Ben was adopted in the new A Waltons Thanksgiving film after he was introduced as a foster child named “Red”, but not in the original show.
Even though The Waltons started airing long ago in 1972, the show is still dear to many fans, and it is still referenced to this day.
When The CW decided to reboot some of the original films, they also decided to write out Ben in the first.
However, after the backlash that this decision received, they did bring him back as an adopted child in A Waltons Thanksgiving.
A history of The Waltons franchise
When The Waltons first premiered in 1972, the show was an unlikely candidate for success.
With most people in the United States still upset about the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War and new political scandals coming from the Whitehouse each day, it seemed unlikely to anyone that this show featuring good old family values and feel-good country life would appeal to audiences at all in this time.
However, despite this, The Waltons quickly became one of the most popular programs on television and even ended up lasting nine seasons, with six added movie specials between 1972 and 1981.
Moreover, the show is still referenced in shows to this day.
Was Ben adopted on The Waltons
The CW recently decided that they would be rebooting some of the original made-for-television movies from the franchise. The first of these reboot films, titled The Waltons: Homecoming, was released in 2021.
Initially, the executive producer of this film, Sam Haskell, and the rest of the team behind the movie decided that they would cut Ben from the film to make room for other characters and to avoid confusing the audience.
However, this decision did not go as planned and fans quickly spoke up about their disappointment at the fact that Ben was missing from the film.
This is why, for the second reboot film, titled A Waltons Thanksgiving, which was released on 20 November 2022, the creators behind the reboot films had to find a way to re-introduce Ben without making it seem like they just forgot to include him in the first film.
To remedy this, they decided to introduce Ben initially as a foster child nicknamed “Red”, who works at one of the carnival games at the Harvest Festival.
However, when Elizabeth and Jim Bob realise that “Red” is being neglected and abused by his foster parents, they end up taking him in, and later, they adopted him and called the authorities on his foster father.
After this, “Red” reveals that his real name is actually Ben and so he is introduced into the reboots as well – this time as an adopted child.
How do the reboot films compare to the originals?
For the most part, the two reboot films, The Waltons: Homecoming (which is a remake of The Homecoming: A Christmas Story) and A Waltons Thanksgiving has received polarised reviews from fans of the original franchise.
Fans have noted that they were a bit uncomfortable at first about how these new films were much glossier than the originals and they did not quite have the same charm.
But the nostalgia of this franchise always seems to win fans over in the end.
How did audiences react to Ben being written out of the first reboot film?
Ben Walton was always one of the more ambitious Walton children and although he did not always get a lot of screen-time in the original franchise, he was still a fan-favourite and his entrepreneurial schemes were always a great sources of entertainment for viewers throughout the show.
This is why many fans immediately noticed that Ben was missing from the The Waltons: Homecoming reboot.
Eventually, the outcry of the audience on social media and other channels over Ben’s absence became so loud that Sam Haskell knew that he simply needed to fix his mistake in the next film.
Why did the creators of the film give Ben such a sad origin story?
Sam Haskell and the team behind A Waltons Thanksgiving have been very verbal about the fact that they knew that making Ben a victim of child abuse would give the film a much more serious tone.
But that they felt like The Waltons had never shied away from facing difficult subject matter in the original franchise, and this was no different.
In the end, the decision was made because it allowed the producers to emphasise the idea that even though Ben had a difficult beginning in life, the love that Elizabeth and Jim Bob have for him is enough to help him start over.
Love has always been the central theme of The Waltons.