitalis from Chicago doesn't arrive in time. Dorothy later reveals in Sanctuary that Maude was her sister.
- A C-section is performed on Emily Donavan to save her and her baby when Charlotte finds she can't take care of the delivery herself.
- Jake Slicker pulls out Dr. Mike's tooth.
- Dr. Mike sees Robert E. about his lumbago (lower back pain).
- Wax is pulled out of Horace's ear.
- Brian is treated for a broken leg.
- Black Kettle is treated for a gunshot wound to his neck that requires a tracheotomy to breathe.
- Michaela mentions her sister Mary. However, in Where the Heart Is her sisters' names are Rebecca, Marjorie, Claudette and Maureen.
- Jane Seymour as Dr. Michaela Quinn
- Joe Lando as Byron Sully
- Guy Boyd as Loren Bray
- Chad Allen as Matthew Cooper
- Erika Flores as Colleen Cooper
- Shawn Toovey as Brian Cooper
- Colm Meaney as Jake Slicker
- Geoffrey Lower as Rev. Timothy Johnson
- Verna Bloom as Maude Bray
- Helene Udy as Myra
- Nick Ramus as Black Kettle
- Diane Ladd as Charlotte Cooper
- Frank Collison as Horace Bing
- Adrian Sparks as Colonel Chivington
- Ivory Ocean as Robert E.
- Larry Sellers as Black Hawk
- William Shockley as Hank Lawson
- Heidi Kozak as Emily