The Virginian first aired in September of 1962. It was the only western at the time to be in color with a full 90 minute format. It's lengthy time slot allowed for extensive character development and deep plots. The show attracted many famous guest stars of the time because of the amount of screen time that each would be allotted. Because of the shorter time of many westerns, guest stars were not allowed much screen time, as the time was badly needed for developing the central characters. However in The Virginian, there was plenty of time for everyone. The Virginian (James Drury) is the tough minded foreman of Shiloh Ranch, Medicine Bow, WY. He and his top hands especially Trampas are friends who help each outer out in times of trouble. Being weighted down with his many responsibilities, the foreman generally has a more serious nature to his character, and at a glance, might even seem standoffish. However, at heart, he was really a kind and generous person. *His true name was never revealed in the run of the show, which allowed for a sense of mystery to his character.
Trampas was the fun loving cowboy who was the top hand at Shiloh for the entire 9 years of the show's run. Doug McClure succeeded in playing his role to perfection. He was an underrated actor who really did quite well. He was by far the most developed character in the series, and McClure was so popular that he along with James Drury were the only characters to appear as regulars for the entire run of the series.
There were many more characters. A total of five ranch owners owned the ranch from 1962-1971. Their families came and passed with them, and many of them left no explanation as to their leaving. The producers rather chose to let the viewers imagine what might have been the destiny - or fate of the characters.
The Virginian was the third longest running western in television history. Unfortunately, this show is overshadowed by the more famous and popular shows, Bonanza and Gunsmoke. Thanks to syndication by popular channels and DVD releases by Timeless Media Group, this show can now be enjoyed by people of all ages from everywhere.