the stranger
Bonanza Western TV
The Lone Writer  

The Stranger Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #01, Episode #24

Bonanza had its viewers pinned to its show through its compelling storyline, incorporating themes and social issues that vary weekly. Leonard Heideman and Oliver Crawford wrote its twenty-fourth episode, The Stranger, which aired on February 27, 1960.

Lloyd Nolan appears as a guest star, playing Inspector Charles LeDuque of the New Orleans police, a guy who harbors a long-standing grudge against Ben Cartwright. On the eve of Ben’s campaign for governor, LeDeque arrives in town with a warrant for Ben’s arrest on a murder charge. Even though the court will access these accusations, Joe performs his research to uncover the truth behind Leduque’s vendetta.

Joan Staley, Robert Foulk, and Hal Baylor appear in the episode as Dixie, the sheriff, and Tom Cole, respectively.

Read its plot, including some trivia, or enjoy watching the episode below.

Watch the Full Episode of The Stranger

Watch the Full Episode of The Stranger:

Main Cast

Apart from the main cast, Bonanza’s twenty-fourth episode for its first season, The Stranger, featured some of the program’s recurring and one-time supporting actors.

The episode’s casts are as follows:

  • Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
  • Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
  • Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
  • Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
  • Lloyd Nolan as Inspector Charles LeDuque
  • Hal Baylor as Tom Cole
  • Arthur Shields as Dennis
  • Victor Sen Yung as Hop Sing
  • Robert Foulk as Sheriff Brady
  • Donald Foster as Albert Gibbons
  • Joan Staley as Dixie
  • Elizabeth York as Alice
  • Jomarie Pettitt as Louise Gibbons (as Jomarie Pettit)
  • Charles Tannen as Jake the Clerk
  • Hank Worden as Station Attendant
  • Bill Clark as Deputy (uncredited)
  • George DeNormand as Party Guest (uncredited)
  • Bobby Gilbert as Barfly (uncredited)
  • Al Haskell as Barfly (uncredited)
  • Ted Mapes as Party Guest (uncredited)
  • Bob Miles as Party Guest (uncredited)
  • Hans Moebus as Party Guest (uncredited)
  • Chalky Williams as Townsman (uncredited)

Full Story Line for The Stranger

Old and limping, a stranger and his colleague arrive in Virginia City. They walk into the Territorial Enterprise, where Little Joe and the editor, Dennis, are proofreading an article. The stranger says he got a couple of the Enterprise’s newspapers in New Orleans where Ben Cartwright’s name appeared. The man asks for Ben Cartwright, to which Joe replies, saying Ben’s out of town. Moreover, the stranger comments on the newspaper headline, stating Ben Cartwright has no future. His remark disturbs Little Joe, so he grabs his sleeve and asks what his words mean. The man answers vaguely, telling Joe to inform Ben that Charles LeDuque is at the hotel. Joe tried to get a more precise answer from the stranger, only to receive a strong punch from the stranger’s partner, Cole.

Little Joe heads to the hotel to visit Charles LeDuque. LeDuque invites him inside his space, so Joe asks him again about his connection with his father. LeDuque replies, stating he should spare Joe the unpleasant specifics of the story. He also comments on how Joe resembles her mother, saying they were good friends. Joe tells LeDuque to leave his mother out of it. However, it would be difficult for LeDuque to do so. LeDuque changes his mind, agreeing that it couldn’t be about Joe’s mother because the story was about Ben, the man she married. Joe accuses him of lying, so LeDuque dares Joe to ask Ben about him. He introduces himself as Inspector Charles LeDuque from New Orleans Police Department, who came 2,000 miles away to arrest Ben after twenty years for murder.

Meanwhile, Adam and Ben were at a dance hosted by Louise’s generous father. There, the topic of picking Nevada’s first governor took place, and the host introduced Ben Cartwright as the charitable and humble man of the Ponderosa. They ask him to say something, but he refuses to make a speech. Instead, he announces trying to do everything he can to be of service to the people of Nevada.

When Ben and Adam return home, Joe informs him that some strangers have arrived in town and make unfavorable remarks about Ben. At first, Ben showed no concern, thinking it was natural since he was running for a political position. However, when Joe points out that the stranger came from the New Orleans police force, one of which was Inspector LeDuque, Ben’s reaction changes. He asks if LeDeque’s at the hotel and immediately turns to leave.

