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Popular Western TV Shows
A dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.
Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman MacDonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West. The central character is lawman Marshal Matt Dillon, played by William Conrad on radio and James Arness on television. When aired in the UK, the television series was retitled Gun Law.The radio version ran from 1952 to 1961, and John Dunning writes that among radio drama enthusiasts "Gunsmoke is routinely placed among the best shows of any kind and any time." The television version ran for 20 seasons from 1955 to 1975, and was the United States' longest-running prime time, live-action drama with 635 episodes. In 2010, Law & Order tied this record of 20 seasons. At the end of its run in 1975, Los Angeles Times columnist Cecil Smith wrote "Gunsmoke was the dramatization of the American epic legend of the west. Our own Iliad and Odyssey, created from standard elements of the dime novel and the pulp western as romanticized by Buntline, Harte, and Twain. It was ever the stuff of legend."
Firefly is set in the year 2517, after the arrival of humans in a new star system and follows the adventures of the renegade crew of Serenity, a "Firefly-class" spaceship. The ensemble cast portrays the nine characters who live on Serenity.
Wanted: Dead or Alive
Wanted: Dead or Alive is an American Western television series starring Steve McQueen as the bounty hunter Josh Randall. It aired on CBS for three seasons from 1958–61. The black-and-white program was a spin-off of a March 1958 episode of Trackdown, a 1957–59 western series starring Robert Culp. Both series were produced by Four Star Television in association with CBS Television.The series launched McQueen into becoming the first television star to cross over into comparable status on the big screen.
A Wyoming sheriff rebuilds his life and career following the death of his wife. Based on the “Walt Longmire” series of mystery novels written by best-selling author Craig Johnson.
The story of the early days of Deadwood, South Dakota; woven around actual historic events with most of the main characters based on real people. Deadwood starts as a gold mining camp and gradually turns from a lawless wild-west community into an organized wild-west civilized town. The story focuses on the real-life characters Seth Bullock and Al Swearengen.
Based on the IDW Comic, Wynonna Earp follows Wyatt Earp's great granddaughter as she battles demons and other creatures. With her unique abilities, and a posse of dysfunctional allies, she's the only thing that can bring the paranormal to justice.
Hell on Wheels
Hell on Wheels tells the epic story of post-Civil War America, focusing on Cullen Bohannon, a Confederate soldier who sets out to exact revenge on the Union soldiers who killed his wife. His journey takes him west to Hell on Wheels, a dangerous, raucous, lawless melting pot of a town that travels with and services the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, an engineering feat unprecedented for its time.
The Little House on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairie is an American Western drama television series, starring Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, and Karen Grassle, about a family living on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, in the 1870s and 1880s.
The Rifleman is an American Western television program starring Chuck Connors as rancher Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as his son, Mark McCain. It was set in the 1880s in the town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory. The show was filmed in black-and-white, half-hour episodes. "The Rifleman" aired on ABC from September 30, 1958 to April 8, 1963 as a production of Four Star Television. It was one of the first prime time series to have a widowed parent raise a child.
Cheyenne is an American western television series of 108 black-and-white episodes broadcast on ABC from 1955 to 1963. The show was the first hour-long western, and in fact the first hour-long dramatic series of any kind, with continuing characters, to last more than one season. It was also the first series to be made by a major Hollywood film studio which did not derive from its established film properties, and the first of a long chain of Warner Brothers original series produced by William T. Orr.
Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater
Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre, sometimes simply called Zane Grey Theatre, is an American Western anthology series which ran on CBS from 1956 to 1961.
The Virginian is an American Western television series starring James Drury and Doug McClure, which aired on NBC from 1962 to 1971 for a total of 249 episodes. It was a spin-off from a 1958 summer series called Decision. Filmed in color, The Virginian became television's first 90-minute western series. Immensely successful, it ran for nine seasons—television's third longest running western. It follows Bonanza at fourteen seasons and 430 episodes, and Gunsmoke at twenty seasons and 635 episodes.
