Celebration of Michael Landon as Joseph Francis Cartwright

October 31, 1936 – July 1, 1991

The stories listed below celebrate Michael Landon as Little Joe Cartwright.

Some were written in response to Birthday Challenges issued in the Bonanza Brand Forums and some even explore an unfortunate close brush with death. All are works inspired by the love of the respective authors for this character.

Click on a title to open the story.

A Birthday Gone Wrong by Rose Cartwright

Summary:  Joe’s family and his girlfriend are throwing him a surprise party. But what will Joe do when he has to search for where the party is and things go wrong, well wrong to him?
Rating:  K+  2,170 words

A Circle of Family: The Book of Joseph by Miss Judy

Summary:  Days before Adam is scheduled to leave for college, Little Joe “borrows” his older brother’s Bible and leaves it outside in the rain when his attention is drawn elsewhere. The Bible had belonged to Elizabeth and was one of the few tokens Adam had of his mother.   We watch as he discovers the seemingly ruined text, and comes to grip with his loss and tries to find forgiveness. This is the first of a four part story of family love, sweet memories and the Cartwright’s way of living life to its fullest.
Rating:  K    WC   1800

A Little Bit of Heaven – a Tribute (by McFair_58)

Summary: This was written for Michael Landon’s 83rd birthday.  He may be gone but he will never be forgotten!  Joe and Hoss have a discussion.
Word count: 1216     Rated: G

A Lost Bonanza by BnzaGal

Summary:  A response to ML’s2012 birthday literary exercise. When I read the challenge to write a “Spooky” poem or story for ML’s birthday challenge I had to think about it. What would be spooky… frightening, horrifying.
Rating:  K  1,255 words

A Night on His Own by Frasrgrl

Summary:  This story is my contribution to the 2012 Michael Landon’s Birthday Literary Challenge to write a spooky story. On a foggy All Hallows Eve, Joe has made camp by himself. What possibly could be out beyond the fog?
Word Count:   1,686   Rating:  K+

A Surprise Birthday by Territel / Terri

Summary:  Joe is celebrating an important birthday, but will his family allow him to become a man?
Rating:  K+  Words:  3,000

August Moon by Rider

Summary:  Little Joe Cartwright celebrates his 21st birthday with his family on the Ponderosa Ranch.
Rating:  K+  830 words

Battle of Wills (The) – #9 – Naming the Newest Cartwright by Patina

Summary:    The Cartwrights try to decide on a name for the coming baby.
Rating: K+  Word Count=2542

Battle of Wills (The) – #11 – Love’s Labor by Patina

Summary:    The birth of Joseph Cartwright.
Rating: T  Word Count=6306

Birthday Wish (The) by Pony

Summary: It’s Joe’s birthday, and he’s making a wish. But the Cartwrights don’t realize it’s someone else’s birthday too … and he has a secret wish of his own.
Rated: K WC 3300

Dancing with Angels by Inca

Summary:  A series of misfortunes with the opposite sex threatens Joe’s relationship with his family and brings his life into mortal danger.
WC 44,000   Rated:   T

Dying Well by DBird

Summary:  On a battlefield, Joe carries out a disorienting search for his brothers among the dead, but instead he discovers something entirely unexpected.
Rated:   T  (6,600 words)

Fathers, Sons, and Growing Up by PJB

Summary:  As Joe’s eighteenth birthday approaches, Ben comes face to face—so to speak—with the fact that his youngest son is no longer a child.  WARNING: contains sexual themes.
Rated: T  WC 6900

For the Soul is Dead that Slumbers by Freyakendra

Summary: A Tale told in 2 parts:
Part I: The Darkest Hour: When Joe is missing, he’s not the only one trapped in darkness.
Part II: No One: Even after Joe comes home, a part of him remains lost.
Rated: T Word Count: 22,500

Forever Friends by Terri

Summary: A Birthday tribute to Michael Landon on his 72nd birthday. What are the four Cartwrights up to now???
Rated: K WC 1200

Gone by BnzaGal

Summary:  One stormy night near Lake Tahoe spells sorrow and disaster for the Cartwrights.
18,935 words   Rating K+

Great Baby Switch (The) by PuchiAnn

Summary:  Bored boys, left to their own devices, can come up with wild ways of passing the time, and when the bored boys are Little Joe Cartwright and his friends, Virginia City is in for quite a fright.  Written for the Michael Landon Birthday Challenge.
Rating: K Words: 5,068

Greatest Love of All (The) by Terri

Summary: How will Ben react to the new love in Marie’s life?
Rated: K+ WC 1100

Gunplay by DebPet

Summary: What starts out as a happy birthday turns traumatic for Joe.
Rated: K+  WC 2200

Heroes by Southplains

Summary:  What makes a hero? Sometimes the answer isn’t what you’d expect. A bank robbery goes bad; in the midst of the chaos Joe and Adam are badly injured, and the Cartwrights struggle to find a way out.
Rated: T  WC 16,200

Hunch (The) by Dodo

Summary: Written as a Birthday challenge for one of our most devout fanfic readers. SJS for Devonshire: Sometimes a father’s intuition is worth its weight in gold.
Rated: K+  Word Count: 4632

