Adam is rescued from a band of hungry Paiutes rustling Ponderosa cattle after a hard winter by Erin O'Donnell, an Irish woman who was raised by the Sioux and revered by the tribes as a medicine woman and mystic.
Candy is kidnapped by retired Army Sergeant Mike Russell and his band of fellow former soldiers when he uncovers their plan to blast their way into the Carson City Mint to steal the pension they believe they deserve, but never received, from their long years of Army service
Ben Cartwright's effort to help friend Ruth Manning defend her ownership of nearby Gunlock's town newspaper, the Clarion, earns him the wrath of a corrupt, powerful judge who wants the Clarion for himself and will do anything to get it.
Ben and the other ranchers are having trouble with a Mountain Lion killing cattle. Ben and Roy go in hunt of the Lion because Hoss and Joe think they both are sparking the magician's daughter. It's causing rivalry and confusion unaware they're sparking twins.
Ben is researching county records in the basement of the courthouse when a mine below collapses. Ben is trapped with a man accused of murder, the chief witness against him, and two others. The accused man insists he's innocent.
Hoss takes two months of leave. He sees a little black boy steal a candle. He learns the boy wants the candle to make a wish. As he gets to know the boy and his family, he decides to try to help the family.
A seasoned Army Sergeant escapes from the stockade accused of cowardice in the face of the enemy. A man helps him escape, is killed and he is shot. Candy stumbles on him and his squaw wife he believes him and decides to help but an Army search party isn't far behind.
Coley Claybourne is unwanted in Virginia City. He announces that his father has died. Then he shows a pouch full of gold that he and his father had discovered. Ben and two other executors must decide what to do with Coley and the mine.
Ben and Hoss are brought under siege with their friend, Sam Masters, and his daughter, Ellen, in an isolated miner's cabin by a former Union Army officer and his men who claim that Sam is really Confederate prisoner of war camp Commander Thomas Andrews who is guilty of Civil War crimes and on the run.
A young woman named Jenny Winters claims to have witnessed a stagecoach robbery which involves one man being killed. After she identifies the culprits as the Logan gang, Ben allows Jenny to stay in protective custody at the Ponderosa. However, the Cartwrights soon learn Jenny is not a very trustworthy person.
Candy is accused of a string of serious crimes, including murder, robbery and arson in Stillwater, and when the Cartwrights come to his defense, the sheriff refuses to cooperate. Even worse: A young boy claims he positively saw the Ponderosa foreman commit those crimes. The Cartwrights work with the boy to jog his memory before an innocent Candy is convicted and sentenced to hang.
When Sheriff Roy Coffee and Ben are subpoenaed to testify in a land sharking trial in San Francisco, Hoss is appointed the acting sheriff of Virginia City. Hoss soon finds plenty of trouble on his hands, namely dealing reluctant bridegroom Hiram Peabody, who wants to get arrested so as to avoid an impending marriage to an undesirable woman (whom has been his pen pal and has never met in person). He also must deal with a smooth-talking salesman who plans to sell shares in a planned resort in Virginia City.
Will Griner is acquitted of a murder after two key witnesses disappeared before the trial. When a bloodthirsty lynch mob comes after him, thinking him to have silenced the witnesses, Griner goes to the Cartwrights for help.
Joe's old friend, Dan Logan, is hired as a range detective to stop a cattle rustling outbreak. While the usual problems arise, Logan's job is jeopardized when a ruthless rancher shoots a suspected rustler in the back and then pins the blame on Logan.
Ben offers moral support to Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Matthew Rush when comes down on his luck. But that's the least of Matthew's problems, for he must also contend with the embittered Nagle clan, who has been transplanted from Georgia after they lost their house and land to Yankees. When the Nagles' daughter, Susan, falls in love with Matthew, she risks much more than just estrangement from her family and, in the process, the Cartwrights become involved.
After Candy shoots and kills armed robber James Campbell in self defense, he learns that he left behind his widow, Lisa, and young son ... and a farm to operate. A remorseful Candy decides to help the young woman out, not knowing that Lisa plans to hire a hit man to kill the Ponderosa's foreman in revenge. However, Lisa learns that Candy had all the qualities that her husband never had and changes her mind, but then they must work together to stop the hit man from completing his mission.
Joe and Candy compete for the attention of pretty Miss Meena Calhoun, who has come to Virginia City with her irascible gold panning father, Luke. While pursuing the young lass, they run into the Potts brothers, a trio of gold claim jumpers who are convinced that Joe and Candy have more than love on their minds.
Joe's friend Wade Turner, a storekeeper who is engaged and has been offered a promotion at work, tries to deal with a devastating brain tumor that leaves him with a paralyzing sensitivity to bright light and will soon render him blind. Turner lets his pride get in the way and decides to put off both his marriage and a surgery that could save his sight, but his attitude could be far more costly when a co-worker tries to rob him in a remote area.
During a long ride back to the Ponderosa, thirsty Hoss and Candy stop at the Sunville saloon where Salty Hubbard, known for his tall tales and practical jokes, tells his cronies that Hoss is the notorious bank robber, Big Jack. The town folk initially scoff at Salty's claim but a series of unfortunate events gives the prevarication a ring of truth and there is talk of a hanging. When a contrite Salty admits to Hoss that he lied to impress his friends, Candy thinks of a way to save both Salty's pride and Hoss' life but, as with most best laid plans, this one goes awry ...