The Wild Wild West
The Wild Wild West is an American television series that ran on CBS for four seasons from September 17, 1965 to April 4, 1969. Two television movies were made with the original cast in 1979 and 1980, and the series was adapted for a motion picture in 1999.Developed at a time when the television western was losing ground to the spy genre, this show was conceived by its creator, Michael Garrison, as "James Bond on horseback." Set during the administration of President Ulysses Grant, the series followed Secret Service agents James West and Artemus Gordon as they solved crimes, protected the President, and foiled the plans of megalomaniacal villains to take over all or part of the United States.The show also featured a number of fantasy elements, such as the technologically advanced devices used by the agents and their adversaries. The combination of the Victorian era time-frame and the use of Verne-esque style technology have inspired some to give the show credit for the origins of the steam punk subculture. These elements were accentuated even more in the 1999 movie adaptation.Despite high ratings, the series was cancelled near the end of its fourth season as a concession to Congress over television violence.
Maverick is an American Western television series with comedic overtones created by Roy Huggins. The show ran from September 22, 1957 to July 8, 1962 on ABC and stars James Garner as Bret Maverick, an adroitly articulate cardsharp. Eight episodes into the first season, he was joined by Jack Kelly as his brother Bart, and from that point on, Garner and Kelly alternated leads from week to week, sometimes teaming up for the occasional two-brother episode. The Mavericks were poker players from Texas who traveled all over the American Old West and on Mississippi riverboats, constantly getting into and out of life-threatening trouble of one sort or another, usually involving money, women, or both. They would typically find themselves weighing a financial windfall against a moral dilemma. More often than not, their consciences trumped their wallets since both Mavericks were intensely ethical.When Garner left the series after the third season due to a legal dispute, Roger Moore was added to the cast as their cousin Beau Maverick. Robert Colbert appeared later in the fourth season as a third Maverick brother, Brent Maverick. No more than two of the series leads ever appeared together in the same episode, and usually only one.
Bonanza is an NBC television western series that ran from September 12, 1959 to January 16, 1973. Lasting 14 seasons and 430 episodes, it ranks as the second longest running western series, and the fourth longest running episodic series in U.S broadcast history: Gunsmoke, The Simpsons, Law and Order, Bonanza, Ozzie and Harriet. It continues to air in syndication.The show centers around the Cartwright family, who live in the area of Virginia City, Nevada, bordering Lake Tahoe. The series stars Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon, and later, David Canary.The title "Bonanza" is a term used by miners in regard to a large vein or deposit of ore, and commonly refers to The Comstock Lode. In 2002, Bonanza was ranked No. 43 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and in 2013 TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time. The time period for the television series is roughly between 1861 to 1867 during and shortly after the American Civil War.During the summer of 1972, NBC aired reruns of episodes from the 1967-1970 period in prime time on Sunday evening under the title Ponderosa.
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is an American Western drama series created by Beth Sullivan and starring Jane Seymour who plays Dr. Michaela "Mike" Quinn, a physician who leaves Boston in search of adventure in the American West and who settles in Colorado Springs, Colorado.The television series ran on CBS for six seasons, from January 1, 1993 to May 16, 1998. In total, 150 episodes were produced, plus two television movies which were made after the series was cancelled. It aired in over 100 countries. Since 1997, reruns have been shown in syndication and on ABC Family, Ion Television, the Hallmark Channel, gmc, Eleven, CBS Drama and INSP.
Seth Davenport is masquerading as a small town Iowa preacher in the hopes of starting a full-blown insurrection against the status quo, unaware that an industrialist tycoon has hired a professional strikebreaker to stop the uprising by any means necessary. An epic saga of the secret history of the 1930’s American heartland, chronicling the mythic conflict and bloody struggle between big money and the downtrodden, God and greed, charlatans, and prophets.
Have Gun – Will Travel
Have Gun – Will Travel is an American Western television series that aired on CBS from 1957 through 1963. It was rated number three or number four in the Nielsen ratings every year of its first four seasons. It was one of the few television shows to spawn a successful radio version. The radio series debuted November 23, 1958.The television show is presently shown on the Encore-Western channel.Have Gun – Will Travel was created by Sam Rolfe and Herb Meadow and produced by Frank Pierson, Don Ingalls, Robert Sparks, and Julian Claman. There were 225 episodes of the TV series, 24 written by Gene Roddenberry. Other contributors included Bruce Geller, Harry Julian Fink, Don Brinkley and Irving Wallace. Andrew McLaglen directed 101 episodes and 19 were directed by series star Richard Boone.
