While his face may not be as recognizable as other members of “The Waltons” cast, Earl Hamner Jr. played an essential role in the series. He was the narrator throughout the show’s run.
Hamner was also the creator of the show. It was based on his 1961 book called “Spencer’s Mountain.” Earl Hamner Jr. is heard in the opening and closing of each episode. He is the grown-up version of John-Boy Walton reflecting years later.
He is also the inspiration behind John-Boy. This makes his voice as the narrator that much more influential. He is voicing the older version of the character in a full-circle-type moment. Despite not being on-screen, Hamner has reflected on his favorite episodes during the show’s run.
Earl Hamner Jr.’s Favorite Episodes
‘The Waltons” was on from 1972 to 1981 and ran for nine total seasons. It had a total of 221 episodes as well as several films created following the show’s cancellation.
With a surplus of very different episodes all with unique plotlines, it can be difficult to choose a favorite. For Hamner, one of his favorites was the episode where John-Boy leaves home.
The final appearance of John-Boy was in the episode called “The Achievement.” It aired in March of 1977 in season five. This episode was the very last appearance of Richard Thomas before Robert Wightman took his role as John-Boy.
It makes sense that one of his favorite episodes would be an essential moment for the John-Boy character. Especially since his role as the narrator is meant to represent the past versus the present.
“I thought we did a good job in reflecting the time that we wrote about. There was one called ‘The Dust Bowl Cousins,’ where people came through from the Dust Bowl and they were not upstanding people, they were thieves and one of the boys tried to rape Mary Ellen … We did one about the crashing of the Hindenburg, we did one on Roosevelt’s death, we looked to the times pretty much and reflected those times,” Hamner said, according to an interview with Television Academy.
“The Waltons” was a good reflection of key historical and societal moments happening at the time. While it was fictional, it also had some very real elements.
The Episode Hamner’s Son Wrote
John-Boy’s last episode and some interesting historical-focused moments on the show are amongst Hamner’s favorites. However, the episode his son wrote may top them all.
In fact, it was Earl Hamner Jr.’s son, Scott, that wrote the very last episode of “The Waltons.” It was called “The Revel.”
Hamner is also the last voice fans heard in the series. He soothingly says in the closing credits, “I hope that you’ll remember this house as I do. The sound of warm voices drifting out upon the night air. A family waiting, and a light in the window.”
It is another moment on the show where the character of John-Boy gets to come full-circle. He returns home to find inspiration for his writing. He realizes that he misses the mountains and that New York has distanced him from his inspiration.
According to MeTV, Scott Hamner had written the final episode, which tied together with earlier themes in the show and real life. It weaved together family and generations. Scott Hamner wrote a biography called “Earl Hamner: From Walton’s Mountain to Tomorrow” where he talks about the important message his father installed in “The Waltons.”
He wanted the last episode to really showcase the “core values espoused in the show: the celebration of family and the rising above individual differences for the greater good.”