Bonanza

The BEST episodes of Bonanza

Every episode of Bonanza ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of Bonanza!

The show chronicles the weekly adventures of the Cartwright family, headed by the thrice-widowed patriarch Ben Cartwright. He had three sons, each by a different wife: the eldest was the urbane architect Adam who built the ranch house; the second was the warm and lovable giant Eric "Hoss"; and the youngest was the hotheaded and impetuous Joseph or "Little Joe". Via exposition and flashback episodes and each wife was accorded a different ethnicity. The family's cook was the Chinese immigrant Hop Sing.

Last Updated: 8/7/2022Network: NBC
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Feet of Clay
star
9.24
54 votes

#1 - Feet of Clay

Season 1 - Episode 30 - Aired 4/16/1960

Hoss takes Billy Allen, the young son of a convicted felon under his wing, then is forced to kill his father and Billy will not forgive him. The most emotional Hoss story since "The Newcomers" and one of Blocker's best.

Directors: Arthur Lubin
Watch Now:Amazon
Death at Dawn
star
9.11
46 votes

#2 - Death at Dawn

Season 1 - Episode 32 - Aired 4/30/1960

Virginia City is plagued by organized crime, Sam Bryant and his gang. One of his men, Farmer Perkins, kills a storekeeper, and at his trial, the wife of the store owner is afraid to testify. When Perkins is sentenced to hang, Bryant kidnaps Ben and wants to exchange Ben for Perkins, which leaves Adam with the most difficult decision of his life. A stellar cast.

Directors: Charles F. Haas
Watch Now:Amazon
Bitter Water
star
9.06
50 votes

#3 - Bitter Water

Season 1 - Episode 29 - Aired 4/9/1960

Len Keith, a miner, wants to purchase some land adjacent to the Ponderosa from rancher Andy McKaren. Andy's son, Tod, is anxious to sell. Keith has offered him a partnership,and more importantly, he is in love with Keith's daughter. When Ben warns Andy that a mine on the property would foul up Ponderosa water, Andy agrees not to sell the land. Len Keith, determined to get that land, plants tick infested cattle in a Ponderosa herd to turn Andy against the Cartwrights.

Directors: George Blair
Watch Now:Amazon
The Search
star
8.67
6 votes

#4 - The Search

Season 6 - Episode 21 - Aired 2/14/1965

Adam sets out to track down the man who has been impersonating him to clear his reputation.

Watch Now:Amazon
Ponderosa Matador
star
8.58
12 votes

#5 - Ponderosa Matador

Season 5 - Episode 15 - Aired 1/12/1964

Adam, Hoss, and Joe vie for the attention of a pretty young lady named Dolores. Hoss talks Joe into entering a bull fight, but it doesn't work out quite as planned.

Directors: Don McDougall
Maestro Hoss
star
8.57
14 votes

#6 - Maestro Hoss

Season 8 - Episode 33 - Aired 5/7/1967

Hoss is conned into buying a violin from a gypsy fortune teller, and everyone on the Ponderosa--except for Hop Sing--suffers the consequences.

Hoss and the Leprechauns
star
8.52
21 votes

#7 - Hoss and the Leprechauns

Season 5 - Episode 12 - Aired 12/22/1963

In what is arguably the best comedy of the series, Hoss swears he has seen green elves running around the Ponderosa and a smooth-talking Irishman complicates matters even worse.

Directors: John Florea
The Last Viking
star
8.52
21 votes

#8 - The Last Viking

Season 2 - Episode 10 - Aired 11/12/1960

Gunnar Borgstrom is the leader of a vicious band called the Commancheros. They burn houses, kill people and steal anything of value. When the Commancheros get to Nevada, Gunnar decides to visit his relatives, the Cartwrights. Meanwhile the gang capture Little Joe and his girlfriend. When Gunnar returns to the gang, he has no idea who Joe is because he'd never met his nephew before.

Directors: John Florea
Watch Now:Amazon
Ride the Wind (2)
star
8.50
8 votes

#9 - Ride the Wind (2)

Season 7 - Episode 18 - Aired 1/23/1966

Conclusion to the previous-week's episode, where the Cartwrights provide needed assistance to the Pony Express.

Directors: William Witney
The Bride
star
8.39
18 votes

#10 - The Bride

Season 2 - Episode 18 - Aired 1/21/1961

The Cartwright boys are surprised to find that a woman, claiming to have recently married their father, shows up on their doorstep. When Ben gets home, he is just as surprised as they are. Has the lady been swindled by a con-man, or is she something of a con-woman herself?

Directors: Alvin Ganzer
Watch Now:Amazon
The Horse Breaker
star
8.31
48 votes

#11 - The Horse Breaker

Season 3 - Episode 10 - Aired 11/26/1961

A professional wrangler working for the Cartwrights is paralyzed when thrown by a particularly mean bronco. The woman nursing him was once engaged to the late son of a neighboring rancher out to get Ben.

