Lucas McCain and his son Mark make their way to the ranch they've just bought but get quite a rude reception. Two cowhands working for big-time rancher Oat Jackford, Billy Lehi and Sam Montgomery, tell Lucas that he's not welcome. Jackford has been using the land to graze some of his cattle and has every intention of continuing to do so. When Lucas doesn't show much enthusiasm for their proposal, he's beaten and the house is burned to the ground. Lucas needs to show them and Jackford that he's not going to get pushed around.
After Will Fulton breaks his leg while rescuing Mark McCain who has slipped off the edge of a cliff, he recuperates at the McCain ranch. Will and his brother Hank are outlaws with a posse looking for them. Will is an angry young man but his stay with the McCains softens him, especially after he meets the pretty Ann Bard. He begins to reassess his choices and realizes that he must choose which path he will take in life.
In North Fork, Lucas McCain meets Micah Torrence, now a drunk but at one time considered one of the ablest lawmen in the territory. He admits he lost his nerve and it led him to a life of drink. Lucas offers him a job as a ranch hand and uses a tough-love approach to get him to sober up. The Shelton brother ride into town looking to get even with Micah who jailed them 10 years before. Lucas is lured into a trap but it's Micah who comes to his rescued.
A vengeful judge is convinced that Lucas is responsible for the death of his son, an outlaw who was executed for murder. He captures Lucas and plans to force him to watch Mark hang in retribution for his son's death.
When the stagecoach breaks down in North Fork an Italian Count, Alfredo di Montova, has to spend the night at the hotel. His fancy dress and accented English makes him a target for town bully Sim Groder and his little crowd. The Count is a calm and collected type but when Groder pushes him too far, he challenges him to a duel. With Lucas acting as his second, di Montova teaches the bully a lesson.
A Texas gunslinger is hired to protect the bank of North Fork. When he appears at the McCain Ranch, he doesn't leave a very good impression with Lucas, and for good reason - he has a secret. Mark is proud when he sells his first pig.
With Marshal Micah Torrence away for short while, young Dan Willard takes on the job. He has no experience and takes a tough stand with a bunch of Texas cowhands whose high spirits are evident at the saloon. Dan's father Charlie is worried that his son will get himself killed if he's not careful and Lucas offers to have a chat with him. Dan has a chip on his shoulder ever since he was dismissed from West Point due to his deteriorating eye sight and is determined to show that he is tough and can take care of himself. When he shoots one of the cowhands their trail boss,...
While traveling back to North Fork on the stage after selling their herd, Lucas and Mark are sharing the stage with a Marshal and his prisoner Johnny Cotton. When they stop to water the horses, some of Cotton's friends are lying in wait. Cotton steals the money Lucas got for the cattle and his rifle. He sends Mark on with the stage but tracks the robbers as best he can given that he doesn't have a horse or a weapon.
Lucas loses a calf and suspects a neighbor's foreman. As it's already been branded, he's threatened with rustling if he uses a rope. McCain has another way of cutting the newborn out of the herd, and he doesn't need a rope or his rifle.
A hot-tempered Argentinian cowboy along with father and lovely sister, buy a ranch in North Fork. Their foreign ways do not sit well with the local community, especially neighboring rancher Curge Palmer.
Lucas helps a man after he's shot in a shootout by a man who wants to keep a secret about his past. When he allows Mark to take in a pet, he doesn't know that his decision will endanger his son's life.
A notorious gunfighter gets married and promises his new wife that he will take off his guns and begin a new life. However, a gang of outlaws who hear that he is in the area try to persuade him to break that promise and throw in with them.
A wagon train master forces a young couple to marry after they hide the fact that one is a girl, and Lucas takes them in to help them; but trouble soon arises when a drunken crowd calls for a Shivaree.
Lucas McCain and his son Mark come across U.S. Deputy Marshal Sam Buckhart who is escorting an Indian prisoner. To Lucas' surprise he finds that Buckhart himself is an Indian, educated at Harvard College. In North Fork, Buckhart goes about his business until some of the townsfolk realize he is an Indian and decide to take matters into their own hands. It's left to Lucas to show them the error of their ways.
As the second witness of a murder, Lucas is asked to travel to another town to testify at the accused man's trial. The catch is, the only other witness has been murdered and his killer has not been identified.
Lucas McCain is surprised when someone he once worked with, Sam Morley, shows up at the ranch. Lucas thought Morley had died but it turns out he's a wanted man and wants Lucas to do him a favor: turn him in for the $500 reward money that's available. Morley desperately needs the money so his girlfriend, Beth Landis, can get treatment for a serious disease. Lucas thinks he's on the level and decides to go along. Unfortunately another cowpoke who once worked with them, Hamp Ferris, rides into town and is looking to collect the bounty on Morley himself.
A corrupt marshal from outside North Fork goes after an outlaw with a price on his head. However, he sees an opportunity to make some extra money, so he murders an innocent man to pass off as the outlaw so he can collect the bounty, and then proceeds to blackmail the real outlaw.
Troublemaker Johnny Clover, a student at the North Fork school, wrecks the classroom one day. Lucas, a member of the town's school board, goes to Johnny's uncle to get him to pay for the damage, which turns out to be a task easier said than done.
Lucas McCain is none too pleased to see that Tom King is in town. King is a former lawman who always took 'dead or alive' to mean dead and acted accordingly. This time around, he's in town as a contract killer however having been hired to kill Oat Jackford, a bully of a man who many in town would love to see dead. King has a reputation that sends chills down most men's spines but Jackford's approach to dealing with if nothing if not unorthodox.
Lucas takes in an orphaned young boy, and one of the things he teaches the boy is how to use a gun. What Lucas doesn't know, however, is that the boy wants to learn how to use a gun so he can kill the banker he holds responsible for his father's death.
While walking down the main street in North Fork, John Hallager is shot from someone hiding in the shadows. Marshal Micah Torrance arrests Billy Mathis who had been seeing Hallager's daughter Lucy despite being told to stay away. Not long afterward, John Barrow McBride comes to town. He has a mind reading act that the townsfolk find entertaining but he also seems to have information about Hallager's shooting. How he got that information tells Lucas how McBride gets the information for his act but also leads him to the real shooter.