Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / The Waltons

Go To

    open/close all folders 

  • Bizarro Episode: The episode "The Changeling" is about a poltergeist invading the Walton home. No other episode features any overt supernatural elements (though "The Ghost Story" is ambiguous about a Ouija Board, and "The Grandchild" features the eerie appearance of St. Elmo's fire that may or may not have been unnatural) and this is never mentioned again.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The episodes in Season 9 where it is revealed that Curt is still alive get this treatment.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • The worst offender of all, bar none, is the following example. In the season 2 episode "The Honeymoon," Esther has agreed to be a chaperone for children and is away while Zeb cares for the household while John and Olivia finally make good on a long overdue honeymoon. When she comes back home, Esther has lost her voice from yelling at those rambunctious children too much and given herself laryngitis. Zeb is all too eager to joke that this is the first time she's been rendered speechless and he can finally get a word in edgewise. Halfway through the production of season 5, Ellen Corby had a devastating stroke that damaged her speech center and nearly rendered her mute. When her character comes back at the end of Season 6, Esther really can't speak coherently anymore and will never do so again, which leads to her character Commuting on a Bus because there is precious little her character can contribute to the story without the ability to talk and interact without the demeaning presence of other actors conveying her actions for her like a baby.
    • Every single time that Grandpa Zeb jokes about living to 101. He only made it a little over three-quarters of the way in the end.
    • In "The Runaway," Jim-Bob runs away from home because he feels neglected. At one point, John and Olivia discuss how this isn't unusual behavior at his age and start to joke/worry that Elizabeth will want to run away when she gets older. Come season 9, Elizabeth does run away, but because of the absence of her parents at home out of a desire to run away to them, as Olivia's tuberculosis has relapsed and John is caring for her in the hospital.
    • In the earliest seasons of the show, the Walton children just about never wore shoes and were never the worse for wear because of it, as it was a staple of rural youth and childhood innocence. Near the tail end of the show in "The Hostage," when this has fallen away from commonplace and the Waltons all outgrew it, Elizabeth is forced to go without shoes without choice after being made to give them up as incentive to not run away from her hill folk captors, and badly suffers Agony of the Feet when the slippers she stole from them don't cut it on rough terrain, leading her to suffer some nasty cuts of her own.
    • Curt was initially introduced after his actor played a one-off character, invoking the You Look Familiar trope. When Curt returns in season 9, he is acting completely different from the man we knew him to be and even his wife can't recognize him. He's being played by an entirely different actor who has a much meaner-looking face to match the dark turn his character has taken. In other words, new Curt is behaving like a total stranger because he really is a total stranger to the audience itself.
    • Anything to do with Ben and Cindy's first child, Virginia, whom they love and adore so much. In 1961, little Ginny Walton drowned and never had the chance to grow up, and when we pick back up with the couple in 1963, Cindy looks heavily aged from the sweet, jovial girl she used to be, and is nearly ready to die from grief, until Ben finally breaks down in tears with her and accepts the idea of adopting a child.
      • This becomes even worse when you realize, from watching "The Fulfillment," that the Waltons sometimes played host to orphan children to give them a glimpse of a real home. Ben and Cindy actually went ahead with an adoption for real.
    • During a checkup in "The Grandchild", Curt jokes to Flossie Brimmer, in one of her very last appearances, that she is fat. During the interim between this season and the next, her actor died, in part because she was too overweight.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Esther had a habit of complaining about Zeb eating too much at the dinner table because she feared for his health. In "The Birthday," Zeb has a major heart attack right before his 73rd birthday and believes this is it for him, but he gradually recovers over a long series of weeks. At the start of season 7, we learn Zeb recently died from a second heart attack climbing up Walton's Mountain by himself in his advanced condition. Even worse, this was immediately after Esther got the clearance to come home from the hospital, so one can only assume Zeb worried himself so much over Esther's condition that he wore himself to death, and when he let down from it all after she was back home, his aching heart finally gave out.
    • Esther herself got sick in the season 5 episode "The Vigil", and nearly died. ending up hospitalized. Only a few episodes later, she suffered a bad stroke and ended up back in the hospital indefinitely, possibly brought on by this previous sickness.
    • Seeing John and Olivia Happily Married from the get-go, yet how many mayfly romances the Walton children go through with characters of the week due to Rule of Drama tearing them apart by the end of each episode, then finally landing the loved ones of their dreams much, much later, is a little tough in the first place. But it becomes harder to stomach when you research the real life actors and find that nearly all of the main cast either has at least one failed marriage to their name or else never married at all; this includes the Godseys. In other words, the happy, innocent TV family they all portrayed was a stark contrast to having real lives where nobody could have lasting happiness or reconciliation.
    • Olivia's strenuous objections to "the recipe" could be considered this when you know that in real life, Michael Learned struggled with alcoholism.note 
    • Everything about "The Shivaree" becomes a relentless Gut Punch when you watch it after seeing "The Loss".
    • People respectfully call Mary Ellen a war widow after Curt gets caught in the Pearl Harbor attacks. Turns out he's alive, but has been robbed of his reproductive capabilities as a result of the injuries he sustained, and became so downtrodden as a result that he changed his name, lost all capacity to care about others, and outright rejected his family. Following this, the people who know the truth pretend to call her a widow to cover up the blot of the impending divorce, until she remarries Jonesy.
    • Olivia ends up miscarrying her youngest child because her body is too old to carry a fetus to term. This has multiple levels of sadness when the viewer knows that this was actually her tenth child - daughter Anne and son Joe (Jim-Bob's twin) both died at birth. Made even worse when Ben and Cindy lose their first child to a drowning accident.
    • The very last story of The Waltons series takes place in 1969. In the pilot special, we learned from an older John-Boy's narration that this is the year John Walton Sr., his father, would die. Since Esther Walton is still alive for at least this story, it's possible that she outlived her son. That's bad enough, but then you remember that she already lost her older son, Ben, in World War I - she may have outlived both of them.

