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 WOR EMI Service is officially discontinued, re-uplinked into a local version a month later.
January 3 Bryant Gumbel anchors his last Today show on NBC. The following Monday, Matt Lauer takes over alongside Katie Couric.
January 6 Sunset Beach premieres on NBC.
January 12 King of the Hill premieres on Fox.
January 22 New World Communications is acquired by Fox. The deal makes 10 New World-owned stations that affiliated with Fox as a result of the 1994 United States broadcast TV realignment network O&O's.
January 26 Fox broadcasts its first Super Bowl, making it the last of the big four networks to air a Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers defeat the New England Patriots 35-21 in a game that gives Fox its highest ratings to date.
February 1 The final affiliation switch resulting from the 1994 United States broadcast TV realignment takes place when Allbritton Communications (owners of WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., one of the strongest ABC affiliates in the country) converts WB affiliate WBSG in Brunswick, Georgia into a semi-satellite of new sign-on WJXX in Orange Park, Florida, which assumes the ABC affiliation for the Jacksonville market. Former ABC affiliate WJKS promptly discontinues its news operation and assumes the WB affiliation from WBSG.
February 9 On Fox, The Simpsons airs the episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show". With this episode, The Simpsons surpasses 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.
April 1 The cable channel CBS Eye on People (later known as Discovery People) debuted.
April 7 Disney Channel is revamped with the premiere of Pocahontas.
April 30 The Ellen episode, The Puppy Episode is broadcast on ABC, 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 on ABC, with the other cast members of Full House, minus The Olsen Twins.
June 6 Farrah Fawcett makes a bizarre appearance on CBS's 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. CBS assumes the rights to the tour and will televise several events over the next two years.
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 of Another World is broadcast on NBC in honor of Victoria Wyndham's 25 years with the program.
July 16 The Powerhouse era begins on Cartoon Network replacing the Checkerboard era.
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. (Four special episodes were broadcast during this time, but are not counted as part of the series's normal run.)
August 31 WFFF-TV in Burlington, Vermont signs-on the air, giving the Burlington/Plattsburgh market its first full-time Fox affiliate (prior to this, Fox programming was seen on a secondary basis on CBS affiliate WCAX-TV).[1]
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 revamps its Saturday morning cartoon schedule, and adds more new series from parent company 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 to form the basis of the "CBS Block Party", a direct competitor to TGIF. Both series, as well as the Block Party, will be cancelled after one season.
October 1 PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia, cease broadcasting to make way for Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.
October 31 Detroit regional sports network PASS Sports goes 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 ABC's parent company The Walt Disney Company (which made its own version of the story as an animated movie during 1950).
November 6 The NBC discussion show Meet the Press celebrates its 50th anniversary.
November 9 During a pay-per-view broadcast of the World Wrestling Federation's Survivor Series, then-WWF Champion Bret Hart loses his title to Shawn Michaels. The finish is mired in controversy when WWF chairman Vince McMahon, who had been sitting at ringside, orders Earl Hebner, the assigned referee, to end the match as Michaels is holding Hart in Hart's own finishing maneuver, the Sharpshooter, even though Hart had not submitted. The incident becomes known as the Montreal Screwjob and will mark the final appearance of Hart on WWE television until 2010.[2]
November 29 The Emergency Broadcast System is replaced by the Emergency Alert System and it continues to this day.
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
February 7 The Chris Rock Show HBO
March 3 Daria MTV
March 4 Just Shoot Me! NBC
The Practice ABC
March 10 Buffy the Vampire Slayer The WB
March 17 Toonami Cartoon Network
March 26 Smart Guy The WB
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
Extreme Dinosaurs Syndication
September 6 Click
City Guys NBC
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 Adventures
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 21 Goin' for Mine
September 22 Timecop ABC
Brooklyn South CBS
September 23 Dellaventura
Dharma & Greg ABC
Hiller and Diller
September 24 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 Soldier of Fortune, Inc. Syndication
The Tony Danza Show NBC
Total Security
September 28 Jenny
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 Channel Umptee-3 Kids' WB
November 4 Autoline Detroit WTVS
Cartoon Sushi MTV
Enjoying Everyday Life Syndication
My Classic Car TNN
November 8 The Journey of Allen Strange Nickelodeon
November 28 Tenacious D HBO

Returning this year[edit]