Cole opens the door for Ben as he arrives at LeDuque’s room. LeDuque and Ben had a brief conversation about Ben’s campaign for governor, with LeDuque commenting on Ben’s connection with many people. The conversation shifts to what happened twenty years ago, starting with LeDuque’s unfortunate infirmity. He reminds Ben about an investigation into the murder of Simon LaRouche, which caused his broken knee cap and limited mobility. Ben remembers the case but clarified to LeDuque that he was cleared of those charges when three witnesses came forward, testifying that it was self-defense. However, LeDuque tells Ben that he was a fugitive from justice who only offered to return after learning the dropped charges. Moreover, LeDuque states Ben has no evidence to prove his claim and shows a warrant for Ben’s arrest.

Ben desires to know the reason behind LeDuque’s action after twenty years. LeDuque claims that in the scuffle, Ben ran to escape him, with the bullet aimed at Ben entering his leg instead. Ben doesn’t want to hold himself accountable for his injury, considering how LeDuque was attempting to kill him, who was unarmed. He was defenseless then, so he tried to flee to save his life. However, LeDuque wants him to take responsibility. Ben isn’t overly concerned, given that the warrant doesn’t have any value in Nevada. LeDuque threatens to expose the story of Ben’s wife and Simon LaRouche—an attempt to take Ben back to New Orleans. Ben shoots him a glare before leaving.

Ben heads to the Territorial Enterprise and asks Dennis to add something to the report he was making earlier. He presents his withdrawal from consideration as a possible candidate for Nevada’s governor. Back at LeDuque’s room, the two saw that Ben had withdrawn his candidacy, much to their satisfaction.

The Cartwrights discuss Ben’s decision and the charges he had to clear at New Orleans. Joe is aware that Ben’s not being honest when he explains his reasons. Ben starts to narrate what happened.

Ben begins by describing Marie, Joe’s mother, who treated Adam and Hoss as her own and was like an angel to everyone around her. Suddenly, Simon LaRouche came into their lives and threatened to expose Marie’s secret to destroy her reputation. Joe is adamant, despite Ben’s attempts to avoid the topic. Ben only says that LaRouche wanted to ruin Marie’s reputation and that he gave little to no importance to what Marie had done or not done in the past. He loved her and married her because she was a wonderful person. However, Marie didn’t want to bring scandal to her family, so she complied with LaRouche’s demands until Ben learned the truth. He challenged LaRouche and got into an argument where LaRouche pulled a knife, and Ben killed him upon defending himself. After hearing the story, Joe wants to go to town to deal with this, extremely upset at LeDuque for bringing the case back. Ben stops him, getting him to promise he won’t harm LeDuque, who’s only doing his duty. Joe then leaves to visit his mother’s grave.

LeDuque returns to the hotel from the town bar. There, Joe tells LeDuque that Ben told him the story. He warns LeDuque to keep his mother’s name out of his mouth. Cole interrupts their conversation and states Joe will have to kill him first. Joe thinks it’ll be the highlight of the show, and the two engage in a fight. Cole reaches for his gun, but Joe, who is much faster, shoots him dead. Joe argues that it was self-defense, but LeDuque states that Joe did him a favor, giving him the chance to tell Mary’s story during Joe’s trial because he isn’t testifying to Joe’s use of self-defense. Joe bolts out of the room after hearing people rushing in the hallway. LeDuque takes Cole’s gun and returns it to Cole’s holster. He asks the arriving crowd to call the sheriff because Joe shot Cole in cold blood.

Sheriff Brady comes to the Ponderosa to inform Ben that Joe shot Cole, one of the men from New Orleans. He also mentioned that Inspector LeDuque witnessed the crime, stating that Little Joe did it in cold blood. Hoss believes that Joe wouldn’t act rashly, but Brady insists on bringing Joe in. Ben knows Joe will get home and asks permission to bring Joe themselves, to which the sheriff agrees.

Ben finds Joe sitting by Marie’s grave. He was waiting for Ben to arrive so he could bid his farewell. Ben states Joe’s not going anywhere, then asks what happened in town, including his reason for running away. Joe explains the story, saying that he ran because he wouldn’t stand a chance with inspector LeDuque as the only witness. Joe was afraid he’d taint his mother’s name, so he ran away to protect it. Ben informs him that Marie once begged him to stand trial in New Orleans no matter the consequences, but Ben refused. Ben doesn’t want Joe to commit the same mistake, so he asks for Joe’s trust to fix the situation.

Joe turns himself in the next day. He tells the sheriff that it was an act of self-defense, but the sheriff said Cole’s gun was in his holster. The sheriffs ask why he runs away, but Ben tells him Joe figured someone who’d frame him. Regardless, the sheriff insists that Joe will get a fair trial.

