Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“Once a Doctor”
Season 6, Episode 23
#191 in Series
Air date February 28, 1965
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Martha Wilkerson
Directed by Tay Garnett
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
The Deadliest Game
Next Episode:
Right Is the Fourth R
External links
Once a Doctor on IMDb


A traveling medicine man who's running from his past as a doctor, encounters and befriends Hoss. The doctor must come to terms with what happened on an operating table when an angered widow hunts him down. The woman mistakenly shoots Hoss instead, forcing the ex-doctor to practice medicine once more.

Suffering from an infected foot, Hoss finds unexpected relief from Professor Poppy, an itinerant patent medicine peddler who secretly carries a medical bag.

But Hoss soon finds that the professor may really be Doctor P.A. Mundy who is being trailed by a vengeful Englishman claiming that Mundy murdered his wife.



It is morning Ben and Joe are sitting at the table eating breakfast, they both keep looking at the stairs.  Joe tells his Pa that it doesn’t make sense, he’s never known Hoss to be late for breakfast and that he heard him moving around his room when he got up.  Joe reckons he fell down and cracked his head and wants to go upstairs and check.  Ben tells Joe to stay where he is and tells him if Hoss had fallen on his head he’d come right through to the living room, Joe agrees.  Joe still wants to check if he’s okay and moves to get up, Ben tells Joe to sit down and he’ll check, Joe tells him they’ll both check.  As they both move Hoss comes limping down the stairs, he asks if everyone’s going somewhere since they’re both standing up.  Ben tells Hoss he thought he decided to run away during the night, Hoss wonders why they would be thinking something as foolish as that.  As Hoss goes to sit down Ben looks at his foot.  Ben scoops food onto Hoss’ plate, Hoss stabs a pancake and puts it on his plate, Ben passes him some bread but Hoss doesn’t take a piece.  Joe looks surprised.  Ben asks Hoss if anything is wrong and Hoss denies there is anything wrong.  Hoss is about to take a bite but he can’t and pushes his plate away.  Joe is even more surprised.  Ben tells Joe he reckons they have a sick boy on their hands.  Hoss tells them it’s not that, it’s the new boots he bought, and quickly points to Joe and tells him he knows he told him he has no business with fancy boots.  Joe tells Hoss he was surprised they sold ladies boots in his size.  Hoss complains that the boots started out blistering his foot and now it’s all swollen and sore, Ben goes to take a look at Hoss’ foot but he howls out in pain scaring Ben and Joe half to death.  Ben recommends that Hoss go and see the Doctor in Virginia City, and asks if he can put on his old pair, after a pause Hoss tells him he gave his boots away resulting in Joe finding the situation funny.  He ask Hoss where he found someone in the whole territory of Nevada with the same size foot he has at the end of his ankle.


Hoss has arrived in town along with the stage, a man dressed in a grey suit alights from the stage and looks around, he spots Hoss and approaches him.  The man speaks with an English accent common in London (cockney) and asks Hoss where he might find the constabulary.  Hoss doesn’t know what he’s talking about and asks him to speak English.  The man tells Hoss he is English and has come all the way from London and asks him where he can find the police.  Hoss laughs and tells him they have a Sheriff called Roy Coffee, the man asks where he might find him.  Hoss points to where his office is but tells him that he won’t be there since he’s making his rounds and tells him that eventually he’ll run into him.  Hoss limps to Dr Keefer’s office.


Hoss hobbles into the Doctors office and sneaks up on Allie scaring her when she notices he’s there.  She tells Hoss that the Doctor went over to Carson City and won‘t be back for a couple of days, Allie asks if she can help but Hoss tells her it’s not serious.  Allie tells Hoss it’s not right they only have one Doctor in town and asks Hoss if he can speak to Ben since he gets things done.  Hoss tells her he’ll talk to him and bids her goodbye and hobbles out.

Hoss mounts his horse and casually moves through town, his attention is caught by a traveling salesman and he goes to take a look.  Professor Poppy is selling his wonder medicine for 50¢ out the back of his wagon, he swears it can cure all sorts of ailments.  The crowd disperses and Poppy closes his shop and tells Hoss he’s going to find a place to rest his rolling palace.  Hoss asks him if he doesn’t mind he’ll ride out with him.  The man doesn’t mind but warns Hoss he’s in a loquacious mood, another word Hoss isn’t familiar with.


