IMDb-Rated: 10 Must-Watch Western TV Shows
Westerns have been a popular genre since the early days of film, and they seamlessly made the transition to television. With their simple morality tales and common themes, Westerns make great TV. Throughout television history, some of the best shows have been Westerns, and they consistently attract high ratings. Let's take a look at some of the best Westerns that have graced our television screens.
Popular TV Westerns of the Past:
Bonanza was one of the longest-running Westerns on television. The show followed the Cartwright family as they dealt with the many adventures that life on their Nevada ranch had in store for them. Unlike other Western shows that focused on lawmen and outlaws, Bonanza focused on one family's struggles and triumphs. Its 20-year run made it a fan-favorite for many viewers.
Wagon Train took viewers on a journey through the Old West, following the adventures of settlers on their way to California. The show's unique setting, combined with its anthology-style presentation of new characters each week, kept audiences intrigued. Though not as popular as some of its contemporaries, Wagon Train remained on air for almost a decade and stands out as a classic Western series.
Gunsmoke is one of the most legendary shows in television history, and with 20 seasons under its belt, it is also one of the longest-running shows ever. The show revolved around Marshal Matt Dillon, who tried to maintain law and order in the unruly town of Dodge City. Its excellent storytelling and unforgettable characters made it a hit among generations of viewers.
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. was a short-lived series that explored the unlikely partnership between a buffoonish bounty hunter and his young apprentice. The blending of Western and science-fiction elements made for a unique viewing experience. The show's cancellation after just one season leaves fans wondering what could have been.
Modernized TV Westerns:
Longmire follows the story of Sheriff Walt Longmire as he tries to put his life back together while maintaining order in his Wyoming hometown. The show blended classic Westerns with a modern sensibility and episodic television with an overarching storyline.
Justified's central character is a big city U.S. Marshall reassigned to his rural hometown in Kentucky. Despite the change in location to the South, the show remains every bit a Western series with all its classic tropes. Its complex characters and the show's setting helped it stand out from other contemporary television shows.
Deadwood brought a gritty realness to the Old West by showcasing the rough-and-tumble town of Deadwood, South Dakota. Its depiction of all the good and bad in the town created a realistic view of the Old West. Though it was short-lived, the show left an indelible mark on viewers and is widely considered one of the best HBO shows of the early 2000s.
Yellowstone is a contemporary Western series that follows a Montana ranching family fighting to save their land. The show's themes of property and individual rights are relevant to modern times, and its use of classical Western tropes with a fresh perspective make it stand out. With Kevin Costner in the lead role, Yellowstone creates an engaging and dramatic experience for viewers.
From the classic TV shows of the past, like Bonanza and Gunsmoke, to contemporary hits such as Longmire and Yellowstone, Westerns remain a beloved genre. When done right, Western shows deliver compelling stories and characters. The best Westerns stand out for their cultural significance and critical acclaim, and they continue to draw new fans to the frontier of American television.
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