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"They're Off and Running"
Season 1, Episode 28
Mr. Howell wins Gilligan's service as a Houseboy after 40 turtle races with the skipper...but both Howells soon regret having Gilligan's services!
Basic Info
Air Date: April 10,1965
Written By: Walter Black
Directed By: Jack Arnold
Guest Cast: None
Episode guide
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They're Off and Running is the 28th episode of the first season. It first aired April 10, 1965.


For entertainment, the Skipper and Mr. Howell have been turtle-racing. After Howell's turtle wins for the 39th time in a row, the Skipper refuses to race again because he's lost everything he has in wagers to Howell, but Mr. Howell suggests that the Skipper wager Gilligan's service as a houseboy against Thurston's 60-foot yacht. The Skipper won't do it, but when he learns his turtle loves carrots, they plan to use carrots to beat Mr. Howell's turtle in a new race. However, when the Skipper makes the bet, Howell gets suspicious and asks Ginger to find out why he changed his mind on the bet. She goes to vamp Gilligan who spills the beans about the Skipper's turtle liking carrots. Howell then turns around and buys all the community vegetables from Mary Ann for $16,000. Left without anything to tempt their turtle, they test a number of potential foodstuffs to tempt him, discovering he likes tree moss. Unfortunately, the Skipper loses again because Gilligan overfed their turtle on moss before the race. Mr. Howell takes Gilligan as a manservant which turns into a disaster because, as hard as he tries, Gilligan fouls up everything. The Skipper meanwhile is heartbroken without his "little buddy," but Gilligan convinces him to bet Mr. Howell again with his pocketknife as the wager. Howell agrees to the new race, but Mrs. Howell implores him to let the Skipper win. Meanwhile, Ginger lifts the Skipper's spirits by convincing him that the day of the race is his lucky day. That night, Mrs. Howell switches the turtles to favor the Skipper, then Mr. Howell switches the turtles for the same reason. When Gilligan sees this, he tells the Skipper what Mr. Howell did, but not wanting to win that way, he tells Gilligan to switch them back. When Gilligan tells Mr. Howell that the Skipper wants an honorable race, he has Gilligan switch them back. In the end, everyone has their original turtle back, and Mr. Howell is shocked to learn he has won and acquired Gilligan's pocketknife. Eager to get rid of Gilligan, he has the Skipper guess which of his hands has a pebble in it. The Skipper loses because neither of his hands has a pebble, but the Skipper gets Gilligan anyway because as Howell points out where Gilligan is concerned, the loser is the winner. He then walks away with damages to his clothes from when Gilligan did his laundry.


  • "Virtue is its own reward."


  • Gilligan working as a servant to the Howells.


Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • None


  • This episode shows a number of out-of-character moments in the Castaways, namely Howell resorting to underhanded means to cheat, Ginger helping him to cheat and Mary Ann selling the community vegetables of the island.
  • This episode reveals that Mary Ann has been growing wild carrots, turnips and lettuce on the island, but the later episode, Pass the Vegetables, Please, suggests the castaways haven't had vegetables in some time.
  • Bob Denver's wedding ring appears several times; he was still married to his first wife at the time this episode was taped.
  • In addition to their wagering in this episode, in The Hunter, Mr. Howell wins a bet from the Skipper on the Dodgers baseball game, and Mr. Howell claims the Skipper owes him 300,000 mangoes while the Skipper retorts Howell should deduct it from the 960 bananas Mr. Howell owes the Skipper from playing gin rummy.


  • Gilligan - "I sure am glad you got shipwrecked on the island with us."
    Professor - "I'm not sure I agree, but I know you meant that as a compliment."
    Gilligan - "Oh, I do, I do. You're a very smart men and you know lots of things.'
    Professor - "Such as?"
    Gilligan - "Such as, what would our turtle would like to eat since we don't have anymore carrots?"
    Professor - "I'm afraid I'm not an authority on that subject. You see I'm not a herpetologist."
    Gilligan - "That's okay because he isn't a herp, he's a turtle."

  • Skipper - "Make the seaweed look good, Gilligan!"

  • Mr. Howell - "I'll pay Gilligan the same wages as you do."
    Skipper - "No, you won't, Howell. Nobody's gonna underpay my little buddy except me."
    Gilligan - "You're all heart, Skipper."

  • Gilligan - "Mr. Howell, how do you get a newspaper out here on the island?"
    Mr. Howell - "My newsboy has a strong right arm."

  • Mr. Howell - "Ordinarily your story would melt a man with a heart of stone, but fortunately, my cronies call me old granite-heart Howell. "