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Bonanza (1959–1973)

TV Series  |  TV-PG  |   |  Western
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 5,001 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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

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Did You Know?


Anthony Lawrence didn't write authentic Western scripts so he focused on writing about relationships and character (as he did in Bonanza: Dark Star (1960) and Bonanza: The Last Viking (1960), for example). One day, producer David Dortort told Lawrence he wanted to do a story on each of Ben's wives, and the screenwriter replied, "Let me do it, I can kill off at least two of them!" Lawrence thought he would get thrown off the set for saying this, and instead was given the task of becoming the writer who scripted the stories with Ben and his wives, all three of whom died (Bonanza: Elizabeth, My Love (1961), Bonanza: Inger, My Love (1962), Bonanza: Journey Remembered (1963), and Bonanza: Marie, My Love (1963)). See more »


Floor model wheel slot machine in saloon was not built until 1896. See more »


[Hoss reluctantly agrees to serve as a temporary deputy sheriff]
Deputy Sheriff: I'll swear you in. Do you?
Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright: I do.
Deputy Sheriff: You are.
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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 »


Referenced in Evil Bong 3-D: The Wrath of Bong (2011) See more »


Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

An Influential Western
15 October 2003 | by (Los Angeles, California) – See all my reviews

This was probably one of the more influential western series of all time. Along with "Gunsmoke" this also was one of the longest running series in the history of television. The thing that made it great though was that it was able to get better over time. For example, in many of the early episodes, Ben and his sons had an almost antagonistic relationship with anyone who came on their property. In fact, the Cartwrights had an almost shoot first, ask questions later attitude to any stranger that might wander onto the Ponderosa. However, when Lorne Greene suggested that the Cartwrights become more hospitable, that's when the show began to take off. Also, the Adam, Hoss and Joe weren't on the best of terms with each other during the show's early days, but as time went on the three of them grew closer and showed their affection towards each other, especially Hoss and Little Joe. But the thing that really made it great was the fact that the cast and crew were able to go from serious drama to some very light hearted episodes and make it more than just a western but a family drama with stories that could easily fit into any era. This is really a show for the ages.

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