“Bonanza” was a beloved TV western that aired for 14 seasons, from 1959 to 1973. The final episode, titled “The Hunter,” aired on January 16, 1973, and it left fans with a lot of questions. Here are 10 things you may have missed in the “Bonanza” final episode.
- The episode was not intended to be the series finale. The show’s creators had planned to continue the series for another season, but it was abruptly cancelled by NBC.
- The episode was directed by William F. Claxton, who had directed over 250 episodes of the series. He would go on to direct the TV movie “Bonanza: The Next Generation” in 1988.
- The episode features guest star Claude Akins as a hunter who comes to the Ponderosa looking for a grizzly bear. Akins had previously appeared in six episodes of the series, but this was his first and only appearance in the final season.
- The episode marks the final appearance of Little Joe’s horse, Cochise. The horse had been a staple of the series since the first season and was one of the most beloved characters.
- The episode features a cameo appearance by former “Bonanza” regular Pernell Roberts, who played Adam Cartwright. Roberts had left the series after the sixth season, but he returned for a guest appearance in the final season.
- The episode includes a scene in which Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene) and his son Hoss (Dan Blocker) discuss the possibility of selling the Ponderosa. This scene was added to the episode after the series was cancelled, as a way to give the show a sense of closure.
- The episode ends with a freeze frame of the Cartwright family standing together, looking off into the distance. This was a common trope in TV finales of the era, and it was meant to signify that the characters would continue on, even though the show was ending.
- The final episode was not well-received by critics, who felt that it was a lackluster ending to a long-running series. However, it was a ratings success, and it remains one of the most-watched TV finales of all time.
- The show’s theme song, “Bonanza,” was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, who also wrote the theme songs for “Mr. Ed” and “The Andy Griffith Show.”
- “Bonanza” was the first TV western to be filmed in color, and it was one of the most popular shows of its time. It spawned several spin-offs, including “The Ponderosa,” “Bonanza: The Next Generation,” and “Little House on the Prairie.”
In conclusion, the final episode of “Bonanza” may not have been the ending that fans had hoped for, but it remains a beloved part of TV history. The show’s legacy lives on, and it continues to be enjoyed by generations of fans.