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The Big Valley is a show depicting a wealthy American ranch family. It is based quite loosely on the Hill Ranch in California's Calaveras County at the very end of the nineteenth century. Barbara Stanwyck, cinema star of the 1930's and 40's, is the matriarch of the family and head of the ranch after her husband is murdered. She brings a realism and passion to the role as she effortlessly moves from regal matriarch to rough and able cow'woman' who could and would match efforts with any man on the ranch.

Stanwyck plays Victoria Barkley who loves her four children passionately, including the illegitimate son of her late husband. Lee Majors plays Heath Barkley, who learns of his true father's identity at his mother's deathbed, and fights his way into the lives and eventually the hearts of the rest of the Barkley family.

The Big Valley captures much of the harsh realities of the times. Despite their wealth, there are many physical challenges that one simply has to manage. Buried in earthquakes, fighting off fires, and just dealing with ranching and cattle are all played out in a gripping and genuine manner.

The Big Valley is not without its drama. The younger brothers Nick and Heath are typical western frontier men, able and fit. They both deal with issues first with their fists even if it means untangling details later. The oldest son, Jarrod, is an attorney and prefers to handle his disputes through the law. But being a Barkley, when the situation becomes most dire he is known to resort to frontier justice.

They have one sister, Audra, who, like her mother, is not to be regarded as demure and rides her horse astride alongside her brothers. She is leery of Heath's claims initially and even tries to seduce him in order to flush out the truth. But as the events of the series progress, Audra, along with the rest of the family, grows to believe and trust Heath implicitly. These two youngest siblings bond as tightly as if they had grown together from birth.

The show is as exciting as endearing, with Stanwyck's legendary performances leading the cast. The Big Valley is a compelling and entertaining look at old western ranch life.

The Big Valley is a Drama, Action & Adventure series that is currently running and has 4 seasons (112 episodes). The series first aired on September 15, 1965. It has mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6.

The Big Valley is available for streaming on the ABC website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Big Valley on demand at Apple TV+, Starz, The Roku Channel online.

4 Seasons, 112 Episodes
September 15, 1965
Drama, Action & Adventure
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Long, Lee Majors, Linda Evans, Peter Breck
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The Big Valley Full Episode Guide

  • The final episode of The Big Valley

  • A woman asks Heath to convince her rebel Mexican husband to leave Mexico

  • Victoria has Edward deliver her medical supplies to the indians

  • A ghost town is inhabited by lunatics who capture Heath.

  • The formar Sheriff of Stockton is the leader of a gang gone on a killing spree.

  • Victoria and Jarod spend the night in a town which has seen better days

  • Bigots harass a Mormon family who have rented a house from Jarrod.

  • When a prince from India comes to Stockton, Laura falls in love with him. However, the prince is an imposter.

  • The prison conditions worry Victoria

  • An indian friend returns to Stockton

  • Someone has robbed the Dutton Mining Company, and Heath is taking the blame.

  • A wealthy and powerful rancher moves into Stockton to ruin the Barkley enterprises. His motive: intense hatred of Jarrod, who he thinks is having an affair with his young wife.

  • There's some feuding between the Barkleys and the Morton family over who will take the honor at the local rodeo.

  • Victoria learns that her brother-in-law has been declared insane.

  • Nick is believed to be having an affair with a man's wife, and the man plans to hang Nick in the morning

  • Felon Ben Rawlins heads for the Barkley home---and into a bounty hunter's trap---to take custody of his son.

  • A bashful dressmaker becomes the target of lawmen and outlaws alike when a succession of journalists point to her as an infamous bandit.

  • When Heath kills someone in self-defense, he becomes a wanted man

  • A young girl witnesses a massacre, and is now being stalked. Victoria must stop this before it is too late.

  • When Heath falls in love with a woman, he doesn't realize how dangerous she is, and what could happen to him.

  • The Barkleys hire a man famous for his bad luck to help harvest their crops.

  • When Jarrod visits Baker City, he gets involved in a Mexican Marital mix-up.

  • After a panther nearly kills Nick, he wants revenge.

  • When a Cattle Rancher suffers amnesia, he believes that Victoria is his Wife.

  • One of the former confederate spies arrives in Stockton.

  • Victoria's first clue of Major Jonathan Eliot's mental imbalance is when he proposes to Laura.

  • When a senator arrives in Stockton to promote his re-election, troubles flare when his opponent releases a fraudulent photo.

  • Nick sets out to emotionally help a 14 year old boy who is rejected by his high-class parents.

  • A friend of Heath's has been carrying on a correspondence courtship with a woman who is to be his mail-order bride.

  • Nick falls for newcomer Layle Johnson, who is slow to respond to his attentions. Victoria discovers why - she's already married!

  • Jarrod travels to the town of Rimfire to finalize a mine partnership. The deal's success hinges on acquisition of an abandoned mine now worked by a Chinese man and his wife. Jarrod's potential business partner butts heads with Jarrod and the town's honest sheriff to try to gain ownership of the mine.

  • A couple kidnap Victoria in exchange for rice

  • Jarod defends Heath in court when he is accused of murder.

  • When the Stryder gang escapes, Heath and Nick want to help catch them

  • When the Barkleys meet a Mexican fleeing a revolution, they vow to help protect him

  • After his new bride is murdered, a grief stricken Jarrod goes out for revenge.

  • Heath and Nick travel across the state line to find the two brothers that shot Jarrod in the midst of a robbery. What they find is a town full of people who think of the outlaws as saints, since they're the ones who built the town. In the end the town finds out their true colors and they are brought to justice.

  • The Barkleys hire a bunch of convicts to help with a harvest, and find out that they are tormented by an evil overseer.

  • Members of a sect kidnap Heath, convict him of murder and order him to do penance as their slave.

  • In a neighboring town, Heath is alone in his fight to prevent a powerful rancher from framing an old drunk for murder.

  • Victoria is seized by two brutal prison guards who plan to substitute her for a woman convict they accidentally killed.

  • Conclusion. Riding a hearse loaded with nitro, the Barkley brothers set out on a death-defying journey to stop a forest fire.

  • Part 1 of two. As a forest fire threatens Stockton, the Barkley brothers prepare for a treacherous mission---transporting nitroglycerin to stop the blaze.

  • The Barkleys welcome the town's new doctor, unaware that the man is a deranged killer who has already chosen his next victim: Victoria (Barbara Stanwyck).

  • In this suspense-drama, an unnerved Victoria is forced to rely on a weak-willed sheriff as she searches for Audra (Linda Evans), who disappeared without a trace.

  • Hysteria grips Stockton when a murderer takes refuge in Audra's classroom---holding her and the children at gunpoint.

  • A flirtation at a wayside inn involves Nick with a family determined to add his name to the long list of people they've robbed and murdered.

  • The Barkleys are drawn into a conflict between a young woman and a puritanical sheriff, who is obsessed with the idea the girl will degrade his town.

  • Blinded in an explosion, Jarrod faces a grueling test of courage as he continues to press the state's case against a sinister land-grabber.

  • To pay off a gambling debt, sheepherder Josiah Freeman pawns off his flock on Nick, who stubbornly tries to tend the troublesome sheep - despite insults and threats from his fellow cattlemen

  • Victoria helps three indian women at a desert mission.

  • A man is hired at the ranch who is believed to be a Mexican outlaw thought long dead.