1 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Series / The Big Valley

Left to right: Audra, Nick, Victoria, Eugene, Jarrod and Heath.

"Heath! Nick! Jarrod! There's a fire in the barn!"
"Johnny" in Airplane!

Western TV series which ran on ABC from 1965 to 1969, starring Richard Long, Peter Breck, Linda Evans, Lee Majors (in his first starring role) and Barbara Stanwyck. The series featured the Barkleys, a wealthy ranch family living near Stockton in California's Central Valley. The family consisted of Victoria, a tough pioneer turned elegant lady; her four sons, and a daughter. It was more socially conscious than other Westerns of the time, featuring some diversity (black cowboys, Chinese railroad workers) and plenty of angst, often arising from various family members' attempts to fight injustice.


  • Action Mom: Miss Victoria Barkely.
  • And Starring: "And Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck as Victoria Barkley."
  • Badass Bookworm: Jarrod is a lawyer who doesn't ordinarily wear a gun, and he apparently has large amounts of legal code memorized to quote off the top of his head at the drop of a hat. He can also mend fences, throw a solid punch, and hit precisely what he shoots at when he does carry a weapon.
    • Similarly, Victoria Barkley is dignified, polite, polished, and well-educated. And she is a frontier wife who has shows no hesitation to pull a gun on a threat, wade through hip-deep mud, or snark at armed criminals. Mess with her or her family at your own peril.
  • Badass Family: The Barkleys. Victoria and Audra may float around in hoop skirts, but they're quite capable of putting on tight pants and shooting straight when the situation requires it.
  • Big Bad Friend: The Barkleys ended up having a lot of these.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: The three brothers. Jarrod is an attorney, Nick runs the ranch, and Heath is a Walking Shirtless Scene.
  • Big Brother Instinct: All three of the boys, but especially Jarrod, towards Audra.
  • Cartwright Curse: All four Barkley children, despite being rich and attractive, can't make it out of an episode with a love interest still alive. This might even include their mother, who from the start of the series was a widow.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Eugene Barkley, originally a Berkeley student, was written out after seven episodes when the actor playing him was drafted.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Nick, whose character uniform is head-to-toe black leather, cowboy style.
  • Heroic Bastard: Heath, the son of Thomas Barkley by a short-lived relationship with Leah, joins his brothers' side for what seems like it will be the losing side of a gunfight by the end of the second episode.
  • Holier Than Thou: The self-righteous marshal played by James Whitmore in "Night in a Small Town".
  • Just A Stitch: Audra says this in "Last Train to the Fair".
  • Like Brother and Sister: Heath and Audra. She's defensive of him and he protective of her, though not quite as much as Jarrod, the latter seen in first season episode "Last Train to the Fair".
  • Limited Wardrobe: Jarrod always wears a homespun suit and tie; Nick, a black cowboy outfit; and Heath, tan pants and a vest.
  • Mama Bear: DO NOT DARE try to threaten or harm Victoria's children. Especially Audra. She will kill you outright in justified time.
  • Nitro Express: In a two-part episode, fittingly titled "Explosion!", Jarrod, Nick, and Heath have to carry nitro to a forest fire to blow a fire break.
  • Old Retainer: Silas, who apparently single-handedly takes care of the massive Barkley mansion and cooks all the meals, as he's the only servant ever seen.
  • Put on a Stagecoach: The actress who played Audra was written out of an episode because of negotiations with the network over renewing her contract. Her mother mentions in the episode to a visitor that Audra had to go to some distant town on an errand. She returned from whatever she was visiting in the next episode
  • Precision F-Strike: In the pilot, Heath comes onto the Barkley estate and ends up fighting with Jarrod, and Jarrod wants to know who he is and why he's there, so Heath uses the only profanity used in the entire series when he states, matter-of-factly, just who he is: "Your father's bastard son." (The comic book of the series completely ignores how Heath ended up with the family.)
  • Ruptured Appendix: Audra's in first season episode "Last Train to the Fair".
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Leah nurses Thomas Barkley back to health, after which he returns to his family, never discovering that he left Leah pregnant.
  • Stuffed In A Fridge: In "Days of Wrath" Jarrod meets Beth, whom he meets and marries after a few days only for her to take a bullet meant for him and die in his arms, just so Jarrod can go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after her killer. All this happens in one episode.