10 hilarious Hoss episodes of Bonanza

He competed in an eating contest, tried to play the violin and took flight in more than one episode.

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Bonanza’s Most Hilarious Hoss Episodes
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Hoss Cartwright was the heart and soul of Bonanza. Actor Dan Blocker embodied Hoss perfectly, both in size and personality. Blocker’s kind nature and comic timing made it into many Bonanza episodes and were a big part of why the classic Western shot to the top of the ratings. Though Hoss and Dan didn’t quite match up intellectually, Blocker was a scholar and former teacher, there was plenty of overlap in other ways between actor and character.

Here are ten episodes that showcase Hoss’ funny side. Do you have a favorite episode about the beloved middle Cartwright brother?

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1. Maestro Hoss


Hoss was as kind as he was brawny, but he was never the sharpest tool in the Ponderosa shed — and sometimes his kindness got him into trouble. The season eight episode “Maestro Hoss” opens with the middle Cartwright brother helping out fortuneteller Madam Marova, played by Zsa Zsa Gabor. Marova convinces Hoss that he has the potential to be a great musician, and even squeezes $178.50 out of him after giving him a violin. Most of the episode’s humor comes from the fact that Hoss is a downright vile virtuoso, to the point that animals retreat back into their holes at the sound of his screeching notes.

2. Hoss and the Leprechauns


This famous Bonanza episode stands out as one of the oddest in the entire series. Hoss believes there are leprechauns on the Ponderosa, complete with green suits and gold. There are many funny scenes of Hoss trying to convince his family of what he thought he saw, plus Dan Blocker showing off his physical comedy abilities. Though there’s logical explanation for it all in the end, this isn’t the only Bonanza episode to deal with fantastical or supernatural elements.

3. The Flapjack Contest


Though sometimes Bonanza mixed humor with danger, this episode is just plain fun. It revolves around a Virginia City contest to see who can eat the most flapjacks and win the big $500 prize. Joe is eager to win the cash and enlists Hoss as a contestant. Hoss is happy to do it until he finds out that Joe has put him on a strict diet of “rabbit food” and water (no beer!) to get ready for the big day.

4. Three Brides for Hoss


Just a few months before she became nurse Christine Chapel (and the voice of the Enterprise computer) in Star Trek, Majel Barret stopped by the Ponderosa as a hillbilly mail-order bride for Hoss. The problem is, Hoss has no idea who she or the French mademoiselle Yvette Devereaux or the proper Bostonian Libby Spencefield are — even though they’ve all shown up to marry him! This episode has as many laughs as it does accents and plays up Hoss’ utter confusion to hilarious effect.

5. The Ponderosa Birdman


Comedian Ed Wynn guest stars in this episode as an inventor who has a dream to make humans fly. Hoss, being his naturally helpful and somewhat gullible self, volunteers to be the guinea pig testing out the new contraption. Unfortunately, the mechanism the professor cooks up is less of a flying machine and more just giant bird wings tied to Hoss’ arms. Hoss does manage to get airborne though, thanks to some strong winds and a boost from Little Joe.

6. Any Friend of Walter’s


This classic Bonanza episode is a fan-favorite and was so popular it inspired a sequel installment “Walter and the Outlaws” the very next season. The title character in both is a shaggy, sleepy dog. Despite his lethargic disposition, Walter has a special kind of intuition, at least according to his old prospector owner, Obie. Hoss stumbles upon the scraggly pair while taking shelter in their cabin from three bickering outlaws. It’s a great episode that only a Western like Bonanza could pull off.

7. The Pure Truth


This episode introduces itself as a story with a lighthearted tone right off the bat. Ben, Adam and Joe lament the fact that Hoss’ unusually rambunctious bout of spring fever is about to hit. It isn’t long before Hoss accidentally injures Sheriff Coffee and decides to go in his place to pick up a prisoner. Problem is, Hoss travels to the wrong town and is promptly accused of robbing a bank. He escapes to the camp of an eccentric prospector played by 1930s movie star Glenda Farrell. While not as goofy as other stories, this episode has plenty of fun moments and classic Hoss antics.

