"Gilligan's Island" burning question...

Hello Straight Dope nice peoples!

I’ve just joined, partly to find assitance in a question that has been burning in the back of my mind for years now…

If the castaways on “Gilligan’s Island” began to reproduce, how many generations could they possibly have before lethal inbreeding set in?

I guess it’s kind of two questions, because we can assume two cases: the first case where Mrs. Howell is fertile, and the second one where she isn’t due to old age.

Anyways, how big could the population of “Gilligan’s Island” get before their genes get all wacky and mutants begin roaming the lagoon… mutants wearing little buddy hats…

“Lethal” inbreeding? :rolleyes:

There’s no way for us to know what preexisting genetic flaws any of the 7 castaways had. But given a breeding pool of 3 fertile males & 2 fertile females, if there were any problematic recessive genes, they would show up in about 4 generations. If there were no problems by 8 generations, there probably would not be any, & their descendants could happily inbreed indefinitely–until some new mutation appeared, & there’s no way of telling when that would happen.

Welcome, internetslacker!

What a great introduction and OP… this is just the kind of [del]insane[/del] amusing question the Dope thrives on. :slight_smile:

There was someone asking similar questions about ‘hybrid vigour’ and inbreeding in a dog thread recently.

:: previews ::

Well, someone already beat me to an answer!

Anyway, as I said in that other thread, ‘hybrid vigour’ is what happens in a small inbred population after all the unfavourable recessives have appeared and been selected against. Assuming the population survives, of course. My dim memories of high-school biology seem to mention that recessives would start appearing in the very first generation, but I could be wrong about that.

Oh, I should say, the first individual with a doubled recessive gene would probably not appear until 3 generations in, but if there were going to be one, it would probably happen by 8. That doesn’t mean the entire population would have it. That would depend on other factors.

[/sub]Me, I always liked Mary-Ann.[sub]

Thank you all for the warm welcomes :slight_smile:

Huh… I always thought that, with such a small breeding pool, the chance of indefinately breeding would be right out. It’s nice to think that one day a ship will chance across a small but roomy island filled with people with black hair wearing skipper hats and lab coats and high heels.

But maybe not.

So the real limitation here is the actual size of the island in which the castaways live. It always seemed to me that “Gilligan’s Island” was pretty damn big, seeing as there was “another side of the island” with a volcanoes & jungle boys & Harlem Globetrotters. No, wait, sorry, the 'Globetrotters showed up on a boat and saved Gilligan’s ass, I forgot.

Also, there were visitors to the island, and although each and every visitor didn’t stay long amongst the castaways, the male visitors COULD inseminate Ginger/Mary-Anne/Mrs. Howell (if they’re drunk) before bidding adieu. So we’d have to factor in all the males visitors IF AT ANY TIME they were known to be alone with one or more of the female castaways.

Then we’d have to consider the radiation effects of future generations on “Gilligan’s Island”, because all of the castaways were exposed to higher levels of radiation than normal background levels in a couple of episodes. Remember the space probe that landed in the lagoon? It could have been irradiated. And I think one time Gilligan threw a frisbee that turned out to be a nuclear device that detoned nearby, so that event certainly must be considered.

Then there’s the enzymatic chemical reactions vis-a-vis the female ovaries…

You seem to be assuming that any mutations will result in horrible little semi-humans lurking around every corner. Mutations can have positive, “desirable” traits as well.

Why only 3 males? Even if we agree that Ms Howell was post-menopausal, I think it is still possible/probable that Winston could be put out to stud. Or were you including Winston but leaving the professor out(and if so. . .why?).

The trick would be to get Mary Anne’s mad good looks with Ginger’s slutty morals. :smiley:

Please allow me to welcome you also, internetslacker.

I’m not trying to hijack your thread, but as you yourself has mentioned, the parameters of Gilligan’s Island are difficult to properly describe. Yes, there would be a considerable influx of outside “breeding material.”

But what I don’t think you realize is that Gilligan’s Island is at most 1.5 hours out of Hono (“A three-hour tour”). Thus the island could not have remained undiscovered without some type of force field or protective shield around it. That’s right, as I wrote once before here, Gilligan’s Island is the SAME island that “Lost” is now set upon!

