[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Waltons_9799.jpg]]

Popular FamilyDrama that aired on Creator/{{CBS}} from 1972 to 1981. ''The Waltons'' is about the life and trials of the Walton family in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Waltons are a large country family in rural Virginia who run a saw mill on Walton Mountain in the grinding struggle to make ends meet in the TheGreatDepression. As the initial lead character and narrator in his adulthood, eldest son John-Boy Walton noted that they didn't have much money, but they had a lot of love and fortitude to keep the whole brood going through thick and thin.

The remarkable thing is that this series began on CBS around the same time as its notorious "rural purge" in which shows like ''Series/TheBeverlyHillbillies'' and ''Series/GreenAcres'' were cancelled en masse as not appealing to the desirable audience demographics from 1968 through 1973. It was expected to die a quick death like the few remaining survivors of the "rural purge" would eventually do. Instead of dying a quick death against ''Series/TheModSquad'' and ''The Flip Wilson Show'' as expected, the show soon killed ''them'' and went on for a successful nine-year run. Some have called it the lone survivor of the "rural purge" although the show began during it, not right before it. The show and its cast also picked up several Emmy Awards and a Peabody.

Series creator Earl Hamner, Jr. based the show on his own childhood experiences, which he had previously mined for the 1961 novel ''Spencer's Mountain'' (itself adapted as a 1963 film starring Creator/HenryFonda and Creator/MaureenOHara). Prior to the actual series, CBS aired a PilotMovie in 1971 called ''The Homecoming: A Christmas Story'', which featured Patricia Neal as Olivia Walton, Andrew Duggan as John Walton Sr., and Creator/EdgarBergen as Grandpa; these roles would be re-cast for the series (and the movie hadn't been intended as a pilot; a series was only proposed after the favorable critical and audience reaction to the movie).

This was the first series to come from Creator/{{Lorimar}} Productions, which went on to produce such popular shows as ''Series/EightIsEnough'', ''Series/{{Dallas}}'', ''Series/KnotsLanding'', ''Falcon Crest'', and half of Creator/{ABC}}'s ''[=TGIF=]'' lineup.

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!!''The Waltons'' includes examples of the following tropes:

* AbortedArc: When Jenny Pendleton appears in "The Thanksgiving Story" she mentions that she'll be going to the same college as John-Boy next year, which suggests she was probably planned to appear in Season 3 (when John-Boy starts college) but she's never seen again.
* AbsenteeActor: Grandma, after coming home from her stroke anyway. She was not seen or mentioned in some episodes after she returned home.
* AbuseIsOkayWhenItIsFemaleOnMale: Played for laughs whenever Esther hits Zebulon with her broom.
* ActingForTwo: Ronnie Claire Edwards played both Corabeth and her lookalike sister Orma Lee.
* AdaptationExpansion: There is a lot more that happens in ''The Waltons'' than in the novel ''Spencer's Mountain''.
* AnimatedAdaptation: Not offically, but in 1974 {{Hanna-Barbera}} created an {{Expy}} called "''These Are The Days''" about the Depression Age Day family who might as well have been called Walton.
* AnyoneCanDie: After the war starts this sort of happens... One main and two recurring are killed.
* ArbitrarySkepticism: Elizabeth says in one episode that she does not believe in ghosts, even though she attracted a poltergeist in the previous season.
* AuthorAppeal: This is based on Earl Hamner's real life childhood.
* BarBrawl: John-Boy and John get into one in one episode.
* BarefootPoverty
* BeachEpisode: In 'The Seashore' the Waltons have to look after the Baldwins' beach house for a while.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: John Walton may the iconic loving father, but ''do not'' think you can take advantage of him. One drifter thought he could when he was bunking with the family and tried to steal some money before making his escape; the next thing that happened is that he was staring down a shotgun wielded by John who is quite adament that the thief put back the money and explain himself. John-Boy is no pushover either when facing bad guys, once forcing a young girl con artist to confess her crimes in front of the family and later on [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome beating up both boys singlehandedly that jumped him earlier in the episode]].
* BigBrotherInstinct: In 'The Big Brother' John-Boy talks about how he feels this for everybody.
* BittersweetEnding: Several episodes end this way.
