A notorious Civil War criminal defended by Garth arrives in Medicine Bow to join his family. He expects payment from Garth who he believes profited from his case but Garth wants nothing to do with the man but Jennifer befriends the family.
Trampas and Randy are sent to retrieve Arabian horses from Colonel Bliss at New Hope. They find themselves in the middle of a feud between the eccentric Bliss and his son versus the pacifist settlers in the town of New Hope. Bliss wants the land back after the settlers have increased its worth via hard work and irrigation. Trampas falls for the daughter of the leader of the pacifist group and involves himself in the feud by urging the people to fight back. In the end the leader of each side pays a heavy cost.
The Virginian's friend, Benjy, finds a man attacking his wife and threatens to kill him after taking a shot at him. The next day the man is found dead after Benjy left his place. He proclaims innocence but is convicted and sentenced to hang. The Virginian leaves to track down the mountain-man Benjy says was at the site. The Virginian tracks down the man he is after, Jonah, but Jonah refuses to return as he committed the murder in self-defense. He plans to kill The Virginian. The Virginian escapes with Jonah as his prisoner but on the way back to Medicine Bow they run ...
Micah Ellis with his son and daughter were run out of Laramie for causing problems and left his uncle in jail on a minor charge. The group of vagabonds headed for Medicine Bow and on the way are befriended by Randy and Jennifer when their wagon breaks down. Jennifer asks The Virginian to hire the men and the daughter (who worked in saloons) helps Jennifer. The kids enjoy the honest work but are bored. Their father unknown to them plots with their uncle who found them at Shiloh after being released from jail to rustle cattle from Shiloh.
Niles Tait is working at Shiloh to help his family who hides his sister Marcy who is learning challenged. They worry what others will think and have hindered Marcy's learning and socialization. Jennifer learns about her and tries to help educate her taking the place of Niles who sees Marcy as a millstone around his neck and future. Marcy witnesses a murder but tells no one. The issue surfaces when she meets the murderer at her first attempt to attend a party with the help of Jennifer and The Virginian.
Because Judge Garth has been appointed Governor of the Wyoming Territory, he has asked his Civil War friend Morgan Starr to take over running Shiloh in his place. The ranch hands and residents of Medicine Bow believe that The Virginian should have received the job and are surprised he is staying at Shiloh. Starr has controversial new ideas on how to operate the ranch and a locust plague pits him against the neighbors and the proposed plan to save the pasture land and cattle.
A group of men consisting of Canadian French and Cree Indians known at Metis arrive at Medicine Bow well armed. Although they intend no harm to Medicine Bow, the people react negatively to them. Complicating matters is a woman who desires attention who wrongly accuses their leader of assaulting her resulting in additional confrontations. Morgan Starr tries to counsel their acceptance especially after he learns one of them is an old friend.
Tom Brant returns to Medicine Bow after 30 years in prison as an old broken man. His exploits have been expanded into mythic portions over the years. He hopes to see his daughter who he has never met but her and others hope to take advantage of his legend and the money they believe he hid before going to prison. His reaction leads to surprises for all.
Randy heads to Montana to pick up a horse for a future horse ranch he and a friend there hope to start. While there his friend convinces him to stay over and he finds himself working on a horse ranch were he meets Dulcie. They fall in love with each other and Randy becomes embroiled in a problem with one of Dulcie's brothers who is a wanted outlaw.
Della Saunders arrives in Medicine Bow to start a new career as a seamstress after twelve years in prison. Her friend from the past in Medicine Bow is John Ballinger, an attorney. Her past comes back to haunt her when a well respected local businessman recognizes her and uses her background to cover up suspect business dealings. Her and John Ballinger's past connections are revealed when she is accused of murder again.
Morgan Starr is involved in a cattle deal planned along with an agreement between Mexico and the United State to be signed in Mexico. He travels to Mexico in advance and becomes a captive of a group run by an old friend hired to assassinate the two men who are to sign the agreement. Starr works with the other captives to undermine the plot and salvage the agreement.
Members of Randy's family arrives in Medicine Bow to protect him from James Claibourne who was recently recently released from prison for murdering a member of the Benton family. Randy was a key witness at his trial. Gloria Claibourne is with her father and a relationship between her and Randy quickly develops. The intentions of the others on both sides are less than honorable creating a tense situation for Randy and Gloria.
Johnny Younce is a young man in Medicine Bow who feels the world has caved in on him resulting in a wild rampage against the town. The action is out of character for him and The Virginian takes an interest in him since he hurt him trying to control him after the rampage. Slowly everyone learns what is behind Johnny's problems; a dad who believes his daughter is too good for him.
