"Bonanza" episode
Season 3, Episode 13
#79 in Series
Air date December 17, 1961
Guest starring:
Written by Don Ingalls
Directed by Lewis Allen
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Wanting to prove to his older brothers he's not a kid anymore, Joe accepts the job of sheriff of the small town of Rubicon. He doesn't realize that the people offering him the position, a gunslinger and shifty mayor, are setting him up to fail. They want an inexperienced sheriff because they're hatching a scheme involving robbery and murder.


Joe arrives into Rubicon he is being watched from the moment he comes in.  Joe attempts to enter the saloon but his way is blocked by the man who was watching him.  He asks Joe about Sylvianne and Joe tells him it's none of his business, the man punches Joe and he warns him to stay away from her.  Joe gets back up and manages to punch the man down until he can't get back up, Sylvianne walks out of the saloon and asks Joe what happened.

In the saloon Sylvianne is taking care of Joe and asks what he was fighting about.  Joe tells her he doesn't know, and tells her what happened.  The Mayor walks cheerily into the saloon with another man and tells Joe the whole town is talking about him and the fight.  The Mayor goes to get a round of drinks in and the man who came in the saloon with the Mayor is introduced by Sylvianne as Mr Brock.  Joe seems to know him by reputation and he owns most of the mining claims aound the area.  Brock tells Joe he's heard about him also and that the man he fought, Higgler, was a hard case and a trouble maker who he had to fire from one of his mines.  He tells Joe everyone was surprised at the way he handled him, Joe tells Brock he surprised himself.  Brock tells Joe he's made an impression on the town.  They Mayor brings over the drinks and Brock tells the Mayor that Joe maybe the one to help him, the Mayor agrees, Joes wonders what help they need.  Brock tells him their Sheriff broke his leg and has been taken to Reno for a couple of weeks. They need someone to cover for the Sheriff until he gets back and believe Joe is the man for the job.  Joe questions their intentions since he still a young man, Brock tells Sylvianne it's his civic responsibility and she agrees.  Joe tells them he has to do something first Brock asks if he'll take the job, Joe tells him he'll think about it and let them know by tomorrow morning.

Higgler is watching Joe from across the street and laughs when he leaves town.


Joe returns home and is talking to his Pa, the discussion is quite heated.  Ben tells Joe he didn't raise his sons to live by a gun and that they all work hard to make the Ponderosa what it is and that they'd all be content and happy to share in its future.  Joe tells Ben he's not deserting the Ponderosa, he just wants a chance to see if he can handle a job off the Ponderosa as well as on and it's only for three weeks and Joe doesn't see anything happening in a tiny town.  Ben tells Joe it only takes one man to break the law.  Ben tells Joe he doesn't like the idea and thinks it would be better for Joe to tell them to find someone else.  Joe retorts that Ben would prefer someone older and not the baby of the family someone like Hoss or Adam.  Joe tells Ben he's tired of being Little Joe tired of being the little brother and wants a chance to do something by himself.  Ben says calmly that he never treated him as a baby, Joe apologises and tells him it's not him but it is Hoss and it is Adam.  He feels that anything he does and anything he does do they treat it like a big joke, Ben tells Joe he understands how he feels and asks Joe if pinning a badge on his chest will solve that problem.

Adam and Hoss return home and tell Joe that they loaded all the wood without him and that he returned home from Rubicon after the work was done.  Ben cuts them short and tells them that Joe has a decision to make and believes everyone should hear him, Hoss and Adam joke about the girl(s) in Rubicon.  Ben tells them that Joe's been offered a job, and Joe tells them it's the Sheriff of Rubicon.  Hoss and Adam make a joke of it which doesn't sit well with Joe, he tells Ben that he can see now why he needs to take the job and leaves while Adam and Hoss are laughing under their breath.


Ben is staring at his still laughing boys and thanks them for forcing Joe into making a decision he didn't want him to make.  Adam asks if he really does want to be Sheriff, and Ben confirms it.  Hoss tells his Pa that Little Joe is just Little Joe and Adam tells him he's just a kid.  Ben asks them if he is, and that they've been thinking of him as a little brother that they've forgotten that he's growing up, and that he's got grown up feelings and grown up pride.  Hoss tells them if he's being serious they should ride into Rubicon since he's going to be in some trouble he can't handle.  Ben tells them that Joe has to handle his own troubles and wishes he didn't pick a hard way to start and hope he remembers.  Adam asks him what and Ben tells him that he still has a family that love him and they'd help him if he needs help.

