Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Gilligan's Island

Go To

This page is for the seven stranded castaways on Gilligan's Island.

Castaway Tropes

  • Everyone Meets Everyone: In the first episode after the storm that got them stranded, where a radio broadcasts names off the missing persons one by one with the camera panning on each named person.
  • Genre Blindness: They all make mistakes on the island, even the intellectual Professor.
  • Interclass Friendship: Mr. and Mrs. Howell are upper-class and extremely wealthy, but they become friends with the rest of the Castaways (of whom only movie star Ginger Grant might be anywhere near their "class") during the time they're marooned on the island. Mr. Howell even changes his will for them and during Rescue From Gilligan's Island, they throw out a couple of upper-class guests for insulting Gilligan and the Skipper.
  • Advertisement:
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Invoked according to Word of God.
  • Spanner in the Works: Mostly Gilligan, but not always.
  • True Companions: If one of them's in danger, the other six rush in to help. If one is (always wrongly, of course) believed to have died, the other six will be beside themselves with grief. And while they may not be able to get off the island, they are actually quite adept at surviving whatever obstacles could cause them to perish there. In the end, the answer to the infamous question, why don't they Just Eat Gilligan, is easy. Because they love him.

Willy 'Little Buddy' Gilligan (Bob Denver)

"With Gilligan..."

The first mate on the Minnow. His defining personality trait is his stupidity, which often ruins the castaways' plans to get off the island. However, he also tends to inadvertently solve many of the problems the castaways face.


Tropes associated with Gilligan:
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Makes some accidental feats by his stupidity, especially when he decides to start a fire in the hut, which attracts the attention of the Coast Guard and the castaways are rescued in Rescue From Gilligan's Island.
  • Affectionate Nickname: "Little buddy", which is what the Skipper calls him in his friendlier moments.
  • Chaste Hero: Despite being a single man whose fellow castaways include two gorgeous single women, he's not paired off with either of them.
  • The Ditz: Part of the reason they're stuck on the island and he often exasperates the Skipper with his dumb comments.
  • Dumb Is Good: He may be ditzy, but he's often portrayed as the most kindhearted and noble of the castaways. When a scurvy epidemic threatened the castmates, he divided an orange into slices without a second thought.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Ingenue: A male version.
  • The Ego: The most level headed of all the castaways.
  • The Fool
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With the Skipper. Granted, it's mixed with Vitriolic Best Buds (at least on the Skipper's end), but they bunk together, work together, stick up for each other, served together in the war (The Korean War), and panic when they believe the other is in danger.
  • Limited Wardrobe: He wears the same outfit practically every episode.
  • Manchild: The most childlike and innocent of the castaways.
  • The Millstone: One of the most prominent examples in TV. history. However, it should be noted that he personally ruined only 17 of the 37 escape attempts in the 98 episodes of the show.
  • Nice Hat: His bucket-style sailor's hat, which was apparently so nice that after the show was cancelled, Bob Denver wore some variation of it sporadically in public for the rest of his life.
  • Number Two: Second in command to the Skipper on the Minnow.
  • Only One Name: Creator Sherwood Schwartz said his first name was Willy, but all people called him was Gilligan, even when a radio announcer, who even called the skipper and professor by their rarely used real names, just called him Gilligan in the pilot. His first name is never uttered in any episode or movie and unlike Mrs. Howell (whose real first name is likewise never uttered), All There in the Script doesn't even apply. However, Back to the Beach does give him the name Willy.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Hey little buddy!"
  • The Skinny: The Skinny to the Skipper's Fat with his very lean figure with, at the most, microscopic body fat.
  • Sloth: Can be very lazy.
  • Those Two Guys: With the Skipper.
  • Undying Loyalty: Gilligan will never stop being the Skipper's first mate. On one occasion, he refused to attend a party the Howells were giving solely because he thought they had snubbed the Skipper.

Captain Jonas "The Skipper" Grumby (Alan Hale, Jr.)

"...the Skipper, too..."

The captain of the Minnow who spent some time in the Navy during "the war" (The Korean War). A Running Gag in the series is him losing his temper at Gilligan and hitting him with his hat. Despite this, he deeply cares for his "little buddy."

