Can You Match the Character to the Right Western TV Show?


By: Ian Fortey

6 Min Quiz

Image: HBO

About This Quiz

"Hopalong Cassidy" is widely regarded as the first Western in television history, and it dates all the way back to 1949. Westerns were also popular in radio shows, comic books and films around this time, so it was a natural fit to put some on television. By the mid-1950s, they had hit their stride and would pretty much dominate the TV landscape for years to come. In time, networks tried to distance themselves from the Western — it grew stale as a genre, and it mostly faded from the world of pop culture. However, every now and then a few still get made, proving it to be one of the heartiest genres of entertainment we have. You just can't keep a good Western down.

With 70 years of Westerns to pick through, there's a nearly endless supply of shows and movies you can watch, if you're in the mood to watch some serious cowboy hat and horse-riding action.

If you fancy yourself to be something of a Western aficionado, then we welcome you to try your hand at this quiz. Let's see just how many popular TV Western shows you can match to some of their main characters. Saddle up, partner!

Mark McCain and his dad could be found where?

"The Rifleman" aired on ABC starting back in 1958. It was about rancher Lucas McCain and his son Mark; it was one of the first shows that portrayed a single parent on network television.


Marshal Matt Dillon was the central character of this show. Do you know it?

"Gunsmoke" was actually a radio show before it found its way onto television back in the '50s. It ran for an incredible 20 seasons on TV, and they produced 635 episodes, making it one of the longest-running shows in television history.


The main character of this show was only known by the name Paladin. What was it?

"Have Gun — Will Travel" followed the adventures of Paladin, played by Richard Boone. Paladin lives up to his name as a kind of white knight mercenary traveling the West and working for people who need a hired gun.


This show followed the lives of the Ingalls family. Do you remember it?

"Little House on the Prairie" is a classic family Western that featured Michael Landon as the father of the Ingalls family and Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls. Laura was arguably the main character, although some episodes featured other characters in central stories as well.


Which Western featured characters named Bret, Bart, Beau, Bentley and Brent?

"Maverick" was a comedy/Western that featured James Garner as Bret Maverick for the first three seasons. The show also featured his brothers Brent and Bart, Uncle Bentley and Cousin Beau at various points throughout the show's five-season history.


On which show would you find Clint Eastwood playing Rowdy Yates?

"Rawhide" was one of the longest-running Westerns in TV history, focusing on the life and times of cattle drovers. Clint Eastwood would go on to be the most famous cast member, by far, and, as a result, video and DVD releases of the show in later years heavily marketed Eastwood's involvement.


James Trivette was a lawman on what show?

Few modern-era Westerns have proven to be as iconic as "Walker, Texas Ranger." The show starred legendary martial artist Chuck Norris as Cordell Walker and also Clarence Gilyard as James Trivette.


Do you know which show featured a man named Trampas?

"The Virginian" was about a character aptly named "The Virginian," who never got another name during the course of the show. Doug McClure played the character of Trampas. McClure is, oddly, most well-known by modern audiences for the parody character Troy McClure on "The Simpsons."


You know what show featured the legendary sidekick Tonto, right?

There were only two recurring characters on "The Lone Ranger" — the Ranger himself and Tonto. Tonto technically featured in more episodes than the Lone Ranger, since the Ranger was played by two actors, while Tonto was played by Jay Silverheels for the show's entire run.


Byron Sully was a main character on this show. Can you name it?

"Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" is one of the few Western shows that focused chiefly on a female character, the titular Dr. Quinn, played by Jane Seymour. Joe Lando played her love interest, Byron Sully.


Which show featured Victora Barkley and her family?

"The Big Valley" aired for four seasons on ABC and was known for being a little over the top with its drama — something intense and harrowing happened in nearly every episode. In fact, it became such a cliche that they made a joke about it in the movie "Airplane!"


Hoss Cartwright was on a classic Western. Do you remember it?

The Cartwright family were the main characters on "Bonanza," which was on TV for an incredible 431 episodes. This was back when a season of TV was as long as long could be — the show was on for only 14 seasons to get those 431 episodes.


What show would you watch to find bounty hunter Josh Randall?

Steve McQueen played Josh Randall on "Wanted: Dead or Alive" for three seasons, starting in 1958. McQueen would go on to have an exceptional film career before his untimely death at age 50.


The lead character in this show had the clever name of Jim West. Do you remember it?

"The Wild Wild West" was a sci-fi/Western series starring Robert Conrad. Most people know it better as the Will Smith movie that came out in 1999, which is mostly remembered as an epic critical and financial bomb.


Kwai Chang Caine was the central character on this show. Do you remember it?

"Kung Fu" was part Western and part martial arts drama, which is a pretty niche genre. Bruce Lee was supposed to star in the show and even claimed the idea was his, but rumor has it the studio didn't want to make a show with an Asian man as the star and went with David Carradine instead.


Sergeant Morgan Sylvester O'Rourke comes to us courtesy of what show?

"F Troop" was a sitcom Western that took place at a U.S. Army outpost during the Wild West. There is no way on Earth the show would ever be produced in modern times, as it relied heavily on racially insensitive humor.


Charlie Wooster was the name of the cook on this show. Do you know it?

"Wagon Train" moved from NBC to ABC during its eight-year run on TV. Only two actors made it from the beginning of the show until the end: Terry Wilson played Bill Hawks for all eight seasons, and Frank McGrath played Charlie Wooster.


Pancho was the main character's sidekick on this show. What is it?

The Cisco Kid and his sidekick Pancho were the only two characters that appeared in all episodes of "The Cisco Kid." This TV show has the distinction of being the very first one filmed in full color, even though few viewers had color TVs at the time to see it.


