The Old West: The Top Five TV Westerns

Updated on July 22, 2018
Alexis Kenyatta profile image

Alexis Kenyatta has been a virtual volunteer for six years. Her goals are to become a teacher and give back to the community as an educator




The Old West and the nostalgia of the lonesome cowboy brings an excitement to mind of the fast, gun-drawing villans, law-abiding sheriffs, and vexing saloon girls. This is my top five list of classic western television shows, and three honorable mentions I could leave off because their impact on retro television would not be right to not highlight. So, let's reminisce shall we?

5. Gunsmoke

The main character, Matt Dillon, portrayed by James Arness, sought to bring justice and keep peace in Dodge City. Matt Dillon was the ultimate law-abiding sheriff who with his deputy Festus, ran a town that did have its share of drifters trying to take it over, but Matt was always quicker and always won the luck of the draw. The implied romance between Dillon and Miss Kitty brought a sense of romance only the Old West manged to recreate in such stories of the lonely cowboy.

4. The Virginian

The main character on The Virginian played by James Drury told the story of a ranch help who worked on the land of the governor, and the daily experiences of his daughter. The Virginian depicted another story of how if a man relocates to a new place and the nuance of that move. James Drury was the nice-looking, leading man, and the showed offered episodes of many aspects related to daily life in the Old West. The main theme centered around the governor, his daughter, and James Drury, the Virginian, as well as other characters who lived on the ranch.

3. The Rifleman

The main character Lucas McCain played by Chuck Connors also depicted a fast gun drawing cowboy, but this show gave a family aspect because Lucas McCain had a young son, Mark, played by Johnny Crawford. With that said, the show sometimes gave a moral lesson at the end, because as it was being aired showed a single father, still a cowboy, and the daily life of he and his song as they interacted with the other people in the town. On the show, Lucas and Mark relocated to the town where the show is set and Lucas had many enemies, but in the end still managed to build a nice home for he and Mark, teaching his son on every episode, however, not this did not hinder the toughness behind the handling of Lucas' rifle.

2. Bonanza

The all-time and most famous western depicts another family aspect headed by patriarch Ben Cartwright played Lorne Green. His three sons, Adam played by Pernell Roberts, Hoss played by Dan Blocker, and Little Joe, played by Michael Landon. Bonanza was a long-running western on television, and many episodes are romantic, comedic, and dramatic, but the Cartwrights are always keeping the Ponderosa a family ran ranch, and themselves bachelors.

1. The Lone Ranger

The main characters, the Lone Ranger played by Clayton Moore, and Tonto played by Jay Silverheels, depict the masked man and his Native American friend, bringing justice from town to town in the Old West. This was my number one choice of classic television westerns because of the impact the show garnered in the 1950s and the lessons it teaches about trust and not judging someone by how they look, because they may be the very ones to help you. The Lone Ranger sought to protect the innocent from harm, and bring villans to punishment. His Native American friend, Tonto was intuitive and fully understood the plans the Lone Ranger would implement to help the people who were in a bind and had no one else to turn to.


Honorable Mentions

The last three television shows are honorable mentions on my list because they also brought change and entertainment to retro television with fights, punches, and horses running the vast lands without ever getting tired.

3. The High Chaparral

A western I've watched, but not frequently, but I still enjoyed from time to time; the main characters ran a cattle ranch as well. He was an older white man, who was married to a Mexican woman named Victoria. This was not typically depicted in those days when High Chaparral was filmed, but because of the romantic aspect I like this show and give it a number three honorable mentioned on my list.

2. The Big Valley

I could not write an article about television Westerns without including The Big Valley. The show headed by an independent matriarch, Victoria Barkley played by Miss Barbara Stanwyck, the family on Barkley Ranch include Audra played a young Linda Evans, Heath played by Lee Majors, Jared played by Richard Long, and Nick played by Peter Breck. The family encompassed independence, intelligence, innocence, and innovation because may times television ranch households in those days were headed by men. But in the Barkley household, Miss Stanwyck took the initiative and took care of her family.

1. The Roy Rogers Show

Last, but not least, my final honorable mention is The Roy Rogers Show. The main character Roy Rogers, and co-star Dale Evans, depicted regular fighting scenes and comedic timing by Pat Brady and NellyBelle to the Old West story.


In conclusion, the Old West with its rustic prairies, palominos riding in the sunset, lonesome cowboys, gun fights at high noon, and the romantic, vivacious saloon; makes you wonder how settlers in real life made it in those days. However, with these larger-than-life western series, stimulating our imaginations, we know their lives were more than wagon train corral out West, but a campfire adventure.

Questions & Answers


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      • Miebakagh57 profile image

        Miebakagh Fiberesima 

        7 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

        Hello Alexis, the Lone Ranger is my favorite, and I had a copy download on my pc for enjoyment with my family. It is very interesting that justice is being done.


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