Here's why Chuck Connors ended The Rifleman

There were three great reasons.

The Rifleman was a very successful series. Despite some stiff competition, the series regularly scored ABC great ratings, frequently landing in the Top 10 shows broadcast during the time. While the show was well written, featuring compelling plotlines, its success was carried on the back of its star, Chuck Connors. 

So why then, did The Rifleman end after just five seasons? Other TV Westerns, like Gunsmoke and Bonanza, were among the longest-running series in television history. Why was the plug pulled on The Rifleman, when it could've surely kept going for at least another season or two, at least?

As it turns out, the series' star was also the one who ended it all. He cited three primary reasons why The Rifleman ended its run. In a 1963 interview, Connors provided an Associated Press reporter with his list of grievances.

Predictably, the network was at least partially to blame for the kerfuffle. The producers wanted to extend The Rifleman into an hour-long show. However, ABC hesitated to go with them on that journey, and the network dragged its feet, causing some last-minute shakeups and decisions.

"I knew what Lucy [Ball, head of Desilu productions] would do to our ratings and I didn't want to wait around until our show was dropped and I might be an actor nobody wanted," Connors told the AP.

Creativity was another reason; after that many episodes, where do you go?

"The show would have gone five years, and that's long enough. By that time, you have done everything possible with your characters. If you keep on going, you're just cheating the public."

And finally, there was the fact that series co-star Johnny Crawford was growing up.

"Johnny Crawford was 12 when he started the show. He's now 17, and he is just as natural and nice as when we started. He should be going to college. It's up to his father whether he goes or not: at least I'll know nothing I did prevented him from going."

Watch The Rifleman on MeTV!

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9 Comments

Mannixishot 7 months ago
Gotta respect those that know when to walk away instead of the show continuing and possibly going downhill.
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cperrynaples 7 months ago
Yep, but that was after Arrest And Trial! BTW, you can see Branded on MeTV+!
MrJwtaylor40 6 months ago
Stranded, stranded on the toilet bowl. What do you do when you're stranded, no paper on the roll?
Bapa1 7 months ago
.....or he just ran out of bullets.
cperrynaples Bapa1 7 months ago
Or maybe the rifle got rusted in a rainstorm...LOL!
cperrynaples 7 months ago
Another reason was that Connors wanted to extend his range, so he signed to do Arrest And Trial, which proably inspired Law & Order! Ironically, it ran against Lucy AND Andy Griffith! Even weirder, the following season ABC ran No Time For Sargeants against Andy Griffith, who played that role 3 times [TV/Broadway/ Movie]!
Runeshaper 7 months ago
The last reason was truly beautiful 🤩
BenSobeleone Runeshaper 7 months ago
I was just watching the first episode of The Rifleman today. Guest star Dennis Hopper.
Runeshaper BenSobeleone 7 months ago
Excellent star and guest star!
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