The Californians was set in San Francisco during the 1850's gold rush. It revolved around honest men who were trying to clean up their town of criminals and con men. The main character in the first season was Dion Patrick who came to California for the gold, but ended up being a reporter for the local newspaperman Sam Breenan. As the season went on, the new man in town became Matthew Wayne who was quickly elected sheriff of San Francisco. His arrival ended up easing out the characters of Patrick and McGivern, who up until Wayne arrived was all the law enforcement the town had.
As the second season began, Wayne was now the city marshal and had 50 men as his police force. He soon had a love interest in Wilma Fansler, who was a widow who ran the local gambling house.