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DRAINAGE! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. I'm so sorry. Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? Watch it. Now, my straw reaches acroooooooss the room and starts to drink your milkshake. I... drink... your... milkshake! [makes a sucking sound] I DRINK IT UP!
~ Daniel Plainview tormenting Eli Sunday.
I'm finished!
~ Daniel Plainview to his butler after killing Eli, and his most famous quote.
One night I'm gonna come to you inside of your house, where ever you're sleeping I'm gonna cut your throat.
~ Daniel Plainview giving out a death threat.

Daniel Plainview is the main protagonist of the 2007 epic drama film There Will Be Blood. He is loosely based on the James Arnold Ross character from the 1927 novel Oil!, who himself is based on the real-life oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny.

He is an oil tycoon who goes through the ranks of small-time business man to a wealthy and egocentric oil man. Throughout the film, Daniel is extremely selfish as well as psychopathic, due to his ruthlessness as well as his skills to manipulate and deceive people ruins the relationships he has with everyone close to him.

In the film adaptation, he was portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis, who also played Bill "The Butcher" Cutting in Gangs of New York.


In 1898, Plainview started as a silver prospector in California. When his leg broke in an mine shaft accident, he literally crawls out of the mine shaft and across the rocky plains with some of the silver he discovered. Some unspecified time later, he has turned his attention to oil, working with a small crew and has dug a well. After finding oil, one of the crudely designed digging apparatuses breaks and kills a worker, who happens to have a son. Plainview reluctantly takes the deceased man's orphaned son as his own and names him H.W. This proves to be useful to his future sales pitches, as he uses H.W. to play up people's sympathies.

By 1911, a stranger named Paul Sunday tells Plainview (at a price) of a town called Little Boston where there is a large amount of oil. Plainview takes up on the offer but not without threatening him that if he is lying he will have him murdered.

Daniel and H.W. travel to Little Boston under the guise of hunting quail. Plainview then meets Paul's father, Abel, with an offer to buy his land. Paul's identical twin brother, Eli, is wary of the bargain and confirms Plainview's true motivations, that the land is rich with oil.

Daniel quickly buys up the rest of the land, along with the notable exception of a large portion owned by a man named William Bandy. As he brings a large crew to build an oil derrick, Eli, who is a faith healer and leader of "The Church of the Third Revelation", requests he be able to bless the well and wants Daniel to introduce him. Plainview agrees but at the opening of the derrick he blesses it himself and brings up Eli's sister Mary instead. He also intimidates Abel into not physically abusing Mary for not praying.

The derrick has two accidents: the first kills a man, the second causes the entire derrick to set on fire and to injure H.W., which causes the child to go deaf. Initially, Plainview is delighted that the "whole ocean of oil" has finally surfaced, but later he is deeply troubled by H.W.'s newfound disability. When Eli demands money from the grief-stricken Plainview, the latter savagely attacks the preacher and angrily mocks him for being unable to heal his son.

Daniel then is approached by a man named Henry Brands, who claims to be his half brother. Baffled, Henry produces proofs of identity and certain Plainview family knowledge. Brands politely asks to work for Plainview, to which he agrees. The two share a contemplative conversation in which Daniel feels bitter and vituperative towards other people and how while he wishes he could become rich and self reliant by himself, he realizes he needs other people's help to achieve this.

H.W. discovers in Henry's diary that he is not in fact Daniel's brother and tries to kill him by setting him on fire, but does not succeed. Daniel, increasingly frustrated over being unable to communicate with or control his son, decides to send him to a school for the deaf. He dupes H.W. into getting on a train set for San Francisco, feeling that he is needed in Little Boston more to secure a transportation contract.

Daniel meets with Standard Oil to negotiate the selling of certain derricks. Already resenting Standard for cheating people on shipping costs, one of the agents, Tilford, draws Plainview's ire when he suggests that selling off all the wells will give time to Plainview to look after his boy. Daniel takes this to mean he has done a poor job at raising his son, and threatens to murder Tilford. He instead signs a deal with Union Oil, despite still not owning the Bandy property.

Later, Daniel becomes suspicious of Henry for not being aware of a presumably common local joke in Fond du Lac. The following night, Daniel holds Henry down at gunpoint and begins quizzing him about geographical details about their hometown. Henry reveals that he is not his actual half-brother but rather a friend of Daniel's half brother, who has since died of tuberculosis. Despite promising to leave and never return, Daniel shoots him in the head, killing the impostor, and buries him. He then cries himself to sleep after having looked at the pictures of his real half-brother.

