Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“The Scapegoat”
Season 6, Episode 6
#174 in Series
Air date October 25, 1964
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Rod Peterson
Directed by Christian Nyby
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Logan's Treasure
Next Episode:
A Dime's Worth of Glory
External links
The Scapegoat on IMDb


Hoss rides up on Waldo Watson bungling yet another suicide attempt. He invites him home and the Cartwrights are wondering if they regret that as three men are trailing him and they mean to do him harm.


Hoss is patrolling the area looking for anything out of the ordinary.  He comes across a noose hanging from a tree and goes to investigate; he finds some possessions near it but no one around.  He then finds a rifle that’s been propped up and tied and a string attached to the trigger as he’s pondering why he hears the sound of rocks dropping and goes to have a look. 

He finds a man perched on the edge of a cliff, he tells Hoss to get away from him.  Hoss tells him he’s going to get him but the man doesn’t want him to since he wants to jump, Hoss doesn’t understand why.  The man tells Hoss he’s one of them that’s been following his trail, Hoss partly agrees and tells him he followed him because he’s trespassing on their land.  The man tells Hoss again to leave him be, but Hoss doesn’t want to leave him hanging there so he sits down on the rock near him.  Hoss tells the man that the fall isn’t the bad part since he’ll still be alive, it will be when he hits the ground that’s another matter.  He tells Hoss he doesn’t have any other way and that hanging is no good or the gun, Hoss asks him about the noose he found earlier the man tells him that his horse ran away and the limb he tied the noose to bent down and his feet touched the ground.  Hoss asks about the rifle rig and the man tells him it blew his hat off to where he is now and tells Hoss he can’t do anything good and he can’t even kill himself.  Hoss asks him when he last had a square meal and the man doesn’t know and Hoss tells him he doesn’t blame him.  He asks what the man’s name was but he never told it to him so Hoss tells him he needs to know his name so they can put it on his tombstone.  He introduces himself as Waldo Watson and Hoss introduces himself and then asks if he’s got any kin to tell, the man shakes his head telling him there is none.   Hoss tells him if he’s going to go through with it he’ll give him some tips on where to aim for, Waldo asks if he’s making fun of him.  Hoss tells him no and he only wants to wish him luck, he extends his hand out and as soon as Waldo touches his hand Hoss grabs him back.  As they fall back Waldo hits his head and is knocked out Hoss takes him back to the Ponderosa.


Waldo is eating like it’s his last meal, he’s wolfing down food like no tomorrow, and Ben finally asks him where he’s from but tells them no place in particular.  Hoss asks Waldo to pass the milk and he manages to spill it across the table, he apologises and tells them he can’t do anything right.  Hoss tells him no harm done and tells him to finish his meal, Waldo leaves the table anyway.  Hoss shouts for him but Ben restrains him and tells him to let Waldo collect himself.

Hoss tells them that he’s got a lot of troubles.  Joe tells Hoss he thought he could eat more than anybody but Waldo eats like he invented it.  Ben tells Hoss that Waldo looks pretty healthy and asks him if he’s sure Waldo was going to commit suicide, Hoss tells him he doesn’t know and would like to think he wasn’t going to really jump.  When he saw Waldo on the edge of the cliff he could have fallen accidentally and that they were wrestling when he pulled him and almost fell himself off the edge if it wasn’t for Waldo and then knocking himself out doing it.  Hoss feels sorry for him and that he’s got no friends to help him, Adam asks if he’s the one who’s going to do it.  Hoss can’t see why not since they can give him a temporary job to keep him busy until he gets back on his feet again.  Hoss has a feeling about Waldo and knows what he’s up against, a fella his size doesn’t fit in places regular people fit in into and can’t help being clumsy every now and again.  Hoss knows he’s not the best company in the world but he’ll keep him out of their way and he’ll pay his wages out of his own pocket.  Ben tells Hoss that nobody said he couldn’t stay but he wants to know one thing, the trouble he keeps going on about and he wants to know what it is.  Hoss goes to speak to Waldo.


