Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“The Trap”
Season 6, Episode 26
#194 in Series
Air date March 28, 1965
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Ken Pettus
Directed by William Witney
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Hound Dog
Next Episode:
Dead and Gone
External links
The Trap on


Burk knew his wife was sweet on Little Joe so he devises a plan to get rid of him.

When his plan backfires, his twin brother, a lawman, returns to marry the widow and get rid of Little Joe for good.

Hallie Shannon believes that Joe murdered her husband so the two of them can get back together again.

His brother Buck is of the same opinion, and Buck is infamous for letting his gun do the talking.

The heat on Joe increases when Hallie is found dead.


Joe goes over to the Shannon’s, there’s been another


raid and Burk Shannon has asked Floyd and Cletus to find him for help.  Hallie Shannon is particularly happy to see Joe.  Burk tells Joe he thinks he knows where the raiders are hiding and Joe tells them they should ride out so they can look for them.  Hallie wonders why it’s taken Joe so long to come over, he tells her that he’s been busy at the ranch.  She tells him not to neglect them for so long and Joe tells her he won’t because he can’t stay away from her cooking.  Burk tells Joe they better get moving or the rustlers will get away, Joe bids Hallie goodbye and she says her goodbyes with a flirtatious smile, this has not gone unnoticed by Burk and rides off with Joe and the two hands.

Burk takes them to where he believes the rustlers to be and they split up, Floyd and Cletus go one way and Burk and Joe go another to try and flush them out.  On foot Burk tells Joe they should split up so they can catch them on both sides of the draw, he warns Joe that the rustlers are pretty spooked.


Burk hides in the brush while Joe runs up ahead, when Burk thinks Joe is far away enough he follows him.  Joe is in the draw and climbs up some raised earth and hides behind the trees on top he’s searching for the raiders.  Burk hides behind a small raised mound and watches Joe, he raises his rifle and shoots at Joe.

Joe shouts for Burk telling him that the raider is behind him and shouts for him to double back around him, Burk moves from his spot to another spot.  Not hearing anything Joe shouts for Burk again.  Burk points


his rifle at Joe again, when Joe peers out Burk fires at him but only hits the tree, Joe jumps out and fires his rifle in rapid succession.  Joe goes to look and pulls out his gun he sees Burk lying on the ground and goes to him.  As he kneels over him, Floyd and Cletus come over the spur and see Joe, they run down and ask what happened.  Joe tells them someone fired at him and he fired back and it was Burk.  Floyd is astonished that Burk would fire at Joe.  Joe tells him he must have thought he was a rustler just as Joe thought he was.  Cletus tells Joe they’ll never know because he’s dead.

At the Ponderosa everyone is dressed formal, Ben goes to get Little Joe.  Joe is in room ruminating over the past event.    Ben goes over to him and tells him no one is blaming him for what happened but Joe doesn’t believe it.  Ben tells him what happened happened and nothing anyone says to him will be of any help. 


At the funeral Hallie goes over to Joe and asks him to drive her home, he reluctantly takes her.  Floyd tells Cletus Joe is lucky because Hallie has forgiven him.  Sheriff Coffee remembers when Little Joe used to carry Hallie’s books home from school and asks the Cartwright’s if there were any hard feelings between Burk and Little Joe since Burk can be onerous at times.  Ben asks if Coffee believes that what happened wasn’t an accident, Coffee tells Ben he’s only going to ask the same question that he’ll have to answer.  Adam asks who would ask it, Coffee tells them Burk’s brother.  He sent a telegram to him about it and Booth is going to be in town tomorrow and that he’s been a town Marshall for three months, Ben wants to know if he’s going to be trouble.  Coffee tells Ben that he was real close to Burk and with good reason, they were identical twins. 

Joe arrives at the Shannon ranch and Hallie invites Joe in for coffee, Joe tells her he has to go but she tells him she doesn’t want to be alone.


