Gilligan's Island

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Gilligan's Island
Created bySherwood Schwartz
Directed byRod Amateau
Jack Arnold
Ida Lupino
Stanley Z. Cherry
Richard Donner
Theme music composerSherwood Schwartz
George Wyle
Opening theme"The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle"
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes98 plus a 1963 pilot (first broadcast in 1964) (list of episodes)
Executive producerSherwood Schwartz
ProducerSherwood Schwartz
Camera setupFilm; Single-camera
Running time25 minutes
Production companiesGladasya Productions
CBS Productions
United Artists Television
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 26, 1964 (1964-09-26) –
April 17, 1967 (1967-04-17)
Bob Denver as Gilligan
Alan Hale Jr. as the Skipper
Russell Johnson as The Professor
Tina Louise as Ginger
Dawn Wells as Mary Ann

Gilligan's Island is an American sitcom created and produced by Sherwood Schwartz. The show's ensemble cast features Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Tina Louise, Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells. It aired for three seasons on the CBS network from September 26, 1964, to April 17, 1967.[1] The series follows the comic adventures of seven castaways as they try to survive on an island where they are shipwrecked. Most episodes revolve around the dissimilar castaways' conflicts and their unsuccessful attempts to escape their plight, with the ship's first mate, Gilligan, usually being responsible for the failures.[2]

Gilligan's Island ran for 98 episodes. All 36 episodes of the first season were filmed in black and white and were later colorized for syndication. The show's second and third seasons (62 episodes) and the three television film sequels (broadcast between 1978 and 1982) were filmed in color.

Gilligan's Island received solid ratings during its original run, then grew in popularity during decades of syndication, especially in the 1970s and '80s when many markets ran the show in the late afternoon. Today, all of the characters of Gilligan's Island are recognized as American cultural icons.


The two-man crew of the charter boat SS Minnow and five passengers on a "three-hour tour" from Honolulu run into a storm and are shipwrecked on an uncharted island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. (The exact location is said to be in conflicting longitudes/latitudes in three episodes.)[3] Their efforts to be rescued are typically thwarted by the inadvertent conduct of the hapless first mate, Gilligan. In 1997, show creator Sherwood Schwartz explained that the underlying concept, people with different characters and backgrounds being in a situation where they need to learn how to get along and cooperate with each other to survive, is still "the most important idea in the world today".[4]

Cast and characters[edit]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
PilotOctober 16, 1992 (1992-10-16)TBS
136September 26, 1964 (1964-09-26)June 12, 1965 (1965-06-12)CBS
232September 16, 1965 (1965-09-16)April 28, 1966 (1966-04-28)
330September 12, 1966 (1966-09-12)April 17, 1967 (1967-04-17)
Television filmsOctober 14, 1978 (1978-10-14)October 14, 2001 (2001-10-14)NBC/CBS

Pilot episode[edit]

The pilot episode, "Marooned", was filmed in November 1963. The pilot featured seven characters (as in the series), but only four of the characters—and their associated actors—were carried forward into the series: Gilligan (Denver), the Skipper (Hale) and the Howells (Backus and Schafer).

Because of the three significant character and casting changes between the pilot episode and the first series episode, the pilot was not shown before the series first aired on September 26, 1964. The original pilot eventually aired over 29 years later on TBS.

The three characters who did not carry forward from the pilot were two secretaries and a high school teacher. In the pilot, the scientifically inclined Professor was instead a high school teacher played by John Gabriel. Ginger the movie star was still red-haired Ginger, but she worked as a secretary and was played by Kit Smythe. She was more sarcastic than the later incarnation. Mary Ann the Kansas farm girl was instead Bunny, Ginger's co-worker, played as a cheerful "dumb blonde" by Nancy McCarthy.

The pilot's opening and ending songs were two similar calypso-styled tracks written by John Williams and performed by Sherwood Schwartz impersonating singer Sir Lancelot. The lyrics of both differ from those of the TV series and the pilot's opening theme song was longer. The short scenes during this initial music include Gilligan taking the Howells' luggage to the boat before cast-off and Gilligan trying to give a cup of coffee to the Skipper during the storm that would ultimately maroon the boat.

After the opening theme song and credits end, the pilot proper begins with the seven castaways waking up on the beached SS Minnow. It continues with them performing various tasks including exploring the island, trying to fix the transmitter, building huts and finding food. Contrary to some descriptions, the pilot contained no detailed accounts of the characters' backgrounds. It concludes with the ending theme song and credits. The background music and even the laugh tracks of the pilot appear nearly identical to those used during the series.

First broadcast episode[edit]

The first episode actually broadcast, "Two on a Raft", is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the series pilot. This episode begins with the same scene of Gilligan and the Skipper awakening on the boat as in the pilot (though slightly differently cut, to eliminate most shots of the departed actors) and continues with the characters sitting on the beach listening to a radio news report about their disappearance. No equivalent scene or background information is in the pilot, except for the description of the passengers in the original theme song. Rather than reshooting the rest of the pilot story for broadcast, the show just proceeded. The plot thus skips over the topics of the pilot; the bulk of the episode tells of Gilligan and the Skipper setting off on a raft to try to bring help but unknowingly landing back on the other side of the same island.

