A pair of sibling con artists pretend they want to buy the Cartwright's cattle. In reality, they use Ben to rob the bank and shoot him for his troubles. The wily crooks throw the law off their trail, so Joe saddles up and follows them into the desert.
The Cartwrights learn old friend Sam Masters is on the run. During the Civil War, he was in charge of a brutal prison where 500 Confederate soldiers died. A former Union soldier, Col. Jim Hudson, arrives, wanting to bring Masters back to the south to stand trial. Masters proclaims he did the best he could with no supplies, food, or medicine available.moreless
Margaret Clayborn returns to Virginia City after having abandoned her son years earlier. When 14-year-old Coley inherits his father's valuable mine, suddenly his mother and a greedy uncle are back fighting for custody of the young man. Coley detests each of the adults equally.
Strict lawman Luke Mansfield is not pleased with his daughter's choice in men. To rebel against her father, Lorrie begins consorting with an ex-convict, Rick Miller, who may be the cousin of a man who once shot her father.
Candy receives an urgent letter from an old flame requesting his help in Butlerville. He and Joe ride out ride over and discover that Ben's old friend Calvin Butler is the source of the problems. He runs the town with an iron fist and uses violence to rid the area of "squatters."moreless
Joe's ex-fiancee Emily returns to town and promptly begins manipulating the lovestruck Cartwright. She fails to mention that she is now married to a deputy marshal, but what she does tell him are all lies. Soon enough, Emily has Joe being accused of murder and robbery.
Candy believes Sgt. Samuel Bellis is innocent of charges of desertion, murder, and selling guns to the Indians. To help clear his name, Candy has to get past an Army patrol that's searching for the sergeant. Bellis' standing is further complicated by his marriage to an Indian woman.
Hoss intends to spend his two month vacation on a fishing trip. He encounters ex-slave Sam Davis and his family who are trying to make a go of farming. Hoss wants to help Sam get his property into better shape, but he knows the proud man wouldn't take to interference from a white man.moreless
A mine collapse underneath the courthouse traps Ben with the accused murderer, the key witness, the witness' fiancee, and the court clerk. With air running out and rescuers frantically clearing the rubble, Ben learns much about those involved in the trial.
Magician Malcolm the Magnificent comes to town with his twin daughters, who he uses in his act. Jan is sweetness and light while Janice is a hell-raiser. This results in Hoss and Joe becoming confused romantic rivals, unaware that they're vying for the affection of two young women.
Ben comes to the assistance of an old friend, widow Ruth Manning, who publishes a newspaper in a nearby town. She faces problems from the town boss, Judge Seth Tabor, who wants to put her out of business.
A retired Army sergeant, bitter that the government didn't give him a pension for his 30 years of service, kidnaps one-time friend Candy. Russell forces Candy to go along with a daring plan: blow up the U.S. mint in Carson City and empty its vaults of its gold and silver.
The Cartwrights allow a Paiute group to stay on Ponderosa land while they work out a food-for-cattle exchange. Hoss falls for a young woman, Erin, who was raised by Indians since childhood, and he soon proposes. The bigoted neighboring Murray family demand that the Cartwrights throw the Indians off their land. When Ben refuses to cave to their commands, the neighbors turn to violence.moreless
A snobbish English woman, Mrs. Wharton, loses her valuables to robbers when they hold up the stage she's taking. While working to retrieve the the snooty woman's trinkets, Candy learns Mrs. Wharton is much more resourceful and wily than she lets on.
Candy stands accused of a murder he didn't commit. The only witness who can prove his innocence is an Indian horse thief named Jacova who's currently on the lam from the law. While the Cartwrights search for Jacova, Candy is saddled with a lawyer who doesn't care if his client lives or dies.moreless
Hoss offers to help Annie Laurie, a beautiful young woman who is running away from her abusive husband. Annie's married to Kelly Adams, an outlaw and fugitive wanted in several states. Kelly is determined to keep Annie under his control and force her to travel with him as he continues robbing and running from the law.moreless
Ben agrees to hide a government witness at the Ponderosa. Charles Ball was part of a group who committed a major land swindle involving fraud and violence, and he's set to testify against their ringleader, Richard Vardeman. Vardeman, however, is scouring the area searching for Ball; he wants to make sure Ball doesn't live to take the stand against him.moreless
Hop Sing is humiliated by Virginia City bully Emo Younger who cuts off his pigtail. Joe storms into town to do something about it and finds himself charged with murder when Younger turns up dead. Hop Sing comes to the rescue with an ancient Chinese skill: fingerprint detection.
One of Ben's old friends from his Army days comes to town to settle down in Virginia City. Unfortunately, Beaudry's idea of rowdy fun involves stealing Little Joe's horse, starting fights with the locals, and injuring Candy.
Despite knowing nothing about the business, Joe and Candy going into partnership with Kate Kelly to start an ore-stamping mill. It's not all work as the two men take turns courting Miss Kelly. Things turn unpleasant when Miles Renfro, another mine owner, makes it clear he doesn't appreciate the competition.
The wine-making Rossi family makes their third appearance. Refusing to acknowledge a government treaty, hard-headed patriarch Giorgio allows a group of Indians to stay on his land. This results in his kids and wife all becoming irritated with his stubbornness and moving in with the Cartwrights.
A woman who was kidnapped by the Paiutes years earlier is returned and finds her life in shambles. While being held, she was forced to bear a child to one of the Indians. This causes her husband to reject her and bigoted townspeople to turn on her.
A bratty 10-year-old girl named Samantha is delivered unexpectedly to the Ponderosa. Her mother, Martha, had to send Samantha to orphanages after being deserted by her husband. Martha arrives to reclaim her daughter, but the girl's hateful grandfather also shows up demanding custody.
The residents of Tin Bucket claim the Cartwrights and Candy are dealing in stolen cattle hides. With most of the town accusing Joe, Hoss and Candy of various crimes, it is Ben who faces the most serious trouble when he determines who is actually responsible for the hide thefts.
Hoss and Joe's bickering lead them into taking opposite sides in the Virginia City mayoral race. Their zealous actions cause Virginia City's citizens to divide into two factions that causes nothing but arguments, fights and havoc in town.
Jeremy Roman takes advantage of his wealthy father's illness and works to have him declared mentally incompetent. As he takes over the ranch, he steps on many toes, including breaking a business contract with the Cartwrights.
When the sheriff of Muddy Creek is murdered, Ben and Joe take charge of prisoner Luke Harper. The Cartwrights ask for help from the people of the town, but the residents are so afraid of Harper's gang that they even dessert the town.
Candy's past comes into play as he and the Cartwrights assist an Army unit being attacked by bandits. The unit's Captain Harris is married to Candy's ex-wife and the leader of the outlaw gang is one of Candy's childhood friends, Angel Montana.
Hoss unknowingly buys a horse that belonged to a murdered millionaire. A lynch mob greedy for the dead man's money has him falsely arrested and charged with murder. He escapes through the help of Child Barnett, a black cowboy. The two form a friendship as they run from Hoss' accusers and would-be murderers.moreless
As season ten opens, Joe helps a reclusive, widowed mountain woman who's never filed claim on the land she calls home. A greedy timber baron is about to file, and when he does, he'll throw the stubborn old gal off her property. Joe also searches for a doctor to treat a dangerous infection that threatens her life.moreless
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