Favor has been hired to drive a new herd but the appearance of Rowdy's dad is an unpleasant surprise for Rowdy. His dad frames Rowdy to force a local bandit with a $5000 reward into the open. He collects but Favor loses his herd over it.
While gathering mavericks in deep brush, Favor discovers the remnants of a wagon train destroyed by Comanches along with 12 graves. Some are looking for a a survivor including a woman whose son was killed and the man helping her.
Favor pushes the men hard to shake out those who won't make it. This time the old hands may be the ones who can't cut it compared to a group of young and eager hands he hired. The old hands quit and the new hands show how green they are.
Drover Jim Quince's niece begs for his help in keeping her fiancé from being tried for murder by her bitter father. Her father has become a hanging judge, following the accidental shooting of his wife. When Judge Quince sent a posse to keep the young couple from eloping, a member of the group fired at the fiancé, who killed him in self defense.
With Rowdy, Quince, Hey Soos, and Nolan who was married to one of them earlier as their reluctant guide, a breakaway group of Cheyenne Indians flee an oppressive reservation and head for Mexico - with a posse in hot pursuit.
Favor picks up 750 head from a cattle dealer but a single drover arrives with the herd. He is a talented drover who rubs the men the wrong way. He and the dealer plan to steal Favor's herd until he meets a runaway woman on the drive.
Rowdy escorts an injured sheepman and his flock to a nearby town. However, when the town's residents think he is one of the sheepmen, Rowdy finds himself on the receiving end of the same kind of treatment he used to dish out to sheepmen.
A lost circus with an elephant and lion is scaring the herd and horses. Favor sends Wishbone to guide the circus to their destination. Wishbone becomes involved in a fiery romantic triangle as he guides them to Brailey.
As Favor picks up 700 cattle, the owner tells him a financial crisis in the east will make the whole herd worthless unless Favor beats the news to Abilene. Favor can't tell the men as a man with fish distracts the men from their jobs.
A woman wanders into camp needing help. She is an actress who one of the men recognizes later. She worked as a Union spy during the war. Although most of the men hate her, one even more so as he was court-martialed due to her.
When his Lord dies after being rescued by Favor, a valet assumes the same role for Favor creating havoc on the drive. The buffalo hunter who shot the Lord is creating problems for Favor and the herd. The valet may be the key to the issues.
A conman and his wife con the drovers into pooling their efforts to prepare a Christmas celebration for a sickly Mexican boy. The boy isn't sick and Rowdy ignores Favors orders to move the herd across a river trapping the herd.
Rowdy and Pete run into problems crossing a ranch owned by a lady with a rough foreman. In the nearby town the men find Clay Forrester working as a marshal taking the census. He wrangles Favor's men to work for him on it and his scheme.
When Favor goes to a fort for supplies, he finds only civilians left to hold off Comancheros in the area. The wife of the commandant sent out the last of the soldiers on her own hoping her husband would win a promotion and trip east.
The men spot a Jewish peddler trying to herd cattle from his wagon. Favor lets him join the drive for his safety. However, over time he proves to be a lucky charm for the drive and eventually finds his own luck and love.
The drovers come across a group of women who say they headed to Fort Worth to marry homesteaders. After a dance they go their separate ways until one is found dying. Favor, Rowdy, and Hey Soos try to help but find themselves hostages, too.
Favor finds his path blocked at a property line by an owner protecting his rights. At the same time his two daughters and sister-in-law decide to visit the cattle drive. The rancher wants to marry his sister-in-law and adopt his daughters.
Warned not to cross Pawnee lands, Favor and Nolan ride to a nearby fort for details. They find the fort undermanned awaiting reinforcements and themselves drafted into the Army to rescue six soldiers held hostage who are really deserters.
Clad in deepest mourning, a very wealthy woman comes to the small town where her dead son robbed a bank and killed a man. She is prepared to pay each resident several years' income if they agree to wipe her son's crimes off the books.
On a trip to collect a debt, Rowdy sees an elderly woman apparently hounded by thieves. After rescuing her they go to a nearby town where Rowdy is to collect the debt and she awaits a stage. However, she frames Rowdy for multiple thefts.
When a drover is killed by Indians saving a pitchman, the drovers try to raise money for the his family. The pitchman suggests a rigged card game but when that fails his idea of a concert with his wife may leave the drovers high and dry.
A Tonkawa boy is found starving on his way to Fort Lacey to find his sister to help his starving tribe. He unknowingly unearths that Col. Briscoe known as the butcher of Indians is unwittingly married to his sister thinking she is Spanish.
Clay, Wishbone, and Jim find some of their cattle have anthrax and while isolated are taken captive by a Prussian military Officer and held as slaves. When they tell the other workers about American freedom, trouble erupts.
Mushy's cousin and her younger sister are in a nearby town. The younger 15 year old is the star attraction at the saloon. The older sister married to the owner wants mushy to take her sister away but the girl resists leaving.
The drivers are helped by Pete Nolan who is scouting for the Army. He has worked to obtain a peace treaty with the Pawnee but the General sent to sign it and the Pawnee Chief both find conflict with their sons over it leading to tragedy.
Rowdy is kidnapped and finds himself trapped in a house with a motley group of characters who have no idea why they are being held against their will. This proves to be Rawhide's version of Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians."
The crew stumbles on a ghost town with a prospector and his three daughters. The prospector tries to keep some of the men there for his daughters by salting a claim but it soon mushrooms out of control.
The herd is close to Abilene with another herd a few days behind and few buyers in Abilene. When the second herd discovers tick fever, the trail boss is murdered and Favor takes over not knowing the sick cattle are now in his herd.
One of the drovers falls sick the night before they end the drive at Abilene. The sick man may have smallpox forcing the sheriff to quarantine the men. Favor needs to leave to seal a deal on a ranch and an old foe of Rowdy wants revenge.