The Young Riders
The Young Riders 101
» Spoiler Warning: details on this page could spoil any surprise(s) in the story if you have not seen this complete TV series.
Set in the 1860's, just before the American Civil War, The Young Riders presents a highly fictionalized account of the heyday of the Pony Express, focusing on the exploits of a group of riders based at a way station in Sweetwater, Nebraska. The riders include: the future William "Buffalo Bill" Cody and James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok; a quiet Southerner that folks refer to as "the Kid" (but not Billy the Kid); Buck Cross, a half-white/half-Kiowa Indian scout; Buck's friend, the mute Ike McSwain; and Lou McCloud, a young woman who stayed in disguise as a boy to get and keep the job. The group was later joined by a free born black man named Noah Dixon, with recurring appearances by a young Jesse James. Running the station was ex-Texas Ranger and all-around eccentric Teaspoon Hunter. The role of cook, housekeeper and mother hen was filled first by Emma Shannon and then by Rachel Dunne. Marshal Sam Cain helped keep law and order throughout the first season, after which Teaspoon took up the badge. The riders cross the country to deliver the mail, fighting dangers and physical fatigue along the way; back home, they join the others in dealing with their personal demons and the challenges of making a life in the rugged "Wild West."
The Young Riders: Recap and Review
What makes it so notable? Beautiful scenery provides a background for engaging character-driven stories with ordeals that, while inherently different than those of modern times, also embody those triumphs and sorrows that are truly timeless.
What are its weak points? Far from "feel good TV," violence, death, racism, and the shadow of an upcoming war may have proven too grim, scaring away some viewers.
Verdict: Casual Fan or Big-Time Fangirl? Big-Time Fangirl
Comments: There's something about this series and the portraits it paints of times past that spurs the imagination, as evidenced by the large number of fanfiction works it has inspired.
- Quotes -
The good, the bad, the sad, the funny: the things we wish we'd thought to say first.
YOUNG, SKINNY, WIRY FELLOWS
MUST BE WILLING TO
FACE DEATH DAILY
WAGES $5.00 PER WEEK
Man: Help you, sonny?
Kid: It's me, on the sign outside.
Teaspoon: You will ride seventy-five miles one day, flat out.
Cody: That'd kill the horses.
Teaspoon: You will change mounts five or six times a day.
Teaspoon: Boys, I'm here to learn you my bag of tricks. You will learn 'em good.
Teaspoon: If it's trouble you want, you'll get a belly full.
Teaspoon: What is your name?
Cody (casually cocky): Cody. William F. Cody. "Billy" if you'd like.
Teaspoon: I don't like.
"You don't need to impress me, Cody. I ain't gonna be chasin' you." Teaspoon, after Cody shows off his skill with the rifle
Teaspoon (to Lou): You sure you can cut this work? You look to me to be a might puny.
"Puny, but spry." Teaspoon, after Lou demonstrates her equestrian ability
Teaspoon: This outfit didn't hire orphans for nothin'.
Emma: They're not orphans while I'm around.
Marshal Cain: Why don't you ask me out to your place sometime? I could use a nice, quiet meal.
Emma: We tried that. You got bored.
Marshal Cain (optimistic): Well, let's, uh... try it again.
Emma (with a smile): I'll think on it.
Jimmy: The one with the scar back there? How'd you know he was gonna back down?
Marshal Cain: Well, I figured a man carryin' so many guns, he must be afraid of everything.
"A girl with no ma, no pa, no kin. What's left for me? Scrubbin' floors, or worse?" Lou, on why she joined the Pony Express
"I expect I got more expertise than most." Teaspoon, when the Kid has a question about women
Teaspoon: Some people get married, and they call it love... but it weren't really who they thought it was in the first place. So, the years pass by, and you find out you done married up to a stranger. So. The question is. If they's married to a stranger, who was they with all that time before?
