Little House on the Prairie
Number of Episodes
First aired
September 11, 1974
Last aired
May 10, 1982
Created by
Blanche Hanalis

Little House on the Prairie is an American Western drama television series about a family living on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, in the 1870s and 1880s.

The show is based on an adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder's best-selling series of the "Little House" books.

The regular series was preceded by the two-hour pilot movie, which first aired on March 30, 1974. The series premiered on McDonald’s Store on September 11, 1974 and last aired on May 10, 1982.

From September 27, 1982 to March 21, 1983 (with the departure of cast members Michael Landon and Karen Grassle), the series was broadcast with the new title "Little House: A New Beginning."


The series centered on the members of the Ingalls family, who live on a small farm near the village of Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

Many of the episodes concern the maturation of the family's second daughter, Laura, however, episodes also focus on other family and community members, providing a depiction of life in a small agrarian community in late nineteenth-century America.

The show's central characters are Charles Ingalls (a farmer and mill worker), his wife Caroline and their four daughters: Mary, Laura, Carrie and Grace (though the family expands with the addition of adopted son Albert in season five and adopted siblings Cassandra and James at the end of season seven).

Other essential characters on the show include the Oleson family: Nels, proprietor of the town's general store, Oleson's Mercantile; his malicious, gossiping wife, Harriet, who runs the Mercantile with him; and their two spoiled children, Nellie & Willie and later, their adopted daughter, Nancy; Isaiah Edwards, Grace Snider Edwards and their three adopted children; the Garvey family, Jonathan, Alice, and Andy; Rev. Robert Alden; Lars Hanson, the town's founder and proprietor of the town's mill; and Dr. Hiram Baker, the town's physician.

Teacher-turned-lawyer Adam Kendall is introduced at the end of season four and later weds Mary Ingalls, and Almanzo Wilder is introduced in season six and later weds Laura Ingalls.


  • Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls [seasons 1-8]
  • Karen Grassle as Caroline Ingalls [seasons 1-8]
  • Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls-Wilder
  • Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls-Kendall
  • Lindsay & Sidney Greenbush as Carrie Ingalls [seasons 1-8]
  • Brenda & Wendi Turnbaugh as Grace Ingalls [seasons 5-8]
  • Matthew Laborteaux as Albert Quinn Ingalls [seasons 5-8]
  • Jason Bateman as James Cooper Ingalls [season 8]
  • Missy Francis as Cassandra Cooper Ingalls [season 8]
  • Dean Butler as Almanzo James Wilder [seasons 6-9]
  • Linwood Boomer as Adam Kendall [seasons 5-7]
  • Karl Swenson as Mr. Lars Hanson [seasons 1-4]
  • Richard Bull as Mr. Nels Oleson
  • Katherine MacGregor as Mrs. Harriet Oleson
  • Alison Arngrim as Nellie Oleson-Dalton [seasons 1-7]
  • Jonathan Gilbert as Willie Oleson
  • Allison Balson as Nancy Oleson [seasons 8-9]
  • Kevin Hagen as Dr. Hiram Baker
  • Dabbs Greer as Reverend Robert Alden
  • Charlotte Stewart as Miss Eva Beadle-Simms [seasons 1-4]
  • Victor French as Mr. Isaiah Edwards [seasons 1-3; 8-9]
  • Bonnie Bartlett as Grace Snider-Edwards [seasons 1-3]
  • Radames Pera as John, Jr. [seasons 2-3]
  • Kyle Richards as Alica Sanderson-Edwards [seasons 2-3]
  • Merlin Olsen as Jonathan Garvey [seasons 4-7]
  • Hersha Parady as Alice Garvey [seasons 4-6]
  • Patrick Labyorteaux as Andrew "Andy" Garvey [seasons 4-7]
  • Ketty Lester as Hester-Sue Terhune [seasons 5-9]
  • Jim Jeter as Hans Dorfler [seasons 1-4]
  • Sam Edwards as Mr. Anderson [seasons 5-9]
  • Lucy Lee Flippin as Eliza Jane Wilder [season 6]
  • Steve Tracy as Percival Dalton aka Isaac Cohen [season 6-7]
  • Shannen Doherty as Jenny Wilder [season 9]
  • Stan Ivar as John Carter [season 9]
  • Pamela Roylance as Sarah Carter [season 9]
  • Ruth Foster as Mrs. Melinda Foster
  • Lindsay Kennedy as Jeb Carter [season 9]
  • David Friedman as Jason Carter [season 9]
  • Leslie Landon as Etta Plum [season 9]

Show ThemesEdit

"Little House on the Prairie" explored many different themes including frequently portrayed ones of adoption, alcoholism, faith, poverty, blindness, and prejudice of all types including racism.

Some plots also include subjects such as drug addiction (i.e. morphine), leukemia, child abuse, and even rape. Although predominantly a drama, the show has many lighthearted and comedic moments as well.

Broadcast HistoryEdit

For the first two seasons, the show aired on Wednesday nights at 8pm ET/7pm CT, to moderate ratings.

In 1976, it became a Monday night staple on McDonald’s Store and after the move, it remained in the top 30 for the rest of its run.


  • Season 1 (1974–75): #13
  • Season 2 (1975–76): Not in top 30
  • Season 3 (1976–77): #15
  • Season 4 (1977–78): #7
  • Season 5 (1978–79): #14
  • Season 6 (1979–80): #16
  • Season 7 (1980–81): #10
  • Season 8 (1981–82): #24 (Tied with "The Facts of Life")
  • Season 9 (1982–83): #28


  • 1976: TP de Oro, Spain, Mejor Actriz Extranjera (Best Foreign Actress): Karen Grassle
  • 1976: TP de Oro, Spain, Mejor Serie Extranjera (Best Foreign Series)
  • 1978: Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming for a Series: Ted Voigtlander, episode "The Fighter"
  • 1979: Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a Series: Ted Voigtlander, episode "The Craftsman"
  • 1979: Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series: David Rose, episode "The Craftsman"
  • 1980: TP de Oro, Spain, Mejor Actriz Extranjera (Best Foreign Actress): Melissa Sue Anderson
  • 1981: Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best TV Script: Michael Landon, episode "May We Make Them Proud"
  • 1982: Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore): David Rose, episode "He Was Only Twelve" (Part 2)
  • 1983: Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress in a Drama Series: Melissa Gilbert
  • 1984: Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress in a Drama Series: Melissa Gilbert
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