Little House on the Prairie

Season 9 Episode 8

The Return Of Nellie

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Nov 15, 1982 on NBC
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Episode Summary

The Return Of Nellie
The Olesons are absolutely thrilled to learn that Nellie is returning home for a visit, but Nancy is not too pleased about sharing the spotlight. Tension flies as Nellie receives all kinds of attention from everyone in town, and despite Nellie's efforts, Nancy refuses to build any relationship with her older sister. Nancy's resentment and loneliness prompt her to run away to the woods, where she gets lost and faces serious danger.moreless

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Dean Butler

Dean Butler

Almanzo James Wilder (co-star prior to season 7)

Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Stan Ivar

Stan Ivar

John Carter (1982 - 1983)

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • While in Laura and Almanzo's house, Nellie is clearly wearing a different wig than the one she wears in the rest of the episode.  The wig she wears in this scene has curls and is much more flattering.

    • Seeing that Reverend Alden knew Nellie when she was little it's unusual that he was not at her birthday party.

    • When Nellie and Dr. Baker are talking they are talking about the events in the "Bunny" episode where she lied about her not being able to walk.

    • When Nellie picks up Nancy's essay, glances at it and asks what it is about, it's at least a full five seconds before Nancy snatches it back and says "Ask Miss Plum after I've turned it in." Later, we find out that the essay was titled "Why I Hate My Life." Given that Nellie glanced at the paper for at least a few seconds, it's surprising that she didn't notice what it was about right away--and yet she didn't seem to have a clue.

    • When Nancy leaves Nellie's party, she walks across the street and right through the mercantile doors without using a key. I understand that theft wasn't as big of a problem as it is in today's world, but it still seems very strange that Harriet and Nels wouldn't lock their store up at night.

    • Watch closely when Harriet dips her finger into the cake frosting and says, "Ooooh, that's so good, Hester Sue!" Her finger doesn't appear to touch the frosting at all, and it almost looks like it is done in fast forward motion.

    • In this episode, Laura shares with Almanzo the events of a Season 4 episode called "The Rivals." She tells Almanzo how she and Nellie competed over a boy named Jeremy Dodds, but actually the boy's name was Jimmy Hill. Big goof on the writers' part!
      Laura also said in this episode that she and Nellie fought for the boy's affections, but that's not true; the competition was between Laura and a girl named Sam.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Almanzo: (after Laura tells him about the apples incident) So, who was this Jeremy Dodds?
      Laura: Just a boy.
      Almanzo: One you liked enough to stuff apples in your dress for?
      Laura: I never tied his tie. (they kiss)

    • Nellie: (about Nancy) I know I was temperamental at her age, but I was never that bad.....was I?
      (her parents are silent for a minute, then they start laughing hysterically)

    • Nellie: Is this your essay?
      Nancy: Yes.
      Nellie: What's it about?
      Nancy: Ask Miss Plum after I've turned it in.
      Nellie: Nancy.....I would like to be friends with you, but I can't make that happen all by myself. You have to want it, too. Do you think you'd be willing to try?

    • Laura: I meant to ask you--how are things going with Nancy?
      Nellie: Don't ask.
      Laura: That bad, huh?
      Nellie: That bad.
      Laura: Well, if it's any consolation to you, she does not get along with anyone.
      Nellie: I don't blame her. It's Mother. She did it with me, and now she's doing the same thing to Nancy.
      Laura: You were never that bad.
      Nellie: I was hoping you'd say that!

    • Nels: (about Nancy) Harriet, you are finally going to have to do something about that child. I don't know what, but in the past few days, she's gotten almost as bad as when she first came here.
      Harriet: (hears Nancy slamming and breaking things upstairs) Oh dear....what's she done now?
      Nels: Well, among other things, she poured ink all over Willie's head.
      Harriet: Oh, the poor know, Nels, she probably....she probably isn't getting enough attention.
      Nels: Not enough attention? That's all she gets is attention! Harriet, something has got to be done!

    • Nellie: Look at you, you're all grown up!
      Laura: Well, so are you.
      Nellie: I've missed you.
      Laura: Oh, I've missed you, too.
      Nellie: I can't believe we're saying this to each other! Remember how we used to fight?
      Laura: I sure do!
      Nellie: I wonder if you can still beat me up.
      Laura: I don't know. Wanna fight?

    • Nellie: I can't get over that essay. Nancy truly views herself as a helpless victim, surrounded by people who hate her.
      Nels: Every day, we prove to her the exact opposite. How could she possibly think that?
      Nellie: I don't know. But Mother's always saying how much Nancy looks like me.
      Nels: It's true.
      Nellie: Well, maybe she thinks that's the only reason you adopted her.
      Nels: Well, I admit it started out that way, but it's not true anymore.
      Nellie: Then I think you need to prove it to her.
      Nels: How?
      Nellie: I'm not sure. But she did get ignored a lot since I've arrived.
      Nels: She did?
      Nellie: Think about it. I guess it was a time when we should have made an extra effort to pay more attention to her.

    • Nellie: And this must be Nancy! Oh, Mother, you're absolutely right! Why, she's just a picture of me at that age.
      Nancy: I've seen pictures of you when you were my age. We don't look at all alike. I'm way prettier.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Alison Arngrim (Nellie) has said that all the scenes where her character reunites with other characters in the episode (such as Mr. Edwards, Almanzo, and Laura) were largely improvisational. In other words, Arngrim would walk up to all of them, and they would hug and say how much they missed her and how much she had grown, and these were all comments directed right to the actress as the camera simply filmed it, because Arngrim really had been away from the show for a while, and she just came back for this one episode.

    • This is the first and only time that Alison Arngrim (Nellie) and Allison Balson (Nancy) appear in an episode together. In previous interviews, Arngrim has said, "She and I had a lot in common; she was very funny."

    • Allison Balson was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress in a Drama Series for this episode.

    • Featured characters: The Olesen family (particularly Nancy)