** In 'The Achievement' John-Boy leaves to become a writer, fulfilling his dream, but leaving his family.
** 'Grandma Comes Home' is this in hindsight, since it was the final appearance of Will Geer as Zebulon, who, in real life and within the show, died shortly afterward.
* BrilliantButLazy: Jim-Bob. Seriously, he'd be a renowned genius if he tried. His achievements include being able to repair virtually ANY mechanical item, building his own car from pieces he finds, building his own shortwave radio which he uses to talk to people in the UK and building his own '''''aeroplane'''''!
* CallBack: In the very first episode Mary Ellen has a bird's nest for the Christmas tree, and that same nest is seen again in 'Day of Infamy'.
* CaptainsLog: John-Boy's memoirs.
* CartwrightCurse: Many of the guys Erin has shown interest in end up dead not long after (of the ones that survive, they turn to be of poor character).
* TheCastShowOff: Will Geer. He had a Master's Degree in Botany from the University of Chicago, and worked as a professional botanist after being blacklisted in 1950. Grandpa's knowledge of plants makes a lot more sense now...
** Jon Walmsley's musical talents were often showcased on the series, as well.
* CatchPhrase: A few characters have some.
** Esther often says "Good Lord!" and, in later series, "Oh boy...".
** Zebulon usually says "awomen" after grace has been said, rather than "amen".
** All episodes end with everyone saying "Good night [insert name]!"
* CelebrityParadox: The family were occasionally seen listening to their favorite [[RadioDrama radio shows]], including ''Creator/EdgarBergen and Charlie [=McCarthy=]''...after Bergen appeared in the pilot movie as Grandpa!
* CharacterDevelopment: Both Olivia and Esther became much less strict and more easygoing as the series went on.
* CharacterizationMarchesOn: The slightly snobbish, judgemental side of Corabeth is not present in her early appearances.
* ChristmasEpisode: Several, not counting the PilotMovie.
* ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: The Godseys' adopted daughter Aimee during season 7. She was last seen dealing with Corabeth's alcoholism, and then suddenly the show acted as if she never existed for the rest of the season. Most notably in the episode when her father Ike had a heart attack, she was never shown or mentioned once during the episode - even when Ike told John who would get what in his will in case he died.
** She did, however, come back for the Thanksgiving reunion movie in 1969, where it was revealed she had eloped with a Marine and that Corabeth disapproved of the match, which may have somewhat accounted for her lack of mention.
* ClipShow: ''A Decade of the Waltons'', a movie-length 1980 special introduced by an onscreen Earl Hamner, Jr.
* CousinOliver: Olivia's cousin Rose and her young grandchildren Serena and Jeffrey were brought on briefly during season eight and nine. Rose filled in for Esther after Ellen Corby left the show and Jeffrey and Serena took on the cute kid roles now that Elizabeth and Jim-Bob were both teenagers.
* CreatorCameo: Series creator Earl Hamner Jr. appears as a minor character in 'The Journey'.
* CringeComedy: Some of the pranks played on John-Boy in 'The First Day' could be called this. For example, somebody tells him he needs to deliver a goat to a specific room, he goes there very eagerly, unaware that he's taking it to the room of Proffessor Gote, a man who does not appreciate jokes about his name...
* DeadpanSnarker: Curt Willard is one of these.
* [[DoorstopBaby Doorstop Kid]]: The first episode had a young deaf girl that was unable to communicate left on the Waltons' doorstep by her mother to prevent the father (who mistook her for mentally disabled) from sending her to an orphanage. One of the earliest examples of a clip show.
* DownerEnding: A few episodes have an unhappy ending.
** 'The Hiding Place' suggests that Hilary and her husband may have be destined to be killed by Nazis.
** 'The Empty Nest' ends with the family sitting around and talking to Zebulon's grave.
** 'The Parting' ends with Olivia having to move to a sanitarium due to illness.
* EveryEpisodeEnding: The family members all telling one another good night.
** MemeticMutation: This ending became so iconic that as late as 2010, it was still bring parodied in commercials.
* {{Expy}}: The addition of pretentious and gossipy cousin Corabeth as Ike's new wife seemed to serve no other purpose than to make her and Ike the Walton's Mountain versions of Harriet and Nels Oleson of ''LittleHouseOnThePrairie'' (which had premiered a year before Corabeth's introduction).
