This is the pilot for the series "The Rifleman". Lucas and Mark McCain enter the town of North Fork, hoping to buy a small ranch, but they encounter trouble from a shady businessman and a young punk gunfighter.
Marks Theme Music by Herschel Burke Gilbert.
Lucas McCain and his son Mark arrive in North Fork, New Mexico. Looking to start a new life, they come across a ranch to their liking, which is for sale. Lucas enters a Turkey Shoot in hopes of winning the down payment for the ranch. Jim Lewis, the man who runs North Fork, has bet on Vernon, a young gun he brought in, to win. When talk of Lucas' reputation back in the Nations circulates around town, Mr. Lewis gets nervous and he makes trouble for Lucas by threatening Mark's life.
Two hired hands of a wealthy cattleman, who has been using the ranch for grazing his cattle, demand that Lucas move out. When Lucas refuses, he is beaten and dragged and then the ranch house is burned down. They left Lucas and Mark with the burning house and rode off with Lucas' rifle. Leaving Mark to tend to the animals, Lucas tracks them down and confronts their boss, Mr. Jackford.
Lucas is forced to give refuge to Will Fulton, a young bank robber, who was injured while saving Mark's life. While staying at the McCain ranch Will gets a taste of a life better than the one he's been leading. He's met a girl and grows tired of a life on the run. Will this young man have a change of heart before his brother returns for him and the stolen money?
Micah Torrance, a once famous lawman, is introduced as a drunken derelict, who stumbles into North Fork. Micah, nursing an arm crippled in a gunfight, is hired by Lucas to help out at the ranch. Three outlaws ride into town looking for revenge against Micah. When they kill the sheriff, it's up to Lucas and Micah to protect North Fork. Micah becomes North Fork's full-time Marshal.
Mark's uncle, Johnny Gibb, a big time rodeo rider, comes to visit. While Mark idolizes his uncle, Lucas discovers that Johnny is on the run from the law for an Express Office Robbery. Stacy has a bronco named Lucifer, that nobody's been able to ride for 15 seconds. Alvah, wanting to humble the almighty Mr. Stacy, asks Johnny if he'd ride Lucifer, so that he and the townsfolk could bet that Johnny would ride Lucifer for 30 seconds. Johnny agrees and then makes a deal with Stacy to throw the ride for $500.00. After spending time with Mark, Johnny decides to give the ride his best and then turn himself in to Marshal Torrance.
Judge Burton seeks ""Justice"" against the Hangman, who hanged his son; the Judge, who sentenced his son; and Lucas, the man who caught his son. When Judge Burton discovers that Lucas has a son, he decides that the best way to serve justice is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a son for a son. Judge Burton tied Lucas to a wagon and went to hang Mark, feeling that Lucas should feel the same agony that he had felt waiting for is son to be hanged.
When an Italian Count arrives in North Fork, his strange attire attracts the attention of Groder, a town bully. Groder trying to have fun with this stranger, destroys some of the Counts currency, mocks him, and tries to humiliate him. Eventually the Count challenges Groder to a duel and asks Lucas to be his Second. They meet at dawn and the Count, the offended party, brings his single shot dueling pistols, something Groder is unaccustomed to. Lucas as second must see that all rules of the duel are adhered to.
Floyd Doniger comes to North Fork, looking to start a new life. He's got a steady job as the guard at the new bank and he's entertaining ideas of settling down on a spread of his own. Also arriving in North Fork are three men who followed the bank's new safe, figuring any town needing a safe like that must have money to put into it. At the grand opening celebration of the bank, the three men discover the new bank guard is their old pal, Floyd. The three men try to convince Floyd to join them in robbing the bank, after all with a man working inside it should be easy.
Rebecca Snipe is returning to North Fork after a long visit away. Before her stage left, she over hears a man saying he's going to North Fork to kill a big man with a big mouth. Upon Rebecca's arrival in North Fork, Mark is smitten with her and gets it in his head to play matchmaker between her and his pa. Thinking Lucas has intentions on their sister, the Snipe brothers come looking for Lucas to see if he measures up to their standard of being good enough for her.
Tiffauges, a wealthy and sadistic Frenchman, who is used to getting whatever he wants, decides he wishes to purchase the McCain Ranch. Tiffauges' lead man, Xavier, proclaims Lucas to be muy macho, and does not believe Lucas will give in so easily. Xavier and the other men are tiring of being subjected to Tiffauges' whippings and cruel treatment. Lucas plays on the men's longing for freedom to keep his ranch.