Poppy finally parks his rolling palace outside of town, Hoss comments on the fancy words he keeps using that he can even make his medicine sound powerful.  He thanks Hoss and tells him it can cure his aching soul, almost.  Hoss asks if his medicine would be able to restore his aching foot, he tells Hoss that his heavenly elixir is the natural enemy of pain, he continues talking but then stops and tells Hoss he doesn’t know.  Hoss argues that his medicine is a pain killer and Poppy tells him there are certain types of pain in the foot and leg that are    


symptomatic of certain ailments.  Hoss stops him and he tells him the pain in his foot is from a blister, he shows Poppy his fancy boot.   Poppy tells Hoss that his boot is fine and that it was first class made in London, England, and tells him that’s where he’s from and that he’s definitely not first class.  Hoss tells him that another man arrived in town all the way from London.  Hoss tells Prof Poppy he has to go now and Poppy thanks him for the good conversation.  Poppy offers Hoss a bottle of his elixir and tells him if he’s not busy to join him in the shade and they’ll take their medicine like gentlemen, Hoss accepts and hops over to the shady spot.  Poppy hands Hoss the bottle and he’s reluctant at first so he takes a sniff of it and a smile spreads across his face and takes a large gulp.   

The man in the grey suit walks into the restaurant, and sitting at the table is Sheriff Coffee enjoying a meal.  The man walks up to the counter and asks where he is and she tells him where he’s sitting.  The man introduces himself as Thomas H Crippen, and the Sheriff seems to know of him already and tells him to sit down and have a meal with him, Crippen declines.  Roy asks him how his trip from Denver was and the man is impressed he knows about him already, Roy tells him it’s his business to know about everybody in Virginia City.  Crippen figures that he knows he’s looking for a man, Roy asks him who it is.  Crippen tells him he’s an Englishman and a Doctor and goes by the name of P A Mundy.  Roy shakes his head and tells Crippen that he doesn’t know an English Doctor around here.  Crippen tells him that he is in town he just doesn’t know it, Roy asks him how he can be sure.  Crippen tells Roy that he’s been chasing him for over a year, Roy asks him why and what does he want with him, Crippen tells him that he murdered his wife and he knows he’s in town and he’ll find him and then he leaves, blasé, Roy orders apple pie.


Poppy is now in his 3rd bottle of miracle pain killer.  Hoss asks if he is lonely travelling in his wagon, Poppy tells him it was.  He tells him that whenever he strikes up a conversation with anyone they always ask him why he does what he does since he’s an intelligent and well educated man, however Hoss has yet to ask him.  Hoss tells him it’s none of his business to know.  Hoss tells Poppy that his pain killer has done wonders for his head but not his foot, Poppy asks to see his foot and Hoss obliges.  Poppy tells Hoss he’s got a nasty infection on his foot and tells him he should navigate to his Doctor or he can bring the Doctor to Hoss.  Hoss tells him that neither will work since the Doctor is in Carson City for a couple of days.  Hoss asks if Poppy can do something about his foot but he has a look of reluctance.  Hoss pleads with him and Poppy goes to get a bag from his wagon.  Poppy tells Hoss he’d appreciate it if he doesn’t tell anyone what he’s doing, Hoss agrees.  Whilst searching through his bag the name P A Mundy M.D. are embossed on his bag.

Ben rides into town, his first stop is Dr Keefer’s office, Allie is just coming out of the office and Ben asks if Hoss is still inside.  She tells him Hoss didn’t get to see the Dr since he’s out of town and he left hours ago, she tells him if she sees Hoss she’ll tell him he was looking for him.  Ben thanks her and she leaves.

At the Sheriff’s office Roy is speaking to Crippen about the Doctor he’s looking for.