8. The Gunmen


This first season episode puts the doppelganger trope to wild but hilarious use. Little Joe and Hoss arrive in a small town that just so happens to be terrorized by two outlaws who look exactly like them. Dan Blocker sports a beard as Big Jack Slade and Michael Landon plays the mustachioed Little Jim Slade. Everyone in town confuses the Cartwright brothers for the gunslingers which leads to many funny miscommunications. Grandma Walton herself Ellen Corby also guest stars as a woman who reads a long, drawn-out poem about Hoss and Joe’s dire fate at the gallows when they’re mistakenly captured.

9. The Frenchman


After Hoss pushes a rude Frenchman into a water trough, the indignant monsieur challenges him to a fencing duel. This leads to a funny scene where Adam tries to teach Hoss the art of proper sword fighting, but Hoss scoffs at the “silly looking toothpicks.” The episode gets weirder when it turns out the Frenchman thinks he is the reincarnation of medieval poet Francois Villon.

10. The Dream Rider


This Bonanza episode stars prolific movie and TV character actor Sidney Blackmer as an Army major who comes to the Ponderosa with a newfangled hydrogen balloon. While more serious than most of the episodes on this list, the story does provide a few laughs when Hoss hangs on to the balloon too long and begins to float upward. Not even Little Joe dangling from his legs can bring him down. Hoss also lets the balloon fly with Joe asleep in the basket, a rare time when Hoss gets to pull a fast one on his conniving younger brother. The episode is also one of eight Bonanza installments directed by future auteur filmmaker Robert Altman. 

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Royals35 14 months ago
The Hoss episode that was so genuine was the Easter bunny episode. So hilarious!
Tim 23 months ago
The Hoss episodes are my favorite Bonanzas. Lighter fare than the standard good vs evil arc of most western episodes...
James9 23 months ago
Bonanza was my favorite western growing up and it still is. Hoss was my favorite character. RIP Dan Blocker.
bagandwallyfan52 23 months ago
Please add The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves and The Lone Ranger with BOTH CLAYTON MOORE and JOHN HART as The Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels as
TONTO.My favorite HEROES on
TV are Superman The Lone Ranger and Tonto.
PS I also like BATMAN (Adam West)and Robin (Burt Ward)
And Cartoon Characters
bagandwallyfan52 23 months ago
Please carry these TV shows
The Adventures of Superman
The Lone Ranger
bagandwallyfan52 23 months ago
What s Fantastic Superman
VIDEO with George Reeves and Jack Larson as Jimmy Olson.
bagandwallyfan52 23 months ago
I like the Bonanza Theme Song.
Does anyone know why they
CHANGED the Bonanza Theme Song later with s different
Instrumental song?
I liked the ORIGINAL Bonanza Theme Song much better than
Bonanza Theme Song 2.
On Happy Days I liked The Rock Around The Clock Theme Song
Better than The Happy Days
Theme Song.
TinaMarieHaddadRhodes 23 months ago
Love the episodes with comedy. Hoss was a kind hearted character but Dan Blocker was just as kind hearted in real life….
FrankCollins 23 months ago
The best was Hoss and the Leprechauns. The Leprechauns were played by the same actors who played the Munchkins on the 1939 classic, The Wizard Of Oz.
frances3agape FrankCollins 23 months ago
YEP - It was Hilarious !
tommy2gs123456789 23 months ago
I just watched the maestro hoss the other day and host's comedic timing was genius. Lorne green and Michael landon were also very good trying to get him to stop playing the violin. They had to endure it and he believed he was the misunderstood musical genius.
It was hilarious and outrageously funnier than I thought it would be.
LoveMETV22 24 months ago
One of my favorites was :

St. Patrick's Day episode "Hoss and the Leprechauns."
MaryMitch LoveMETV22 24 months ago
I love the ending where Hoss tells the people of the town what great neighbors the little people will be.

