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Bonanza (1959–1973)

TV Series  |  TV-PG  |   |  Western
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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

Show detailed on  »

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 »


During the first season opening credits, the Cartwrights can be seen galloping on horses on a dirt road that contains an unmistakable set of tire tracks from the truck carrying the camera in front of them. See more »


Adam Cartwright: Let's go back to the Ponderosa, Pa. This isn't any of our affair.
Ben Cartwright: We can't ignore the rest of the world. We're the only stabilizing influence in the country.
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 »


Referenced in The Munsters: Herman Picks a Winner (1966) See more »


Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The second longest running TV Western
19 January 2001 | by (Chapel Hill,North Carolina) – See all my reviews

As a child growing up,I can recall seeing every episode at least a dozen number of times and can fondly recognize all the characters on the show. "Bonanza" was that show. For the 14 years that it ran on NBC,it has become television's second longest running western series,and the only TV show that was presented in "living color" throughout its run. The show was the equilavent of My Three Sons,with the exception that it was in the rolling hills of Nevada during the turn of the 1800's. Only during its run that Lorne Greene and Michael Landon were the original two cast members that stayed on the series in which Landon produced and directed several of the episodes. Only two other members left the show at the peak of their fame when it was in the top ten for the duration of the show(which was #1 in the Nielsen ratings during much of the 1960's). Pernell Roberts,who played big brother Adam left in 1965,and Dan Blocker who played the mighty Hoss left in 1972 due to health problems. Repeats of the series can be seen on PAX-TV along with the lost episodes that date back to the early 1970's. A Must See!

13 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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