‘The Waltons’: Richard Thomas Suffered an Injury in Real Life That Was Written Into the Show

by Madison Miller

Since many TV shows will span over the course of many years, several real-world issues can infiltrate into the script. Whether it’s an actor passing away in real life, pregnancy, or injuries, these physical real-life components can’t just be ignored on the screen. In a recent video on her YouTube channel, Judy Norton, or Mary Ellen Walton on “The Waltons,” talked about an instance in which an actor on the show was injured and it had to be written into the plot.

“Here you notice that John-Boy is, Richard Thomas is using a cane. He talks about it having been from a motorcycle. I’m not sure we ever saw him ride a motorcycle on the show, but in fact, it was from an injury that Richard had in real life and so they just added in this little explanation for why he was using a cane,” Judy Norton said.

The episode in question is called “The Vigil” from season five in 1976. In the episode, grandma is sick and Mary Ellen accidentally misdiagnoses her illness. Eventually, they take grandma to the hospital for treatment. Mary Ellen begins to realize she still has a lot left to learn.

Throughout the series Mary Ellen is working toward a nursing career. She decided to stay on Walton’s Mountain after high school to try to pursue her dreams.

Richard Thomas Emmy Night Injury

It’s unclear exactly how Richard Thomas got his injury in real life. However, he did also get into a car accident in 1973. It was the night he was nominated for an Emmy for his role on “The Waltons.”

“Here I am, a young star in Hollywood with my first car — and it was a white Volvo station wagon. I wasn’t exactly on the fast track. But I was driving and thought, ‘You might win this thing. You’re not going to, but you might. If you do, what the hell are you going to say? So, I started to think about it, and — bam — I went right into the car in front of me. I didn’t mess up my car too bad, but bad enough. I drove home, and I’d forgotten to think of what I was going to say. Then I’m sitting in the theater, and they called my name. I went up and I was like, ‘I wrecked my car,'” Thomas said in a 2019 interview with the Television Academy.

Despite the incident, Thomas still made it to the stage to collect his first Emmy. He was even in a good enough state to crack a joke about it.

Richard Thomas New ‘The Waltons’ Movie

“The Waltons” was on for nine seasons before getting canceled in 1981. After that, NBC aired three television films in 1982 and CBS followed up with three more in the 1990s.

Now, “The Waltons” story is coming back to the screen, and Richard Thomas is going to be a part of the journey.

A new television movie is currently underway. It’s called “The Waltons’ Homecoming.” It is meant to mark the 50th anniversary of “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” which ended up being a backdoor pilot for the series. Bellamy Young will play Olivia Walton and Logan Shroyer will play John-Boy.

Richard Thomas isn’t playing John-Boy, but he does get to narrate the movie. The movie will appear on the CW in late 2021.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, there is nothing else planned besides the holiday movie. However, CW chairman and CEO Mark Pedowitz said that if the movie gets a big audience he would consider a series reboot in the future.