"How to Be a Hero"
Season 1, Episode 23
After the Skipper saves Mary Ann's life in the lagoon, Gilligan develops an inferiority complex.
Basic Info
Air Date: March 6, 1965
Written By: Herbert Finn and Alan Dinehart
Directed By: Tony Leader
Guest Cast: Russ Grieve as The Headhunter
Episode guide
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How to Be a Hero is the 23rd episode of the first season. It first aired on March 6, 1965.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

A headhunter comes ashore on the island unseen and watches from afar as Mary Ann nearly drowns in the lagoon. Gilligan overhears her cries for help and jumps into the lagoon to save her, but she pulls him under the water. The Skipper saves them both, and the Howells are so intrigued by the rescue that they take photos to remember the incident. Gilligan is completely forgotten despite the effort he made and wanders off into the jungle. His depression leads to him going to Mrs. Howell for advice and she psychoanalyzes him. She later tells the Skipper and Mr. Howell that he feels insignificant, and the Skipper decides to boost Gilligan's spirits by pretending to be trapped under a tree. Watching from the trees, the headhunter starts sneaking up on him but is forced to hide himself from Gilligan and Mary Ann. At the scene, Gilligan is unsure what to do, even as the Skipper tries to tell Gilligan himself, but Gilligan gets himself caught too. It's up to the Professor to save them both, and Gilligan is left behind to discover the headhunter by himself. When he tries to warn everyone, Gilligan is accused of having delusions. Mrs. Howell sedates him then later pretends to be scared of a spider. Gilligan comes to her rescue, but he knocks himself out on a beam. Eager to help his little buddy, the Skipper decides that since Gilligan has claimed to see a headhunter that he'll impersonate one and take everyone prisoner for Gilligan to save them. Gilligan, however, overhears the plan, as the real headhunter takes Ginger, Mary Ann and the Professor hostage. After taking the Howells are taken captive as well, Gilligan pretends to stumble on the scene. Thinking the headhunter is the Skipper, he provokes and teases the headhunter around in circles, eventually causing him to knock himself out cold on a tree. By now, the Skipper has finally appeared, and Gilligan is puzzled by the second headhunter. Together, they face the real headhunter and Gilligan turns to flee, returning to save the Skipper but tripping and pushing the real headhunter into a campfire. Burned terribly, the headhunter flees the island as the Skipper congratulates Gilligan for his heroism. That night, the Howells throw Gilligan a huge hero banquet, but Gilligan starts getting full of himself and won't stop talking. The Skipper comes up behind him with a skull from off the headhunter's costume and Gilligan faints at the sight of it.

Message[edit | edit source]

  • "Self-confidence is half the battle."

Highlights[edit | edit source]

  • Skipper saving both Mary-Ann and Gilligan from drowning.
  • Gilligan's responses to accidentally sitting on a knitting needle.
  • Ginger teaching the Skipper how to moan painfully under a tree
  • Gilligan unknowingly going up against the real headhunter.

Credits[edit | edit source]

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • First appearance of a native on the island.
  • The headhunter possibly returns as the head of the cannibals who arrive on the island in Music Hath Charms and as the father of the native girl who wants to marry Gilligan in Gilligan's Mother-in-Law; all characters were played by Russ Grieve.
  • The Howells are also seen snapping photos in My Fair Gilligan, but it's never explained just how much film they brought along with them.
  • After Jackson Farrell and the Japanese Sailor, it's curious that the Skipper and Professor don't give more credence to Gilligan's misinterpretations.
  • There seems to be a large sequence missing from the episode. Gilligan goes from feeling unappreciated straight to Mrs. Howell's diagnosis without anyone noticing his inferiority under the Skipper.
  • Mary Ann is shown using the Castaways Pedal-Powered Washing Machine made out of a large oil barrel - the existence of which isn't explained.
  • Mrs. Howell and the girls could've offered Gilligan some help in lifting the tree or getting the Skipper's feet out. After all, as Gilligan demonstrated before in Big Man on a Little Stick, he doesn't have enough brawn to lift or hoist the tree up alone.
  • Gilligan should have been suspicious over the Skipper's predicament to being trapped under a tree he had to have passed by before several times on the island.
  • This episode shows a wider angle of the Howell's Hut and a support beam in the center.
  • It's kind of odd that the Skipper notices the bundles of bananas together in the high grass to take one without noticing Gilligan next to them.
  • Somehow, the Headhunter catches the Girls and the Professor all almost simultaneously and ties them to posts all by himself.
  • This episode shows a never-before-seen window in the rear wall of the Boy's Hut.
  • In his close-ups as the head-hunter, Russ Grieve has blue eyes and good teeth with gold fillings, something that Polynesian natives wouldn't be known for.
  • When the disguised Skipper is confronted by the real Headhunter, he sticks his leg out in an unnatural way for Gilligan to trip over it and push the Headhunter into the fire.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

  • Gilligan - "Gotcha! Now to add you to my collection... if only I can get us out of here."

  • Mrs. Howell - "Honestly, Gilligan, I can't psychoanalyze you if all you can say is "ouch.""
    Gilligan - "I don't know, Mrs. Howell. Maybe it's because I'm sitting on this." (pulls out a pillow) "And this." (pulls out knitting needle)

  • Mrs. Howell - "I'm afraid Sigmund Freud wouldn't touch that boy with a ten foot couch. "

  • Mr. Howell - "This is a job that calls for tact, finesse, imagination..."
    Mrs. Howell - "Thurston, that sounds like you."
    Mr. Howell - "Oh, you guessed it already, and I hadn't even gotten to "brilliant.""

  • Mary Ann - "Mrs. Howell, I think you have another customer for your couch."

  • Skipper - "Oh, I see. He wants to be a hero, huh. Well, I know who can arrange that."
    Mrs. Howell - "Who?"
    Skipper - "That little old hero-maker... me."

  • Skipper - "Gilligan, he's been dead for over a thousand years."
    Gilligan - "Oh yeah, well, isn't it a bit late to be bringing him up now?"

  • Skipper - "Mary Ann just had a beautiful idea to cure Gilligan, but I had to die in the end."

  • Mrs. Howell - "Skipper, are we going to talk about Gilligan, or are we going to go on safari?"

  • Gilligan - "Ice Cream Soda... Ice Cold Punch... That's the name of the Honey Bunch!"
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