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Just sit right back
And you'll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
The Skipper brave and sure,
Five passengers set sail that day,
For a three hour tour,
A three hour tour.
The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
The Minnow would be lost,
The Minnow would be lost.
The ship's aground on the shore of this
Uncharted desert isle...
Iconic "stupid sitcom" from the 1960s, filled with Idiot Plots, What an Idiot! moments galore, a Laugh Track, and a great cast of actors. The show featured seven stereotyped characters — a millionaire, his snobby wife, a famous actress, a farm girl, a college professor, an innocent misfit klutz, and the captain of the charter boat on which all of them had sailed — trapped on a Deserted Island. Their little colony of survivors was usually awash in schemes, alliances, betrayals, and petty manipulations, usually over the most minor of things. Their own foibles and blind spots frequently sabotaged any chance of rescue or escape, and nobody ever seemed to learn anything from their mistakes.
...Wait, did we get mixed up with the article on Survivor? No? Okay, just checking.
Gilligan's Island was created in 1963 by veteran TV writer/producer Sherwood Schwartz (who would later make a career out of The Brady Bunch). Schwartz was an academic with degrees in zoology and psychology, and originally intended for the program to be a meaningful examination of American life. Inspired by Robinson Crusoe, Schwartz intended to create a microcosm of American society by stranding representative members of different subcultures and seeing how they interact. He chose his representatives carefully, claiming later that "Anybody who is watching can identify with someone." How this ostensibly academic and rather intriguing concept turned into the show that actually aired is anyone's guess. It lasted three years on CBS (1964-67), then became a perennial favorite in daily syndication.
At least four TV movies and two cartoon series followed, first rescuing, then re-stranding, then re-rescuing the castaways, who then turned the island into a resort. In the strangest twist, though , 2004 saw Gilligan's Island become the first (and maybe only) Sitcom ever revived as a Reality Show, with the broadcast of The Real Gilligan's Island on TBS...a show which combined the original series with Survivor in a bizarre blend.
Some of the cast reportedly disliked the show. The actress that portrayed Ginger (the movie star), Tina Louise, refused to do either the cartoons or the reunion movies because she considered the show "silly" and the concept ridiculous while also resenting that she'd ended up being typecast.
- Adaptation Dye Job: Ginger was changed from a redhead to a blonde for the animated shows in order to avoid any complaints from Tina Louise over using her likeness.
- Amnesia Episode: There were actually two of these, one with the Skipper and the other with Mary Ann, who thinks she's Ginger. When the Professor tries to snap her out of it with hypnosis, Gilligan ends up thinking he's Mary Ann. Obviously Played for Laughs.
- And the Rest: Trope Namer.
- Animated Adaptation: The New Adventures of Gilligan (1974-77) and Gilligan's Planet (1982-83).
- Aside Glance: The Skipper's brief look to the camera after Gilligan does something stupid again, which is something of a Shout-Out to Oliver Hardy. Ginger occasionally does the same and shrugs when an attempt to seduce someone into doing what she wants fails.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Harold Hecuba and Eva Grubb not only get the usual Karma Houdini, but also successfully steal the Castaways' idea for a musical Hamlet and Ginger Grant's identity and movie career, respectively.
- Bag of Holding / Great Big Book of Everything: The Other Wiki says the Professor always had the facts he needed in a book that was conveniently at the top of his backpack.
- Bamboo Technology: Trope Codifier. The Professor was able to create some kind of battery substitute for their radio, build a fully-functioning hot air balloon, and also could fill Gilligan's cavities. It's been frequently lampshaded in almost every parody about how he can do all this, but can't fix a hole in a boat.
- That last sentence is a Memetic Mutation, in that there were at least two separate occasions where the Professor concocted a means to repair the Minnow using material available on the island. In both cases, the repairs not only failed but left the boat worse off (needless to say, because of Gilligan).