After Joe has put the buggy away he enters the house and Hallie isn’t anywhere to be seen, he notices the coffee over boiling and goes to save it. Hallie reappears in a blue dress and tells Joe she’s going to sell the ranch and move into town.  She asks Joe how long they should wait and Joe asks what she means, she tells him to be married.  Joe is all confused as Hallie keeps talking about marriage preparations.  Joe doesn’t understand what gave her the idea that he wants to marry her but she cuts him short telling him she knows he doesn’t want to talk about it yet.  They’ll keep it a secret between the two of them and no one else will know.  Joe doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  Hallie believes Joe killed Burk so that he could have her all to himself but in her deluded state she just thinks’ Joe’s acting innocent.  She tells Joe she never loved Burk and only married him because she was hurt and angry and wanted to spite Joe.  Now Burk’s dead she’s free to be with Joe like she always dreamed of.  Joe can’t believe she believes he’d kill someone for her just so they can be together.  She can see that Joe’s upset and she won’t talk about it, Joe grabs Hallie and tells her there’s nothing to talk about and that she’s wrong, he tells her that he doesn’t love her and he doesn’t want to marry her.  Hallie still believes Joe is acting the innocent and she tells Joe that he believes she’s accusing him of murdering Burk and that she’d go to the Sheriff to tell him the truth which is why he’s pretending.    She tells Joe that Burk would never have given her up so he did the only thing he could.  Joe still can’t believe his ears but Hallie continues normally as if nothing’s happened.


Booth rides into town and heads straight for the Sheriffs office.  Coffee greets him and extends his hand, it’s not returned.   Booths asks why Little Joe isn’t in jail and Coffee tells him it was an accident but Booth doesn’t believe it and asks Coffee the same.  Coffee confirms he believes that it was an accident as he doesn’t have anything to say otherwise and Little Joe had no reason to kill his brother.   Booth pulls out a letter he received from his brother two weeks ago he tells the Sheriff to read it.  Booth goes to leave but before he does, he tells Coffee to read the letter and then tell him if he still thinks his brother’s death was an accident.

Hallie arrives at the Ponderosa and Ben greets her, she asks if Joe is there but he’s gone to deliver some supplies but will be back later tonight.  She seems a little disappointed; Ben tells her he’ll tell Joe she was here and maybe tomorrow he’ll come over and visit her.  Hallie quizzes Ben regarding them and Ben’s not sure what she means, Hallie tells Ben she shouldn’t have said anything and it’s up to Little Joe to tell him in his own time, Hallie leaves but before she does she tells Ben to not ask him but wait for Joe to tell him.

Hallie returns home and someone is there, their horse is outside.  She carefully enters the house and immediately recognises Booth.  She looks frightened and Booth wonders why she never telegraphed him about Burk, she tells him she was going to.  Booth finishes for her and says she was too upset, too shocked, too grief stricken and he should have realised.  Hallie looks at Booth’s things and he asks where he should put them.  Booth tells Hallie with Burk gone she needs someone to help her with the ranch and he’s sure that Burk would want it to be him, he reaches out for her and she recoils back.


The Sheriff has come to the Ponderosa to show Ben the letter Booth gave him, Ben is visibly angry about the letter and Roy tries to calm him down telling him Booth believes it and since he’s the Sheriff he has to ask.  Roy tells Ben he doesn’t believe it but he has been spending a lot of time around her.  Ben tells Roy that they grew up together but Roy tells Ben that everyone knew that Joe and Hallie were more than just friends and that everyone thought that they would get married.  Ben doesn’t care about what people thought but Roy tells Ben he should for Joe sake because a lot of people will start believing Booth.  Ben wants to know if Roy is there to arrest Little Joe, Roy tells him he’s not but he has to ask him about what’s contained in the letter because it’s his job.  Ben calms down and apologises to Roy.  Roy asks Ben to tell Joe to come to town so they can sort this out, he’s thankful that Booth gave him the letter rather than take things into his own hands and while Joe is good with a gun he wouldn’t stand a chance against Booth.

Booth is reading Burk’s favourite passages from the bible, Hallie finds it all tedious and asks him to stop.  She goes to bed but Booth stops her and tells her that Burk was scared of her beauty and that one day he might lose it.  He didn’t think he was the right man for her because he didn’t know how to love her .  Hallie tells him she’s going to bed but he stops her again and tells her that they have to kneel down and pray, pray for Burk’s weaknesses then they can forget him and start over, himself and her.  She runs but Booth runs in front of her, she tells him she hated Burk and she hates him because he’s just like Burk but Booth disagrees.  She compares them both and she doesn’t have anything nice to say about either of them because they’re both the same in every sense.  Booth slaps her and tells her that he knows what she is and that he knows Little Joe wants her but he’s not going to get her because he’s going to send Joe to the gallows and he’s going to do it with her help.   He wants her to get up in court and tells the truth that Joe murdered Burk and confess her sins and when it’s over she will marry Booth.  He’s grabbed her wrists and wants her to confess that Joe killed Burk but she refuses to so he bends her arms behind her back and tells her to say it again.  Through pain and tears she confesses that Joe killed Burk, Booth tells her that in the morning they’ll go to town and tell the Sheriff.  Hallie bolts out the front door and runs.


