Chuck Connors explained why The Rifleman never got complaints about the show's use of violence
As a series, The Rifleman was sort of ahead of its time.
For all the talk about on-screen violence poisoning viewer's minds, there is an argument to be made that, in the proper doses, action-packed moments in a television series have their time and place. They add tension to a scene and encourage audience investment. As a viewer, you're much more likely to tune in if you're watching to see if your favorite hero survives another episode.
In a series like The Rifleman, such violence seemed almost commonplace in a Western series. However, the show premiered in 1958, a few years before television would begin to really push the envelope. Yet as a former military man and current rancher, Lucas McCain managed to find himself in more scraps than you might think throughout the series's five-year run.
However, as Chuck Connors pointed out during an interview with The Washington Post, the show's creators and network didn't receive much pushback from concerned viewers who were worried about the level of violence being depicted on screen.
Connors stated, "Funning thing about The Rifleman, in nearly every episode there were fist fights and shooting scenes. But we never had a complaint about violence."
The actor theorized that while The Rifleman did portray violence, it was the conversation between protagonist Lucas and his son Mark that helped to alleviate those fears. Connors commented, "I think that was because after the fighting and shooting had ended, Lucas McCain would sit with his young son and say, 'Mark, that was wrong. Men shouldn't have to fight.'"
One thing The Rifleman excelled in was portraying its characters in a realistic manner, faults and all. While fighting may not be the best way to solve every problem, sometimes situations come to a head and we act without thinking it through, and mistakes are made. Still, The Rifleman took great pains to ensure that the right lesson was taught before the end of the episode.