Ben is walking towards the jail keeping an eye out for Hoss, he enters the office and Roy waves at him and acknowledges his entrance totally ignoring Crippen.  Ben walks in and tells Roy that he doesn’t want to interrupt anything but he’s looking for a lost little boy about 6’ 4 anyway he wants to measure him, they both laugh and Roy tells Ben he’s not seen Hoss all day and introduces him to Crippen.  Roy begins to tell Ben about his meeting with Crippen and Ben’s not sure how to take it since he’s not sure if Roy is being straight with him, he chuckles anyway.  Roy tells him he’s a simple lawman and that he doesn’t know a dang thing about international detective work.  Ben is confused and Roy tells him Crippen’s come all the way over from England hunting a Dr Mundy, who also claims that Dr Mundy murdered his wife and he’s in Virginia City.  Ben asks if Crippen is a lawman and he responds by telling him he’s not.  Roy asks him if he has a warrant for the arrest for Dr Mundy.  Crippen tells Roy he doesn’t and that it’s a personal matter.  Roy tells him if he doesn’t have an official charge against the man then he doesn’t want him taking the law into his own hands.  Crippen tells Roy he just wants an answer to a simple question and again asks Roy if he knows if the Doctor is in Virginia City.  Roy tells him he doesn’t but Crippen doesn’t believe him and leaves.  Ben looks at Roy with a knowing look and asks him if he is holding something back.  Roy tells Ben he truthfully doesn’t know anyone called Mundy in Virginia City however he knows there’s a medicine man in town, lives in a full wagon and goes by the name of Professor Poppy and he talks with an English accent.  Ben asks him if he might be the one, Roy tells him he’s going to find out before Crippen does and tells Ben to come with him.  

Hoss arrives back in town with Poppy minus the wagon, Crippen has spotted them.  Hoss tells Poppy that he didn’t realise how hungry he was and he’s not eaten properly since supper the previous night. Hoss invites Poppy into the restaurant for a meal he’s never experienced before.

Ben spots Hoss walking into the restaurant and nudges Roy.  Ben then notices Crippen heading towards the restaurant, they follow.

Inside the restaurant Allie Lou is sitting at a table and Hoss says hello to her.  She tells Hoss that Ben is looking for him.  Hoss thanks her and then introduces Poppy to her, they exchange glances.  Allie asks Hoss how his foot is and Hoss tells her it’s fine thanks to the Professor.  Allie asks Poppy if he’s a medical man, Hoss tells her he’s not exactly and she tells him it’s a pity and he agrees.   Crippen enters the restaurant and as soon as he crosses the threshold he shouts at Poppy exclaiming he’s a murderer and runs towards him, Hoss catches him and picks him up off the floor.  Hoss asks him what the matter is.  Crippen cries out that he the butcher who killed his woman.  Roy enters the restaurant with Ben and Roy tells Crippen to shut up, he asks Poppy if his real name is Mundy and if he was a Doctor in England, Poppy confirms it.  Roy asks if he murdered Crippen’s wife, Poppy asks if he’s on trial, Roy tells him he’s not and he’s just determining a few facts.  Poppy asks if Crippen has any proof and before Crippen can utter a word, Roy tells him Crippen just said he murdered his wife.  Crippen sneers at Poppy and tells him his wife is dead and that’s proof enough.  Poppy tells everyone that Crippen’s wife was fatally ill and as a physician he tried to save her life but died on the operating table, he asks Roy if that’s murder and Roy apologises because Crippen didn’t tell him how it happened.  Poppy tells Roy that the British Authority would be happy to verify it for him.  Crippen isn’t satisfied and still claims it was murder.  Poppy asks if he’s free to go and Roy tells him he’s free as a bird.  Roy warns Crippen not to cause trouble or he’ll be the one that winds up in jail.  Poppy goes to leave and Hoss limps after him stopping him telling him that they still have the big feed they were going to have and he’s now feeling frail, Poppy declines the offer and leaves.


