Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“Mark of Guilt”
Season 10, Episode 13
#316 in Series
Air date December 15, 1968
Production code
Guest starring: David Canary
Alan Bergmann
Victor Sen Yung
Ray Teal
Dick Foran
Alan Bergmann
Lou Frizzell
Sam Greene
Michael Vandever
Gordon Dilworth
Bert Holland
Written by Ward Hawkins & Frank Telford
Directed by Leon Benson
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
"Yonder Man"
Next Episode:
"A World Full of Cannibals"
External links
"Mark of Guilt" at IMDb -


After Hop Sing's pig tail is cut off by Mr Younger, Little Joe promises Hop Sing he'll get it back for him. When Little Joe arrives at Mr Younger's place he takes the pig tail from him and a fight ensues. Little Joe manages knock Mr Younger out and returns the pig tail to Hop Sing. On their way back to the Ponderosa, the Cartwrights find out that Mr Younger was murdered. With all evidence pointing at Little Joe he's arrested and put on trial. Little Joe is told he needs to plead guilty in order to survive since first degree carries the death sentence. Since Little Joe refuses to plead there's only one way the trial can go. Hop Sing comes up with a way to save Little Joe but will it stand up in court?



Hop Sing arrives back in Virginia City after visiting one of his cousins in Sacramento, he goes to the livery stable to rent a horse from Mr Jackson back to the Ponderosa.  Inside is Mr Younger and his friend Davis, they don’t take to kindly to Hop Sing and he calls him China Boy.  They grab Hop Sing and then grab his pig tail telling Hop Sing he’s heard that the pig tail gets him into heaven.  Mr Younger pulls out a knife and cuts off Hop Sing’s pig tail leaving him highly distressed.  They put him on a horse and slap the horse out of the stable with the visibly upset Hop Sing.

Hoss, Little Joe and Candy arrive in Virginia City looking for Hop Sing since he was meant to come back the previous day but never arrived.  At the stage office they’re told that he did arrive on the 10 o’clock stage.  Hoss asks him if he’s sure, the station master tells them he spoke to him and then he was going to get a horse to their place.  They head to the livery stable.


Mr Jackson confirms he saw Hop Sing and was surprised he never reached home considering the speed at which he left.  He tells them he left like a scardy cat and was waiting to see that they (The Cartwrights) would do.  Candy quizzes him.   Tom tells them that Emile Younger cut off his pig tail; the news shocks everyone.  Tom continues that he attempted to stop them but got slapped for his troubles.

The boys decide to split up and look for Hop Sing, Little Joe takes the lake road, Hoss takes the Beaver Meadow trail and Candy stays on the main road.  They agree to meet up three hours later at the old relay station and go their separate ways.  Their arrival hasn’t been unnoticed and Davis has been watching them from the balcony.

Davis rides over to Younger’s place where he’s painting a piece of ply wood with white paint.  Davis seems upset with Younger over a colt he sold that belonged to him, Younger is nonchalant.  Davis reaches for his gun but Younger tells him he doesn’t have the guts to kill him and tells him to get out.


Little Joe, Hoss and Candy search all over for Hop Sing with no sight of him.  Eventually after a long search, Little Joe finally finds him crying beside a tree.  Hop Sing tells Little Joe to go away politely.  Joe reaches out to Hop Sing and tells him it’s not that bad, however Hop Sing counters him by telling him it’s bad.  Joe tells Hop Sing the good thing about hair is that it grows back, but Hop Sing tells Joe it takes a long time.  Joe tells him he’ll live a long time and will have plenty of hair by the time he reaches the pearly gates.  Hop Sing tells Joe that the hair belonged to him and Mr Younger took it and wouldn’t give it back.  Joe asks him if he wants it back.  Hop Sing tells Joe that without hair his ancestors are very unhappy with him and he cannot face his elders since he lost face and feels ashamed.  Joe makes a deal with Hop Sing, he tells him to ride on over to the relay station to meet with Hoss and Candy and he’ll ride over to Mr Younger and get his hair back.  Hop Sing agrees.


Little Joe arrives at Younger’s place and enters the house since the door is already open.  Younger who is now painting a side table, welcomes Little Joe and asks him if he’s here to buy horses.  Joe looks over at the wall where Hop Sing’s pig tail is hanging.  Younger asks Joe if he likes his souvenir and Joe tells him it belongs to a friend of his and he’s going to take it back to him and not to worry since he’ll pay him for it.  Joe picks up the pig tail and tucks it into his jacket, just as Younger comes up behind him and plants a right hook on his jaw.  A fight ensues around the house, Younger throws a bottle at Joe and Joe ducks down putting his hand on the painted table as he does so.  In the end Joe ends up knocking Younger to the floor.  Joe wipes the paint on his hand with a rag while Younger groans on the floor.  Joe leaves Younger’s property.

