The Best Episodes of The Virginian
Last Updated: Jun 6, 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 - Fifty Days to Moose Jaw
Season 1 - Episode 12
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.
#2 - The Small Parade
Season 1 - Episode 21
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.
#3 - Siege
Season 2 - Episode 13
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
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 - The Devil's Children
Season 1 - Episode 11
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.
#6 - Duel at Shiloh
Season 1 - Episode 15
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.
#7 - Vengeance is the Spur
Season 1 - Episode 22
A mysterious woman, Mrs. Francis (Nina Foch), comes to Medicine Bow and asks the Virginian to take her to meet his friend, Michael O'Rorke (Michael Rennie), the former foreman of Shiloh, who now lives as an outlaw in the badlands. She believes her husband, who had been wrongly accussed of murder, is hiding out with O'Rorke's gang. However, Mrs. Francis is not whom she claims and trouble follows.
#8 - A Distant Fury
Season 1 - Episode 25
Ed Fraser (Howard Duff) returns to Medicine Bow, having served time for robbing the local lumber yard. He had been convicted based largely on Steve Hill's testimony but the stolen $30,000 was never recovered and his unknown accomplice, Helen Blaine (Ida Lupino), whose daughter (Joey Heatherton) Steve has been dating, had escaped. When there is what he perceives as an attempt on his life, Steve makes no secret of the fact he is convinced Fraser is out for revenge. When Fraser is killed Steve becomes the prime suspect. Although he avoids trial due to a lack of evidence, Steve becomes a social pariah and sees that the only way out is to solve the crime.
#9 - Echo of Another Day
Season 1 - Episode 26
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.
#10 - Strangers at Sundown
Season 1 - Episode 27
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.
#11 - The Mountain of the Sun
Season 1 - Episode 28
While delivering a prize bull to New Mexico, the Virginian meets a young woman, Kathy (Dolores Hart), and two older companions, whom he learns are missionaries who want to travel to Mexico to minister to the Yaqui Indians. He later learns they had hired a dishonest guide who plans to rob them so he sets off in pursuit and manages to save them. However, they refuse to give up their quest to the Yaqui's who it turns out had murdered their husbands the year before. He accompanies them on their quest and along the way finds himself falling in love with Kathy.
#12 - Man of Violence
Season 2 - Episode 14
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).
#13 - First to Thine Own Self
Season 2 - Episode 20
A young drifter named Randy (Randy Boone) camps with Silas (Frank Maxwell) and his young daughter Melanie (Claire Wilcox) near Medicine Bow. Silas reveals he has been mining and that he found gold nuggets. Silas is murdered, the gold stolen and Randy is accused of the crime. He hides out with Melanie who knows him innocent and with help from Betsy Garth and the Virginian is eventually able to expose the real killers.
#14 - Smile of a Dragon
Season 2 - Episode 22
Trampas is the sole survivor of a stagecoach robbery but he is wounded and wanders off in a daze. The local Sheriff (Richard Carlson) finds him and accuses him of being one of the robbers, hints the townspeople will lynch him and even tries to kill him. Trampas escapes and takes refuge with Kim Ho (Miyoshi Umeki) who learns of his innocence. Meanwhile Steve Hill heads for the area thinking Trampas is dead. Trampas tries to find the real guilty parties to clear himself and in the end is saved by the arrival of Steve Hill.
#15 - No Tears for Savannah
Season 2 - Episode 3
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.
#16 - Brother Thaddeus
Season 2 - Episode 7
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.
#17 - A Portrait of Marie Valonne
Season 2 - Episode 8
After delivering a herd of cattle to New Orleans, the Virginian meets and falls for a mysterious woman, Marie Valonne (Madlyn Rhue). He is attacked and the woman disappears. In his attempts to relocate her he comes into conflict with Johnny Madrid (Mark Richman) who controls some corrupt politicians. Despite the assistance of a local police detective, Dan Bohannon (Skip Homeier), the Virginian is unsuccessful in finding Marie and is only left with her picture.
#18 - The Fatal Journey
Season 2 - Episode 11
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.
#19 - To Make This Place Remember
Season 2 - Episode 2
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.
#20 - Ride a Dark Trail
Season 2 - Episode 1
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.
#21 - Impasse
Season 1 - Episode 8
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.
#22 - It Tolls for Thee
Season 1 - Episode 9
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.
#23 - The Exiles
Season 1 - Episode 16
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
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 - If You Have Tears
Season 1 - Episode 20
In Mount Gorpus, Montana, Kyle Lawson (Britt Lomond) is framed for the murder of Lawrence Kelland. Kyle had been having an affair with Kelland's wife, Leona (Dana Wynter). The Virginian and Trampas, friends of Kyle, go to Mount Gorpus to investigate the crime. Posing as a cattle buyer, the Virginian begins romancing Leona. Leona eventually confesses to the murder but the Virginian is not so sure she is guilty.