The Big Valley
The Big Valley is an American western television series which ran on ABC from September 15, 1965, to May 19, 1969. The show stars Barbara Stanwyck, as the widow of a wealthy nineteenth century California rancher. It was created by A.I. Bezzerides and Louis F. Edelman, and produced by Levy-Gardner-Laven for Four Star Television.
A pair of longtime friends and former Texas Rangers crave one last adventure before hanging-up their spurs. After stealing over a thousand head of cattle from rustlers south of the border, they recruit an unlikely crew of hands to drive the herd 3,000 miles north to the grasslands of Montana.
Centennial is a 12-episode American television miniseries that aired on NBC from October 1978 to February 1979. It was based on the novel of the same name by James A. Michener. The miniseries was produced by John Wilder.The miniseries follows the history of the area of the fictional town of Centennial, Colorado from the late 18th century to the 1970s. Its star-studded cast includes Michael Ansara, Raymond Burr, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Conrad, Barbara Carrera, Richard Crenna, Timothy Dalton, Sharon Gless, Andy Griffith, Mark Harmon, Gregory Harrison, David Janssen, Alex Karras, Brian Keith, Sally Kellerman, Stephen McHattie, Lois Nettleton, Donald Pleasence, Adrienne La Russa, Lynn Redgrave, Clive Revill, Robert Vaughn, Dennis Weaver, Anthony Zerbe, Stephanie Zimbalist, and numerous other well-known actors.The miniseries was one of the longest and most ambitious television projects ever attempted at the time. It had a then huge budget of US$25 million, employed four directors and five cinematographers, and featured over 100 speaking parts spanning 26 hours of television viewing time. Centennial was released on DVD on July 29, 2008.
Laramie is an American Western television series that aired on NBC from 1959 to 1963. A Revue Studios production, the program originally starred John Smith as Slim Sherman, Robert Fuller as Jess Harper, Hoagy Carmichael as Jonesy and Robert L. Crawford, Jr., as Andy Sherman.
Into the West
Into the West is a 2005 miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks, with six two-hour episodes. The series was first broadcast in the U.S. on Turner Network Television on six Fridays starting on 10 June 2005. It was also shown in the UK on BBC2 and BBC HD from 4 November 2006, and in Canada on CBC Television. The series also aired in the U.S. on AMC during the summer and fall of 2012.The miniseries begins in the 1820s and is told mainly through the third person narration of Jacob Wheeler and Loved By the Buffalo, although episodes outside the direct observation of both protagonists are also shown. The plot follows the story of two families, one white American, one Native American, as their lives become mingled through the momentous events of American expansion. The story intertwines real and fictional characters and events spanning the period of expansion of the United States in the American West, from 1825 to 1890.The show has a large cast, with about 250 speaking parts. The series features well known performers including Josh Brolin, Gary Busey, Michael Spears, Tonantzin Carmelo, Skeet Ulrich, Steve Reevis, Rachael Leigh Cook, Wes Studi, Irene Bedard, Alan Tudyk, Christian Kane, Russell Means, Jay Tavare, David Midthunder, Keri Russell, Graham Greene, Tom Berenger, Gil Birmingham, David Paymer, Raoul Trujillo, Eric Schweig, Lance Henriksen, Simon R. Baker, Tyler Christopher, Tatanka Means, Tokala Clifford, Gordon Tootoosis, Sheila Tousey, and Will Patton.
Zorro is an American action-adventure drama series produced by Walt Disney Productions. Based on the well-known Zorro character, the series premiered on October 10, 1957 on ABC. The final network broadcast was July 2, 1959. Seventy-eight episodes were produced, and 4 hour-long specials were aired on the Walt Disney anthology series between October 30, 1960 and April 2, 1961.
Sugarfoot is an American western television series that aired on ABC from 1957 to 1961. The series stars Will Hutchins as Tom Brewster, an Easterner who comes to the Oklahoma Territory to become a lawyer. Jack Elam is cast in occasional episodes as sidekick Toothy Thompson. Brewster was a correspondence-school student whose apparent lack of cowboy skills earned him the nickname "Sugarfoot", a designation even below that of a tenderfoot.