Ben goes to make a deal with LeDuque. He’ll return to New Orleans with LeDuque if he clear’s Joe’s name. LeDuque is uncertain, but Ben guarantees to return with him unarmed, alone, on a horse, with no means to attempt to escape.

LeDuque goes to Sheriff Brady, saying he recalled what happened. It clarified that what Joe did was self-defense since drunk Cole drew his gun first. He also mentioned that the weapon on Cole’s holster was a reflex Cole did before he died. The sheriff apologizes to Ben, but Ben makes Brady do him a favor by not releasing Joe until Ben is out of town. Ben forces Adam and Hoss to agree to stay behind even though they don’t like the conditions he has to do.

On their first night on the trail, Ben compliments LeDuque’s cooking. He then asks why LeDuque waited for twenty years to come after him. LeDuque blames Ben for that, stating that aside from waiting for his promotion to the inspector position, being a physical handicap held him back. Ben reminds him that he won’t take responsibility for the accident since it happened in the line of duty. He also implied that the injury helped LeDuque, giving him something to blame all his flaws on in his police work, with women, and relations with other people. His words angered LeDuque, who yelled as he drew his rifle. This reaction confirms Ben’s suspicions. He figured LeDuque had no plans to take him to New Orleans. Ben then asks if he plans to kill him while trying to escape. LeDuque believed Ben wanted him to say yes so he could break his word. Ben denies his claim, firmly saying he has no intention of running and that he’ll go to New Orleans no matter what happens.

The following day, LeDuque falls to the ground as he tries to mount his horse. Ben ran to help him, but LeDuque aimed his rifle at him. Suddenly, Indians shoot at them from a distance. LeDuque fires back but refuses to hand Ben a weapon. The shooting stops, only to see the Indians mounting their horses and running away. With their horses gone, LeDuque and Ben have no means of transportation or water. They began walking in the blazing heat.

Ben tries to assist LeDuque as he struggles in the heat, but LeDuque keeps his rifle pointed at him. Ben tells him to shoot, considering how he waited 20 years for this moment to come. Just as he was about to fire, LeDuque collapsed. Ben carries LeDuque to the next rest stop, where the station master gives them water. LeDuque wonders why Ben didn’t leave him out to die. Ben asks the station master for the arrival of the next stage. LeDuque wants to know where they’re going, so Ben answers New Orleans. LeDuque confesses he intended to kill Ben when he arrived at Virginia City. The truth is, Ben was clear of the charges twenty years ago, except for LeDuque. LeDuque again asks Ben why he didn’t leave him out in the desert to die. Ben merely requests the station supervisor for some food before getting up to clean off. LeDuque accepts his hand when he extends it to him.

Full Script and Dialogue of The Stranger

Can I help you?

Yes... couple of your newspapers

came into my hands
in New Orleans.

They mention a man
called Ben Cartwright. Aye.

Well, is he a rather
large man physically,

about my age?

He has two sons.

Three of them. MAN: Three?

Well, what do you want him for?

I'm Joe Cartwright.

Your father and I have
urgent business together.


Where is he?

Well, he's out of
town right now.

What kind of business?

Out of town, where?

Uh, Silver City.

At a reception they're
giving in his honor.

Look at this.

A whole newspaper
story about him.

We're grooming him for politics.

Fine man that he is,

he'll make a fine
governor, so he will.

Little Joe here is checking me

on the facts of his life.

Be in tomorrow's paper.


"Nevada and Ben Cartwright.

A great future together."

Well... I don't know
about Nevada, but...

Ben Cartwright has no future.

What did you mean by that?

When he gets back into town,

tell him I'm at the hotel.

Charles LeDuque.

I asked you a
question. All right, let go.

Now, look here...

All right, now, hold
it, Cole. Hey, no, no...

We'll smash Ben Cartwright

just like we've smashed
the story of his life.

Hi, Jack.

Joe Cartwright, how are you?

What can I do for you?

Listen, you got a fellow

named Charles
LeDuque registered here?

Yeah. Well, what room is he in?

He got anything to do with that?

Yeah, maybe.

218. All right, thanks.

Hey, Joe.

That's, uh, good news, isn't it?

I mean, about your
father running for governor.

Yeah, it's just fine, Jack.


All right, where is
that man of yours,

the one that hit me?

I'm sorry about that, son.

Why don't you come on in?

Mr. Cole will be back shortly.

Meanwhile, is there
anything I can do for you?


Yeah, you can
tell me who you are

and what you
want with my father.

