Colonel Alan MacKenzie arrives from England as Shiloh's new owner. Right away he faces his first challenge when a young struggling small rancher is lynched, allegedly because of rustling cattle from one of the larger ranches. Another was lynched just before MacKenzie's arrival. MacKenzie locks horns with other members of the cattlemen's association, who believe that extraordinary measures are needed to deal with rustlers, and due to his strong disagreement the colonel is beaten. Meanwhile, the lynched man's sister and young son are staying at Shiloh for their ...
Trampas and his friend Pick Lexington visit some old friends in Mexico. But Trampas is caught between Pick and one of his Mexican friends as both men fall for the same girl, and he hopes to stop them from dueling each other while the girl chooses between them.
The Virginian comes to the aid of a woman being attacked in a hotel, and finds that it's an old flame, Jenny Davis, who says three men have been following her though she doesn't know why. The next day, she and The Virginian are on a stage with another man and a young woman when the three men chase after them and cause the stage to break down in the desert. Jenny is slow with telling the whole truth, but finally admits that the men are the partners of her late outlaw husband who are looking for money he hid before he was imprisoned. A mysterious man riding alone is ...
Trampas wins a riverboat from an old man named Skeet in a poker game. He also wins a substantial amount of money, which two railroad detectives confiscate as it was previously stolen. He finds his new boat very dilapidated, and works to fix it with the help of Skeet and his granddaughter. But two aging outlaw brothers and their gang also want to use the riverboat to stage one last big crime.
Colonel MacKenzie is traveling on a train with Lark Walters, the young and sheltered daughter of a wealthy friend of his. At a stop in a town, he sees a young man shoot another man in self-defense. Later, MacKenzie saves the same young man from being lynched, and brings him onto the train, where the overly romantic Lark falls for the young stranger. MacKenzie tries to keep them apart, but Lark won't give up. Meanwhile, other men on the train hatch up a scheme to kidnap Lark and hold her for ransom, and try to get the young man, Tate, to join with them. This episode ...
The Virginian is taken by a posse, brought into a saloon in a small town, tried before an incompetent drunken judge, convicted of murder, and taken out to be hanged, all in a span of a couple hours. The only evidence allowed is the accusation of the dead man's son, who claims The Virginian is a notorious hired killer known as Boss Cooper, and that he saw him kill his father. The Virginian escapes from the lynch mob and determines to clear his name by finding the real Boss Cooper, though the dead man's sons are trailing him.
A group of German immigrants is repeatedly threatened by night riders who want them out. The night riders are working for a blacksmith who should know only too well the evils of prejudice. Tate becomes involved after the daughter of the leader of the immigrants mistakes him for the gunman they hired to protect them.
Trampas is arrested for the murder of a man he argued with over ownership of a mine. The judge and marshal seem primarily interested in wrapping up the trial as quickly as possible so they can go fishing. Trampas's hope lies with his attorney, Frances B. Finch.
After Colonel MacKenzie is seriously injured in an accident, Tate brings him into the nearest town looking for a doctor. He finds that the only doctor in town is in jail, scheduled to be hanged the next morning. Though Tate finally persuades the sentencing judge to let the doctor out under guard to treat the colonel, when Tate investigates he learns that the judge may have been motivated more by a desire for vengeance than for justice.
The Virginian comes to the communal village of New Life, looking for a number of Shiloh cattle that have strayed. At the commune council meeting, the members agree to let him take his cattle back. After the Virginian leaves, however, the council makes another vote---to start "complex" or group marriage in the community, meaning that every woman will be considered married to every man. Given an unreasonably short time by the acting leader to round up his cattle, the Virginian appeals to the widow of the commune's original leader for help, but when he learns of the new ...
Ritter Miley, the leader of an unschooled backwoods clan of thieves, kills a cousin who wanted to go straight. Colonel MacKenzie finds that the type of gun used in the killing was sold to only two men, Ritter and Trampas. Trampas thus tries to prove his innocence by bringing Ritter in and locating his gun, but Ritter's brothers come up with their own ideas to force his release.
While on a trip to buy cattle, Colonel MacKenzie becomes involved in the affairs of a woman reporter and a group of former Comancheros who are now trying to make an honest living raising sheep. In writing a story about the group, the reporter has mentioned their hunting down of a maverick steer. Gossip in the nearby town fails to note that the steer was a maverick, and a group of cattle ranch workers respond by killing the sheepherders' entire herd. The leader of the former Comancheros, Sosentes, responds by kidnapping the reporter and holding her for ransom. ...
