On This Day: ‘Rescue from Gilligan’s Island’ TV Movie Reunited Everyone’s Favorite Castaways in 1978

by Lauren Boisvert

The last episode of Gilligan’s Island wasn’t originally supposed to be the last; the final episode aired in 1967, and while writers planned a fourth season, the network subsequently cancelled it. Fast forward to 1978, 15 years since the original shipwreck, and it’s time to catch up with the stranded castaways of the S.S. Minnow.

Rescue from Gilligan’s Island was a two-part movie that premiered on October 14, 1978. The second part aired on October 21, 1978. The film saw the Castaways finally rescued by the Coast Guard after a series of typical Gilligan-style mishaps. First, the Castaways get ahold of a top-secret Soviet disk that fell to the island from a satellite. You read that right. Next, the Professor uses the metal from the disk to build a new barometer, with which he figures out a tsunami might sweep the island away.

The Castaways build a raft, but during the night, they’re taken out to sea on said raft. Gilligan, in true Gilligan fashion, accidentally sets the raft on fire; but this turns out in their favor, as the smoke alerts the Coast Guard to their location.

The Castaways are rescued! Finally! But, they have issues assimilating into society again. They all part ways, trying to get used to how modern society has changed and left them behind. The Skipper and Gilligan stay in touch, even going so far as to rebuild the Minnow.

But, it turns out, the insurance company won’t pay out for the wrecked original Minnow unless everyone signs a waiver that claims the Skipper wasn’t at fault. So, back to catch up with the Castaways.

Meanwhile, spies discover that Gilligan has the disk, and go on a recovery mission. They follow Skipper and Gilligan everywhere, blending in with background guests at the Howells’ home and at Mary Ann’s wedding. The FBI finally catches the spies when the Castaways meet up together again at the docks.

‘Gilligan’s Island’: Stranded, Rescued, Stranded Again

With everyone’s signature, the insurance company pays for the Minnow, and the Castaways gather for a reunion on the S.S. Minnow II. On their maiden voyage, a storm kicks up; Gilligan accidentally removed the magnet from the compass, and Skipper sails in the opposite direction. The just-so-recently-former-castaways are shipwrecked once again.

Except–what’s this? They find a piece of wood from the original Minnow on the beach; they’re back on their old island.

All the original actors reprised their roles for the film, except Tina Louise, who played Ginger. She felt that the role typecast her, and refused to return. Judith Baldwin played Ginger instead.

Rescue from Gilligan’s Island emphasized the importance of home and family; in the end, sometimes your home is a remote island, and sometimes your family is a bunch of Castaways.