- Actually, they only tried to repair the boat once. Gilligan found a tree sap to make syrup with, to put on pancakes, but it turned out to be incredibly sticky. The professor got the idea to use it to glue boards onto the boat. However, the adhesive was only temporary and the whole boat (that had been treated) fell apart before launching. So, that one was NOT Gilligan's fault.
- When Russell Johnson was asked why the Professor couldn't seem to repair the Minnow, he replied "If you were living on a tropical island with Ginger and Mary-Ann, would you be in a hurry to fix the boat?"
- Betty and Veronica: Mary-Ann the former, Ginger the latter. A well-known enough example that "Ginger or Mary Ann" is an alternative title for that trope.
- Bottle Episode
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the episode where Mr. Howell thinks the castaways are trying to kill him after he includes them in his will, Mrs. Howell looks directly into the camera and says, "I'm going to get to the bottom of this."
- Broken Aesop: The show was supposed to show the need to work together, but who gets off the island? The guest stars, by betraying the regulars. (Among said guest stars, Phil Silvers, whose production company Gladasya co-produced the series.)
- The Cameo: In the third reunion movie, Jim Backus reprises his role for one scene. This was due to his suffering from Parkinson's disease. He was originally going to be left out altogether for this reason, but Backus felt up to doing one scene and was welcomed by production.
- Which lead to an offscreen Heartwarming Moment as Backus completed his scene and walked over to Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) and asked "Was I funny?". She hugged him and assured him he was. To this day the incident makes her tear up as she recounts it for interviews.
- Catch Phrase: "D'OH!" (predating Homer Simpson by over two decades.)
- Celebrity Survivor: Ginger.
- Christmas Episode
- Costumer: The dream episodes tended to be these.
- Cowboy Episode: "The Sweepstakes"
- Criminal Doppelganger: Happened three times. Gilligan had a Russian spy double, Mr. Howell had a freeloader double, and Ginger had a...well, she wasn't a criminal until she went back and started using Ginger's fame.
- Deserted Island
- Disaster Democracy: "President Gilligan".
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: The Professor, in the beginning. Sometimes other characters, in Dream Sequences.
- The Ditz
- Dream Sequence: Often the most imaginative part of the series, and the cast loved doing them.
- Drugged Lipstick: In one of Gilligan's dream sequences, Ginger wears it.
- Edited for Syndication: Syndicated repeats in the 1970s-80s had the ending theme with "each week" edited out, leaving "So join us here — my friends, you're sure to get a smile..." Supposedly people would be fooled into not knowing the show would be on again the next day, otherwise.
- In the late 1980s, Ted Turner colorized the black and white Season 1 for airing on TBS. Both versions are shown in syndication and cable.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Skipper and the Professor.
- Everyone Meets Everyone
- Executive Meddling: One documentary made about the show reveals that the higher-ups had no idea why the show was popular and kept making changes; at one stage, they wanted Gilligan to gain a pet dinosaur.
- Expository Theme Tune
- Expy: Gilligan and the Skipper were designed to be a modern day Stan Laural and Oliver Hardy.
- In 1990, the Fox Network presented Whoops!, a sitcom about the last six people to survive a nuclear bomb. Sherwood Schwartz threatened to sue, but since the show only lasted a few episodes before being canceled, the point became moot.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Carried over into the first reunion movie, but subverted for good in the second.
- Fast-Forward Gag: A few examples. Once was when the castaways were performing a series of repetitive actions and the film sped up, showing them doing the things really fast.
- The Fool: Gilligan
- Framed Face Opening
- Freaky Friday Flip
- Genre Blindness
- Gilligan Cut: Trope Namer.
- Girl Next Door: Mary Ann, although in real life Dawn Wells was in the Miss America Pageant. Yet another case of "If she's the girl next door, I want to live on that block."
- The Great Repair: Averted.
- Happily Married: The Howells.
- Hey, It's That Lagoon!: Schwartz used the lagoon set and space capsule prop for his series It's About Time.