You got a boat wrecked ont he island. You got a plane wrecked on the island. No one can explain why no one knows about the island.

There is your answer. Just don’t tell anyone else, OK?

Where they were going may mave been 1.5 hours out of Hono, but the weather started getting rough, and the tiny ship was tossed, and they could have been blown far out to sea.

Thanks for the welcome, LiveOnAPlane!

You think “Gilligan’s Island” is the “Lost” island?? Hmm… that’s intriguing… hmm… maybe the Castaways DID breed and/or mutate, and then the US Government put an installation there to make their offspring work for next to nothing…

You know, some of the evil scraggy looking antagonists DO resemble Gilligan’s Island offspring… that squat hairy fake-beard looking guy COULD be a cross between the Skipper & Ginger… oh god I just had a graphic image of Skipper showin’ his “little buddy” to Ginger… oh dear Lord in Heaven scrub my mind clean

The “Gilligan’s Island is the Lost island” theory is… intriguing. I wish to subscribe to your pamphlets and/or newsletters, LiveOnAPlane…

Who is this “Winston”? I don’t remember an “Winston” on the island. I do remember a Thurston.

Oh, right. Thurston Howell III was the name he used on the show. Those “in the know” however all called him Winston. Ummmmm, never mind. I screwed up.

You must be a Yale man.

Welcome to Straight Dope, newbie! They call it straight dope because as soon as you read a few postings, you will realize that the people who frequent this site have to be high on something!

There has not been much mention of the Professor. By the way, did he have a name?

Anyhow, the Professor was obviously very intelligent, and he or his descendants could probably have found a way to start a genetics lab that could correct any genetic defects in babies before they were born.

But then again, it is a bit troubling to note that the Professor’s intelligence and resourcefulness seemed unevenly distributed. For example, he could make an electric generator (remember Gilligan peddling that bike made of bamboo?) or even a radio out of a coconut, but for some reason he could not repair a hole in the side of a boat.

There is another problem with including the Professor in the breeding population. Sorry folks, but I am convinced he was gay. I mean, look at the guy. In his thirties, unmarried, perfectly coiffed, clean and stylish sportswear, gentle demeanour, and he never once leered at Mary Ann in those tight shorts. Now, gay people CAN reproduce and do frequently do so. But what if the Professor was invited by Ginger to “come up and see me some time” and replied “Sorry, but I planned to go antique hunting?”

Then again, maybe Mary Ann and Ginger were lesbians. After all they lived together. Or how about this? Maybe Ginger was a Drag Queen! I mean, look at those clothes and that wig and tell me she wasn’t!

I remember watching Gilligan’s Island as a teenager and thinking the Professor was the handsomest man on the Island. But then it occurred to me that when your competition is Gilligan, the Skipper and Thurston Howell, the title of “handsomest man” ain’t sayin’ much.

Finally, you might be interested to know that there really are people whose family name is “Gilligan”. I know a guy by that name who was in the Canadian Navy. Can you imagine what this poor guy went through whenever he had to take the wheel of the ship he was posted on? Do you have any idea how many jokes he heard about a “three-hour cruise?”

Roy Hinckley.

Was that the Professor’s name on the show, or the name of the actor who played the Professor?

That’s the character’s name. The actor was Russell Johnson. Come on. Everyone knows this stuff, right?

Thanks for the welcome! Not to be picky, but The Professor DID try to repair the boat… remember when Gilligan found that stuff that the Professor thought could be used to glue the wood on the boat 'cause they didn’t have nails? The tragedy was the glue wasn’t water-soluble, and the real tragedy is that I’m wasting brain cells remembering this episode.

I agree with “The Professor Might Be Gat” theory… he couldn’t kiss a girl worth a damn (Ginger tried kissing him, but she didn’t like the experience). And he did always seem very friendly towards Gilligan, never hitting him like The Skipper did…

And, yes, Ginger and Mary-Ann were Lesbians. At least, in my world.