CBS’s “Gunsmoke” aired during what’s regarded as the Golden Age of TV Westerns and popularized the image of the American cowboy as the hero fighting for justice on a lawless frontier. Dennis Weaver’s “Gunsmoke” character, deputy Chester Goode, was one of the period’s most popular characters, so why was he written off during the show’s ninth season?
In a 2002 interview, Weaver revealed that the decision to exit the series was actually made by the actor himself. After nine years of playing the same character, he felt that he had “pretty much exhausted all creative possibilities with the character” and “wanted to do something else.”
Weaver also revealed that he knew he was taking a risk leaving a hit show as he had seen other actors do the same and then disappear. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for Weaver as he was cast in NBC’s single-season “Kentucky Jones” shortly after leaving “Gunsmoke,” and then landed another cowboy hat-wearing role in “McCloud” in 1970 that stayed on the air until 1977.