Little House on the Prairie

Season 1 Episode 16

Family Quarrel

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Jan 15, 1975 on NBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary


After having a huge argument with his wife in the mercantile, Nels leaves the house and moves into a hotel room down the street. To the surprise of everyone in the town, the problem worsens, and the town wonders if this is the end for the Olesons.


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  • This episode is quite funny as we see Mrs. Olseon, whom we all love to hate, having a fight with her long-suffering husband, Nils, and deciding to pack up and leave.moreless

    Nils Olseon is a very, VERY patient man. He puts up with a great deal from his impossible wife, Harriett, and their equally impossible children, Nellie and Willie. Mostly, he manages to shrug everything off but this time, enough is enough and, after a particularly prolonged disagreement, he packs his bags and moves into a room at a local hotel.

    Like most quarrels, the people of Walnut Grove are convinced that everything will blow over and all will be well but when Harriet announces that she is taking Nellie and Willie and leaving Walnut Grove permanently, Charles and Caroline decide to step in and se what they can do to help out.

    Plenty of humour to be had in this one. Worth watching.moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

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

Karl Swenson

Karl Swenson

Mr. Lars Hanson (1974 - 1978)

Ruth Foster

Ruth Foster

Mrs. Foster

Recurring Role

Alison Arngrim

Alison Arngrim

Nellie Oleson

Recurring Role

Jonathan Gilbert

Jonathan Gilbert

Willie Oleson

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • "Family Quarrel" is Katherine MacGregor's (Harriet Oleson) favorite episode from season 1.

    • It seems a little odd and insensitive that all the Walnut Grove churchgoers hung around outside while Reverend Alden was inside, trying to help Nels and Harriet resolve their differences. Granted, some people are a little more nosy than others, but people like the Ingalls family and Doc Baker would typically be more respectful of another family's privacy. Furthermore, how on Earth did everyone even know that Reverend Alden was talking to the Olesons' after church services? It's not likely that it was just floating around town, and it's even more unlikely that Reverend Alden asked Nels and Harriet to stay afterward, in front of the whole congregation.

    • Although the scene where Mr. Hanson pretends to woo Harriet Oleson is intended to be funny, it's actually inappropriately placed, given the time period. In that day, marital affairs and any kinds of infidelity were nowhere near what they are today, and it would have been incredibly unlikely that a townsperson thought to do something like that, no matter the circumstances. Therefore, the writers should have more closely considered what time era they were dealing with.

    • Look quickly for the man in the checked shirt, dark vest and hat, who follows Mrs. Foster into the store just as the Olesons open the doors. Could this be the elusive Mr. Foster? When Charles (holding Carrie) enters the stockroom to talk to Nels, the viewer can briefly see Mrs. Foster in the store, turning to ask this man a question, while holding some merchandise. As nobody addresses this mystery man by name during the scene, however, the viewer can only presume that this is indeed Mr. Foster.

    • In this episode, Charles says that Harriet and Nels have been building up to a falling-out for years. But since the Ingalls had only known the Olesons for a few months at this point, how could he know that?
      Reply: Charles may be speaking based on what he has heard about the Olesons from fellow community members, as well as the obvious reality that Nels and Harriet didn't just start arguing all of a sudden in their marriage.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Reverend Alden: Please, Mr. and Mrs. Oleson, there must be forgiveness!
      Nels: Forgiveness? Oh, no, Reverend, don't you tell me about forgiveness until you've lived with a woman like that!

    • Mary: Did Willie say anything to you today?
      Laura: Yeah. "Shut up," like he always does.
      Mary: Oh...well, I'm sure he didn't mean it.
      Laura: Then why'd he say it?
      Mary: Well, Pa says people say things they don't mean because they're not happy inside.
      Laura: Willie must be awfully unhappy inside.

    • Mary: Maybe we've quarreled once in a while, but we've been good friends, haven't we?
      Nellie: I don't have any better friends.

    • Caroline: I don't understand.
      Harriet: These eggs are not up to standard.
      Nels: There's nothing wrong with those eggs, Harriet.
      Harriet: I think I'll be the judge of that.
      Nels: Judge? You're not the judge of anything. You want to know what you are? I'll tell you what you are. You are a mean, nasty-tempered woman, and it would be better off--
      Harriet: Who are you calling nasty-tempered?
      Nels: It would be better off for this whole town if you were locked away and fed with a stick! You have made life miserable for--
      Harriet: Why, you frightful mouse!
      Nels: Oh, is that so? Well, it's about time I put my foot down. It's about time you learned who wears the pants in this family. From now on, I will judge the eggs around here!
      Harriet: (stunned) Fine. Fine, you go right ahead and judge them! (dumps eggs over his head and storms out)

  • NOTES (5)

    • Filming Locations: Filmed at Big Sky Ranch, Simi Valley and Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California.

    • Watch for a cute moment in the scene where Nels and Harriet storm out of the Church after Reverend Alden's failed attempt to help them. Doc Baker is holding Laura piggyback, and she is wearing his hat.

    • Featured characters: The Olesons

    • This is the only episode that shows Nels Oleson's dog. He seems to disappear after that.
      Reply: The dog is actually seen again in Season 3's The Collection.

    • Look closely at the end credits on this one when Melissa Gilbert (as Laura Ingalls) is running down the hill and pretending to glide like an eagle. Normally, the shot freezes as her arms are up in the air. In this episode, however, the camera keeps rolling and we see "Laura's" arms go back down and she stands there for a couple of seconds.