** [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Thankfully, while snobbish, Corabeth is never portrayed as being spiteful, and is not above apologizing when she realizes that her behavior is uncalled for.]]
* FamilyDrama
* FieryRedhead: Ben and Elizabeth both have their moments.
* FlashbackWithTheOtherDarrin: In the Season 5 episode 'The Achievement' there are clips of the pilot movie, and all the clips of the adult characters were refilmed with the new actors.
* TheForties
* FourPhilosophyEnsemble: John (The Realist), Olivia (The Apathetic), Zeb (The Optimist), and Esther (The Cynic).
** Among John's sons and son-in-law: John-Boy (the Realist), Jason (the Conflicted), Ben (the Optimist), Jim-Bob (the Apathetic), and Curt (the Cynic).
** John's daughters and daughter-in-law as well: Mary Ellen (the Realist), Erin (the Cynic), Elizabeth (the Optimist), and Cindy (the Conflicted).
* FourTemperamentEnsemble: The adults: John (phlegmatic), Olivia (melancholic), Zebulon (sanguine), and Esther (choleric).
** John's sons + son-in-law: John-Boy (choleric), Jason (phlegmatic), Ben (sanguine), and Jim-Bob (melancholic), and Curt (leukine).
** John's daughters + daughter-in-law: Mary Ellen (choleric), Erin (melancholic), Elizabeth (sanguine), and Cindy (phlegmatic).
** The Godseys: Corabeth (melancholic/choleric) and Ike (phlegmatic/sanguine).
** The Baldwin sisters: Emily (melancholic/phlegmatic) and Mamey (sanguine).
* FrozenInTime: Very much averted. The series advanced from 1933 to 1945, while the last reunion movie was set in 1969.
* GentleGiant: Jason. One of the tallest characters and probably '''the''' most gentle and tender-hearted of all.
* GilliganCut: "I wouldn't marry you, Curtis Willard, if you were the last man on Earth!" Cue the wedding.
* TheGreatDepression
* HairTriggerTemper: Several examples of this. Often Esther, John-Boy, Mary Ellen, Ben, and Erin. Occasionally John, Curt, and Elizabeth.
* HalloweenEpisode: Season 7's "The Changeling" has Elizabeth harassed by a {{poltergeist}} on the cusp of her 13th birthday.
* HappilyMarried: The show is a big fan of this one: Grandma Esther and Grandpa Zeb, John Sr. and Olivia, most of the kids eventually, Rev. Fordwick and Rosemary, Ike and Corabeth, Sheriff Bridges and Sara. Even when they have arguments, they rarely erupt into anything big except for a few times in the later seasons.
* IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming: Almost every episode is titled like this 'The [X]'. The first set of specials all have 'Walton's Mountain' in the titles, and the second set of specials are all titled like this 'A Walton [X]'.
* LargeHam: The episode which introduces John Ritter as Rev. Fordwick paints him this way, especially when practicing his sermons in the Waltons' backyard. '''''"REPAAAAAYNT, YE SINNERS!"''''' He does get better as the show goes on, though he still retains much of his intensity.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: In 'The Threshold' Elizabeth talks to John-Boy about what he'd call a TV show he'd make about the family, and he says it'd be called 'The Waltons'.
* LongRunners: Nine seasons, and this for a series not expected to last '''''one'''''.
* TheMainCharactersDoEverything: John-Boy. You start to realize how small and under-educated the population of Walton's Mountain is when they rely on a teenage boy to take on every prestigious task you can think of.
* MultigenerationalHousehold: There's Zeb and Esther, their son John, his children, and eventually the children's children.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: No pun intended, but in season 5 "The Firestorm," [[spoiler:the anti-German Rev Fordwick, in response to Hitler burning the Holy Bible, plans on burning ''Mein Kampf'' and any other German literature they could get his hands on in protest. John-boy stands up to them, trying to get them to see how wrong it was and spots one black book in the pile and picks it up. Mrs. Brimmer comes forward to read the German words and then the English. Rev Forwick and those assembled were nearly in tears as they realized she was reading the Holy Bible.]]
* NoEnding: Season 9's final episode 'The Revel' was not written as a final episode for the show, nor was the final special 'A Walton Easter'; and so, sadly, ''The Waltons'' does not have a proper ending.
