Little House On The Prairie is thought to be a quaint family drama, but it actually got rather dark sometimes. For example, these 10 episodes.
Little House on the Prairie is one of the most beloved family shows of all time. It debuted in 1974 when a lot of popular TV shows mirrored the social climate of the times and explored things like race, politics, and war. Little House, however, was known for its wholesome, quaint depiction of small-town life in the late 1800s.
While the majority of the episodes were filled with affection and hard-learned life lessons, creator and star Michael Landon occasionally explored darker subjects like murder, drug addiction, and assault. Here are the 10 darkest episodes which are ranked by their IMDb audience score.
Charles rushes off to Chicago to visit with his old friend Mr. Edwards following the mysterious death of his eldest son, John Jr. At first, the death is attributed to a terrible accident caused when John was hit by a wagon on a rainy night. But further investigation reveals that may not be the case.
The entire episode plays out like a noir crime drama with Charles and Edwards playing the role of detectives. As they explore the dark and rainy city and interview various shady characters the duo soon learns John Jr. may have been murdered with the accident being staged to cover up the crime.
A FARAWAY CRY (7.4)
Just like the previously mentioned “Chicago”, this episode takes the action out of Walnut Grove. After receiving a letter from an old friend who finds herself sick and pregnant, Caroline travels to an influenza-ridden mining camp with Dr. Baker.
Caroline’s friend dies shortly after giving birth but makes Caroline promise to find the baby a good home since the woman’s husband wants nothing to do with the child. After seeing the woman’s husband barely sheds a tear upon learning of his wife’s death, Caroline decides to uphold her friend’s wishes and gives the child to a loving couple.
A struggling farmer (Robert Loggia) slowly loses his grip on reality. After being denied a loan he completely snaps and kills his wife and daughter. All of this takes place within the first act of the episode and more violence is on the way.
The man flees and ends up in the Wilder house. In his unstable state, he mistakenly thinks Laura and Jenny are his dead wife and daughter. He holds them at gunpoint and threatens to kill them leaving the audience to wonder if help will arrive in time.
RETURN OF MR EDWARDS (8.0)
This is the first time we see Mr. Edwards since Victor French left to star in his own sitcom three years earlier. The episode begins in the big woods where Mr. Edwards is now the foreman of a logging company. Not five minutes go by before a falling tree falls atop the returning character and nearly kills him.
Charles and Laura travel to the Edwards’ home to visit their wounded friend. The accident has left him unable to walk and he spends all his time alone in his room. It’s a sad sight for the audience to see the once lovable Mr. Edwards reduced to an angry man who has given up on life and is contemplating suicide.
GOLD COUNTRY (8.1)
Tough times have fallen upon the residents of Walnut Grove. Money is tight and people are leaving town to find work. The Ingalls and the Edwards family travel to California in an attempt to strike gold. The families set up shop in a type of tent city next to a river where the men spend the day panning for gold.
Violence surrounds the camp at every turn. The father of a neighboring family is shot dead while a desperate man digs up the grave of an elderly woman after learning she was buried with gold. The most tragic thing about the episode is seeing Charles and Mr. Edwards motivated by greed and the urge to strike it rich.