The Young Riders was a Western TV series that ran on ABC 1989-1992. It focused on a group of Pony Express Riders under the care of a quirky former Texas Ranger called Teaspoon Hunter. The show played some liberties with history, and the Western legends to-be Wild Bill Hickock (Jimmy), Buffalo Bill (Cody), and Jesse James were all among the main characters. During the show, hothead Jimmy Hickok became increasingly troubled by his reputation, while class clown Cody could be seen starting his showbiz career in tiny steps by acting in a theater production and writing stories about his rider friends. Jesse James joined the group in season 3 as a young boy.
The other riders were Kid (unrelated to "Billy The..."), who came from a small farm in Virginia, disguised girl Lou, Indian half-breed Buck, his mute best friend Ike, and by the second season Noah, the first black regular on a Western TV show. The station house was cared for by housekeeper Emma Shannon in the first season and Rachel Dunne in the second and third. US Marshal Sam Cain also featured in the first season.
The characters spent more time fighting bad guys than delivering mail, a course of action facilitated in the second season when Sam left the show and Teaspoon took over his job as marshal, deputizing the riders whenever he needed to.
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This show provides examples of:
- Bar Brawl: And barn brawl, and store brawl... pretty much every building in Sweetwater gets busted up at one point or another.
- Berserk Button: Jimmy's gets triggered by any man who Would Hit a Girl.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Teaspoon can be rather... eccentric.
- Clueless Deputy: Barnett
- Conveniently an Orphan: Historically correct, since the Pony Express policy stated "orphans preferred".
- Dark and Troubled Past: Everyone.
- Dumb Struck: Ike.
- Girl of the Week / Cartwright Curse
- Grand Finale
- Historical-Domain Character: Jimmy, Cody, Jesse
- Hollywood History
- Killed Off for Real: Ike and Noah.
- Long-Lost Relative: Considering the riders are all orphans, Emma was once married, and Teaspoon has had his, er, dalliances, one of these will crawl out of the woodwork from time to time. Don't expect these characters to last long.
- Love Triangle: Sam and Emma begin the series already romantically involved, but Jimmy still has the hots for her.
- Miss Kitty: Rachel, Charlotte
- Mixed Ancestry: Buck. Less friendly characters (Thompkins, for example) often use the slur "half-breed" describe him.
- No Name Given: Kid.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Too often to count.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Cody.
- Pony Express Rider
- Put on a Bus: Sam and Emma, with Emma getting a Hotter and Sexier replacement in Rachel.
- Retired Outlaw: Elias Mills
- Sweet on Polly Oliver: Kid.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Lou.
- Team Dad: Teaspoon.
- Team Mom: Emma, and later Rachel.
- U.S. Marshal: Sam.
- The Wild West
- Wretched Hive: Like a lot of Old West towns in real life, Sweetwater can come across this way at times.
- Young Gun: Jimmy.
Episodes of this series provide examples of: