The Loner

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For other uses, see The Loner (disambiguation).
The Loner
Lloyd Bridges The Loner 1965.JPG
Lloyd Bridges as William Colton, 1965.
Genre Western
Created by Rod Serling
Starring Lloyd Bridges
Theme music composer Jerry Goldsmith
Composer(s) Alexander Courage
Jerry Goldsmith
Nelson Riddle
Fred Steiner
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 26 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) William Dozier
Producer(s) Bruce Lansbury
Andy White
Running time 30 mins.
Production company(s) Greenway Productions, in association with Interlaken Productions and 20th Century Fox Television
Original network CBS
Picture format Black-and-white
Original release September 18, 1965 – April 30, 1966

The Loner is an American western series that ran for less than one season on CBS from 1965 to 1966, under the alternate sponsorship of Philip Morris and Procter & Gamble. It was one of the last TV series on CBS to air in black-and-white.


The series was set in the years immediately following the American Civil War. Lloyd Bridges played the title character, William Colton, a former Union cavalry captain who headed to the American west in search of a new life. Each episode dealt with Colton's encounters with various individuals on his trek west.

Rod Serling was the series' creator. Longtime TV Guide critic Cleveland Amory wrote that Serling "obviously intended The Loner to be a realistic, adult Western," but the show's ratings indicated it was "either too real for a public grown used to the unreal Western or too adult for juvenile Easterners." Serling had expressed an open distaste for some of the television Westerns of the time in an editorial that set up the premise for "Showdown with Rance McGrew," an episode of The Twilight Zone in which a primadonna Western actor encounters the ghost of Jesse James; in that editorial, he is quoted as saying: "it seems a reasonable conjecture that if there are any television sets up in cowboy heaven and any of these rough-and-wooly nail-eaters could see with what careless abandon their names and exploits are being bandied about, they're very likely turning over in their graves - or worse, getting out of them."

The Loner aired Saturday nights at 9:30 Eastern. It debuted on September 18, 1965; the final episode aired March 12, 1966; selected repeats continued through April 30.

Home media release[edit]

In June 2016, Shout! Factory, in conjunction with Timeless Media Group, released The Loner as a Region 1 4-DVD set containing all 26 episodes of the series plus a featurette, The Wandering Man's Burden: Making "The Loner".[1] The DVD set was initially made available in North America as a Walmart exclusive (both in-store and online).

Episode list[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "An Echo of Bugles" Alex March Rod Serling September 18, 1965 (1965-09-18)
Colton stands-up for a Confederate veteran who is being taunted by a young man, leading to the young man challenging Colton to a duel. Colton reluctantly accepts the duel, but is deeply saddened by the possibility that he might kill the young man. Flashbacks to Colton's time during the Civil War are shown which reveal some of the motives for Colton's behavior.
2 "The Vespers" Leon Benson Rod Serling September 25, 1965 (1965-09-25)
Colton visits an old friend who once saved his life during the war. This man is now a minister and has renounced the use of violence. Colton tries to defend the minister and his family from a band of men who are coming to avenge an earlier killing by the minister. Guest starring Jack Lord.
3 "The Lonely Calico Queen" Allen H. Miner Rod Serling October 2, 1965 (1965-10-02)
Colton finds a letter on a dead man, who turns out to be a mail-order bridegroom for a dance hall girl named Angela Wheeler.
4 "The Kingdom of McComb" Leon Benson Rod Serling October 9, 1965 (1965-10-09)
A group of Amish people asks Colton to kill a powerful landowner who's trying to evict them.
5 "One of the Wounded" Paul Henreid Rod Serling October 16, 1965 (1965-10-16)
Colton is enlisted to help run a farm owned by a Union army veteran left emotionally scarred by the Civil War.
6 "The Flight of the Arctic Tern" Don Taylor Andy White October 23, 1965 (1965-10-23)
A romantic triangle ensues when Colton rescues a friend's fiance from a runaway horse.
7 "Widow on the Evening Stage" Joseph Pevney Rod Serling October 30, 1965 (1965-10-30)
Colton helps to collect the dead following a massacre of locals by Indians. One of the dead was someone he knew in the war and Colton befriends the man's father. Complications ensue when the dead man's wife arrives in town and is an Indian woman with an infant son. Colton tries to speed the Indian woman out of town as the locals are intent on killing Indians to avenge the massacre, but she has other ideas.
8 "The House Rules at Mrs. Wayne's" Allen H. Miner Rod Serling November 6, 1965 (1965-11-06)
A friend of Colton's is murdered trying to defend his wife's honor and Colton must choose between seeking justice and keeping his promise to look the other way.
9 "The Sheriff of Fetterman's Crossing" Don Taylor Rod Serling November 13, 1965 (1965-11-13)
Colton has second thoughts when he's appointed deputy to the bungling sheriff of a sleepy Montana town.
10 "The Homecoming of Lemuel Stove" Joseph Pevney Rod Serling November 20, 1965 (1965-11-20)
Brock Peters plays a black Union soldier returning home to see his father. The soldier makes it back to his hometown only to learn his father had been lynched the previous evening by members of a Klan-like group.
11 "Westward, the Shoemaker" Joseph Pevney Rod Serling November 27, 1965 (1965-11-27)
Colton befriends an immigrant shoemaker who uses his life savings to open a shop.
12 "The Oath" Alex March Rod Serling December 4, 1965 (1965-12-04)
Barry Sullivan plays a surgeon who lost the use of his right hand and had to give Colton verbal directions on how to remove a gunfighter's ruptured appendix.
13 "Hunt the Man Down" Tay Garnett Milton S. Gelman December 11, 1965 (1965-12-11)
Colton is enlisted to help a posse hunt down an old mountaineer (Burgess Meredith).
14 "Escort for a Dead Man" Norman Foster Robert Lewin December 18, 1965 (1965-12-18)
Three gunmen complicate Colton's efforts to help an Army deserter turn himself in.
15 "The Ordeal of Bud Windom" Paul Henreid Norman Katkov December 25, 1965 (1965-12-25)
Colton escorts fugitive Bud Windom to prison, only to be confronted by Windom's son, who's determined to clear his father's name.
16 "To the West of Eden" Allen H. Miner Ed Adamson January 1, 1966 (1966-01-01)
Colton reluctantly allows a Mexican girl to accompany him across the desert.
17 "Mantrap" Allen H. Miner Gerald Sanford January 8, 1966 (1966-01-08)
Outlaws are out to kill Colton after he witnesses a double murder.
18 "A Little Stroll to the End of the Line" Norman Foster Rod Serling January 15, 1966 (1966-01-15)
Colton is deputized to protect a rabble-rousing priest from an ex-convict.
19 "The Trial in Paradise" Allen Reisner Rod Serling January 22, 1966 (1966-01-22)
Colton defends the former commander of three maimed Civil War survivors who bring him to a ghost town to stand trial in a kangaroo court.
20 "A Question of Guilt" James B. Clark Les Crutchfield January 29, 1966 (1966-01-29)
Colton must figure out why the Army officer he killed attacked him in the dark.
21 "The Mourners for Johnny Sharp: Part 1" Joseph Pevney Rod Serling February 5, 1966 (1966-02-05)
As young gunman Johnny Sharp lays dying in a cave, Bob Pierson plots to steal his loot.
22 "The Mourners for Johnny Sharp: Part 2" Joseph Pevney Rod Serling February 12, 1966 (1966-02-12)
Colton is left with instructions stating that the four people closest to the late Johnny Sharp must meet at the undertaker's parlor.
23 "Incident in the Middle of Nowhere" Joseph Pevney Andy White February 19, 1966 (1966-02-19)
Colton's horse is stolen during a stagecoach robbery, but he later finds a little girl riding it, prompting him to search for the robbers.
24 "Pick Me Another Time to Die" Alex March Ed Adamson February 26, 1966 (1966-02-26)
Colton discovers a sheriff's body, only to be falsely accused of murdering him.
25 "The Burden of the Badge" Larry Peerce Norman Katkov March 5, 1966 (1966-03-05)
Colton is asked to help a group of reformed outlaws fight a cattle baron.
26 "To Hang A Dead Man" Alex March Milton S. Gelman March 12, 1966 (1966-03-12)
Colton tracks down a group of bandits who burned down a town and caused his friend to go missing.


  • Amory, C. (1966, January 15–21). Review: The Loner. TV Guide, p. 2
  • Brooks, T. & Marsh, E. (1979). The Complete Directory To Primetime Network TV Shows. New York: Ballantine Books, p. 357

External links[edit]