10 essential Jim-Bob episodes of The Waltons

The youngest Walton son loved cars and motorcycles, dreamed of becoming a pilot and discovered a devastating family secret.

Though John-Boy is undoubtedly the main character in early seasons, The Waltons found time to focus on the other children throughout its long run. The younger siblings grew the most over the show’s nine years, especially Jim-Bob. He started as a precocious youngster and ended the series as a young man.

We’ve highlighted ten of the best episodes that focus on James Robert Walton. He has many great moments not listed here, like getting a tattoo or finding a peacock, but these are the stories that showcase his character in big ways.

Do you have a favorite not on this list? Let us know in a comment!

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1. The Runaway

In one of the first episodes centered around Jim-Bob, the youngest Walton son brings the guinea pig, Porthos, home from school. When Porthos dies, Jim-Bob is distraught and runs away from home. He wants to take a train to Japan then tries to join the Air Corps. John-Boy finds his little brother and they discuss the reasons Jim-Bob feels so alienated. The episode touches on many recurring themes on this list, including feeling left out and trying to fulfil big dreams.

2. The Search

Olivia takes her youngest children, Elizabeth and Jim-Bob, on a journey to meet an old friend. On the way, they get a flat tire and become stranded in the wilderness. Jim-Bob steps up to help them survive, finding food to eat in the forest and even driving away a bear. It’s wonderful episode – with story credit given to Grandma herself, Ellen Corby – that shows Jim-Bob’s practical instincts and the connection he shares with his father and grandfather.

3. The Secret

One of the most dramatic episodes on this list, “The Secret” marks a major turning point for Jim-Bob. He continues to feel different from the rest of his family, spurred by Ben and Erin teasing that he was found on the doorstep as a baby. When Jim-Bob looks into his past, he discovers a devastating family secret. It’s not only one of Jim-Bob’s best episodes but one of the finest episodes of the entire series. As a bonus, anyone who played with a yoyo as a kid can relate to Jim-Bob’s attempts at mastering the unruly toy.

4. The Great Motorcycle Race

After Jim-Bob fixes Ike Godsey’s motorcycle, the friendly store owner lets him ride it whenever he wants. Because it has a sidecar, it’s safer than a normal motorcycle – except when Jim-Bob does tricks like raising the sidecar completely off the ground. Even though Olivia is worried, Jim-Bob enters a motorcycle race. It’s an exciting episode and one of five directed by star Richard Thomas.

5. The Flight

John Walton actor Ralph Waite also directed many episodes, including this one about Jim-Bob’s friendship with a runaway who wants to join the Air Corps. Jim-Bob has not been shy about his pilot ambitions, but this episode cements those aspirations by giving him a companion to dream with. It also sets up the disappointment heading Jim-Bob’s way in later seasons. This episode also features child actor Michelle Stacy, who voiced Penny in the Disney film The Rescuers in 1977, the same year this episode aired.

6. Spring Fever

This memorable episode features Jim-Bob and Ben constantly butting heads about everything from chores to girls. Grandpa Zeb blames the spring season for their restless ways. After the brothers go out with each other’s dates, things escalate into a physical fight between the boys. Anyone who remembers coming down with a case of their own spring fever will enjoy this episode.

7. The Calling

In this romantic episode, a young woman leaves the convent where she is studying to stay with the Baldwin sisters. Jim-Bob immediately takes a liking to her after meeting her in a tree, trying to rescue his tangled kite. He slicks his hair back and wears aftershave just to escort her to the library. It’s a fun episode that puts Jim-Bob front and center.

8. The Beau

Though the main story referenced in the title of this episode follows Grandma and a man she knew when she was young, the secondary plot involving Jim-Bob and moonshiner Yancy Tucker is worth noting. Because of a gasoline shortage, Jim-Bob conspires with Yancy to make alcohol strong enough to fuel a car. They successfully brew 190 proof moonshine and, with a little adjustment of the carburetor, use it in Jim-Bob’s car. Before thinking of his homemade solution, Jim-Bob wishes he constructed an electric car. He was 80 years ahead of his time!

9. The Burden

Jim-Bob’s car also plays a role in this episode, though a much more serious one. While trying to fix his brakes, Jim-Bob narrowly escapes getting crushed. After behaving recklessly with a friend named Tinker, this near-death experience gives Jim-Bob a whole new outlook on life. He wants to become a preacher after talking with the new reverend. Tony Moran, brother of Happy Days star Erin Moran, played Tinker a year after appearing in the original Halloween.

10. The Tailspin

The devastating payoff to years of Jim-Bob professing his desire to be a pilot, this episode reveals that his eyesight is not good enough to achieve his dream. It’s a dramatic, soul-searching story that mixes heartache with optimism, as only The Waltons could do. Even though Jim-Bob never joined the Air Corps, Earl Hamner’s closing narration does note that he was able to fly a plane he built later in life.

 
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retired2019 6 months ago
If I had to pick a son, it would be Jim-Bob. I was never blessed with one of my own.
pabby6060 6 months ago
My favorite Walton! Jim Bob’s tender heart was established early on by the wonderful David Harper ... The Foundling, The Calf, The Townie ... all endeared me to Jim Bob, even at such a young age. The episodes above are all wonderful and, sometimes, heart-wrenching. The Stray, The Valediction, The Silver Wings, The Pursuit are also great Jim Bob storylines. The Children’s Carol, The Obstacle, The Threshold showed us Jim Bob’s inventiveness and ingenuity. I’ve always said that John Boy may have been the scholar of the family, but Jim Bob was the boy genius!
grade1teacher 6 months ago
The Valediction (Season 8): JimBob is valedictorian of his high school class. During his graduation speech, he announces that he and the other boys in the class had gone to the recruiting office that morning and joined the army. The episode ends with all 4 Walton brothers walking off to war together. This is one of the best Jim Bob episodes.
justjeff 6 months ago
Not being a Waltons fan... for me, there are **no** essential Jim-Bob stories ...or any other for that matter... LOL! (OK, Waltons fans...go easy on me...I'm just having some fun here...
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vinman63 justjeff 6 months ago
It wasn’t about a site you v can go to rot make a quick buck?
justjeff vinman63 6 months ago
Perhaps I'd missed something in your reply due to the typos?
vinman63 justjeff 6 months ago
i was commenting mostly about the get rich schemes. Sorry about the typos my phone is being difficult.
justjeff vinman63 6 months ago
That's OK... I just wanted to get the gist of what you'd meant, and not possibly make a joke that would offend you by my misinterpreting the message...
madvincent 6 months ago
2 Walton story’s and only 7 responses In 8 hrs on a lazy Friday.....
Thank Gawd for the weekend
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vinman63 LoveMETV22 6 months ago
Larry Storch is hoping that People magazine won’t commemorate his 100.
LoveMETV22 vinman63 6 months ago
I'm sure some media will recognize Larry Storch if he reaches the century mark, Not sure about People magazine but some mention anyways.
vinman63 LoveMETV22 6 months ago
My Godfather turns 100 in 2024, I am hoping by then things will turn to normal so I can see him.
vinman63 LoveMETV22 6 months ago
Tongue and cheek Bettie never got to see 100 she died soon after People mentioned she was turning 100.
Andybandit 6 months ago
Other than Richard Thomas. I don't know the names of the actors who played his brothers. But they are good actors.
MarkEd Andybandit 6 months ago
Jon Walmsley, who played Jason, the musical member of the Walton family, was actually an accomplished musician, who played in Richard Marx' band for years.
And he's still making music, but in England, not so much in America! He moved to his original home country of England, with his second wife (Which is no longer Toni,) and making beautiful music there. He comes back to America from time to time, mostly in conjunction with Walton's actors events.
MrsPhilHarris 6 months ago
I can only remember one of these episodes.
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justjeff KJExpress 6 months ago
I stopped watching The Waltons after **never**...LOL!
KJExpress Lhamrick 6 months ago
Thanks for the explanation. It doesn't ring any bells, so I guess I never saw that episode.
KJExpress justjeff 6 months ago
I guess it appealed to me at first because I like history. Also, with one TV in the house, you watched whatever was on. If someone else got there first........ So different nowadays.
justjeff KJExpress 6 months ago
That reminds me of my youth, when Mom (rest her soul) wanted to watch Peyton Place and I wanted to watch Batman ...
Michael 6 months ago
Didn't Jim Bob join the Air Corp? But as a mechanic, not pilot. There was even an episode where someone advises him to be a member of an air crew.

But, I think because he was yiung, he graduated late, and never saw overseas duty, unlike his three brothers. He served nearby, so he couid come home on a pass.

Pacificsun 6 months ago
So glad they did this story, he well deserves the spotlight! Perhaps, his talent, contributions a bit overshadowed by everything else going on in that series. Thought he was a very natural actor, and had so much character to contribute to the ensemble.
LoveMETV22 6 months ago
I like the episodes highlighted, but also enjoyed " The Wing-Walker" where John-Boy and Jim-Bob both fall for a visiting wing walker who is dealing with her own struggles.
Lhamrick LoveMETV22 6 months ago
I loved the Wing-Walker too. I think it was a great episode.
Michael LoveMETV22 6 months ago
Though, I'm less certain Jim-Bob saw a female. Anyone who passed through Walton's Mountain that was related to flying or cars could lure in Jim-Bob. There was the Red Cross worker he was smitten with because she had a luxury car.
LoveMETV22 Michael 6 months ago
I know there was the episode where a Red Cross worker is searching for John-Boys whereabouts for John and Olivia, is that the episode you're refrerring to?
pabby6060 LoveMETV22 6 months ago
I believe Michael is referring to “The Hero.” John Boy and Olivia visit the Red Cross to view their records for information on war veterans in the area. They learn that Sheriff Ep Bridges was a decorated war hero, although he didn’t like to talk about it. Sarah Griffith, a Red Cross worker who is helping them with their research, overhears their conversation about Ep, and shortly thereafter shows up on Walton’s Mountain hoping to see Ep. Sarah was a nurse and ambulance driver in the war, and she and Ep had become friends, possibly romantically involved, during the war ... but had lost touch and not seen each other since. Sarah travels to Walton’s Mountain in the hopes of a reunion with Ep, but her car breaks down on the side of the road enroute. Jim Bob soon passes by, and is intrigued to see a woman lying on the ground underneath the car and tinkering with the engine. He gets the car running again as Sarah tells him of her time spent driving an ambulance in the war, and Jim Bob develops a kinship, and possibly a little crush, on Sarah.
LoveMETV22 pabby6060 6 months ago
I guess that could be it. I know that episode, maybe it was more an admiration than smitten or a crush.
Jim-Bob had several Love Interests: on the series:
Bobby Strom- The Wing walker
Patsy Brimmer- Mrs. Brimmer's niece
Mary Francis Conover- young cousin of the Baldwin sisters who was studying to become a nun.
Betsy Randolph- "The Silver Wings" episode- a young army wife Jim Bob falls in love with.
Kathy Seals- "The Pursuit" episode- The girl who claims she's pregnant with Jim Bobs baby.
JMO- "The Hero" episode and Sara Griffith - Simple admiration, not much else.
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