The scene with the radio report is one of two scenes that reveal the names of the Skipper (Jonas Grumby) and the Professor (Roy Hinkley); the names are used in a similar radio report early in the series. The name Jonas Grumby appears nowhere else in the series except for an episode in which the Maritime Board of Review blames the Skipper for the loss of the Minnow. The name Roy Hinkley is used one other time when Mr. Howell introduces the Professor as Roy Huntley and the Professor corrects him, to which Mr. Howell replies, "Brinkley, Brinkley."

The plot for the pilot episode was recycled into that season's Christmas episode, "Birds Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Talk", in which the story of the pilot episode, concerning the practical problems on landing, is related through a series of flashbacks. Footage featuring characters that had been recast was reshot using the current actors. For scenes including only Denver, Hale, Backus and Schafer, the original footage was reused.

Last broadcast episode[edit]

The last episode of the show, "Gilligan the Goddess", aired on April 17, 1967, and ended just like the rest, with the castaways still stranded on the island. It was not known at the time that it would be the series finale, as a fourth season was expected but then canceled.[5]

Typical plots[edit]

The shipwrecked castaways are desperate to leave the island and various opportunities frequently present themselves but invariably fail, nearly always due to some bumbling error committed by Gilligan. Sometimes this results in Gilligan saving the others from some unforeseen flaw in their plan.[6]

Most episodes of Gilligan's Island use variations of five recurring basic plots:

  • Life on the island. A running gag is the castaways' ability to fashion an array of useful objects from bamboo, coconuts, gourds, vines and other local materials. Some are everyday items, such as eating and cooking utensils, while others (such as a dental drill and a remarkably efficient lie detector apparatus) are stretches of the imagination. Russell Johnson noted in his autobiography that the production crew enjoyed the challenge of building these props. These bamboo items include framed huts with thatched grass sides and roofs, along with bamboo closets strong enough to withstand hurricane-force winds and rain, the communal dining table and chairs, pipes for Gilligan's hot water, a stethoscope and a pedal-powered car.
  • Visitors to the island. Another challenge to a viewer's suspension of disbelief is the remarkable frequency with which the remote, uncharted island is visited by an assortment of people all of whom either refuse or fail to help rescue the castaways.
  • Dream sequences in which one of the castaways dreams they are some character related to that week's story line. All of the castaways appeared as other characters within the dream. In later interviews and memoirs, nearly all the actors stated that the dream episodes were among their favorites.
  • A piece of news concerning one or more of the castaways is heard over the radio and causes distress or discord among them.
  • The appearance or arrival of unusual objects to the island, such as a World War II naval mine, an old silent motion picture camera and costumes, a crate of radioactive vegetable seeds, plastic explosives, a robot, a live lion, a jet pack, or a wayward "Mars Lander" that the scientists who launched it think is sending them pictures of life on Mars.

Most of the slapstick comedic sequences between Hale and Denver were inspired by Laurel and Hardy, particularly when Hale breaks the fourth wall by looking directly into the camera, expressing his frustration with Denver's clumsiness, as Oliver Hardy often did.[7]

Dream sequences[edit]

One of the trademarks of Gilligan's Island was its frequent use of dream sequences. The showrunners used this device as a way to keep the setting of the show from becoming redundant and to showcase the acting talents of the cast. Many episodes that feature dream sequences are ranked among the most memorable episodes of the show, as most of them parodied or drew inspiration from works of literature, film, and other television shows of the day.

The dream sequences always corresponded to the real-life situation of the episode and usually featured symbolism that prompted a change of heart in whichever castaway was dreaming. Of the seven castaways, Ginger was the only one who never had a dream sequence.

