Here's why the appeal of Gilligan's Island has lasted for decades

The show, along with its characters, are iconic.

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For a show that was unceremoniously canceled after three seasons, Gilligan's Island sure has had some lasting impact. The show seemingly never went off the air; immediately after it was axed, Gilligan set sail for syndication. It spawned an animated spin-off. There were made-for-TV movies, reunion specials, books, merchandise and more. 

After it stopped getting made, Gilligan's cultural influence continued to swell, cementing the show as an indelible piece of Americana.

The '90s were a particularly fruitful time to be a fan of the show. Gilligan's Island: The Musical opened off-Broadway. Three of the show's principal actors wrote and published books. There was Bob Denver's "Gilligan, Maynard and Me." Russell Johnson had "Here on Gilligan's Island." Mary Ann had a cookbook. Series creator Sherwood Schwartz, too, capitalized on the memoir mania, releasing his "Inside Gilligan's Island." Everybody had a take, and the audience was there for each of them.

There was also the role Gilligan played within the larger pop culture landscape. References in movies like The Addams Family and Coming to America kept Gilligan in the public consciousness. 

A 1993 piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch allowed Ron Turner and Bob Ranking to chime in regarding the show's continued cachet. Both men served as presidents of the Original Gilligan's Island Fan Club. So, what about the show made it so resonant for so long?

"Innocence" offered Rankin. "There's no violence unless you count Gilligan getting hit on the head with Skipper's hat. Kids like the slapstick."

Turner, on the other hand, pointed to the well-constructed character, based on believable archetypes.

"Everyone can find someone to relate to. For people who like science, there's the Professor. Ginger has glamour. For money and the social elite, there's Mr. and Mrs. Howell. The Skipper is the tough reader. Mary Ann is the girl next door."

But what about the show's title character?

"People who aren't lucky can relate to Gilligan," said Turner. "I do."


Watch Gilligan's Island on MeTV!

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55 Comments

HopeDuchaine 9 months ago
It is still my favorite. I watch it on ME-TV from 3 to 4 on Sundays. I love all of the Characters, but I can relate to Mary Ann. I wish that I had to whole set-up.
Gossemer 10 months ago
I have it all on dvd, ya i know its old school. Well im old school too. But the show is just a great way to relax and laugh at all the normal absurdities the show brought up. Wonderful show!.
Ivan 10 months ago
I have always enjoyed this show as it was a show that was slapstick and totally innocent of any agenda that comes with the total trash now put out by studios. It was simple funny enjoyment for all ages to watch. My annual holiday to Florida is made up of watching MeTV and seeing Gilligan and the gang together with all the other oldies on there. The great thing about being old is you know what is great and what is rubbish, keep up the great work MeTV.
drcrumpler 10 months ago
CBS ran a show long ago called The Good Guys with Herb Edelman & Bob Denver who ran a diner. Jim Backus was on an episode and a drunk came in, looked at them & said, "Didn't I see you guys on a desert island?" And on the Wild Wild West when Alan Hale guested as a partner to James West (Ross Martin was convalescing after a heart attack), at the episode's tag, James asked Hale's character where he was going next, London, Paris, or Rome?" To which Alan Hale's character said he was going to make a big dream come true. He was going to spend a vacation all alone, on a desert island," and then we all heard the season one music from Gilligan's Island playing. Alan even winked, signaling we were all in on the joke." Best. Tag. Ever.
tootsieg drcrumpler 10 months ago
Very good tags. Thanks for posting.
Gossemer drcrumpler 10 months ago
Ah man. Ive never watched that episode. Sounds hilarious. Thanks
bre003 10 months ago
I like all the episodes except for the one with the giant spider, bleh.
George58 10 months ago
I loved Gilligan's Island. Watched it a lot as a kid. It was on a lot of stations in my area. My favorite episode was the one with the Ghost. "Ghost A Go Go" episode. I was disappointed that Tina Louise did not take part in the reunion movies. It's not like she was busy doing something else or in another show.
tootsieg 10 months ago
I love GI. Just the right amount of silliness for me.
AllisonWunderland tootsieg 10 months ago
Lol! I’m watching it right now 👍
dkscrazyman 10 months ago
I was too young to watch it when it first came out. But I must admit that I like watching it now. Not so much the comedy of it, but because of Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) & Ginger (Tina Louise) are lovely to look at!
JeffSchafer 10 months ago
"There's no violence unless you count Gilligan getting hit on the head with Skipper's hat."

