1997 in American television

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The following is a list of events affecting American television during 1997. Events listed include television show debuts, finales, cancellations, and channel initiations, closures and rebrandings, as well as information about controversies and disputes.


Date Event
January 1 The television rating system, a system similar to the one used for motion pictures, goes into effect.
WWOR-TV's EMI Service is officially discontinued, re-uplinked into a local version a month later.
The Emergency Broadcast System is replaced by the Emergency Alert System.
January 3 Bryant Gumbel anchored his last Today Show.
January 12 King of the Hill premieres.
January 22 New World Communications is acquired by Fox.
January 26 Fox broadcasts its first Super Bowl, making it the last of the big four networks to air a Super Bowl.
February 9 The Simpsons, with the airing of the episode "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show", surpassed The Flintstones as the longest-running primetime animated series in terms of episodes aired.
February 21 The old trilon-style puzzle board is used for the last time on Wheel of Fortune after 22 years. Next Monday, February 24, a new digital puzzle board debuts, which allows Vanna White to reveal letters with just a simple touch of a button.
March 17 Toonami debuts on Cartoon Network.
The first 24-hour Spanish news channel, CNN en Español goes live.
April 1 The cable channel CBS Eye on People (later known as Discovery People) debuted.
April 30 The Ellen episode, The Puppy Episode is broadcast, showing for the first time the revelation of a main character as a homosexual.
May 7 Disney Channel begins Playhouse Disney for pre-schoolers.
CBS begins airing the two-part Knots Landing reunion miniseries Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac, airing on two non-consecutive nights, on May 7 and May 9.
May 9 Bob Saget hosts his final regular episode of America's Funniest Home Videos with the other cast members of Full House, minus The Olsen Twins. ABC would rerun the episode on May 11.
June 6 Farrah Fawcett makes a bizarre appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. Fawcett tells long, rambling stories without a purpose, fails to understand simple questions, and gets easily distracted by things like blinking lights on the set.
June 21 The Professional Bowlers Tour ends after 36 years on ABC.
June 30 In Seattle, KIRO-TV (CBS) and KSTW (UPN) reverse their 1995 swap.
July 9 NewSport ends after four years.
July 15 A tribute episode is broadcast for Another World in honor of Victoria Wyndham's 25 years with the program.
August 13 South Park made its premiere on Comedy Central.
August 25 Rugrats returns to Nickelodeon with new regular episodes. It had been cancelled in 1994 but received a reprieve for a fourth season in 1995. Note: four special episodes were broadcast during the hiatus between cancellation and revival, but are not counted as part of the series's normal run.
September 1 Disney Channel converts from subscription television to a regular channel after 14 years.
September 6 Various networks broadcast the Princess Diana funeral; 2.7 million viewers at home watched this special.
September 13 ABC revamped the Saturday morning time period, and adds more new series from Disney to become Disney's One Saturday Morning. This, along with many other programming, was delayed one week from its originally planned debut as a result of the aforementioned Princess Diana funeral.
September 14 The 49th Primetime Emmy Awards presentation was broadcast on CBS.
September 19 After several years of being a part of ABC's successful "TGIF" sitcom programming block, Family Matters and Step by Step switch to CBS. (Both series were canceled the following Spring).
October 1 PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia, cease broadcasting to make way for Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.
October 31 Detroit regional sports network PASS Sports went off the air.
November 2 A third production of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's version of Cinderella was aired on ABC. This version, featuring Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston, was produced by The Walt Disney Company (which made its own version of the story as an animated movie during 1950).
November 6 Meet the Press celebrates its 50th anniversary.
November 9 Wrestler Bret Hart loses his last match in the WWF (now WWE) via submission to Shawn Michaels.
November 28 Beavis and Butt-head airs its (temporary) series finale on MTV. New episodes return in 2011.
December 23 Trio, a channel devoted to CBC programs, debuts for United States viewers.



Date Show Network
January 4 Lost on Earth USA Network
January 6 Sunset Beach NBC
January 9 Antiques Roadshow PBS
January 12 King of The Hill Fox
January 13 La Femme Nikita USA Network
January 19 Emeril Live Food Network
March 3 Daria MTV
March 4 Just Shoot Me! NBC
The Practice ABC
March 10 Buffy the Vampire Slayer The WB
March 26 Smart Guy
April 1 Religion & Ethics Newsweekly PBS
Viva Variety Comedy Central
April 5 The Crocodile Hunter Animal Planet
April 14 ¡Despierta América! Univision
April 15 Soul Man ABC
April 19 Nightmare Ned
The Angry Beavers Nickelodeon
Power Rangers Turbo Fox Kids
May 8 Playhouse Disney Disney Channel
June 2 Port Charles ABC
July 12 Oz HBO
July 14 Johnny Bravo Cartoon Network
July 15 Cow and Chicken
I Am Weasel
July 27 Stargate SG-1 Showtime
July 28 Win Ben Stein's Money Comedy Central
August 11 The View ABC
August 13 South Park Comedy Central
August 17 Behind the Music VH1
The World's Funniest! Fox
August 25 Good News UPN
August 26 Head over Heels
August 31 Recess Disney's One Saturday Morning
September 1 101 Dalmatians: The Series
Fox News Watch Fox News Channel
Pensacola: Wings of Gold USA Network
September 6 City Guys NBC
Click Syndication
September 7 Alright Already The WB
The Tom Show
September 8 Ally McBeal Fox
September 11 Between Brothers
413 Hope St.
September 12 Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation Fox Kids
September 13 Pepper Ann Disney's One Saturday Morning
Science Court
The Crayon Box Syndication
The Legend of Calamity Jane Kids' WB
The New Batman/Superman Adventures
CBS Saturday Morning CBS
The Weird Al Show Think CBS Kids
Wheel 2000
September 14 Fudge
The New Ghostwriter Mysteries
September 15 George & Leo CBS
The Gregory Hines Show
Michael Hayes
September 18 Cracker ABC
Nothing Sacred
September 19 The Visitor Fox
September 22 Timecop ABC
Brooklyn South CBS
September 23 Dellaventura
Dharma & Greg ABC
Hiller and Diller
September 24 The Tony Danza Show
Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel CBS
September 25 Union Square NBC
Veronica's Closet
September 26 Meego CBS
Teen Angel ABC
You Wish
September 27 Total Security
Soldier of Fortune, Inc. Syndication
September 28 Jenny NBC
September 29 The Big Garage TLC
October 1 Amp MTV
Daily News Live CSN Philadelphia
Wimzie's House PTV
October 4 The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police Fox Kids
Fame L.A. Syndication
October 6 Earth: Final Conflict
Team Knight Rider
The Edge CNBC
October 8 Working NBC
October 11 C-16: FBI ABC
Men in Black: The Series Kids' WB
October 17 Players NBC
October 20 Bear in the Big Blue House Playhouse Disney
October 25 Channel Umptee-3 Kids' WB
November 3 Autoline Detroit WTVS
Cartoon Sushi MTV
Enjoying Everyday Life Syndication
My Classic Car TNN

