Gilligan's Island Wiki
"High Man on the Totem Pole"
Season 3, Episode 23
Gilligan discovers he's a look-a-like for an ancient head-hunter god.
Basic Info
Air Date: February 27, 1967
Written By: Brad Radnitz
Directed By: Herbert Coleman
Guest Cast: Jim Lefebvre, Al Ferrara and Pete Sotos as Natives
Episode guide
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High Man on the Totem Pole is the 91st episode of Gilligan's Island and the 23rd episode of the Third Season. It first aired on February 27, 1967.


While misdirected in the jungle and trying to find their way back to camp, the Skipper and Gilligan find a totem pole and show it to the Professor. At the top of it is a head that is a dead ringer for Gilligan, leading him to believe he is the descendant of a Kupaki headhunter. Unsure of his identity, he becomes obsessed with the likeness, both Ginger and the Howells trying to snap him out of it, but everything seems to remind him of it. When Gilligan tries eliminating the cause of his distress by chopping the head off the pole, the Skipper points out the hypocrisy of chopping off its head. Unsure of how to behave, Gilligan decides to leave camp, but the Professor challenges his fear by handing him an axe and offering his own head. Realizing he's not a headhunter, Gilligan tosses the axe out of the window. Meanwhile, real Kupaki warriors appear on the Island and discover that someone has defaced the head of Mashuka, their divine king on the sacred pole and cry out for revenge. They're discovered by the Skipper and Professor trying to return the head to the totem pole. After the Kupaki capture the Howells, the Professor tries to rescue them by having Gilligan impersonate their dead king. While getting him ready, the Professor and the other castaways are taken captive. Gilligan is left alone to rescue everyone, but his fear and uncertainty of their language leaves them suspicious that he is Mashuka. When they try capturing him, Gilligan runs past the totem pole and stumbles behind it, knocking into view the missing head from the pole. Realizing they dishonored their divine ancestor, the Kupaki are terrified and flee the island in fear. The following morning, Gilligan reveals he's repaired the totem pole, replacing the head up top with the likeness of Mr. Howell to take his turn as Mashuka.


  • "Superstition is a two-way street."


  • Bob Denver again delivers a powerful performance
  • Gilligan throwing a boomerang and it flies back around onto Skipper's neck.
  • The Professor delivers very astute psychological advice


Main Cast

Guest Cast


  • The episode opens with Gilligan and the Skipper lost in an unfamiliar part of the small island and they decide they're lost, but being a small island, any route to the shore should have lead them back to camp.
  • In Native American culture, the low man on the totem pole is the most important, not the high one. While Polynesian tribes carried their gods and spirits with idols and totems, they were not known for making totem poles.
  • The Professor identifies the totem pole as belonging to the Kupaki natives. It is possible they may be related to the Marubi natives who left the relics discovered in Two on a Raft.
  • The exterior of the Boy's Hut is used for the interior of the Supply Hut.
  • The Bamboo Island Taxi makes an appearance in this episode.
  • The Professor shows incredible psychological insight to get Gilligan out of his depression.
  • According to the Professor, the Kupaki translation for "Free the prisoners" is "Pulu si Bagumba," but Gilligan has a hard time saying it.
  • Gilligan responds extremely careless by hurling the axe out of the hut since he could have fatally struck either the Howells or the girls.


  • Skipper - "Gilligan, don't you understand English? Kupaki."
    Gilligan - "If that's English, I went to the wrong school!"

  • Gilligan - "Don't say the word dead... Not while I'm alive."

  • Skipper - "The Professor said that was just a coincidence."
    Gilligan - "Yeah, I know what he said, but if two people have a face like mine, it's not a coincidence."
    Skipper - "That's right, Gilligan... it would be a catastrophe!"

  • Gilligan - "Okay, but if you wake up in the morning and don't have a head, don't come crying to me!"

  • Mrs. Howell - "Would you like to stay with Mr. Howell... you can help count $1000 bills."
    Mr. Howell - "And you can keep the ones that are upside down."

  • Ginger - "Now, what does that totem pole got that I don't?"
    Gilligan - "Three heads..."
    Ginger - (looking back at the totem pole) "You win."

  • Skipper - "You just left him sitting there?"
    Ginger - "Well, two's company, but three's a crowd!"

  • Gilligan - "I didn't want to say anything, but there's ghosts on the island."
    Skipper - "They're not ghosts, Gilligan; those are real Kupaki head-hunters."
    Gilligan - "Now, there's good news."

  • Mrs. Howell - "Thurston, I didn't know we were invited to dinner."
    Mr. Howell - "I'm afraid, Lovey, we are the dinner."

  • Gilligan - "Pulu see Bagoomba."
    Professor - "That's right now hit the words hard and sound like you're mad."
    Gilligan - "Pugie loo kimbammba!"
    Professor - "No! No. Pulu see Bagoomba. Now, try it again."

  • Mrs. Howell - "Thurston, what did he say?"
    Mr. Howell - "I don't know, but it sounded like, 'Cheerio, old chap.'"