‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Once Revealed Reason Why Show Was Canceled

by Clayton Edwards

When a beloved television series gets canceled today, fans can usually find out why. Social media allows us to connect with stars and showrunners. They are usually more than happy to address their fans and let everyone know why things had to end. When “Little House on the Prairie” ended after nine seasons, fans didn’t have that luxury. The final episode of the series ran in 1984 and fans were largely left to speculate as to why they were no longer being invited to Walnut Grove once a week.

The finale of the show left no doubt that it was over. All of Walnut Grove, the quiet town where “Little House on the Prairie” took place was demolished. The townspeople used dynamite to bring down all but one building. Fans still had to wonder why it all came to an end.

Star and sometimes-director of “Little House on the Prairie” Michael Landon addressed the reason in an interview with the “New York Times.” The Times piece came out the same day that the finale aired. It looked back on the show and gave fans some answers. In the article, Landon lays out the two main reasons for the cancelation,

According to Landon, the series had seen a drop in ratings. This, in part, led to the end of the show. It’s a simple enough reason. The show ran for nine seasons. It’s hard for any series to keep high ratings for that long. Also, much of the cast, including Landon, left the show at the end of the eighth season. Probably a large factor behind the drop in ratings.

Landon also gave a second reason. He said, “I didn’t think a married woman should still be coming to her father for advice. But when we started this show, we never imagined it would last this long.'” His on-screen daughter Melissa Gilbert had grown up on the show. Apparently, to Landon, the bond between parents and their adult children isn’t as compelling as when the kids are young.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Goes Out With a Bang

“Little House on the Prairie” ended with Walnut Grove being blown to pieces. It is still one of the most shocking series finales in television history. There were a handful of reasons that it ended with the destruction of the town.

For starters, Michael Landon and other members of the crew didn’t want other productions to be able to use the sets. Landon was also angry that the studio execs had not informed him of the cancelation. He learned about it from Melissa Gilbert. On top of that, the studio had to return the land on which the sets were built to its original state. These things came together in a perfect storm that ended with rubble and tears.

Onscreen, things played out differently. Railroad tycoons were moving into the quiet little hamlet. The townspeople would have rather laid their hometown to waste than to see it infested with robber barons and the corruption they bring. So, with heavy hearts, they took Walnut Grove off the map for good.

In the end, the finale served as a definitive ending for fans as well as a cathartic moment for the cast and crew.