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).
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.