Tropes associated with The Skipper:
  • Aside Glance: Has a tendency to throw a glance at the camera in most episodes.
  • Big Eater: He eats a lot.
  • Big Fun: Chunky and funny.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: He's very tough and good-natured.
  • The Captain: Of the S.S. Minnow and he often takes the lead in the group other than Mr. Howell and the Professor.
  • Catchphrase: "D'oh!"
  • Dope Slap: He habitually cap-slaps Gilligan when he screws up or insults him.
  • Enraged by Idiocy: As part of his being "wrath" in the "seven deadly sins" of the Castaways. He often gets mad at Gilligan when he does something goofy or unhelpful.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": "Skipper" isn't his real name, but nobody ever calls him by "Jonas Grumby".
    • Mr. Howell usually calls him "Captain" (befitting his upper class diction) whereas Mrs. Howell tends to alternate between "Captain" and "Skipper".
  • Fat and Skinny: Very chunky, and is the Fat to Gilligan's Skinny.
  • The Good Captain: A Good Guy and he leads the group with their welfare and comfort at the top of his priorities.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Gilligan. Granted, it's mixed with Vitriolic Best Buds (at least on the his end), but they bunk together, work together, stick up for each other, served in the war together, and panic when they believe the other is in danger.
  • I Am Big Boned: He gets irritated about comments on his weight, and at least once told Gilligan that it's muscle, not fat.
  • The Id: He makes much rasher decisions and choices that are exasperated by the ditzy yet level headed Gilligan.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: When he isn't being rash or greedy or yelling at Gilligan, he is a very nice guy.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Wears the same captain uniform for several seasons, with no signs of wear and tear, as with Gilligan.
  • Nice Hat: His captain hat just looks good.
  • Standardized Leader: As such, with his position on the ship and his gender.
  • Superstitious Sailors: The Skipper's superstitiousness is a running trait, often putting him into conflict with the Professor. The show varies with regard to whether what he's worried about is actually real.
  • Those Two Guys: With Gilligan.

Mr. Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus)

"...the millionaire..."

A wealthy businessman. His wealth at times makes him snooty and unempathetic. However, he does come to care for his fellow castaways and at one point he writes them into his will. A Running Gag is his hatred for "Yale men."

Tropes associated with Mr. Howell:
  • Fiction 500: He's extremely wealthy.
  • Greed: He's the wealthiest and has an eye for more.
  • Happily Married: He is still in love with and devoted to his Lovey.
  • Hollywood New England: His depiction is typically that of a stereotypical upper-crust Bostonian.
  • Idle Rich: Doesn't do a lot of heavy lifting around the island, that's left to the guys or even the younger women, and doesn't do much around in his company.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: He graduated from Harvard and won't let you forget it. His standard insult toward somebody he disapproves of is to call them a "Yale man".
    • Also a trait of Mr. Magoo, another famous Backus-voiced character (though he was a proud Rutger's alum).
  • Large Ham: Even in a cast full of these, he stands head-and-shoulders above the rest.
  • Money Fetish: Perhaps the one thing he loves more than money is Lovey.
  • Nice Hat: Many, usually his brimmed-straw hat.
  • Preppy Name: A very old-fashioned and posh name.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense
    • Averted in the episode where he 'adopts' Gilligan; he explains to Gilligan that the snooty manners and distant behavior of the upper class is really a means of protecting people with less money/connections from being hurt by the inevitable excesses of the rich.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Manages to do this even on an island with only five people other than the Howells.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: He goes through several changes of clothes as the women.

Mrs. Eunice Wentworth "Lovey" Howell (Natalie Schafer)

"...and his wife..."

Thurston's socialite wife. Like her husband, her wealth makes her a bit naive and out-of-touch with those poorer than her. However, she sometimes acts as the castaways' mother-figure.

