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Gilligan was an evil genius. Prove me wrong.
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip... or was it?
Gilligan’s Island was a lighthearted, silly, oddball sitcom that originally aired from 1964 to 1967 and spawned decades of TV movies, reboots, spoofs, cartoons, merchandise, and even a musical. It followed the misadventures of five passengers who set sail one day for a three-hour tour from a tropic port aboard a tiny ship and ended up stranded on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere.
I sat through all three long seasons of this popular show, and I’ve concluded that Gilligan was an evil genius who orchestrated an elaborate plot to strand himself, the Skipper too, the millionaire and his wife, the movie star, the Professor, and Mary Ann on the island and keep them there forever. The following points provide sufficient evidence to prove my theory.
Point #1: Gilligan caused the shipwreck.
In season 3, episode 17, “Court Martial,” the castaways hear over their radio that the Skipper is being charged with causing the wreck of his ship, the SS Minnow. To prove his innocence, they build a model of the ship and re-create the events leading up to the wreck. They discover that when the weather started getting rough and the tiny ship was tossed, Gilligan “forgot” to attach the anchor to the ship before dropping it, which caused the ship to set shore on the ground of the uncharted desert isle. The Navy concludes that the accident was the fault of a radioman who read the wrong weather forecast, but that doesn’t absolve Gilligan of any responsibility.
Point #2: Gilligan foils every attempt to get rescued.
On 26 separate occasions, Gilligan was solely responsible for preventing the castaways from getting rescued.
Pilot – Gilligan “accidentally” catches both the transmitter and radio with his fishing line and casts them into the ocean. When the castaways retrieve the transmitter from the fish that swallowed it, Gilligan “accidentally” drops firewood on it and smashes it. When the castaways use fish to spell out “HELP” to signal a passing plane, Gilligan “accidentally” makes the P backwards so the message doesn’t make sense and the plane flies by.
Season 1, episode 3, “Voodoo Something to Me” – Gilligan “accidentally” fires the flare gun into the supply hut, igniting all the remaining flares so the castaways can’t use them to signal for help.
Season 1, episode 4, “Good Night Sweet Skipper” – Gilligan hears the Skipper talking about converting the radio into a transmitter in his sleep. The next day, the castaways try to help the Skipper fall asleep so he’ll have the dream again and they can find out how he did it, but Gilligan keeps “accidentally” waking him up. When the Professor finally writes down Skipper’s instructions and converts the radio, it doesn’t work. Gilligan hits the radio, supposedly trying to make it work, and smashes it.
Season 1, episode 5, “Wrongway Feldman” – Gilligan discovers a pilot named Wrongway Feldman has been living on the island, but he’s afraid to fly them back home, so Gilligan convinces Wrongway to teach him how to fly. When they get ready to take off, Gilligan just looks for fruit in the cockpit. He then allows Wrongway to take off by himself while the other castaways are asleep.
Season 1, episode 7, “The Sound of Quacking” – The castaways find a duck and plan to use it to deliver a message, but Gilligan “forgets” to attach the message to the duck before releasing it.
Season 1, episode 18, “X Marks the Spot” – The Professor tries to use a big mirror to signal an Air Force plane that’s flying over the island; Gilligan “accidentally” smashes it.
Season 1, episode 20, “St. Gilligan and the Dragon” – Gilligan attacks and destroys a weather balloon that may help the castaways get rescued, claiming he thought it was a “monster.” The next morning, the Professor comes up with a way to fix the weather balloon, but Gilligan has completely shredded it.
Season 1, episode 26, “Music Hath Charms” – Gilligan’s drumming makes a native tribe attack the island. The Professor thinks they can use their radio to scare the natives away, but Gilligan “accidentally” drops it and breaks it (again). When the castaways make peace with the tribe, they try to ask them for help, but Gilligan starts drumming again, prompting another tribe to attack the first tribe.
Season 1, episode 29, “Three to Get Ready” – Gilligan “accidentally” loses a supposedly magic stone that the Skipper says can grant three wishes. The castaways help Gilligan find the stone, and he uses his last wish to wish they were all “off the island,” which causes the land on which they’re standing to detach from the island and drift off into the lagoon, technically taking them “off the island.”
Season 1, episode 30, “Forget Me Not” – Gilligan and the Skipper are building a signal tower to contact the Navy while they’re conducting maneuvers nearby. Gilligan “accidentally” knocks over a supporting pole, which hits the Skipper on the head and gives him amnesia. Of course, the Skipper is the only one who knows how to use semaphore signals to communicate with the Navy. By the time the castaways get the Skipper back to normal, the Navy ships are gone.
Season 1, episode 32, “Physical Fitness” – The professor creates a glowing dye and plans to use it on a raft to make a beacon; Gilligan “accidentally” eats the dye.
