How Did Little Joe Die on Bonanza?

“Bonanza,” one of the most beloved and enduring Western television series, aired for over a decade, telling stories of adventure, family bonds, and life on the rugged frontier.

One of the show's central figures was the character Little Joe Cartwright, played by the talented actor Michael Landon.

However, the real-life circumstances surrounding Little Joe's departure from the series were shrouded in mystery and intrigue.

How Did Little Joe Die on Bonanza?

Little Joe died in Season 14 of Bonanza, in the episode “Forever.” Little Joe returned home after being away for several months at the start of the episode. He was working on a cattle drive but chose to return home early due to some concerning news from his doctor.

Throughout the episode, it is evident that Little Joe is in a lot of discomforts and is having trouble with his health. He passes out while riding with his brother Hoss and is brought home. Despite Doc Martin's medical efforts, it is too late, as Little Joe dies surrounded by his family.

How Did Little Joe Die on Bonanza

Other characters' reactions to his death were heartfelt and heartbreaking. Ben, his father, was saddened and in profound mourning after losing one of his cherished sons. Hoss was devastated as well, but he took on the task of comforting their father during this trying period.

Who Was Little Joe on Bonanza?

Little Joe is one of the most beloved characters in Bonanza. He evolved into a multifaceted character with numerous depths over the course of the series. He was wild and impetuous at times, but he was also brave and dedicated to his family.

His interactions with other characters played an important role in his character development. Joe was close to his father, Ben, and his brothers Hoss and Adam. Throughout the series, he had various romantic relationships, including with women like Alice Harper and Ann Marie.

Little Joe's contributions to the Bonanza tales cannot be overstated. He was frequently at the center of many of the show's most famous scenes, such as when he saved Hoss from execution in “The Crucible” or helped stop a land grab in “The Paiute War.” His death was a big loss for the show as well as its viewers.


The departure of Little Joe from “Bonanza” was a watershed moment in the show's and television's history. While the character's departure was a result of contractual disputes and Michael Landon's desire to explore new horizons, it had a significant impact on the series and its viewers.

Little Joe Cartwright's memory lives on in the hearts of “Bonanza” fans, and Michael Landon's long legacy is still cherished in the entertainment world. Although Little Joe's destiny in the series was tragic, his real-life story is a tribute to the complexity and negotiations that frequently create the entertainment industry.

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