Allie takes her buggy to Poppy’s wagon outside town, she calls out and Poppy appears from within.  She introduces herself as Allie-Lou and she wants to speak with him.  Poppy tells her he’s disengaged and it would be a pleasure.  Poppy tells her that his drawing room is in disarray and he goes inside to bring out two chairs and tells her it’s more pleasant in the garden anyway.  Poppy is about to drink from miracle pain killer but decides against it since he has lovely company and offers Allie some tea, Allie declines and tells Poppy that he can drink his, pointing to his elixir.  Allie wants to speak to Poppy about him being a doctor, Poppy cuts her short and tells her he’s not a doctor, she points out that he called himself Dr Mundy in the restaurant.  Allie tells Poppy that they desperately need another Doctor in Virginia City but Poppy tells her it’s absolutely impossible.  She asks why.  Poppy changes the subject and asks her why an attractive woman like her isn’t married yet, she tells him it’s because she’s never found the right man.  Poppy tells her exactly, he’s never found the right reason to become a doctor again.  Allie feels she should go back to town and tells him that it’s been nice talking to him and he returns the compliment.  Poppy tells her that with her and Hoss Cartwright he’s becoming nostalgic about the human race again.  Allie tells him goodbye and goes to reach the reins on her buggy, Poppy intercepts her hand and kisses it.  Allie tells him that it would be nice to have him back in the human race.


Ben and Joe return home, Hoss is sitting in front of the fire.  Ben tells Hoss they waited a long time for the stage to show up only for the driver to tell them that Adam won’t be home until next week.  Hoss looks depressed, and Joe asks him what the matter is whilst picking up a newspaper.  Hoss tell him nothing is wrong but Joe asks him why he’s staring at the fire, he sits on the edge of the settee and puts his foot on the table to lean against.  Hoss replies he’s got a right to sit and stare at the fire.  Ben asks Hoss how his foot is and Hoss tells him it’s fine, Ben tells him Dr Keefer is back in town and can take a look at his foot if he wants.  Hoss tells him there’s no point since it’s healing fast and he can wear his boots in three or four days.  Ben walks closer to the fire and pulls Joe’s foot off the table.  Hoss asks what’s been happening in town, Joe tells him not much but Sheriff Coffee is about to run Crippen out of town.  Hoss asks what he’s done this time, and Joe tells him he’s been doing a lot of talking, trying to stir people up by telling them Poppy murdered his wife, shouting about the will of God and an eye for an eye.  Hoss doesn’t like it. 

Ben tells Hoss that Dr Keefer told them that Dr Poppy was a the most promising young surgeon in London.  Hoss queries how Dr Keefer would know such a thing.  Ben tells him Virginia City is off the beaten track but he believes Keefer reads the medical journals.  Hoss asks if Poppy is still in town, Joe tells him he most likely is since his wagon is still there, and equates Crippen as a human locoweed.  Ben tells him that people are more mindful of locoweed, meaning that they are more careful about the weed than Crippen’s poison.  Hoss tells his Pa that he wants to ride into town, but Ben tells him it’s kinda late.  Hoss tells him that Dr Poppy is one of the finest people he knows and he’s worried about what Crippen might do.  Ben doesn’t want Hoss involved, Hoss tells him he has to get involved and leaves.


Hoss arrives at Sheriff Coffee’s office; he’s wearing moccasins instead of boots.  Hoss asks the Sheriff what he’s going to do about Crippen.  The Sheriff tells him he can’t do anything and doesn’t like Crippen anymore than he does.  Hoss is worried because Crippen is going around saying things about Poppy and an eye for an eye talk.  Roy tells Hoss they’re just words and he can’t arrest someone for just saying words plus the fact that he’s not even bothered Poppy and even if he has Poppy hasn’t made a complaint.  Hoss tells the Sheriff that Poppy doesn’t know what’s going for himself and that he doesn’t care anymore.  The Sheriff tells Hoss if he doesn’t care, why should he, Hoss tells him that’s probably the reason, because he doesn’t, Hoss leaves.