Oh, I'd rather spare
you that ugly story.

Oh, what ugly story?

You know, it's
really remarkable,

the resemblance you
bear to your mother.

Oh, just leave my
mother out of this.

Ah, that's a little difficult,

considering the fact that
she and I were... good friends.

You said you had an ugly story.

Couldn't have been
about my mother.

You're right.

That story was about
the man she married.

You're lying, mister. All
right, take it easy, boy.

You got something
to say, say it! All right.

You take a message
to your father.

Tell him to stay
out of politics,

because the plans I have
for him are liable to interfere.

What kind of plans?

Inspector Charles LeDuque,

New Orleans Police Department.

Oh, and you came all the way

from New Orleans
for my father, huh?

2,000 miles and 20 years.

Oh, well, I don't
believe you, mister.

Go tell your father.

See if he believes me.

I'm going to tell him.

I'm going to tell him, then
I'll be back for your friend.

And in case you're curious...

the charge is murder.

Now I know you're lying.

Oh, Ben.


I must tell you...

it's unusual in
these parts for a man

to be so graceful
on the dance floor.

Well, I must tell you,
I-I haven't danced

in such a long time, but...

so lovely a partner would
make any man graceful.

Your compliments are as
smooth as your dancing.

I'm sure you learned both arts

during your stay in New Orleans.


Hello, Pa, Alice.

Hello, Adam.

Louise, your father is
a most generous host.

Well, it's not every day

we can entertain
the future governor.

Adam's been telling me
about his two brothers.

It's a shame they
can't be here tonight.

Well, the Ponderosa
demands a great deal of work.

I know.

And you're lucky to
have three sons to do it.

Too bad we have
to leave tonight.

Pa's got to get
around the territory

so that people can get
better acquainted with him.

I think everyone in Nevada
knows Ben Cartwright.

Folks, your attention, please.

You all know about
the fuss everyone's

been kicking up about
making Nevada a state.

So, it's time we
started thinking

about our first governor,

someone who'll
fight with all his heart

for the future of Nevada.

My friends... I give
you an able man...

a charitable man...

a humble man.

I give you Ben Cartwright
of the Ponderosa.


Come on, Ben.

Say something.

I'm, uh... I'm deeply grateful.

Well, I, uh... I won't
make a speech.

Oh, no.

Uh, in this country, we, uh...

we don't talk much about things.

We... We get out and do them.

The things I want, I
believe you want also:

A free country where
we can raise our families

in safety, under God.

Now, Nevada is not yet a state,

but when that great day comes,

if you still want me,

I'll try to do everything
I can to be of service.

We'll want you.

Your father's a wonderful man.

He's going to make
a splendid governor.

Well, meet the next governor.

Hey, hooray!

There ain't nothing
to celebrate yet.

Not until Nevada
becomes a state.

Technicalities, Pa...
just technicalities.

Put it over there,
please, will you? Yes, sir.

What's the matter with Joe?

Pa, you've had a long ride.

Why don't you go on up and
get into some fresh clothes.

And we'll have somethin'
to eat, and then we'll talk

about it later. Sounds good.

Pa? What?

I don't think this can wait.


There were a couple of
strangers in town today.

They came into the
Territorial Enterprise.

Made a few remarks
about you I didn't like.

Well, I imagine there
are quite a few people...

Well, what kind of remarks?

Well, first, I better
tell you who they are.

They say they're on the
New Orleans police force.

One of them is an
inspector named LeDuque.


Charles LeDuque?

Then you know him.

Is he at the hotel?


Saddle my horse.

I'm Ben Cartwright.


Come in, Cartwright.

Come in.


Been 20 years.

You haven't changed much.

You remember me?


I remember you.

I understand you're a
big man in these parts.

They're even thinking of
putting you up for political office.

Governor, isn't it?

I have a lot of good friends.

A lot of friends
and three fine sons.

Well... I haven't been
as fortunate as you have.

Of course, a policeman
doesn't have much chance

to accumulate family,
friends or admiration.

But most people admire
an honest man of the law.


Seems like you have
everything and I have nothing.

Of course... I have
always been handicapped

by this unfortunate infirmity.

I'm sorry.

Well, it's... a bullet
was responsible.

Hurts, every step.

Yeah, see, the... the
kneecap is shattered.

Happened 20 years ago.

I was on a murder case,

the murder case
of Simon LaRoche.

You remember?

I remember.

You should, because
you're going to hang for it.

Mr. LeDuque...

that charge against me
was dropped 20 years ago.