Tropes associated with Mrs. Howell:
  • All There in the Script: Her actual first name of Eunice appears in one episode's script, but is never mentioned on air.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Brains. The wisest and most formally educated of the women.
  • Ditzy Genius: A highly-intelligent and well-educated and cultured woman, she can even "speak fluent French and Italian", but seems to fall short in common sense and can even be pretty scatterbrained at times.
  • Fiction 500: Her husband is totally wealthy and she might've brought some old money into the marriage.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony. Not in appetite, but rather in excess—she loves expensive alcohol, clothes, and other luxuries.
  • Last-Name Basis: To everyone else but her husband she's known as Mrs. Howell.
  • Hidden Depths: She occasionally demonstrates knowledge of theatre, poetry, and literature. For example, the Lysistrata Gambit episode begins with her directly citing the trope-naming play and its plot.
  • Idle Rich: Doesn't do much around the island, and when she's with the girls, they take care of her. Occasionally, though, she's aware of the trope and tries her best to avoid it. She was apparently quite the social butterfly among her and Thurston's rich acquaintances, as she mentions a history of planning parties, luncheons, and other events. Heck, she even tries to pair up Mary Ann and Gilligan just so she can plan a wedding again!
  • Malaproper: A Running Gag is her tendency to mix up her expressions, like "The way to a man's stomach is through the kitchen" or "Birds of a feather gather no moss".
  • Nice Hat: Ones that go with her Unlimited Wardrobe.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Lovey, to her husband Thurston
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: She hardly has a clue about how things work in the real world, even in the middle or working class lives of the island inhabitants.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Enough to rival her husband and the girls on the island.

Ginger Grant (Tina Louise)note

"...the movie star..."

Often uses her sex appeal to charm men into giving her what she wants.

Tropes associated with Ginger:
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Hollywood starlets, especially Marilyn Monroe.
  • Alliterative Name: They both start with a "G".
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Beauty. The glamorous movie star who loves to flirt with men.
  • Celebrity Survivor: She's the famous one of the group, being a movie star, yet she isn't above doing domestic chores or any such duties that'd get her hands dirty.
  • Expy: Of Marilyn Monroe, even using her same throaty voice.
  • Girly Girl: To Mary Ann's "Tomboy"; though Mary Ann is also very feminine, Ginger is more impractically dressed, coiffed and sexy, while Mary Ann is a Girl Next Door.
  • Heroic Seductress: She often does this to get the castaways out of a situation.
  • Lethal Chef: In one episode, Mary Ann is conked on the head and thinks she's Ginger, so the real Ginger must switch places with her; this includes cooking, as Mary Ann takes care of the food for the castaways. Unfortunately for everyone, Ginger is a terrible chef—her recipe for "fish pie" includes baking a full fish (bones, scales, tail and all) into a crust. It's lampshaded by Ginger herself, who knows she's bad at cooking.
  • Lust: She's the seductress and inspires lust in many of the men, whether it's the Skipper or the Guest Stars that show up.
  • Ms. Fanservice: With her shapely, slim figure, red hair, cut class features, breathy voice, and clad in body hugging dresses that show some cleavage.
  • Show Some Leg: Aside from the cleavage, she does have great legs.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Lot of clothes, luxurious as Lovey's and as curve reavealing as Mary Ann's.
  • Veronica: She's more of a seductress than Girl Next Door Mary Ann.

Roy "The Professor" Hinkley (Russell Johnson)

"...the professor, and..."

His numerous degrees allow him to do anything from building Bamboo Technology to predicting the weather to translating the languages of native tribes. He is a calm and intelligent rock to whom the other Castaways can cling to in times of trouble, and as such, is often the de facto leader of the bunch. However, he can also be arrogant, especially when contrasted with other more superstitious castaways.

