Father Murphy

This article is about the television drama. For the traditional Irish song, see Come All You Warriors.
Father Murphy

Title screen
Created by Michael Landon
Starring Merlin Olsen
Moses Gunn
Katherine Cannon
Timothy Gibbs
Byron Thames
Lisa Trusel
Richard Bergman
Ivy Bethune
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 34
Executive producer(s) Michael Landon
Running time 60 minutes
Original network NBC
Audio format Mono
Original release November 3, 1981 (1981-11-03) – September 18, 1983 (1983-09-18)

Father Murphy is an American western drama series that aired on the NBC network from November 3, 1981 to September 18, 1983. Michael Landon created the series, was the executive producer, and also directed the show in partnership with William F. Claxton, Maury Dexter, Victor French and Leo Penn.


The series stars former NFL Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle football player and Little House on the Prairie actor Merlin Olsen as an 1870s frontiersman named John Michael Murphy who teams up with prospector Moses Gage (Moses Gunn) to shelter a group of orphans who are being threatened with a workhouse. Murphy disguises himself as a priest and befriends a schoolmarm to help the children find a home.

At the end of the first season, his true identity is revealed to the head of the workhouse, and the orphans seem destined to a life of labor. Instead, Murphy marries the schoolmarm and they get custody of the children.


Many of the episodes were filmed at the Old Tucson Studios and theme park just outside Tucson, Arizona. The main village from the show, however, was located at the Big Sky Movie Ranch in Simi Valley, California (the filming location for the famed television series Little House on the Prairie). The village was located approximately 200 yards up the hill from the Ingalls' farm.

The show is an NBC production and syndicated worldwide by Sony Pictures Television. However, Sony does not own the video rights, as indicated below.


Notable guest appearances on the series included: Shannen Doherty, Kellie Martin, John M. Pickard, Eddie Quillan, Christina Applegate, Amanda Peterson, Donna Wilkes, Tina Yothers, Mary Beth Evans, Wilfred Hyde-White, and James Cromwell.

List of episodes

Season 1 (1981-1982)

# # Title Original air date
1101"Father Murphy"November 3, 1981 (1981-11-03)
2102"Eggs, Milk and a Dry Bed"November 10, 1981 (1981-11-10)
3103"Establish Thou the Works of Our Hands"November 17, 1981 (1981-11-17)
4104"A Horse from Heaven"November 24, 1981 (1981-11-24)
5105"By the Bear That Bit Me: Part 1"December 1, 1981 (1981-12-01)
6106"By the Bear That Bit Me: Part 2"December 8, 1981 (1981-12-08)
7107"False Blessings"December 15, 1981 (1981-12-15)
8108"The Ghost of Gold Hill"December 22, 1981 (1981-12-22)
9109"Graduation"January 5, 1982 (1982-01-05)
10110"Will's Surprise"January 12, 1982 (1982-01-12)
11111"Eighty-Eight Keys to Happiness"January 19, 1982 (1982-01-19)
12112"Knights of the White Camelia"February 2, 1982 (1982-02-02)
13113"The Parable of Amanda"February 9, 1982 (1982-02-09)
14114"The Spy"February 16, 1982 (1982-02-16)
15115"The Heir Apparent"February 23, 1982 (1982-02-23)
16116"In God's Arms"March 2, 1982 (1982-03-02)
17117"The Dream Day"March 14, 1982 (1982-03-14)
18118"Laddie"March 21, 1982 (1982-03-21)
19119"Matthew and Elizabeth"March 28, 1982 (1982-03-28)
20120"The First Miracle: Part 1"April 4, 1982 (1982-04-04)
21121"The First Miracle: Part 2"April 11, 1982 (1982-04-11)

Season 2 (1982-1983)

# # Title Original air date
22201"Happiness Is..."September 28, 1982 (1982-09-28)
23202"The Father Figure"October 5, 1982 (1982-10-05)
24203"Stopover in a One-Horse Town"October 26, 1982 (1982-10-26)
25204"Outrageous Fortune"November 9, 1982 (1982-11-09)
26205"The Reluctant Runaway: Part 1"November 16, 1982 (1982-11-16)
27206"The Reluctant Runaway: Part 2"November 23, 1982 (1982-11-23)
28207"Buttons and Beaux"November 30, 1982 (1982-11-30)
29208"John Michael Murphy, R.I.P."December 7, 1982 (1982-12-07)
30209"The Witness"December 14, 1982 (1982-12-14)
31210"Blood Right"December 21, 1982 (1982-12-21)
32211"Sweet Sixteen"December 28, 1982 (1982-12-28)
33212"The Rockets' Red Glare"June 1, 1983 (1983-06-01)
34213"The Matchmakers"September 18, 1983 (1983-09-18)

DVD releases

Image Entertainment (under license from NBC Studios) released both seasons of Father Murphy on DVD in Region 1 in 2004/2005. As of 2010, these releases have been discontinued and are now out of print.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 22 October 26, 2004
Season 2 13 January 25, 2005


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