Joe has returned home and Ben is waiting up for him.  Ben tells him he’s been waiting for him and Joe wonder why.  Ben tells Joe about Hallie’s visit and she intimated that there was something going on between them.  Joe tells him there’s nothing going on and if there is it’s all in her mind.  He tells his Pa about what happened after the funeral and puts it down to her being upset over her husband’s death and any love they did have was just puppy love when they were kids or maybe he went over there too much and believes she’s reaching out for something because she’s scared and lonely but believes she’ll be alright.  Ben tells him it’s not that simple and sits down, he tells Joe about Burk and his beliefs and the letter he wrote to Booth.  Joe is shocked.  Ben tells Joe Roy wants to talk to him about it, Joe swears his innocence and Ben tells him he believes him however Booth believes his brother.  There’s a knock at the door, it’s Roy, Joe tells him he didn’t have to come over and that he would have rode into town in the morning.   Roy tells Joe he didn’t come over about that and tells them that Booth rode into town telling him that he had an argument with Hallie and she ran away and thought that she might have run to the Ponderosa.  Ben tells Roy she’s not there and Joe asks if they argued about the letter.  Roy tells him it’s more serious and that according to Hallie the shooting wasn’t an accident, Joe agrees with him.  This sends funny looks his way from Ben and Roy.  Joe tells Roy he could never figure out why Burk fired at him the second time.  After the first shot he called to Burk and he knew Burk would have heard him because he knew he wasn’t that far away but he still fired at him again, he tells Roy the letter is proof as to why and that Burk thought there was something going on between him and Hallie that Burk was trying to kill him.  Ben agrees with Joe and Roy tells Ben it’s possible but there’s no proof and with Hallie’s statement.  Joe tells Roy she doesn’t know what she’s saying and all they have to do is sit down and talk to her.  Roy tells Joe they need to find her first and that Booth is leading the search party for her and in the mean time Roy has to take Joe into custody.  Ben disagrees but Roy tells him he has to since Booth has demanded it.

The next day Joe is pacing in his cell, Roy comes in to free Joe, Joe asks about the search but they’ve still not found her.  Joe goes to get his hat and sees Booth returning with Floyd and Cletus through the jail cell window.

Booth enters the office and stares at Joe, Roy tells Booth that he’s been released by order of a circuit court.  Joe asks if he found Hallie and Booth confirms they did, she was found at the bottom of Paiute Falls and that she’s dead.  Booth lunges for Joe and everyone jumps in to separate Booth from Joe.  Joe demands to know what happened to Hallie, Cletus isn’t sure he says she might have lost her footing trying to cross a ledge and fell, Booth comes straight out and tells them she was pushed.  Since there’s no testimony there’s no one tell everybody that Joe killed his brother.  He tells everyone that Hallie knew that Joe would be passing Paiute Falls on his way home and that she waited for him and when he found out that Booth had gotten the truth out of her, Joe made sure she’d never stand up in a court of law and repeat what she’d told him.  Booth tells everyone there’s no proof in his words because the only one who knew is now dead and that’s the point, Hallie is dead while Joe is free.  Booth leaves.


Roy tells everyone what he’s going to do tomorrow and that he’ll stop by theirs when he gets back.  He tells Joe there’s nothing to worry about and that there’s nothing the law can do to him now and if things  work out the way he expects them to he won’t even have to stand trial.  All this time Joe has been looking at Floyd and Cletus and without looking away he tells Roy he already has.  Floyd and Cletus leave.

At Hallie’s funeral Ben calls an end to it, but Booth tells Ben he’s wrong and Joe will pay for it and he’ll haunt him everywhere and everything he does, he’s going to hound him until he goes running to the Sheriff and confess what he did and beg to be hanged. 


Later that day posters are being put up everywhere offering a $1000 reward for any evidence against Joe for the murder of his brother and sister-in-law.  Ben tears the poster down and then looks at everyone, the crowd disperses.   Everyone around town has seen the posters, Ben goes to the saloon but not before tearing another poster down outside it.

Floyd and Cletus are at the bar, Ben walks over to Booth and puts the posters on his table.  Booth asks if he’s come to plead for his son, Ben tells him he does if that’s the way he wants it.  He tells Ben he’s fortunate because he didn’t get a chance to for his brother or Hallie.  Ben tells Booth, Joe is innocent and Booths asks if it’s because Joe is his son.  Ben tells him it’s because Joe says so and he believes his son.  Booth tells Ben he believes his brother’s letter, Ben tells him it’s not the same thing.  Ben tells Booth he’s beginning to understands how he felt about his brother, that when they were kids they used to rum around a lot and competing against each other but Burk always came out on top beating him and gloating over it.  Booth finds it all ridiculous since they were only kids and he moved away when he was old enough and was twice the man Burk was.  Ben asks why he waited until now to come back and why he’s pouring so much concern over his brother.  Ben tells Booth he’s a man of the law and asks why he’s going outside the law.  Booth tells him it’s not outside the law and that his son is going to the gallows.  Ben quotes the bible and Booth tells Ben he knows the bible and Ben tells him he only knows the parts that suit his own convenience then leaves.