Branded is an American Western series which aired on NBC from 1965 through 1966, sponsored by Procter & Gamble in its Sunday night 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time period, and starred Chuck Connors as Jason McCord, a United States Army Cavalry captain who had been drummed out of the service following an unjust accusation of cowardice.
Lucky Luke, with his horse Double Six, travels the Old West to right wrongs and bring evildoers (usually his traditional enemies the Dalton Brothers) to justice. "The man who shoots faster than his shadow."
The High Chaparral
The High Chaparral is an American Western-themed television series starring Leif Erickson and Cameron Mitchell which aired on NBC from 1967 to 1971. The series, made by Xanadu Productions in association with NBC Productions, was created by David Dortort, who had previously created the hit Bonanza for the network. The theme song was also written and conducted by Bonanza scorer David Rose, who also scored the two-hour pilot.
Lawman is an American western television series originally telecast on ABC from 1958 to 1962 starring John Russell as Marshal Dan Troop and featuring Peter Brown as Deputy Marshal Johnny McKay. The series was set in Laramie, Wyoming during 1879 and the 1880s. Warner Bros. already had several western series on the air at the time, having launched Cheyenne with Clint Walker as early as 1955. The studio continued the trend in 1957 with the additions of Maverick with James Garner and Jack Kelly, Colt .45 with Wayde Preston, and Sugarfoot with Will Hutchins. One year later, Warner Bros. added Lawman and Bronco with Ty Hardin.Prior to the beginning of production, Russell and Brown and producer Jules Schermer made a pact to maintain the quality of the series so that it would not be seen as "just another western." At the start of season two, Russell and Brown were joined by Peggie Castle as Lily Merrill, the owner of the Birdcage Saloon, and a love interest for Dan.
The Magnificent Seven
The Magnificent Seven is an American western television series based on the 1960 movie, which is a remake of the Japanese film Seven Samurai. It aired between 1998 and 2000. It was filmed in Newhall, California. The pilot, scripted by Chris Black and Frank Q. Dobbs, was filmed in Mescal, Arizona and the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, near Tombstone.Robert Vaughn, who had starred in the original 1960 movie, frequently guest-starred as a crusading judge.
Bat Masterson is an American Western television series which showed a fictionalized account of the life of real-life marshal/gambler/dandy Bat Masterson. The title character was played by Gene Barry and the half-hour black-and-white shows ran on NBC from 1958 to 1961. The series was produced by Ziv Television Productions, the company responsible for such hit series as Sea Hunt and Highway Patrol.
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., often referred to as just Brisco or Brisco County, is an American Western/science fiction television series created by Jeffrey Boam and Carlton Cuse. It ran for 27 episodes on the Fox network starting in the 1993–94 season. Set in the American West of 1893, the series follows its title character, a Harvard-educated lawyer-turned-bounty hunter hired by a group of wealthy industrialists to track and capture outlaw John Bly and his gang. Bruce Campbell plays Brisco, who is joined by a colorful group of supporting characters, including Julius Carry as fellow bounty hunter Lord Bowler and Christian Clemenson as stick-in-the-mud lawyer Socrates Poole.While ostensibly a Western, the series routinely includes elements of the science fiction and steampunk genres. Humor is a large part of the show; the writers attempted to keep the jokes and situations "just under over-the-top". A large number of episodes involve the Orb, a powerful device from the future. John Astin plays Professor Wickwire, an inventor who assists Brisco with anachronistic technology including diving suits, motorcycles, rockets, and airships. The search for new technology and progressive ideas, what the writers of the show called "The Coming Thing", is a central theme throughout the series.
Cimarron Strip is an American Western television series that aired on CBS from September 1967 to March 1968. Starring Stuart Whitman as Marshal Jim Crown, the series was produced by the creators of Gunsmoke. Reruns of the original show were aired in the summer of 1971.Cimarron Strip was one of only three 90-minute weekly Western series that aired during the 1960s, and the only 90-minute series of any kind to be centered primarily around one lead character. Cimarron Strip was set in the Oklahoma Panhandle, which comprises, east to west, Beaver, Texas, and Cimarron counties in Oklahoma. The show is set in 1888, just as the continuous frontier of the West, which once ran from the Canadian to the Mexican border, was closing. In less than five years there would no longer be that "continuous frontier," only pockets of undeveloped land. This was the late "Wild West" that Marshall Jim Crown was called to defend.