Scarface Guy: First, I'm gonna finish my coffee, and then I'm gonna kill you.
Kid: It's gonna take some gettin' used to, now that you're a girl.
Lou: I've... always been a girl, Kid.
"Nothin' personal friend, but I could eat me a horse." Cody, to the horse he rode in on
Longley: Calvin LeBrock? Lon Thatcher sends his regards.
LeBrock: Tell him to go to hell.
Longley (brightly): Oh, I'm sure he plans to.
Emma: Hope you boys are hungry.
Cody: I was born hungry, Emma.
Teaspoon: I suppose you don't know that gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins?
Cody: Yeah? What are the others?
Teaspoon: Let's see there's, uh...
[He thinks and smiles, then sobers.]
Teaspoon: Never mind.
Cody: Well, don't matter. I'll get around to 'em, sooner or later.
[Buck watches Hickok venturing closer to a rattlesnake.]
Buck: He takes one bite out of you, it's all over, my friend.
Jimmy: Maybe I'll take a bite out of him.
"Remember, Hickok. There's always one more waitin'." Buck, after killing a second rattlesnake that Hickok didn't see
Lou: What's wrong with Jimmy?
Cody: Must be somethin' he ate.
Kid: Or somethin' eatin' him...
[The Kid was trying on cologne.]
Lou: You smell like a whorehouse!
Kid: What?... How would you know?
Jimmy: Well, if I spooked your horse, I didn't mean to.
Longley: No, that doesn't sound like an apology to me.
Jimmy: Sorry... but apologizing's something I only do on Sundays. Today is Tuesday.
"I'm not lookin' for trouble, but I see it in his eyes. Sooner or later, one of us is going to have to take him on." Longley, to Marshal Cain about Hickok
"Buyin' supplies can be tiresome, but I never did know it to start a war." Teaspoon, walking up on Jimmy and The Kid fighting
[Teaspoon and Jimmy are in a sweat lodge.]
Jimmy: You mind tellin' me what we're doing here?
[Someone knocks at the back jail door.]
Marshal Cain: Go 'round front!
Marshal Cain: Sure you can. Move your right leg, then your left leg, then your right leg again. Sooner or later, you'll get there.
"If you ever hit me again... I'll forget you're my friend." Jimmy, to Kid
Emma: There's no difference between you and Jimmy - except that he's too young to know better.
Marshal Cain: What do you want from me, Emma?
Emma: I guess I want what you can't give me.
"If you're still here when the sun goes down, I'll forget I have a badge." Marshal Cain, to Longley
Teaspoon: You know, son, you'd be a lot cooler if you took that shirt of yours off.
Lou (quickly): I'm fine.
Emma: Was it worth it?
Jimmy: I had no choice.
Emma: Did you want one?
"My Pony Express riders over here. Fine bunch of boys... Most of the time anyway." Emma, introducing the guys to her attractive friend
Cody: I'm in love.
Jimmy: With yourself.
Lou (about the girl the others are admiring): What do you think, Kid?
Kid (abruptly stopping staring at the girl): Safer not to.
Lou: Alright, she's beautiful. But can she ride?
Jimmy: Funny, I was just thinking that.
Emma: Well, Jimmy, Cody, you're both wrong. She was smilin' at Lou.
Jimmy: At Lou?
Emma: I guess she takes a shine to the silent type.
"Someone in this group's gotta show some style." Cody, considering getting his hat re-lined
Teaspoon: Pride is a cheap commodity. It can leave a man when he's been whupped and kicked. Pride goes on, comes off easy, like that hat. But self-respect, nobody can take that from you. Goes clear to the bone.
Knickerson (laughing, to Ike): Is that right, dummy? You really can't talk?
Teaspoon (very serious): The only dumb thing, mister, is you callin' that boy a name.
[Shots are fired.]
Kid: Emma, get down!
Emma: Get down yourself!
Buck: He says it's not our problem.