Joe returns to Rubicon and the Mayor is looking out for him and tells Brock he's arrived.  They talk about Joe going for it and that he thinks a lot about his daughter and he tells him he hopes Brock is worth it and asks about the men he's hired and Brock tells him all in good time.


The Mayor swears Joe in as Sheriff and Brock congratulates him and so does the Mayor.  The Mayor hands Joe the town charter to read over.  Joe pins the tin badge on his chest.

The Mayor and Brock talk outside, the Mayor tells Brock that Joe's taking it too seriously and that the others aren't even here yet.  Brock tells him they are as two men on horses arrive in town.

Joe takes a stroll towards the saloon as he sees the two mysterious men go there and Sylvianne has given them rooms there.  Joe asks if they're the undertakers and Sylvianne tells him she doesn't know and notices his shiny star.  Joe tells her he's written something for her and hands her a piece of paper, she opens it and it's the town charter, Joe tells her it's the wrong piece of paper and hands her the correct one, it's a passage out of Romeo and Juliet.  He asks her if she knows where it's from and she tells him, Joe tells her he's not exactly Romeo.  Brock enters the saloon and sees them together, he asks Joe if his duties aren't too demanding and Joe tells him he's not exactly sure what his duties are.  He tells Sylvianne he better show the town what the new Sheriff looks like and leaves.

Sylvianne asks Brock why he's doing this.  She asks why he sent the Sheriff out of town, and he tells her it's because he's a hard nosed old man with 35 years experience wearing a badge and using a gun.  She asks about Little Joe and he tells him he's just a romantic kid and she tells him with no experience.   He tells her even if he does blunder into his plan he'll hesitate at the crucial second and by the time he figures out what to do it will be too late.  Sylvianne asks how and when it's going to happen, Brock asks her how long they've been together and she tells him over five years.  Brock tells her she's been so patient and soon they have it, Sylvianne tells Brock she would have married him anyway even if he didn't have money.  Brock tells her a marriage without money is no good and now they can have both, they only have to wait a few more days.

Joe is taking a stroll through town and takes a trip to the stage office when he notices Higgler outside the livery stable, Higgler looks at Joe and then enters the stable.  Joe follows him into the stable and extends his hand and tells him no hard feelings.  Higgler tells him to get lost, Joe tells him he's only trying to be friendly.  Higgler tells him to run home and play with his toys, Joe again tries to tell him he's only being friendly but is cut short with a punch to his face.  Joe slides across the floor and they begin fighting.  However this fight seems one sided and not by any part on Joe, he's getting clearly beaten and is punched out the window.  Higgler goes to leave the stable and Joe hits him when he opens the door, they fight some more again it's clear that Joe is no match for Higgler and he's beaten again.  Joe has no choice now and pulls his gun on Higgler and tells him he's taking him in.  Higgler asks why and Joe tells him because he wants to know why he didn't nail him the first time.  Higgler asks what the charge is, Joe tells him for starters assulting an officer of the law.

He locks Higgler in a cell and asks him who hired him to lose in the fight, Higgler tells him he can't answer that and Joe tells him he has to if he wants to get out of the cell as they talk Joe tends to his bruises.  Higgler tells Joe he'll have to beat the truth out of him, Joe leaves.

Joe walks to the saloon and is watched by Brock and one of the undertakers. Joe goes over to Sylvianne and tells her yesterday he was a big man and beat the town bully without messing his hair, today Joe couldn't even beat Higgler even if he had one hand tied behind his back.  Joe tells Sylvianne that it was all a set up and he walked right into it and asks her if she was in on it, she tells him she wasn't.  Joe doesn't believe her since it was Brock and her that talked him into getting the job, as he's talking a gun shot is heard outside.