Show Last aired Previous network New/Returning/Same network Returning
Voltron 1996 TBS Toonami March 17
Space Ghost Coast to Coast Cartoon Network July 18
Rugrats 1994 Nickelodeon Same August 23
The People's Court 1993 Syndication September 8
Cartoon Planet 1996 TBS Cartoon Network September 9
Batman: The Animated Series 1995 Fox Kids Kids' WB September 13
Muppets Tonight 1996 ABC Disney Channel
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 12 Kirk 1995
January 17 Mighty Ducks 1996
January 27 Ned & Stacey 1995
Space Cases 1996
January 31 Wait 'til You Have Kids
February 15 Gargoyles 1994
February 22 C Bear and Jamal 1996
Road Rovers
February 24 Savannah
March 15 Dangerous Minds
March 28 The City 1995
April 2 Lost on Earth 1997
EZ Streets 1996
April 4 Dragon Flyz
April 6 The Disney Channel 1983
April 14 Relativity 1996
April 16 The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
May 1 Martin 1992
May 13 Homeboys in Outer Space 1996
May 14 Coach 1989
May 17 Waynehead 1996
May 18 Brotherly Love 1995
May 19 The Cape 1996
Goode Behavior
May 20 The Burning Zone
Roseanne 1988
May 21 Wings 1990
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 1 Eek! The Cat 1992
August 9 Nightmare Ned 1997
August 18 The Site 1996
August 29 The Disney Afternoon 1990
August 30 Ultraman Tiga 1996
Hangin' with Mr. Cooper 1992
The Mask: Animated Series 1995
September 5 The Gordon Elliott Show 1994
September 6 Duckman
CBS Kidz 1996
Animal Broadcasting Company
September 7 Family Challenge 1995
September 20 X-Men 1992
September 26 Lamb Chop's Play-Along
September 27 The Legend of Calamity Jane 1997
October 12 The Big Easy 1996
October 24 Meego 1997
October 28 Head over Heels
November 2 The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat 1995
November 11 Hitz 1997
November 23 The Incredible Hulk 1996
November 24 Power Rangers Turbo 1997
November 28 Beavis and Butt-head (returned in 2011) 1993
The What a Cartoon! Show (returned in 2000) 1995
December 7 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters 1994
December 12 Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? 1996
December 17 Men Behaving Badly 1996
December 21 Weinerville 1993
December 22 Johnny Bravo (returned in 1999) 1997
December 24 Extreme Dinosaurs

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
Muppets Tonight Disney Channel
The Naked Truth NBC
Clueless UPN
Sweet Valley High Syndication
Sliders Fox Syfy
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Comedy Central
Politically Incorrect ABC
The Wonderful World of Disney Disney Channel
Sister, Sister The WB
Smart Guy
Batman: The Animated Series Fox Kids Kids' WB
Madeline The Family Channel Playhouse Disney
Katie and Orbie PBS
Space Ghost Coast to Coast TBS Cartoon Network
The What a Cartoon! Show
Cartoon Planet
Voltron Toonami
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Cartoon Network
Babylon 5 PTEN TNT
Rugrats Nick Jr. Nickelodeon

Entering syndication this year[edit]

Show Seasons In Production Source
Boy Meets World 4 Yes <ref>
Due South 3 Yes <ref>
Frasier 4 Yes <ref>
Grace Under Fire 4 Yes <ref>
Living Single 4 Yes <ref>
The Nanny 4 Yes <ref>
NYPD Blue 4 Yes <ref>
Walker, Texas Ranger 5 Yes <ref>
The X-Files 4 Yes <ref>


Date Name Notability
January 8 Jack Andraka American scientist
January 9 Lauryn McClain Actress
January 11 Cody Simpson Australian actor
January 17 Jake Paul Actor (Bizaardvark)
January 21 Jeremy Shada Voice actor (Finn the Human on Adventure Time)
January 24 Dylan Riley Snyder Actor (Kickin' It)
February 10 Chloë Grace Moretz Actress (My Friends Tigger & Pooh, Carrie, The 5th Wave)
March 11 Matreya Fedor Canadian actress (Mr. Young)
March 16 Tyrel Jackson Williams Actor (Lab Rats)
March 18 Ciara Bravo Actress (Big Time Rush, Red Band Society, Second Chance)
April 15 Maisie Williams English actress (Game of Thrones)
May 21 Kevin Quinn Actor (Bunk'd)
May 30 Jake Short Actor (A.N.T. Farm, Mighty Med, Lab Rats: Elite Force)
June 5 Denisea Wilson Actress (Every Witch Way)
July 4 Daniela Nieves Actress (Every Witch Way, WITS Academy)
July 13 Leo Howard Actor (Kickin' It)
July 20 Billi Bruno Actress (According to Jim)
July 22 Field Cate Actor (Pushing Daisies)
August 5 Adam Irigoyen Actor (Shake It Up)
Olivia Holt Actress (Kickin' It, I Didn't Do It)
August 10 Kylie Jenner Actress (Keeping Up with the Kardashians) and sister of Kendall Jenner
August 16 Piper Curda Actress (I Didn't Do It)
August 28 Emilia McCarthy Canadian actress (Max & Shred)
September 7 Dean-Charles Chapman English actor (Game of Thrones)
October 7 Kira Kosarin Actress (The Thundermans)
October 8 Bella Thorne Actress (Shake It Up) and singer
October 10 Grace Rolek Voice actress (Connie Maheswaran on Steven Universe)
October 23 Zach Callison Actor (Sofia the First, Steven Universe)
October 25 Tyler Alvarez Actor (Every Witch Way)
October 28 Sierra McCormick Actress (A.N.T. Farm)
October 31 Sydney Park Actress (Instant Mom)
November 1 Alex Wolff Actor (The Naked Brothers Band) and singer


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 and voice of Grandpa Lou Pickles on Rugrats)
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)
December 31 Michael LeMoyne Kennedy 39 American socialite and son of Robert F. Kennedy


  1. ^ Fybush, Scott (September 4, 1997). "You Drive 1100 Miles And What Do You Get?". North East RadioWatch. Retrieved August 28, 2016. 
  2. ^ "WWE Championship Match: Shawn Michaels def. Bret "Hit Man" Hart to become new WWE Champion". World Wrestling Entertainment. November 9, 1997. Retrieved March 2, 2015.