What are you watching if you're seeing Big John Cannon?

Big John Cannon was an Arizona rancher on the show "The High Chaparral." The show got its name from Cannon's ranch, which was called the High Chaparral. Chaparral is thorny shrubland.


Which show featured Marshal Dan Troop?

"Lawman" was a show precisely about what the name suggests — a lawman in Laramie, Wyoming. John Russell played Marshal Dan Troop. Even though there were numerous other Westerns on TV at the time, the show lasted from 1958 to 1962.


This show's main character was named Bartholomew, though he always went by a nickname. What was the show?

"Bat Masterson" was about the character of the same name. Bat was a lawman, but also a gambler and a bit of an upper-class gentleman when it came to doing his job. Rather than use his gun, he'd often take on foes with his cane.


What show should you tune in to if you want to follow the adventures of Ernest Pratt?

"Legend" was a short-lived sci-fi/Western/comedy show in the mid-'90s that starred MacGyver himself, Richard Dean Anderson. Also starring was John de Lancie, who is most well-known as Q from "Star Trek."


Johnny Yuma's adventures were chronicled on what show?

Johnny Yuma was a Confederate Army veteran in the show "The Rebel." It was one of those shows about a guy who wanders the West with a six-shooter, trying to bring justice to unjust situations. Despite being a success, the show was canceled in part because of how violent it was.


Which show featured Newt Dobbs as a character?

"Lonesome Dove" started life as a miniseries, then became a full-fledged series and later continued as some made-for-TV movies. Ricky Schroder played Newt Dibbs in the miniseries, but he was replaced by Scott Bairstow on the show.


Do you know which show featured the Sherman brothers?

"Laramie" aired on NBC from 1959 to 1963 and actually had an effect on the entire NBC network in a small, weird way. A new NBC peacock logo — later known as the "Laramie Peacock" — debuted at the start of this show and was used before every full-color NBC program for several years.


Sheriff Bodie was the only recurring character on what show?

Clint Walker played Sheriff Cheyenne Bodie on "Cheyenne," which debuted in 1955. Walker was the only recurring character on the show that made history as the first hour-long Western.


Captain Mal Reynolds led a ragtag group on what show?

Joss Whedon's follow up to the Bufferverse was the sci-fi/Western called "Firefly." It was a weirdly cool mix of futuristic concepts and tech with old-school Western motifs and imagery. Sadly, it didn't last long.


Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is the main character on what show?

"Justified" aired on FX and starred Timothy Olyphant as a U.S. Marshal who's a bit aggressive when it comes to meting out justice. The show was created by Graham Yost, the man behind the movie "Speed" and the TV show "Boomtown."


Eli McCullough is the central character of what program?

"The Son" starred Pierce Brosnan as Eli McCullough and lasted for two seasons. The show was originally set to star Sam Neill, but Neill had to back out for personal reasons, so producers opted to replace him with Brosnan.


Do you know which show was hosted by a character named The Old Ranger?

"Death Valley Days" was immensely popular and was around literally for decades. From 1930 to 1951, it was a radio show, and then from 1952 to 1970, it was on television, making it one of the longest-running Westerns in history.


John Dutton is the head of the family on which show?

"Yellowstone" airs on the Paramount Network and features a pretty cinematic cast of actors, including Kevin Costner, Wes Bentley and Cole Hauser. The show has proven to be the most-viewed scripted show in the network's history, even though critics were lukewarm to it.


On which show are you going to find the villainous Man in Black?

"Westword" is an HBO show based on a 1973 movie of the same name. It's another sci-fi/Western that features sentient robots. Ed Harris is the Man in Black, who's just a super creepy and sadistic villain.


Which show introduced audiences to Cullen Bohannon?

"Hell on Wheels" starred Colm Meaney and Anson Mount, both of whom are now "Star Trek" alums. Meaney played Miles O'Brien on both "The Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine," while Anson Mount joined the cast of "Discovery" after "Hell on Wheels" ended.


What should you watch if you want to see the character Henry Standing Bear?

Lou Diamond Phillips played Henry Standing Bear on the show "Longmire." The show was part Western and part crime drama; it was one of just a few modern Westerns to really take off with audiences.


The only recurring character on this anthology was the Narrator. Can you guess what show it was?

"Dead Man's Gun" was an anthology series narrated by Kris Kristofferson. If the show had a recurring character, it was actually the gun. In each episode, a new person would take possession of the ostensibly cursed gun.


Do you know which show featured a character named Socrates Poole?

"The Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr." is probably the weirdest Western ever produced. It featured strange old-timey sci-fi technology and a lot of steampunk aesthetic. There was also a horse named Comet!


Al Swearengen was a memorable character from this show. Tell us what it is!

"Deadwood" was an incredibly popular show on HBO that even spawned a spinoff movie some years later. Ian McShane played the somewhat unscrupulous Al Swearengen, who was based on a real man. The real-life Swearengen was much more villainous.


Xavier Dolls was a character on what show?

"Wynonna Earp" is a horror Western based on a comic book, which is arguably the only show in TV history that meets that description. It's a joint Canadian/American production and has a remarkably rabid fan base.


Do you know which show featured the outlaw Roy Goode?

"Godless" had a short run of seven episodes on Netflix, back in 2017, but the show was a critical success. Star Jeff Daniels even got a Prime Time Emmy for his role, as did co-stars Meritt Weaver and Michelle Dockery. Shown here is Jack O'Connell as Roy Goode.


Do you know the name of the show that featured Chris Larabee?

Chris Larabee was one of the titular seven in "The Magnificent Seven," a show based on the film of the same name. The film version of "The Magnificent Seven" was based on the Japanese film "The Seven Samurai."


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