Jimmy: Man sends someone to kill me, I made it my problem.
Buck (translating for Ike): "They came for me."
Kid (to Ike): Then they came for us.
Cody: Somebody's gonna have to slow 'em down.
Jimmy: Somebody's my middle name!
"One thing's for sure: it ain't a sign of welcome." Kid, about an Indian drawing left at the scene of an attack
[The riders learn about recent Kiowa attacks.]
Cody: Look at the bright side, Jimmy. Maybe we'll get a few days' rest while they find us a route around 'em.
Lou: Around 'em? Hell, they'll send us through 'em!
Lou: We didn't go lookin' for no trouble. Honest.
Emma: Didn't go lookin' for a way around it, neither.
Teaspoon: As far as the Pony Express is concerned, if one rider don't make it, the next one will.
Cody: Somebody tell that to the Kiowa.
Jimmy: Somebody tell that to the Army.
Teaspoon: Indians is fightin' for their way of life... Just like our kin fought the British almost a hundred years ago. Except the Indians is called savages. Our kin was called patriots. Probably because they won.
Jimmy: Fine. Next time an Indian chases me, I'll get off my horse and sing him Yankee Doodle.
Cody: Then he'll kill ya for sure.
Red Bear: At least in battle there is honor.
Buck: But the white man, he doesn't fight for honor. He fights for land.
"I will see you in the land behind the sun, my brother." Red Bear, parting ways with Buck
Cody: You snuck out last night?
Buck: I had to see someone.
Buck: My half brother.
Jimmy: Which half? White or red?
Buck: You all don't know the first thing about my people.
Lou: Your people? Which side are you on?
Buck: No side.
Jimmy: Better pick one.
"There's this Indian saying: white man thinks with his head, but an Indian thinks with his heart. When your heart's in two pieces like Buck's, that's a... tricky bit of business." Teaspoon, explaining Buck's dilemma to the others
Emma: Every time one of them kids rides out... tears me up they might not ever come back.
Teaspoon: Emma, they stopped bein' kids the first day they took a run. People shoot at you, you grow up quick.
Emma: Shoulda had more time to be kids. Be brought up proper.
Teaspoon: Well, if they're willin' to fight for each other, we must be doin' something right.
[Lou has tried on a dress at a store, and Kid just stares at her with admiration.]
Lou: Say somethin'.
Kid (appreciatively): Damn.
Saleslady: That's it? What are you, blind? She's beautiful.
Kid: I don't know if I'll ever look at you again and not see you like this.
Lou: Is that good?
Kid: It depends on who's watching.
Lou (about being able to wear a dress): You can't imagine how good it feels.
Kid (suggestively flirty): Good thing I can't.
Kid: Save that dress for when you come home?
Lou (teasing): You look better in pants.
Jimmy: We did good today, huh.
Kid: Yeah. We didn't shoot anybody.
Jimmy: Should be easy.
Cody: Like walkin' on water.
Biggs: Now, who are you?
Lou: Don't you know?
Biggs: How the hell should I know?
Lou: Mary Louise McCloud... was my mother.
Biggs: That's impossible. I had two daughters and one son.
Lou (after a brief pause): You still do.
Jimmy: A girl.
Lou: Something wrong with that?
Jimmy: Only thing wrong is I didn't see it sooner. I'm tellin' you, Lou, it's a relief, 'cause the way you and Kid been lookin' at each other all this time... Hell, I even caught myself lookin' at you like that a couple times.
Jimmy (to Lou): All I'm gonna say is that... you're the best lookin' boy I ever seen.
Cody: I wouldn't let that go to your head, Lou. I seen him lookin' at his horse the same way.
[The vet checks Katy, Kid's horse.]
Kid: Alls I can say is, her walkin' just seems a tiny bit off.
Doc Wheeler: You sure she's not just tryin' to get out of ridin' in the rain?
Kid: What's a colored man doin' out here?
Buck: What do you mean?