  • Memetic Mutation: "Good night, John-Boy."
  • Narm: Some of the slang from the thirties and forties has aged poorly. To those not around back then, it can sound incredibly corny and near-impossible to take seriously, with one such example being "Rickety Rax".
  • Narm Charm: The companion book Goodnight, John-Boy reveals that this was deliberately invoked with the narrator. When the show's producers were trying to figure out who should narrate the opening and closing segments of the show, they decided to give the job to Earl Hamner himself (author of the original novel) because, as one of them put it, "no one can be as corny as Earl."
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • "The Changeling" episode.
    • "The Ferris Wheel," particularly during Elizabeth's sleepwalking bouts on the roof of the Walton house and the shocking twist where she remembers being trapped on a Ferris wheel at a tender young age. She was trapped because the Ferris wheel operator was a thief, who rushed to hide his stolen goods when he saw a police officer coming; as Elizabeth watched, he returned in time to be killed by being struck by a Ferris wheel carriage. She was so traumatized by the whole thing that she repressed the memories, until the return of the carnival caused them to resurface in her dreams.
      • This was also the last episode to feature Ellen Corby in coherent health, which makes it seem even more eerie.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Olivia's cousin Rose and her grandchildren Jeffrey and Serena, in the final seasons, were seen this way by a large number of viewers. The kids were meant to be the new cute ones, since the youngest Waltons were teenagers, and Rose basically filled in for Grandma (and then also Olivia after Michael Learned left). The fans never warmed up to any of them, particularly the kids, whose tendency to frequently antagonize each other was a jarring change after watching the close-knit Walton children. They were eventually written off of the show; the kids went to live with their father, and Rose remarried.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • John Ritter played Reverend Matthew Fordwick for the first five seasons.
    • Sissy Spacek played Sarah Jane Simmons in "The Townie" and "The Odyssey".
    • Paul Michael Glaser played Todd Cooper in "The Air Mail Man".
    • Gerald McRaney played Tim Collins in "The Book".
    • Madge Sinclair played Minnie Doze in "The Visitor".
    • Willie Aames played Danny Colby in "The Beguiled".
    • Bruce Davison played Bob Hill in "The Shivaree".
    • George Dzundza played A.J. Covington in "The Abdication".
    • Jackie Earle Haley played Tom in "The Emergence".
    • John Walsh played Mr. Keats in "The Emergence".
    • Melody Thomas Scott played Darlene Jarvis in "The Go-Getter" and "The Seashore".
    • Todd Bridges played Josh Foster in "The Stray" and "The Illusion".
    • Michael Conrad played Matt Sarver in "The Empty Nest".
    • Alley Mills played Nancy in "The Obsession".
    • Jonathan Frakes played Ashley Longworth, Jr. in "The Legacy" and "The Lost Sheep".
    • K. Callan played Nurse Corrigan in "The Waiting".
    • Corbin Bernsen played Casey in "The Medal".
    • Eric Stoltz played a senior boy in "The Valedictorian".
    • Jennifer Jason Leigh played Kathy Seals in "The Pursuit".
  • Seasonal Rot: Season 9, notably the final season and the one where World War II comes to an end. At this point in the show, the elder generations of the core Walton family have all left the show except John and Rose, who also depart before the end, leaving just the children, who by this point are all grown up.
  • Signature Scene: An exterior shot of the house as everyone wishes each other a good night, frequently ending with "Good night, John-Boy."
  • Teacher/Student Romance: It's easy to see this as a subtext to Season 8's "The Idol", which spotlights Elizabeth's admiration for a new teacher in the community.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Several fans dislike Season 9, mainly because of the different actor for John-Boy and the episodes that focus on the sons fighting in the war, because it drifted away from the innocence of the prior seasons. (Ironically, that was the point of airing those episodes - to portray how the war affected everyone.) Also, by this point, several of the original cast members had left or passed away.
    • Thankfully, the reunion movies of The '80s and The '90s brought back Richard Thomas and the Walton elders as well as nearly every other original recurring cast member, invoked a refreshing Time Skip to The '60s, and injected a new level of drama into the show, as well as the shocking news that Erin's crummy luck with lovers came back with a vengeance and her husband philandered his way to divorce, and that Ben and Cindy's baby Virginia had died in a drowning accident, as well as the uplifting surprises that John-Boy was finally getting married and Elizabeth and Drew rekindled their romance once and for all. They were faithful enough to the original that it rekindled the old spirit of the show.
  • Values Dissonance: The resolution of "The Violated" is a bit strange by modern standards. Instead of the young woman's rapist facing justice, he's "persuaded" by John to leave town and never return... meaning that he could do the same thing to someone else.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: