‘Little House on the Prairie’: How Many Episodes Featured Karen Grassle?

by Madison Miller
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The classic TV series “Little House on the Prairie” introduced us to plenty of actors we would grow to love over the years. That includes Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, and Karen Grassle.

They all starred together as a family living on a farm in Plum Creek near Walnut Grove, Minnesota in the 1870s. We got a total of 184 episodes of the popular series before we were forced to say goodbye to the Ingalls.

Karen Grassle starred in the series as Caroline “Ma” Ingalls, the matriarch of the family. There were 204 total episodes of the series from 1974 to 1983, as well as four different specials. How many of these did the beloved mom play a role in?

That would be 182, according to her IMDb page. She appeared in a massive majority of episodes, but not all. Most of the family appeared in nearly all the episodes of the show, especially Melissa Gilbert. Her role as Laura Ingalls was really the focal point of the series.

As for Karen Grassle, she really rose to fame after playing Caroline Ingalls. She spoke about her experience on the show in her book, “Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love from Little House’s Ma.” It wasn’t all positive during those 182 episodes, however.

After the first season of the show, Grassle decided to negotiate for a higher salary, seeing as her character had a great impact on the series. Apparently, she was met with a lot of resistance from Michael Landon. He was under the impression that her salary should be in line with the child actors. He also said that she was apparently one of the least favorite “Little House on the Prairie” characters and therefore should get less money.

The Impact of her Work on ‘Little House on the Prairie’

In her book, she shared that this all impacted her work. She continued acting while her contract was under review, but lacked the passion needed to really play Ma. Her contract also requested that at least two future episodes focus on Caroline Ingalls. Eventually, NBC would give her a raise.

Unfortunately, the loving “Little House on the Prairie” couple didn’t quite get along in real life too well. She announced she would leave the show at the end of season eight. Her screen time was made scarce that season. Even her very last appearance in the episode “Stone Soup” focused more on Laura Ingalls.

Despite what she felt was a limited appearance, Ma really played a crucial role in the series. She was like the glue to the whole family. Her role in the series also had a profound impact on her personally.

Karen Grassle once shared her favorite episode in a past interview. “‘A Matter of Faith’ was written for me so that I could show off a greater range. I think Mike was hoping that I could be nominated for and win an Emmy…. It has been gratifying that so many people remember it and love it so much,” she said, according to the official site for the show.

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