  • The Sound of Quacking (S1E7) — Inspired by Gunsmoke. Afraid that the starving castaways will eat his pet duck Emily, Gilligan dreams that he is U.S. Marshall Gilligan, whose primary task is keeping the rowdy citizens of his town from eating Emily, who he keeps locked in a jail cell. Features the Skipper as the Marshall's limping deputy, Ginger as a sultry saloon girl, Mary Ann as the Marshall's sweetheart, Mrs. Howell as a duck-gravy-making Spanish señora, and Mr. Howell and the Professor as a lynch mob.
  • St. Gilligan and the Dragon (S1E20) — All four men react to the girls' recent demand for equal rights by having dreams that reflect what they expect from their women. The Skipper dreams that he is a sultan with Ginger, Mary Ann, and Mrs. Howell as his dancing girls. Mr. Howell dreams that he is relaxing in a spa with all three girls catering to his every whim. The Professor dreams that he is Cary Grant emerging from his dressing room only to be assaulted by the girls, his crazed fans. Gilligan, always childlike, dreams that he is a bullfighter and that the girls each bring him a gift.
  • My Fair Gilligan (S1E35) — Gilligan's fears of his new life as the Howells' adopted son are manifested when he dreams that he is a spoiled prince who callously orders the beheadings of any supplicant who displeases him in the slightest. Features Mr. and Mrs. Howell as the pampering King and Queen, Mary Ann as a shepherd girl, the Professor as a wizardly astronomer, Ginger as a simpering court lady, and the Skipper as a naval admiral.
  • The Little Dictator (S2E3) — Having just been appointed the puppet ruler of the island, Gilligan dreams that he is the dictator of a small foreign country on the brink of war, and the other castaways serve as his cabinet, who desperately try to convince him to look out his window at the chaos outside. Features Mr. Howell as the minister of finance, the Skipper as the secretary of the navy, Ginger as an undercover agent, the other castaways as cabinet members, and guest star Nehemiah Persoff as the masterminding dictator. Notable for being the only dream sequence to feature a guest star as a main character.
  • The Sweepstakes (S2E5) — Obsessed with finding Gilligan's lost sweepstake ticket, Mr. Howell dreams that he is a grizzled prospector in the Old West who has just struck millions of dollars' worth of gold, but the kingly treatment he receives in town is quickly revoked when he realizes that he doesn't have proof of his claim. Features the Professor as a crooked bank owner, Gilligan as the corrupt U.S. Marshall, Ginger as a smooth-talking saloon owner, Mary Ann as an impoverished country girl, and the Skipper as a cheating gambler. Notable for being one of the few dream sequences in which one of the castaways does not appear (Mrs. Howell, in this case). Jim Backus reprised his role as the prospector in the three-part Grand Canyon episode in the third season of The Brady Bunch.
  • The Postman Cometh (S2E18) — Inspired by Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey. Afraid that she is going to die from eating poison mushrooms, Mary Ann falls asleep listening to her medical soap opera radio show and dreams that she is a patient in a hospital for a fatal disease. Features Mr. Howell as the kooky Dr. Zorbagillespie, Gilligan as Dr. Charles Boyer, the Skipper as Dr. Matt Dillon, the Professor as Dr. Cary Grant, and Mrs. Howell and Ginger as somewhat sympathetic nurses.
  • V for Vitamins (S2E30) — Inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk. Gilligan falls asleep while guarding the last of the castaways' citrus rations and dreams that he is a farm boy named Jack tasked with retrieving oranges for his starving family, but he ends up buying magic beans, climbing a beanstalk, and entering a giant's castle. Features Mrs. Howell as Jack's mother, Mr. Howell as a W.C. Fields-inspired gangster, Mary Ann as the Giant's helpful maid, the Skipper as the Giant, and Ginger and the Professor as elderly captives in the Giant's dungeon. In the sequence where Jack runs from the Giant, Bob Denver's young son Patrick played Jack in combination with forced perspective to make Jack look extra small.
  • Meet the Meteor (S2E32) — When the Professor's measurements of radiation on a newly-crashed meteor show it to be lethal, Gilligan dreams that the castaways have aged to extreme feebleness in only a few days. The castaways hobble from their huts to the dining table to celebrate one final anniversary on the island before they die of old age or before an electrical storm destroys the island.
  • Up at Bat (S3E1) — Inspired by Dracula and Sherlock Holmes. After supposedly being bitten by a vampire bat, Gilligan dreams that he is a ghoulish vampire inhabiting a haunted castle and eagerly awaiting the arrival of his guests, who also double as his dinner. Features Ginger as the vampire's ghostly wife, the Professor as Sherlock Holmes, the Skipper as Dr. Watson, Mr. and Mrs. Howell as unsuspecting guests in the house, and Mary Ann as the hideous housekeeper. Notable for being filmed on the same haunted mansion set from the earlier episode "The Friendly Physician" (S2E29) and for concluding with a brawl featuring superimposed onomatopoeic words in the style of rival series Batman.
  • The Invasion (S3E11) — Inspired by James Bond. Gilligan's fears of being hunted down by secret agents show up in his dream, in which he is suave spy Agent 014 fighting against a criminal empire and its formidable group of assassins out to kill him and take away his top-secret briefcase. Features the Professor as the Chief Good Guy, Mr. Howell as Mr. Evil (inspired by Ernst Stavro Blofeld), Mrs. Howell as Mr. Evil's moll, Mary Ann as the deadly receptionist, Ginger as Gilligan's treacherous fiancée, and the Skipper as an evil agent disguised as Gilligan's mother.
  • And Then There Were None (S3E13) — Inspired by Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Gilligan believes that he may be a murderous psychopath and dreams that he is on trial as an Oscar Wilde-style Doctor Gilligan, who transforms into a hideous monster at the mention of food. Features Mrs. Howell as his defense attorney Mary Poppins, Mary Ann as the loyal Eliza Doolittle (who has apparently confused Henry Jekyll for Henry Higgins), Ginger as the Lady in Red, Mr. Howell as a biased judge, the Professor as the prosecuting attorney, and the Skipper as the bailiff.
  • Court-Martial (S3E17) — Gilligan dreams that he is Lord Admiral Gilligan, the youngest in the British fleet, charged with protecting the three noble ladies onboard when the ship is attacked and captured by uncouth pirates. Features Mr. Howell as Captain Hook, the Professor as Long John Silver, the Skipper as Captain Kidd, Mrs. Howell as the queen mother, and Ginger and Mary Ann as her daughters.
  • Lovey's Secret Admirer (S3E19) — Inspired by Cinderella. After a fight with her husband, Mrs. Howell dreams that she is Cinderella, oppressed by her wicked stepfamily but determined to attend the royal ball and meet the prince. Features the Skipper as Cinderella's stepmother, Ginger and Mary Ann as the ugly stepsisters, Gilligan as the inept Fairy Godfather, Mr. Howell as the self-absorbed prince, and the Skipper and the Professor as pages.
  • The Secret of Gilligan's Island (S3E25) — Gilligan's discovery of an ancient stone tablet on the island leads him to dream that he and the castaways are cave people, each with a goal or fear about leaving their familiar caves in search of a better land. Features Gilligan as an artistic stonecutter, the Skipper as his best friend, Mr. Howell as the dictatorial chief, Mrs. Howell as his jealous wife, Ginger and Mary Ann as cave girls seeking husbands, and the Professor as an inventor.


