The BEST Episodes of The Virginian
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Dec 20, 2019
The Virginian was the very first 90 minute western on prime-time television, and is about a man, only known as "the Virginian" who served as foreman on the Shiloh Ranch (owned in sequence by Judge Garth, the Grainger brothers, and Col. MacKenzie) in 19th century Medicine Bow, Wyoming. James Drury starred as the title character with the likes of Doug McClure, Lee J. Cobb, John McIntire, and Clu Gulager co-starring. It is in these settings that a variety of stories, much more based on character and relationships than the usual westerns, take place.
#1 - The Small Parade
Season 1 - Episode 21 - Aired Feb 20, 1963
In Coyote Wells to deliver some cattle, the Virginian, Trampas and Steve Hill encounter Martin Reese (David Wayne). Reese had lost his wife and children to smallpox, had sold his farm, and now travels giving lectures urging vegetarianism. His lectures are not received well in cattle country and when one of his hecklers is found murdered, Reese is the main suspect, is seen as a murderous loony and is pursued by a posse. On the way back to Medicine Bow the Shiloh cowboys encounter a woman, Ellen Beecher (Barbara Barrie), who knows of Reese's whereabouts. Ellen has several orphans in her care and the Virginian and crew become involved in trying to help Ellen with the children and in finding and protecting Reese from the vengeful posse.
#2 - Fifty Days to Moose Jaw
Season 1 - Episode 12 - Aired Dec 12, 1962
Older cowhand Slim Jessup (James Gregory) is accussed of killing a man in Idaho and escapes east. He signs on with a Shiloh Ranch cattle drive to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. On the way the drovers are joined by a young man, James Cafferty (Bandon de Wilde), who wishes a different life than dirt farming with his widowed step-father (Frank Overton). The older Slim takes James under his wing and teaches him lessons in life before his past catches up with him.
#3 - Siege
Season 2 - Episode 13 - Aired Dec 18, 1963
Trampas wins $1,000 at poker in Medicine Bow and heads to his old stomping grounds of Logan, New Mexico to repay several debts. There he has a run in with comancheros, led by Pedro Lopez (Joseph Campanella), who virtually run the town and have the town leaders under their thumb. Trampas discovers that some of the commancheros have murdered his old friends and turns them over to the Marshall (Ron Hayes) to hold for trial. However, Pedro threatens the townsfolk and they cave under and force the marshall to release the murderers. Pedro and his men then come gunning for Trampas.
#4 - West
Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired Nov 28, 1962
Seeking some excitement in his life, Trampas joins a groups of older cowboys (Steve Cochran, James Brown, Claude Akins) who set off to find adventure in what they still believe is the wild, lawless West. However, their outdated attitudes lead them into trouble and eventually, tragedy.
#5 - Duel at Shiloh
Season 1 - Episode 15 - Aired Jan 2, 1963
This episode explains how Steve Hill came to work at Shiloh Ranch. Running away from home to become a cowhand he meets grizzled cowboy Johnny Wade (Brian Keith) who takes him under his wing and gets him a job working at a new ranch owned by Georgia Price (Geraldine Brooks). Georgia's plan is to make a huge profit quickly at the expense of destroying the common range by overgrazing. She uses her feminine wiles to get Johnny to head up her plan and their actions bring them into conflict with Judge Garth and eventually, with Steve Hill. Steve leaves to work at Shiloh and is forced into a showdown with his former friend and mentor Johnny.
#6 - Echo of Another Day
Season 1 - Episode 26 - Aired Mar 27, 1963
Sam Harter (Bradford Dillman) is released from prison and in Medicine Bow encounters Trampas, an old friend. Harter and Bleek (John Dehner) had robbed some gold bullion. Bleek had escaped and Harter was captured but not before he had hidden the gold. Trampas had refused to participate in the robbery and Harter had protected him from Bleek who was afraid Trampas would reveal their plan. Harter takes a job at Shiloh but he knows Bleek will inevitably appear. He does and a showdown ensues.
#7 - Strangers at Sundown
Season 1 - Episode 27 - Aired Apr 3, 1963
Judge Garth and Betsy are among the passengers on an overcrowded stage which is waylaid by an outlaw gang led by Pauk (Paul Richards). The passengers are trapped in a way station and the outlaws demand that one of the male passengers, a George Wilson who is traveling incognito, be given to them. Wilson is a former outlaw who had betrayed the gang. The various passengers must decide whether to live with their consciences and hand Wilson over, or risk their own lives in a gun battle with the desperate gang.
#8 - Man of Violence
Season 2 - Episode 14 - Aired Dec 25, 1963
Trampas' Uncle Josh (Harry Shannon) is murdered during an holdup by Wismer (Leonard Nimoy) and Judson (William Bryant). On their trail, Trampas is eventually forced to illegally enter Apache territory where the two robbers had made a gold strike. He is joined on his quest by a guide who is after the gold (Michael Pate), a woman (Peggy McCay) who is looking for her husband who it turns out is Judson, and an army doctor who is attempting to escape court martial (DeForest Kelly).
