Family Ties: Wikis


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Family Ties
Family Ties title scene from the third season
The Family Ties "family painting," used in the opening sequence from 1983 to 1985.
Format Sitcom
Created by Gary David Goldberg
Starring Meredith Baxter
Michael Gross
Michael J. Fox
Justine Bateman
Tina Yothers
Brian Bonsall (1986–1989)
Theme music composer Jeff Barry
Tom Scott
Opening theme "Without Us"
Performed by Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams[1]
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 180 (List of episodes)
Running time 22 Minutes
Production company(s) Ubu Productions
Paramount Television
Original channel NBC
Original run September 22, 1982 – May 14, 1989

Family Ties is a television sitcom that aired on NBC for seven seasons, from 1982 to 1989. The sitcom reflected the move in the United States from the cultural liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s to the conservatism of the 1980s.[2] This was particularly expressed through the relationship between young Republican Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) and his former-hippie parents, Elyse and Steven Keaton (Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross). The program won multiple awards, including three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series by Michael J. Fox.



Cast of Family Ties from a later season. (From left to right) Justine Bateman, Michael J. Fox, Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross, Brian Bonsall, and Tina Yothers

Set in Columbus during the early years of the Reagan administration, Elyse and Steven Keaton (Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross) are Baby Boomers and liberal Democrats[2] raising their three children: Alex (Michael J. Fox), Mallory (Justine Bateman) and Jennifer (Tina Yothers) in suburban Columbus, Ohio. Married in 1964, Elyse, an independent architect, and Steven, a manager in a local public television station, were hippies during the 1960s. According to the episode, "A Christmas Story" in Season One, they were influenced by John F. Kennedy and thus participated in the Peace Corps. Alex was born in 1965; Mallory was born while Elyse and Steven were students at the University of California, Berkeley in 1967, and Jennifer was born the night Richard Nixon won his second term in 1972.

Much of the humor of the series focused on the cultural divide during the 1980s when younger generations rejected the counterculture of the 1960s and embraced the wealth and power that came to define the 1980s.[3] Both Alex and Mallory embrace Reaganomics and exhibit conservative values: Alex is a Young Republican and Mallory is a more traditional young woman in contrast to her feminist mother.[2] Jennifer, an athletic tomboy and the youngest child, shares the values of her parents.

The show ended in 1989 after Alex graduated from nearby Leland College, leaving home for the first time, and moving to a career on Wall Street.


The show had been sold to the network using the pitch "hip parents, square kids"[4]. Originally, Elyse and Steven were intended to be the main characters. However, the audience reacted so positively to Alex during the taping of the fourth episode that he became the focus on the show.[2][4] Fox had received the role after Matthew Broderick turned it down.[5]

Supporting cast and characters included annoying neighbor Irwin "Skippy" Handelman (Marc Price), Mallory's boyfriend artist Nick Moore (Scott Valentine) and Alex's feminist artist girlfriend Ellen Reed (Tracy Pollan, whom Michael J. Fox later married). In Season 3, Elyse gave birth to her fourth child, Andrew (who was played by Brian Bonsall from Season 5 onward).

Several Hollywood stars appeared on the show before they were famous; Tom Hanks appeared during the first and second seasons as Elyse's younger brother Ned[4]. Geena Davis portrayed an inept housekeeper, and Courteney Cox played Alex's girlfriend Lauren at the end of the series. Julia Louis-Dreyfus portrayed a lawyer in the two-part episode "Read It and Weep".


  • 1984–1985: #5[6]
  • 1985–1986: #2[7]
  • 1986–1987: #2[8]
  • 1987–1988: #2[9]


DVD releases

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released the first five seasons of Family Ties on DVD in Region 1. Each release features music replacements due to copyright issues as well as special features such as gag reels and episodic promos. The second season contains interviews with Michael Gross and Michael J. Fox along with other cast members. The fourth season contains the made-for-TV-movie, Family Ties Vacation.

Paramount has also released the first three seasons on DVD in Region 4.

DVD Name Ep# Release dates
Region 1 Region 4
The Complete First Season 22 February 20, 2007 April 9, 2008 [10]
The Second Season 22 October 9, 2007 September 4, 2008 [11]
The Third Season 24 February 12, 2008 April 2, 2009 [12]
The Fourth Season 28 August 5, 2008 TBA
The Fifth Season 30 March 10, 2009 TBA


Emmy Awards

  • 1988: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Michael J. Fox)
  • 1987: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Michael J. Fox); Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series; Outstanding Technical Direction
  • 1986: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Michael J. Fox)

Golden Globes

References in other media

Over a decade after the cancellation of Family Ties, Fox's final episodes on Spin City featured numerous allusions to the show. In these episodes, Michael Gross played a therapist for Fox's character Michael Patrick Flaherty[13] and the episode contained a reference to an off-screen character named "Mallory".[14] In the episode, after Flaherty becomes an environmental lobbyist in Washington D.C. he meets a "conservative congressman named Alex P. Keaton."[15]

Additionally, the cast reunited for the first time publicly on February 7, 2008 for an interview on the Today show.[16]


In January 2009, FamilyNet began airing the program as part of its "Families on FamilyNet" programming block, also featuring My Three Sons and Happy Days. In the summer of 2008, WGN America aired reruns as part of their Outta Sight Retro Night programming block. Previous reruns aired on Nick at Nite, TV Land, & Hallmark Channel during the early 2000's.