Was it?

Yes, it was.

I offered to return
to New Orleans

a month after I left.

My lawyer wrote, said
it was unnecessary

since three
witnesses had testified

that I had shot
LaRoche in self-defense.


Well, do you have
any, uh... any proof,

any, uh, documentary evidence?

Well... no, I...

I was to have received a letter

from the New
Orleans chief of police.

But you don't have that letter.

You know,
Cartwright, your lawyer

gave you some very bad advice.

You are a fugitive from justice.

You are still wanted for the
murder of Simon LaRoche.

Mr. LeDuque, that can't be.


Here's a warrant
for your arrest.

Go ahead, look at it.

It's a true warrant.

It's on the right paper,
the right signatures,

the right language.

What more do you want?

The right motive.

What's yours?

You remember a
scuffle in the alley

the night I came to arrest you?

We, uh, we had a fight.

I knocked you down.

Do you remember hearing a shot?

LeDuque, you were after me.

You wanted to kill me.

I wasn't armed; I ran.

Yes, you ran.

I followed you.

In the dark, I fell and
the bullet entered my leg.

I'm sorry, I didn't know that.

I... I didn't look back.

You should have.

Because it gave me a very
special interest in your case.

I started following you that
night, crawling on my belly.

And I'm gonna continue
to follow you until you hang.

I can't hold myself responsible

for what happened
to you that night.

You're going back to
New Orleans with me

and stand trial.

This warrant of yours

is of no value out
here, you know.

You know, if you're innocent,

I think you'd be anxious to
go back and clear your name.

My name is clear.

What do you think your
name would be worth

if people found out about
your wife and Simon LaRoche,

Governor Cartwright?


before I'm through,
you're gonna beg me

to take you back to New Orleans.

You don't believe that, do you?

I swear it.

See you, Mr. Cartwright.

That's Ben Cartwright.

Gonna be first
Governor of Nevada

when she becomes a state.

Hi, hello there, Ben.

Dennis. How are you now?

Well, to be perfectly frank,
Dennis, uh, not too well.

Aye and I'll wager
it's on account of

them two, the two strangers.

Ah, you've seen them, have you?

Wasn't it right in front of
me that Little Joe was hit?

It was you they
were looking for.

And by the look of you, it
was bad news they brought.

Dennis, I suppose
you'll be reporting

what happened in Silver City.

Aye, it's right here.

I'd like to, I'd like to put
something in next to it.

Aye, just one moment.

Ready now.

To all of my
friends in Nevada...

my deepest appreciation

for the way you've honored me.

But, for personal reasons,

I hereby withdraw my name

from consideration
as a possible candidate

for Governor of
the State of Nevada.

Here, take a look at that.

So, he's withdrawn
his name. Uh-huh.

Seems like you've
already begun to reach him.

Yes, sir, things are

beginning to
fall right into line.

"But, for personal reasons,
I hereby withdraw my name

"from consideration
as a possible candidate

for Governor of the
State of Nevada."

But, Pa, there was no
reason to withdraw, not yet.

I didn't want to, Adam.

Believe me, I didn't want to.

Why then, Pa?

You can't just leave
your friends out on a limb

waiting to be sawed off.

Your friends
would've stuck by you.

You mean they'd have
been dragged down with me.

In a political campaign, if
there's just one weak spot,

one breath of scandal,
your opponents find it

and use it to destroy you.

But Pa, if you were
cleared of them charges...


It would take weeks to get
word back from New Orleans.

If I remained a political
candidate all that time,

our names would be dragged

through every
pig sty in the state.

Pa, you're not
telling us everything.

It's not like you to run
out of New Orleans,

not without the trial.

The only thing I've ever
kept from you, isn't it?

It's one thing you can
still keep if you want to.

No, it's been too long already.

The truth is something

that always comes
back at you, doesn't it?

Joe, I've told you a great
deal about your mother.

You never really knew her,
she was a wonderful woman.

Beautiful, slender,
delicate, gentle.

Treated Adam and Hoss
like they were her own, hm?

She was like an angel

to everyone that ever
came into contact with her.

And then this... this
man, this LaRoche,

Simon LaRoche
came into our lives.

The man I killed.

Why'd you have to kill him?

Your mother came from a...

from a certain notorious
section of New Orleans.

A section the sailors
called "The Flats."

Pa, what difference does it
make where she came from?

No difference, no
difference, not to me.

But to a man like LaRoche,
it presented an opportunity

to cash in on her past

by threatening to
destroy her reputation.

