Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
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The Tarnished Badge 

Matt has to stop his friend, the sheriff of a nearby town, who has become so dominant, brutal and power hungry he commits murder and thinks he can get away with it.




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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Matt Dillon
Sheriff Bo Harker
Jenny Blair
Barney Austin
Garry Walberg ...
Charlie Boggs (as James Lydon)
Hotel Clerk
Gramma Boggs
Lonnie Weeks


Matt captures a small-time fugitive and returns him to the town where he escaped. There, Matt meets the sheriff, an old acquaintance of his who used to play draw-and-shoot games with him. But the town seems profoundly uneasy even at a casual glance. Matt stays around to inquire, and learns that the sheriff has become a power-mad tyrant, viciously abusing even the slightest lawbreakers (including an old lady and a young boy, just for openers) and gunning down any serious challengers. Matt convinces the town council to depose the sheriff, but when Matt leaves the sheriff comes back, worse than ever (he stares down his own deputy and kills him). Matt is frantically summoned back and starts a cat-and-mouse game with the sheriff in a High Noon showdown that everyone is convinced Matt will lose. Written by Peter Harris

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Release Date:

11 November 1974 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was the last time in Victor French's entire career where he played the villain. He did one more "Gunsmoke" as an actor ("The Sharecroppers," the last episode to be telecast) and five as a director while simultaneously beginning a 15-year partnership with Michael Landon. See more »

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User Reviews

Victor French's portrayal of renegade sheriff makes this show a success
31 August 2012 | by See all my reviews

Even if you are not a Gunsmoke fan, this episode is one of the better shows in the entire collection. Victor French does an excellent job of playing a renegade sheriff that terrorizes a town and its people. The way that French played the character made for one of the better intense stories that held the viewers interest until the final scene.

Marshall Dillon rides into a town where his old friend Bo Harker (Victor French) is sheriff. Sheriff Harker has clean up the town where lawless ran rapid. However, now the Sheriff's power has went to his head and he now rules the town with an iron-fist. He makes the citizens of the town live in fear to the point of even committing murder is justified if done by the Sheriff.

Marshall Dillon realizes that his old friend is crossing the line of justice and helps the town get rid of Harker. But when Dillon leaves Harker returns and now wants revenge on the citizens.

Marshal Dillon then has to return to the town to face his old friend. It comes down to the two lawmen in a shoot-out in the street of the old town.

Even though this is a story-line that has been done in many western shows, the portrayal of the renegade sheriff by Victor French makes the episode seem new. A well acted and entertaining story. Good Watch!

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