Goodbye Mr. Fish

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"Goodbye Mr. Fish"
The Cosby Show episode
Goodbye Mr Fish.png
The Huxtable family attends a bathroom funeral for Rudy's pet goldfish.
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 2
Directed by Jay Sandrich
Written by Earl Pomerantz
Production code 0102
Original air date September 27, 1984
Running time 24:08
Episode chronology
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List of The Cosby Show episodes
season 1

"Goodbye Mr. Fish"[1] or sometimes "Good-bye Mr. Fish",[2] "Goodbye, Mr. Fish"[3] or just "Mr. Fish"[3] is the second episode of the first season of the American sitcom The Cosby Show. The episode was directed by Jay Sandrich and written by Earl Pomerantz. "Goodbye Mr. Fish" originally aired in the United States on NBC on Thursday September 27, 1984, at 8:00 PM Eastern time.

The episode focuses on the death of Rudy's pet goldfish, which was difficult to explain to her and difficult for her to deal with. The episode was a critical and commercial success, achieving both high ratings and positive critical feedback. Its viewer ratings placed it third for the opening week of the 1984–85 United States network television season and it earned Primetime Emmy Award and Writers Guild Award nominations for its writing.

Several critics either describe this as the most memorable episode of the series or mention it first when describing the series' memorable episodes. Other critics as well as Bill Cosby include it on short lists of episode highlights. Highlights of this episode are included in the season 4 two-part "Looking Back" episode.


Cliff (Bill Cosby) comes home from a long day at work and tries to take a nap. Vanessa (Tempestt Bledsoe) disturbs him to say that Rudy's (Keshia Knight Pulliam) goldfish, Lamont, has died, but she does not realize it yet. They have a hard time explaining to Rudy what has happened. Once they do, Rudy becomes depressed. Later that day, the older kids start making fun of Lamont's death, Theo saying they should hold a memorial service for the fish around the family toilet. When Cliff feels that the rest of the family is insensitive to Rudy's loss, he requires the entire family to participate in a memorial service for Lamont in the bathroom in proper funeral attire. Rudy loses interest in the funeral and leaves to watch television, ending the ceremony abruptly. She later returns to the bathroom - not because she wants to say goodbye to Lamont as Cliff thinks, but because she needs to use the toilet.



The set used was notably different from the one used during the "Pilot". In the first episode, the first floor has extra rooms that it does not have in the rest of the series, beginning with this episode.[4] This is one of the few sitcom episodes that shows the bathroom according to Patricia Leigh Brown of The New York Times.[5]


In 2009, TV Guide created TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time, with this episode ranked number 15.[6] Earl Pomerantz was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay - Episodic Comedy and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for this episode.[2] The episode was also nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Live and Tape Sound Mixing and Sound Effects for a Series. The episode finished third in the Nielsen Media Research ratings for the week with a 19.1 million person viewership and a 22.5 share for the week ending September 30 behind Dallas (22.4 million) and Falcon Crest (19.8 million). This followed a first-place ranking for the "Pilot" the week before.[7] This was the first episode of the series to air after the September 24 date that marked the official beginning of the 1984–85 United States network television season.[8]

David Hinckley of the Daily News describes Rudy as "impossibly cute" in this episode.[9] Producer Marcy Carsey considered the episode to be an example of how the series dealt with the "reactions to small-scale events".[10] According to Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, this is considered by many to be the most memorable episode of the series.[11] Other critics consider it to be among the highlights of the series including Allison Samuels of Newsweek who remembered Cosby for two performances in the series in which he "hid his potato-chip habit from his wife and delivered a deadpan eulogy as he flushed his daughter's goldfish down the toilet".[12] William Raspberry of The Washington Post and Graham Jefferson of USA Today considered the episode to be a highlight of the series.[13][14] Cosby was quoted in Ebony as counting the episode on the short list of highlights from the series.[15] This was the first episode mentioned by several writers discussing the series, including Renee Graham of the Boston Globe,[16] Matt Roush of USA Today — in 1987 after the first 81 episodes —,[17] and Candace Murphy of the Oakland Tribune.[18] In the fourth season of the series during the two-part November 12, 1987 "Looking Back" episode in which the family tries to help the newlywed Sondra Huxtable and Elvin reconcile after their first fight, they recount the highlights of the first 81 episodes to help Elvin understand Sondra and her family and this episode is highlighted.[17][19] According to Turner Broadcasting System, the following lines in the funeral part of the script were among the most memorable in the entire series:

