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Tear Jerker / Bonanza

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  • The 14th (and final) season opener, "Forever," was one of the most emotional of the entire series, given that it was the first new episode aired since the death of Dan Blocker, who portrayed the beloved middle son Hoss Cartwright. The emotion kicks in shortly after Little Joe's new wife, Alice, who just announced she was pregnant is killed by a ruthless gambler, and her body left to burn. He arrives at burning homestead long after she's been killed, rushes over in pure terror, and futilely tries to rescue her while screaming "ALICE!" in a vain attempt to hear her call out his name. Then he tries to barge into the fiery house, badly burning his hands in the process and forced to leave it to go up in flames. Shortly after Alice's funeral, Joe returns to the charred remains of his house and refuses to leave ... when Ben shows up and tries to ask him to come home. Joe breaks out in tears and adamantly refuses, before he completely breaks down. Ben then, too, loses his emotions and begins to cry, and the two embrace. Years later, the two surviving cast members — David Canary and Mitch Vogel, who played Candy and Jamie, respectively — have said the emotions were genuine ways of both Lorne Greene and Michael Landon releasing their grief over Blocker's death.
    • In the next scene, Joe announces he's leaving, perhaps permanently, to sort out his grief and emotions. After leaving the room, Ben sadly walks up to a dresser, looks at a photograph and leaves the room in near tears. The camera then pans in on a photo of Hoss. Indeed, no direct mention of Hoss' death is ever given, as this is merely implied with the focus on Blocker's photo.
    • The musical cue used as the couple's Leitmotif gets a Dark Reprise following Alice's death. What was once an innocent music box now becomes a haunting melody; another Western-era series would go on to do the same thing.
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    • The touching final scene, where Joe pays a final visit to Alice's grave and quietly tells her with a tender and loving whisper, "I love you." Then the scene hangs on the site of the cross for a while and then shifts to the right, obscuring the cross and then shifting to a panoramic view of the Ponderosa as the music swells very emotionally, likely indicating to us that life goes on and so will Joe's.
    • This story as a whole becomes especially sad if one decides to watch it at the end of the season instead of the beginning (choosing to believe that Griff is just not appearing in this story, having been introduced midway through this last season), causing it to act as a poignant Series Finale and create a mystery as to why Hoss is no longer with the Cartwright Family that is fully revealed here. Furthermore, it makes one feel as though Joe has decided to permanently depart from the Cartwright ranch and sort out his grief and decide to shape up and strike out on his own, now fully mature, because he's not shown returning to the household afterward. It also feels more fitting at the end of the season because it caps off the show and that final shot of the Ponderosa coupled with that moving musical flourish at the end feels like it's giving us, the viewers, a real sense of closure- a good-bye. Curiously, the opening credits also feature Griff prior to his introduction, so it's quite possible that this was the intended final episode, but after seeing how painful it was to get through the end, the producers might have decided to bump it up to the beginning of the season just to avoid going out on a devastatingly bittersweet note.
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  • "The Decision" involves a doctor who is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. As he's being led up the gallows, he looks back at his wife and says "I love you."
  • "The Lonely Man": Hop Sing was finally given a chance to meet and enjoy the love of his life when he met Missy, only for racial prejudice to assassinate any hope of him getting married to her because nobody condoned multi-ethnic marriage in his era. He's forced to send Missy away for her own good and says he'll be fine, before finally and tearfully remarking at the very end of the episode, "Hop Sing... very bad liar." Basically, this is one of the few times the show doesn't attempt to disguise its no permanent love agenda, where a perfectly good and innocent romance on the show dies under the grounds of "because we said so."
  • "The Hunter", the final episode of the series, ends with a convict driven so badly insane by his life in captivity that he shoots at everything wildly until his heart gives out and he drops dead. That is not a pleasant shot to go out on to close the book on the series. And knowing one of the main actors just died of heart complications when this aired makes it even more painful to look at.
  • The post-series movies take place shortly after Lorne Greene has died, and Michael Landon is unable to get involved before his own death, nor did Pernell Roberts bite, meaning that none of the original cast is involved. They also reveal the true cause of Hoss Cartwright's death- he courted and bedded a woman, and later tried to rescue that woman from drowning but saved her at the cost of his own life. In a reverse of the Cartwright Curse, she had a son with him and the father died.
  • "The Ape" has Arnie, a huge Manchild with a violent temper whom Hoss takes under his wing. Unfortunately, the man is smitten by a manipulative saloon girl who ultimately rejects him. In a rage, the man kills her and Hoss has no choice but to join the manhunt for him. Hoss tries to talk him down alone, but upon learning that Arnie committed an earlier murder of a squatter and stole his money, Hoss ultimately has to draw his gun on Arnie to make him face justice, only to be knocked out by the man who is ultimately gunned down trying to attack the posse. In the end, all Hoss can do is bury his dead friend in a faraway plot on the Ponderosa he promised he could have for a place of his own.

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