Was It Gunsmoke or Bonanza?

Gavin Thagard

Image: NBC

About This Quiz

They were two of the most popular and long-running western dramas in the history of television. Gunsmoke ran for 20 seasons and Bonanza ran for 14 seasons,  covering a span of three decades, each starting in the '50s and ending in the '70s. How much do you know about two of the earliest powerhouse shows on television? Can you distinguish them from one another? Here's a quiz where you can find out just that!

Gunsmoke and Bonanza are ranked respectively as the longest-running western dramas ever to hit American television, competing directly against one another, as Gunsmoke ran on CBS and Bonanza on NBC. Few shows could challenge these two goliaths when they originally ran rampant through the homes of Americans or even now. 

After all, both shows have received numerous awards and are consistently included in rankings of greatest shows of all time. Even today, their popularity refuses to die, with reruns and DVD sales drawing new audience members and entertaining fans who have been with the shows when they first started. 

Whether you grew up with the shows or came upon them years after their series finales aired, here's your chance to revisit each one. Get started and put your Gunsmoke and Bonanza knowledge to the test! 

The Cartwright family is a big part of this show.

Originally, the Cartwright family is made up of Ben Cartwright and his three sons. For most of the series, none of them are married. This was more of a studio decision than a story decision, as married men were unpopular on television at the time.

Festus Haggen was a deputy on the show.

Festus Haggen arrives in Dodge City after the death of his twin brother. After his first appearance, his twin brother is never brought back up. Some things are better left forgotten.

Hop Sing, a Chinese immigrant, was a family cook in this show.

Hop Sing was a welcomed member of the Cartwright household, usually very considerate of others. However, he would get angry when the family showed up to dinner late.

This show is famous for the line "Get the hell out of Dodge."

This line became an idiom in popular culture after it was heard on the show. Occasionally, it still comes up today.

This show was set in Dodge City, Kansas.

Dodge City is an actual city in Kansas. It was founded in 1872 and incorporated in 1875.

Dr. Galen Adams is the town physician.

Dr. Galen Adams was played by Milburn Stone. Stone was awarded an Emmy in 1968 for his portrayal of the character on Gunsmoke.

Kitty Russell owned the Long Branch Saloon.

When the show originally ran, many fans wondered if Matt Dillon and Kitty Russell were ever in an actual relationship on the show. Over 40 years later, those fans are still asking the same question.

This show featured the Ponderosa Ranch.

The Ponderosa Ranch was located near Lake Tahoe in Nevada. A real ranch named after the one in the show was used as an amusement park from 1967 until 2004.

There's a bartender named Sam Noonan.

Sam Noonan was played by Glenn Strange. Strange died in 1973 of lung cancer while still a character on the show.

Sheriff Roy Coffee ran the town.

Sheriff Coffee was up in age and many people considered him unfit to run the town. In the episode "No Less a Man," he proves them wrong by running off a gang of thieves.

This show follows Marshall Matt Dillon.

Gunsmoke started off as a radio series. Matt Dillon was voiced by William Conrad on the radio and played by James Arness on the show.

The main character was widowed three times.

Cowboys aren't meant to settle down. That was certainly the case for Ben Cartwright, though not by choice.

Dusty Rhoades becomes a foreman.

Dusty Rhoades is an old friend of Ben Cartwright. He brings Jamie Hunter to the Cartwright's ranch.

Quint Asper is a blacksmith in this show.

Quint Asper was half-Comanche, often referred to as a "halfbreed." He struggles with his commitment to the tribe and to justice.

In this show, "Candy" Canaday is a former Army brat.

"Candy" Canaday left the Army and became a cowboy on the Cartwright's ranch. Eventually, he climbed the ranks and became the ranch foreman.

In the series premiere, an actress is used to gain a hostage in exchange for timber wood.

It all started with a mining tycoon and an actress. With the Cartwright family solving this dilemma, the show was off and running.