Back at poppy’s he’s drunk all of his miracle pain killer and is drowsy sitting against a rock, Hoss arrives with a sack full of food.  He tells Poppy he’s not looking after himself and that he’s had too much of his own medicine.  Poppy tells Hoss that his medicine is his friend, his best friend and his only friend.  Hoss corrects him and tells him he does have a friend whether he wants him or not.   Poppy tells Hoss that now he knows the answer to his question that he was too much of a gentleman to ask, now he knows why an apparently intelligent well educated man leads the life he does.  Hoss tells him he’s not sure he knows everything.  Poppy tells him Crippen, is the man who made his destruction his life’s work.  Hoss tells him he understands that but he doesn’t understand how the little fellow can do it to someone like him.  Poppy tells him a doctor is most vulnerable of men, and a surgeon is the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable and reputation is the most delicate, like the soft spot on a new born babies head.  He tells Hoss that Crippen talked him to death, he tells him that Mrs Crippen, didn’t  have a chance but he thought he would try.  Poppy tells Hoss what his initials mean because he knows Hoss won’t tell anyone, he tells him the P A stands for Percival Alexander, Hoss smirks.  Hoss tells him he could start again and around here they need lots of doctors.  Poppy tells him that what ever he had has gone.  Hoss invites Poppy to eat some food.  Hoss asks the reason why Crippen is doing this but Poppy tells him not to dwell on the reason, he’s worried that Crippen might do more than just talk.  Poppy shakes his head and calls it nonsense.  Hoss is confused and asks why he followed him all the way out here.  Poppy tells him he probably couldn’t be separated from the object of his obsession and then shrugs and nods off.  Hoss tells him to go to bed and he’ll sleep outside, Poppy tells Hoss to sleep in his bed and he’ll sleep outside.  Poppy passes out where he is sat.


Crippen sneaks into Poppy’s camp and trips over.  He then makes his way into the wagon and a gunshot is heard.  Poppy wakes up and sees Crippen running out of the wagon and into the bushes.  He makes his way into the wagon and sees Hoss asleep.  He lights a lantern above Hoss and notices there’s blood on the sheets, he quickly lifts the sheet and Hoss has been shot in the back.  Poppy checks his pulse and Hoss groans, Poppy tells Hoss not to move.

It’s now light and Poppy has bought his wagon into town.  Some men, Sam and Henry, help carry Hoss into Dr Keefer’s office.  Sheriff Coffee is there with them and Roy asks Sam to go over to the Ponderosa and tell Ben what’s happened and then tells him to check Poppy’s camp to see if there’s any trace of Crippen, he then asks Henry to check around town and bring him in fast.  The Sheriff asks Poppy to come with him but Poppy is standing there staring at Hoss, Roy grabs his arm and asks Poppy to tell him what happened. There’s a small crowd outside Dr Keefer’s office and Allie runs in to aid him.

The Sheriff is interviewing Poppy in his jail house recounting the events and is finding it hard to believe.  He recounts that Poppy is not sure he heard a shot but he’s sure that it was Crippen who ran out of the wagon, Poppy curtly responds that it was Crippen, the Sheriff tells Poppy he should have run them both out of town.  Poppy tells Roy that Crippen thought he was asleep in the wagon and now he wishes he had been.  Roy hears shouting outside, it’s obvious it’s Crippen with his southern cockney London accent, Roy peers out the door and then tells Poppy to get in the jail cell room real quick, he shuts the door just as Crippen comes through being apprehended by Sam and Henry.  Sam tells Roy he found him in his hotel and also the gun, he hands it to Roy.  Crippen tells him he has a right to own a gun, Roy counters him by telling him he has no right to use it on a sleeping man.  Crippen acts innocent of any crime because he’s got no proof or evidence.  Roy tells him he has a witness who saw him sneaking out of the wagon.  Crippen shouts at Roy telling him he’s lying and that there was no one, he stops mid-sentence because he’s about to incriminate himself.  Roy tells him that there was someone there and he saw him.  Crippen tells him that he thinks he killed him because of what he did to him and then tells him it was an eye for an eyeand that he deserved everything he got for what he did to his wife.  He tells him it’s out of his hands now and it’s up to the British Law.  Crippen tells him that he’s a British Subject and so is Mundy and therefore they are both subject to British police and not the Sheriff of Virginia City of Navada.  Coffee opens up the door to the jail room and beckons Poppy.  Crippen is struck with dread when he sees Poppy alive and well.  Roy tells him that he shot Hoss Cartwright and that does make it a case for Navada law and if Hoss dies then everyone would vote to hang him.  Roy hears an angry mob gathering outside so he quickly grabs Crippen and hurls him into a jail cell.  Joe bursts through the door and Sam and Henry restrain him, Roy tells him it’s not the way and Joe tells him that Hoss might die if they wait.  Roy asks about Hoss’ condition and Joe tells him the Doctor can’t get the bullet out, Poppy sneaks out and Joe again tries to enter the jail room, Roy tells Joe they must do it legal.  Joe declares that if Hoss dies and Crippen doesn’t hang then he will kill him.