Hoss asks Waldo what’s eating him and Waldo tells him everything he does is wrong and that he’ll be moving on.  Hoss tells him he doesn’t have to since they need a hand around the place, Waldo tells him he’s worked as a hand before and he couldn’t handle it.  Hoss tell him that maybe they can both look out for each other as he’s always getting into trouble himself.  Waldo shakes his head.  Hoss tells him if he doesn’t then he’ll have to turn him over to the Sheriff for trespassing and ask if there’s any reason he doesn’t want to see the Sheriff.  Waldo tells him there isn’t and there’s no trouble like that and that it would be easier if it was.  He swears to Hoss it’s not the law and takes his word for it and tells him he wants him to stay.  Waldo tells Hoss he’d like to stay for a day or two to get rested and then have a fresh start.  Waldo tells Hoss next time there’s food he wants to sit in the kitchen, Hoss asks him why.  Waldo tells him it’s closer to the food and smiles, Hoss tells him it’s not a bad idea and he’ll join him.


Next day Adam rides into the Ponderosa and walks into the stable, Hoss and Waldo are in the hay loft moving hay.  Adam asks them if they’re looking for a needle, Hoss tells him that Pa wanted some of the rotten timbers replaced and asked them to move the hay to get to them.   Adam tells Hoss he bumped into Nancy Collings and Hoss asks Adam almost scared if she was coming to the Ponderosa.  Adam tells him no but she was asking about him, he asks Hoss when he’s going to give her a break.  Hoss doesn’t want to get hog tied for the rest of his life, Adam asks him if there’s another woman he’d rather be hog tied to.  Hoss tells Adam to take care of his own business and he’ll take care of his.   Hoss tells Waldo they need to shore up the braces and asks him to get the toolbox.   Waldo grabs the toolbox and hits a horse collar off its peg, Adam is below spread out on the ground with the collar over his head, he gets up and walks out the stable with it still on and a coil of fencing wire.


Joe is repairing the water pump by the water trough; Waldo is walking from the corral with a large piece of lumber and heavily swings the gate open.  It swings wide and hits Joe who tumbles into the water trough, at the same time Hoss is exiting the stable with a large sack of grain.  Waldo sees Joe in the water and swings his piece of lumber around with him, it hits Hoss and he tumbles to the ground.  Waldo swings around again, Hoss attempts to pick up the sack but is hit again by the swinging lumber and falls over, Waldo drops the lumber on his foot.  Hoss tells Waldo to pack the grain and he’ll pack the lumber.  Waldo bends down to pick the grain and Hoss bends down to pick the wood, Waldo swings the grain over his shoulder and hits Hoss over the head with it, Hoss drops the lumber on his foot.


Ben is over at the corral, bewilderment is spread across his face.  He asks how they lost it, Waldo tells Ben he just lost it.  Ben wants to get things straight, they lost it from the corral to the tree over there it was tied to, a horse.  Hoss tells his Pa what happened,  as per Ben’s instructions they were to shoe up the horse like he wanted.  Waldo went to get the horse and got him and when he was bringing him back he thought he saw a four-leafed clover and bent down to pick it up.  Hoss tells his Pa he’ll go look for the horse but Ben isn’t having any of it and tells them both that he would rather look for the horse himself than have them two chase it into the next county.

Hoss is sharpening a knife and Waldo is chopping wood, Hoss tells him enough and Waldo tells him he only has one more piece to chop.  He swings his axe and the wood goes flying into the window, Hoss shores up the window.


Hoss apologises for everything that’s happened.   Joe wonders what the next day will be like.  Ben tells Hoss that he’s got to admit that they didn’t get any work done today and that maybe they should set up a fund for him so he can make a fresh start,  Joe and Adam agree to put in.  Ben tells Hoss that next week is round up and he doesn’t want Waldo there and adds that he might get hurt.  Hoss thanks his Pa for putting up with Waldo as long as he did and he goes to tell Waldo the bad news.  Ben reminds them that George Colling’s sent a message telling them that the lumber they sent down there is ready for picking up.  Joe tells his Pa that Hoss won’t like it because Nancy always tries to hogtie him.

Hoss enters Waldo’s room and it seems like he’s talking to someone, he’s shouting for them to leave him alone and Hoss is confused he walks further in to find Waldo writhing on the bed, Hoss attempts to rouse him but Waldo attacks Hoss and tells him they’re going to kill him and pins him against the wall.

Downstairs everyone can hear the commotion and quickly run upstairs.


Ben startles Waldo when he grabs him and Hoss tells him no one’s going to to hurt him, Waldo apologises.  Hoss asks who was going to kill him but Waldo just tells him he was dreaming, he’s hot and flustered and asks if they wanted anything.  Hoss tries to tell him but he can’t.  Waldo apologises for everything and is grateful for everything they’ve done for him.  He’s not slept in a bed or had a roof over his head for a long time. Hoss asks his Pa to tell him.  Ben knows that Waldo is in some kind of trouble and asks if he wants to talk about it so they might be able to help him.  Waldo doesn’t want to involve them and tells Ben he’ll move on.  Ben tells him there’s no need.  Everyone leaves except Hoss, he asks Waldo if he’s sure they can’t help him but Waldo tells him there’s nothing anyone can do except get a good night’s sleep.

The next day the stage arrives in town, three men exit from the coach, they’re looking for Waldo and they talk about him having the money and when they find him he’s going to be dead.

The Cartwright boys and Waldo head into town to pick up the lumber, Adam and Joe tell Hoss he can take care of the order but Hoss isn’t happy since they know Nancy wants to hogtie him, he tells them he’ll meet them round the back.  Adam believes they can help Hoss with his problem and talks about Nancy with her love of big men, Joe figures out that she might be interested in Waldo.


The boys are stacking lumber in the back of the wagon, Hoss is surprised Waldo is with Nancy.  Adam asks if he’s jealous, Joe tells Hoss that they told Nancy that he’d get jealous if she spent her time with Waldo and that they did them both a favour.  Hoss is happy.  Nancy walks over to them with Waldo and she asks if she can take Waldo to see her dad.  Adam tells them they’ve got things covered.  Nancy asks Hoss if it’s okay, he confirms it and Waldo tells Hoss that maybe he should help with the work but Hoss tells him it’s fine.  She thanks Hoss and tells him when he’s done to come inside for some lemonade.

When everything is done Nancy tells Hoss to make sure Waldo is comes to the dance.  After the boys leave, Nancy has taken a real big shine to Waldo.


Back at the Ponderosa Hoss is trying to teach Waldo to dance with a broom in the barn; Adam and Joe spy them from outside.  Waldo trips over Hoss and believes dancing isn’t for him.  For Nancy’s sake Waldo continues his dance lessons, Hoss tell them they’ll practice the Virginia reel.   Joe wants to cut in but Adam stops him wanting them to continue their practising alone, they go back in the house.

The three men from the stage arrive at the Ponderosa and look for Waldo; they hear Hoss from the barn and see Waldo inside.  Two of them enter the barn and shoot at Waldo, Waldo dives with Hoss out the way.

Everyone comes out the house and they see someone on a horse and Ben shouts at him, one of the men in the barn comes out and fires at them.  Everyone takes cover and fire back; the men leave the barn and ride out.

They go to the barn and find Hoss over Waldo, he tells them the bullet creased him but he’s going to be okay, they move him to the house.

Hoss is tending to Waldo, Ben asks him what the trouble is about now they’re involved.  Waldo tells them he


got a job at a lumber yard but it wasn’t much money.  Then a man came offering him $25 for a nights work fighting in a ring.  He tells them that he wasn’t very good and on his first night he stayed in the ring for 23 rounds and after that he got more fights and got better when he knew the ropes and even had a manager, but this is where the trouble started.  Without knowing it his manager had placed a bet with three gamblers for him to throw the fight, not sure what to do because he liked his manager but at the same time he didn’t want to fool a lot of innocent people into parting with their cash, so he won the fight.  Ben tells him he didn’t do anything wrong and that he did the right thing.  Waldo agrees but the gamblers don’t seem to think so.  He still couldn’t blame his manager so he left to go West but the gamblers came after him.  He tells them the head gambler is called Weaver and they’re under the belief that Waldo has the bribe money and someone has given them orders to get it back and then get him.  Hoss asks him if they’ve done it before and Waldo tells him a couple of times and he was about to give up when Hoss found him.  He tells everyone that he’s leaving because he doesn’t want anyone hurt because of him and if he leaves now he doesn’t have to do to the dance.  Waldo gets up but Ben tells him to sit back down.  Ben tells Waldo they’ve worked hard to keep the law and order in their part of the territory and that blood has been shed in getting it done, and he’s not going to allow cheap tin horn gamblers from the East shoot up their place and try to kill and innocent man and get away with it.  Hoss tells Waldo that his Pa is right and he can’t keep running.  Waldo goes to bed and Hoss tells his Pa that was some story, Ben agrees but wonders if it’s the whole story.


The next morning Waldo is sneaking away, unfortunately for him Hoss is up before him.  Waldo tells Hoss he’s been thinking about it all night was believes it’s not fair to everyone if he sticks around.  Hoss tells Waldo he was wrong and Waldo asks him what he means.  Hoss tells him all this time he’s been defending Waldo but now he believes he was wrong.  Waldo tells Hoss it’s his fight, Hoss disagrees and agrees with what his Pa said about tin horn gamblers pushing them around.  Hoss tells Waldo that they’ll take care of those gamblers whether he’s around or not and tells Waldo to keep running because they don’t need him.  Waldo shouts for Hoss and stomps right up to him and asks him what’s for breakfast.  Hoss doesn’t know but whatever it is they’ll get double helpings since they have a hard day ahead of them.


Everyone has dressed for the dance, Nancy is fidgeting and gets all excited when she sees them coming, she tells the girls that Waldo is all hers.  Nancy more or less grabs Waldo and never lets go of him.  Waldo gets nervous because he doesn’t think he’s good at dancing and doesn’t want to look a fool.  Nancy tells him the same thing and tells Waldo they can dance outside where no one is watching.  Waldo agrees and they start dancing.  Waldo keeps calling Nancy Ma’am and she wants him to call her by her name, they continue dancing while Waldo repeats her name a few times.   Waldo is nervous around Nancy and tries to talk to her but he ends up kissing her instead, they are interrupted by a gun pointed at them two of the gamblers escort them away from the house one of them stays behind in case someone decides to follow. 

Hoss come out of the house looking for them but figures they want to be alone and he leans against the rail.  The gambler who stayed behind creeps up behind Hoss and pulls his gun on him, he tells Hoss to get moving.   He doesn’t take him far and he finds Waldo and Nancy with Weaver.  Waldo pleads with him to take him and leave everyone alone.  Weaver tells him to give him the money and they’ll leave his friends alone.  Waldo tells him he doesn’t have it and Weaver tells him he’s the only one who does have it and know for sure when his brother turned himself in to the police.  Waldo walks towards Weaver and asks him about his brother, Weaver tells his men to grab Waldo.  Waldo again asks about his brother and Weaver tells him he wants the money.  Hoss tells Weaver he doesn’t have it but Weaver tells him his brother told them differently.  Waldo tells Hoss he couldn’t tell him about his brother.  Weaver tells Hoss he’ll fill him in.  He tells him his brother was his manager and they planned it together, Waldo tells him it’s not so and Weaver tells him he’s lying.  Waldo tells Hoss he left to take the heat off his brother. 

Weaver moves towards Waldo but Hoss swings Weaver over a see-saw, Waldo swings one of the men but the third grabs a rope and swings towards Waldo misses and hits Nancy instead, she falls to the ground.  Weaver pulls a knife and Hoss slaps the see-saw knocking the knife from his hand, they fight.  Waldo tells Hoss to take care of Nancy while he takes care of them.   He beats all three and then goes to Nancy to look after her. 


Later Ben comes out the house and spots Hoss on his own, he asks him if there’s anything wrong.   Hoss tells him nothing’s wrong he just doesn’t feel like partying.  Ben tells him Waldo is inside dancing up a storm.  Hoss is annoyed because Nancy won’t dance with anyone else.  Ben is confused because he thought that’s what he wanted.   Hoss tells him he thought it was, Ben looks at Hoss and realises he’s jealous.  Hoss tells his Pa he didn’t realise how pretty she was.  Ben tells Hoss he’s the same as Adam and Little Joe, when it comes to females none of them knows a good thing and it’s only when the other fellow sees it and then it’s too late.

Cast and Characters[]

The Cartwrights


  • Betty Endicott: Hoss's Dance Partner
  • Bill Catching: Pitts
  • George Kennedy: Waldo Watson
  • Jon Lormer: Collings
  • Sandra Warner: Nancy Collings
  • Troy Melton: Reese
  • Richard Devon: Weaver


Did you know?[]

  • German episode title: "Waldo, der Tolpatsch", meaning "Waldo, the Blunderhead".


"He’s bringing strays home ever since he was old enough to walk."
Adam Cartwright[src]



See also[]