If you played computer games in the late 70s or earlier 80s, you’re probably familiar with the iconic game The Oregon Trail.
The gameplay capitalized on the intrigue that followed the settlement of the American West in the 1800s. However, computer games weren’t the only thing medium documenting this memorable time period.
TV Westerns became a staple in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. But which 70s Western TV shows were the best of the best?
We’re here to fill you in! Keep reading below to learn about 5 of the greatest Western TV shows in the 70s!
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Gunsmoke was the longest-running western series to ever air on U.S. network television. It’s remained iconic among 70s Western TV shows and has been hailed a television classic even decades after its final episode.
The show was set in Kansas and chronicles the settlement of the American West. Originally Gunsmoke was only a radio program, but it was adapted for television in 1955 and aired a total of 20 seasons.
2. Little House on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairie first aired in 1974 and was based on the Little House books by author Laura Ingalls Wilder. The books were semi-autobiographical and talked about Laura’s experience growing up on a farm with her family.
The show was a success and ran for a full nine seasons, amassing a total of 204 episodes in the process. It’s no surprise that it was well-loved, especially since many within the Little House On The Prairie Cast Cast were already well-known in the film industry.
3. Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone aired from 1964-1970 and centered around the historical figure Daniel Boone, a frontiersman who was famous for exploring what we now know as Kentucky.
The story is less of a historical dissection of Daniel Boone and more an action-adventure show. However, there was an effort to make Boone’s character more of a family man than simply an explorer in order to appeal to audiences.
Bonanza was the second-longest-running Western show to ever run on U.S. network television following Gunsmoke. The show aired from 1959-1973 and produced 431 episodes during its runtime. It was well-received and won multiple Emmys while airing.
The show centered around the Cartwrights, a family consisting of a single dad and his three sons. Set near Virginia City in Nevada, the series dabbled in both comedy and drama and was one of the few shows that successfully addressed contemporary social issues.
5. Death Valley Days
Death Valley Days was one of the most unique Western TV shows in the 70s as it documented true accounts of the American West, especially in the Death Valley region of California. Much like Gunsmoke, Death Valley Days also began as a radio program.
The anthology was adapted for television in 1952 and ran until 1970. The conclusion of Death Valley Days combined with the finales of Bonanza and Gunsmoke only several years later ultimately marked the end of the Western TV shows heydey.
Revisiting the Very Best 70s Western TV Shows
70s Western TV shows crafted lovable characters and engaging stories for old and young viewers alike. The age of Western TV shows will remain iconic and well-loved for years to come. If you’re looking for a refresher, the list above will give you some ideas on where to start!
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