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Western Series Wiki

The Distant Bell is the first episode of Shane. It first aired on September 10, 1966. 


When Amy Sloate shows up to start a school, Ryker gives orders to burn down the barn that would house the school. Miss. Sloate doesn't like the raw wilderness and violence she sees and is advised by Shane to leave. Marian is adamant that there will be a school, no matter how much Ryker is against it so she starts a school in the saloon. When Shane hears Ryker still caused trouble, he goes to Plan B. - Source: IMDb.com



Harve, one of Ryker’s men, watches Tom Starett and Amy Sloate come into town. He rides up to them and watches them closely to intimidate them and goes on to the grocery store to tell Ryker that she’s coming.

When Starett and Miss Sloate arrive in town Ryker walks up to them, making a remark about her being the school teacher. Starett points out Ryker’s bad manners but Ryker goes on, asking about Sloate’s intentions. He asks her if she’s going to be the school teacher for the sodbuster kids around town and she tells him the settlers in the valley have indeed asked her to come. Ryker tells her to get out because there isn’t even a school around, but Starett tells him there’s going to be. Ryker, however, says he’ll die before there’s a school in the valley.

Meanwhile Shane walks up from behind Ryker, telling him they’ll keep in mind that last remark of his. Shane introduces himself to Sloate, who's still sitting next to Tom Starett on the wagon they road in on. Shane jumps onto the wagon asking Harve to get out of the way and the three of them drive on out of town. Ryker yells after them: “No school, Shane, you hear that! I’ll run my cattle through every stinking school you put up!”


Part 1[]

At the Starett’s homestead Joey’s getting somewhat upset about the coming of a school teacher. “Miss Sloate is a goat” he remarks before asking his mother Marian if he has to go to school every day. Marian reassures her that he won’t have to go on Sunday. When asking her where the school’s going to be, Marian tells Joey the barn of Mr. Howell will be used.

When Tom Starett is visiting Howell and mentions the promise the farmer'd made to them earlier Howell lets him know he remembered what he told them but points out that he made the promise before Ryker turned against the idea of starting a school. Starett tells Howell it’s about time they started acting like they’re living in the valley and that they’re not just passing through. He tells him they can’t keep running every time Ryker makes a face and Howell agrees, but he’s not so fond of the idea of spitting in Ryker’s face either.

Howell’s afraid to let things happen on his property that Ryker doesn’t like to happen and Starett asks him if that point of view of his is final, because it’d be a shame to see Howell’s son Bobby grow up to be as stubborn and uneducated as his father is.

Tom Starett has a talk with Ed Howell in the barn that is to be used as a school.

Howell lets Starett know it’s gonna cost money to make a school out of the barn and goes along with the plans when Starett assures him they will all chip in.

Joey tries to get out of going to school and tells Shane he wouldn’t be able to help him and grandpa when he’d be in school all day. Shane straight up tells him he wouldn’t get in the way either. Joey asks him if he ever went to school and Shane tells him he did. It’s not where he learned how to shoot however. He learned that somewhere else.

Miss Sloate has arrived at the Starett homestead and is in conversation with Marian about the things they’ll need to buy for the school. Grafton, the local storekeeper, wouldn’t have everything they need so Marian estimates it’ll take about three weeks before everything they need will get to their valley. When Shane helps Miss Sloate to get on the wagon and the two of them start to head for the local grocery store Joey asks if Shane’ll bring back a soda pop. Shane has learned to go along with his mother’s answers to such questions and declines. When they ride off Joey notices that Shane is wearing his gun belt. Just to go to Grafton’s?

Grafton has a busy day. Tom Starett and Howell are in the shop to buy half a keg of paint while Ryker comes walking in. He asks Howell if he’s fixing up that old barn of his and Howell tells him exactly what their plans are. Ryker doesn’t react as harshly as when he first met Miss Sloate but asks the farmers if they think they’ll be able to kill the pig smell. Starett and Howell just go on about their business but Ryker interferes by tearing up a sack of whitewash when they walk out. They’re both covered in whitewash as Starett angrily tries to start a fight with Ryker but he soon thinks better of it and they walk out.

