Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“The Ape”
Season 2, Episode 14
#46 in Series
Air date December 17, 1960
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Gene L. Coon
Directed by James P. Yarbrough
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Silent Thunder
Next Episode:
The Blood Line
External links
The Ape on IMDb


Hoss mentors a lonely, mentally challenged gentleman, Arnie, with superhuman size and strength. He becomes extremely dangerous when angered. Hoss’ efforts are undermined by a saloon girl who only wants this giant man-child to manipulate him.


Joe and Adam come into the bar and Sherry, a saloon worker, approaches the Cartwrights. Joe promptly asks if she would like to have a drink. She agrees and Joe gives her a dollar for the beers. Sherry wants to play blackjack so they can have champagne, so Joe just wants his dollar back. Sherry and Joe play a game of chase when she falls and is caught by a large man who won't let go of her. She finally escapes, and tells him he is the ugliest man she's ever seen.

The man walks up to Joe and asks him if he has anything to say to him. Joe says he doesn't and sits down. Sherry asks him to buy her a drink, but he does not seem to care for her attention. She calls him stupid, then walks away. Joe apologizes for Sherry, but the large man gets angry and hits Joe. A fight starts between Joe, Adam, and the big guy. Hoss comes upon Adam laying in the street and goes into the bar. It seems Hoss is the only one who can fight the large man. The fight goes on for an hour and fifteen minutes and the two decide to stop fighting because they don't know why they were fighting in the first place. Sherry helps the man, named Arnie, get cleaned up and Sherry continues to flirt with Arnie. Adam and Joe decide to leave since they have already wasted enough time.

Arnie shows Hoss where he lives, which is a shack, telling Hoss how he wants to see Sherry again. Hoss warns against it. Arnie is glad that Hoss is his friend and says when people see him they won't give him the time of day. Arnie tells Hoss he’s sad that people are mean. When Arnie talks about how he wishes he could have a farm, Hoss asks Arnie if he wants to work at the Ponderosa and Arnie becomes excited. Arnie asks Hoss if Sherry will like him if he is making money, but Hoss says not to count on it.

The rest of the Cartwrights are worried about letting Arnie work for them. Adam feels that Arnie is extremely dangerous and that he could have killed somebody in the bar fight. Joe agrees with Adam. Hoss feels that Arnie needs a friend to help him learn about how to act around others. Ben feels it would be better if Arnie learned those same lessons alone like Hoss did, but Hoss says that he didn't learn them alone because he had a family to help him. He adds that Arnie has no one.

Ben asks Hoss to help Arnie control his temper and Hoss agrees to take responsibility for him. Ben agrees to let Arnie work at the Ponderosa. Later Hoss comes to Virginia City to pick up Arnie. Arnie is in the saloon again with Sherry and she is flirting with him. Hoss knows Sherry and her friend are just playing around with Arnie. Hoss tells Arnie he has a job for him at the Ponderosa and Arnie accepts. Sherry is happy for Arnie because he can now afford to buy her things, but Hoss reminds him about the farm he's going to be saving money to buy. Sherry and her friend begin to make fun of Arnie. Hoss hustles Arnie out of the bar as Sherry gets everyone laughing at Arnie. When Hoss shows Arnie his new pony and Arnie is extremely excited.

At the Ponderosa, Arnie is eating and one of the other ranch hands laughs that Arnie is the biggest meat-eater in the country and Arnie gets angry. He jumps the man and Hoss breaks up the fight and gets Arnie to calm down. Just then, Joe rides up and tells Hoss that the squatter that was kicked off the Ponderosa a while back was now dead because someone snapped his neck.

In town, Sherry comes down the steps at the saloon and asks Hoss where she can find Arnie. Hoss tells her that he is out spending his weeks wages on her. She says Arnie is just a paying customer and a big joke. Sherry shows her disgust towards Hoss for befriending the giant man. Later, Hoss finds Arnie who shows him the present he has picked out for Sherry, a cheap string of beads. Hoss says that Sherry isn't in at the moment and wants Arnie to go to the Tahoe Rim with him.

They arrive at the rim and Arnie finds it beautiful. Hoss shows Arnie a farm on the other side and says that it would be a great farm for Arnie. Hoss says that he doesn't want Arnie to go back into Virginia City and doesn't want him to see Sherry again. Arnie gets angry and accuses Hoss of wanting Sherry all for himself, then punches Hoss. Hoss hits his head on a rock and falls unconscious.

Hoss wakes up and Arnie is gone. Arnie has gone back to Virginia City and finds Sherry, telling her he is sorry for being late. Sherry tells him to get out, as she is tired of him, but he says he brought her a gift. She takes the necklace and breaks it, beads falling all over the floor. Sherry says she doesn't want to see Arnie again and that he is just good for laughs. Arnie gets angry and grabs her by the throat. Sherry's friend walks in to find that Arnie has killed her. Arnie storms out of the room as Sherry's friend starts yelling for help.

The next day a posse is formed and people are angry. Hoss rides into town and tells Ben he has an idea where Arnie is but wants a head start on the posse. Sheriff Coffee asks Ben where Hoss had gone and Ben tells him Hoss is trying to get to Arnie first so no one is hurt. Hoss finds Arnie. Arnie tells Hoss that he was right about Sherry and he admits to killing the squatter, stealing his money. Arnie says he knew that he had probably killed Sherry, but he didn't know for sure. Arnie is sad he came close to the farm he had always wanted, but now it’s out of his reach. With much regret, Hoss pulls his gun on Arnie and says that they are going back to Virginia City so Arnie can face justice. Hoss puts the gun back in his holster and turns around to go back to town. Arnie hits him and runs away.

The posse finally finds Arnie as he hides behind a rock. Arnie picks up a large log and is about to throw it at the posse when a cascade of bullets hit him and he falls. Hoss tells Ben that Arnie never truly wanted to hurt anything and goes to take Arnie’s body to the farm he had always wanted.


The Cartwrights



  • Betty Endicott: Brunette Saloon Girl
  • Cal Bolder: Arnie Guthrie
  • Charles Tannen: Dave
  • Karen Sharpe: Sherry Belle
  • Leonard Nimoy: Freddy
  • Rodolfo Hoyos Jr.: Pepe


Did you know?[]

  • German episode title: "Der Riesenaffe", meaning "The Giant Ape".




See also[]