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Trivia / Little House on the Prairie

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  • Adapted Out: Numerous characters were adapted out between the television series and the books (and between the books and Real Life, for that matter):
    • Two major persons Adapted Out between real life and the books were Freddie, the Ingalls brother who died in infancy (likely during the period of time between the end of On the Banks of Plum Creek and the beginning of By the Shores of Silver Lake), and, in Farmer Boy, Almanzo's sister Laura Wilder in a particularly harsh enforcement of the One Steve Limit.
  • Author Tract: There's a great deal of speculation about how much of a contribution was made by Laura's daughter Rose—if she simply guided her mother through editing her books or if she actually ghostwrote them. What is known is that Rose Wilder Lane was a staunch Libertarian who believed her mother's life represented an inspiring account of how independence and determination led to prosperity...and that portions of the Ingallses' lives that didn't live up to those idealsnote  didn't make it into the books. There's also quite a few sections around the Fourth of July when our young protagonists have some unusually lengthy and sophisticated musings on the meaning of Freedom.
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  • California Doubling: The harsh winters of Minnesota (disproportionately represented in the show) were actually filmed in Simi Valley, California as well as parts of the Sierra Nevada. The geography is clearly more California-like, as well. Southern Minnesota is generally greener and has no mountains, as shown in the episode "The Lord is My Shepherd."
  • Creative Differences: Initial producer Ed Friendly wanted the series to remain true to the books, but Michael Landon was against the idea of cast members going around barefoot in the wild - and of sporting the enormous beard Charles had in the books (neither he nor NBC wanted to hide his face from his fans). Thus, although every episode was "An NBC Production In Association With Ed Friendly," it's clear who the real man in charge was.
  • Composite Character: In the books and subsequently for the series, Nellie Olsen was a composite of three unpleasant young women Laura encountered at different points of her life. This explains why Nellie goes from a spoiled snob in On the Banks of Plum Creek to a catty teacher's pet in Little Town on the Prairie to a simpering, giggling airhead in These Happy Golden Years.
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  • Directed by Cast Member: Michael Landon started as he meant to go on by directing the pilot; he ultimately helmed close to 100 episodes, including the Series Finale - which he also wrote (Victor French directed 18 more as well).
  • Dueling Dubs: In Japan, the series has two dubs: One done in 1975 and another newest one done in 2019, both broadcasted by NHK and each one with their own set of voice actors.
  • Enforced Method Acting: The tearful and forlorn reactions of everybody during the demolition of the Walnut Grove set are genuine, as it was done in one take for pretty obvious reasons, and the brutal manner in which the set was destroyed deeply affected the people who grew attached to the show and the working environment, knowing that once it was gone, it was truly over and done with.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The show was huge in Spain, Mexico, and Japan. For the latter, Little House was credited with a quilting craze among the Japanese, not to mention it was the inspiration for an anime series - Sōgen no Shōjo Rōra - in 1975.
  • He Also Did:
    • Rose's friend and the writer of the "Rose Years" book series, Roger Lea MacBride, ran for President under the Libertarian Party ticket.
    • Merlin Olsen, who played recurring character Jonathan Garvey from Seasons 4-7, had recently retired from a 15-year career as a defensive tackle for NFL's Los Angeles Rams that ultimately saw him make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In addition to that role, Olsen was also working as the lead analyst for NFL coverage on NBC.
  • One Steve Limit: Unmentioned in the book is the fact that Almanzo had a third sister, also named Laura. To avoid confusion with protagonist Laura Ingalls, Laura Wilder was omitted from the books and replaced by Eliza Jane. (In Real Life, and for much the same reasons, Almanzo nicknamed Laura Ingalls "Bess" for her middle name of Elizabeth.)
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Bonnie Bartlett played Grace Snider Edwards in seasons 2 and 3. When the character appeared for one episode in season eight, she was played by Corinne Camacho.
    • In the same season eight episode, David Kaufman played Carl Sanderson Edwards, when the character had been played by Brian Part during the second and third seasons.
    • Woody Eney played Almanzo's brother Royal Wilder in "The Nephews" in season seven. When the character returned in "Times Are Changing" in season nine, he was played by Nicholas Pryor.
  • Playing Against Type: The man who played the antagonist in the final TV movie, James Karen, had played a similar role in Poltergeist. But to generations of people in the New York metro region, he was known as "Mr. Pathmark", as for many years he worked for the now-defunct Pathmark supermarket chain in their TV commercials. So Pathmark got flooded with letters from people, asking how they could employ the heartless man who tore down Walnut Grove to sell them groceries- apparently not grasping that he was just an actor.