Joe Cartwright – Magician! by Questfan

SUMMARY: My entry for the Michael Landon Birthday Challenge. Michael was well known as a practical joker and the challenge was to write a Bonanza story celebrating that fun side of Michael in his role as Joe Cartwright. Make it scary, funny, or dramatic . . . or all three!
Rating: K Word Count: 659

Last Chance by Cheaux

Summary: Joe gambles with his life to give his Pa something precious.
WC 900  Rating K

Lies by A-P

Summary: WHN for The Truckee Strip and an extension of a Pinecone. It’s the anniversary of Amy’s death and Joe can’t live with the grief.
Rating  K+  Word Count: 1,053

Looking Death in the Face by Terri

Summary: The thoughts in your head when you are about to die. Little Joe knows his time is up but the suffering starts long before the bullet is fired.
Rated: K+ WC 2800

Man (The) by pbeaking

Summary:  As we come upon the 17th anniversary of Michael Landon’s passing July 1st, 1991, I’ve been trying to think of a way to celebrate what he has left for us all. This is a different sort of story because it is written in rhyme. I find I can express myself easier that way. These ditties, as I so call them, happen to be a hobby of mine. I hope you will enjoy my tribute to Michael, for I feel he has left his mark on the world in many ways.
Rating:  K   1,060 words

Message (The) by DJK

Summary:  In London, Adam receives a message from Hoss that will change his view of many things. This story was written in answer to the Michael Landon Birthday Challenge.
Rated: T   Word count: 1444

Michael Landon aka Little Joe Cartwright by DebbieB

Summary:   Caught between two worlds, Michael Landon AKA Joe Cartwright must choose.  Which will it be…a life of extreme wealth, glamor and notoriety, or a life of  warm understanding, peaceful living and contentment within himself?
Rated: PG 13 Contains several cuss words. This story is meant only in fun, not to offend!  12, 360 words

Murder of Joe Cartwright (The) by Karen & Randy

Summary:  With special contributions by Helen Adams & Tahoe Ladies
Rating T  59,355 words

Murder of Joe Cartwright (The) by Randy & Karen

Summary:  With special contributions by Helen Adams & Tahoe Ladies
Rating T  59,355 words

Naming (The) by Southplains

Summary:  Adam tells how Little Joe’s nickname really came about.
Rated: T  WC 9800

Never Forgotten by BluewindFarm

Summary: A most important day in the life of young Little Joe, and he feels neglected.
Rating: K /  2,075 words

One Hour by JoeC

Summary: In one hour good and bad can happen.
Rating T  675 words .  Warning: Don’t read it if you are a sensitive person

One Special Night by Bluewindfarm

Summary: The Cartwrights await a VERY special delivery, leaving one of them to wonder what their future will hold.
Rating: K  1,705 words

Our Little Joe by BnzaGal

Summary: Written for the Michael Landon’s 2011 Birthday – Literary Exercise where we had to put all the words of the song “Be Patient with Me” somewhere in our story.
Rated: K  1,295 words

Our Little Town by PSW

Summary:  Little Joe and Mitch show off their school project.  Written for a Pinecone Challenge  June 15 , and expanded for the Michael Landon Birthday Challenge.
Rating: K   Word Count: 1490

Passages by DBird

Summary: From tragedy to laughter, a family’s life is made up of many passages.
Rated: K+  11,680 words

Pins and Needles by Patina

Summary:  Written for an SJS/JPM lover’s birthday. Going to town to get the buggy fixed and to get the mail was easy. Getting home was far more difficult.
Rating: K+  Word Count=4189

Practice Makes Perfect by Patina

Summary:  Marie is entering the final weeks of her pregnancy with the newest Cartwright. Will the baby’s birth go according to plan?
Rating: K  Word Count=3699

Renewal by DebbieB

Summary:  When Joe becomes sick with cholera and his life slowly begins ebbing away, Ben’s faith is put to the test.
Rated:  G  8,690 words

Silent Land (The) by Inca

Summary:  Two brothers ride into a sleepy, little town in the middle of nowhere. Their name is Cartwright and their appearance triggers a tragic quest for vengeance.
Rated T  WC  17,000

While Holding a Colicky Baby at Night by DBird

Summary: The Cartwright family learns that trials and blessings sometimes go hand in hand.
Rated: K+  5,715 words

Wrath of the Wailing Widow (The) by DJK

Summary:  The Wailing Widow is just a local legend, but Little Joe, Mitch, and Sally Lynn may convince a certain teacher that legends do come true. Written for the 2017 Michael Landon Birthday Challenge.
Rating: K+ Word Count: 4009


Additional stories might be found via the following links:

Devonshire Birthday Challenge – 2010 & 2011

Celebrating the birthday of the Queen of SJS – Devonshire.

Michael Landon’s Birthday Literary Challenge – 2012, 2017

Celebrating Michael Landon’s birthday.


Please note, this listing is not meant to be all inclusive of the stories surrounding any character located within the Library.  To find those stories, click on the link to the character name listed in the Tags section of the front page.