A mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit becomes the unwilling object of a long vendetta by Indians, and proves to be a match for their warriors in one-on-one combat on the early frontier.

Jeremiah Johnson: [Jeremiah and Caleb find Del Gue buried to his neck in sand] Are you all right?
Del Gue: Sure, sure, I got a fine horse under me!
Del Gue: Got one of them feathers in my nose.
Jeremiah Johnson: You keep sneezing, it'll come out all right. Haven't seen anyone pass by recent, have you?
Del Gue: Nobody's gone in front of me. Can't say what's happened behind me, though.
Jeremiah Johnson: The Injuns put you here?
Del Gue: T'weren't Mormons. A Chief, name of Mad Wolf. Nice fella, don't talk a hell of a lot. Say, you wouldn't have an extra hat on you, would you? Shade's getting' scarce in these parts.
Jeremiah Johnson: What'd you shave your head for?
Del Gue: Mad Wolf figures like every other Injun I know. Says this scalp isn't fit for no decent man's lodgepole. Ain't the first time I've protected my head in such a way. Name's Del Gue, with an "e".
[first lines]
Narrator: His name was Jeremiah Johnson, and they say he wanted to be a mountain man. The story goes that he was a man of proper wit and adventurous spirit, suited to the mountains. Nobody knows whereabouts he come from and don't seem to matter much. He was a young man and ghosty stories about the tall hills didn't scare him none. He was looking for a Hawken gun, .50 caliber or better. He settled for a .30, but damn, it was a genuine Hawken, and you couldn't go no better. Bought him a good horse, and traps, and other truck that went with being a mountain man, and said good-bye to whatever life was down there below.
[Jeremiah has found the frozen body of Hatchet Jack]
Jeremiah Johnson: [reading the note pinned to Hatchet Jack's shirt] I, Hatchet Jack, being of sound mind and broke legs, do leaveth my rifle to the next thing who finds it, Lord hope he be a white man. It is a good rifle, and kilt the bear that kilt me. Anyway, I am dead. Sincerely, Hatchet Jack.
[Jeremiah and Del are parting company]
Jeremiah Johnson: You'll do well, Del; providing you don't get into trouble with all that hair.
Del Gue: Ain't this somethin'? I told my pap and mam I was going to be a mountain man; acted like they was gut-shot. "Make your life go here, son. Here's where the people is. Them mountains is for Indians and wild men." "Mother Gue", I says "the Rocky Mountains is the marrow of the world," and by God, I was right. Keep your nose in the wind and your eye along the skyline.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Are you sure you can skin grizz?
Jeremiah Johnson: Just as fast as you can catch' em.
[Bear Claw runs into and through the cabin with a huge grizzly bear close behind and jumps out the back window]
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: [as the fight rages inside the cabin] Skin that one, pilgrim, and I'll get you another!
[Shot sounds from inside the cabin]
Del Gue: I ain't never seen 'em, but my common sense tells me the Andes is foothills, and the Alps is for children to climb! Keep good care of your hair! These here is God's finest scupturings! And there ain't no laws for the brave ones! And there ain't no asylums for the crazy ones! And there ain't no churches, except for this right here! And there ain't no priests excepting the birds. By God, I are a mountain man, and I'll live 'til an arrow or a bullet finds me. And then I'll leave my bones on this great map of the magnificent...
Jeremiah Johnson: Who are they?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Crow, most likely. This is their hunting ground, if they catch us, they'll steal our horses
[an arrow flies by Bear Claw's head and sticks in a tree]
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Yep, Crow. Fella by the name of Paints-his-Shirt-Red. That's his sign.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: You're the same dumb pilgrim that I been hearin' for twenty days, and smellin' for three!
Jeremiah Johnson: [Jeremiah and Bear Claw hunt elk] Wind's right, but he'll just run soon as we step out of these trees.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Trick to it. Walk out on this side of your horse.
Jeremiah Johnson: What if he sees our feet?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Elk don't know how many feet a horse has!
Del Gue: Which way you headed, Jeremiah?
Jeremiah Johnson: Canada, maybe. I hear there is land there a man has never seen.
Del Gue: Well, keep your nose in the wind, and your eyes along the skyline.
Jeremiah Johnson: I will do that, Del Gue.
Del Gue: Jeremiah, maybe you best go down to a town, get outta these mountains.
Jeremiah Johnson: I've been to a town Del.
Qualen: [to Jeremiah, about the pile of trophies left by the Crow outide the cabin] Some say you're dead on account of this. Some say you never will be... on account of this.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: [Bear Claw is speaking to Paints His Shirt Red in Crow] You two know each other?
Jeremiah Johnson: I seen him once.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: [Paints His Shirt Red continues in Crow, nodding toward Jeremiah] He says you fish poorly.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: I am Bear Claw Chris Lapp; bloodkin to the grizzer that bit Jim Bridger's ass! YOU are molesting my hunt!
Jeremiah Johnson: Ain't that hair I see on your head?
Del Gue: It sure is. I decided that when I depart from this life I'd like to leave something. At least to be remembered on some man's lodge pole.
Jeremiah Johnson: Sound wisdom.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: You've come far pilgrim.
Jeremiah Johnson: Feels like far.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Were it worth the trouble?
