Little House on the Prairie

Season 3 Episode 3


Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Oct 04, 1976 on NBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary


Nellie mistreats Laura's horse Bunny, prompting Laura to secret action.

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  • nellie makes laura her slave

    Going for a ride on bunny. After whipping her, nellie oleson is ran into a tree nellie is paralyzed, for a while,then little monster has laura do her work for her and then harriet buys her everything,like dolls,expensive dolls, a doll house,doll dresses, then pretends to to be paralyzed to get stuff . a brat she is.
  • Nellie Oleson leads everyone to believe that she is paralyzed after a fall from Bunny.

    This episode presents Nellie at her very worst. When she whips Bunny just to upset Laura, the horse takes off running, with Nellie on board. The horse runs straight into a stand of trees, and Nellie falls--hard. At the Oleson house, the family and Laura stand around tensely while Doc Baker pokes Nellie in the feet with needles--no reaction. The doctor assures that the Olesons that the paralysis is only temporary, but of course Mrs. Oleson freaks out and berates Laura, after which she orders Nels to "shoot that horse". Laura dashes outside and rides Bunny home, where she hides her in the barn. In the following weeks, out of a huge sense of guilt, Laura spends every afternoon at Nellie's bedside, helping her keep up with her schoolwork--all while her own schoolwork and chores suffer. Just when Charles and Caroline are about to put a stop to Laura's Florence Nightengale routine, Mrs. Oleson shows up at the Ingalls homestead--and finds Laura in the barn with Bunny. Mrs. Oleson demands that Laura turn over the horse; she refuses, instead riding to the Olesons, where she hopes to talk Nellie into telling her mother that the accident wasn't Bunny's fault. But before Laura can knock, she witnesses Nellie dancing around happily in the living room. Realizing she's been majorly duped, she knocks, is invited in, and tells Nellie that Mrs. Oleson asked her to take her for a walk in her chair. Laura proceeds to take her tormentor to the highest point in town, and when Mrs. Oleson drives by, Laura sends the wheelchair--with Nellie in it--careening down the hill and into a pond. Nellie, of course, is forced to stand to keep from drowning. Mrs. Oleson promptly faints and falls out of the buggy. Flash forward to Laura sitting on the steps of the mercantile. Mr. Oleson comes out, and as Laura attempts to apologize for her actions, he gently takes her hand and informs her that the horse will be going home with her permanently. This episode is classic Little House--a must see for all true series fans.moreless
  • Nellie Oleson at her artful best as she pretends to be paralysed after a fall from Bunny, the pony Laura sold to Nels in order to buy the stove for Caroline.moreless

    Bunny is a kind and gentle horse, but his mistreatment by Nellie Oleson pushes him a shade too far and a predictable accident occurs. Nellie ends up with a mild concussion and supposed paralysis, both of which Mrs.Oleson blames on Laura.

    Bowed down with undererved guilt, Nellie turns Laura into her own personal slave, having her fetching, carrying and doing her homework for her as Mrs. Oleson buys her everything under the sun to make her 'feel better'. When Laura accidently learns that Nellie is faking her injuries, she sets about unmasking the lie in a way that will leave nobody in any doubt.

    Fantastic episode!moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Charlotte Stewart

Charlotte Stewart

Miss Eva Beadle/Mrs. Simms (1974 - 1978)

Michael Landon

Michael Landon

Charles Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Eric Shea

Eric Shea


Guest Star

Alison Arngrim

Alison Arngrim

Nellie Oleson

Recurring Role

Jonathan Gilbert

Jonathan Gilbert

Willie Oleson

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • This is not the last time that a hurting parent blames Laura for an accident involving their daughter. See Season 4 episode My Ellen.

    • Bunny was a male in "Christmas At Plum Creek", then female in "Bunny", then male in "The Race", then female again in "Journey In The Spring".
      It seems the writers couldn't make up their mind what the gender of the horse really was!

    • This is the first time we see Bunny since a year and a half ago, in Season 1's Christmas at Plum Creek, when Laura gave him to Nellie. It's unusual that this would be the first time that we hear about Nellie mistreating the horse, and as Mary and Laura talk about it, they make it sound like Laura gave the horse away to Nellie recently.

    • The final line in this episode is spoken by Nellie, who says "I'll fix you, Laura Ingalls. I'll fix you!" This sounds like a set-up for a "to be continued" story arc, but future episodes do not show Nellie trying particularly hard to torment Laura, at least not for the reason presented at the end of this episode.

    • Nellie gets soaked from head to toe when Laura pushes her down the hill and into the lake, but in the final scene, which obviously takes place the same afternoon, she is completely dry, her curls are intact, and she's wearing the exact same blue nightgown that got drenched before. This makes no sense and is a classic example of poor continuity.