In this show, Mr. Norton expels a Jewish student.

Bonanza wasn't afraid to dive into issues like anti-semitism. Luckily, the morally guided Ben Cartwright is always willing to step in and have his view heard.

This show had an episode called "The Hidden Enemy" about substance abuse.

Substance abuse was only one issue the show dealt with. It also discussed domestic violence and environmental issues, among many others.

Will Mannon argues that he's the fastest gun in the West.

Will Mannon uses brutality to draw out Matt Dillon and get the duel of a lifetime. However, he should be careful what he wishes for.

In a two-episode plot, killer Charlie Hacker is chased to Mexico.

In the late 19th century, Mexico is full of corrupt officials and bandits. That won't stop Marshall Matt Dillon from catching the bad guy.

In "The Lonely Man," a Chinese man can't marry a white woman because of territorial laws.

The Cartwright's cook, Hop Sing, falls in love with a white woman and asks her to marry him. Sadly, the marriage never occurs because of race laws governing the region.

Jamie Hunter is a red-headed orphan.

Jaime is eventually adopted by Ben Cartwright. This gives the father of the Cartwright's another ear to teach lessons to.

An African-American opera singer named Thomas Bowers comes to town.

This was a controversial episode, especially in the 1960s. Two television stations in the South wouldn't air it.

This show had an episode about Mormons called "The Pursued."

"The Pursued" is a two-part episode in season 8. In the two episodes, the Cartwright family must stand between the town and a family of Mormons who owns a ranch. This is another storyline showing the boundaries​ this show was willing to push.

In "Zavala," a gang of outlaws terrorizes the village of Zavala.

In the episode, Matt Dillon forms a friendship with Paco, a boy from the village. Paco respects Dillon's desire to arrest the outlaws instead of killing them.

Clem Foster was a deputy on the show.

Clem Foster first appears in the episode "Half a Rogue." In the episode, "Hoss" Cartwright is wrongfully accused of a murder and has to prove his innocence.

In the episode "Ex-Con," the main character is framed for murder.

Marshall Matt Dillon goes to sleep sick in an abandoned shack. When he wakes up, he's been framed for murder. Next time, he'll be careful before he falls asleep.

Clayton Thaddeus Greenwood was a deputy on the show.

Clayton "Thad" Greenwood has an episode titled after him. In the episode, Thad comes to Dodge City to arrest criminals with a warrant that's no good outside Oklahoma​.

In the episode "Robin Hood," witnesses refuse to turn in a man who robs rich people.

"Robin Hood" follows the criminal John Henry Jordan who saves his crimes for the wealthy. He's eventually stopped after being forced to go after the poor as well.

In the episode "Lover Boy," Kyle Kelly is a charming cowboy who breaks hearts.

Kyle Kelly was played by Ken Curtis. Curtis was also a guest star in four other episodes, though as different characters.

This show featured a parolee named Griff King who was trying to reform his life.

Griff King didn't make his first appearance on the show until the final season. Seeking redemption, he was quickly put under the guidance of Ben Cartwright, working on the Cartwright ranch.

In "The Sharecropper," the town deputy shoots a man in the leg by accident, so he brings the man back to his house.

This was the final episode of the popular show Gunsmoke. It wasn't written as a series finale, as both cast and crew expected to have a 21st season.

Alice Harper is murdered with her brother John over a gambling debt.

In this two-part episode, "Little Joe" Cartwright falls in love and marries Alice Harper. However, their marriage ends with Alice's murder, and "Little Joe" seeks revenge.

A former soldier, Bill Tanner, goes on a killing spree.

Bill Tanner sets his eyes on "Little Joe" Cartwright. Joe survives the encounter, but in future years, he dies in the Spanish-American War.

In the episode "The Queue," a Chinese man has his pigtail cut off and must seek retribution.

Chen, a Chinese immigrant, has his pigtail cut off by two men. He claims that he can't return to China without killing the men, which is a lot to go through for hair.

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