There’s only one Gunsmoke episode where Chester, Quint and Festus all appear

Another rare occurrence — Festus gets a shave!

Very few television shows can say they lasted for 20 years, even fewer that were primetime scripted dramas. The classic Western Gunsmoke can make that claim, airing 635 episodes from 1955-1975.

Over the course of its run, the stories about Matt Dillon and company in Dodge City, Kansas, went through many iterations. The show evolved from a 30-minute program to a full hour and, like so many series on TV in the mid-1960s, switched to color. Cast members also came and went.

Burt Reynolds enjoyed a three-year stint in the early ’60s as Quint Asper before becoming a movie star. Dennis Weaver, who played Marshal Dillon’s trusty sidekick, Chester, from the very beginning, left the show after season nine to free up time for other projects. In 1964, a new character joined the show to help Matt keep the peace. Technically, Festus Haggen was introduced the year before in the one-off episode “Us Haggens.” But it wasn’t until season nine that actor Ken Curtis became a regular part of the cast.

Festus was perfectly suited to fill in as Matt’s funny yet dedicated right-hand man. The writers of Gunsmoke made the unique decision to have the character leaving the show and the new one taking his place appear together. In “Prairie Wolfer” (the first episode by that name, not to be confused with a similarly named episode in season ten), Festus arrives in Dodge riding a mule and using a horse to carry his wolf furs, as only Festus would. Though people in his line of work are generally looked down upon, Matt and Chester welcome him with open arms, no doubt hoping audiences would too.

Festus visits the barbershop for a bath and a shave (another unique thing about this episode) and eventually helps Matt find out why cattle in the area are being killed. Though it ends with Festus riding out of Dodge City, he hints that he’ll soon be coming back.

This isn’t the last episode to feature both Chester and Festus, and Quint Asper wouldn’t leave the show for another year. However, this is the only installment of Gunsmoke that features all three — Chester, Festus and Quint — not to mention the rest of the core cast, Miss Kitty and Doc Adams!

Another fun fact about “Prairie Wolfer”? It stars Holly McIntire, daughter of prolific character actress Jeanette Nolan (who once played Festus' Aunt Thede on Gunsmoke) and Wagon Train’s John McIntire. She acted for a brief period in the 1960s, appearing in Perry Mason, Rawhide, Dr. Kildare and Wagon Train alongside her father.

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14 Comments

gimmes0mespace 38 months ago
1st try! I watch it every chance I get. The early seasons were the most well written. But I have watched all of them.
Jeffrey 43 months ago
I've never seen that episode, I'll have to watch when it comes on MeTV, if they ever air it, and I remember to watch it.
texasluva 43 months ago
Festus: Just a gosh dern minute Chester. If you keep a hobbling around like that we''ll get ya one them thar walking canes.
Chester: You just never a mind. I can do quite well thank you.
Festus: Well I gotta tell you....My Aunt Thede can walk a straighter line then you.
Chester: I mean have you ever (evil eye)....Someone who takes a bath two weeks of Sunday should talk.
Matt: Okay you two. Stop donkey'n around. I'd like to get back to Dodge sooner then later.
Festus mule: Hee-haw.......
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TheDavBow3 texasluva 43 months ago
Festus: Doncha seeeee, Matthewww!
Wiseguy TheDavBow3 43 months ago
Gunsmoke --> Kentucky Jones --> Gentle Ben
Jonh333 texasluva 15 months ago
Afraid you forgot at least one episode Festus was in. It was called “Romeo”. He meets an old flame he left ”back in the day” re ignites a relationship. She thinks he’s in love and will marry he and then she kills him because she’ll not stand for being dumped again. He’s a smooth talking, slow walking clean shaven “lover boy”. Seems like a city guy come back to the country girls when he needs them and takes off when he’s done.

I’m pretty sure the girl he came for was Ruta Lee, I may be wrong about that but I think there’s another “pre-festus” episode another episode that Festus plays in where he’s another character beside Prairie Wolfers can’t think of it right now. I’ll add it if it comes to me.
texasluva Jonh333 15 months ago
Ha! That post was like 2 years 4 months ago. I had forgotten about it. I had a hankering and was just messing around. Looks like you have a bit of catching up to do. I'd say light years. You can also check others postings by clicking on their names. Take care partner.
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