Outside an armed Shane and an awestruck Amy Sloate watch the scene. After Harve arrives in town and Ryker and the two farmers part ways Shane assures Miss Sloate she shouldn’t worry about Ryker and that everything will be all right. She then notices smoke in the distance, making Shane immediately call after Howell. When coming out of the store again he agrees with him that the fire seems to be at his place. As they set out to stop the fire, a satisfied Ryker looks at Harve. He tells Grafton not to look at him; he’s been in town all day.

Part 2[]

Howell’s wife and son survived the fire. Still, the house and barn burned down and one of the horses seems not able to make it. But Tom Starett assures Howell they’ll all pitch in and will help him to get back on his feet. Meanwhile Miss Sloate asks if there’s anything she can do to help. Marian tells her the best thing for her to do now is simply put her arm around Mrs. Howell and pat her on the shoulder.

Shane has a look at Howell's horse that got hurt during the fire.

Shane hands Howell his gun to put his horse out of its misery.

Later that day, after kneeling down in his bedroom and saying his night prayer, Joey turns in. It seems there won’t be any school now, so he asks his mother about that before she walks out. It looks like Joey is glad he doesn’t have to go to school and he doesn’t think he has to because his mother can teach him how to read. But Marian explains to him how for some people school is the only way to teach their children how to read and write because some adults can't even read themselves.

While Tom, Marian, Shane and Miss Sloate are having some (more) coffee, Miss Sloate tells them it’s too strong for her taste. She adds that she asks herself if the people in the valley are civilized or not. She only saw brutality, destruction and death since she came and wonders why they all just accept it. Marian says everything will get better, but Shane cuts her off and tells her she’s lying. The situation is not going to change anytime soon. That being not what Miss Sloate had expected, it looks like it's best for her to leave.

Shane sets out to his personal bunk house and thanks Marian for supper. Marian comes after him, telling him that it was because of him Miss Sloate was now in tears. He explains that he may have said what nobody wanted to say or hear but that what he said was just the truth. Marian thinks the way he acted is gonna leave them without a school teacher but Shane points out with Ryker around she wouldn’t be the right teacher anyway. Marian tells him he had no right and makes clear he’s just a hired hand.

After realizing they both know Shane has become more than just a hired hand, Marian walks in after Shane to apologize for her remark. She knows he’s right but says Joey has got to go to school. Her son has got to know there’s more than dirt farming, Ryker and the valley. It is what his father would have wanted.

When re-entering the house Tom Starett tells his daughter-in-law, Marian, that Miss Sloate asked him to give her a ride out the day after. He also tells her he heard her argue with Shane and how it reminded him of conversations he had with his wife years ago.

Two days later Marian sets out for Grafton’s. Ed Howell is at the store trying to buy a gun from Sam Grafton but he doesn’t want to sell it to him. Howell says he’ll be needing it to go hunting but Grafton knows what kind of hunting he means and won’t have any part in his plans. He tells him to go home when Marian comes walking in. Grafton asks her about Amy Sloate and Marian tells him she left the day before.

After Grafton tells her how sorry he is they were unable to start a school, Marian walks into the saloon next to the grocery store and comes up with the idea to start a school in there. Ryker and his boys come in often but mostly after four or five in the afternoon, what would make it possible to hold classes all day. At first Grafton doesn’t think it would be a very good idea but he thinks they can work it out. He points out they still don’t have a teacher but Marian tells him she’s going to do it herself.

Later that evening the Staretts start out to make things ready for the first day of school. Meanwhile an unarmed Ryker visits Shane in his bunk house to tell him he really won’t allow a school in his valley, especially not in a saloon. Ryker starts out to leave as soon as Shane lets him know they will not let him stop them but tells him there ain’t no law going to stop him from keeping his land. He worked hard for 20 years to own the valley and he aims to keep it for himself.

The next day Joey and Marian set off to school. Marian asks her son to call her Mrs. Starett in school, which confuses Joey at first, but he goes along with it. While Joey walks out to help his grandpa Shane walks into the kitchen, where he, in a subtle way, is asked to stay out of town for the day.

