Over 14 years ago, CBS introduced a television show that would go on to captivate audiences around the globe. That show was the now-famous Chuck Norris vehicle, Walker, Texas Ranger. The show followed Norris as the title character, Cordell Walker, a former Marine and current Texas Ranger who holds Wild West lite values after being raised by his Native American uncle, Ray Firewalker. For 9 seasons straight, millions upon millions of viewers tuned in around the globe to see what kind of adventures Walker would find that week, and how he and his team would get out of their predicament. The show had enough action, drama, and thrills to bring in almost 15 million viewers at the height of its fame.
The show was cancelled in 2001 despite maintaining high ratings. In the following years since the show's departure from television, many shocking behind-the-scene secrets have been revealed by actors, producers, and other people who were involved in the show's production. We listed below 15 of the most shocking behind-the-scene details about Walker, Texas Ranger that made our jaws drop.
15 He Personally Asked For A Family-Friendly Episode
Chuck Norris rarely asked CBS to make special episodes on his behalf, but in the middle of season 5, he asked the network if they could craft an episode that exemplified his Christian beliefs. Initially, they denied his offer since they already has Touched by an Angel on their schedule and figured that gave them enough faith based episodes at their disposal. Norris begged them to do a faith-based episode of Walker, Texas Ranger and
if the episode did not become their highest-rated episode of the year, he would never ask for another favor like this again.
So they filmed the episode "The Neighborhood" about a little girl who gets shot in the midst of gang violence. Miraculously, the episode was in fact the highest-rated episode of the season.
14 Norris Forced A Family-Friendly Tone
Recently at Comicpalooza Houston 2017, Chuck Norris dedicated a special section of the panel to Walker, Texas Ranger. He talked about how when he was asked to star on the show and delivered the first script for the pilot, he loved it. However, he did have some exceptions with the expectations that CBS had for him. He noted that they wanted his relationship with love interest Alex to go in a "risqué" direction. He explained to CBS that as a Christian man,
he never did anything "risqué" in his movies and wouldn't start now.
He wanted a family-oriented product that dads could enjoy, but kids could watch too. And so that was the tone they stuck with for each episode.
13 J. Michael Straczynski Had A Hand In The Series
He may not be a man whose name would sound familiar to the average audience, but he has made some major contributions to the world, especially in the sci-fi world with shows under his belt like Sense8 and Babylon 5. He also did a lot for the comic book world writing comic books about Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Superman, Fantastic Four, and Thor.
Speaking of Thor, he also wrote the Thor movie.
With credentials like this, people wouldn't expect him to have worked on Walker, Texas Ranger, but in the show's early stages of development, he was a supervising producer. However, he had to leave before production went underway to get his new show Babylon 5 off the ground.
12 Almost Had A Different Name
"What's in a name?" William Shakespeare has had us all asking ourselves that question, but we tend to beat around the bush when it comes to giving an actual answer in favor of just throwing out a cute quote. The truth is, there is a hell of a lot in a name. A name means everything.
No one wants to associate themselves with something that has a trash name.
No one wants to hang out with a guy with a horrendous name like Archibald or something, and nobody wants to dedicate their time to a TV show that has a terrible name.Walker, Texas Ranger (and its main character) almost had a terrible name. In the earliest stages of development, it was called Sam Bolt, Texas Ranger. Thankfully, someone came to their senses and changed it.
11 Chuck Norris Never Wanted To Do Television
In 1993, Chuck Norris was reaping the rewards of being one of the biggest action stars currently acting in Hollywood. An argument could be made for him being the biggest action star at the time. Thanks to box office hits like The Delta Force and Missing in Action, Norris was a star in high demand. Which is why CBS came to Norris specifically and asked if he wanted to star in their new tv show, Walker, Texas Ranger.
This was a huge gamble considering Norris was adamant about not appearing on TV shows.
In fact, he once recalled in an interview having turned down about 12 other TV offers at the time. Luckily for CBS, Norris loved the pilot script enough to sign on.
10 There Was A Series Of Spinoff Books
For many fans, a huge hole was left in the television stratosphere when Walker, Texas Ranger left the airwaves in 2001, and an even bigger hole was left when
the spinoff TV movie Trial by Fire ended on such a massive cliffhanger.
What few fans of the show realized is that the hole could have been filled with novel material that has been crafted since 1999. It was that year when author James Reasoner wrote three spinoff novels where the plot focused on the adventures of Cordell Walker. Anyone who is desperately in need of more Walker, Texas Ranger stories can check out and buy Reasoner's books online.
9 Walker's Last Name Is A Throwback To Another Norris Film
There was once a time when Chuck Norris's awesome character name of Cordell Walker was in jeopardy. As we revealed in another entry on this list, the main character's name was almost Sam Bolt before whoever was writing for the show came to their senses. Turns out that whoever changed the name looked to a Chuck Norris film for inspiration as the name
Walker is a subtle nod to the 1986 Norris flick Firewalker.
