Imagine spending nine years in one place, only to watch it burn to the ground. That’s what Little House on the Prairie cast members experienced.
After discovering that the series would not be renewed for a 10th season, the cast was devastated. However, the show’s creators knew that they had to do something symbolic for the show’s end. So, for the final episode, they blew up the entire town. During the episode, citizens of Walnut Grove learn that a land developer now owns all the land in the area. The developer permits the townspeople to stay but whatever money they make belongs to him. Laura, played by Melissa Gilbert, is having none of this. So she inspires the entire town to fight back. In true Little House on the Prairie fashion, they decide that if they cannot live on their land freely, then they will blow up the entire town. The day before the last few scenes of the final episode were filmed, Michael Landon and the show’s crew blew up everything on the set. During an interview, Melissa Gilbert said that the act was a message from co-star Michael Landon.
“They blew everything up. It was Michael’s way of saying ‘No one else is going to shoot here. This was mine,'” said Gilbert.
How Did The Little House On The Prairie Cast React To Destruction of Walnut Grove?
Gilbert shared that seeing the town disappear overnight was shocking for the entire cast.
“We all walked down into town from the trailers together and rounded the corner and it was gone. Everything blew up but the little house. There were all of these buildings that I grew up in and around. I had my first kiss behind the church, I was stung by a bee, I learned how to ride a horse. There are so many things that happened there. And it was just all gone. It was crushingly sad for all of us,” said Gilbert. “And we all kept going all day and then someone would start to cry and then everyone else would start to cry and we’d all stop and hold each other.”
However, Gilbert said the day was bittersweet. Saying goodbye to their beloved set was “crushingly sad.” But the fact that they all had a chance to say goodbye was significant for Gilbert.
“It was nice because we all had a chance to say goodbye. I am a big person for saying goodbye and for closure. There was no question that this would never happen again and it was time to move on,” she said.
Melissa On The Show Being Canceled ‘I Was Ready For It To End’
During the same interview, Gilbert shared that she learned of the show’s cancelation after a call with co-star Victor French. The network didn’t even call Michael Landon to tell him about the cancellation. They simply did not put the show on the schedule for the next season. Gilbert said that she had mixed reactions after the announcement.
“Honestly, at this point, I was ready for it to end. I was ready to sort of get on with my life. It wasn’t a career decision, but I was dating then, I was in love with somebody. I was traveling with a whole different group of friends, I wanted the freedom to do things, I wanted to be able to cut my hair however I wanted to. I wanted to be able to act out and do crazy things and fly to New York for the weekend and drink champagne. And just be an adolescent girl. I didn’t want to wear lace-up boots and petticoats anymore,” said Gilbert.
However, when she found out that the show really was cancelled, she was devastated.
“And then they tell me I couldn’t, and I wanted to,” said Gilbert.