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Bonanza (1959–1973)

TV Series  |  TV-PG  |   |  Western
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 4,994 users  
Reviews: 45 user | 26 critic

The adventures of Ben Cartwright and his sons as they run and defend their ranch while helping the surrounding community.

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14   13   12   11   10   9   8   7   6   … See all »
1973   1972   1971   1970   1969   1968   … See all »
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 8 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete series cast summary:
 Ben Cartwright / ... (430 episodes, 1959-1973)
 Joseph 'Little Joe' Cartwright / ... (427 episodes, 1959-1973)
 Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright / ... (415 episodes, 1959-1972)
 Adam Cartwright (200 episodes, 1959-1965)


The Cartwright's ten-thousand square mile Ponderosa Ranch is located near Virginia City, Nevada, site of the Comstock Silver Lode, during and after the Civil War. Each of the sons was born to a different wife of Ben's; none of the mothers is still alive. Adventures are typical western ones, with lots of personal relationships/problems thrown in as well. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

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TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 September 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ponderosa  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(430 episodes)

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Did You Know?


During the filming of one episode, Lorne Greene was required to jump off a small ledge into a lake five feet below. Michael Landon later recalled that when Greene did the stunt, he jumped into the water feet first and went completely under, but his hair piece came off and floated on the surface of the lake. Landon and the rest of the crew watched to see what would happen. After a short while, Greene's hand shot up out of the water, grabbed the hairpiece, and pulled it down. Greene emerged from the lake, wearing his hairpiece slightly askew. He walked nonchalantly past the snickering crew, and went into his trailer without saying a word. See more »


In every episode each character who wore a gun had a pistol belt with no loops for bullets. The show took place during the Civil War. Pistols were cap and ball, did not use metallic cartridges. Thus no bullet loops. See more »


Ben Cartwright: You and your education.
Adam Cartwright: Education is progress! Now what have you got against it?
Ben Cartwright: I don't have anything against education - as long as it doesn't interfere with your thinking!
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening sequence, when the actors ride on their horses towards the camera and are introduced, the order in which they are introduced is never consistent - this was most likely done to prevent a single actor from becoming the "main" star of the show. See more »


Followed by Bonanza: The Next Generation (1988) See more »


Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Learn from one of the best TV Westerns!
1 March 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Feature film makers have many lessons to learn from this classic western serial. Although each episode was made on a small budget when compared to the Hollywood "A" features of today, all of the production values of great classic movies of the golden age -- painterly composition and design, emotionally effective acting, lyrical music, suspenseful storytelling, beautiful timing, strong dramatic dialogue, elegantly choreographed action, powerful themes, colorful period costumes, folksy comic relief -- all of these values were at a consistently high level from show to show, with never an awkward effect or a misfit scene. Each of the featured characters was drawn in a unique and stylish way, suggesting the storybook characterization that distinguishes the best of the Hollywood golden age. Every one of the episodes stands well as a feature length movie in its own right and would look as good on the big screen as on TV. There's plenty of feeling, no padding or softness, and no mindless experimentation with technique or vulgarity such as has ruined so many westerns made since 1970.

It's difficult to understand why an approach which succeeded for so long was abandoned in the 1970's by both television and feature film makers. Many producers turned instead in the direction indicated by spaghetti westerns. Compared to classic westerns like "Bonanza," spaghetti westerns were much less lyrical and took more of a gutter eye view of the old west, stripping it of its romantic appeal and substituting what to a misguided new generation seemed a dirtier and therefore more authentic realism. In retrospect, Hollywood gave up way too much for the little that it got in return. The success of a vast body of works similar in appeal to "Bonanza" (including many of the other action adventure TV serials made from the '40s to the '60s) is proof that there is a widespread taste that is radically different from the one which has predominated in Hollywood since the '70s. Let's hope that one day we'll see the return of Bonanza's classic values to the screen.

41 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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