Threatening her with what?

He blackmailed her to
keep her past a secret.

To keep what secret?

Joe, I... What secret?!

Joseph, I doubt...
To keep what secret?!

What your mother
did or did not do

before I met her
is of no importance.

I loved her and I married her.

'Cause she was a
wonderful person.

But your mother
was afraid of scandal.

Not for her sake but for mine.

For Hoss' and Adam's.

So, she... she paid LaRoche.

She paid him.

Until I found out about it.

I went to see him,

we talked, got into an argument,

a fight, he pulled
a knife and...

I killed him.

In self-defense,
but I killed him.

I felt I couldn't stand trial

because then everything that
your mother wanted to forget

would have come out.

So it comes out
now, 20 years later.


That's why I feel that maybe

if I go to New Orleans,
I can put a stop to it.

There's another way.


Pa, let me go.

Not in the mood you're in.

Now remember,
LeDuque is doing his duty.

I want you to promise me

that you will do no harm
to him of any nature.

I want to go out for a while.

I'll go with you, Little Joe.

I'd rather go by myself.


I Prom... I promise.

♪ ♪

Your friend looks
kind of lonely.

Well, hello there, cutie.

Hey, what's your name? Dixie.

That's a pretty name.

Say, how'd you like to come over

to the hotel tonight and
have supper with me?

Ooh, that would be nice.

Is that all right
with you, Inspector?

Go right ahead.

You look like you
could be fun, Mister...

Mister, um... His
name is Charles.

Charlie, huh?

Charlie, betcha I could get
you out of that lonesome mood.

I like being alone; I
have a lot to think of.

Think?! You're wasting time.

Mister, it's against the law
to be alone in Virginia City.

I think I could like you.

Child, if you got to
know me, you'd hate me.

Hey, why's he so hard to get to?

He's got his reasons.

With that leg and all, I
feel kinda sorry for him.

Here, have a drink.

What about your friend?

Friend? He's not my
friend, he's my boss.

It's my job to look after him.


LeDuque, I wanna talk to you.

I don't have anything
to say to you.

I said I wanna talk
to you, LeDuque.

And I told you I don't
have anything to say to you.

Pa told us the whole story.

When you say the whole story,

I figure you mean the
part about your mother, too.

I'm warning you,

keep my mother's name
out of your filthy mouth.

You know, you and I ought
to be on the same side.

You just get your father to
take that little trip with me

and your mother stays an angel.

You know, I gave Pa my
word I wouldn't kill you.

But if you drag my mother's
name through the dirt,

so help me, I will.

You'll have to kill me first.

Well, maybe that'll
be the best part.

He's dead.

It was self-defense.

Not the way I saw it.

You saw what happened!

You just got through doing
me the greatest favor of my life,

because now I can
tell my story under oath,

in a courtroom, where
everybody can hear.

The whole story
about your mother.

You just give me the chance,

that trial will be about
her, not about you!

Well, you're not
gonna get that chance.

Hey, what happened?

Go on, get the sheriff.

Young Cartwright just shot
this man down in cold blood.

Oh, Sheriff. Evenin'.

Anything wrong?

I'm afraid so, Ben.

We're lookin' for Little Joe.

Little Joe?

You ain't gonna like this.

He shot a fella
in Virginia City,

killed him.

Oh no, Sheriff.

No question about it, Ben.

Where is he?

Who was it he was
supposed to have shot?

One of them fellas
from New Orleans.

Name of Cole.


This Inspector
LeDuque... He witnessed it.

He said Little Joe just
upped and did it in cold blood.

Oh, Sheriff Brady, you
know Little Joe better'n that!

All I know is he shot
a man and run away.

And we gotta find him.


now I know Joe'll
be coming home.

Let us bring him
into town to ya.

All right, Ben.

Your word's good enough for me.

Come on.

I was hoping I'd find you here.

I thought you'd come.

I... I wanted to say good-bye.

Son, you're not going anywhere.

I got no choice.

Well, there's always a choice.

Here it's the choice
between running away

or facing up to what's happened.

What did happen in town?

Well, I went to see LeDuque.

In spite of what you promised?

I promised I wouldn't harm him.

I didn't say I wouldn't see him.

While I was talking
to him, Cole came in.

We got into a fight, he
drew his gun and I killed him.

Trouble is the...

the sheriff's wondering
why you ran away.

Yeah, a lot of choice

with Inspector LeDuque
the only witness?

Well, it's your
word against his.

People of Virginia City know you

and I-I know they trust you.

Pa, that's not the point.

