Little House on the Prairie

Season 4 Episode 18

The Inheritance

2
Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Feb 06, 1978 on NBC
6.6
out of 10
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60 votes
2

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Episode Summary

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The Inheritance
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When Charles learns that he's inherited the estate of a wealthy uncle, the Ingalls family find themselves on the brink of a new way of life.

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  • Charles inherits the estate of a wealthy uncle and the Ingalls family suddenly have money to burn.

    7.5
    Charles and Caroline are stunned when they learn that Charles's uncle has passed away and left them a fortune. Naturally, the whole town is soon agog with the news and people are falling all over themselves to tell them how to spend their new-found wealth. Happily, Charles agrees to supply a new church organ, books for the school and a plethora of other things. Caroline and the girls are dizzy with delight and Mrs. Oleson wants to be their new best friend - as long as they spend a large sum of money in the mercantile, of course!



    Everyone is delighted until a lawyer has to inform Charles that his uncle's estate has been eaten away by debt and all that is left is a large box of useless Confederate money. Just when it looks as though the Ingalls' will lose everything to their creditors, including Mrs. Oleson, their true friends step in as the auctioneer comes to town.



    We never did see that fine toolbox again. I wonder why?moreless
  • Charles receives an inheritance from one of his relatives. Everybody tries to tell Charles how to spend the money. Charles spends the money without realizing that it was confederate money. This almost caused him to lose his entire farm.moreless

    8.0
    When the Ingalls’ learn that they are coming into a lot of money, after Mr. Ingalls' wealthy Uncle Ned (who Charles only met once when he was 5) dies leaving him everything. The Ingalls’ are targeted by their friends who want favours, including Rev. Alden and the School. Mrs Olsen changes her opinion of the Ingalls’ now they “have” money. The Ingalls’ inevitably run up a lot of bills; which they find they can't pay when they discover the estate was "eaten up by debts, court costs, & legal fees" except for a box which when they open it, discover that it is filled with money --- Confederate money (useless in the post-war North). To try and pay for the account at the Mercantile Charles has to put almost everything he owns up for auction at the instance of Mrs Olsen. The town’s people, including Mr Olsen rally to help the Ingalls save their farm and belongings.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)

Allan Rich

Allan Rich

Otto Ripley

Guest Star

Michael Prince

Michael Prince

Roger Whitehead

Guest Star

Michael Flanagan

Michael Flanagan

Harvey Woods

Guest Star

Merlin Olsen

Merlin Olsen

Jonathan Garvey

Recurring Role

Patrick Labyorteaux

Patrick Labyorteaux

Andy Garvey

Recurring Role

Hersha Parady

Hersha Parady

Alice Garvey

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (4)

    • It is heavily implied that the Ingalls got to keep everything they bought from the mercantile, and yet we never see the fancy outfits or any of the other items ever again.
      Reply: It was obvious that the girls felt uncomfortable in the fancy dresses (particularly Laura), because they were so different from what they were used to, and maybe using the merchandise would bring back bad memories, so they didn't use them. A better question is why the Ingalls family couldn't return at least some of the items to the mercantile. The dresses were still like new, and I'm sure the tools and Caroline's watch were returnable, too. We never see Charles even ask Nels and Harriet if he can do this.

    • At the end of the first scene, when a guest is coming to the Ingalls place, Caroline says, "I know it's bad news," and when they show a close-up shot of her, you can see that she has a split lower lip. She uncomfortably tries to hide it with her hand after she speaks her line, but it is very noticeable.
      Reply: Caroline's lip is actually not split. Carrie was complaining about the pins in her dress hurting her so Caroline went to take the one hurting her out, and holds the pin between her teeth. If you look closely you can see that the pin extends past her lip, and when she puts her hand to her mouth its just to grab hold of the pin.

    • In the "gift exchange" scene between Charles and Caroline, Charles mentions that his birthday is "only three weeks away," then adds that Caroline's is "three months away." Actually, the real Caroline Ingalls was born on December 12, and Charles was born on January 10. This comment makes no sense, therefore, and the writers created a historically inaccurate scene by failing to do a little research.

    • In this episode, we see Caroline fitting little Carrie for a red calico dress that used to belong to Laura. Longtime fans will instantly recognize this dress, since Laura wore it in the pilot movie, Season 1's Country Girls, and several other episodes from the very early years. Interestingly, we never see Carrie actually wear this dress after Caroline tailors it for her.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Charles: (about the debt he has with the Olesons) Would it make a difference if I begged?
      Harriet: (taken aback) Mr. Ingalls, I'm sorry, but people just should not spend money they don't have. (long pause, Charles leaves, Harriet turns to Nels) Oh, don't give me that look! You're the one who extended the credit to him. You know you wanted to make a sale just as much as I did!
      Nels: (silence, looks down at the floor ) God forgive me. You're right.

    • Laura: Why do you keep following us, anyway?
      Nellie: Because you're my friends.
      Laura: Well, you never used to walk with us before, when we were poor!

    • Nellie: My mother says they've inherited more money than they know what to do with.
      Mrs. Simms: Nellie! Sit down!
      Nellie: Well, rich people are supposed to help others.
      Mrs. Simms: Stand in the corner.
      (Willie walks to the corner also)
      Nellie: Not you!
      Willie: I'm sorry, I'm so used to it being me.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Andy Garvey is sitting in a large leather chair at his house in one scene. Not only is this Chippendale style chair out of place in the home, but it looks incredibly expensive, and appears to have been purchased from a furniture store right before this episode was filmed.

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • The plot of this episode is similar to other episodes of programs in which someone comes into a lot of money, only to determine it is counterfeit (or, in this case, confederate). The plot may have been taken from Gone With the Wind.

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