Joe runs out the saloon and notices the door to his office is open, he runs in to find the padlock on the ground and the cell empty.  Sylvianne tells Joe he shouldn't have taken the job.  Joe asks her what she knows but she still tells Joe she doesn't know and whatever it is she doesn't want him caught in it.  She tells Joe to take off the tin badge and quit playing grown up and tells him he's just a kid and that there are some things he just can't do.   Joe thanks her and tells her she sounds just like his family and Sylvianne tells him to go home since whatever is happening in Rubicon isn't his concern.  Joe tells her his badge makes it his concern and the town gave him a job and he's going to finish it.  Angry, Sylvianne asks Joe what he'll do if he runs into another Higgler, would he read him poetry or something out of Romeo and Juliet and then runs out of his office.


Brock is shouting at Higgler for not staying out of town, one of the undertakers hits him.  Higgler tells Brock he only went to town for one drink, Higgler wants to know what he told Joe.  Higgler swears he didn't tell him anything.  The Mayor is worried and babbling, Brock tells him to shut up, he turns to the undertakers and tell them to get Higgler out of town.  The undertaker asks if he wants him put under and Brock tells him to just let him go since it would cause more complications if he did.

Sylvianne sees Higgler leave with one of the undertakers shortly followed by her nervous father, she asks what's going on and he tells her to leave it be.  She doesn't want to and wants to know why Higgler is with one of the strangers and wonders how he got out of jail.  The Mayor tells her to leave it alone and the less she knows the better off she'll be.  Since she's not getting any answers from her father she tells him she's going to ask Brock, but the Mayor tells her not to since he doesn't want her involved.  She tells him that since he's her father she's already involved and leaves to see Brock.

Joe walks into the saloon and spots the Mayor he wants some answers from him.  The Mayor tells them they sit in the alcove and have a little talk.

Brock is talking to the other undertaker and Sylvianne interrupts when she enters.  Brock tells her he's busy but the stranger tells Brock you shouldn't keep a lady waiting and leaves.  Sylvianne wants to know what's going on and who are the strangers.  She tells him that Joe has been asking the same questions and she can't answer them because she doesn't know the answers.  She tells Brock Joe wants to know about Higgler and how he became Sheriff.  Brock asks her what she told him and Sylvianne tells him she doesn't know anything.  She tells Brock that he was the one who set Joe up with Higgler and that she'd seen him leave with one of the undertakers.  Brock tells her he just sent him out of town and that they only need to wait one more day however their plans might get ruined since there's a man coming into town on the stage.  Sylvianne asks if it's the man who's going to buy his mining claims and Brock confirms this however the man buying the claims knows Brock from a different alias.  Sylvianne doesn't know what he's talking about.  Brock tells her that as soon as he gets off the stage there's going to be an accident and she asks why.  He tells her that man can blow his schemes sky high the minute he sees him.  He didn't know who was coming until he received a telegram, so he has to die.  Sylvianne tells him it's murder.  Brock tells her people murder each other for small reasons but his reason is big, it's for them and their future.  Sylvianne tells Brock she doesn't want it that way and she won't let him do it.  He asks her if she'll go to the authorities, her father or their new young Sheriff.  Sylvianne tells Brock that he maybe young but he believes in the badge.  Brock tells her if he lifts one little finger then he'll be a young but dead Sheriff.  They argue and Brock tells her it's all arranged and paid for with no connection to him.  It's going to look like a robbery attempt on the stage that fails.  Sylvianne realises what those two men in town are for and tells him they smell of death, Brock tells her that that's their job.  Brock puts his hands on Sylvianne's shoulders and asks her if she loves him and she tells him she does so he tells her to trust her.  Sylvianne asks about Little Joe and Brock tells her to keep him occupied until the stage comes in and nothing will happen to him.

Sylvianne comes downstairs and Little Joe is twirling a whiskey tumbler in his hand, her father is passed out on the table.  He tells her not to worry and that he didn't tell him anything.  Joes goes upstairs to look for Brock and Sylvianne follows.