Dan Willard is filling in as temporary marshal while Micah is away. Some Texas cowhands are in North Fork looking for some fun and relaxation, but Dan keeps coming down hard on them. Dan's father tells Lucas that he feels Dan is trying to prove himself as a man to compensate from being dropped from West Point Academy because of his poor eyesight. The Texas cowhands have had enough of being pushed around when Marshal Dan posts an ordinance that all visitors must check their guns at the Marshal's office. Now, they're out to cause some real trouble for Dan.
Lucas and Mark, returning from selling their herd, share the stagecoach trip with a Marshal and his prisoner, Johnny Cotton. Johnny's gang arrives to free their partner and steal the contents of the stage's strongbox, as well as Lucas' money and rifle. Along with the wounded Marshal, Lucas puts Mark back on the stage. Asking the driver to leave Mark with Mrs. Peterson, Lucas, unarmed and on foot, proceeds to track down Cotton and his boys. Lucas eventually fashions a makeshift rifle from a pistol and an old board, to increase the pistol's range of accuracy.
Rumson, without even saying to whom he had sold his property, left the bill of sale with the bank and moved away from North Fork. Curge, who's highest offer was upped by $1,000.00 is upset because Rumson sold out to a ""peppergut"". The Argentez family who bought the place are from Argentina. Lucas arranges for Mark to hang out with Manolo, who teaches Mark to use the Bolas. Manolo is angered at anyone who shows interest in his sister, he believes she is only for a ""Caballero"". Her latest suitor, Ned Dunnell, has been found murdered and the townsfolk are quick to believe it was Manolo.
Ward Haskins guns down Joe Flecker, who has evidence that could be used to blackmail him. Haskins thinks the information was given to Lucas, since he brought Flecker to the doctor before he died. Stirred up by Haskins behavior, Lucas goes through Flecker's things, finding a wanted poster for Haskins in the sole of Flecker's boot. He also finds Doc Burrage drinking. Doc is discouraged because three children have died of an anthrax epidemic that he has the new serum for, but nobody is willing to allow him to administer it in time. Haskins rides out to the ranch and is bitten by Flecker's horse, which is now believed to have anthrax. Mark overhears about how anthrax always causes death and is worried because he had bitten by Flecker's horse, also.
Frank Blandon, a man with only one good arm, wanders on to the ranch. Lucas gave Blandon a job to ""hire him and Mark a clear conscience"". General Sheridan and his patrol wandered by and Lucas offered to let them stay the night at the ranch. Blandon pulled a gun on General Sheridan, as it turned out Blandon was a confederate soldier, who once had General Sheridan in his gun sight during the war. Blandon hung fire, but Sheridan did not hesitate and blew out Blandon's shoulder. General Sheridan shamed Blandon out of exacting his revenge, then lifted Blandon's spirit by praising Johnny Rebs' fighting spirit. Sheridan ordered that Blandon be taken to a hospital to have his shoulder properly mended, carrying out his Commander in Chief's last order to ""Bind up the Nation's wounds.""
Wes Carney and his wife Clair want to settle down and they figure North Fork might do fine. Wes is a well known gunfighter, who has promised Clair that he would hang up his guns for good. The Carney's want to live a simple, honest life and the Feed and Grain Store, which is up for sale, seems like it might work for them. Carney's reputation and the news that he's settling down brings troublemakers to North Fork. Lucas is the only man willing to stand as deputy with Micah. After Lucas tells the Carney's a story, Clair releases Wes of his promise and the three men take on the troublemakers. After the showdown, Clair announces that Wes will be taking the Sheriff's position he was offered in another town, if it's still available.
Abel Goss, the photographer who took Lucas' wedding photograph, is in North Fork doing a portrait of Mark standing in the street. When Goss sees Col. Whiteside and his sidekick Jamison, he recognizes them as the butchers who tortured him and others while he was captive in their prisoners of war camp. When Lucas stops him from killing them, Goss swears to kill those men. Whiteside planned to call Goss out, but he had Jamison shooting from the upstairs hotel window, as his insurance. When the shots are fired, Whiteside is dead, shot in the back, and his gun hadn't been fired. Goss is arrested and at the trial Lucas and Mark have different testimonies. Mark reenacts the scene in the street, and Lucas backs Mark's theory , using the photographic negative Goss had shot of Mark.
Aaron Pelser's wagon train came across a pair of young boys on a buck board heading west and invited them to join the train. When he found out that one of the boys was actually a girl and the two claimed to be headed to Yuma to get married, Pelser and his crowd force them to be married in North Fork. The wagon train folks want to throw a shivaree, which may have been innocent enough except for two reasons. The first reason being that the couple does not count it as their wedding because they want to be wed by the groom's father in Yuma. The second reason is that Chet Packard keeps pushing things too far, beyond the spirit of a friendly shivaree.