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Michael Landon Revealed Why They Canceled Little House on the Prairie

Those who grew up in the 70s likely remember Little House on the Prairie. But did you ever wonder why they canceled such an iconic show?

Well, stay tuned as Michael Landon, one of the shows lead actors, and a writer and director on the show, revealed why they canceled the hit show. Plus, the exciting and somewhat unusual behind the scenes happenings that led to the shows explosive finale. And when I say explosive, I mean explosive!

Little House on the Prairie was iconic for its portrayal of the early American Western life. The heartwarming, sweet, and relatable show, is based on the series of children’s books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The show had a highly successful run from 1974 to 198. It is with two-hundred and four episodes over nine seasons, plus three movies.
The show was so impactful that it still has a dedicated following.

Little House on the Prairie depicted what life was like for the Ingalls family living on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Despite the uplifting tone, many of the episodes tackled tough issues such as poverty, divorce, addiction, abuse, and alcoholism.
But, even with the shows unprecedented success, Little House on the Prairie’s controversial ending still has fans talking about it today. Much of that talk is speculation regarding the reason why such a well-received show like Little House canceled.

Michael Landon, one of the lead actors as well as a director, writer, and producer for the show, explained exactly why it all came to a close. Join Facts Verse to learn more about Michael Landon Revealed Why They Canceled Little House on the Prairie.

Michael Landon had a ton of involvement in directing‘Little House on the Prairie’

A star for 14 years on television western Bonanza. Michael Landon starred opposite character actors like Lorne Greene and Dan Blocker. With such work under his belt, he already a familiar face when he brought in by NBC producer, Ed Friendly. He set not just to star but also to direct the 1974 pilot of the family drama, set in 1800s Minnesota.

Michael Landon played Charles Ingalls, the patriarch of the Ingalls family in Little House on the Prairie. He was such a substantial participant in the show that he was a part of nearly every episode in the first eight seasons.

Landon starred in and produced the first eight seasons before going fully behind the scenes for the final season. Which saw a new family move into the “Little House” and Melissa Gilbert’s Laura, now married, become the lead character. This final season retooled as Little House: A New Beginning.

Landon directed ninety out of two-hundred and four episodes. He even came up with the plot for the initial two-hour pilot and the final episode.

According to Alison Arngrim, who played the mischievous and spoiled Nellie Oleson on the show, Michael Landon’s directing style was quite unique. Landon would often be happy with the first take of a scene and then quickly move on to the next. Utilising a ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy.

Landon, who died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 54, known for being both charismatic and an extremely welcoming personality. On the set of Little House on the Prairie, Michael Landon acted like a father figure to both Melissa Sue Anderson and Melissa Gilbert, who played his daughters on the show.

Gilbert spoke fondly of Landon in a 2015 interview on That’s Entertainment. She stated, “He gave me so much advice. The overall idea that he pounded into me, from a little girl, into my brain was that nothing’s more important than ‘Home & Family’, no success, no career, no achievements, no accomplishments, nothing’s more important than loving the people you love and contributing to a community.”

Alison Arngrim, opened up to Megyn Kelly in a 2018 interview on The Today Show, talking about Michael Landon’s habitual pranking. She praised him for his warm sense of humor. And recounted the story of how Landon once welcomed a female guest star on the set of Little House on the Prairie.

The unnamed guest star complemented Landon on his youthful appearance. Landon, with a straight face, told the woman that he maintained his youthful looks by eating a cup of birdseed every morning before breakfast.

The woman did not only believe his tall tale. But, according to Arngrim, she actually purchased birdseed in large quantities, in an attempt to copy Landon. It’s easy to see from Arngrim’s retelling, that Landon’s good humor and outgoing nature made an impression on his co-stars that will never be forgotten.

Karen Grassle, who cast in the role of Charles’ wife Caroline on the show, recalled working with Michael Landon in an interview with Closer Weekly. “He was constantly trying to make the crew laugh and make everybody happy,” she said. “A very hard worker.”

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The series ended with the townspeople blowing up thetown

Fans of Little House on the Prairie no doubt remember the explosive way in which the series ended. The last episode of the show, titled, “The Last Farewell,” was most certainly a memorable one. It released as a TV movie in 1984, directed by Landon.
The final episode of Little House on the Prairie began with Charles and Caroline Ingalls deciding to return home to Walnut Grove. It is after leaving for the city in search of better economic opportunities.

Walnut Grove still holding a special place in their hearts. They soon discovered that the town had been taken over by railroad tycoons. With the townspeople unable to continue the quaint way of life that they had come to love. They decided to take a stand in the most dramatic fashion.

They made the ultimate sacrifice, emptied their homes and destroyed the town by blowing up the properties. This left the tycooners unable to take over the town. What may sound crazy for a television show like Little House on the Prairie. And was what actually happened in real life, too.

Michael Landon determined to remove the set in order to restore the land back to its natural state. So blowing up the buildings made the most sense and sent the town out in a blaze of glory.

Rumors suggest Michael Landon wanted to retaliatefor the shows cancellation

While there was a logistical reason for Michael Landon wanting to blow up the Little House on the Prairie set. No matter how dramatic it may seem, it didn’t prevent inevitable rumors to circulate.

Rumors persisted that Landon refused to allow others to use the set in different productions. Even suggesting that Landon was upset with the cancellation of Little House and the blowing up of the set was an act of retaliation against NBC. The television network behind the production of the show.

But were the rumors true? Apparently not. Landon continued to work with NBC after the show was over. So it’s pretty clear he wasn’t upset with the network, and wouldn’t want to blow up the set just to irritate them.

In fact, Landon understood why Little House on the Prairie had to come to an end. He knew that nine seasons was an impressive run. And NBC even worked it out so he could wrap everything up with three TV movies.

To dispel the rumor, Little House on the Prairie producer Kent McCrary confirmed that he rented the land and property for the Little House on the Prairie set from a developer in Newhall, California.

His agreement stated that he had to return the property to its original state after filming ended. One way to do that, he and Landon agreed, would be to blow up the buildings in the last scene so that the debris could be more easily swept away.

Landon explained why ‘Little House on the Prairie’was canceled

So why was the show canceled? It seems after so many seasons, the ratings inevitably became a little weak. But Michael Landon gave his own reason for the cancellation of Little House on the Prairie. Melissa Gilbert, who played his daughter, inevitably grew up as the show went on. She married and lived a life on her own.
In 1984, Landon told The New York Times, “I didn’t think a married woman should still be coming to her father for advice.” He followed up with, “But when we started this show, we never imagined it would last this long.”

However, Landon did agree that he didn’t want to see the Little House set being used for other productions. So it’s still somewhat unclear as to what the true meaning of the ending might have been at the time.

But, of course, the cast and crew were sad to say goodbye to the show. Landon continued by saying, “There were lots of tears when we finally blew up the town. The actors had all become very attached to their own buildings, so it was very emotional.”
For a show even as popular and loved as Little House on the Prairie, the time always comes to finally say goodbye.

What did you think of the Little House on the Prairie’s finale? Was it Michael Landon’s attempt to get back at the network for cancelling the show, or simply the best way to end such an iconic hit?

Let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more. Click the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest content.

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