Ralph Lamb wants to be left in peace to run his ranch, but Las Vegas is now swelling with outsiders and corruption which are intruding on his simple life. Recalling Lamb's command as a military police officer during World War II, the Mayor appeals to his sense of duty to look into a murder of a casino worker – and so begins Lamb’s clash with Vincent Savino, a ruthless Chicago gangster who plans to make Vegas his own.
Stagecoach West is an American Western drama television series which ran for thirty-eight episodes on the ABC network from October 4, 1960, until June 27, 1961. Characters Luke Perry and Simon Kane operate the Timberland Stage Line from fictitious Outpost, Missouri to San Francisco, California. Simon's 15-year-old son, David "Davey" Kane, joins the two as they face stagecoach robbers, murderers, inclement weather, and human interest stories. Perry and Kane, who are both deputy U.S. marshals, had been on opposite sides of the American Civil War; Kane, a captain in the Union Army, while Perry had fought for the Confederate States of America. The one-hour black-and-white program was offered at 9 p.m. Eastern on Tuesdays opposite NBC's Thriller, hosted by Boris Karloff, and CBS's The Red Skelton Show.Rogers became well-known a dozen years later on M*A*S*H, and Bray later portrayed the forest ranger Corey Stuart on Lassie from 1964–1969, both on CBS. Child actor Richard Eyer had starred in a number of films in the 1950s, including Friendly Persuasion and Desperate Hours.Stagecoach West was produced by Dick Powell's Four Star Television. It is believed that the series was cancelled despite the high quality of its production because of the glut of westerns on television at the time that it aired. The same fate had fallen on CBS's Johnny Ringo, a 1959 one-season spin-off of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater.
Law of the Plainsman
Law of the Plainsman is a Western television series starring Michael Ansara that aired on the NBC television network from October 1, 1959, until May 5, 1960. The character of Native American U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart was introduced in two episodes of the popular ABC Western television series The Rifleman starring Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain.Law of the Plainsman is distinctive and unique in that it was one of the few television programs that featured a Native American as the lead character, a bold move for U.S.network television at that time. Ansara had earlier appeared in the series Broken Arrow, having portrayed the Apache chief, Cochise. Ansara, however, was not Native American but of Syrian descent.Ansara played Sam Buckhart, an Apache Indian who saved the life of a U.S. Cavalry officer after an Indian ambush. When the officer died, he left Sam money that was used for an education at private schools and Harvard University. After school, he returned to New Mexico where he became a Deputy Marshal working for Marshal Andy Morrison. He lived in a boarding house run by Martha Commager. The only other continuing character was 8-year old Tess Logan, an orphan who had been rescued by Buckhart. Robert Harland, later of Target: The Corruptors! starred in seven episodes as Deputy Billy Lordan. Wayne Rogers, who went on to star in another Four Star western, Stagecoach West, and later, M*A*S*H, also played deputy Lordan in several episodes.
Rawhide is an American Western series starring Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood that aired for eight seasons on the CBS network on Friday nights, from January 9, 1959 to September 3, 1965, before moving to Tuesday nights from September 14, 1965 until January 4, 1966, with a total of 217 black-and-white episodes. The series was produced and sometimes directed by Charles Marquis Warren, who also produced early episodes of Gunsmoke.Spanning seven and a half years, Rawhide was the fifth-longest-running American television Western, exceeded only by eight years of Wagon Train, nine years of The Virginian, fourteen years of Bonanza, and twenty years of Gunsmoke.
Alias Smith and Jones
Alias Smith and Jones is an American Western series that originally aired on ABC from 1971 to 1973. It stars Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes and Ben Murphy as Jedediah "Kid" Curry, a pair of cousin outlaws trying to reform. The governor offers them a conditional amnesty, as he wants to keep the pact under wraps for political reasons. The condition is that they will still be wanted— until the governor can claim they have reformed and warrant clemency.