Gilligan’s Island premiered in September 1964 and aired for three seasons, until April 1967. While it had a relatively short run, it’s become one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time in the years since. It’s been running in syndication nearly non-stop since it went off the air, which has resulted in several generations of fans.
Even though many of those fans have seen every episode several, maybe even dozens of times, there are plenty of mistakes and details that are easy to miss. In this video, we’re going to look at the hidden details you’ve probably never noticed in Gilligan’s Island. Be sure to watch until the end of the video to learn if Gilligan had a first name. And remember to like and subscribe to the Facts Verse channel so you don’t miss any of our upcoming videos.
Minor Goofs You’ve Probably Never Noticed
Gilligan was a lovable goof on the show but he wasn’t the only one. The show’s production had a few goofs of its own in several episodes.
Two on a Raft
The first episode of the show, Two on a Raft, had a bit of a goof when Gilligan and the Skipper were on a raft with sharks all around them. When Skipper throws the sail, you can see the fake backdrop of the sky behind the water tank. Creases on the fabric are visible and you can see a gap between the bottom of the sky and the water.
So Sorry, My Island Now
In this episode, a tiny Japanese submarine shows up at the castaways’ island. When Gilligan gets in to look for help, he leaves the top hatch open, which is the main joke of the scene. But when Bob Denver, the actor who played Gilligan, is filming the scene, you can clearly see his legs and feet splashing around the submarine, even though he’s supposed to be inside it beneath the surface.
In that same episode, when Gilligan finally gets the hatch closed, he circles around the lagoon. You can see the periscope darting around aimlessly and at some points, you can see the scuba tank of the prop man moving the periscope around. Fortunately, the film was sped up so it’s hard to catch the goof.
They’re Off and Running
Early in this episode, Gilligan and the Skipper are racing turtles. If you look closely, you can see a wedding ring on Gilligan’s hand. Given that there’s no mention of him being married and the ring is never visible in other episodes, clearly Bob Denver forgot to remove it before filming the scene.
The Friendly Physician
At the end of this episode, the gang returns home on a small boat. In the background, you can see tall buildings beyond the trees around the lagoon. They’re either buildings on the studio lot or parts of the Los Angeles skyline.
Pass the Vegetables, Please
At the end of this episode, the seven castaways are sitting together eating and bubbles start flying out of their mouths. When Mary Ann discovers her bubbly tummy, you can see what looks like a metal clamp holding the effects hose that spits out the bubbles.
Man With a Net
In this episode, a lepidopterist arrives on the island in search of the “Pussycat Swallowtail” butterfly. When he’s leaving, he knocks out the seven castaways, leaving them marooned on the island. They’re all supposed to be unconscious but if you look closely, you can see Natalie Schafer, the actress who played Mrs. Howell, open her eyes.
In this episode, pears and grapes float across the dinner table thanks to an “invisible” Gilligan. We hate to break it to you but magic isn’t real. If you look closely, you can see the wires used to lift the prop fruit reflecting light near the roof of the hut.
The Missing Eighth Castaway
If you’re a Gilligan’s Island fan, you can probably sing the theme song from memory so you’ll recall the line that says, “Five passengers set sail that day.” If you look closely at the Minnow setting sail in the opening credits, you’ll count eight people on board the ship, one more than ended up on the island. What happened to that eighth person?
Small Details You Probably Overlooked
It’s not only goofs that go overlooked by Gilligan’s Island fans — there are lots of little details that were intentional but go unnoticed by most viewers.
Different Castaways in the First Episode
The pilot episode, Marooned, was filmed a year before the series premiered and had a lot of differences. Instead of Mary Ann and Ginger, there were two secretaries aboard. And a different actor played the Professor, who was actually a high school teacher. The pilot didn’t air until 1992 but some of the footage turns up in the pilot episode Two on a Raft. When the Skipper wakes up and climbs out of the ruined Minnow, you can see the actors from the pilot episode sleeping on deck, not Mary Ann and Ginger.
