Michael Landon is best remembered for his roles on both the western “Bonanza” and the family drama “Little House on the Prairie.”
But which series did he appear in more? Landon appeared in more episodes of “Bonanza” than he did “Little House on the Prairie” in the 1970s. For the western, Landon starred in 430 of 431 episodes of the series. Meanwhile, Landon only appeared in 185 episodes of “Little House on the Prairie.”
Ultimately, “Bonanza” lasted a lot longer than Landon’s other TV series. Back then, westerns often hit double-digit seasons. A young Landon played Little Joe, the youngest of the Cartwright clan on the show. While he starred on the show, Landon wasn’t out front and center as the show’s main draw. Lorne Greene headlined that show as Ben Cartwright. And Dan Blocker made up the heart of the show with his character Hoss.
Don’t get us wrong, Landon played an important role on the show. Little Joe ranks among his best inventions. But the actor wasn’t quite the main draw he would later become.
Michael Landon Starred on ‘Little House on the Prairie’
In comparison, “Little House on the Prairie” only lasted nine seasons and a total of 204 episodes. Additionally, Landon and most of the rest of the Ingalls clan barely factored into the ninth season. That season switched the focus almost entirely to Laura Ingalls as an adult. Landon had encouraged the change because he grew tired of playing on the show.
But “Little House on the Prairie” in many ways was Landon’s show. He featured heavily in all the marketing, and he was the one in the top role. As Charles Ingalls, Landon played the patriarch of the family, a man who often dealt in kindness and bits of wisdom. It’s easy to argue Landon surpassed Little Joe with Charles Ingalls. And even though he appeared in less episodes, fans best remember him for “Little House on the Prairie.”
Of course, Landon holds a special distinction in being the only actor to star in three hit series back to back. He followed up “Little House” with “Highway to Heaven” in the 1980s. That series was the shortest of the three, lasting five seasons and 111 episodes before being canceled.