Kid (after a pause): Back in Virginia, we're just not used to seein' em out.
Lou: Out of their place?
Kid: I don't mean that.
Lou: You're a long way from Virginia, Kid.
Cody: Come on, Jimmy. We got a corral to fix.
Jimmy: You're gonna need your jaw fixed, you wake me up like that again.
"I didn't tell him nothin'. As miraculous as it may seem to you gentlemen, some people can manage to do the right thing without getting a kick in the pants." Teaspoon, to Jimmy and Cody. Teaspoon illustrates his point by kicking Cody in the butt.
Kid: One thing's for sure. He belongs to somebody.
Teaspoon: Kid... I know where you come from slavery's a way of life, but there's still some thinkin' you could do on it.
Ulysses: They ain't gonna stop until they bring me back. That's why I got to leave.
Emma: That's why you got to stay. You can't run forever.
Ulysses: You'd be risking a town full of enemies... I can't ask you to do that.
Kid: Don't have to ask.
[Ike signs to Buck.]
Buck: Ike says we were never that popular in town to begin with.
[The others laugh.]
Cody: Speak for yourself, Ike.
Deputy: What are you gonna tell the townfolk?
Marshal Cain: As much of the truth as they're willing to hear.
Jimmy: Poker playin's an art and a science.
Cody: You might learn something.
Jimmy: Like what?
Cody: Well, for one thing, like how to be a real hero.
Jimmy: Real heroes learn from doin', not readin'.
"Do us both a favor: next time you got ten cents, spend it on candy." Jimmy, to the young man looking to fight "Wild Bill" (from the ten-cent novel)
"I'm tellin' everyone I'm your sidekick." Kid, teasing "Wild Bill"
Jimmy: Are you gonna fun me all day, or we gonna eat?
Marshal Cain: Every quick draw and hired gun in the territory's gonna be coming for you. They got reputations to make.
Jimmy: I can take care of myself.
Marshal Cain: Yeah, against how many men?
Teaspoon: Know what your problem is?
Jimmy: Yeah. Hotter than hell outside, and I'm sittin' in a damn sweat lodge.
Teaspoon: If you take a lie, start believin' in it, then you become that lie. Then you ain't yourself no more.
"Not exactly a rousing reception." Calder (the gun-fighter) upon arriving to find Sweetwater quiet and deserted
Jimmy (impassioned): I'm tellin' ya. She was the most beautiful woman I ever seen.
The Kid: Sounds like you made a hell of an impression of yourself.
Cody: Yeah. One close look at you and she took off for the next county.
Teaspoon: This all kinda reminds me of the story of the three frogs. One day, this here girl frog devised a jumpin' contest 'tween a couple bullfrogs that caught her eye. Well the first frog jumped like there was no tomorrow, while the second one was real careful and took his time.
Lou: What happened?
Teaspoon: Well, the first bull frog, he overshot the mark and had to double back, while the second one plopped along nice 'n easy and got there right about the same time.
Cody: So which frog got the girl?
Teaspoon: Neither. By that time she was tired of both of um and went on to the next pond. Funny thing about girl frogs. You don't catch them. They catch you.
Teaspoon: Fire you? Why would I do a fool thing like that?
Lou: 'Cause I'm a girl, remember?
Teaspoon: That mean you don't sit a saddle as well, ride as hard, or shoot as straight?
Lou: No... but the company's got rules, and you work for the company.
Teaspoon: Company's company... And family's family. You're family, dammit. And family sticks together.
Teaspoon: Have *I* ever seen an ocean? Do you know who you're talking to? Best of my recollection, I have swum in five, fished six and been afloat on seven. Which one you got in mind?
[Jimmy's in disguise, trying to find the guy who's robbing banks posing as "Wild Bill" Hickock.]
Jimmy: Why would he wear a mask and then tell you his name?
Banker: From what I hear, he's not too smart.