Joey and Marian have a talk before setting off for school.

Marian doesn’t want any guns around and fears that, if Shane would be around protecting her, Ryker would feel invited to come over with guns. Shane goes along and Joey and Mrs. Starett ride off to town.

School starts off with a history lesson. Marian tells about the way the United States came about and compares events with things out of the daily farm lives the children live. “In Washington, in 1863, around the time some of you were born,” she says, “a law was passed that said a man could come west and if he found land he liked, if he improved it, if he build a farm and raised a family, it was his land.“ Of course this raises questions in class and Joey is the first to ask about Ryker, but Marian can’t explain what he does and why he does it so she moves on to multiplication tables.

Ryker and two of his men get thirsty early in the day and arrive at the saloon to have a drink. Knowing fully well that school is in session and hearing about it from Grafton as well doesn’t stop them from going in and interrupt class. They call for bartender Ben and Harve looks for him in the back. They force him to reopen the bar, but Marian won’t let it stop her from teaching the kids the tables and goes on with class.

While Ryker and his men drink to the new school, the kids bug him by reciting the multiplication table. When the men start breaking glasses and almost tear apart the bar Marian’s had enough and goes outside with the children. As Ryker tells her he hopes he doesn’t scare them off, Marian lets him know he doesn’t and they’re just taking a recess. They happily sing a song while walking outside and even Ryker admits they got guts.

Part 3[]

Grafton is cleaning up the mess Ryker left behind when Shane comes walking into the saloon. Shane gets angry by the sight of the chaos Ryker has caused but Grafton asks him not to make things worse. But there is no way Shane is going to let it happen again.

At the Starett homestead Marian asks Tom where Shane is but he tells her he didn’t say. When he and Shane had heard what happened at Grafton’s Shane had just gone off. Joey, pretending to sleep, listens what Marian and his grandpa are saying and realizes Shane went to town. The following morning Joey lets his mother know what he thinks: Shane must have gone off to shoot Rufe Ryker. At least he hadn’t run off, that’s one thing Joey’s sure of. Marian tells him she has no idea and admits it’s hard to say what a man like Shane would do.

Somewhat later Shane comes home. When Marian asks what he’d been up to he shows them. He had begun building a new school and the frames were already up. The next day they’ll start school again. Unfortunately, there is no time to wait until the building’s finished, he says, because then people will start thinking, and once that happens the school wil never be finished. Marian, however, is afraid the homesteaders won’t send their children to school after what Ryker’s done but Shane tells her that even a school with just one kid is a school.

Ryker and Harve have a talk in the saloon.

Ryker and Harve are having a drink at Grafton’s and the latter is all set on tearing down the wooden frame that represents the school. Ryker tells him to let it rest and doesn’t think it’ll help, but Harve is not afraid of Shane and thinks they shouldn’t give in. He has been working for Ryker for nearly 3 years and likes his job but he doesn’t like what those nesters have done to the valley ever since they came in. Ryker says he always liked to have him around and “it’s no fun burying a man you like to have around.”, but eventually he agrees to let him go after Shane.

Later that night Ryker comes to the Starett’s place to warn Shane to not let Marian go to the school tomorrow. Because if she does, he’ll do more than break bottles. But Shane tells him she’s coming and so is he. Ryker says he then will have to kill him and Shane replies he’ll have to try. Joey and Marian were both sleeping and, awoken by Ryker’s shouting, overheard the conversation. Joey got scared a little and crawls into his mother’s bed.

Around sunup Shane unpacks his gun belt and puts it on. The Staretts all act a little nervous when they’re having breakfast. Shane walks in to shortly tell them what the plan is. He goes to school and they follow ten minutes after him. They know it’s safe when they hear the school bell. And if they won’t, then there won’t be any school today...

Part 4[]

When Ryker and his two men ride up to the school the next morning he tells Harve to back off if Shane’s wearing his gun. Harve says he’s just a man and that he’s no different than any other. Stubborn as he is, Harve says he won’t back down anymore. Ryker then leaves and lets his two men take position around the school.