Which makes sense considering that the plot for Walker, Texas Ranger was inspired by the plot of another Norris movie called Lone Wolf McQuade, which also stars Norris as a lone wolf Texas ranger.
8 Why Noble Willingham Left the Show
Initially, when Walker, Texas Ranger first hit the airwaves, Walker's friend and bar owner CD Parker was played by Gallard Sartain. Then, for season 2 and the remainder of the series, the character was played by Noble Willingham. But for some reason, the character was absent during the final season. Early on during that season, he was written off the show by explaining that the character got sick on a trip and passed away. In reality,
Noble Willingham left the show to pursue his own political ambitions.
He challenged Max Sandlin for the northeast Texas congressional district seat but unfortunately lost.
7 A Movie Franchise Was Planned
Walker, Texas Ranger wrapped up its 9th and final season back in 2001, but to the delight of many fans, Chuck Norris would strap on his cowboy hat one more time in 2005 for the TV movie Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire. The film was a part of CBS's "Sunday Movie of the Week" programming block and there were plans for more sequels to come. It even ended on a cliffhanger where Walker's love interest, Alex, getting shot after a courtroom shooting.
Unfortunately, fans would never find out if Alex survived her gunshot wound.
CBS got rid of their "Sunday Movie of the Week" block shortly after and in turn, future Walker, Texas Ranger films were put on halt.
6 Paul Haggis Co-Created the Show...And Hated It
Paul Haggis is the Oscar-winning director of Crash and the screenwriter behind Million Dollar Baby. One thing that not many people know is that Haggis first got his start in television. One of his most notable accomplishments that not many people know about is that he was one of the co-creators of Walker, Texas Ranger.
If it was up to Haggis, he would make sure that all traces on the Internet linking him to Walker, Texas Ranger were erased forever.
Turns out, Haggis only worked on the set of the show for two weeks and he hated it so much, the experience motivated him to make the jump to film. In a weird silver lining, he might have never won an Oscar if he didn't hate Walker, Texas Ranger so much.
5 The Cars Were More Important Than You Thought
There is a common phrase that tells us that "the car makes the man." This essentially means that a man is judged by whatever kind of car he drives and, incidentally, the car is vital to the image that a man wants to portray. In the world of Walker, Texas Ranger, that sentiment could not be more true. In a remarkable bit of symbolism on the show's behalf,
good guys and bad guys could be scoped out by the car they drove.
Similar to Westerns where bad guys wore black and good guys wore white. On the show, bad guys drove Fords while good guys drove Chevrolet cars. Coincidentally, the parent company of Chevrolet, General Motors, happened to endorse the show.
4 Several Future Stars Showed Up
If one were to pop on a random episode of Walker, Texas Ranger right now, they'd be shocked to discover the cavalcade of future Hollywood stars that appear onscreen. Such future stars who make
guest appearances on the show happen to include Bryan Cranston, Tobey Maguire, and Mila Kunis.
The case of a young Mila Kunis appearing on the show is especially interesting considering Norris actually taught her some interesting lessons before she left the set. In addition to giving her some nice life lessons, he gave her some fighting lessons by teaching the young girl how to throw a punch.
3 History Of The Bar And Grill
One of the most memorable settings on the show was CD Parker's Bar and Grill, but the actual real-life location of the spot has an even more iconic history behind it. CBS filmed all the CD's Bar and Grill scenes at Fort Worth's White Elephant Saloon. For those unfamiliar with the spot, the bar dates back all the way to the 19th century back when it used to be run by Luke Short, a frontiersman.
The spot quickly turned into the regular hang-out spot for some of the most famous cowboys in the history of the West.
Two of Short's closest friends who often frequented the bar happened to be Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp.
2 George W. Bush Almost Cameod
We already covered how plenty of future Hollywood stars made some of their earliest onscreen appearances on Walker, Texas Ranger, but believe it or not, a future president of the United States almost made their way on the set of the show as well. That future POTUS would be none other than George W. Bush. Back in 1996,
the showrunners reached out to Bush when he was the Governor of Texas at the time and asked if he wanted to appear on their show as himself.
Since he was a little busy planning a potential presidential run, Bush politely declined. Unfortunately, he played such a pivotal role in the episode he was supposed to be appear in that the whole script was thrown out.
1 Chuck Norris Cancelled The Show Himself
Most television shows tend to get cancelled after having poor ratings. This was not the case at all for Walker, Texas Ranger as the show always had phenomenal ratings. At the show's peak, they had close to 15 million viewers watching per season. Even during the show's final season, it had over 10 million viewers, which is a lot more than some shows get nowadays. However, Norris opted to close the book on his show himself.
"You always want to try to quit as the winner,"
Norris explained to the Los Angeles Times. His viewpoint was that he wanted to end the show while both the ratings and the quality of the show were still strong, rather than wait until it jumped the shark and ratings tanked.