Lou (dressed as a saloon girl): How do I look?
Jimmy: Definitely missed your calling.
Lou: Yesterday I did something no self-respectin' woman would ever do.
Rachel (intrigued): Really? What?
Lou (scandalous): I walked in on Kid in the shower.
Lou: So, I didn't walk out, leastways not as fast as I should.
Rachel: Where'd you get the idea men and women are all that different?
Lou: Well, in the shower, for one place.
Jimmy: Cody, ya know the trouble with you is you're always making mud out of clear water.
Cody: I don't know about you, but I'm gonna keep my money in my sock from now on.
Jimmy: Lord knows you ain't hurting for room there, seeing how your foot is usually in your mouth.
Cathleen: What did he want?
Buck: He wanted to buy you.
Cathleen: He wanted to buy me?
Buck: He offered me three ponies.
Cathleen: And what did you tell him?
Buck: I asked for four.
Shopkeeper: Are you lookin' or buyin'? 'Cause if you're lookin', try outside. There's more to see.
Teaspoon: Marshalling may be my business - but advice is my calling.
Kid: Ever since you all found out that Lou was a girl, she's been acting more and more like a woman...
Jimmy: You got something to say, Kid, or do you just like the sound of my name?
Kid: I thought you said it was a good day to die.
Curly: Mmm, tomorrow is better.
Jimmy: Kid, you got all the answers. Problem is, they ain't to my questions.
Lou (quoting Teaspoon): 'Son, there's only one thing you can't save a person from and that's themselves.'
- Lessons Learned -
What can we learn from this TV series?
* The Good Old Days weren't always so good.
* It doesn't always take a man to do "a man's work."
* Don't judge people by their size.
* Sometimes you don't have to win, you just have to keep standing.
* The importance of a job can very often not be measured by its pay.
* You can't fool people forever, but then again, you don't always need to.
* You gotta learn control.
* Sometimes it takes a hot place to cool a man's fire.
* Straight lines may be quick, but they ain't always safe.
* It seems like the better you get at fighting, the more you'll find a reason to.
* Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
* There's dignity, and then there's dignity.
* People who feel compelled to say "I ain't lookin' for trouble" are usually looking for trouble.
* People who are looking for trouble will usually find it.
* Sometimes doing the right thing can - for a little while - feel like the wrong thing.
* Get while the gettin's good.
* "Too many to count" equals "too many to fight."
* What if, for a change, you start thinking everything's going to be okay?
* A deal is a deal.
* Age don't matter. Poison from an old rattlesnake'll still kill you.
* It's easier to play a chief than to be one.
* Sometimes we do not see because we choose not to.
* There's always a last man.
* Never look back.
* Seems like lies will follow a body around closer than his own shadow.
* Don't believe everything you read -- especially in ten-cent novels.
* If enough people believe it, a lie ain't no different than the truth.
* What's done is done. It doesn't matter.
* You might want to listen when people warn you, "Don't do it!"
* Some stories take on a life of their own.
* Nothing in this life comes easy.
* You gotta crawl before you can walk
* Don't stomp on somebody else's dream just 'cause it ain't yours.
* Even though the bad guys are bigger and stronger, the littlest cowboy always wins because he never quits.
* Upholding the law has its reward, but money ain't one of 'em.
* Things just kinda got a way of working themselves out.
* "Cooperate" does not equal "gossip".
* Some reporters don't listen too well.
* Trust in the Lord... and keep your back from the door.
* All you get for nothing is nothing.
* Nothing can get in the way of what you truly believe.
* Men lie, but numbers don't.
* People don't have to be related to be family.
* Those that love you will let you know when you're out of line.
* You gotta give folks a chance to change.
- Favorite Scenes -
Also known as "moments"
[The riders are about to confront a band of bad guys.]
Lou: What would Teaspoon say?
Cody: "Run like hell."
Kid: Too late for that.
