Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“Dark Star”
Season 1, Episode 31
#31 in Series
Air date April 23, 1960
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Anthony Lawrence
Directed by Lewis Allen
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Feet of Clay
Next Episode:
Death at Dawn
External links
Dark Star on IMDb


Little Joe comes across Tirza, a gypsy girl who believes she is bewitched as do her own people, who banished her. Little Joe, smitten, must rescue her from this belief, her people and someone posing as a wolf.


As Little Joe and Hoss Cartwright split up to track down a timber wolf, who can often be heard in the distance. Joe dismounts and follows tracks when he spies a young woman lying on the ground. When he approaches, she gets up and runs, stumbling down a hill and falling unconscious. Hossre joins Joe and they take the young woman, who appears to be a gypsy, to their ranch house.

A doctor examines her and tells the Cartwrights to give a her night's rest, some food, and then send her on her way. As they do not know where her people are, the doc then suggests they turn her over to the sheriff; Joe protests that she has done nothing wrong although the doc says she will before leaving. Joe checks on her, but she only tells him to go away. When Joe refuses to leave, she bites his hand and he exits the room.

That night Joe hears the front door and sees the gypsy girl outside. He joins her but she will not look at him. She points to the North Star and says she wants to "pluck it from the sky," and "that the darkness is the inside of a bell that rings forth the spirits of the dead." Joe asks about her people, but she claims she to have no one. She asks if Joe only cares because she is pretty, to which Joe replies that she is strange. She accuses Joe of being a little boy, while she is old, withered, and dead, before telling Joe to go away before she turns him into a toad, all of which merely confirms Joe's opinion.

The next day, Ben finds the girl scraping crumbs off the dining room table. He offers her breakfast, but she merely comments that he is a rich man. He agrees he has much to be grateful for and asks about her people, wanting to return her to them. She says they did not lose her; rather, she is different from them, that she can go anywhere and be anything. When Ben asks what she would like to be, she says she wants to be free. She then grabs the tablecloth and pulls it from the table, breaking dishes, and runs screaming out the door. Her wild behavior spooks Hoss and Joe's horses, and when she runs Joe follows. She stumbles and Joe drops down beside her where she tries to grab his gun and shoot herself. Getting it away from her, Joe pins her down and asks why she wants to kill herself. She tells him she is a witch and mentions "the dark star."

Later, a band of gypsies arrive on the ranch. Hoss thinks they are making camp, but Ben thinks they have just come for the girl which she herself denies. Ben tries to take her back but she refuses to go, so Ben and Hoss go to see the gypsies themselves. Their leader, Zorka, wants to camp on the Ponderosa until the potentially bad weather clears. Ben repeatedly brings up the girl, but Zorka avoids talking about her although claiming she brings misfortune. Ben accuses him of leaving her to die. Zorka says they only left her behind. Ben says they can stay on the Ponderosa if they take the girl with them when they go. Zorka offers to sell Ben some horses, but Ben being a good judge of horseflesh notes that the horses are old and sickly, fixed up to look younger. Although this offends one gypsy, later introduced as Spiro, Zorka good-naturedly asks them to dinner to celebrate All Hallow's Eve. Ben tries to decline, but Zorka insists and tells Ben to bring a pig for the feast. Ben still refuses, reminding them to leave when the weather clears and to take the girl.

Joe finds the girl by a pool of water digging at the earth with her hands and finally learns her name: Tirza. Although now friendlier towards Joe, she starts talking strangely again; Joe asks what she meant about the dark star and why she tried to kill herself. After some more talk about wanting to be a fish (her cryptic way of expressing her desire to be among her people and accepted by them) she simply says it is because she is a witch and she shares some wild artichokes she has dug up. Spiro arrives on a horse and Joe introduces himself, but the gypsy coldly tells him to go run his kingdom. He apologizes to Tirza, saying he did not know she was left behind and he would have prevented it. She rebuffs him, saying he would have only have done so if she agreed to be with him and that she would rather lie with a snake. Undeterred, he forcibly tries to kiss her but Joe comes to her rescue; after a brief fight Spiro pulls a knife, but Joe pulls his gun. Spiro warns Joe that his face that will be the last one he sees, but leaves.

