‘Little House on the Prairie’: One Episode Is Ranked in the Top 100 TV Episodes Ever Made

by Josh Lanier

Little House of the Prairie remains a beloved television show more than 40 years on. But one two-part episode stands above the rest as one of the greatest in television history.

Time Magazine named selected “I’ll Be Waving as You Drive Away” as the 97th greatest episode of television ever when the magazine first made the list in 1997.

“I’ll Be Waving as You Drive Away” finds the Ingalls family in dire straits. Mary is losing her eye-sight and Charles must break the news to hew.

“Long hours studying by candlelight for the state teacher’s exam results in tired, blurry eyes for Mary Ingalls, prompting a routine visit to the eye doctor,” the IMDB description says. “But when Charles learns that Mary’s worsening sight is just the beginning of a much more serious problem, the concerned father can’t bring himself to tell his beloved daughter that she will, most certainly, soon be completely blind.

In the second part, life in Walnut Grove is becoming untenable for them.

“Feeling lost and abandoned, Mary Ingalls battles anger and self-pity at a school for the blind, far away from the little house by Plum Creek,” the IMDB description reads. “But soon, Mary finds a source of hope in her new teacher, Adam Kendall, and as the two young people work together they find they have much in common. Meanwhile, back in Walnut Grove, many are considering the real possibility of having to start a new life elsewhere as the town’s economy erodes and work becomes scarce.”

The 1978 episode is the fourth season finale, and NBC originally intended it to be the last episode ever. However, audiences loved it so much that the network changed its mind and renewed the show. Little House on the Prairie went on to air for nine seasons.

Cast Reveals Favorite Little House On The Prairie Episodes

The cast once reunited to discuss their favorite episodes with Home & Family, and they’re not what you might expect.

Lindsay Greenbush and Melissa Gilbert both said they were partial to the series pilot.

“I love the pilot,” Gilbert said. “I think it’s probably one of the best made for TV movies in the history of television, I gotta agree with my baby sister over here.”

Leslie Landon picked “Journey to the Spring.”

Hersha Paraday, however, said her favorite was “May We Make Them Proud.” Her character, Alice Garvey, is burned alive in that episode. Her answer catches some of the other cast members off guard as they weren’t expecting such a morbid response. But Matthew Laborteux, who played Albert Ingalls, the character that started the fire, agreed that it was his favorite as well.

Charlotte Stewart also picked an episode that may seem unique. She chose the one she felt was the hardest to shoot. It’s the episode where her character Miss Beadle struggles to keep the children safe during a blizzard after getting them in trouble.

Dean Butler, who played Almanzo Wilder, picked an episode that was likely a lot of fun to film for him. He was a love interest to Gilbert’s character, and he chose the episode where they got a chance to kiss.

“‘The Lord is My Shepherd’ is probably one of my favorite ever Little House episodes. In terms of something, I was involved with they all have to do with this one{Melissa} here. We had so much fun. One of my favorite moments is the first kiss in Sweet Sixteen with Melissa’s mother wailing in the background. And we have to keep redoing the shot because Melissa’s mother cannot stop crying.”