‘The Rifleman’: Will There Ever be a Reboot?

For a generation of early television watchersThe Rifleman was the peak of western television. The Chuck Connors series lasted for five years and nearly 170 episodes. Almost 60 years after its final episode, the TV show remains a pioneer of television dramas whose legacy lives. In 2011, a reboot of the series was announced, although it does not appear to have gone very far. 

(L-R) Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as Mark McCain smiling and waving
(L-R) Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as Mark McCain | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

What was The Rifleman 

Westerns were the prestige drama of early television. Westerns were already the Marvel movies of their day, and television was the perfect place for fans of the genre to sit down once a week and enjoy the adventures of their favorite gunslingers. While this show wasn’t the first nor last of its kind, it helped bring television into a modern era. 

While falling into many tropes of both westerns and early television series often fell into, the show was revolutionary for many reasons. Starring Boston Celtics-player-turned-Hollywood-actor Chuck Connors and created by the legendary Sam Peckinpah, the show premiered on ABC in 1958 and dominated primetime television for five years after. It focused on a widower named Lucas McCain, played by Connors in the first depiction of a single parent in television history. 

Lucas was a former Union soldier who now made his living as a rancher and a father. However, despite being a humble worker by trade, McCain had a strict moral code that did not allow him to stand idly while others were mistreated. Every week, Connors found himself in a problem that forced him to pick up his handy rifle and go back to his old life. His Winchester Model 1982 became as famous as any character on the show. 

The show was a violent retelling of an idealized American west and helped lay down the groundwork for a genre that still goes strong to this day. When a remake was announced in 2011, many fans of the old series looked forward to a modern telling. Today, they are still waiting.

Bringing back McCain

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In 2011, Variety announced that CBS was making its version of the classic western series. The show would have been produced by Chris Columbus, who has written or directed several hit movies like Home Alone and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. While the show had been off the air for nearly 50 years at the time of its announcement, it remained in the lexicon thanks to reruns being aired and a shelf life that lasted far beyond the original series. 

The new series would have updated the plot for a modern audience while retaining its western origins. On top of Columbus, who was going to direct some episodes, the show was going to be produced by Carol Mendelsohn and Julie Weitz. However, despite the official announcement from CBS, nothing has happened in the nine years since. This has many wondering whether the show will ever truly be remade. 

Will The Rifleman ever come back?

The remake appeared dead on arrival before even a casting choice was announced. However, rumors of similar reboots occasionally popped up for years after that. Several strange reboots have been rumored, joked about, or otherwise thrown out during that time, but as of 2020, there are no real plans to bring back the series. 

Nothing ever dies in Hollywood, however, and with so many classic franchises getting reboots, reimaginings, remakes, and sequels, perhaps the classic series might find legs in the future. Until then, the original series can be streamed on Tubi, Crackle, Amazon, and several other streaming services. It’s not a mistake that the show still has a following this long after leaving the air. Because of this, maybe the best way for fans to enjoy it is to simply watch the original series reruns.