The Prisoners of Gilligan's Island


Sit right down and you'll hear a tale, a tale of dirty tricks. That started in this tropic port, aboard this pirate's ship. Five prisoners that sailed that day would squeal or endure. You get the point. The Prisoner and Gilligan's Island come together to examine some mysteries that needn't be that way.

Gilligan's Island is a smallish uncharted island located in the south Pacific. On this parcel are 7 persons. Each episode revolves around an opportunity to leave the island or a risk to the survival of the group.

The Prisoner was a sequel series to Danger Man. John Drake was a troubleshooter for the UN secret police. He was suspected of knowing "some powerful secret" when he retired. He was subsequently abducted, moved to "The Village", and renamed "Number 6". The plots of The Prisoner revolve around trying to learn Drakes secret. Within the village are keepers and prisoners. No one knows who is which, or at least no one is telling.

If one looks at GI through the premise of The Prisoner, there may be startling revelations. Below is a list of characters, in the order of naming in the title sequence. First is their presentation in the eyes of the uninitiated, then their secret or other issue, the reasons they don't trust the others or aren't trusted by the others.

Capt. Jonas Grumby aka "The Skipper"

The skipper is the owner of a small pleasure craft sailing out of Honolulu for short (3 hour) day cruises. He is physically large, with fair shares of both fat and muscle. He presents competence with all things nautical and little else.

They allegedly sailed for a 3-hour tour.

They allegedly sailed for a 3-hour tour. This tour went out of sight of Hawaii, and did not include scuba equipment. What were they touring? The castaways, as the inhabitants of GI are frequently called, are "lost", on an "uncharted" dessert island, as the result of a powerful storm. The island has an active volcano and is a frequent tourist spot and dating scene for cannibalistic head-hunters. On more than one occasion Skipper gives their position as 23 miles south east of Hawaii. Additionally, a transpacific phone cable washed up on their beach (how uncharted can this be?) and weekly something washes up on shore indicating tidal currents leading to the island, but no reputable craft has found it.

He addresses Gilligan as "little buddy" implying a close relationship, yet frequently strikes this "friend" with his cap. This rapid and frequent descending into violence demonstrates a lack of development on an emotional level, yet he is the nominal leader of this group.

The truth is that the Skipper is Gilligan's straw man and enforcer. He is likely to be completely ignorant of Gilligan's true plans, but the physical prowess he possesses prevents the other castaways from acting against either of the crew. His previous gig was piracy. Tourists come on board, are raped, robbed, killed and thrown overboard. He has used the island in the past as a refuge from the law.

His readiness to resort to violence, even in the case of his "little buddy" warns people that this man could easily swing from benevolent ignoramus to tyrannical dictator prevents any of the passengers from trusting this man with their real issues. As long as they cooperate with his mad schemes of escape, everybody will less oppressed.

Gilligan (no known last name)

Gilligan is the first mate of the S.S. Minnow (Skipper's boat). He is lean but exhibits many skills and is the primary drudge on the island. If there is an unpleasant task, Gilligan does it. He is uneducated and would doubtless be asking "Do you want fries with that?" if not for the generosity of the Skipper in hiring him. Each episode, Gilligan is the one who prevents, through bombastic stupidity or clumsiness, their rescue/escape from the island.

Gilligan has not been killed by any of the castaways despite keeping them stranded on the island for 15 years. Their initial "getting lost" was claimed by Gilligan when he told the Skipper that he "cleaned" the compass including the piece of melat jammed in it.

Gilligan provides most of the food for the island, from fish to coconuts to hauling water, yet is never thanked for his efforts. He also powers the washing machine, the pedal-car, caddies for the Howells and takes most of the risks when the head-hunters visit.

Nobody can be this stupid. His screw-ups are the results of careful planning and execution preventing the remaining 5 (Skipper is a henchman) from escaping before their secrets are revealed. He is the mastermind behind the island. Sadly for him, radical interrogation is not sufficient to extract the secrets, so he must bide his time until the others crack. Until then, he must keep the others alive and not desperate enough to try something that might kill them. Gilligan certainly has some means of communicating with the outside world, but the others believe him to be a moron and below suspicion. He also appears to be a compulsive blabbermouth which prevents others from confiding too much in him, as he would obviously blab it to the Skipper or the Professor, who run this interrogation center.

Thurston Howell III and Eunice Howell aka Lovey

The Howells cannot be trusted...

The millionaires are technically 2 people but for all practical purposes are conjoined twins. They are seldom apart (except for the episodes where they argue) and have the same opinion about everything. Both were born to wealth and believe everything can be bought. They are elderly and without physical skills. Their purpose on the show is to create social problems.

They own a yacht (or several) yet they have paid to take a tour in a boat smaller than their car, without servants or bodyguards. They have brought clothing and cash in steamer trunks.