    • Allison Arngrim is clearly wearing braces in this episode. They're visible in several scenes: when she's yelling at Laura while whipping Bunny; as she's screaming while careening downhill in her wheelchair; and in the final scene, when she screams about how much she hates Laura and yells at Willie to get out of her room.

    • Look closely at Doc Baker's (Kevin Hagen's) left thumbnail in the scene where he's poking Nellie's foot with the needle for the first time. He must have had an accident shortly before this scene was filmed, because the nail is clearly "dead", flattened with a purplish-grey hue, and ready to fall off. It's really disgusting, and it leads the viewer to wonder why, if they had to do such a close-up, did they not have Hagen use his other hand?

    • At the end of the episode, when Laura knocks on the Olesons' door, Nellie makes a mad dash for her wheelchair and sits down. When she does, she is clearly stepping on the bottom of her nightgown with her right foot outstretched. However, in the next shot, the whole nightgown is comfortably above her feet, and it remains that way for the rest of the scene.

    • When Nellie takes a swan dive into the water (after Laura pushes her down the hill), look closely for the waterdrops that settle on the camera that's used for filming. It's only for a brief second, so you have to really watch for it.

    • Laura's friend Jason returns in this episode, but unlike Season 2's "The Talking Machine" he is much more interested in fishing than performing science experiments.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Laura: It wasn't Bunny's fault.
      Harriet: I think I'm capable of determining where the fault lies, Laura Ingalls! You traded that dangerous animal to Nellie in exchange for a stove that cost a great deal of money.
      Nels: Harriet, you're upset.
      Harriet: I have a right to be upset! Let me tell you something, Laura Ingalls. If anything happens to my Nellie, it's all your fault.

    • Laura: Is Mrs. Oleson all right?
      Nels: Oh, yes. She's just a bit shaken up is all. The doc says she'll be just fine.
      Laura: I didn't mean to scare her like that. I was just so angry.
      Nels: Well, I don't blame you. Nellie has done some nasty things in the past, but this.......
      Laura: Oh, I'm not angry anymore. I'm just so happy she's all right.
      Nels: So am I, Laura. So am I.

    • Nels: You're quite a little girl.
      Laura: Mrs. Oleson won't be angry at Bunny anymore, will she?
      Nels: Well, it wouldn't make much sense for her to be angry at your horse, now would it?
      Laura: My horse?
      Nels: Yes, that's what I said. You know, an animal is no different from a person. It needs to be with someone who loves it. Take her home.
      Laura: Thanks, Mr. Oleson. (hugs him)

    • Willie: (after seeing his sister stand up and walk) There's nothing wrong with you!
      Nellie: (closes door, covers his mouth with her hand) Not a sound, you hear me? Not a sound!
      Willie: I'm telling!
      Nellie: You listen to me. You say anything, and I'll say you're lying. You know they'll believe me, because you lie more than I do. But if you don't say anything, I'll give you chocolate and gumdrops. Lots of them. What do you say?
      Willie: I won't tell. But what are you doing it for?
      Nellie: The longer I'm sick, the more things I'll get.
      Willie: We'll get!

    • Laura: What are you doing?
      Charles: Oh, just fixing up this old wheelchair for Nellie until she gets her new one.
      Laura: But she doesn't need a wheelchair, Pa. She's going to be all right again.
      Charles: We don't know that for sure.
      Laura: I do. I know it. I pray to God every night. He'll listen to me.
      Charles: Half-Pint, now you listen to me--
      Laura: No. I won't listen to you. God will fix everything. You wait and see. You wait and see!

    • Mrs. Oleson: I hope you're proud of yourself, Laura Ingalls, now that you've made my little girl crippled!

    • Mrs Oleson: [From wagon at bottom of hill] Laura Ingalls! What have you done with that filthy horse?
      Laura: [from top of hill with wheel-chair bound Nellie] Nellie, your mother wants you. [pushes Nellie down hill]

    • Nellie: I'll fix you Laura Ingalls!

  • NOTES (3)

    • This is Alison Arngrim's (Nellie) favorite episode, particularly the scene in which she goes down the hill in the wheelchair.

    • Katherine MacGregor (Harriet Oleson) has often laughed about how her fainting scene at the end was filmed. There was supposed to be something underneath her that made her slide while somebody caught her, but her dress didn't permit her to slide, so she went straight down without anyone breaking her fall.

    • On screen, Alison Arngrim is credited as guest star - because she has a leading role in this episode.


  • 10:00 pm
    48 Hours