What is the point?

LeDuque told me
what he'd do at the trial.

He said he'd get up in
front of that whole town,

and tell all those dirty lies...

about my mother.

You're running away to...

protect your mother's name?

Is that it?

Yes, that's it.

Your mother begged me to
stand trial in New Orleans,

no matter what the
consequences to her.

But, Pa, I can't do that.

I made a mistake, Joe.

I can't let you make
the same mistake.

Now you come home with me now,

and tomorrow morning

we'll ride into town together.

Son... You've always trusted me.

And running away
will ruin your life.

And it won't help her.

Come home.

I'm asking you.

Sheriff... I brought
you your prisoner.

Thanks, Ben.

What have you got to say?

Shot him in self-defense.

Cole's gun was in his holster.

That's impossible.

He drew first. It was there.

Why'd you run away?

Maybe he figured he'd be framed,

like what's happening now.

Now you know
better than that, Adam.

He'll get a fair trial.

Gotta lock you up, son.

You boys wait here.

I'll be back in a few minutes.

I saw you riding into
town with your son.

If you've come to plead for him,

you're wasting your time.


you didn't come to
Virginia City for my son.

You came for me.

I rather admire you
for bringing him in.

Shows a certain
respect for the law.


My son tells me
you saw the shooting.


He also tells me
you can clear him.

Every criminal
claims he's innocent.

Don't call my son a criminal.

And let's stop beating
around the bush.

You came to Virginia City to
close the LaRoche murder case.

Well, I'm gonna give you
a chance to do just that.

Are you offering me a deal?

I'm offering you a deal.

Now, you clear my boy,

and I'll go back to
New Orleans with you.


Well, I don't know, though,

you're... you're asking
me to perjure myself.

I'm an officer of the law;

the truth isn't open to whim.

But... uh...

Now, suppose I do
make this... compromise.

Would you return
with me unarmed?

Yes. And alone.

Just you and me.

On horse.

Yes, I would.

And would you give
me your promise,

your word,

that you'd make no
attempt to escape?

I give you my word.

How long would it
take you to get horses

and provisions ready?

An hour.

Make it an hour and a half.

I'll have time to get outfitted.

I'll meet you at the
jail and clear your son.

We'll leave directly from there.

And Cartwright... you
should feel relieved.

Every criminal always is

who finally surrenders
himself to justice.

Pa, he's comin'.

Pa, who's comin'?

Inspector LeDuque.

He's agreed to tell the
truth about the shooting.

Tell the truth.


I'm going back to
New Orleans with him.

Now, I'll be back.

I'll be back soon.



Ben says you've got
something you want to tell me.

Yes. About the-the
death of my associate,

Mr. Tom Cole.

Step over the desk, please.

You see, I was rather dazed

by what happened.

And so, I-I rather
confused the facts.

Unconfuse 'em.

Well, as I recall now,

Cole was drunk, he drew first.

Joe Cartwright
fired in self-defense.

What about the gun
in Cole's holster?

He put it there
himself before he died.

Sort of a reflex.

Mister, you really was
confused, wasn't ya?

May be the strange climate.

I rarely bungle the facts
like this in New Orleans.

Mister, from now on,
stay in New Orleans.

We need you around here
like we need the plague.

You belong in that
cell instead of Little Joe.

Now, Sheriff, everybody
makes mistakes.

Ask Ben Cartwright.

All I want to ask Ben is
will he accept my apologies.

Thank you, Sheriff.

Uh... don't let Little
Joe out of his cell

until I'm well away.

Why not? Where you goin'?

Just do me the favor.

See ya when I get back.

Well, Little Joe will
be out pretty soon now.

Pa, I know you told us not to,

but how come me
and Adam can't ride out

about ten miles
and intercept you.

A couple outlaws rode up on you,

it wouldn't be
your fault, would it?

Forget it, Hoss.

Well, at least we can
ride along with you.

He can't object to that.

Oh, he does object.

I said I'd go alone.

Well, now why's
that so important?

What's his motive?

I don't know.

Anyway, I gave my word.

I'm waiting.


I'll get your packhorse, Pa.

You're not a bad cook.

You know,

reminds me of something
happened recently.

There was a case
where a condemned man

wanted to cook
his own last meal.

Then he didn't
have time to eat it.

So I did.

You know, it was very good.

I'm sure it was.

LeDuque, why did you wait

20 years to come after me?

I'm an officer of the law.

I'm subject to the
orders of my superiors.

I just can't believe
that your superiors

suddenly decided after 20 years

that I should be brought back.