Joe walks past the telegraph office there’s a crowd there and when he walks up to them they part like the Red Sea.  Joe notices the poster and tears it down, Cletus goes over to Joe and tells him about how Booth’s going to haunt him and that he’s already doing it now, it’s going to dig deep until he starts believing it himself.  Joe goes over to the saloon.

Booth asks Joe is he wants something, Joe tells Booth he wants him out on the street.  Booth is astonished.  People start to leave the saloon.  Joe is tired of playing his games and he knows Booth believes he killed Burk and Hallie so now he’s giving him the opportunity to do something about it.  Booth is still in shock and again asks Joe about taking him outside.  Joe tells him to go right now.  Booth tells him to go home, but Joe


refuses to until Booth meets him out on the street.  Booth doesn’t believe it will be fair since he’s better than Joe and doesn’t think it will be fair and it would be tantamount to murder.  Joe tells him it won’t be if Joe fires at him first and then it will be self defense just like when Burk fired at him.  Booth tells Joe to tell his lies to someone who’ll believe him.  Joe tells him it’s the truth but he doesn’t want to believe it.  Joe tells him the letter his brother wrote was untrue, but it was the proof that he needed to reason out why Burk fired at him, Burk knew it was him when he fired but Booth’s twisted the truth to mean the opposite.  Booth tells Joe to shut up and go home.  Again Joe tells him he won’t until he meets him in the street.  Booth tells Joe he will die but he’ll die in the gallows and continues to talk until Joe stops Booth talking by punching him across the face.  Joe re-iterates that he’ll be waiting for Booth in the street and walks out.

Booth gets up and walks to the saloon door, he tells Joe not to be a fool and to go home, he pleads with Joe not to let him kill him.  Joe turns to meet him, Booth walks out on to the street.


Ben is with the Sheriff, he’s unhappy with the poster all around town, but there’s nothing Roy can do about it since the posters aren’t illegal.  As Ben is speaking to Roy they hear a shot fired.  Ben and Roy run out the office, Ben runs to where everyone is looking, as he turns the corner Joe is lying face down on the ground.  Ben looks over at Booth and then goes to Joe.

Ben is carrying Joe and Roy runs to tell the doctor, Booth tells Ben he didn’t want this but Ben isn’t listening.

Roy and Ben leave Joe’s room at the doctors, Ben finally lets out a deep breath, Roy tells Ben he should eat something now and quietly leaves. 

After a while Booth comes to the doctors and Ben is still sitting where he was when Roy left him.  Booth has brought back Joe’s hat and gun, he asks how Joe is.  Ben tells him he’s going to be alright.  Booth is glad and goes to leave but Ben calls him.  Ben tells Booth he could have killed Joe but he didn’t and asks why.  Booth tells him that when he was standing outside in the street he knew Joe had been telling the truth.  He knows Joe didn’t have to fight him but he knew standing there ready to die if he had to, he knows a killer wouldn’t have done that.  Booth tells Ben he was right about Burk and that his brother was a spoiler, he wasn’t interested in anything unless he was and that Burk would always find a way to get whatever it was away from him. 


Ben knows that included Hallie.  Booth tells Ben he knew Hallie before Burk and he loved her before he did.  Booth honestly thought to himself that he could make Hallie love him again if he could get Little Joe out of the picture and that he’d talked himself into believing that he’d murdered Burk.  Booth tells Ben if you want something so badly you can convince yourself of anything.  Booth apologises about Little Joe and goes to leave he tells Ben to tell him that for him, Ben tells Booth to tell Joe himself.  He tells Booth that Joe is awake and that he’d like to hear the apology directly.  Booth walks to the door to Joe's room but stops, Ben motions with his head for Booth to go in, Booth lets out a small smile and enters the room.  Ben finally nods off.

Cast and Characters[]

The Cartwrights[]

  • Pernell Roberts: Adam Cartwright




Did you know?[]

  • German episode title: "Tödlicher Irrtum", meaning "Deadly Mistake".
  • Steve Cochran plays the dual roles of Boothe and Burk Shannon.




See also[]