* NostalgicNarrator: Series creator Earl Hamner Jr., as the voice of the older John-Boy Walton.
* OnceAnEpisode: The "good night" sequence. Played with as it wasn't always the Waltons who bid each other goodnight. Occasionally it was other people who were central to the episode who did this.
* OneSteveLimit: Averted. There are two Johns, two Bens, two Esthers and two Sarahs.
* OppositesAttract: Several examples of this. Easygoing joker Zeb married rigid, strict Esther. Hot-headed, workaholic Ben married sweet, quiet Cindy. While not as obvious as Zeb and Esther or Ben and Cindy, John and Olivia are different.
* ParanormalEpisode: Of all shows, this one had an episode about one of the kids being haunted by a poltergeist. It was the seventies, after all.
* PilotMovie: ''The Homecoming: A Christmas Story''
* PrettyBoy: John-Boy.
* PresentDayPast: In the episode "The Silver Wings", Jim-Bob meets an attractive older woman who looks and dresses like a woman from the 1970s. From her nearly Farrah-like hair to her too-skimpy-for-the-1940s wardrobe (which seems to consist mainly of bathing suit tops), she looks like something straight out of ''Three'sCompany'' rather than Walton's Mountain.
* PutOnABus: In the second to last episode of Season 6, John-Boy literally leaves on a bus (though he had already been 'put on a bus' a season before when he moved to New York), but the season still followed his exploits in TheBigApple.
** Olivia contracts tuberculosis and has to leave for a sanatorium midway through Season 8. She [[TheBusCameBack comes back]] for the first half of Season 9.
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: This is the reason behind Esther's stroke and Zebulon's death.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: John Walton may be the undisputed head of the household, but it's hard to find a father more understanding under such difficult circumstances. He is even shown to change his mind on unpopular decisions, and will admit when he's made an error, especially to Olivia and John-Boy.
* ReplacedTheThemeTune: JerryGoldsmith scored ''The Homecoming: A Christmas Story'' and he returned when it became a series (he did six episodes in the first season), so you'd think the producers would have retained his quiet, rustic theme music. You'd be wrong:
-->''They thought [the original] was too gentle. Today, I would have argued with them. I like the theme for ''The Homecoming'' better. It was certainly more authentic.''
* {{Retcon}}: In ''The Homecoming,'' Olivia finds out about John-Boy's writing when he is fifteen years old, but in a Season 8 episode she mentions knowing about him and his writing when he was a little boy.
* ReunionShow: Several reunion movies aired in the '90s.
* SameCharacterButDifferent: Curtis was originally a loving, loyal husband and father who died an honorable death at Pearl Harbor; they brought him back as a broken drunk who faked his death and left Mary Ellen out of pure selfishness.
* SeventiesHair: The adult males and the girls had hair that was too long for the period. One troper's grandmother spat, "We girls didn't have our hair hanging down in our faces back then!" Her reaction to the Walton girls' feathered hair towards the end of the run is unprintable.
* ShirtlessScene: John, John-Boy, Ben, Ike and even Zebulon have had them.
* {{Shopkeeper}}: Ike Godsey, who runs his store also as the local post office, auto garage and pool hall, so everyone has a reason to visit.
* ThanksgivingEpisode: Season 2's "The Thanksgiving Story", as well as ''two'' reunion movies centered around the holiday.
* TheThirties
* TitleDrop: In one episode John-Boy mentions that, if he made a TV show, it'd be called ''The Waltons''.
* TomboyAndGirlyGirl: Mary Ellen is a complete tomboy to Erin's totally girly girl. This causes many, many arguments for the girls when they are young.
* UncannyFamilyResemblance: Corabeth and her less sophisticated sister Orma Lee.
* UncertainDoom: Hilary and her husband may or may not have been killed by Nazis.
* UnreliableNarrator: Not an intentional trope, in this case, but he does contradict himself; for example, one time saying that Zebulon outlived Esther, when the opposite was true, and another saying that AJ Covington never returned to the mountain (he was back a few years later).
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: What happened to Bullet the calf? Elizabeth and Jim-Bob try so hard to save him, but then he's never seen again.
* WorldWarII
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-->''Good night, John-Boy; wherever you are.''