In the early programs, Matt Dillon has a grudging tolerance for his deputy, Chester Proudfoot. Chester’s primary purpose it seemed, both to Matt and the audience, was to essentially irritate Dillon. Whether it was his constant searching through desk drawers or putting sugar in his whiskey, Chester’s idiosyncrasies defined the character more than anything else. As the show continued, however, the two men developed an easy friendship, one which many male listeners could relate to. Chester even saves Dillon’s life at one point, then tells Matt he can’t tell anyone, as it would only embarrass them both. Marshall Matt Dillon definitely and intentionally did not fit into the stereotypical western hero mold. His tactics were often roughshod and harsh and his words and personality often proved as sharp as his shooting.
Gunsmoke writer John Meston used the program to break the white hat singing cowboy mold that so many other shows had latched onto. His goal, as he himself stated, was to obliterate that archetype and he used Matt Dillon to do it. Meston conceived and wrote Dillon as a man who at any moment could be as vicious as any of the outlaws he sought, and that made Dillon more realistic. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 9.