Cliff: "We're here to say goodbye to a cherished friend: Lamont, the goldfish."
Vanessa: "I always felt safe with him around."[20]


  1. ^ "The Cosby Show 1984-1991 TV-G Seasons 1-8". Netflix. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  2. ^ a b "The Writers Guild Foundation Library Catalog". Writers Guild of America. Retrieved 2012-04-15. 
  3. ^ a b "Mr. Fish (a.k.a. Goodbye, Mr. Fish)". Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  4. ^ "Pilot" (episode 1) through "Play It Again, Vanessa" (episode 8)". The Cosby Show. Season 1, DVD 1. 1984-09-20–1984-11-08. NBC.
  5. ^ Brown, Patricia Leigh (1987-01-29). "Where America Feels At Home: The Sitcom Living Room". The New York Times. p. C1. "Sitcoms do clean up reality considerably, though. Messiness is usually confined to teen-agers' bedrooms. There are no dishes in the kitchen sink. Rarely, if ever, does one encounter a lock on the door. Bathrooms are rarely shown, except for the occasional funeral of a goldfish." 
  6. ^ "Cover story". TV Guide. June 15, 2009. 
  7. ^ "The Nielsens". Observer-Reporter. 1984-10-04. p. C-2. Retrieved 2012-04-15. 
  8. ^ Bianculli, David (1984-08-30). "Being First Is Often Fatal For New Series". Philadelphia Inquirer. p. C10. 
  9. ^ Hinckley, David (2002-03-24). "From 'The Cosby Show' . . . The Huxtables Chapter 23". Daily News. p. 41. "How could anyone stay mad at the impossibly cute little Ruby when her goldfish dies and she's so heartbroken [Cliff Huxtable] decides to hold a memorial service, only he's barely started the eulogy when she tugs on his shirt and tells him she wants to watch TV?" 
  10. ^ Lavin, Cheryl (1986-03-02). "Q & A Marcy Carsey". Chicago Tribune. "Instead, the show will continue to explore the reactions to small-scale events--the first day of school, the death of a pet goldfish--by the Huxtable family." 
  11. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (1992-05-01). "Thanks for the Cosby Memories". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-04-15. 
  12. ^ Samuels, Allison (2003-11-03). "Cosby in winter". Newsweek 142 (18). pp. 62–64. 
  13. ^ Raspberry, William (1992-04-17). "Thanks, Coz". The Washington Post. p. A23. "Every cute or crazy thing Theo or Rudy or Denise did reminded them of something their own family members had done, whether it was spending too much money for a "hot" item of clothing, getting caught in a lie about why they were too late getting home or having a funeral for a dead goldfish." 
  14. ^ Jefferson, Graham (1992-04-28). "A family album of kids from 'Cosby'". USA Today. p. 3D. 
  15. ^ "Backstage at the Last Cosby Show". Ebony 47 (7). May 1992. p. 126. "the 208 episodes -- the changing of the guard at Hillman College, Rudy singing "The Night Time Is The Right Time," Cliff and Clair gettin' down with Big Maybelle's "Candy," the burial of the family goldfish, the final, triumphant graduation of Theo" 
  16. ^ Graham, Renee (2005-08-02). "'Cosby Show' Comedy Had A Serious Impact ; Sitcom Gently Delivered Star's Message: [Third Edition]". Boston Globe. p. E1. "The Cosby Show," in its way, was a show about the everyday nothings of family life, whether it was the death of Rudy's goldfish, Theo getting his ear pierced without his parents' permission (Cliff confronting his son plays like a classic Marx Brothers skit), or Cliff's hilarious complaints that fathers always get lousy gifts on Father's Day." 
  17. ^ a b Roush, Matt (1987-11-12). "A collage of 'Cosby' classics". USA Today. p. 3D. "It's "thanks for the memories" time tonight for the Huxtables, the USA's favorite family. It's a scrapbook of snapshots worth framing, or taping. There's the famous funeral for Rudy's goldfish, and the time that Theo got his ear pierced. And who could forget the rollicking lip sync the entire family performed at the grandparents' anniversary?" 
  18. ^ Murphy, Candace (2004-08-08). "The Cozy Cosby Sweater Has Unraveled ; Cosby has unraveled some woolly memories the past few months by lambasting African-Americans parents for their parental failurese". Oakland Tribune. 
  19. ^ Rauser, Chris (1987-11-12). "TV highlights". Chicago Tribune. 
  20. ^ "The Cosby Show Quotes". Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved 2012-04-15. 

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