After a precocious young girl's father is stricken with a heart attack while traveling on the train he is on, Trampas decides to help the girl find her estranged mother. He has a hard time keeping the girl, Hannah, from trying to do everything by herself. Unfortunately, Hannah's mother has been manipulated by her boyfriend into participating in a bank robbery.
Upon arriving for a business appointment with a friend, MacKenzie learns that the man was killed by the brother of Nan Allen, a young woman he was in the act of assaulting. He finds this hard to believe, but upon getting to know Nan, he takes a strong liking to her. When her brother Bobby is injured from an avalanche, MacKenzie brings both him and Nan to Shiloh while he recuperates. As he and Nan begin to fall in love, MacKenzie starts to wonder why more than one man in her past has died violently, and if Bobby's strangely possessive attitude has something to do with ...
When he is appointed to the Senate Foster Bonham decides to sell his ranch to Shiloh. The Virginian arrives at the Bonham ranch to finalize the sale, but Foster's drunken, irresponsible brother Jack is determined to stop the sale any way he can. When a murder is committed the Virginian searches for Jack, and Foster must decide between his brother and his Senate seat.
Tate comes across a deaf and mute Indian boy, who is being hunted by a posse for the killing of a respected rancher. To prevent his being lynched, Tate brings the boy into town himself, and hopes to somehow learn his side of the story. But just about everyone in the town, including the judge, is too anxious to hang the boy quickly, so Tate finds he has to take on the role of defense counsel himself.
Stopping in nearly abandoned Spencer Flats, Trampas is held by sisters Della and Annie Spencer, who accuse him of being outlaw Deke Slaughter, though their handyman is not so convinced. Then the real Slaughter rides into the town, claiming to be a sheriff.
The Virginian arrives at Laura Duff's ranch to buy her Angus cattle, only to find that she has lost her head steer due to someone cutting her fence. While she suspects a hostile rancher who wants her land, her son insists that a friendly neighbor is responsible, not only for the cattle but also for the death of his father several months earlier.
Colonel MacKenzie finds a woman unconscious on a remote mountain trail on the way to visit his hermit friend Muley. He takes her to Muley's cabin and they wait for her to recover as no help is available. She wakes up but is slow to communicate and recover her memory. At the same time another visitor arrives with a lame horse asking to stay until his horse can travel again. As the woman recovers she is attracted to the Colonel in a romantic manner, thinking he is someone she knows, but remembers no details.
Tate is hired by his friend Joe Benson to work on his ranch and watch over his teenage son and daughter while he's away on business. This puts Tate squarely in the middle of a dispute with a big rancher over a fence Benson wants to build, as well as with a woman who arrives claiming to be Benson's fiancée, the children's rebelliousness, and a hired gun who comes to town with a wanted poster on Tate.
When an Army troop arrives looking for a group of marauding Indians who have gone on the warpath, both Colonel MacKenzie and Parker recognize one of the sergeants as a lancer from the British Army whom they believed to have been killed in India ten years ago - and who was supposed to have been leading MacKenzie's brother when he was captured and killed. The man deserts when he recognizes Parker, and MacKenzie goes out after him, with the Indians following behind.
On the way to a cattle purchase, The Virginian meets up with Ben Hunter and his group when they interrupt a holdup attempt on him. He finds that Hunter is leading a protection racket that now covers a number of towns on the way between Medicine Bow and Billings, and that the people in these towns are cowed into paying him outrageous fees to keep their homes and businesses safe. When The Virginian is forced to kill one of Hunter's men the citizens of one town are ordered to turn him over to be killed, and except for the daughter of one man are too willing to do so.
After being mauled by a cunning wolf he has been tracking, and then robbed of his horse, gun, and other possessions by a stranger on the road, Col. MacKenzie is taken in by a homesteader and her young son. The wolf, however, is still at large and MacKenzie is determined to hunt him down.
After stopping in the town of Jump-Up to see an old girlfriend, Tate is cheated in a card game by a gambler, and then framed by town boss John Timothy Driscoll and his son for killing the man, and forced into a hard labor camp.