The show was filmed at the CBS Radford Studios complex in Studio City, Los Angeles.[8] The same stage was later used for The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Roseanne, the latter of which featured a daydream parodying Gilligan's Island in one episode. The lagoon was drained and used as a parking lot during the show's off-season and was the last surviving element of the show when it was demolished in 1997 as part of an expansion project.[9]

Four boats were used as the SS Minnow. One was used in the opening credits and rented in Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu. Another, the Bluejacket, was used in the opening credits shown during the second and third seasons and eventually turned up for sale on Vancouver Island in August 2006, after running aground on a reef in the Hecate Strait on the way south from Alaska. One boat was used for beach scenes after being towed to Kauai in Hawaii. The fourth Minnow was built on the CBS Studios set in the second season.[10] The Minnow was named in reference to Newton Minow, chairman of the U.S. FCC, in response to Minow's landmark 1961 speech "Television and the Public Interest"; the speech lambasted television producers for producing, among other things, "formula comedies about totally unbelievable" characters and creating a "vast wasteland" of bad television.[11]

The final day of filming the pilot was Friday, November 22, 1963, the day of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.[12] The cast and crew learned of the assassination late that morning, Hawaii time.[12] Between the filming of scenes, they crowded around a radio listening to news bulletins.[12] A reminder of the tragedy appears in the opening sequence of the show's first season, when the theme song is played. As the Minnow is leaving the harbor and heading out to sea, an American flag flying at half staff can be seen in the background.[12][13]

The United States Coast Guard occasionally received telegrams and letters from concerned citizens, who apparently did not realize it was a scripted show, pleading for them to rescue the people on the deserted island. The Coast Guard forwarded these to producer Sherwood Schwartz.[14] In homage to those telegrams, the film Rescue from Gilligan's Island showed the successful rescue where Gilligan lights a fire aboard the castaways' makeshift raft and is chastised for a thoughtless, dangerous action by the others. However, the resultant smoke attracts the attention of a US Coast Guard helicopter, whose pilot commends Gilligan's fire; otherwise, the castaways would have been adrift and unnoticed.


Bob Denver was not the first choice to play Gilligan; actor Jerry Van Dyke was offered the role, but he turned it down, believing that the show would never be successful. He chose instead to play the lead in My Mother the Car, which premiered the following year and is frequently cited as one of the worst television shows of all time; it was canceled after one season. The producers looked to Bob Denver, the actor who had played Maynard G. Krebs, the beatnik in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.[citation needed]

Natalie Schafer had it written into her contract that no close-ups would be made of her, but after a while in the series it was forgotten. Schafer was 63 when the pilot was shot, although reportedly no one on the set or in the cast knew her real age and she refused to divulge it. Originally, she accepted the role only because the pilot was filmed on location in Hawaii. She looked at the job as nothing more than a free vacation, as she was convinced that a show this silly would "never go".[15]

Tina Louise clashed with producer Sherwood Schwartz because she initially believed that she was hired as the central character. The character of Ginger was originally written as a hard-nosed, sharp-tongued temptress, but Louise argued that this portrayal was too harsh and refused to play her as written. A compromise was reached; Louise agreed to play Ginger as a Marilyn Monroe/Jayne Mansfield type. Her temperament reportedly made her difficult to work with, but when it came time to shoot, she was always professional. Louise continued to disagree with producers over her role and was the only cast member who refused to appear in any of the three post-series TV movies. After many years of distancing herself from the show, she appeared in a reunion of the cast on two television talk shows in 1982 and 1988 and on an episode of Roseanne in 1995 when the Roseanne cast re-enacted Gilligan's Island. In the pilot episode, the character of Ginger was played by actress Kit Smythe.[citation needed]