Little Joe arrives at the relay station where everyone is waiting, Joe gives Hop Sing his pig tail back.  Hop Sing thanks Little Joe for being very good to him, Joe tells him to forget it but Hop Sing tells him he won’t and some day he’s going to help him, Joe tells him he’s got a deal.  Candy asks Joe what he’s got on his hand and Joe tells him it’s paint from a table Younger was painting and he must have fallen against it when he was having his discussion with Younger.  They head home.


On their way home, Davis shouts at the Cartwrights and tells them that someone killed Younger with a 2x4.  Davis notices the white paint on Joe’s hand and tells him that the 2x4 was freshly painted.  Everyone looks at Joe.  Davis rides off not wanting any trouble and heads to town to get the Sheriff.  Hoss asks Joe if he hit Younger with a 2x4, Joe asks Hoss if he believes he killed him.  Joe tells him he hit him with his fist only.

Joe and Hoss arrive at Younger’s place and find him on the floor where Joe left him.  Hoss confirms he’s dead and Joe tells him he left him on the floor but he was only knocked out.  Hoss confirms there’s paint in Younger’s hair and hair on the 2x4 and a hand print all over it.  Joe tells Hoss he never touched the 2x4 and only put his hand on the table, he goes over to the table and it’s untouched.

Davis arrives with Sheriff Coffee in tow, Joe confirms that Younger is dead.  Coffee looks inside and then goes to Joe outside to ask him if he was here.  Joe recounts the reason he came to Younger’s place.  Because the table is untouched Joe’s story doesn’t match, Roy asks Joe straight out if he killed Younger to which Joe vehemently answers he did not.  Roy tells Joe how he sees it and tells him that he has no choice but to arrest him.  Joe surrenders his gun to Roy.

The prosecutor advises Joe to accept a plea of second degree murder, Joe is shocked.  Joe swears he didn’t kill Younger.  Joe questions Davis’s motives but he has an alibi.

Back at the Ponderosa everyone is sullen, Hop Sing blames himself for Little Joe’s predicament.  Candy recommends Hop Sing make Joe some pie since the jail food is terrible. Hop Sing thinks this is a good idea and speeds off into the kitchen.


Hoss has visited Joe with their attorney, Ed Geltner.  Ed tells Hoss that the evidence is stacked against Joe and that a man facing the gallows can lie to save himself.  Hop Sing arrives to deliver his pie to Joe.  Inside Sheriff Coffee refuses to let Hop Sing see Little Joe since only specific people can see him.  Hop Sing asks Roy if he can give the pie instead which Roy agrees to do and might wrangle a piece off him.  Hop Sing spots the table and 2x4 and tells Roy he has a nice table.  Roy tells him it’s evidence against Little Joe.  Hop Sing picks up the 2x4 examining it closely and then demands to see Little Joe.   Roy refuses his request since he’s not one of the people listed on the people that can visit.  Hop Sing asks for a piece of paper and a pencil and starts to make a rubbing off the 2x4, he manages to get a thumb print off and runs out the office leaving a bewildered Sheriff behind.

Back at the Ponderosa, Hoss and Candy are wondering what Hop Sing is up to but whatever it is has put a spring in his step.  Hop Sing bursts down the stairs telling everyone he’s found it, everyone asks what.  Hop Sing tells everyone he found Little Joe’s chop on his razor and that he’s innocent.  Hoss tells Hop Sing they know he’s innocent, Hop Sing asks if they can prove it.  Candy tells him that they can’t prove it and they wish they could.  Hop Sing tells him he can prove it, Hoss asks how.  Hop Sing tells them that the chop on the stick used to kill Younger is not the same as Little Joe’s chop and belongs to someone else.  Candy looks at the rubbing and asks Hop Sing what is it.  Hop Sing raises the razor and tells Hoss to look at Little Joe’s chop.  Hoss eventually asks Hop Sing what a chop is.  Hop Sing tells him he has one, Candy has one he has one, everyone has a chop and all chops are different.  Hoss tells Hop Sing to calm down since he’s upset at losing his pig tail and Little Joe being in jail and nows not the time to panic and lose their heads.  Hop Sing grabs Hoss’s thumb and drags him over to the mirror and presses it against the surface leaving a print.  Hoss asks Hop Sing if that’s a chop, and Hop Sing confirms it.  Candy surmises that their thumb prints are unique to the owner and Hop Sing can tell who made it, Hop Sing confirms it.  Candy doesn’t believe it and asks him if they can test him.  Hop Sing agrees.  Candy shoos Hop Sing away from the mirror and proceeds to press his thumb on the mirror and motions Hoss to do the same before asking Hop Sing back.  He asks Hop Sing to tell him which thumb print is his and which one is Hoss’.  Hop Sing grabs a magnifier and begins to examine the mirror, eventually he tells them who’s the prints belong to guessing correctly.

Candy asks how Hop Sing knows about chops.  Hop Sing tells him that the Chinese have known about chops for a long time and for over a thousand years they’ve signed papers with their chop, marking their chops in pottery so everyone knows who made it.  Candy responds by saying it’s like a trademark, and Hop Sing agrees.