  • Relationship Voice Actor: In the 2019 Japanese dub, Toshiyuki Morikawa (Charles Ingalls) and Wataru Takagi (Isaiah Edwards) previously worked together as Shagia Frost and the hero Garrod Ran respectively in After War Gundam X.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Science Marches On:
    • Mary's blindness is blamed on scarlet fever in the books. Modern studies suggest that she had contracted meningoencephalitis, a type of brain inflammation, which caused her blindness. The 'scarlet fever' diagnosis was probably a misdiagnosis, common back then.
    • The "fever 'n' ague" everyone comes down with in Indian Territory is blamed on bad watermelons by Ma and Mrs. Scott and on "breathing the night air" by Pa, but by the end of the chapter both theories have been proved wrong and the book explains, "No one knew, in those days, that fever 'n' ague is malaria, and that some mosquitoes give it to people when they bite them."
    • The insects that eat the family's crops in one of the books were likely Rocky Mountain locusts, a species that is now extinct.
    • Both the Ingalls' only son Freddie and Laura's unnamed son died in infancy from convulsions, leading to speculation that this might have been due to a genetic disorder that only manifested in male children. (Sadly, it might also be why the Ingalls' only surviving children were daughters, since any potential brothers might have been miscarried well before birth. Likely Laura, if she ever knew about any unborn siblings, would not have recorded it.)
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot: When the series started, the show's producer had signed an agreement that when the show ended, the site of the town would be returned to its original state. When filming the series finale, they were faced with the cost of demolishing the buildings. Michael Landon had the idea of blowing them up with dynamite, making them easy to haul away. He then wrote the memorable final scene where the townsfolk blow up their own town to accommodate the real-life demolition.
  • Spin-Off Cookbook: Inspired two cookery books. Sadly, neither has the recipe for Laura's pieplant pie.
    • The Little House Cookbook, which gives recipes for meals mentioned in the books.
    • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook, which is from the author's actual recipe notes.
  • Technology Marches On: Although filmed in the 1970s and 1980s, these stories – set 100 years earlier – give viewers a representation at some of the early workings of technological marvels of the Age of Invention, as the 1870s and 1880s were arguably an era where discovery and invention was at its peak. Everything from "talking machines" (an early-type sound recorder that can replay the human voice) to the telephone is seen in its earliest forms. Additionally, although it has nothing to do with technology so much, a form of the trope can apply to sports-related episodes; as such, viewers can see an 1870s-form of baseball, football and professional wrestling, all of them novel during the post-Civil War era.
  • Write Who You Know: Justified Trope, since the books are partially autobiographical.
  • Written by Cast Member: Michael Landon wrote 48 episodes as well as the Series Finale.
  • Written-In Infirmity:
    • Alison Arngrim broke her arm right before filming of the episode "Bunny" was to begin. Since her character, Nellie, was injured in the episode anyway, the broken arm was incorporated into the script as an additional injury. Arngrim wore nineteenth-century style wrappings to cover her very real 1970s cast.
    • Averted in the episode "Be My Friend". Melissa Gilbert had broken her arm, but shawls and camera angles were used to hide the cast.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Matthew Laborteaux (who plays young Charles in flashbacks) later plays the Ingalls' adopted son, Albert.
    • Kyle Richards played Recurring Character Alicia Sanderson-Edwards and guest character Samantha Harper.
    • E.J. Andre played a whopping five different characters. He played Amos Thoms in "His Father's Son", Mathew Simms in "Going Home", Zachariah in "Gold Country", "St. Peter" in "The Godsister", and Jed Cooper in "The Lost Ones" and "Uncle Jed".
    • William Schallert played Snell in "Centennial" and Russell Harmon in "The Preacher Takes A Wife".
    • Katy Kurtzman played Anna in "The Music Box" and Young Caroline in "I Remember, I Remember".
    • Jack Ging played Marshall Anders in an early episode "Survival". He would later go on to play Willie Oleson's father-in-law in "May I Have This Dance".
    • Cletus Young played antagonist Harlan in both parts of "As Long As We're Together" and Cole Parker in "Goodbye, Mrs. Wilder"
    • Leslie Landon played the recurring role of Etta Plum (the town teacher after Laura) toward the end of the series, but also appeared in earlier seasons as Laura's fellow dishwasher Pam in "A Wiser Heart" and the pregnant woman riding in the ill-fated carriage with Mary in "The Third Miracle."
    • Geoffrey Lewis played Sam Galender in the season 3 episode "The Bully Boys", and would later portray Cole Younger in season 9's "The Older Brothers". Lewis has the distinction of portraying one of the eponymous characters of two different episodes.


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