Brocks room is empty and Sylvianne tells Joe she has something to say to him.  Joe is surprised because she suddenly has something to say.  She tells Joe she's sorry for what she said before since she was angry, Joe tells her that with anger truth shall out and he read that somewhere but not in Romeo and Juliet.  She tells Joe she tried to tell him she wasn't Juliet, Joe raises his voice and tells Sylvianne he wants answers.  Joe asks her if she's Brock's girl and that she's always been his girl, Sylvianne doesn't deny it.  She comfirms that making Joe Sheriff was because her man asked her to and that she would do anything he asked her to with one exception, murder.  Joe asks her when it's going to be and she tells him tomorrow at sun up on the stage, and that they will try and kill one of the passengers but she doesn't know which one.  Joe asks about the 'undertakers' and she confirms Brock hired them.  Joe asks her if she wants him to stop it, she wishes he could but strapping on a gun and pinning on a badge wouldn't make him a gunfighter.  Joe realises that's the reason he was given the job, that they wanted a boy for the job not a man.  Sylvianne disagrees telling him he is a good man but he can't do it on his own, Joe tells her his family would agree with her.  Joe tells her the reason he took the job was because for the first time in his life someone outside the family offered him a job with responsibility and a chance to prove himself to them.  Sylvianne tells Joe that his family could help him stop the whole thing but that would make the point of Joe's argument invalid.  Sylvianne tells Joe he can't do it all by himself, but Joe tells her he can try but she doesn't believe he stands a chance.  He tells her that's the way it was planned and tells her not to worry, he'll meet the stage when it comes in tomorrow morning.

Sylvianne is still in Brock's room thinking over the days events, she looks out the window and sees Joe at the livery stable with Cochise, she leaves to change.

The Mayor is still at the saloon in the same spot with an empty bottle he sees her and asks where she's going at this time of night, she tells him what he doesn't know won't hurt him, she leaves.

Sylvianne sneaks into the livery stable, the stable hand is brushing down Cochise and then leaves.  Sylvianne saddles up Cochise.


The Mayor is over at the Sheriff's office asking Joe to find Sylvianne, Joe is lying on a chaise lounge nonchalantly telling the Mayor she's a big girl now.  The Mayor asks if he's not going to look for her, Joe tells him he's the Sheriff not her father.  The Mayor staggers to leave and talks loudly to himself before he does saying that he shouldn't have sworn in a boy for a Sheriff.  When the Mayor leaves a smile spreads across Joe's face and he gets up, he walks over to the washing basin and looks at his reflection and starts talking to himself with a cheeky smile, he tells himself if they want a boy he'll give them one.


Joe is over at the saloon talking to Brock and the Mayor he's reporting the fact that his horse disappeared from  


the barn but that's not why he's there.  He tells Brock he wants to talk to him about being the Sheriff and that in the beginning the whole idea about being the Sheriff appealed to him and tells him he thinks he's too young and the job is too much for him.  Brock tells reassures Joe by telling him he's doing a fine job but Joe isn't sure and asks him if he really is.  He tells Brock he arrested Higgler and then he lost him, he was talking to Sylvianne earlier and now she's disappeared, and to top it off he can't find his horse.  Brock tells Joe he's still new at being a Sheriff and that with time he'll get better as time goes on, Joe lets out a heavy sigh and tells Brock he doesn't think so.  Brock reassures him and tells him he should look for Sylvianne but Joe doesn't know where she went.  Brock tells him the Mayor is worried about her, Joe looks at him and he looks half asleep and Brock asks him to look for her.  Joe tells him he doesn't have a horse, Brock tells him he has the pick of the livery stable.  Joe thanks him and tells him he'll look for her in the morning, the Mayor stirs and tells Joe he's got to look for her now.  Joe tells the Mayor it's dark and Brock tells Joe it gets light around about 5am.  Joe tells them he better pack his stuff, Brock questions him about it and Joe starts rattling off a shopping list of things he needs to take and Brock interrupts him and offers him good luck.  After he leaves the Mayor tells Brock, Joe wouldn't find a needle in a pin cushion and before he can speak his mind further Brock tells him he just wants Joe out of town otherwise he'll die if he stays.  

Brock puts down Sylvianne's disappearance to her not wanting to witness the events when it happens and that she'll come back when it's over.

Sylvianne arrives at the Ponderosa, she's tired and staggers to the porch she shouts for them and Hoss comes out and finds her on the ground Hoss asks why she's got Joe's horse and she tells him she's got to speak to Ben Hoss scoops her up and takes her inside

Hoss shouts for his Pa and puts Sylvianne on the settee   Hoss tells Ben she came on Joe's horse and Ben


questions her about it She tells Ben that she rode on his horse so they would believe her Ben asks her who she is and where she's from She tells them her father owns the saloon in Rubicon and she works there Ben tells her she didn't ride to Rubicon to tell him that and asks her about Little Joe She tells him nothing's happened to him yet but if he doesn't get help soon something might Ben presses her and asks her what trouble he's in Sylvianne tells him he brought it up to well too much responsibility Ben again asks her what trouble and she tells him serious trouble and in a few hours he'll be facing it all alone, Ben presses her even more she finally tells him two hired killers Ben tells Hoss to get Adam he then asks her if she's the girl Joe's been seeing in Rubicon and she confirms it  Adam comes down the stairs a little grumpy since it's late and then realises they have company Ben tells him to saddle the horses they've got a long ride, Ben asks Sylvianne is she's able to ride back to Rubicon she tells him she can try.


Back in Rubicon Joe is writing a letter, he steps out of his office to look around and then goes back in Joe reads the letter in his mind:

And so Jillian I realise now it's awfully tough to face and be responsible But I've made up my mind to marry you through if something goes wrong I still love you I love you I hope you understand Joe and I do know that he is a little boy and he will always be my favorite boy of my dreams and I will always love you and he will love me and he will always love me you will marry me and you are my heart and I will always have you your always in my heart and my pain and my anguish and my sorrow and though you Joy with love and not hate I won't let you part your always in my heart and the promise better be tomorrow And will always be my favorite brother and I do love you you will always be my friend I love you joe and I will always love you and I will say I do and I will always love you and I hope you marry me back and I will always love him and I will be happy forever in my life and I will be there for you my love always yours your favorite little sister and the hold wide world and I will always love you my little joe my sweetheart and I love ❤️ Jillian

He places the letter on the table and heads out

Brock watches Joe as he leaves town he turns and the two undertakers are with him He tells them it worked like a charm and the rest is up to them  

One of them tells him that's what they paid him for and Brock reminds them that it's the man he shakes hands with

The stage is on its way to Rubicon

The undertakers exit the saloon and then take up their respective positions, one by the livery stable and the other hides on the roof of a small building


The stage arrives and Brock walks to the stage just as he reaches it the first undertaker in the livery stable comes out and tells them to throw down their shotgun and then tells everyone to get out of the stagecoach Two women exit the coach without issue then a man backs out the exit wearing a dark jacket and a brown top hat it's Joe and he grabs Brock when he turns pulling his gun on him at the same time He tells the man to drop his gun and Brock shouts him not to shoot but it's too late as the stranger fires his gun and hits Brock Joe shoots the stranger Brock falls to the ground and Joe only has to contend with the other one he rolls on the ground and fires off three consecutive shots at the man on the roof he hits him and me also he slides off the roof dead Joe gets up and tells someone to get a doctor The Mayor exits the saloon and runs to the stagecoach Joe tells Mr Jennings to come out of the stage He tells Jennings that the man on the ground is Brock Jennings tells Joe what Brock's real name is and that he witnessed Brock committing murder six years ago

Ben finally arrives with everyone else Sylvianne jumps off her horse and runs straight to Brock on the ground she lifts his head and places it on her lap Brock tells her she was six years too late and after that fateful day hers was the best memory in the world a world that was almost his Joe tells him to take it easy and that he's called a doctor Brock smiles and asks Joe if he's going to use his tin badge and arrest him and that he made a big mistake picking him  Joe apologises to Sylvianne And Brock finally succumbs to his wound and dies sylvianne is visibly upset

Joe walks over to his family and Ben asks if it was a tough job. Joe tells him it was a lot tougher than he thought it would be.  Ben tells him that he hopes he wouldn't have minded if they paid him a visit and smiles at Joe.  Joe thanks him and tells him it gets kinda lonely in town.  Hoss compliments Joe on his work and Ben asks if he's coming home with them Joe tells them he will once the regular Sheriff gets back, Adam asks if he wants them to hang around Joe asks if it's to make more jokes about him and Adam apologises and tells him never again and Hoss agrees Joe invites them to his office for a cup of coffee.


The Cartwrights

Jillian may astin / Jillian Cartwright


Did you know?Edit

  • German episode title: "Little Joe wird Sheriff", meaning "Little Joe Becomes Sheriff".




Video:Bonanza The Tin Badge

See alsoEdit