- Hot Scientist: The Professor. Just ask the Estrogen Brigade.
- I Am Not Spock: Happened to many of the regulars, but Tina Louise (Ginger) never got over it. To this day, she pretty much refuses to speak about the show.
- I Owe You My Life: A final-season episode has a native girl offering herself as Gilligan's slave after he rescues her from drowning in the lagoon.
- Imagine Spot
- Island Help Message
- Ivy League for Everyone
- Just Eat Gilligan: Trope Namer, by way of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Karma Houdini: For such a seemingly innocent kids' show, it was loaded with these. Of all the many, many guest stars who would show up on the island and meet the Castaways, nearly all of whom would deliberately, maliciously choose to not only leave the Castaways on the island, but also tell nobody about them. Sometimes, the Castaways would hear over their radio that some of these jerks faced some Laser-Guided Karma. But not that often.
- Laugh Track
- Left Hanging: The original series was summarily cancelled; two of the reunion movies are about the gang finally getting off the island.
- Limited Wardrobe: Gilligan, the Skipper, and the Professor pretty much always wore the same outfits outside of the "dream" episodes. And yet the ladies all seem to have a never-ending supply of clean and fashionable outfits to wear.
- Although this was explained (Gilligan, Skipper, and the Professor only having the clothes off their backs, but Ginger and the Howells brought multiple outfits)
- Lottery Ticket: In one episode, Gilligan claims to have a winning lottery ticket.
- MacGyvering: The Professor.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Boris Balinkoff in "The Friendly Physician".
- Meaningful Name: In interviews, Sherwood Schwartz has (perhaps jokingly) said that the S.S. Minnow was named as a Take That to Newton N. Minow, famous for his vast wasteland speech.
- The Millstone
- The Musical: Adapted as a stage musical by Sherwood Schwartz and his son Lloyd.
- No Name Given: It was never established whether "Gilligan" was the character's first or last name, or what his other name was. Pre-production materials for the Pilot indicate that the character was to be called Willy Gilligan, but the name never appeared in canon.
- Old Shame: Tina Louise was not on this show. Don't even try to talk to her about it. She was the only surviving cast member to refuse to participate in a 1999 TV movie about the show, which naturally resulted in her being portrayed as a vapid bitch while everyone else had no negative traits at all.
- Louise seems to have mellowed out though over the years. On Twitter she occasionally makes jokes and references to the show, and she did occasionally attend reunion specials, and seemed to be having a good time. It's been theorized that the real reason she didn't take part in the biography special was because it was co-produced by Dawn Wells. The two actresses never got along well.
- Older Than They Look: A real-life example in the form of Natalie Schafer, who was 63 when the series began. She kept her true age a secret, and it only became known after she died. The other cast members subsequently expressed surprise.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: The Professor.
- The Operators Must Be Crazy: An undersea cable washed up on the island and they tried to rig up a phone to tap into it, getting a very uncooperative operator who did things like ask them to insert ten cents without listening when told there's no place to put money in an undersea cable.
- The Other Darrin: Ginger in the reunion movies was recast with Judith Baldwin, and then Constance Forslund. She was played by Jane Webb on The New Adventures of Gilligan and Dawn Wells in Gilligan's Planet.
- Pilot: the originally unaired pilot has different theme music, different actors playing slightly different versions of the Professor and Ginger, and an entirely different character in the Mary Ann role. A small amount of footage from the pilot was used in the first broadcast episode "Two on a Raft", and later on in the Christmas episode "Birds Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Talk" the entire plot was recycled with scenes featuring the original actors re-shot with the series regulars.
- Power-Up Food: One episode had the castaways gaining superpowers after eating a shipment of radioactive vegetables. And seeds that gave them telepathic powers.
- The Professor
- Poorly-Disguised Pilot: The second reunion movie, The Castaways on Gilligan's Island, was an obvious attempt to turn the show into a combination The Love Boat/Fantasy Island with Mr Howell building a resort on the island so random Special Guest Stars can experience the Castaway life.