Daniel awakes the next day to find William Bandy over him, who implies he is aware of the murder committed. He agrees to lease out his property for a pipeline (and to keep quiet about the murder) on the condition Daniel join the Church of the Third Revelation. Plainview, a staunch atheist, agrees with a great deal of reluctance and is put through a brutal initiation by Eli, who delights in having his revenge. After repeatedly striking Daniel as part of "removing the devil", he also forces Daniel to admit to abandoning his son.

As the final parts of the construction through Bandy's land are put through, H.W. returns with a sign language teacher. Daniel is overjoyed to have H.W. back again but quickly dismayed by the fact that he can't communicate with H.W. at all (and seems to refuse to learn sign language). He gloats over Tilford and Standard Oil about his success but simmers with resentment at Eli, who leaves Little Boston to do missionary work. Isolated and with wounded pride, Daniel starts drinking more than usual.

By 1927, Daniel is shown to be living in an enormous mansion, but seems as unhappy as he was when he had nothing. He spends his time continuing deals, drinking heavily and shooting his possessions in boredom. He misses H.W.'s wedding to Mary Sunday; H.W. later approaches him with the request that he be released from their partnership so he can start a company in Mexico. Hurt, Plainview sardonically and cruelly berates H.W. and finally tells him his true origins. He disowns H.W., dismissing him as nothing more than a "bastard from a basket". H.W. finally leaves, saying he's glad he is not related to Daniel.

Daniel later gets drunk, apparently regretting the bad turns his relationship with H.W. had taken and is woken up in his bowling alley by Eli. The preacher admits that he has become financially ruined, and begs Daniel to enter a partnership with him to drill out Bandy's property. Daniel initially agrees but only on the condition Eli be put through a humiliating ordeal of having to admit that there is no God and that Eli is a charlatan. After making him say this repeatedly, Daniel reveals Bandy's land is useless as all the oil under it has been taken because Daniel has drilled into all the land around it, thus the oil under Bandy's has been sucked out by the surrounding derricks. Crestfallen, Eli begins to cry while Daniel harshly mocks and verbally abuses him, finally getting to Eli's Achilles Heel by telling him that Paul is an immense success. Daniel, in a state of insane rage, chases Eli across the bowling alley and finally beats him to death with a bowling pin. His flabbergasted butler comes down the steps, asking if everything is all right, to which the exhausted Plainview tells him "I'm finished". It's unknown as to whether or not he was arrested afterwards, although given his wealthy status, it's likely that he was able to get away with having murdered Eli.


What are you looking so miserable about? There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet! No one can get at it except for me.
~ Daniel Plainview showing off his selfishness to his associate.

From the outside, Daniel is seen as nothing but a clear-cut psychopath. He is an extremely smart, relentless, manipulative and charismatic oil baron who takes advantage of the people, he believes, and knows are below him. When Paul tells Daniel about the oil at the Sunday Ranch, instead of threatening Paul that if he's lying, he'll take back his money and give him a beating, he instead threatens Paul that if he's lying, they'll have to murder him. Daniel also takes pride in humiliating people, such as when he made fun of Eli just before murdering him.

Daniel is also very callous, such as when two of his workers are killed in two separate accidents. When the first man is killed, Daniel is unsure of what to think of, instead realizing that he must now take care of the man's son, who he names, H.W., who he loves and cares for, for years. When the second is killed, Daniel is instead annoyed as he now has to deal with the incident instead of having a good night's sleep.

One of the most famous scenes in the film is when he admits to Henry, of the competition inside of him. During the scene, Daniel explains that he wants no one to succeed except for himself, and he truly hates most people, finding nothing worth liking in them. This could explain that Daniel has some kind of Anti-Social Personality Disorder, as he also comments that at some point in his life and career, he can live on his own and get away from the people around him. Throughout other scenes in the film, Daniel is seen having a disregard for people he finds annoying or unnecessary to his life, such as Eli or Bandy.