Resuming this year[edit]

Show Last aired Previous network New/Returning/Same network Returning
Rugrats 1994 Nickelodeon Same August 23
The People's Court 1993 Syndication September 8
Muppets Tonight 1996 ABC The Disney Channel September 13
The Wonderful World of Disney Disney Channel ABC September 28

Ending this year[edit]

Date Show Debut
January 1 Kung Fu: The Legend Continues 1993
January 3 Small Talk 1996
January 17 Mighty Ducks
January 27 Space Cases
January 31 Wait 'til You Have Kids
February 15 Gargoyles 1994
February 22 Road Rovers 1996
March 15 Dangerous Minds
March 28 The City 1995
April 2 EZ Streets 1996
April 14 Relativity
May 1 Martin 1992
May 7 The Disney Afternoon 1990
May 13 Homeboys in Outer Space 1996
May 14 Coach 1989
May 17 Waynehead 1996
May 19 The Cape
May 20 The Burning Zone
Roseanne 1988
May 22 Moloney 1996
May 30 Caryl & Marilyn: Real Friends
May 31 Dark Skies
June 1 Freakazoid! 1995
June 9 Married... with Children 1987
June 14 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman 1993
June 25 Pearl 1996
July 18 Dave's World 1993
August 18 The Site 1996
August 30 Ultraman Tiga
Hangin' with Mr. Cooper 1992
The Mask: Animated Series 1995
The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat
September 5 The Gordon Elliott Show 1994
September 6 Duckman
CBS Kidz 1996
September 22 X-Men 1992
September 26 Lamb Chop's Play-Along
October 12 The Big Easy 1996
November 23 The Incredible Hulk
November 24 Power Rangers Turbo 1997
November 28 Beavis and Butt-head (returned in 2011) 1993
December 7 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters 1994
December 12 The Magic School Bus
Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? 1996
December 17 Men Behaving Badly
December 28 The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss

Made-for-TV movies[edit]

Title Network Date of airing
Miss Evers' Boys HBO February 22
12 Angry Men Showtime August 17
Don King: Only in America HBO November 15
What the Deaf Man Heard CBS November 23


Title Network Premiere
The Shining ABC April 27
Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac CBS May 7
The Last Don May 11
The Odyssey NBC May 18
George Wallace TNT August 24

Changes of network affiliation[edit]

Show Moved from Moved to
Unsolved Mysteries
Family Matters ABC
Step by Step
Clueless UPN
The Naked Truth NBC
Politically Incorrect Comedy Central ABC
Sliders Fox Sci Fi Channel
Sweet Valley High Syndication UPN
Batman: The Animated Series Fox Kids Kids' WB
Tiny Toon Adventures
Madeline The Family Channel Playhouse Disney
Katie and Orbie PTV


Date Name Age Notability
February 6 Ernie Anderson 73 Voice actor and announcer (The Carol Burnett Show)
February 26 David Doyle 67 Actor (Bosley on Charlie's Angels)
March 15 Gail Davis 71 Actress (Annie on Annie Oakley)
April 15 Don Bexley 87 Actor (Bubba on Sanford and Son)
May 4 Alvy Moore 75 Actor (Hank Kimball on Green Acres)
May 11 Howard Morton 71 Character actor (Officer Ralph Simpson on Gimme a Break!)
May 24 Edward Mulhare 74 Actor (Captain Gregg on The Ghost & Mrs. Muir and Miles on Knight Rider)
June 8 Reid Shelton 72 Actor (1st & Ten: The Championship)
June 14 Richard Jaeckel 70 Actor (Baywatch, Spenser for Hire)
June 24 Brian Keith 75 Actor (Uncle Bill on Family Affair)
July 4 Charles Kuralt 62 Journalist (CBS News Sunday Morning)
August 27 Brandon Tartikoff 48 President of NBC
September 9 Burgess Meredith 89 Actor (The Penguin on Batman)
September 17 Red Skelton 84 Comedian (The Red Skelton Show)
October 9 Arch Johnson 75 Character actor (Camp Runamuck)
October 16 Audra Lindley 79 Actress (Mrs. Roper on Three's Company)
October 24 Don Messick 71 Voice actor (Scooby-Doo)
October 30 Sydney Newman 80 Producer (The Avengers, Doctor Who)
November 25 Charles Hallahan 54 Actor (Hunter)
December 18 Chris Farley 33 Comedian (Saturday Night Live)
December 25 Denver Pyle 77 Actor (Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard)