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Little House On The Prairie Pilot

Full movie

"Little House on the Prairie: The Pilot"
Season 1, Episode 0 (Pilot movie)
#0 overall in Series
"Little House on the Prairie: The Pilot" film opening title screen, which would also be used on TV series.
Series: Little House on the Prairie
Network/Country: NBC
Original air date March 30, 1974
Production code 000
Episode Guide
IMDb logo.png IMDb Little House on the Prairie: The Pilot
Written by Blanche Hanalis
Directed by Michael Landon
Guest starring: Victor French
Cal Bellini
Sam Vlahos
Richard Alarian
Marian Beeler
John Steadman
Vic Mohica
Episode Chronology
Previous episode:
Next episode:
"A Harvest of Friends"
(Season 1 Premiere)

"Little House on the Prairie: The Pilot", which aired on March 30, 1974, was the original pilot made-for-TV movie which resulted in NBC-TV picking up the pilot as a series for the 1974-75 television season. The episode was directed by series' co-star Michael Landon, who assumed the role of Charles Ingalls, the father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was portrayed as a child in both the pilot film, then the resulting Little House on the Prairie TV series and its subsequent TV movie specials by Melissa Gilbert. The episode was also written by Blanche Hanalis.


Charles and Caroline Ingalls move from the woods of Wisconsin to the open prairies of Kansas. Their closest neighbor, Isaiah Edwards, helps the Ingalls settle into their new home as they encounter storms, a fire, and hostile American Indian Tribes. After finally settling they are notified by the government that they have to move immediately.

They give their livestock to Isaiah and leave Kansas. In the next episode "A Harvest of Friends," they move and get settled into Plum Creek, Walnut Grove. It still remains one of NBC's highest rated pilots.



Supporting cast

Uncredited Supporting Cast



Leaving the Big Woods and Crossing the River

The big woods.

Laura: "If I had a remembrance book, I would mark down how it was when we left our little house in the big woods to go west to Indian territory."

Laura, Mary, Carrie and Caroline and saying goodbye to their family while Charles gets the horses ready for their journey west.

"We had to go Pa said, because so many people had come to live in the big woods there wasn't enough game anymore for him to hunt and feared we might go hungry."

After the horses are ready, Charles looks into the big woods and ponders about leaving. Caroline give a final farewell to her parents, her and the girls then go to Charles and get into the wagon. Charles then lifts Mary and Laura into the wagon the ties the back shut.

"Ma said we might never again see Grandma or Grandpa or aunt Docie or aunt Ruby and uncle George. though it made me sad, I still thought it a fine thing to go where there had never been a road before."

"We'd go where the land was more bountiful he said; and we sold our house, our land our cow, and packed whatever would fit into the wagon. I was glad Pa took his fiddle, for it makes a joyful sound."

Mary and Laura cover up with quilts and Charles checks the wagon to make sure it is secure. After doing that, he gets onto the front seat with Caroline and Carrie. They then leave and their family watches them go, "Mary was afraid to go, but I knew nothing bad could happen as long as we had Pa and Jack. Jack is my best and true friend, and Pa says their has never been a better watchdog", Laura looks outside the back of the wagon to watch Jack running behind the wagon in the snow.

"I knew there would be rivers to cross and hills to climb, and I was glad. for this is a fair land and I rejoiced that I was here."

The Ingalls continue the journey in the wagon, stopping if the wagon top got loose and for meals. Stopping for a bit, Laura and Mary collected some wood for a fire. They paused their journey again so Charles could work on one of the horses' shoes.

The Ingalls wagon.

After continuing for a bit, Charles stops to trade in their horses, as they were too tired to continue. Laura, with Jack at her side, asks Pa what will happen to the horses, he says that some farmer will come along and buy them, and to stop fretting because they'll have three ponies by mid summer. "They're going to have a baby!" Laura proclaims, Charles says they're going to have a foal and asks Caroline if she's ready.

Caroline, Carrie and Mary come over to the wagon after they finished drying the laundry. Caroline remarks that the horses look like "sturdy little animals", Charles agrees and says that they made a good trade. Mary asks Pa if they can give them names, he agrees since they are part of the family now. Mary wants to call one horse Patty, Laura suggests naming the other horse Pat, since after looking under the horses she sees that he's a boy. Looking under them however did not sit well with Caroline, Charles finds this humorous though.

They then load up onto the wagon and continue onto Kansas, with Jack running alongside the wagon, only to get distracted for a moment by a baby calf he sees along the way.

Crossing the river.

The Ingalls continually travel along for a while but have to stop because their path is blocked by a river. Caroline asks Charles if he thinks they can get across, "I don't see why not" Charles replies. They attempt to cross the river in the wagon, while Jack however watches them from land. After barking a few times, Laura crawls up to the front of the wagon and asks Pa if Jack can ride in the wagon. Charles says that they can't stop now, and to not worry about him, Laura then is told to get back inside and to hold on to Carrie.

While Charles is crossing the river with the horses, Jack jumps into the water to follow them. Charles gives Caroline to reins and gets into the water to help the horses get across the rocks. After his head goes underwater, Caroline yells for him; he manages to get above and goes to the front of the horses to steer them.

After further maneuvering they finally get on the other side of the river. Laura tells Charles that she doesn't see Jack, Pa tells Laura that he probably washed down stream and he'll go get him. Charles tells Caroline and the girls to make camp while he looks for Jack.

Losing Jack and arriving in Kansas

Caroline and the girls wait for Charles by the campfire.

That evening, Charles still hasn't returned and his family is waiting around a fire for him. He returns, and Laura goes up to him and asks if he found Jack; "No", Charles replies. Pa goes up to the fire and gets a cup of coffee, Caroline asks if he thinks that Jack drowned. Charles says that it looks like it, Laura says that could look again tomorrow; Charles snaps back at Laura and says "I followed the river for miles, he's gone... I don't know how were going to manage without a good watchdog." her eyes swell up with tears and Charles goes to see to the ponies.

The next day, the Ingalls continue on their travels and Laura walks alongside the wagon. "Laura, come inside dear; it's too hot to walk in the sun," Caroline says after looking out the front of the wagon. "I'm not hot" Laura replies. Caroline says "then put your bonnet on...". Charles tells Caroline to let Laura be. That evening, Caroline puts Mary and Carrie to bed in the wagon and then goes outside and sees Laura, who is sitting outside the wagon.

Caroline walks over to the campfire and sits down next to Charles; he asks her if the children are asleep. "All but Laura", she replies. Caroline asks Charles how much longer; he says "Till we settle... I don't know". She tells him that they crossed into Kansas four days ago and asks him what he's looking for; Charles says that he'll know it when he sees it. Caroline says that the children are tired and the joy seems to have gone out of us, Charles replies that it'll pass and they had no future where they were and it was a hand to mouth existence at best. He says that "I want more then that for you and the children."

Charles and Caroline by the fire.

After a pause Charles continues: "A hundred a sixty acres free and clear from the government where I can plant and harvest my own crops and the owing to no man.. I want that." Laura walks over to the campfire and tells Ma that she heard something, Charles tells her that it's alright and it's just the winds or the grass. "It wasn't the wind" Laura replies; they then hear a sound in some nearby brush. Looking over there, they see Jack's furry head pop up and whine; "It's Jack!" Laura says in excitement, running over to see the soaked pup. Charles and Caroline also pay Jack a visit, "We've come so far, how did he find us?" Caroline asks. "Instinct... love." Charles replies while holding him is his arms. Continuing, Charles remarks: "We thank you Lord, for bringing our dear and good friend to us."

Later, Charles plays a tune on his fiddle by the campfire. "Sorry Pa" says Laura, who's standing by the campfire; "Sorry about what half pint?" replies Charles, "sorry for thinking that you didn't care about Jack when we thought he drowned". "Didn't care? I blamed myself for not putting him in the wagon when we crossed. I should have taken into account how tired he was... I was just full of guilt for letting him drown.", "But you only said that you were sorry that we didn't have a good watchdog anymore, " said Laura, "I guess I couldn't just find the words to say what was in my heart half pint." Laura runs up to Pa and hugs him.

The next morning Mary and Laura play with Jack while Caroline gets breakfast ready. After its is prepared, the Ingalls family have breakfast around the fire. Charles tells them that their about forty to fifty miles away from Independence. Thrilled, Caroline says that she can hardly wait to get there.", "We're not going there" Charles replies. Caroline asks why not and tells him that it would be good to see a town and people again. "Caroline, we didn't come all this way to see a town.", Charles remarks as he leaves the fire and goes off.

"What's the matter with Pa?" Laura asks, "Just tired..." Caroline continues, "like the rest of us". Charles yells for Caroline, she and the girls with Jack go over to him to look at the land that will be their new home.

Charles and Caroline  build the house on the prairie. They meet Mr. Edwards who is a bachelor who teaches Laura to spit. Mr. Edwards and Charles build the roof together there is a dance. The Mary, Laura, and Carrie go to bed. Mr. Edwards sings the song 'Old Dan Tucker'. Charles puts the roof on the house and there is a dirt floor.

Charles is going to make a hardwood floor . Charles and Caroline  decide that they are going to put Laura and Mary in school and church for the family. Mary, Laura and Carrie  put things on the beds . Patty is going to have a foal soon. Charles and Mr. Edwards are going to build a stable so the wolves don't get to the horses. the foal is going to be born soon. Laura watches the baby foal being born.

Charles is going to go hunting for game but the pack of wolves chase Charles and the horse. Charles drops the game and he gets home safe. Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Charles  go to bed and sleep. Laura and Charles watch the wolves outside the house and Charles tells her what happened while he was out hunting. The fireplace is built and so is a door. Caroline puts the china doll on the fireplace. Some Indians go into the house while Charles is out hunting again. Charles comes home with some game. Laura, Caroline and Mary tell Charles about the Indians. Charles is cross but he says sorry to Laura about what happened with the Indians. Charles is going to get fresh beef and be a cowboy. They got a cow and a calf. Winter is coming because the animals are getting heavy fur. Charles is going to Independence to post a letter. Caroline is using a spinning wheel to make something. Charles comes home and Caroline is happy.

Charles and Caroline run into some Indians outside their home, the girls watch. The chief gives Laura an amulet. The Indians are going to move somewhere. It is snowing outside. Christmas is coming. Caroline is plucking a turkey that Charles hunted for. Mr. Edwards is coming for Christmas. Mr. Edwards brings candy canes for the girls and sweet potatoes for Caroline. Caroline took kindly to Mr. Edwards.

Spring comes and the snow melts. Pa traded furs for a plow and seed. There is a fire in the house and rain comes. They are having dinner. The Indians are playing drums. Caroline is angry and upset shouting, 'go to sleep Carrie.' The drums are still playing. The Indians come in the house and Charles is pointing his gun at them. More plowing and planting the seeds. The family is tending to the crops and helping with the washing. Carrie goes to the outhouse. The crops are really tall. The soldiers come; they tell Charles that the family has to leave because the government threw them out. They say goodbye to Mr. Edwards. Charles is upset. They pack up the wagon and give Mr. Edwards the cow and calf which he can sell in Independence. They leave on the road to find Walnut Grove. 

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