Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“Feet of Clay”
Season 1, Episode 30
# in Series
Air date April 16, 1960
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by John Furia
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Bitter Water
Next Episode:
Dark Star
External links
Feet of Clay on IMDb


The Cartwrights take young Billy Allen to the Ponderosa following the death of his mother. As Hoss and Billy begin to get close, Billy's father, Vance, breaks out of prison and comes for the boy.


A young boy named Billy Allen comes to the Ponderosa. He's about 11 or 12 and has already been through a lot in his young life. His mother died leaving him alone. His father, Vance, was a former Ponderosa ranch hand who was convicted of murder and sent to prison.

Vance and a fellow inmate, Pike, break out of the Nevada State Penitentiary and after killing a guard make their way to the Ponderosa. They later rob a stagecoach, killing the driver and the armed guard.

At the Ponderosa, Billy refuses to open up to Ben and his sons, and takes one of Hop Sing's carving knives. When Ben decides to be stern with the youngster, Hoss intercedes and convinces Billy to give back the knife. Hoss tells him gently that taking the knife wasn't right, even though he had swiped a few of Hop Sing's freshly baked doughnuts. Billy reluctantly accepts a whittling knife as a present. The two become friends and go fishing together. Billy proves to be an adept fisherman, but all Hoss can catch is a rock.

Billy tells Hoss he is convinced his father is coming for him and they would live happily ever after. Meanwhile, Ben, Adam and Little Joe receive word that Vance and Pike are in the area and join a posse to capture the outlaws.

Later that night, Hoss has restless sleep worrying about Billy's welfare, with good reason. During the night, Vance sneaks into the house and tells Billy he's come so they can live together. He tells Billy he was unfairly sent to prison and insists he's innocent of any crimes, then sneaks off to rejoin Pike.

Later, Vance is sneaking around when he runs into Hoss. Hoss reminds Vance he was convicted in a fair trial, and the two get into a fight. Vance draws his gun and fires, and Hoss is forced to kill Vance in self defense. Hoss is heartbroken, but that's nothing to how emotional he gets when Billy sees Hoss bring his father's body to the Ponderosa on horseback. Hoss apologizes, but Billy declares he hates Hoss, beating his fists on Hoss' chest before running off.

Hoss really cries, stunned at why Billy would say such hateful things, and Ben tries to comfort him. Ben recalls how angry he was at the Indians when they killed Hoss' mother, and that in time he'll get over the pain. But that's little consolation to Hoss.

Billy doesn't forgive Hoss, or try to understand his father's life. Billy gets into a fight with another boy when his father is called a murderer and thief. A judge comes to advise the Cartwrights that the court was contacting Billy's uncle, who now has been awarded custody. Hoss and Billy, who has given Hoss the silent treatment, go to bury Vance's body. They meet up with Pike, who is posing as a stranger. After accepting a cool drink of water, he reveals his identity and gives Hoss a choice, to show him through the mountains and help him elude authorities, or Billy dies. Hoss makes sure neither event will happen and chooses the third option, which is to fight. Billy runs off, while Pike gets the upper hand over Hoss.

Ben, Adam and Joe are pursing Pike, when they see Billy walking toward them, strangely and rather calm. After letting slip that Hoss is in trouble, Ben demands to know where to find Hoss. Billy at first refuses to talk, still angry at Hoss for fatally shooting his father, wishing that Pike would kill him, just as Hoss shot his Pa. But after Ben convinces the lad that while he might not care about Hoss' safety other people care. Billy tells Hoss' whereabouts and hopes he'll be okay.

Pike has beaten Hoss and as Pike dared the Hoss to come back for more, Hoss makes a move for the gun. During a struggle, Pike pulls the trigger when the barrel is pointed at his chest, and fatally shoots himself. After all is over, Hoss meets up with Billy at the lake. After a few emotional words, Billy finally forgives Hoss and all is right with the world.


The Cartwrights



  • Bob Miles: Shotgun Driver
  • Bob Tetrick: Pike
  • David Ladd: Billy Allen
  • Guy Prescott: Charlie
  • John Eldredge: Mr. Sherman
  • Logan Field: Vance Allen
  • Philip Grayson: Orville Sherman
  • Riza Royce: Sarah
  • Tom Greenway: Sheriff Fred


Did you know?[]

  • Ben admonishes Joe to get his feet off the table. This would become a recurring joke that would be used throughout the rest of the run.


  • When the boys are fighting, Orville repeatedly says, "say it, say he is a murderer or eat dirt." The first time you hear it, it is obviously an audio dub, as Orville's mouth is not moving.
  • After Billy cuts his finger with a pocket knife, Hoss bandages it and says, "If that finger doesn't get to feeling better, you let me hear, you know?"
    It probably should have been: "you let me know, you hear?"





See also[]