#9 - Dark Destiny
Season 2 - Episode 29 - Aired Apr 29, 1964
Steve, Randy and other hands capture two horse rustlers, Frank Conrad (Robert Wilke) and Striker (Edward Faulkner), and kill a third. They also find Conrad's daughter, Billie Jo (Brenda Scott) and she is taken to Shiloh until the court can decide her custody and the rustler's fate. There she nurses Randy Benton who has hurt his back and lost the feeling in his legs. Billie Jo is eventually forced to decide on her future by choosing between helping her father escape and returning to a life on the run, or accepting the kindnesses of the Shiloh crew which promise a better future.
#10 - Ryker
Season 3 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 16, 1964
A former law man and now hired gun, Emmett Ryker (Clu Gulager), heads to Medicine Bow at the request of Hagen (Leslie Nielsen). Hagen holds a mortgage on the ranch of Hale (Russ Conway), a friend of Judge Garth, and wants to run the rancher off the property. Being a man of some morals, Ryker refuses to become involved but when Hale is killed he is suspected of the crime. Ryker becomes friends with Trampas and agrees to help Hale's daughter Janet (Anne Helm) bring the guilty parties to justice
#11 - The Stallion
Season 3 - Episode 3 - Aired Sep 30, 1964
A wild stallion escapes its owner, John Slaughter (Don ""Red"" Barry), killing a handler in the process. The animal injures itself and is found by Randy Benton who takes him to the nearby ranch of alcoholic horse trainer Charlie Orwell (Robert Culp) who nurses it back to health. Most believe the horse bad and wish to have it destroyed but Randy gets Charlie to help him save the animal and with the help of Jodie Wingate (Jenna Engstrom), they save Charlie too.
#12 - Felicity's Spring
Season 3 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 14, 1964
Felicity Andrews (Katherine Crawford), the new Medicine Bow school teacher, lives with her older sister Kate (Mariette Hartley) and grandfather Jonah (Carl Benton Reid). Everyone raves about her and the Shiloh hands, including Steve Hill, are all smitten but Felicity's heart is won by the Virginian who proposes to her. However, Felicity's family protects some secrets which eventually brings an end to the Virginian's marriage plans.
#13 - Big Image . . . Little Man
Season 3 - Episode 7 - Aired Oct 28, 1964
Millionaire Paul Leland (Linden Chiles) treats everyone like dirt and ends up in the desert after getting shoved off a train by a disgruntled employee. He is found and taken on by the Virginian and Shiloh crew who are driving a herd of cattle to Seattle. Leland has several run-ins with the crew as well as former employees met along the way but in the end becomes a better man for his tribulations.
#14 - It Tolls for Thee
Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired Nov 21, 1962
Martin Kalek (Lee Marvin) and his gang kidnap Judge Garth for ransom. The Virginian pays the ransom but the kidnappers refuse to release the Judge until they are able to escape into Idaho. The Kidnappers head off pursued not only by the Shiloh hands but also separately by a former crony of Kalek's called Sharkey (Warren Kemmerling) who is out for revenge on the criminal.
#15 - The Fatal Journey
Season 2 - Episode 11 - Aired Dec 4, 1963
After she calls for the President to bring in the army to rid the badlands of outlaws, newspaper editor Molly Wood, the Virginian's love interest, is murdered by four of those outlaws: O'Dell (Steve Ihnat), Horn (John Milford), Denver (Berkeley Harris) and their ruthless leader, Colonel Calhoun (Robert Lansing). The Virginian joins a posse but while the other posse members give up he eventually locates the villains' badlands hideout. He poses as a prison escapee, joins the gang and exacts his revenge.
#16 - The Devil's Children
Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired Dec 5, 1962
Uncontrollable 16 year old Tabby McCallum (Joan Freeman) is chastised by the Virginian for shooting a shiloh steer. In retaliation she tries to burn down the Shiloh barn but is accidentally shot by a Shiloh hand, Sam Hicks (Charles Aidman). Tabby's brother Bruce McCallum (Carl Reindell), who is from the same mould as Tabby, claims she was deliberately shot while her father, Tucker (Charles Bickford), thinks her boy friend, Dan Flood (Bert Brinckerhof), started the fire. The result is a spiralling series of events which eventually lead to murder.