John Gabriel was originally cast as the academic character, a high school teacher. After testing, the network didn't believe the character scored well with the audience. Auditions were held for the revised role of the Professor, which included Dabney Coleman, but the part was ultimately won by Russell Johnson. Prior to his acting career, Johnson had served as a bombardier in 44 combat missions over the Pacific during World War II. On March 4, 1945, the B-25 he was flying as the navigator was shot down, killing the copilot and breaking both of Johnson's ankles. At the time of his audition he was working in film and not very interested in a television show unless it was going to be his own. His film career had been going well, tallying several science fiction and western film credits, including a role opposite Ronald Reagan in the 1953 film Law and Order. In addition to film, Johnson had landed roles on multiple popular television series such as The Adventures of Superman, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. With six other leads, his agent had to talk him into going to the audition, but after meeting Sherwood Schwartz, he started to warm up to the idea of playing the Professor. In discussing his role, he laughingly said he was unsure what was more difficult, remembering the Professor's technically oriented lines, or looking up what they meant.[citation needed]

Dawn Wells was a former Miss Nevada when she auditioned for the Mary Ann role. Her competition included Raquel Welch and Pat Priest. The pilot episode featured a different character ("Bunny") played by actress Nancy McCarthy. After it was shot, the network decided to recast the roles of the Professor and the two young women. Mary Ann became a simple farm girl from Winfield, Kansas.[citation needed]

Theme song[edit]

The music and lyrics for the theme song, "The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle", were written by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle. One version was used for the first season and another for the second and third seasons. In the original song, the Professor and Mary Ann, originally considered "second-billed co-stars", were referred to as "the rest", but with the growing popularity of those characters, their names were inserted into the lyrics in the second season. The Gilligan theme song underwent this one major change because star Bob Denver personally asked studio executives to add Johnson and Wells to the song.[16] When the studio at first refused, saying it would be too expensive to reshoot, Denver insisted, even going so far as to state that if Johnson and Wells were not included, he wanted his name out of the song as well. The studio caved in and "the Professor and Mary Ann" were added.[17][18][19] The theme song in the original pilot did not even mention the character Ginger, with the last two mentioned by name being "the Millionaire and Mrs. Millionaire" followed by "...and the other tourists".[20]

The first-season version was recorded by the folk group The Wellingtons. The second-season version, which incorporated more of a sea shanty sound, was uncredited, but according to Russell Johnson in his book Here on Gilligan's Isle, it was performed by a group called the Eligibles.[21]

The show's original pilot episode featured a calypso theme song by future film composer John Williams and different lyrics. The original length of the voyage was "a six-hour ride", not "a three-hour tour".[22] John Williams (or Johnny Williams as he was often listed in the show credits) also started out as the composer of the incidental music for the show (from 1964 to 1965), but was replaced by Gerald Fried for the remaining seasons (1965–1967).

Later parodies and homages[edit]

The band Little Roger and the Goosebumps recorded "Stairway to Gilligan's Island", a parody of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", substituting the words to the Gilligan's Island theme song.[23] In 1987, The Iceman parodied Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" as "La Isla Gilligan". "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded a song called "Isle Thing", a parody of Tone Lōc's "Wild Thing", about a rapper whose girlfriend introduces him to the show. Yankovic also mentions the show in his song "Stop Draggin' My Car Around" and he used one verse from the closing theme lyrics in "Amish Paradise" (1996), a parody of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" (1995). The song has also been covered by many bands, including Bowling for Soup for the TBS show The Real Gilligan's Island.[24] Israel Kamakawiwoʻole also recorded a comic tribute to the theme song on his album E Ala E. The chorus to rap group Big Tymers' Still Fly is based on the Gilligan's Island theme song.[25]


During the 1966–1967 television season, Gilligan's Island aired on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. Although the sitcom's ratings had fallen well out of the top-30 programs, during the last few weeks of its third season, the series was still winning its timeslot against its main competition, The Monkees, which aired at the same time on NBC-TV. Therefore, CBS assured Sherwood Schwartz that Gilligan's Island would definitely be picked up for a fourth year.

CBS, however, had signaled its intention to cancel the long-running Western series Gunsmoke, which had been airing late on Saturday nights during the 1966–1967 television season. Under pressure from CBS network president William S. Paley and his wife Babe, along with many network affiliates and longtime fans of Gunsmoke, CBS rescheduled the Western to an earlier time slot on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. As a result, Gilligan's Island was quietly canceled at practically the last minute, while the cast members were all on vacation. Some of the cast had bought houses near the set, based on Sherwood Schwartz's verbal confirmation that the series would be renewed for a fourth season.[26]

Nielsen ratings/television schedule[edit]

Season Ep# Season premiere Season finale Time slot Rank Rating Households
1 (1964–1965) 36 September 26, 1964 June 12, 1965 Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. eastern time #18 24.7 (tie) 13,227,700
2 (1965–1966) 32 September 16, 1965 April 28, 1966 Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. eastern time #22 22.1 11,900,850
3 (1966–1967) 30 September 12, 1966 April 17, 1967 Mondays at 7:30 p.m. eastern time #49[27] N/A N/A

Film sequels[edit]

Three television film sequels were made—the first independently, the other two by MCA/Universal Television.

In the 1978 television film, Rescue from Gilligan's Island, the castaways successfully leave the island but have difficulty reintegrating into society. During a reunion cruise on the first Christmas after their rescue, fate intervenes and they find themselves wrecked on the same island at the end of the film. It starred the original cast, except for Tina Louise, who refused to participate because of her disputes with the producers and who was replaced by Judith Baldwin. The plot involved Soviet agents seeking a memory disc from a spy satellite that landed on the island and facilitated the protagonists' rescue.

In a 1979 sequel, The Castaways on Gilligan's Island, they are rescued once again and the Howells convert the island into a getaway resort with the other five castaways as "silent partners". Ginger was again played by Judith Baldwin.

In a second sequel, The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981), villains played by Martin Landau and then-wife Barbara Bain try to take over the island to gain access to a vein of "supremium", a valuable but volatile fictional element. This time, Ginger was played by Constance Forslund. They are thwarted by the timely intervention of the Harlem Globetrotters. Jim Backus, who was in poor health at the time, was written out of the script by saying Thurston Howell III was tending to Howell Industries back on the mainland. David Ruprecht played the role of his son, Thurston Howell IV, who was asked to manage the resort. However, Backus insisted on keeping continuity and made a cameo appearance at the end of the film.

In 2008, Sherwood Schwartz stated he would like a modern-day movie adaptation of Gilligan's Island with Michael Cera as Gilligan and Beyonce Knowles as Ginger.[28][29][30]

Spin-offs and timelines[edit]

The New Adventures of Gilligan is a Filmation-produced animated remake that aired on ABC on Saturday mornings from September 7, 1974, to September 4, 1977, for 24 episodes (16 installments airing in 1974–75 and eight new ones combined with repeats in 1975–76). The voices were provided by the original cast except for Ginger and Mary Ann (both were voiced by Jane Webb). Dawn Wells could not participate because she was in a touring production.[citation needed] An additional character was Gilligan's pet, Snubby the Monkey.

Gilligan's Planet is an animated science-fiction version produced by Filmation and starring the voices of the Gilligan's Island cast, save for Tina Louise (Dawn Wells voiced both Mary Ann and Ginger). In a follow-up to The New Adventures of Gilligan, the castaways escape from the island by building a spaceship and get shipwrecked on a distant planet. Only 12 episodes aired on CBS between September 18, 1982, and September 3, 1983. In the episode "Let Sleeping Minnows Lie", they travel to an island, get shipwrecked there and Gilligan observes, "First we were stranded on an island, then we were stranded on a planet and now we're stranded on an island on a planet."

Related productions[edit]

  • Gilligan's Island: The Musical was first produced in the early 1990s, with a script by Lloyd Schwartz, Sherwood Schwartz's son and songs by Schwartz's daughter and son-in-law, Hope and Laurence Juber.
  • Gilligan's Wake is a 2003 parallel novel loosely based on the 1960s CBS sitcom, from the viewpoints of the seven major characters, written by Esquire film and television critic Tom Carson. The title is derived from the title of the TV show and Finnegans Wake, the seminal work of Irish novelist James Joyce.
  • On November 30, 2004, the TBS network launched a reality series titled The Real Gilligan's Island, which placed two groups of people on an island, leaving them to fend for themselves in the manner of Survivor – the catch being that each islander matched a character type established in the original series (a klutz, a sea captain, a movie star, a millionaire's wife, etc.). While heavily marketed by TBS, the show turned out to be a flop with a very Survivor-like feel, but little of its success. A second season began June 8, 2005, with two-hour episodes for four weeks. TBS announced in July 2005 that a third season of the show would not be produced.


Syndication is handled by Warner Bros. Television (under Turner Entertainment Co., which in 1986 acquired United Artists Television's share of the series as part of the classic pre-1986 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer library). It aired on TBS from 1986 to 2003, where it also aired with colorization on season one for a while. TBS aired Gilligan's Island weekday mornings at 8:05 a.m. ET throughout the 1990s, often paired with Bewitched. TNT aired it at some point in the 1990s and also aired the colorized season one. Nick at Nite later aired the series from 2000 to 2001. It then shifted to TV Land, where it aired from 2001 to 2003, and again from January to June 2014. In 2004, it aired on Hallmark Channel.

In 2015, the show started to air nationally on MeTV.[2]

Warner/Turner also handles the two Filmation-produced animated sequel series. The three TV movie sequels are handled by other companies.

In the UK Gilligan's Island had a very brief run on ITV in April 1965, but was dropped after 13 episodes.

It has briefly aired on MBC in the MENA region.

