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Dan Troop leaves Abilene, Kansas for the town of Laramie, Wyoming. He is offered the town marshal's job after the previous marshal, David Lemp, is murdered. On the way into town, he meets Johnny McKay, who is placing a tombstone on Lemp's grave. Johnny mistakes Dan for a crook, but they meet up later again at the cafe owned by Lemp's widow Dru, played by Bek Nelson, where Johnny works as a dishwasher. Dan puts a sign in the window of the marshal's office that reads, "Deputy Wanted." Johnny applies for the job, but Dan turns him down, because he believes that, at the age of nineteen, Johnny is too young. Dan later comes across Lacey Hawks, played by Edd Byrnes, in the Bluebonnet Saloon. Lacey tries to coax Dan into a gunfight, but Dan arrests him instead. Lacey promises Dan that his two brothers Flynn, played by Jack Elam, and Walt, played by Lee Van Cleef, will come after him. Johnny tells Dan that Flynn is the one who killed Marshal Lemp, and that the whole town saw him do it, but were too afraid to stand up to him. He again volunteers to help Dan take them down, but Troop refuses. Johnny tells him that he cannot take both remaining Hawks Brothers alone. Dan goes out to face them, anyway. Dan shoots Flynn, but then hears another shot from behind him. Dan sees Walt fall dead, and then turns around to see Johnny standing there with a rifle in his hand. Dan motions for Johnny to follow him back into the office and then takes down the "Deputy Wanted" sign.
During the course of the first season, Dan teaches Johnny the fundamentals of law enforcement. Frequently, while Dan is pursuing outlaws, Johnny remains behind to guard the town. However, in seasons two through four, Johnny becomes more involved in the action and carries some entire episodes by himself. During the first season, the episodes maintain a serious tone. However, when Lily arrives at the start of season two, the scripts include more comedy and some romance.
|John Russell||Marshal Dan Troop||1||2||3||4|
|Peter Brown||Deputy Johnny McKay||1||2||3||4|
|Peggie Castle||Lily Merrill||2||3||4|
|Bek Nelson||Dru Lemp||1|
|Season One||October 5, 1958||June 28, 1959||39|
|Season Two||October 4, 1959||June 19, 1960||37|
|Season Three||September 18, 1960||June 11, 1961||39|
|Season Four||September 17, 1961||June 24, 1962||41|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series