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Family Matters is an ABC/CBS network sitcom and spin-off of Perfect Strangers created by William Bickley and Michael Warren and developed by Robert L. Boyett and Thomas L. Miller. The show premiered from ABC on September 22, 1989 to May 9, 1997 before moving to the CBS network, airing from September 19, 1997 to July 17, 1998, ending after 9 seasons and 215 episodes. Having run for nine seasons, Family Matters is the second longest-running non-animated U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African American cast, behind only The Jeffersons (with 11 seasons) and having aired 215 episodes, it is ranked third, (behind only Tyler Perry's House of Payne [with 254 episodes] and The Jeffersons [with 253 episodes]).


The original premise of Family Matters focused on the character of police officer Carl Winslow and his family: wife Harriette (whose character originated from Perfect Strangers), son Eddie, elder daughter Laura and younger daughter Judy (who appeared until the character was written out in season four).

In the pilot episode, "The Mama Who Came to Dinner," the family had also opened their home to Carl's street-wise mother, Estelle (Rosetta LeNoire), usually known as "Mother Winslow." Prior to the start of the series, Harriette's sister, Rachel Crawford and her infant son, Richie had moved into the Winslow household after the death of Rachel's husband.

Midway through the show's first season in the episode "Laura's First Date," the Winslows' nerdy next-door teenage neighbor, Steve Urkel (played by Jaleel White) was introduced & he quickly became the focus & the breakout star of the show.

Family Matters was a mainstay of ABC's TGIF lineup from 1989 until 1997 at which point it became part of the CBS Block Party lineup for its final season.

As the show progressed, the episodes began to center increasingly on Steve Urkel and other original characters also played by Jaleel White (including Steve's suave alter-ego, Stefan Urquelle and his female cousin, Myrtle Urkel).


Main Cast

  • Reginald VelJohnson as Carl Winslow
  • Jo Marie Payton (season 1-9) and Judyann Elder (season 9) as Harriette Winslow
  • Jaleel White as Steven "Steve" Q. Urkel (season 2-9, recurring season 1)
  • Telma Hopkins as Rachel Crawford (season 1-4; recurring season 5-6; guest-star season 9)
  • Rosetta LeNoire as Grandma Estelle Winslow (season 1-7, recurring season 8-9)
  • Darius McCray as Eddie Winslow
  • Kellie Shanygne Williams as Laura Winslow
  • Jaimee Foxworth as Judy Winslow (seasons 1-4)
  • Joseph and Julius Wright as Richie Crawford (season 1)
  • Bryton McClure as Richie Crawford (seasons 2-7, recurring season 8-9)
  • Shawn Harrison as Waldo Faldo (seasons 4-7)
  • Orlando Brown as Jerry Jamael Jameson (3J) (recurring season 7, seasons 8-9)


  • Ron Canada as Dave McClure
  • Patrick J. Dancy as Ted Curran
  • Venus DeMilo Thomas as K.C.
  • Sherman Hemsley as Capt. Marion Savage
  • Barry Jenner as Lt. Murtagh
  • Arnold Johnson as Fletcher
  • Cherie Johnson as Maxine Johnson
  • Randy Josselyn as Rodney Beckett
  • Susan Krebs as Ms. Steuben
  • Clyde Kusatsu as Principal Edgar Shimata
  • Mary Morrow as Oneisha
  • Danielle Nicolet as Vonda Mahoney
  • Ron Orbach as Nick Neidermeyer
  • J. Lamont Pope as Curtis Williams
  • Tom Poston as Mr. Alfred Looney
  • Brooke Procida as Donna Santangelo
  • Naya Rivera as Gwendolyn
  • Shavar Ross as Alex "Weasel" Park
  • Ebonie Smith as Penny Peyser
  • Michelle Thomas as Myra Monkhouse
  • Tammy Townsend as Greta McClure
  • Kim Valentine as Cassie Lynn Nubbles
  • Fred Willard as Vice Principal Mallet
  • Marlon "Chopper" Young as Willie
  • Spencer Garrett as Larry Johnson

Switch to CBS

In early 1997, CBS picked up Family Matters and Step by Step in a $40 million deal to acquire the rights to the programs from ABC. ABC then promised to pay Miller-Boyett Productions $1.5 million per episode for a ninth and tenth season of Family Matters.

However, tensions had risen between Miller-Boyett Productions and ABC's corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company (which had bought the network in 1995 as part of its merger with ABC's then-parent Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.). Miller-Boyett thought that it would not be a big player on ABC after the network's recent purchase by Disney. In turn, Miller-Boyett Productions agreed to a $40 million offer from CBS for a 22-episode season for both shows.

CBS scheduled Family Matters (along with Step by Step) as a part of its new Friday lineup branded as the "CBS Block Party" and scheduled the family-oriented block against ABC's TGIF lineup where the two series originated.

Near the end of the ninth season, the cast was informed that a tenth & final season was planned, so scripts and plot synopses were written for the show, but due to poor ratings, CBS cancelled Family Matters (as well as Step By Step) after one season along with the rest of the "Block Party" lineup.

CBS also pulled Family Matters from its regular schedule in the winter and ended up airing the series finale with little fanfare during "burn off" summer TV time in July 1998.

External links

Family Matters
Family matters.jpg
Genre Sitcom
Created by William Bickley and Michael Warren
Developed by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 215
Producer(s) Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
William Bickley
Michael Warren (seasons 2–7)
David W. Duclon (seasons 3–8)
Location(s) Lorimar Studios (1989–1993)
Warner Bros. Studios (1993–1998)
Camera setup Film, multi-camera
Running time 22-24 minutes
Miller-Boyett Prod.
Bickley-Warren Prod. (season 3-9)
Lorimar Television (season 1-4)
Warner Bros. Television (season 5-9)
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original channel ABC (1989–1997)
CBS (1997–1998)
Picture format 4:3 SDTV / 4:3 HDTV
Original run September 22, 1989 – July 17, 1998
Preceded by Perfect Strangers