While Shane comes riding up to the school on his white-footed horse, Ryker heads over to Grafton’s to have a drink. The two at the school check their guns while waiting for Shane and the Staretts can’t wait any longer; Tom, Marian and Joey jump aboard their wagon and head over to the school as well. Somewhere along the way Tom makes the wagon stop to wait till they hear the bell.

Shane’s coming closer and closer, finally arriving at the school where the two men await him. He looks Harve directly in the eye while he gets off his horse. Harve is all set to gun him down when Shane sees the other man, hidden behind the bushes.

Shane gets off his horse to face Harve, who's wating at the school.

He makes sure that Harve is directly in the line of fire in case his backup tries to fire his gun.

“School’s closed Shane.” Harve says. “I mean to open it.” is the simple response Shane gives him. Harve tries to get out of the line of fire and when that doesn’t work the slow and easy way he jumps away to let his partner take a shot. It is Shane, however, who shoots first and kills the man, leaving a startled Harve on his knees with his hand on his holster. Shane has his gun out and tells Harve to make up his mind. Harve thinks better of it and sets of for his horse.

While watching Harve ride off Shane starts to strike the school bell. Ryker knows it didn’t go as planned when he hears the bell and he bows his head in dissatisfaction, but the Starett family is relieved to hear the sound and they happily continue their way to the school.


  • First appearance of the stars of the series as well as both recurring co-stars and recurring supporting actors Owen Bush as Ben and Lawrence Mann as Harve. Karl Lukas (farmer Howell) also appeared in a later episode.
  • First episode without a so-called Guest Star.
  • First of 3 episodes written by Executive Producer David Shaw.



Character Portrayed by
Shane David Carradine
Shane - The Distant Bell - Shane.png
Marian Jill Ireland
Shane - The Distant Bell - Marian.png
Tom Starett Tom Tully
Shane - The Distant Bell - Tom Starett.png
Joey Chris Shea
Shane - The Distant Bell - Joey.png


Character Portrayed by
Grafton Sam Gilman
Shane - The Distant Bell - Grafton.png
Ryker Bert Freed
Shane - The Distant Bell - Ryker.png

Supporting cast[]

Character Portrayed by
Ben Owen Bush
Shane - The Distant Bell - Ben.png
Howell Karl Lukas
Shane - The Distant Bell - Howell.png
Harve Lawrence Mann
Shane - The Distant Bell - Harve.png
Bobby Del Ford
Shane - The Distant Bell - Bobby.png
Amy Sloate Diane Ladd
Shane - The Distant Bell - Amy Sloate.png


Character Portrayed by
One of Ryker's Men Bill Coontz
Shane - The Distant Bell - Uncredited - Bill Coonts's Character.png

Crew (and other credits)[]

Opening credits[]

Closing credits[]

  • Story Consultant: William Blinn
  • Associate Producer: Austen Jewell
  • Director of Photography: Richard R. Batcheller
  • Art Directors: Bill Ross and Stan Jolley
  • Post Production Supervisor: Jim Faris
  • Casting Supervisor: Betty Martin
  • Music Composed and Conducted by: Jerry Fielding
  • Theme by: Victor Young
  • Asst. to Producer: Robert Hardin
  • Assistant Director: Les Berke
  • Set Decorator: Bill Calvert
  • Property Master: Anthony Bavero
  • Script Supervisor: Dorothy Cumming
  • Makeup Artist: Louis J. Haszillo, J.M.A.
  • Sound Mixer: Walter Goss
  • Special Effects: Charles Spurgeon
  • Film Editor: Bill Murphy
  • Wardrobe Supervisor: Edward Lossmann
  • Construction Coordinator: James West
  • Lighting Gaffer: Bobby Jones
  • Key Grip: Irving McClellan
  • Color by: Pathe Laboratories
  • Titles by: CineFX

"A Presentation of Titus Productions, Inc. | Filmed at Paramount Studios, Hollywood"


Episode Guide[]

Shane - Season 1 episodes
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17