The Doctor is examining Hoss, Ben and Poppy are there as well.  The Doctor turns to Poppy and tells him he can’t consider it and that he can’t get to the bullet.  Poppy tells him he won’t if he’s just probing.  Dr Keefer tells him the surgery can be tricky and too risky.  Ben pleads with Keefer to do something but Keefer tells him he can’t.  Ben is exasperated asks him why, Keefer tells him he doesn’t have the knowledge or the skill to perform it.  Ben is visibly upset and can’t believe that his son is going to die without the help from either one of them.  Keefer tells Ben he can’t help him however Poppy is a surgeon, Poppy curtly says no.   Keefer tells Ben whilst looking at Poppy that he has the knowledge and the skill.  Poppy tells him that that was another man in another world and that he can’t, he walks away.  Ben chases after him calling his name.  Poppy tells him he’s no longer a doctor, Ben tells him he’ll always be one and when he took the Hippocratic Oath he pledged himself to be a doctor for the rest of his life.  Poppy tells him to leave him alone, Ben tells him with a sense of urgency that his son is dying.  Poppy asks if Ben wants him to kill Hoss since he’s not used his hands for so long.  Ben looking upset and tells Poppy that he never forgets, Poppy shakes his head and tells Ben he can’t risk it.  Ben asks him what he’s risking, he tells him his son is dying because of his friendship with him and asks him about his risk.  Ben tells Poppy that Hoss believed in him and he believes in him as well and asks him to help his son.  Poppy relents and goes back in to Dr Keefer, he asks Allie for a large pot of black coffee and asks Ben to get his bag from the wagon, Ben runs out.

Back at the jail there’s still an angry mob outside.  Roy tells Crippen that Little Joe was right, the man he was so anxious to kill is now the only man who can save his neck.  Crippen tells Roy he can’t let them get to him and they can’t take the law into their own hands and he’s got to protect him.  Crippen tells Roy he knows his rights and he’s a British subject.  Roy gets angry and is about to tell Crippen what he thinks of him but manages to control himself.

Poppy begins operating on Hoss.  Ben gets squeamish and looks away.  After the operation, everyone is tensely waiting around.   Hoss begins to stir.  Ben begins to smile.  Poppy greets Hoss and tells him he gave everyone a scare.  Hoss tells him he wouldn’t consider it without his new boots on.  Ben thanks Poppy. 


Hoss is walking in his new boots, Poppy gives Hoss some health tips.  Hoss tells Poppy he wishes he didn’t have to leave since he would love him to stay, Allie agrees with him and Keefer wishes he would consider it.  Poppy needs to return to England to straighten a few things out and may return in a few years.  Sheriff Coffee is walking past with Crippen and he stops.  Hoss wonders if Crippen the skunk will turn into a snake again and come after him once he’s released from the territorial prison.  Roy takes Crippen away and Poppy tells Hoss that Crippen can’t hurt him anymore.  Poppy bids Allie Lou farewell and tells her he hopes to see her, she tells him he will and she’ll be waiting.  Poppy then says bye to Ben and Joe and Hoss takes him to the stage, before he leaves Poppy takes a long look at Allie for the last time and leaves.  Joe compliments Hoss on his boots and tells him they’re pretty nice fine boots, Hoss tells Joe he knows and doesn’t need him to tell him that. 

Cast and Characters[]

The Cartwrights




Did you know?[]

  • German episode title: "Der Doktor aus London", meaning "The Doctor From London"
  • Locoweed


  • While operating on Hoss the comment was made that the bullet was awful close to his heart. However, they were operating on his right side.
  • When Hoss grabs Crippen in the resturant his hat is knocked off his head, the next scene shows it back on his head.
  • Dr. Mundy mentions that Crippen turned him into a "regular Jack the Ripper with a scalpel in my hand." This episode is set more than twenty years before Jack the Ripper's murder spree.





See also[]