Oh, I made that decision myself.

Of course, I had to become an
Inspector before I could do so.

The fact that it took 20
years is your fault, not mine.

My fault?

Yes, I've already told you.

A man with a physical handicap

doesn't rise fast
in police work.

I told you before,
I don't hold myself

responsible for that accident.

It was an accident

that happened
in the line of duty.

Now, when you
became a police officer,

you must have figured

that you'd have to
take certain risks.

Well, strangely enough,

I used to use those same
arguments with myself.

I knew that my hatred of you
might become an obsession.

I wanted to control it.

I wish you'd been successful.

Oh, I was for a while.

But then as I watched inferior
men being promoted over my head,

I began to wonder
whether I wasn't being

too charitable in my
thoughts about you.

Is that when you started
to think about vengeance

instead of justice?

Well, didn't I have
it coming to me,

after all the misery
you've caused me?

I don't believe that
any man is justified

in using a badge to
satisfy his personal hatreds.

You're so cold-blooded
in your thinking, Cartwright.

No, I've hated men in my time

but I've been able
to control myself

and not allow that
hatred to influence my life.

Well, why not?

You're a rich man,
you have sons,

you've loved women
and been loved by them.

Oh, that smashed
knee of yours, huh?

It's really been of
help to you, hasn't it?

What do you mean?

The way you use it
to lean on like a crutch

to explain away your
personal little failures

in your police work, with women

and your relations
with other people.

Stop it.

Well, face it.

It's not your knee, it's you!

You stop it or I'll
shoot you now!


Now it's true, isn't it?

You never intended to take me

all the way back to
New Orleans, did you?

Got it all figured
out, haven't you?

How was it to happen?

I was to be killed
while trying to escape.

Is that it?

You'd like me to say
yes, wouldn't you?

So you'd be free
to break your word.


I don't intend to break my word.

I don't intend to try to escape.

Because I'm going to get
all the way to New Orleans.

Just in case you have
any idea of killing me first...

No, no, no.

I don't want to kill you.

Good night.

I'm not gonna sleep
tonight, Ben Cartwright.

I'm not gonna sleep any
night while you're alive.

It looks like a warm one today.

What are you
waiting for? Mount up!

Get away from me!

You heard me! Get
away from me, Cartwright!

I think I'll put a bullet
through your leg,

so you'll know how it feels.

All right, get over.

You have another gun?

This'll do it.

Ah, they've had enough.

They weren't after scalps.

They were after horses.

How far is the
nearest settlement?

About... uh, there's a
weigh station up ahead.

How far?

About 20 miles.

20 miles.

Over those hills.

Without horses.

And without water.

Come on.

Stay ahead of me.

Wait, wait, wait.

Let's rest a while.

Gotta keep moving.

This sun will kill you.

I can't walk anymore.

Gotta get to water.

Let me help you.

You stay away.

I don't need your help.

Well, now, let me help you...

I said stay away!

Go ahead.

Pull the trigger.

Been waiting 20 years for this.

Let me get him some water.

Easy, easy.

That's enough.

You brought me in.


Why didn't you leave
me out there to die?

Couldn't let you die out there.

Why not?

We'd have both been better off.

When's the next stage
leave for the East?

Uh, it's due in
sometime tonight.

Where are we going?

New Orleans.

There's nothing in
New Orleans for you.

You have a warrant
for my arrest, don't you?

You were right.

I intended to kill you
before we ever got there.

But you can't kill without hate,

and now the hate is gone.

Sort of a relief.

This warrant was
never any good, was it?

You were cleared 20 years ago

by everybody except me.

That letter the judge
sent you, I intercepted it.

Why didn't you leave
me out there to die?

Can you rustle up some food
for a couple of hungry men?

Him, too?!

Well, we come in here
together, didn't we?

You betcha, mister. Just
give me a couple minutes.

Come on, let's wash up.

Gimme a hand.

Behind the Scenes of The Stranger

The episode showed Marie Cartwright’s grave.

This episode revealed Little Joe’s mother’s checkered past. Although the episode didn’t entirely give the details, Marie Cartwright’s name was visible on the tombstone Little Joe visited in one scene.

The Stranger, Bonanza’s twenty-fourth episode, was similar to Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, The Purloined Letter.

Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?

Bonanza is a fantastic Western program to watch alone or with the family. NBC produced and aired Bonanza from September 1959 to January 1973. The series lasted 14 seasons, with The Stranger as its 24th episode out of 430.

You can find more about any of the 430 Bonanza episodes here>>

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