Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
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Matt Dillon Must Die 

Since the mob killing of his wife years ago, old man Wakefield has gone on murderous rampages with his sons. Now the Wakefields are trying to run down and kill Matt in the freezing mountains.





Airs Thu. Jul. 27, 1:00 PM on TVLAND


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Episode cast overview:
Doc (credit only)
Festus (credit only)
Newly (credit only)
Abraham Wakefield
Jacob Wakefield
Esau Wakefield (as Bill Lucking)
Henry Olek ...
Isaac Wakefield
Douglas Dirkson ...
Abel Wakefield
Frederick Herrick ...
Laban Wakefield
Elaine Fulkerson ...
Annabel Wakefield


Matt is trapped at a mountain cabin occupied by murderous Abraham Wakefield and his sons. The embittered Wakefield detests lawmen because of his wife's killing years earlier, and he decides that it would be sporting for him, his sons, and their vicious dog to hunt the Marshal like an animal in the bitter cold. Written by Sam Spear

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Release Date:

9 September 1974 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In a "Gunsmoke" fiction book published in 2005, James Arness wrote about the show in the introduction and said that Ben Bates, his stunt double, collapsed after running through the snow for multiple takes and was hospitalized for two days. Arness did not specifically identify this episode, but it's the only one that would fit the description. See more »


While Matt is on a chase with Laban, his rifle alternates between his hand and gun holster on the horse. See more »


Abraham Wakefield: What did ya let him kill ya for?
See more »


Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #26.10 (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

the definitive Morgan Woodward performance
29 May 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Morgan Woodward was one of "Gunsmoke"'s most-popular guest stars. He played a variety of characters, most of them deranged (or at least "socially challenged"). And nobody played them like Woodward. (As I write this, he's still with us at the age of 90.) He was usually unshaven, and pitched his voice at a tone almost as unnerving as Boris Karloff's. And like Karloff, his performances were intense, but never overplayed. And he was damned sexy.

Matt Dillon made a lot of enemies, and there were more than a few episodes where they ganged up to do him in. The most-popular of these is "The Jailer", mostly due to Bette Davis's fine performance. But not even it matches "Matt Dillon Must Die".

Woodward plays a man whose life has been destroyed by the murder of his belovéd wife, and he swears revenge on the world. Anyone who's lost someone who meant more than life itself will shed tears as Woodward tastefully chews the scenery.

This is quite a brutal episode, a return to "Gunsmoke"'s original view of the West as the golden land of homicide. Woodward's character is very much a "Meston maniac".

One of the high points of the series. Recommended without reservation.

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