The adventures of Ben Cartwright and his sons as they run and defend their ranch while helping the surrounding community.
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1973   1972   1971   1970   1969   1968   … See all »
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 9 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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)
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Storyline

The Cartwright's one-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

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

12 September 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ponderosa  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(430 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

4:3
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A recurring situation was that every time one of the Cartwrights became seriously involved with a woman, she died from a malady, was slain, or left with someone else. See more »

Goofs

The story of Bonanza starts in 1859 Nevada but the clothing worn by the cast is invariably 20th century . For example belt loops did not appear on men's trousers and jeans until many decades later. See more »

Quotes

[running gag]
Ben Cartwright: Hey, Joe, do you know the difference between a table and an ottoman?
Joseph 'Little Joe' Cartwright: Sure I do.
Ben Cartwright: Then take your feet off the table!
[Hoss rolls his eyes]
Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright: He'll never learn to do that.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening and closing credits show a picture on the screen that corresponds with whatever credit is being given ("Music by" is accompanied by a man playing a violin, "Written by" has a Mark Twain-inspired writer type holding a book with "Bonanza" written on its cover, etc.) See more »

Connections

Referenced in Boston Legal: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Bonanza
Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Magnificent classic western features noble, close knit family
29 April 2006 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I grew up on this classic western series, and as a child always considered it a treat being allowed to stay up late on Sunday evenings to watch it. Bonanza is still infinitely re watchable in re runs.

The series chronicles the adventures of the Cartwright family, who live on a ranch near Virginia City, Nevada around the Civil War era. Their ranch (called the Ponderosa) is run and defended by the widowed father, Ben, and his unmarried three sons, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe. These three brothers have different mothers, all of whom have passed away years earlier.

The Cartwrights are a hard working, prosperous, and honourable family, highly respected in those parts. The Ponderosa is large so reaching its extremities requires a lot of horseback riding. Also, trips away are often necessary in order to buy or sell cattle and so forth. Needless to say, few of these excursions pass uneventfully. Although hospitable, much of the Cartwrights' energy must be spent defending their ranch from interlopers, or protecting themselves from townsfolk jealous of their prosperity and stellar reputation. The Cartwrights do a fair bit of firing their guns up in the air and such, but only shoot to kill when deemed absolutely necessary. They are involved in various town affairs, even the political life of the Nevada territory.

One of the main assets of the series is the underlying warmth that is always present (despite occasional disagreements) between Ben and his three sons, and (despite frequent disagreements) between the three brothers. Now, one brother might beat up another every now and then, but generally has a good reason for it at the time and his anger never lasts long! The characters are all very well drawn. Ben is portrayed as a successful and noble man of great integrity. The oldest son, Adam, the most rational and suave of the brothers, left midway through the series. The middle brother, Hoss, is a gentle giant of a teddy bear, who has an insatiable appetite for food and is a little shy around the ladies. The youngest, Little Joe, is a hot headed, handsome charmer who, by contrast, has quite a way with women. This trio of brothers enjoy various romances but their love interests are typically killed off by the end of the episode or else marriage proves impossible, for whatever reason.

The actors are all stellar in their roles, including Pernell Roberts (Adam), Dan Blocker (Hoss), Michael Landon (Little Joe), and of course Lorne Greene as the principled family patriarch, Ben. I also love the ranch cook, Hop Sing, played by Victor Sen Yung.

This is a wonderful action packed western with great values. The Cartwrights are always the noble heroes and most of the bad guys quite villainous. If only there were more programs like this vintage western on TV these days!


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