#17 - Brother Thaddeus
Season 2 - Episode 7 - Aired Oct 30, 1963
Former n'er do well Willie Caine (Albert Salmi) is now a monk, Brother Thaddeus. He is involved in establishing a mission and boy's school on property owned by Judge Garth and Trampas and Steve Hill are helping to build the mission. A gang, including a former crony of Thaddeus', robs the train and Sheriff Abbott (Ross Elliott) locks him up as an accomplice. Thaddeus manages to escape and with the help of Trampas sets out to track down the gang and exonnerate himself.
#18 - To Make This Place Remember
Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired Sep 25, 1963
Judge Garth is convinced to go to Arapaho, Wyoming, by Roseanna Dobie (Joan Blondell), an old friend. Her son is dead and although it is claimed he had died when thrown off a horse, actually, an old friend of the Judge's, rancher/lawyer Frank Sturgis (John Dehner), had led a group of 13 men who had lynched John Dobie for allegedly beating to death a young woman who had rejected his advances. Roseanna (Joan Blondell) claims her son's innocence and demands his name be cleared by an ""after the fact"" trial. To clear their names and consciences, the Judge manages to get Sturgis to be the prosecutor and to participate in a ""trial"" with the 12 others involved in the lynching, including the dead girl's father, as the jury and the Judge as defence attorney.
#19 - No Tears for Savannah
Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 2, 1963
In Santa Rita the Virginian meets an old flame, Savannah (Gena Rowlands), who has been seeing a local man, a very jealous Gordie Madden (Robert Colbert). Savannah is accussed of murdering Madden and the Virginian gets Judge Garth to come and defend her. However, the cards are stacked against them as Madden's wealthy father (Everett Sloan) controls the town, including the Sheriff (Stephen McNally), and wants revenge.
#20 - Rope of Lies
Season 2 - Episode 25 - Aired Mar 25, 1964
A beautiful woman, Alva Lowell (Diana Millay), arrives in Medicine Bow having just bought the Lazy K Ranch and manages to hire a reluctant Steve Hill to be her foreman. A former business partner of Alva's, Jess Carver (Peter Breck), arrives and is killed by Steve, apparently in self-defence. However, Steve is arrested and must go to trial defended by Judge Garth's friend, lawyer Ebberly Packis (Paul Fix).
#21 - Ride a Dark Trail
Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 18, 1963
The Virginian accidentally comes upon, and is held at gunpoint by, young Lon Mortison (Buzz Martin). The boy had been searching for a gambler who he thinks is responsible for his father's suicide and had already shot and wounded a man who interfered. In order to convince the boy to give himself up, the Virginian recounts in flashback how Trampas first came to Shiloh Ranch. He came seeking revenge on Judge Garth who had been forced to kill Trampas' father (Sonny Tufts) in self-defence. This object lesson serves to get Lon to realize the error of his actions and convince him to surrender to the Sheriff.
#22 - Impasse
Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 14, 1962
The Virginian and crew collect wild horses in the mountains which they are to take to Shiloh Ranch to sell to the army. However, tough widower Pa Kroeger (Eddie Albert) lives in the mountains with his four sons and a daughter and believes he owns the horses. When the Virginian refuses to turn them over, Kroeger goes to great lengths to try and stop the Shiloh crew from taking the animals. Complicating matters are the facts the Kroeger sons think there may be a more reasonable way to deal with the situation and the daughter is attracted to Trampas.
#23 - The Exiles
Season 1 - Episode 16 - Aired Jan 9, 1963
Judge Garth is forced to shoot a man in self-defence but a passerby, Johnny Grey (Ed Nelson), who can prove the Judge innocent, leaves the scene. The Virginian trails Johnny to North Bend, Montana and along the way befriends Angelina Clump (Tammy Grimes) who is heading to the same town to get a job as a saloon singer. In North Bend the Virginian is forced to deal with two problems: Angelina receives threats to leave town from an anonymous stranger and Johnny Grey refuses to return to Wyoming unless he gets money from Judge Garth.
#24 - Say Goodbye to All That
Season 1 - Episode 18 - Aired Jan 23, 1963
In self-defence, Trampas is forced to shoot Big John Belden (Charles McGraw), who took exception to Trampas dancing with his his son Martin's (Fabian) fiancee. John is left a paraplegic and he encourages his son to take revenge on Trampas for the family honor even though Martin is, in direct contrast to his father, very mild mannered. Trampas is afraid he will have to kill Martin but their feud is interrupted by an encounter with Moses, a fierce lengendary bear.
#25 - The Golden Door
Season 1 - Episode 24 - Aired Mar 13, 1963
Trampas and Betsy Garth discover the body of a murdered neighbour, Mr. Keel. Trampas encounters a Latvian immigrant, Karl Rilke (Karl Boehm) and his pregnant wife Maria (Ilze Taurins), and discovers they have Keel's rifle although Karl claims he bought the gun from a man on the road. Judge Garth believes Karl innocent and that Keel's son Johnny (Robert Duvall) is the murderer, so he defends Karl at the trial.