Bonanza: Season 1, Episode 20

The Fear Merchants (30 Jan. 1960)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Western
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 76 users  
Reviews: 3 user

The Cartwrights come to the aid of a Chinese-American stable hand accused of murder. Opposing them is a manipulative mayoral candidate who wants all "foreigners" to leave Virginia City.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Evans ...
Andy Fulmer
Helen Westcott ...
Amanda Ridley
J.R. Ridley
Christopher Dark ...
Jesse Tibbs
Guy Lee ...
Jimmy Chang
Ray Stricklyn ...
Billy Wheeler
Philip Ahn ...
Mr. Lee Chang
Victor Sen Yung ...
Patricia Michon ...
Sally Ridley (as Pat Michon)
Arthur Space ...
Cyrus Hammond
Gregg Barton ...
Sheriff Halstead


An unscrupulous prosecuting attorney hopes to become Virginia City's mayor on a nativist platform. His first step is to run all Chinese immigrants out of town and he falsely accuses a young Chinese man of murdering a girl who died after being accidentally shot by her father. Written by David Bassler

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis







Release Date:

30 January 1960 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Copyright has expired and is now in the public domain. See more »


After a final showdown, with bodies lying in the street, one of the corpses reacts when an actor accidentally steps on his hand. See more »


Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright: Little Joe?
Joseph 'Little Joe' Cartwright: Hmm?
Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright: Is it sure enough true that we're goin' to have birds' nests for dinner at Jimmy Chang's birthday party?
Joseph 'Little Joe' Cartwright: That's what Adam told us.
Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright: I ain't so sure I'm goin' to like that.
Joseph 'Little Joe' Cartwright: Well, if it's something to eat, you'll like it all right.
See more »

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User Reviews

The Yellow Peril In Virginia City
2 November 2009 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Occasionally Bonanza took on some serious subjects and you can't get more serious than racial prejudice. This episode, The Fear Merchants deals with an unscrupulous politician stirring up hatred against the Chinese which include Victor Sen Yung as Hop Sing, the Cartwright cook.

On an errand in town Hop Sing is beaten up by some toughs that include Ray Stricklyn and Christopher Dark and these two are in the employ of Gene Evans, a lawyer who's running for mayor on a Nativist platform. It's mentioned that earlier Evans had previously sought office running against the influx of Irish immigrants, a Know Nothing platform in keeping with the times.

Anyway when young Patricia Michon is accidentally killed in front of young Guy Lee, Evans seeks to whip up a lynch mob and turn the mob into voters for him. The episode really belongs to Evans, he's an incredibly evil man.

The Fear Merchants is one of Bonanza's best early episodes, a lesson about scapegoating whole groups of people that sadly we don't learn no matter how many examples are put in front of us.

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