Even though many stations broadcast this episode around St. Patrick's Day, it was originally aired on December 22, 1963. Not exactly a Christmas episode, though!
bagandwallyfan52 24 months ago
I liked the comedy episode where
Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene)
Went to a Hotel to get good night's sleep and different things kept
Happening to keep Ben from getting a good nights sleep .
Does anyone else remember this comedy episode with Ben Cartwright about going to the hotel?
Load previous comments
I wish they would put Superman back on MeTV too….
Superman (George Reeves)and
The Lone Ranger Clayton Moore are My Favorite TV Heroes and I wish that The Adventures of Superman and Lone Ranger costarring Jay Silverheels as Tonto were seen on METV. Truth Justice and The
American Way -SJPERMAN
The Lone Ranger Rides Again
Correction SUPERMAN
Superman always saves Jimmy Olson and Lois Lane at the last
Minute before their fate is sealed.
Runeshaper 24 months ago
These all sound pretty funny LOL
RedSamRackham Runeshaper 24 months ago
* Hoss & The Leprechauns indeed had its funny moments yet led to a most heart-warming ending. ☺
RedSamRackham 23 months ago
This comment has been removed.
RobertM 24 months ago
"Any Friend of Walter's" had a sequel, "Walter and the Outlaws", in which one of the aforementioned "outlaws" was played by the future "Rockford Files" co-star James Luisi.
Andybandit 24 months ago
Hoss was a fun character on Bonanza. He is my favorite Bonanza character. When Dan Blocker passed away. Bonanza was not same. I did not like Jamie.
RedSamRackham Andybandit 24 months ago
* After Dan "Hoss" Blocker died the next season premiere was the wedding of Little Joe, a 2 part episode. It could've saved the series with Joe as a dad and husband and Ben as a grandfather. But alas, in part 2 of the episode Joe's pregnant wife gets killed. This was 1 dead bride too many for long time Bonanza fans and its ratings quickly plummeted. ♣
Jamie was added before Dan Blocker passed. I think Jamie was a good fit with the show and the cast.
Pacificsun 24 months ago
I was just a kid. But to me (in terms of memories) Bonanza was never quite the same without Hoss. I think Producers tried too hard to fill the gap. And should've approached that void in a creative and memorable way, for other reasons.

I remember my TV viewing family was saddened as if they had lost a true friend.
texasluva Pacificsun 23 months ago
Our MQ hideout (7/29/2022) will be @ How well do you know Marvin the Martian?
teire 24 months ago
In our house, whenever a tv show or movie takes an unexpected depressingly serious turn we say “Guess this isn’t a funny Hoss episode.”
richardkel 24 months ago
These are all great. I love all the episodes that feature Hoss. He's my favorite character on the show. But they left off one episode that is one of his best, "Caution, Easter Bunny Crossing".
harlow1313 24 months ago
It would have made for a great crossover had Lisa Douglas prepared those hotscakes.
Load previous comments
I wonder who could eat more
Pancakes in a Pancake Contest:
Moose (Barry Greenberg) from
Happy Days or Hoss Cartwright Dan Blocker from Bonanza??
Jethro of The Beverly Hillbillies
And Lumpy Rutherford Frank Bank of Leave It To Beaver would be great also in a Pancake Contest.
texasluva Pacificsun 23 months ago
Coming to your screens this week-

Bonus Movies coming your way for Friday along with your Movie Quiz

Bonus Movie #1-

Pocketful of Miracles (1961) 2 hrs 17 min- Comedy--Drama
Frank Capra
Glenn Ford---Bette Davis---Hope Lange---Arthur O'Connell---Peter Falk-

Bonus Movie #2-

A Face In The Crowd (1957) 2 hr 6 min- Drama--Music-
Elia Kazan
Andy Griffith--Patricia Neal---Anthony Franciosa---Walter Matthau---Lee Remick
A powerhouse movie performance (8.2)

Coming this Saturday to your screens---
The Aviator (2004)-
Martin Scorsese
Leonardo DiCaprio---Cate Blanchett---Kate Beckinsale-

Your movie for coming by---

Baby Doll (1956)- 1 hr 55 min-Comedy--Drama-
Elia Kazan
Karl Malden---Carroll Baker---Eli Wallach---Mildred Dunnock---Lonny Chapman--


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