At dinner, Hoss comes in and reports a missing pig. Knowing that Zorka meant for him to supply a pig one way or another, Ben intends to make Zorka pay for the pig. Hoss and Joe think watching Ben negotiate with Zorka will be great fun, but Adam elects to stay home in case the gypsies pull a wagon up to the house and walk out with all the furniture. Initially denying that he stole the pig, Zorka admits it and offers to pay for the animal with a much more valuable handcrafted silver bowl; Ben tries to refuse but finally takes up the offer to stay and have dinner with the gypsies after all. While eating, Ben asks why they think Tirza is a witch. Zorka says she was born under a dark star and can turn herself into a wolf. While they talk Tirza arrives and starts dancing, enthralling Joe and Spiro. Suddenly, lightning flashes overhead and the gypsies are afraid as they attribute it to her powers. Tirza runs off with Joe, Spiro secretly following them with a rifle. Zorka warns Ben not to let Joe go after her, but Ben knows Joe can take care of himself.

Joe catches up to Tirza by a large rock, commenting she runs faster than a deer and they sit together. When asked why she came to dance in camp, she says she likes to see the fear in their faces. He assures her she's not a witch to which she says Joe is a tree with his feet firmly planted in the ground. She also says that she would like to be a tree and spread her branches out to protect children. When she asks if Joe thinks she beautiful, he kisses her and they hold each other. Spiro, watching this, raises his rifle and takes aim, but when a wolf howls, he seems to get a better idea and leaves.

That night, Tirza wakes up in her bed at the Ponderosa to find an open window, chicken feathers all over the room, and bloody wolf paw prints on her bed. Terrified that she is dangerous, she runs to Zorka and begs him to help her. He tells her it will be quite painful, but she wants to be like the others even if it kills her.

Tirza had forgotten to close the front door when she ran and it bangs open and shut, waking Joe. He investigates, finding the chicken mess and the blood, and sees that she is gone so he goes to the gypsy camp. Only Spiro is there, who tells him that Tirza turned herself into a wolf and killed the chickens. He tells Joe she is undergoing a ceremony, like an exorcism, that will pick at her soul until they can remove the evil. Joe starts to leave, but Spiro pulls out a whip and stops him. When Joe tries to go for his gun, Spiro whips it out of his hand so they fight. When Joe gets the upper hand, Spiro pulls his knife and tries to stab Joe but ends up stabbing himself, dying instantly.

Joe is captured as he nears the ceremonial grounds, where Tirza staked to the ground. Two men hold him back so he can do nothing but watch. When the ceremony climaxes, she becomes calm so they release Joe. Tirza tells him she is now free and Joe takes her back to the Ponderosa.

At breakfast, Joe tells Ben he wants to marry Tirza. Ben is agreeable and happy for Joe's decision, but Zorka arrives and says the weather has cleared so he has come for the girl, who his people now accept as their own. Joe tells him that Tirza is going to stay with him but Tirza has decided to go with them. She has waited so long to see love in their eyes, not hate and fear; she is finally a fish swimming with the others. Joe wants her to stay, but she tells him, "You're a tree, not a fish" wishing him to stay and protect his home. She leaves, promising to always remember Little Joe and asking that he remember her under the stars. Zorka apologizes to Ben about Spiro, that he should have recognized the devil in him instead of Tirza. They had found a wolf paw on Spiro's person with fresh blood still on it; it was him who had killed the chickens. Ben tries to comfort Joe as they watch Tirza and the gypsies leave the ranch.


The Cartwrights


  • Grandon Rhodes: Dr. J.P. Martin


  • Argentina Brunetti: Bruja's Helper
  • Arthur Batanides: Spiro
  • Hugo Haas: Zirko
  • Lili Valenty: Bruja
  • Susan Harrison: Tirza



  • Tirza bites Joe's right hand, but when he comes out of the room, he is rubbing his left hand and shows that one to Pa to see the wound.





Dark Star (1960) Bonanza., Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, FULL EPISODE

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