The truth is that Gilligan (or the secret masters) abducted Thurston Howell IV, heir to the Howell fortune. The Howells were directed to let no one know, but to board the Minnow to negotiate the release. Once secured on the island, TH4 was released but is given directions (under penalty of death of his parents and undoubtedly some clause that returns their stock in AC to the board rather than their next of kin) regarding the family fortune and makes investments that further the cause of the secret masters. The Howells suspected the negotiations could take a while, hence the clothing, and hoped a simple buyout would resolve the issue. They can tell no one, because they don't know who the kidnapper is, and they still fear for the lives of all 3 Howells.

The Howells cannot be trusted because they are obviously bankrolling this operation (paid the skipper to crash here and for his thug role) and want to be present when the secrets are revealed.

Ginger Grant

The movie star has acted and made out with most of the leading men of Hollywood. She is physically beautiful in a glamorous way. She will use sex to get her way, but has no real skills. She does help Mary Ann with the simple chores.

Why is this movie queen in Hawaii? If she's on a movie, shouldn't she be on the set on a beautiful day? If it's a day off, wouldn't she gad about with at least 1 other person from the movie, or some other recent conquest? Why did she bring so many clothes and cosmetics?

Ginger and her make-up person were told (by the secret masters) that they could get to the shoot by taking the Minnow. The make-up person was delayed (again by the secret masters) and Ginger decided to board, at the last minute, without her, taking the wardrobe and make-up, in case her lackey were already on board. She knows the key players in Hollywood and Big Media, their political agendas and operations, and how to alter them. This is information that Gilligan and his secret master's desire. Her attempts to seduce Gilligan have failed because Gilligan does not want her hanging on him all the time, for instance when he radios his masters, or pestering him with questions lest he slip and reveal his true intelligence.

She is not trusted because she may be one of "them". Evil masterminds always keep a sexy plaything around. Anything said to her would undoubtedly make its way back to whomever is in charge, be it Skipper, The Howells, or the Professor

Professor Roy Hinkley

Doctor of all sciences. The professor is knowledgeable in all fields of scientific research and uses his knowledge to help the castaways whenever possible. He is physically weak to average in strength, and of average size.

Again the question of why is he traveling alone. He was allegedly on a research trip to investigate local flora of Hawaii, but has no grad students in tow? And how much flora did he expect on a surface tour of the pacific free from sight of land. He has kept batteries charged for 15 years for the radio, built and used a phone system, constructed time-bombs, yet cannot devise a rescue or repair the minnow's transmitter? How come no one else has tried to learn from him?

The Professor has learned beyond human science and delved deeply into the secrets of the elder gods and transdimensional races. These magics and rituals are what the secret masters desire. He has several rescue plans but all rely either on artifacts he does not currently have, or upon the stars being right. It is just a matter of time. He is not trusted by the other castaways as he is too smart and must be the true genius behind this. He trusts no one, because no one can be trusted with the information contained within his no-longer human mind.

Mary Ann Summers does she keep making pies without flour?

From a small farm in the American midwest, Mary Ann is competent in all the skills required there. She is the second most productive person on the island, cooking what Gilligan finds or catches, sewing, and laundry.

Mary Ann is the John Drake of the island. Master of a hundred skills, Keeper of One Big Secret. Why is a midwest, small-farm girl in Hawaii, by herself? Clearly, someone resembles her contact (coincidence? Doubtful) and this international super-spy boarded expecting to pass on her information, but realized in a timely manner that the password/phrase was not known. Her sense of duty to non-spies keeps her providing for the group, but this provisioning makes her distrusted by the others as she is obviously just trying to keep them alive and gain their trust. And for those playing at home, Coconut milk is dairy milk steeped in coconuts, not a product of coconuts. Dafoe's "Robinson Crusoe" had a small herd of wild goats on his island and it is possible that the same occurred here and just were not interesting enough to survive editing, but how does she keep making pies without flour?

Disclaimer: Sherwood Schwartz the creator of GI has no knowledge, at the time of this writing, of this writing. I'm fairly certain these are not his views, but hope he can take a parody. I have received no compensation for this article other than the enjoyment of readers.

Advertisement: Watch for "Scooby-Doo and Conspiracy Too" and "Brady Bunch of Cthulhu Cultists" to be appearing soon on this website.

Very interesting concept. I love it. I'm looking forward to future submissions. What could ensue if the crew of Firefly-class ship Serenity landed on a planet in which the cursed, undead pirates of the Black Pearl were ravaging the land looking for the final piece of gold to restore their humanity. Would Cap. Reynolds and crew help yound Will Turner, or would they steal some of the Aztec gold themselves. A cursed Serenity crew, travelling the stars in search of the gold they spent, would create a very interesting scenario.

"A government is a body of men usually notably ungoverned"
-Shepherd Book, from Joss Whedon's "Firefly"

Thank you for the fine compliment. I have submitted the Scooby-doo article already, Brady Bunch has been written, but needs some editing.
While I enjoyed the Firefly series and the movie, I am not sufficiently immersed in it's workings for that sort of article, let alone PotC, which I did also enjoy. I am also looking forward to the second installment when it comes out on video.
This was a cross-over, the other 2 articles of the series are more of an expose' nature. I will keep looking for other shows to rat out.


Although I've only watched GI once (and that was some 14 years ago), and am probably missing a lot of the comdey, I just wanted to say I like some of the ideas...I would think "Happy Days" can be given the same treatment (perhaps The Fonz is just a puppet of the REAL masters?)

I will give some consideration to Happy Days and its assorted spin-offs, Laverne and Shirley, Joanie Loves Chachi, and Mork and Mindy, but the obvious "Church of the Fonz" has been done by "Family Guy".

Yep, I understand. Just trying to be creative.

"A government is a body of men usually notably ungoverned"
-Shepherd Book, from Joss Whedon's "Firefly"

Interesting concept except there are a few flaws. The "cleaning" of the the compass screw up occured on the cruse that got them stranded on the Island a SECOND time; the first time was due to an "unexpected" storm. That the second movie revealed the Island had been a landing field during WWII (but nobody found the plane in the 15 years they were on the Island) indicates that some kind of misdirection had to be involved.

Another problem is time. After a while some of the 'secrets' known by the castaways will become useless. Then there is the fact that people keep turning up on the island with somewhat annoying regularity. Are they 'real' or well paid flunkies of the "Secret Masters"? And if the second why do the actions of some of them (like the Mad brain switching scientist) seem counterproductive to Gilligan getting the 'secrets'?

But there is one other nasty thought; what if the 'Island Resort" of the second movie is a continuation of the "Secret Masters" plans?

There is no spoon.

I'm sure you are correct regarding the compass cleaning. As I've said in the Scooby Doo notes, I do no actual research, mostly rely on my memory. That said, how did Skipper, an experienced mariner, not notice the "unexpected" storm within the 3 hour window of the tour. Something kept him from returning in a timely fashion.

Regarding the secrets, these are not "who was the winner of Survivor?" secrets but grander scale secrets. The Howells use as bargaining chips with TH4 continues to be useful as long as Wall Street exists. The Professors Secrets Man was not meant to Know" are immortal. The existance of The Village in The Prisoner indicates that some (inter)national secrets are lasting. And for all we know, Ginger's secret regarding Hollywood may still be active.

There is no reason not to believe the Resort is a continuation of the plan. It is entirely possible that TH4 and Lovey have been pawns for so long, they have forgotten to become free and the Secret Masters never fail to use a mistake.


But for some time is a problem. After 7 years you can be declaired legally dead. But this makes the appearance of 'doubles' on the island (the spendrift Howell in "Will the Real Mr. Howell Please Stand Up?", A Russian Spy disguised as Gilligan in "Gilligan vs. Gilligan", and the plain Jane Ginger in "All About Eva") take a more sinister turn.

So does the episode "My Fair Gilligan" where Mr Howell makes Gilligan his son or "Where There's a Will" where he wills parts of his fortune to his fellow castaways.

Then there is "Not Guilty" where one of the castaways is thought to be a murderer but Gilligan in fustration 'discovers' it was an accident and conviently the announcer on the radio the next day comments on the same discovery. But this left open the question of how did a spear gun get put in such a convient place where slamming a door would trigger it?

"Forward March" shows that the island was not 'uncharted' as the US army was not in the habit of leaving stacks of perfectly good arms sitting around.

Research can both hamper and flesh out an interesting idea. Check out it list just enough information to really get you going.

The only aspect where being declared dead would be a hinderance to the secret masters is the Howells and this process usually requires the cooperation of the next of kin, in this case THIV, who knows that his folks aren't dead and may fear any repurcussions for trying this approach. It is also interesting that despite several news reports that the Howells were lost at sea, THIV does not have the area scoured by searchers.

Because Howells know that money is behind their being imprisoned, making Gilligan his heir may be an attempt at release, which would undoubtedly be undone once freedom was obtained. Gilligan and the Secret Masters saw right through this.

I do not specifically recall "Not Guilty" but as I have mentioned, I do no research, but merely recall from my TV impregnated mind.

The title ballad names the isle as uncharted. Personally I believe it to be un-found, like Qui-Gon's planet. There were Trans-pacific phone cables close, current drift brought a plethora of things to the island, Head-hunter's visited by canoe, and it had an active volcano. How could it not be charted.

Hate to point out this fact but it is clear that THIV was adopted AFTER the second movie. Up to then the Howells are quite clear on the fact they have NO children. Also "Will the Real Mr. Howell Please Stand Up?" indicates that Howell did not have any close living relatives (they would have challanged the imposter in minutes.)

Perhaps that then IS their secret. THIV wasn't adopted so much as let out of the closet. A secret that only a few Howell Industries folks knew.

It's a TV show for crying out loud. But it is good to know that I am not the only person with this kind of crap left taking up valuable brain space, only with more dedication to niggling details.