Tropes associated with The Professor:
  • And the Rest: One half of "...and the rest" in the first season credits.
  • Asexuality: The one time Ginger tried her sexual wiles on him he was completely immune. Also was oblivious to the charms of a character played by Zsa Zsa Gabor.
    • At some point in his past, the Professor had a girlfriend but lost interest in her because she was more interested in "hugging and kissing" than intelligent conversation.
    • May be a case of Single-Target Sexuality since, in the beauty pageant episode, he argues with the other men about which of the island's women is the most desirable. He alone chose Mary Ann.
  • Bag of Holding: Has plenty of supplies the way the Howells, Mary Ann, and Ginger have wardrobe and makeup.
  • Bamboo Technology: The undisputed freaking master.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": No one knows his real name.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: Has unlimited information from his memory and literature, even if there is no evidence of an expansive library.
  • Hot Scientist: If anyone was a Mr. Fanservice on the island, it would be him.
    • Mr. Fanservice: The only man on the island that was meant to attract the Female Gaze, his tastefully cut clothing helps. Reportedly, Johnson was asked to pose shirtless when auditioning. He refused, but still got the part.
  • Insufferable Genius: Although a Nice Guy, he often falls into this trope.
  • Limited Wardrobe: As limited as Gilligan and the Skipper's.
  • MacGyvering: Can you make a car out of sticks?
  • Not So Above It All: Although he's often the most mature one of the Castaways, he can be as petty as the rest of them from time to time (e.g., "Seer Gilligan").
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: He is knowledgeable about many scientific fields, not being pinned to one discipline.
  • Only Sane Man: The most competent, level headed, and mature person on the island.
  • Pride: His flaw, if any, is being uncomfortably aware of how smart and sensible he is.
  • The Professor: As his name states and he is a font of knowledge.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Along with Mary Ann, he isn't in the opening until the second season.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The Professor can do miracles with Bamboo Technology, but he can't build a raft or fix the Minnow, which would solve the single most pressing problem in that little microcosmic society. Lampshaded in Back to the Beach, when Willy Gilligan snarks, "You know, I lived with a guy for years. A real genius. He could take a couple of these pineapples or a couple of coconuts with some strings and wire and make a nuclear reactor. But he couldn't fix a two-foot hole in a boat."
  • The Scully: He varies from reluctance to outright refusal in accepting any superstitious explanation for ongoings on the island, even when it seems as though there might be evidence for it.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Often the audience and island inhabitants have to strain to understand what he's saying or ask him to simplify.
  • The Superego: The most intellectual and logical on the island.

Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells)

"...Mary Ann..."

A sweet young girl from Kansas. She takes care of the cooking and cleaning.

Tropes associated with Mary Ann:
  • And the Rest: One half of "...and the rest" in the first season credits.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Her fondness for belly baring outfits gave the censors fits. (These were the days when you couldn't show your navel on television.)
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Brawn. The farm girl who is the only woman who does any real physical work.
  • Betty: She's an innocent Girl Next Door compared to Ginger's seductress.
  • Envy: Not often but a bit jealous of the male attention Ginger receives.
  • Expy: Her outfit and down-to-earth nature are reminiscent of Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz.
  • Farm Girl: She's a female version of the humble and hard-working trope and is put in an extraordinary scenario.
  • Farmer's Daughter: A wholesome Midwest version; even though her outfits are rather provocative, she isn't as vampy as Ginger.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: She does most of the cooking on the island, though Ginger helps her out with the domestic chores.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Wears her hair in bouffant style with the loose ends tied into tails.
  • Girl Next Door: Subverted as she's a protagonist, she's a more "wholesome" version of beauty compared to Ginger and is very approachable.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Not to the extent of Ginger—she really isn't the one to seduce people—but a lot of the clothes she wears tend to be rather revealing. Not to mention that one time she lost her bathing suit. Gilligan's and The Professor's reactions say it all.
  • Only One Name: Not to the same degree as Gilligan, but Mary Ann's last name was nonetheless rarely invoked on screen.
  • Only Sane Man: She sometimes shares this role with the Professor, being the most down-to-earth of the group.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Gets in the intro starting in Season 2.
  • She's Got Legs:
  • Straight Man: She seems to be the only character with no regular funny schtick of her own.
  • Team Chef: She does most, if not, all the cooking on the island.
  • Tomboy: Still feminine, but she is more practically dressed than Ginger and wears more pants. Her farming background comes in handy for the tasks.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Though not as bad as the Howells and Ginger.
  • Vague Age: Her exact age is unknown but is implied to in either her mid-late teens or early twenties
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?: The first female to ever wear short shorts on television.

...heeeere on Gilligan's Isle!


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: