‘Bonanza’: Which Characters Appeared in Every Episode of the Series?

by Joe Rutland
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“Bonanza” put together a cool 14-season run on NBC, giving the network a winner in a Western family drama. But who appeared in every episode?

Only Lorne Greene and Michael Landon can be seen in all 431 episodes. “Bonanza” is the second-longest-running western series on television. CBS’s “Gunsmoke” holds the No. 1 spot.

Now the show had a very large cast across The Ponderosa, where the Cartwright family lived and worked on its land. It was mythically located near Lake Tahoe, which is located in Nevada. The show was set in the 1860s.

Greene played Ben Cartwright, the patriarch of the family. Pernell Roberts played Adam, Dan Blocker played “Hoss,” and Landon played “Little Joe.”

Roberts left the show after a few seasons. Blocker, sadly, died in May 1972 from a pulmonary embolism after gall bladder surgery. His death proved too much for “Bonanza” to overcome.

Dan Blocker’s Death Affected Future Of ‘Bonanza’ On NBC

Ratings began to fall precipitously after Blocker’s death. Fans couldn’t find the same excitement over “Bonanza” without Hoss’ presence.

The show, which tried to fill his spot with future “Animal House” star Tim Matheson, never found its successful rhythm again. NBC aired the final original episode on Jan. 16, 1973.

Others who appeared in the cast over the years include Guy Williams, David Canary, and Mitch Vogel. Canary left in 1970 over a contract dispute but was asked to return after Blocker’s death. So Canary, Vogel, and Matheson were the lone regular cast members to join Greene and Landon at the show’s finale.

Landon, Greene Would Find Success After Leaving The Ponderosa

What about life after “Bonanza” for Greene and Landon? Let’s start with Landon first.

The young firebrand seemingly loved to critique everything from cameras and directors to scripts on
“Bonanza.” It drove some of his costars nuts. But Landon was able to implement some of his own dreams through “Little House on the Prairie” and “Highway to Heaven.” He created, produced, and acted in those shows. His imprint on the TV landscape remains firm.

Greene, a native Canadian who found success in the United States, would play Commander Adama in “Battlestar Galactica” and “Galactica 1980.” He hosted “Lorne Greene’s New Wilderness,” which highlighted different nature landscapes in Canada. The show also reached U.S. viewers, too, through syndication.

Landon died on July 1, 1991, at 54 years old from pancreatic cancer. Greene died on Sept. 11, 1987, at 72 years old.

As for Roberts, he found himself in another successful TV series. He played “Trapper John” McIntyre, a role originally played on TV’s “M*A*S*H” by Wayne Rogers, on CBS’s “Trapper John, M.D.” from 1979-86. Roberts was a civil rights activist throughout his life, taking part in 1965’s Selma to Montgomery marches. Roberts died on Jan. 24, 2010, at 81 years old.

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