‘Little House on the Prairie’: Michael Landon Explained the Real Reason the Show Was Canceled

Little House on the Prairie was iconic for how it portrayed American Western life. The show depicted what life was like for the Ingalls family who lived on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. It ran from 1974 to 1982, and quite a controversial ending that fans still talk about today.

There’s plenty of speculation regarding why the show ended. And it seems Michael Landon, one of the lead actors and a director for the show, explained exactly why it all came to a close. Here’s what he said.

Michael Landon had a ton of involvement in directing ‘Little House on the Prairie’

Michael Landon as Charles Philip Ingalls on 'Little House on the Prairie' |
Michael Landon as Charles Philip Ingalls on ‘Little House on the Prairie’ | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Landon played Charles Ingalls on the series, and he was part of nearly episode in the first eight seasons. He wasn’t a part of the working of the show when it returned for season 9. But he did help shape the show into what we know it as today.

Aside from acting in the series, Landon also played a huge role in directing, writing, and producing. Mental Floss notes he directed 90 out of 205 episodes, and he was the one to come up with the plot for the initial two-hour pilot and the final episode. After Little House on the Prairie ended, Landon continued directing and producing until his death in 1991.

It seems Landon’s directing style was quite unique, too. If a scene was done correctly the first time, he was more than OK with moving quickly on to the next scenes without reshooting. “Michael was very much a fan of the, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy, and if something worked well enough in the first take, don’t bothering tinkering with perfection — just say ‘print’ and move on,” Alison Arngrim wrote in her book, Confessions of a Prairie B*tch.

The series ended with the townspeople blowing up the town

'Little House on the Prairie'
‘Little House on the Prairie’ | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Those who watched Little House might remember the way the series ended. “The Last Farewell” featured the townspeople of Walnut Grove seeing how their quaint town was being overrun by railroad tycoons. They decided to make the ultimate sacrifice and blow up the town so the tycooners couldn’t take over.

The townspeople took their belongings out of their homes and blew the buildings up, UPI reports. And this happened in real life, too. Landon actually wanted to get rid of the set and restore the land back to its natural state, so blowing up the buildings they used for the series made sense.

“Mike decided that if the town had to go he might as well send it out in a blaze of glory on the screen,” Bill Kiley, an NBC publicist, explained.

Landon explained why ‘Little House on the Prairie’ was canceled

'Little House on the Prairie'
‘Little House on the Prairie’ | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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While the series went out with a bang, why was it canceled? It seems after so many seasons, the ratings were a little shaky. But Landon also gave another reason for the cancellation. Melissa Gilbert played his daughter on the series, but his on-screen daughter was all grown up. She married and lived a life on her own — and it didn’t feel right to Landon for Gilbert to keep coming back to him for advice.

“‘I didn’t think a married woman should still be coming to her father for advice,” Landon told The New York Times back in 1984. ”But when we started this show, we never imagined it would last this long.”

Still, the cast and crew were sad to see the series come to a halt. “There were lots of tears when we finally blew up the town,” he added. “The actors had all become very attached to their own buildings, so it was very emotional.”

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