Directors: Don McDougall
Vengeance
star
8.29
17 votes

#12 - Vengeance

Season 2 - Episode 21 - Aired 2/11/1961

Hoss accidentally kills a drunk he was trying to disarm. The man's brother bushwhacks Hoss, who has lost the will to live. Joe makes a promise to Hoss that he will kill Red Twilight, the vengeful brother who bushwhacked Hoss, no matter what happens, and will not let Adam stand in his way.

Directors: Dick Moder
Watch Now:Amazon
The Trouble with Jamie
star
8.25
8 votes

#13 - The Trouble with Jamie

Season 7 - Episode 25 - Aired 3/20/1966

The Cartwrights attempt to straighten out the snobbish young son of Ben's cousin.

Directors: R.G. Springsteen
The Toy Soldier
star
8.25
16 votes

#14 - The Toy Soldier

Season 5 - Episode 5 - Aired 10/20/1963

Adam encounters drunken artist James Callan, branded a "squaw man" because he is married to an Indian, and whose talent is going to waste in the town of Sheep Head.

Directors: Tay Garnett
Watch Now:iTunes
The Duke
star
8.21
14 votes

#15 - The Duke

Season 2 - Episode 25 - Aired 3/11/1961

Hoss takes on The Duke Of London, an arrogant, abusive bare-knuckle fighter, though his brawn is no match for the Duke's agile skills.

Directors: Robert Altman
Watch Now:Amazon
Bank Run
star
8.21
14 votes

#16 - Bank Run

Season 2 - Episode 19 - Aired 1/28/1961

When they "rob" the bank in Virginia City to save depositors from being cleaned out by its president, Hoss and Joe wind up wanted by the law.

Directors: Robert Altman
Watch Now:Amazon
Elegy for a Hangman
star
8.21
19 votes

#17 - Elegy for a Hangman

Season 4 - Episode 17 - Aired 1/20/1963

A stranger, Bob Jolly, arrives in Virginia City to accuse a drunken Judge Harry Whitaker of sending his innocent father, Carl, to the gallows. Adam defends the judge's honor because of his long friendship with the Cartwrights. After Adam talks with Jolly, he begins to believe his story. Upon further investigation, Adam discovers that Senator Cal Prince and Hobie Klinderman as well as the judge might have had a lot to gain from Carl Jolly's murder. In an attempt to learn what really happened, Adam organizes an informal meeting in the saloon.

Day of Reckoning
star
8.20
15 votes

#18 - Day of Reckoning

Season 2 - Episode 7 - Aired 10/22/1960

Prejudice erupts on both sides when Ben gives an Indian named Matsou and his wife, some of his land, after saving Ben's life from a renegade Indian who almost killed him on the Ponderosa. An intense and magnetic performance by Ricardo Montalban.

Watch Now:Amazon
The Savage
star
8.20
20 votes

#19 - The Savage

Season 2 - Episode 12 - Aired 12/3/1960

Adam's life is saved by a woman known to the Indians as White Buffalo Woman, but who is actually the daughter of Norwegian immigrants.

Directors: James Neilson
Watch Now:Amazon
The Lila Conrad Story
star
8.18
11 votes

#20 - The Lila Conrad Story

Season 5 - Episode 14 - Aired 1/5/1964

Joe and Adam protect a saloon girl, who has killed in self-defense, from an angry lynch mob. The accompanying Judge, along with his wife, takes a liking to Lila, and before it is all over, he and Lila discover much more about themselves.

Directors: Tay Garnett
Day of the Dragon
star
8.18
17 votes

#21 - Day of the Dragon

Season 3 - Episode 11 - Aired 12/3/1961

Joe wins a card game and an unexpected prize...a young lady. She goes to the Ponderosa and serves them, not wanting to be set free. Meanwhile, an army is looking for her and the Cartwrights.

Directors: Don McDougall
Watch Now:Amazon
To Die in Darkness
star
8.10
10 votes

#22 - To Die in Darkness

Season 9 - Episode 28 - Aired 5/5/1968

While the others are away, Ben and Candy are lured by an old friend of Ben's to go somewhere. The "friend" traps them in a deep pit. He comes back to give them food, but how long will he be feeling "generous"?

Directors: Michael Landon
The Night Virginia City Died
star
8.09
11 votes

#23 - The Night Virginia City Died

Season 12 - Episode 1 - Aired 9/13/1970

In the 12th season premiere, a series of destructive fires strike Virginia City, and always late at night. Is it the work of a ruthless arsonist, or someone very close to Deputy Clem?

Directors: William Wiard
Little Man...Ten Feet Tall
star
8.06
16 votes

#24 - Little Man...Ten Feet Tall

Season 4 - Episode 34 - Aired 5/26/1963

When a Italian immigrant comes to the Ponderosa, he decides he wants to give up the guitar to become a cowboy.

Directors: Lewis Allen
The Mill
star
8.06
16 votes

#25 - The Mill

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/1/1960

The Cartwrights construct a grist mill to provide income for a crippled rancher who blames Ben for his predicament. Ben has to contend with the man's depraved caretaker, and finds himself attracted to his wife. "Sons can't be everything," Ben tells her.

Directors: John Rich
Watch Now:Amazon

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