Season 2, episode 4, “Smile, You’re on Mars Camera” – A NASA probe crashes on the island. Gilligan takes its lens and “accidentally” drops it. The Professor boils some tree sap to make glue to fix the lens, and Gilligan puts the lid on the pot, causing it to explode and cover everyone with sap. The castaways chase Gilligan into a pile of feathers in the supply hut, and the feathers stick to the sap. The probe takes photos of the castaways covered in sap and feathers, making the NASA scientists think they’re giant birds. As the castaways attempt to signal the scientists, Gilligan “accidentally” trips over the probe, knocking it down and destroying it beyond repair.
Season 2, episode 9, “Nyet, Nyet – Not Yet” – Two Russian cosmonauts crash land their spacecraft on the island. They use their transmitter to call a rescue boat to pick them up in the morning. Gilligan “accidentally” sets his watch for the wrong time zone, causing the castaways to oversleep and miss the boat.
Season 2, episode 12, “Don’t Bug the Mosquitoes” – When a rock band comes to the island, Gilligan plays the radio loudly, drowning out the sound of the band rehearsing so the castaways don’t know they’re there.
Season 2, episode 14, “Mine Hero” – The Skipper and Professor are building a raft with a time-release anchor. All the castaways donate whatever metal they have to make the anchor, but Gilligan refuses to give up his gold lucky charm.
Season 2, episode 17, “You’ve Been Disconnected” – A telephone wire washes up on the island, then gets washed away in a storm. The Professor says the water will corrode it and disconnect it, prompting the phone company to send someone to repair it. However, Gilligan covered the wire in tree sap, which will protect it from the water and keep it from corroding.
Season 2, episode 21, “Gilligan’s Living Doll” – An experimental Air Force robot lands on the island, and the castaways send it back through the ocean to deliver a message to Hawaii. Gilligan somehow manages to get his lucky rabbit’s foot lodged in the robot’s head, which de-magnetizes its memory tapes and erases the message.
Season 2, episode 23, “Ship Ahoax” – Ginger, pretending to be a fortune teller, predicts that Navy ships will come to the island when the moon is blue. Gilligan sees a blue moon but neglects to light the signal fire, supposedly thinking Ginger’s prediction was wrong. The Navy ships sail right by.
Season 3, episode 7, “Man with a Net” – A scientist comes to the island in search of a rare butterfly. He won’t take the castaways home until he finds the butterfly, so they try to help him find it. Gilligan finds it, but casually waves it away, ensuring that no one gets to leave.
Season 3, episode 15, “Gilligan Goes Gung-Ho” – The castaways elect the Skipper sheriff of the island, and he makes Gilligan his deputy. Gilligan locks all the castaways in a makeshift jail cell for minor crimes. While everyone’s in jail, a Coast Guard plane flies over the island, and no one can light the signal fire to alert it.
Season 3, episode 16, “Take a Dare” – A gameshow leaves a contestant on the island, challenging him to survive for one week. When the week is up, the Professor tells everyone to call out if they see a boat coming for the contestant, but a helicopter comes instead. Gilligan sees the helicopter but doesn’t call out supposedly because it’s not a boat.
Season 3, episode 18, “The Hunter” – A hunter comes to the island looking for game. When he finds none, he decides to hunt Gilligan. The castaways try to drug the hunter so they can use the radio in his helicopter, but Gilligan “accidentally” drinks the drugged punch instead.
Season 3, episode 22, “Splashdown” – A space capsule is orbiting over the island, so the castaways spell “SOS” in tree trunks to signal it. Gilligan “accidentally” sets himself on fire and messes up the trunks so the message spells “SOL.”
Season 3, episode 25, “The Secret of Gilligan’s Island” – Gilligan finds a piece of a stone tablet that the Professor thinks may provide directions for getting off the island. The castaways search the island for the other pieces of the tablet, but one piece is still missing. When they realize Gilligan has been using it as a tray, he “accidentally” drops it and shatters it.
Season 3, episode 27, “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane” – An experimental Air Force jetpack washes up on the island, and the Professor thinks it has just enough fuel to fly a message to Hawaii, but Gilligan “accidentally” activates it and burns most of the fuel. The Navy sends a plane to find the jetpack, so Gilligan volunteers to fly up and signal the plane. He flies into a cloud, and the exhaust from the jetpack makes it rain, causing the Navy to call off the search. The Professor makes some more fuel, and Gilligan “forgets” to strap himself into the jetpack before activating it, sending it up in the air without him.
Season 3, episode 28, “The Pigeon” – A homing pigeon lands on the island, and the castaways try to use it to send a message. Gilligan puts the pigeon in a cave that is also home to a giant spider. The castaways get the pigeon away from the spider, then Gilligan “forgets” to attach the message to the pigeon before releasing it.