Hoss visits Ed about the fingerprint evidence, but is quickly told that it’s useless.  Hoss doesn’t understand and asks why.  Ed tells him no judge would accept it as evidence since there’s no scientific proof to support their claim that everyone’s thumb mark is different & there’s no legal precedence.  Ed tells Hoss the only way to save Little Joe is by a plea of guilty to second degree murder since first degree murder results in hanging.

Little Joe refuses to plead guilty.  Hoss tells him if he doesn’t plead guilty then Ed will no longer counsel him.  Seeing no other choice Little Joe asks Hoss to handle his case.  Hoss tells Joe he’s not a lawyer, Joe counters by telling Hoss he’d rather have someone believing in him rather a lawyer who thinks he’s guilty.  Hoss tells Joe he’s backing a lame horse, to which Joe tells him it’s his money and his neck.  Hoss tells Joe he’ll have another word with Ed.

Hoss asks Ed to reconsider Hop Sing’s proposal with the chops, Ed tells him he won’t because it won’t work.  Hoss relieves Ed of his responsibilities.  Ed tells him he’ll still be at the hearing on the defence table and if he needs any words of advice.  Hoss thanks him and leaves.

At the court hearing, everyone is recounting the past events.  When it’s finally Hoss’ turn he asks Hop Sing to step up and take the stand, he’s sworn in before he’s seated.  Hoss quizzes Hop Sing about the lines on everyone’s thumb and fingers.  Hoss picks up the 2x4 and asks Hop Sing what he calls it when you press your thumb and fingers into wet paint, Hop Sing responds by calling it a chop.  Hoss asks Hop Sing if he pressed his thumb into the paint would it be the same, Hop Sing tells him it wouldn’t be since all chops are different.

Mr Gordon who is the Prosecutor can’t understand where this is leading and neither can the judge.  Hoss tells them that if he can prove everyone leaves a different mark when they touch something then he can prove that the mark made on the 2x4 wasn’t made by his brother, therefore he didn’t touch the murder weapon.  Gordon  won’t accept it since there’s no precedence.  Ed gets up and tells the Judge that this court case is precedence enough.  Gordon objects but is countered by the Judge since there’s a life at stake and asks Hoss to prove his theory.  Hoss pulls a pane of glass out with each jurors name on it and asks each one to press their thumb prints where their name is. 

After collecting everyone’s prints Gordon asks to look at the pane before giving it back.  Hoss blindfolds Hop Sing and then asks one member of the jury to press their thumb print on a mirror.  Gordon runs in and presses his thumb print on the mirror motioning the Juror’s to stay quiet.  Ed objects but Hoss tells him it’s alright.  Hoss removes the blindfold and tells Hop Sing to examine the print on the mirror and asks him to tell him who it belongs to.   After a while Hop Sing tells Hoss that the chop on the mirror doesn’t belong to anyone on the jury and that the print belongs to Mr Gordon.  Gordon protests claiming that it was a trick, and that Hoss signalled Hop Sing in some way since his prints were not on the glass.  Hoss tells Gordon that his prints are indeed on the glass since he wasn’t careful when he looked at it and left them there whether he knew it or not.   Hoss tells the jury that Mr Gordon wasn’t aware he was leaving a mark just like the person who left a mark on the murder weapon, he places the 2x4 next to Hop Sing who starts to examine it.  Hoss asks Joe to put both his thumb prints on the mirror. 

Hop Sing calls Hoss over to the stand and whispers something in his ear.  Hoss puts the mirror down and asks if Mr Jackson could take the stand.  Gordon objects and the Judge asks him to approach the bench.  They whisper some more until the Judge asks Mr Jackson to be sworn in.  Hoss asks Mr Jackson about Younger and Davis’s ranch which used to belong to him until Younger beat him out of it.  Jackson tells Hoss that he had no ill feelings over it.  Hoss asks if Jackson was expecting something after telling them about Hop Sing’s pig tail being chopped off by Younger and went out to the ranch to  see if Younger got his comeuppance and waited for Little Joe come out of the house before he went in.  Jackson tells Hoss he never went in, Hoss tells him he went in and hit Younger over the head with the 2x4.  Jackson denies it.  Hoss turns to Hop Sing and asks him to tell everyone what he told him.  Hop Sing says that the mark on the club is the same as Mr Jackson’s.  Mr Jackson grabs the 2x4 and angrily smashes the pane of glass whilst shouting no no no.  The Judge tells Roy to apprehend Jackson until charges can be brought up against him.  The Judge declares a mistrial and that the defendant Joseph Cartwright  is release on his own recognisance and adjourns the court.

Back at the Ponderosa Ben is back from St Louis and Hop Sing is sitting at the head of the table in appreciation for his efforts, the boys have made Hop Sing dinner.  Hop Sing takes one bite and spits it out into a napkin.  Joe asks what the matter is, and Hop Sing tells Joe he saved his life and now he’s trying to kill him.


Main Cast[]




  • This is one of two times Victor Sen Yung gets a guest star billing in the main credits.