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Family Ties (1982 - 1989) was an American television sitcom which aired on NBC. At the height of its popularity, the program was #2 in the yearly Nielsen ratings for two straight seasons (1985-86 and 1986-87).


Season 1

Pilot [1.01]

Steven: [about Alex] I haven't seen him this excited since Reagan got elected.

Steven: [to Elyse] Do you think maybe he was switched at birth and the Rockefellers have our kid?

Elyse: Alex, maybe you're getting a little carried away here. I mean, if Kimberly doesn't like you or your family for who they are, then maybe she isn't worth caring about at all, don't you think?
Alex: Are you going to wear your hair like that, or are you going to put it up?

Mallory: [witnessing her parents kissing in the kitchen] You guys have been married for a long time. Haven't you had enough?

Alex: How do I look?
Steven: Middle-aged.
Alex: Dad, recent studies show, that you can predict success by the way a person dresses.
Steven: Alex, you're a young man. You shouldn't be worried about success. You should be thinking about hopping on a steam trainer, and going around the world, or putting a pack on your back and heading down to Mexico, South America, or anywhere.
Alex: The 1960's are over Dad.
Steven: Thanks for the tip.

Not With My Sister You Don't [1.02]

I Know Jennifer's Boyfriend [1.03]

Summer of '82 [1.04]

I Never Killed for My Father [1.05]

Give Uncle Arthur a Kiss [1.06]

Big Brother is Watching [1.07]

No Nukes Is Good Nukes [1.08]

Death of a Grocer [1.09]

Jennifer: What's impetuous?
Steven: Well, uh. That's when you do something without thinking it through.
Jennifer: Like when you guys decided to have Alex?

Alex: Skippy, remember when we were little kids, and I accidentally ran over you with my bicycle?
Skippy: Yeah.
Alex: I drive a car now.

Have Gun, Will Unravel [1.10]

A Christmas Story [1.11]

Oops [1.12]

Sherry Baby [1.13]

Mallory: What do you say, Alex? She really thinks you're cute.
Alex: Look, Mallory. I don't go out with girls who have an IQ lower than room temperature, or have contagious diseases, or friends of yours. And there's certainly some overlap in those categories.

Alex: [turning on the radio] Oh I hope you don't mind, it's time for the commerce and shipping news.
Mallory: Alex we do mind we're doing a project for school here.
Alex: All right, all right I'll listen to it upstairs, it's a lot more exciting in stereo anyway.

Elyse: What happened?
Alex: Oh he was going out for a pass and he ran into the pole.
Jennifer: I told you to run down and in Skippy, you were supposed to go to the pole and stop!
Skippy: I did, I stopped when I hit the pole.

Elyse: Who is Sherry Marshall?
Mallory: She happens to be a Pi Nu the best sorority in the whole world, she's the president.
Steven: Is she coming alone or with some secret service agents?

The Fugitive: Part 1 [1.14]

Elyse: Mr. Carlyle, Do you really believe that my brother stole that money? I mean, he's not the type.
Carlyle: I'll mention that to the guys in New York. But to be honest with you: I think they're going to want to push ahead with the case anyway.

Carlyle: [on what would happen if it turned out that the Keatons were lying to him about where Ned is] Well, hypothetically speaking, you would be hypothetically arrested for harboring a known criminal, and hypothetically sent to a very real jail.

The Fugitive: Part 2 [1.15]

Margin of Error [1.16]

Alex: It's like taking candy from a baby.
Jennifer: Brings back memories.

Steven: No movies, no dates....
Alex: Sounds fair.
Steven: ... and no TV.
Alex: Not even Wall Street Week?
Steven: Especially not Wall Street Week.
Alex: Come on Dad. I did not kill a guy!
Steven: Alex I am out $2,700. I am the major investor in an underwater video company in the Philippines. They probably have a picture of me in one of their huts with the caption, Our Founder. You are lucky to be getting off this easy.
Alex: Oh listen, just in case, I mean if this stock does go up, we are in this 50/50 right?

Mrs. Matthews: This is not very good news is it?
Mr. Matthews: No it is not.
Mrs. Matthews: We invested everything we had with you. Our, our life savings.
Mr. Matthews: We knew there would be risks going in. We discussed that.
Mrs. Matthews: But we are retired people there is no way that we can re-earn what we have lost. We will lose our house, our car.... Is not there anything you can do?
Mr. Matthews: Sorry. Say Hi to Dad.

Mallory: So Alex what are you going to do? Sell your soul to the devil or your body to someone who is nearsighted?
Alex: Jennifer…
Jennifer: Sometimes when you keep a secret all to yourself you get a really bad headache.

French Lessons [1.17]

Alex: Dad, I'm 138 and 0 against you [in chess].
Steven: 138, 0 and 1. You forgot about the draw.
Alex: I had my appendix out that day.
Steven: The anesthesia had worn off.

I Gotta Be Ming [1.18]

Alex: I want you.
Ming: You don't want me, Alex. You want another you. You want someone who looks like you, acts like you, thinks like you.
Alex: Is that how I acted?
Ming: Look, I can't be Alex; I gotta be Ming.

Suzanne Takes You Down [1.19]

The Fifth Wheel [1.20]

Stage Fright (a.k.a.) Video Jitters [1.21]

Steven: Hey, Alex. How's it going?
Alex: Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Steven: He seems a bit depressed.

Elyse D'Arc [1.22]

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

Season 6

Season 7


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