Home media[edit]

Warner Home Video released all three seasons of Gilligan's Island on DVD in Region 1 between 2004 and 2005. The Complete First Season features all 36 episodes unedited with the original theme song in their original black-and-white format. The special features include the rare pilot episode with commentary with creator Sherwood Schwartz and three other featurettes.

The Complete Second Season includes all 32 season-two episodes in color. Bonuses for this set include: a season-two introduction with Russell Johnson and Sherwood Schwartz and audio commentary on the season's third episode, "The Little Dictator".

The Complete Third Season includes all 30 season-three episodes. Special features include a season introduction with Russell Johnson and Sherwood Schwartz, commentary on the season's fourth episode, "The Producer", guest-starring Phil Silvers and a 15-minute documentary titled Gilligan's Island: A Pop Culture Phenomenon.

The Complete Series Collection contains all the same bonuses and featurettes for a complete series box set in 2007. In April 2012, the series was reissued in new DVD releases.

The series is also available at the iTunes Store.[31]

DVD name Ep# Release date
The Complete First Season 36 February 3, 2004
The Complete Second Season 32 January 11, 2005
The Complete Third Season 30 July 26, 2005
The Complete Series Collection 98 November 6, 2007

In August 2006, an executive at Warner Bros. announced plans that Gilligan's Island, in addition to other classic TV series owned by the studio, would be digitally re-mastered in HD.[32] The original TV series was shot on high-resolution film but scaled down for broadcast.

On January 20, 2014, TV Land became the first network to air theatrical-style widescreen HD remastered episodes of Gilligan's Island. This marked the first time the WB remastered episodes were seen by fans and the general public.[33]

HD remastered episodes have been made available for purchase through streaming media sources.

In other media[edit]

Two board games based on the show, both called The Gilligan's Island Game featuring a monkey, Thurston Howell III, Gilligan and the Skipper on the box cover, were manufactured by Game Gems and released in 1965. The New Adventures of Gilligan, based on the short-lived cartoon of the same name and featuring all castaways, was manufactured by Milton Bradley and was released in 1974.[citation needed]

A set of trading cards was released by Topps in 1965.[34] A pinball machine, manufactured by Bally and based on the show, was released in May 1991.[35] A video game based on the series, called The Adventures of Gilligan's Island and manufactured by Bandai, was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in July 1990. The game features the likenesses of all the original castaways except for Ginger, who is completely absent from the game.[36] A video slot machine, manufactured by International Game Technology and loosely based on the show, was released in 2004.[37]

An officially-licensed Gilligan's Island-themed mini-golf course known as Gilligan's Island Funland Golf is in operation in Garden City, South Carolina. The facility boasts 2 18-hole courses, the "Minnow" course and the "Castaways" course. Both are listed as "challenging", but all holes are presumably rated at Par 3.[38]

Ginger or Mary Ann?[edit]

The question of which of these two characters fans of the show prefer has endured long after the end of the series.[39][40] The question has inspired commercials,[41] essays, videos and a sermon.[42] By most accounts, the wholesome Mary Ann has consistently outpolled the glamorous movie-star Ginger by a sizable margin.[43] Bob Denver admitted he was a Mary Ann fan.[40] According to Denver in a 2001 interview, Wells received 3,000–5,000 fan letters weekly, whereas Louise may have had 1,500 or 2,000.[44][45]