Daniel does, however, have some redeeming qualities, such as his love for his family. Despite what Daniel says about H.W. during the end, about how he just used him so he could sell more land, throughout the film, Daniel is seen taking extreme care for H.W. When H.W. returns from the deaf school, Daniel is seen hugging him, kissing him and showing how much he truly cared for him. Daniel is also seen caring for his "half-brother", Henry, and when Daniel realizes the truth, he cries at pictures of his actual half-brother after murdering Henry. All together, Daniel is not just a psychopath, but a very complex character who while he may have various horrible traits, he still cares for some people, mostly his family.


Daniel Plainview: Are you an angry man, Henry?
Henry: About what?
Daniel Plainview:' Are you envious? D'you get envious?
Henry: I don't think so. No.
Daniel Plainview: I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people.
Henry: That part of me is gone. Working and not succeeding- all my, uh... failures has left me, uh... I just don't... care.
Daniel Plainview: Well, if it's in me, it's in you. There are times when I... I look at people and I see nothing worth liking. I want to earn enough money I can get away from everyone.
Henry: What will you do about your boy?
Daniel Plainview: I don't know. Uhhhh, maybe it'll change. Does your sound come back to you? I don't know. Maybe no one knows that. A doctor might not know that.
Henry: Where's his mother?
Daniel Plainview: I don't want to talk about those things. I see the worst in people, Henry. I don't need to look past seeing them to get all I need. I've built up my hatreds over the years, little by little. Having you here gives me a second breath of life. I can't keep doing this on my own... with these, umm... people.
~ Daniel Plainview admitting his flaws to Henry.
Daniel Plainview: Those areas have been drilled.
Eli Sunday: What?
Daniel Plainview: Those areas, they've been drilled.
Eli Sunday: No they haven't.
Daniel Plainview: Yes, it's, uh... it's called drainage, Eli. I own everything around it, so of course, I get what's underneath it.
Eli Sunday: But there are no derricks there. This is the Bandy tract. Do you understand?
Daniel Plainview: Do you understand, Eli? That's more to the point. Do you understand? I drink your water. I drink it up, every day. I drink the blood of Lamb from Bandy's tract...
~ Daniel Plainview taunting Eli Sunday about already draining Bandy's tract after forcing him to forsake his faith.
Daniel Plainview: Because you're not the chosen brother, Eli. It was Paul who was chosen. Yes, he-he found me and he told me about your land. You're just a fool.
Eli Sunday: Why are you talking about Paul?
Daniel Plainview: I did what your brother couldn't.
Eli Sunday: Don't say this to me.
Daniel Plainview: I broke you and I beat you. It was Paul who told me about you. He's the prophet. He's the smart one. He knew what was there and he found me to take it out of the ground, and you know what the funny thing is? Listen... listen... listen... I paid him ten thousand dollars, cash in hand, just like that. He has his own company now. A prosperous little business. Three wells producing. Five thousand dollars a week... stop crying, you sniveling ass! Stop your nonsense. You're just the afterbirth, Eli.
Eli Sunday: No...
Daniel Plainview: You slithered out of your mother's filth.
Eli Sunday: No.
Daniel Plainview: They should have put you in a glass jar on a mantlepiece. Where were you when Paul was suckling at his mother's teat? Where were you? Who was nursing you, poor Eli? One of Bandy's sows? That land has been had. Nothing you can do about it. It's gone. It's had.
Eli Sunday: If you would just take...
Daniel Plainview: You lose.
Eli Sunday: ...this lease, Daniel...
Daniel Plainview: DRAINAGE! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. I'm so sorry. Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? Watch it. Now, my straw reaches acroooooooss the room and starts to drink your milkshake. I... drink... your... milkshake! [sucking sound] I DRINK IT UP!
~ Daniel Plainview tormenting Eli Sunday.



  • Daniel Day-Lewis won every award he was nominated for (including a Academy Award, BAFTA, SAG, Critics Choice and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor), for his role as Daniel Plainview.
  • Not only was Daniel Plainview based on real life tycoon, Edward L. Doheny, but he also had very similar attributes to the tycoon man.
    • Both were from Fond du Lac in Wisconsin.
    • Both once worked in Kansas.
    • Both mined by hand before entering the oil business.
    • The infamous "milkshake" line is based on a transcript from congress hearings about the Teapot Dome Scandal, where Doheny was accused of bribing a political official.
  • The only reason Daniel Day-Lewis took the role, was due to the fact that he enjoyed the director of There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson's other film, Punch-Drunk Love.