- Recycled in Space: Gilligan's Planet.
- The syndicated 1970s sitcom Dusty's Trail was essentially Gilligan's Island on an Old West wagon train. It even starred Bob Denver with a burly wagonmaster as his boss, a millionaire and his wife, a saloon-girl dancer, a "book-smarts" Easterner, and a farmer's daughter.
- Reality Show: A very strange case. A reality show was made where they would round up several millionaires, movie stars, sailors, idiots, professors, and what have you, and do a Gilligan's Island version of Survivor to see who best represented the original characters. It had two seasons.
- 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 the movie Back to the Beach, when Bob Denver (playing an Expy of Gilligan) laughed that he knew "a guy who could build a nuclear reactor out of coconuts but couldn't fix a two-foot hole in a boat."
- They attempted to repair the Minnow in a first season episode using tree-sap which had super-glue like properties. They found out too late that the adhesion was temporary, and had already coated the Minnow with it, causing the boat to fall apart. Since it had far more than just a hole in the side after that, blaming the professor for not repairing it seems more than a little unfair.
- Reunion Show: The TV movies Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978), The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979), and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981).
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: The Howells, even when their wealth is meaningless on a deserted island.
- Screwed by the Network: Originally intended to have a fourth season, the show was cancelled at the last minute to make room for Gunsmoke, which was the favorite program of then CBS chairman William S. Paley and his wife, Barbara Mortimer.
- Seven Deadly Sins: Gilligan is Sloth, the Skipper is Wrath, Ginger is Lust, Mary-Anne is Envy, the Professor is Pride, and Mr. & Mrs. Howell represent Greed and Gluttony. Word of God says this is intentional.
- The Sixties: This show could only have been made in that decade.
- Springtime for Hitler
- Status Quo Is God: No matter what situation they're in or who visits the island, every episode ends the same way — the castaways are still stranded and nobody learns a damn thing.
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: In the first reunion movie, the characters suffered from this somewhat.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Thurston Howell IV for his father in the third reunion movie.
- Talking To Herself: Dawn Wells voicing both Mary Ann and Ginger in Gilligan's Planet.
- Take That: The Minnow wasn't named after the fish, but after then-FCC chairman Newton N. Minow, who had described television as a "vast wasteland".
- Theme Tune Roll Call
- This Is My Side: Between Gilligan and the Skipper in one episode.
- Two Rights Make a Wrong: In one episode, a homing pigeon lands on the island and the gang realizes they could send a note home with it. The Professor says the pigeon's too thin to make the trip home, however, and needs to fatten up with a proper diet and exercise. But the rest of the gang, impatient to leave, overfeeds the bird, and the next morning the bird's too fat to make the trip. (Make it slim down? Nah.)
- Unlimited Wardrobe: The Howells, Ginger, and Mary Ann. Induces lots of Fridge Logic. In the alternate theme song for the unaired (until 1992) pilot, the Howells brought "just enough bags for a six-hour ride (six hours?)". Why they felt it necessary to bring these things is never mentioned, but they both had lots of clothes...and apparently Ginger and Mary-Ann are the same size as Mrs. Howell.
- Voices Are Mental: As a result of Mad Scientist Dr. Boris Balinkoff's mind-transfer experiments.
- Weirdness Magnet: You know, for an "uncharted desert isle" that island is a pretty busy place.
- White-Haired Pretty Girl: Ginger in the animated adaptions.
- World of Ham: Even for The Sixties, this was one hammy show.
- You Can't Go Home Again: They finally escape...and find they'd rather be back on the island. Thankfully, they retain contact with the mainland and turn it into a resort. Then invite the Harlem Globetrotters with Rolland Hand and Cinnamon Carter coming along for the ride.
- ↑ (although the cartoon where they built a spaceship and escaped from the planet to wind up on another planet entirely has to take some beating)