  1. ^ "BBC - Comedy Guide - Gilligan's Island". January 3, 2005. Archived from the original on January 3, 2005.
  2. ^ a b "Watch Gilligan's Island on MeTV". Me-TV Network.
  3. ^ "22 fascinating facts about 'Gilligan's Island'". Me-TV Network. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  4. ^ "Gilligan's Island" creator Sherwood Schwartz on the show's concept - EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG, recorded on September 17, 1997 in Beverly Hills, CA with Dan Pasternack (published to YouTube on Nov 4, 2010).
  5. ^ Stoddard 1996, pp. 306–7.
  6. ^ "Shows | Gilligan's Island". Me-TV Network.
  7. ^ "Denver", The New York Times, September 7, 2005.
  8. ^ "CBS Studio Center". Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  9. ^ Walstad, David (August 7, 1995). "Civilization Takes Over 'Gilligan's' Lagoon : Television: The set of the 1960s sitcom is turned into an employee parking lot as CBS Studio Center adds production facilities". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  10. ^ "Gilligan's Minnow no longer lost". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. August 28, 2006. Retrieved August 28, 2006.
  11. ^ "Legal Tales from Gilligan's Island". Santa Clara Law Review & Jamail Center for Legal Research. Archived from the original on August 28, 2005.
  12. ^ a b c d Russell Johnson with Steve Cox, Here on Gilligan's Isle, p. 20 (1993).
  13. ^ First season opening sequence of Gilligan's Island From YouTube. Retrieved on November 6, 2011.
  14. ^ Fore, William F (1987). "Escape From Gilligan's Island". Retrieved April 14, 2011.
  15. ^ Stoddard 1996, p. 190.
  16. ^ Shales, Tom (February 8, 2004), "Hey, little buddy! 'Gilligan' DVD drifts into port", The Washington Post, p. N1, To his credit, star Bob Denver lobbied Schwartz and others to change the lyrics to the theme song after the second season, so all the characters and not just most of them were listed. Instead of the chorus singing 'the movie star and the rest,' they sang, 'the movie star, the professor and Mary Ann, here on Gilligan's isle!'
  17. ^ Green (1988). Unofficial Gilligan's Island Handbook. Warner Books. ISBN 9780446386685.
  18. ^ Lileth. "Was the "Gilligan's Island" theme song tampered with?". The Straight Dope. Cecil Adams. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  19. ^ "Gilligan's Island Tidbits". The Fifties Web. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  20. ^ "Gilligans Island 1.00". April 27, 1963 – via Internet Archive.
  21. ^ "Home Town Success Story". Bay views. Google Blogger. March 24, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  22. ^ "Gilligan's Island Theme". Gilligan's isle. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  23. ^ "Stairway". The Official Gilligan's Island Fan Club. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  24. ^ "Bowling For Soup – Gilligan's Island Theme". YouTube. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011.
  25. ^ Vibe. Time Publishing Ventures, Incorporated. 2003. p. 105. "The producer extraordinaire entered the big time of commercial rap recognition with the Gilligan's Island-based "Still Fly".
  26. ^ Stoddard 1996, p. 306.
  27. ^ The Worst TV Shows Ever, Those TV Turkeys We Will Never Forget...(No Matter How Hard We Try) by Bart Andrews with Brad Dunning (1980).
  28. ^ "Gilligan's Island: TV Show Creator wants Michael Cera and Beyonce for New Movie". canceled + renewed TV shows - TV Series Finale. January 2, 2009. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  29. ^ "Gilligan's Island Creator Wants Michael Cera To Play Gilligan in Movie Adaptation". /Film. December 24, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  30. ^ "Beyoncé to Star in 'Gilligan's Island' Movie?". Rap-Up. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  31. ^ "Gilligan's Island: The Complete Series". iTunes Store (US). Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  32. ^ ""Gilligan's Island" coming to HD?". August 18, 2006.
  33. ^ "'Gilligan's Island' Docks at TV Land For the First Time in 10 Years". January 16, 2014. Archived from the original on March 7, 2017.
  34. ^ Cracknell, Ryan (October 2, 2012). "1965 Topps Gilligan's Island Trading Cards". The Cardboard Connection.
  35. ^ Michael Shalhoub (2005). The Pinball Compendium. Schiffer. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-7643-4107-6.
  36. ^ "The Adventures of Gilligan's Island Review for NES: A Three Hour Bore - GameFAQs". Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  37. ^ Gilligan's Island Video Slots by International Game Technologies
  38. ^ Official Website for Gilligan's Island Funland Golf
  39. ^ Gael Fashingbauer Cooper (October 18, 2012). "As Dawn Wells turns 74, the question remains: Ginger or Mary Ann?". Today. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  40. ^ a b Hiassen, Rob (September 29, 2007). "Author has left Ginger and 'Island' behind". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015.
  41. ^ Budweiser Ginger or Mary Ann Archived October 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on September 7, 2011
  42. ^ Rev. Jeffrey Symynkywicz (June 5, 2005). "Ginger or Mary Ann?". Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved October 24, 2007.
  43. ^ Slotek, Jim (January 16, 2014). "Russell Johnson on 'Gilligan's Island' in 1993 interview". Toronto Sun. USA Today carried a Ginger vs. Mary Ann fave poll and Dawn Wells' character had 85% of the vote
  44. ^ Silver, Marc (September 7, 2005). "So which one did Gilligan like best?". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved October 24, 2007.
  45. ^ "Ginger vs. Maryann". retroCRUSH. Retrieved April 2, 2012.


  • Denver, Bob (November 1993). Gilligan, Maynard & Me. Carol Publishing. ISBN 0-8065-1413-2.
  • Green, Joey (April 1988). Unofficial Gilligan's Island Handbook. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-38668-5.
  • Johnson, Russell; Cox, Steve (July 1993). Here on Gilligan's Isle (1st ed.). Perennial. ISBN 0-06-096993-8.
  • Schwartz, Sherwood (April 15, 1994). Inside Gilligan's Island: A Three-Hour Tour Through The Making of A Television Classic. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-10482-0.
  • Stoddard, Sylvia (May 1996). TV Treasures – A Companion Guide to Gilligan's Island. New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-312-95797-1.
  • Gilligan's Island – The Complete First Season (DVD), 2004, Turner Home Entertainment, UPC 053939673425.
  • Gilligan's Island – The Complete Second Season (DVD), 2005, Turner Home Entertainment, UPC 053939692624.
  • Gilligan's Island – The Complete Third Season (DVD), 2005, Turner Home Entertainment, UPC 053939733129.

External links[edit]