What about the episode where the hunter tries to kill Gilligan?

They shouldn't have made that episode. Completely inappropriate for Gilligan's Island.
JeffSchafer 10 months ago
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JeffSchafer daDoctah 10 months ago
"knock a coconut out of a tree and having it conk the Skipper on the head" is slapstick.
That's completely different than having someone trying to kill someone else.
Bapa1 10 months ago
Watched it as a kid, thought it was OK. Don't really watch it now, but I do like Ginger and Mary Ann. Read Johnson's book, pretty interesting. In one chapter, he laments about not getting residuals. I have seen episodes of other shows that featured GI's characters. Roseanne, Alf, Baywatch. Gilligan and The Skipper made an appearance in the movie 'Back to The Beach'.
Deleted 10 months ago
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KJExpress 10 months ago
Great ideas! 😄
BenSobeleone 10 months ago
Excellent! I can dig it.
Moverfan 10 months ago
We'll need a reason for John Robinson to do some sword fighting in there--Guy Williams played Zorro before he was cast in Lost In Space, remember.
texasluva 10 months ago
Sounds like the FredFlix guy on YT on the mashups and stories he does. He's done over a 1000 of them for years and all kinds of characters back in the 60's-70's. The one he did with Eddie Haskell called THE EDORCIST was pretty funny.
SalIanni 10 months ago
I might have mentioned this before but it bears repeating in case you missed it earlier. For me, I believe that the show is simply an updated version of "The Wizard Of Oz". Remember how that story went? A young, innocent farm girl from Kansas leaves her home and gets caught in a terrible storm which sends her trapped in a tropical paradise where she meets some strange characters who try to send her back home. The girl's name was Dorothy but it could also easily apply to Mary Ann. As for the strange characters she meets, the Professor is obviously the Wizard. That should be self-explanatory. Gilligan is the Scarecrow: tall, thin, flexible, lovable, falls down a lot, and has no brains. Mr. Howell is the Tin Man: a heart of gold that he doesn't realize is there hidden behind an inflexible, greedy, conniving mind, yet still loved by his fellow Castaways. The Skipper is the Cowardly Lion: The biggest, strongest, loudest voice and body, but also easily swayed by superstitions and coincidences that has him fearful for his life whenever any unexplained misfortune should happen to occur to him. Mrs. Howell is Aunt Em, a beloved and respected mother figure that is counted on for advice and guidance, despite her fairly advanced fortune and social standing. Ginger is the Wicked Witch. Sexy and beautiful on the outside, but also unhappy about being stuck on the island with a group that she feels is beneath her. She tries to use her feminine charms to get what she wants but is left frustrated when her efforts fail. She is also jealous of others at times (especially Mary Ann) and her natural acting ability is sometimes criticized and laughed at by the others, which sets her off even more. Put all 7 of these characters together - thanks to a real wizard in Sherwood Schwartz - and you have one of the greatest sitcoms in history, based loosely on one of Hollywood's greatest movies.
MrsPhilHarris SalIanni 10 months ago
Interesting.
texasluva SalIanni 10 months ago
You're hired🏆.
tootsieg SalIanni 10 months ago
Very good comparison. 👏
Andybandit 10 months ago
I love GI. It is a fun show. I like seeing how the people survived on the island. I never understood why when there was a guest star on. Why the character that the guest star played didn't rescue the crew.
Andybandit 10 months ago
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LoveMETV22 10 months ago
It's an O.K series. More fun to watch decades ago, closer to when it originally aired. Glad it is now a one hour block on Sunday, as it had run longer previously.
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Yes ma’am 😉 I ditched DISH after 25+ years in January and have never been so happy 🤗 Saving lotsa $$$ and still get to watch everything I want and more 👏
What do you watch things on?
My TV, lol. I finally got a Vizio smart TV (which was 1 1/2 months DISH bill). It has a whole bunch of movies, tv shows, documentaries, etc. for free! I also have Prime which is $6.99/ mo. & Paramount+. That’s it. All I will ever need 🤗
Interesting. I'll have to check it out.
Runeshaper 10 months ago
The show definitely had a good variety in the cast of actors and actresses. I feel like every person at the time had to relate to at least one of the characters.
MsRockford74 10 months ago
I loved Gilligan's Island as a kid! I was feeling nostalgic and watched the ep Castaway Pictures Presents recently..it made me laugh so hard:) :)
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