There were many times when The Big Valley stole ideas from Bonanza. In the episode [sorry-forgot the title] when Heath first goes to the ranch he races a train and jumps the tracks exactly like Joe did on The Stallion! I loved both shows but many shows copied each other.
You got that right. There were lots of similarities. I don't know if it's a matter of "stealing". I suppose with so many westerns on TV at the time that there were only so many ideas to go around. I imagine the script writers watched other shows to "get" or "steal" ideas.
There IS one Big Valley episode that does seem like a steal. I was just watching it the other day. When I saw it a few years ago, I had this feeling of deja vu. WHERE did I see this episode before? Oh, on Bonanza.
It was called "Devil's Masquerade" and played many of the same beats as "Knight Errant.
Remember in "Knight Errant", Hoss agrees to go pick up a family friend's mail order bride Lotty. Lotty falls in love with Hoss and Mr. Prescott, her intended, is furious at Hoss and blames him when the woman doesn't want to marry him.
In the Big Valley episode, Heath agrees to pick up his friend Jim North's mail order bride Nancy. However she too changes her mind and wants to back out of the wedding. The man blames Heath who finds himself on the business end of a fist. There is a twist in the episode which makes it different than the BZ one. In this case, Nancy is an imposter. The real mail order bride is killed and this woman takes her place hoping to snag a wealthy husband. But she gets an attack of conscience and doesn't want to take advantage of Mr. North.
The interesting thing is that the same actor, John Doucette plays the jilted groom in both episodes.
I bet he was wondering, "Haven't I already DONE this episode before?"
To be fair, a lot of the westerns had the main characters experience similar tragedies like the disappearing or dead fiance. I was watching Gunsmoke a while ago. It was an episode I didn't remember. In it, Newley, Matt Dillon's deputy, fell in love and actually got married. I didn't recall Newley being married. That's because the bride was looking kinda pale and weak throughout the episode. Not a good omen.
She was a goner by the end of the show. I think she had the same thing as Laura White, Joe's intended in "The Storm". You know that "TV disease"? The woman looks so prettily pale and gets weaker and weaker. She coughs, swoons and succumbs to her illness.