|Full Name:||Clay Stafford|
|Family/Relatives:|| Marie Cartwright [Mother]
Little Joe Cartwright [Half-Brother]
|First Episode:||The First Born|
|Last Episode:||The First Born|
|Portrayed by:||Barry Coe|
Clay Stafford was born in New Orleans, he was the first born to Marie Cartwright. Unfortunately for her, when Clay was born she was told he was stillborn. Clay's grandparents took him from her and told Marie he'd died so she wouldn't pursue him. When Clay was old enough to ask about his mother he was told she was dead.
Clay arrives in Virginia City looking for a job. He pays particular attention to Little Joe. The Cartwrights have come to recruit people for a round up but the mines pay more & Ben is struggling to hire people. Clay chooses to join the round up.
Clay wins the pot in a poker match and kills one of the miners in self defense when he accuses Clay of cheating. Later on Ben Cartwright receives a communicate from New Orleans that confirms everything Clay said was true, however a similar incident happened at a card game and Ben wants to give Clay the benefit of doubt.
Clay arrives in town to pick up some supplies but Little Joe follows shortly after to warn Clay he shouldn't be in town since the miners have a grudge against him. A group of men with bats arrive to take care of Clay but they're shooed away.
Later Clay finds out that Little Joe has been badly beaten due to his association with Clay and that he was sent as a message to Clay. Clay blames himself and tells Ben that he believes bad luck follows him around.
Clay leaves the Ponderosa and Little Joe goes after him, Clay tells he'll get in his way and that he doesn't need him or his family.
Clay is given Joe's locket as a parting gift, and is told to bring it back some day.
- Barry Coe was originally meant to replace Adam but Pernell Roberts remained on the series.
- Due to the grow tensions on set with Pernell Roberts it was decided to look for a possible replacement for Adam Cartwright. Michael Landon didn't like the character of Clay Stafford, believing that he would take the limelight off himself. Lorne Greene sided with Michael, and Clay only lasted one episode.