Jeremiah Johnson: [pause, then] Huh? What trouble?
Del Gue: Amongst lnjuns... a tribe's greatness is figured on how mighty its enemies be.
[Jeremiah is being forced by the Flathead chief to marry an Indian girl]
Jeremiah Johnson: Del Gue, I don't think this is a good idea.
Del Gue: He may be a Christian and talk white; but he's still an Indian and his rules is his rules. Now, when this is over you can talk her to Fort Hawley and trade her, but you will get married my friend. Besides, maybe she ain't half bad.
[Caleb is crying]
Jeremiah Johnson: Stop that, boy!
[Jeremiah and Del are parting company]
Jeremiah Johnson: You'll do well, Del, you'll do well; if you don't get into too much trouble with all that hair.
Del Gue: Ain't this somethin'? I told my pap and mam I was coming to mountains to trap and be a mountain man; acted like they was gut-shot. Says "Son, make your life go here, here's where the peoples is. Them mountains is for animals and savages." I says, "Mother Gue, the Rocky Mountains is the marrow of the world", and by God, I was right.
Jeremiah Johnson: Yes, you were.
Jeremiah Johnson: Just where is it I could find bear, beaver, and other critters worth cash money when skinned?
Robidoux: Ride due west as the sun sets. Turn left at the Rocky Mountains.
Jeremiah Johnson: Where you headed?
Del Gue: Same place you are, Jeremiah: hell, in the end.
Jeremiah Johnson: How does the war go?
Lt. Mulvey: Which war?
Jeremiah Johnson: The war against the President of Mexico.
Lt. Mulvey: Why, it's over.
Jeremiah Johnson: Who won?
Jeremiah Johnson: Y'ever get lonesome?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Fer what?
Jeremiah Johnson: Woman?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Full time night woman? I never could find no tracks on a woman's heart. I packed me a squaw for ten year, Pilgrim. Cheyenne, she were, and the meanest bitch that ever balled for beads. I lodge-poled her at Deadwood Creek, and traded her for a Hawken gun. But don't get me wrong; I loves the womens, I surely do. But I swear, a woman's breast is the hardest rock that the Almighty ever made on this earth, and I can find no sign on it.
Del Gue: [Jeremiah and Del have killed the Indians that stole Del's horse and gear] Don't you want any of these?
Jeremiah Johnson: What?
Del Gue: Scalps!
Jeremiah Johnson: [Shaken by the incident] No.
Del Gue: Well, Mother Gue never raised such a foolish child!
[Pulls his knife and begins scalping the Indians]
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Watch your top knot.
Jeremiah Johnson: Yep, watch your'n.
Jeremiah Johnson: [staring down at Swan's naked body] Lord.
Jeremiah Johnson: [to Lt. Mulvey] Been so long since I've had so much English spoke at me.
Jeremiah Johnson: I make damn good biscuits boy!
Jeremiah Johnson: [after laboriously teaching Swan one word of English, Jeremiah points to himself] Great hunter. Yes?
Swan: Yes.
Jeremiah Johnson: [points to himself again] Fine figure of a man. Yes?
Swan: Yes.
Jeremiah Johnson: Good. That is all you need to know. For now.
Del Gue: [Del and Jeremiah have run into a Flathead scouting party] He wants to know if you are the great warrior who avenges the crazy women that lives in the Wolf Tail Valley. She's big medicine and you are too, if you be that man.
Jeremiah Johnson: [the Indian begins talking in a very loud voice] Say, why's he yellin'?
Del Gue: Scared of ya.
Jeremiah Johnson: [Jeremiah and Caleb see a bird flying across the sky] Hawk. Goin' for the Musselshell. Take me a week's ridin', and he'll be there in... hell, he's there already.
Del Gue: [to Jeremiah] You turn down this gift, and they'll slit you, me, Caleb and the horses from crotch to eyeball with a dull deer antler!
[Jeremiah has just killed a Crow warrior who has been stalking him]
Del Gue: Is it always like this? One at a time?
Jeremiah Johnson: Yep.
Del Gue: Lucky they were Crow. Apache would have sent fifty at once.
Del Gue: Ain't that Hatchet Jack's rifle?
Jeremiah Johnson: Yep. Found him froze to a tree.
Del Gue: Damn! He was a wild one, old Hatchet Jack. He was livin' two year in a cave up on the Musselshell with a female panther. She never did get used to him.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: [Seeing the striped military trousers Jeremiah's wearing] Missed another war down there, hmm?
[Bear Claw has found Jeremiah half starved and freezing]
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Heh, heh, heh. How come you ain't been scalped?
Jeremiah Johnson: [to the mad woman, who is threatening him with a gun] Woman, I am your friend. We have graves to dig.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Bear Claw is building a hot coal bed putting and covering them to sleep on, tells Jeremiah to do like wise. Middle of the night Jeremiahs blankets start smoking and jumps out of bed!
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Bear Claw looks up from his bed and says" Didn't put enough dirt down,, Saw it right off"
[Bear Claw is talking to Paints-his-Shirt in Crow]
Jeremiah Johnson: You understand what he's sayin'?
Bear Claw Chris Lapp: Paints-His-Shirt speaks English, he just does this to aggravate me.