“The Waltons” revolves around a Depression Era Virginia mountain family. And many of the episodes deal exclusively with the Waltons themselves. But supporting characters outside of the family also helped to make the show great. One of these fan-favorite recurring characters took the form of Sheriff Ep Bridges, played by John Crawford. And in one episode, he got to be the star for a while. Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen Walton, talked about what made it so special.
Sheriff Ep appeared in 40 episodes over the show’s nine-season run. In Season 5, he was featured in an episode titled “The Hero.” The story revolves around John-Boy wanting to write an article about the local veterans who served in the First World War. He discovers that Sheriff Ep is a decorated war hero, but Ep has no interest in talking about his service.
‘The Waltons’ Episode Explored the Nature of War from Sheriff Ep’s Perspective
In one scene, John-Boy and Ep have a heart-to-heart. Sheriff Ep doesn’t think he deserves to be honored for his contributions to the war. Because he was responsible for taking lives as well as saving them. John-Boy fails to understand why Ep doesn’t want to be celebrated as a hero. He can’t wrap his mind around the guilt Ep feels for the actions he took, however heroic they may have been.
In a video Judy Norton uploaded to her YouTube channel, she gave fans some background that helped to underscore the moment.
“John-Boy is confused about why Ep doesn’t want to talk about it,” That he has all these medals that he was honored with. And Ep questioned, he said, ‘Should a man be honored for killing someone?’ And it does raise a very interesting question about that aspect of war.”
But eventually, Ep agrees to let John-Boy publicize his decorated status.
“In the conversation, ultimately Ep decides that John-Boy can take these medals and put them on display for Honor Day,” “The Waltons” star said. “Because John-Boy feels that he deserves to be honored and that the people in the community would like to know about this.”
It’s a powerful moment. And the entire storyline of the episode revolved around a supporting character who otherwise didn’t get a ton of screen time.
“But it’s a beautiful scene,” Norton continued. “And it wasn’t very common for John Crawford to have these sorts of storylines. So I’m so glad that he had this opportunity to really be showcased as the incredibly talented actor he was.”
It was a rare opportunity for John Crawford’s Sheriff Ep, but he made the most of it.