Point #3: Gilligan gives the castaways hope, then dashes it at the last minute.
Gilligan’s always the one who discovers something that could help the castaways get home, either by fishing it out of the lagoon or randomly stumbling across it. Whatever he finds gives the castaways hope of being rescued before Gilligan dashes their hopes by screwing it up.
Point #4: Gilligan sacrifices himself for dangerous missions.
Whenever Gilligan’s screwups leave the castaways no option but to attempt something dangerous to get rescued, Gilligan always volunteers for the mission, supposedly as a way to make up for his previous mistakes. This inevitably leads to the castaways praising him for his braveness and nobility, but these missions provide Gilligan with even more opportunities to prevent them from being rescued.
Point #5: Gilligan earns the castaways’ trust by appearing slow-witted and well-meaning.
Gilligan makes sure the castaways see how supposedly dumb and clumsy he is through his ridiculous misunderstandings and so-called “accidents,” which usually result in the Skipper getting hurt or embarrassed. Gilligan can’t do anything without screwing up. It’s a bit much. No one’s that stupid and inept.
Point #6: Gilligan earns the castaways’ sympathy by running away when he upsets them.
As anyone would, the castaways often get angry at Gilligan for constantly ruining their chances of getting rescued. When this happens, Gilligan usually runs away to the other side of the island, claiming he plans to live out his days in seclusion so he doesn’t bother them. This always results in the castaways feeling sorry for him, finding him, and convincing him to come back.
Point #7: Gilligan saves the castaways’ lives.
You might be wondering why the castaways don’t kill Gilligan. It’s probably because he’s always saving their lives. When he’s not “accidentally” thwarting their attempts to get rescued, he’s “accidentally” saving them from headhunters, cannibals, dangerous weather, volcanoes, explosives, and radioactive materials.
Point #8: Everyone who comes to the island writes a note and leaves in the middle of the night.
It’s quite a coincidence that almost every single person who shows up on the island happens to disappear while the castaways are asleep and leave a note explaining why. If they’re sneaking off in the middle of the night, why would they bother to leave a note? There’s no need for them to explain why they left. As far as they know, the castaways are stranded on the island forever. They’ll never see these people again. So who cares if they know why they left? It’s possible that Gilligan convinces everyone to sneak off and then writes the notes himself. We never actually see the notes. They may all be in the same handwriting.
Theory #1: Gilligan wants companionship.
Gilligan is a lonely man who fears that if the castaways are rescued, he’ll never hear from them again. As they’re his only friends, he keeps them stranded on the island with him so they’re forced to keep him company for the rest of his life.
Theory #2: Gilligan wants revenge.
All of the castaways wronged Gilligan in some way, and he stranded them on the island as part of a very elaborate revenge plot a la Boris Karloff in The Man They Could Not Hang. He arranged it so they would all be traveling on the same ship at the exact place and time that a storm was going to hit. He replaced the harbor radioman’s weather report with the previous day’s report so the Skipper wouldn’t know about the storm, then he purposely neglected to attach the anchor to the ship so the ship would wreck on the island. He then orchestrated all the crazy misadventures that took place on the island as a way to torment his enemies.
Theory #3 Gilligan is a mad scientist.
Gilligan is a scientist conducting some kind of cruel social experiment. He convinced the Skipper to hire him as first mate on the SS Minnow and seized the opportunity when the ship hit rough waters to steer it toward the uncharted island and strand everyone there. He then proceeded to toy with their emotions and observe and study them to collect data for his experiment.
Theory #4: Gilligan is an alien.
Gilligan is really an alien from another planet sent to earth to study human emotions. Perhaps the island is really some sort of simulation created on Gilligan’s home planet, which is why the castaways can never leave. He purposely selected a group of people with different backgrounds and personalities to observe how they react in extreme circumstances. However, they’re not culturally diverse, which could imply that he intends to repeat this experiment multiple times with different groups of people.
Further evidence of this theory is the fact that Gilligan doesn’t have a first name (despite rumors claiming it’s “Willy”). If he was a human being, he would have both a first and last name, but although every other character is introduced with a first and last name on a radio broadcast in the original pilot and the series premier, Gilligan is only referred to as “Gilligan” with no other name.
Theory #5: Gilligan is the devil.
The castaways didn’t survive the crash. The island is actually Hell and Gilligan is the devil. The castaways all committed grave sins in their lives, and they were all killed when the SS Minnow capsized in the storm. As punishment, they’re forced to spend eternity on this island, where they’re tormented with hopes of being rescued only to have their hopes dashed over and over again.
No matter which theory you believe, one thing is clear: Gilligan was an evil genius.