The Skipper’s Name
Everyone referred to Alan Hale Jr’s character as The Skipper throughout the run of the series but he did have a real name. The only time you hear it is in a radio broadcast in the first episode, which refers to Jonas Grumby as an “old salt.”
Ginger Slept in the Nude
In the second episode, the castaways all jump out of bed in the middle of the night. Most of them are wearing pajamas but when Ginger first appears, she covers herself with a flap from the tent. When we finally see her, she’s wearing a bedsheet. This seems to imply that Ginger sleeps au naturale. That doesn’t seem like a big deal today but in 1964, it was pretty risque and it’s surprising it slipped past the censors.
Ginger Seemingly Made Her Own Dress On the Island
Most of the dresses Ginger wore on the show sparkled like diamonds, particularly during the first season. But every now and then she’s seen in a white dress with S.S. Minnow down the left thigh. That material was recycled from Gilligan’s duffle bag, which indicates some impressive sewing skills for being stranded on a deserted island.
The Set from Gunsmoke
In an episode called The Sound of Quacking, there’s a dream sequence in which Gilligan fantasizes the castaways all go Western. These scenes were shot at CBS Studio Center on the Gunsmoke Dodge City sets. If you look closely, you’ll see a building labeled “Dodge House” as well as the Marshall’s office.
The Island Has Two Sets of Coordinates
Part of the reason the castaways weren’t found sooner could be that the island is hard to pinpoint. Two different sets of coordinates are given for its location in season one. In the episode X Marks the Spot, a radio report states that the island is located at 140 degrees latitude, 10 degrees longitude. A few episodes later, a surfer lands on the island in Big Man on a Little Stick. In that one, the Professor tells him to remember the island is located at 110 degrees longitude, 10 degrees latitude.
Latitude and longitude are flipped in the first set of coordinates so that can maybe be forgiven but with the second set, the Professor never specified whether the numbers are North/South or East/West. No wonder they spend so long marooned on that island!
The Voice of Bugs Bunny Makes an Appearance
In the episode New Neighbor Sam, the castaways hear what they think are conversations between gangsters hiding out on the island. It turns out that the voice is actually a parrot. The voice of the bird was provided by cartoon legend Mel Blanc, who also voiced a similar bird in the Perry Mason episode The Case of the Perjured Parrot.
The Theme Song’s Famous Composer
If you watch the credits for Gilligan’s Island, you’ll see “Music Composed by Johnny Williams.” The young composer may have been known as Johnny at the time, but you’ll likely recognize the name from other famous movies. John Williams went on to score Jaws and Star Wars, among other massive hits.
The Lagoon Was Awfully Close to a Busy Highway
Gilligan’s Island was filmed on the CBS Studios backlot, which was next to the Hollywood Freeway. This led to a lot of problems with capturing the actors’ voices without getting traffic noise along with them. This led to many delays when filming had to stop because large trucks were passing by.
Mary Ann and the Professor Were Initially Considered Extras
Even though they’re two of the major characters that got stranded on the island, Mary Ann and the Professor were considered extras in the early episodes. They were omitted from the opening and simply referred to as “the rest”. According to Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann, they joined after the pilot had aired. Because of pre-existing contractual agreements, it was difficult to renegotiate the opening credits.
After the first season, Bob Denver insisted they get added to the opening credits since there were seven people stranded on the island.
Gilligan’s Full Name
Debate about whether Gilligan had a full name has been going on since the show first premiered. In the pilot, he was briefly name Willy Gilligan, but since the show changed so much between the pilot and the first episode, that’s not considered canon. According to Dawn Wells, the show’s creator, Sherwood Schwartz, gave Gilligan one name on purpose. He made the characters wear the same clothes for the same reason. Charlie Chaplin always wore the same thing, so you identified him immediately. Schwartz did the same for Gilligan.