John Grainger and his grandchildren move to Shiloh after he purchases the ranch from Judge Garth. Besides developing a relationship with his new employees, Grainger is faced with a neighbor who blames him for the loss of her husband. Her and her ambitious foreman try to force him off the ranch.
Lemoine Carlson and a ranch hand deliver 50 head of cattle to Grainger for Lemoine's dad. When five head are found missing the next day, The Virginian feels responsible and leaves Shiloh to track them down. He finds them near Delphi but has to solve the mystery of who stole them. He runs into an old female friend with a checkered past who had saved his life. She unknowingly has ties to the rustlers and a murder The Virginian is accused of committing.
A trio of Indians are caught stealing Shiloh cattle. They are a husband and wife with an adopted girl who is really a white girl. The girl is not returned to the reservation and they attempt to find her original parents. In the mean time the girl is reluctantly learning life in the white world and is enticed to return to her Indian life and friends.
After a trip to deliver horses to Colorado, Trampas decides to stay and visit an old friend living nearby. Trampas arrives at his friend's home in time for the funeral of his friend who was shot. While paying respects to his friend's sister and her husband, the sheriff, Trampas senses that there are questions to be answered even though his judgment and others indicate he should go home.
Jake who can neither speak or hear runs away after accidentally killing a man in a saloon. He lands at Shiloh ranch where his extreme strength allows him to become a valued hand in spite of his handicaps. Stace, who learns Jake cannot read or write as well, decides to help him develop the ability to communicate via reading and writing. When Jake stumbles into other problems on the ranch, Stace is forced to help.
Trampas stumbles into the yard of the Crayton family with a head injury and collapses. The daughter, Sarah, takes an interest in Trampas and helps with his recovery but Trampas has amnesia and is suspected to have robbed the stage where he was actually a passenger and hurt. His situation is complicated by a crooked deputy who wants to pin the stage robbery and murders on Trampas.
Charlie Ryan finds himself helping Stace in a fight in Medicine Bow and wins the gratitude of Stace and his sister Elizabeth. Charlie and Elizabeth become good friends causing Stace to worry as he has concerns about Charlie. When they learn Charlie is wanted, Elizabeth provides support and enlists her grandfather's help due to her belief Charlie has to be innocent. In the meantime Stace continues to search for the truth.
The sheriff suspects Ed Wells, a close friend of Trampas, of a robbery and murder as the evidence points to him. After a witness who can give him an alibi dies, Ed and his wife admit that it was her brother Willy who was probably involved but Willy skips town. Trampas decides to help track down Willy but comes to realize other problems are making his task very dangerous.
Marjorie Hammond arrives in Medicine Bow as a teenage girl smitten with dime novels about the west and meets a man like the hero, Dead Eye Dick, in The Virginian. Detecting her interests The Virginian tries to aim them toward Bob Foley who is her age and likes her but as an aspiring attorney, he doesn't measure up to The Viriginan in her eyes. The Virginian tries to enlist the help of everyone to re-target Margorie's interests with limited and comical results.
While helping his friend Wesley Hedges sell his horses, The Virginian's friend falls for a beautiful faro dealer, Alma Wilson. Alma is the ex-wife of an escaped outlaw whose brother has come for Alma and kills Wesley for the money from the sale of his horses. The Virginian rides with the posse to find the killer and when they are forced to turn back he continues the hunt on his own into the outlaw's hangout.
A wild white stallion draws the attention of Elizabeth who convinces her grandfather to buy it. Against his wishes, she tames and breaks the stallion when Trampas is unable to. Her and the stallion become inseparable but a problem occurs.
The Virginian is remitting the proceeds from a horse sale back to Shiloh at an express office in Texas when the office is robbed. Having a receipt for his money, he is allowed to leave. During the return trip he meets Linda Valence on the stage coach and they develop a close relationship. Linda reveals she has become involved in something that scares her and asks The Virginian for advice. He finds himself involved in a deadly mystery clouded by her changing story.
Jim Boyer Sr. decides to return to his wife and son Jim Jr. after deserting them and having no success in his endeavors. Jim is an extremely capable man but impatient to succeed and feels luck goes against him. He sees The Virginian as a rival for the position he wants as well as his wife and son. His lack of attention to detail creates problems as his family warms up to him.
Howie Sheppard is a natural cowhand working at Shiloh. He has fallen for the spoiled daughter, Donna Maguire, of a successful Medicine Bow store owner. They decide to marry and Howie opens a saddle and tack shop. However, Howie feels the urge to return to the open life of a cowhand while working in his shop. A decision to enter a poker game creates complications for him and his new wife.