At Thompkins' store, Jimmy looks on as Cody admires his own reflection. Cody says that the "eagle feather" he's put in his hat looks great, and that it suits him. Buck, passing by, observes and says simply, "Turkey feather," as he walks on. Jimmy bursts out laughing and agrees that it suits Cody just fine.
Teaspoon tries to help Jimmy lose some of his demons in a sweat lodge. Jimmy gets panicky about not being able to breath and starts to hyperventilate. Teaspoon tells him to calm down and relax. Jimmy replies tensely that he is relaxed - and then he passes out, falling to the ground. Pleased, Teaspoon says, "That's better."
[Running Pony indicates his price for the horses he's just delivered.]
Teaspoon: Two hundred dollars?! I wouldn't pay that much money for your horses, your women, your young'uns, the game in your land, all the stars in the sky!
Buck: You don't really want me to tell him all of that, do you, Teaspoon?
Teaspoon (a lot calmer): Tell him we'll settle for one-eighty.
[Buck relays Teaspoon's offer, but Running Pony firmly repeats two hundred.]
The riders are sitting down for a meal, and Emma starts to serve Cody. However, she's so busy smiling and making eye contact with the visiting Sam Cain that she doesn't realize that she's repeatedly spooning food onto Cody's plate. The riders look at Emma looking at Sam, and Cody offers, "You oughta come by here more often, Marshal."
After a novelist writes about Jimmy being the legendary "Wild Bill," when Jimmy arrives home and joins the others for supper, they all tease him about being famous. Jimmy isn't amused. Cody finally suggests that Jimmy owes them all some credit for helping him become such a legend. Seething, Jimmy growls "stand up." Everyone quiets down, and the situation is tense as Jimmy and Cody stand up, facing each other across the table. Jimmy barks, "Now DRAW!" But instead of grabbing his gun, he snatches a carrot off of his plate and points it at Cody. He laughs and everyone joins him, the tenseness forgotten.
Teaspoon had his sore foot propped up on the desk; he was asking Buck's advice on how to treat the nasty wound. Buck replied seriously, "You could try wrapping it in a bandage." Teaspoon asked, "Would that help?" Buck replied with a laugh, "At least we wouldn't have to look at it..."
Jimmy had offended Ambrose, the small, bookish fellow who idolized Jimmy. Furious, Ambrose told Jimmy to step outside. Knowing that he would easily beat Ambrose, Jimmy tried to talk him out of it, but Ambrose insisted. Jimmy tried refusing to fight, but Ambrose would keep on. Jimmy would finally throw a punch, which would knock Ambrose down, but he kept getting back up. Hurt but still trying, Ambrose finally gets up only to lose consciousness. He falls forward, and Jimmy catches him. (What a great picture of putting a disagreement behind you to be there for someone when it counts.)
Ike had been having an attitude as a result of people picking on him. Teaspoon tries to explain to the others that when everybody treats you like you're different, you start to believe it. He posed the question, "What if it was you? What if you were walking down the street minding your own business and everyone you passed turned away, disgusted-like, when they saw your face?" Kid replied, "I'd think they were crazy." Teaspoon said, "Maybe so... but I bet the next time you passed a mirror, you'd look extra close just to make sure."
"Buck, you don't look any different than you did an hour ago." Lou, watching Buck as he fusses with his hat in front of a mirror
- Afterthoughts -
* Trivia: Teaspoon was married 5 times: three times to white women, two to Indians.
Credit: the description is a combined version of the ones found at the IMDb and at Riders Coming! (See the links below.) Most of the quotes were transcribed by me. The screencaps used in the banner were also done by me.
* The Young Riders website links: TYR Show Guide, Writers' Ranch message board, @ IMDb, @ Wikipedia, @ tv.com, Riders Coming!, The Way Station, Sweetwater, The YR Express Station, The Saddlin' Station, Riding Tall, The Young Riders of the Old West, The Reading Room (archived), More TYR Links
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