Family Matters

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Family Matters
GenreFamily sitcom
Created by
  • William Bickley
  • Michael Warren
Developed by
  • Thomas L. Miller
  • Robert L. Boyett
Theme music composerJesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay & Scott Roeme
(first five episodes only: Bob Thiele, George David Weiss & George Douglas)
Opening theme"As Days Go By,"
performed by Jesse Frederick
(originally in first five episodes only: "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong)
Ending themeInstrumental theme,
composed by Jesse Frederick & Bennett Salvay (seasons 1–4)
Gary Boren (seasons 5–9)
ComposersJesse Frederick &
Bennett Salvay (both; seasons 1 and 2)
Gary Boren (seasons 3–5, 8 and 9)
Steven Chesne (seasons 4–7 and 9)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes215 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
Production locations
Camera setupFilm; Multi-camera[1]
Running time24 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkABC (1989-1997)
CBS (1997-1998)
ReleaseSeptember 22, 1989 (1989-09-22) –
July 17, 1998 (1998-07-17)

Family Matters is an American television sitcom that debuted on ABC on September 22, 1989, and ended on May 9, 1997. However it moved to CBS, where it was shown from September 19, 1997, to July 17, 1998. A spin-off of Perfect Strangers, the series revolves around the Winslow family, an African-American middle class family living in Chicago, Illinois.[2] Midway through the first season, the show introduced the Winslows' nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), who was originally scripted to appear as a one-time character. However, he quickly became the show's breakout character (and eventually the main character), joining the main cast.[3]

Running for 215 episodes over nine seasons, Family Matters became the second-longest-running live action U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African-American cast, behind The Jeffersons with 11 seasons and 253 episodes. Both have since been exceeded by Tyler Perry's House of Payne with over 334 episodes as of 2023. Family Matters is the last live-action scripted primetime show that debuted in the 1980s to leave the air; the only scripted show that started in the 1980s and lasts longer in continuous production is The Simpsons.[a]


The series was a spinoff from the ABC sitcom Perfect Strangers; both shows aired Friday nights on ABC's primetime slot called "TGIF". Jo Marie Payton played Harriette Winslow, the elevator operator at a newspaper where Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous also worked. Reginald VelJohnson, who was coming off of growing fame from his role in Die Hard, made an appearance on the show as Harriette's husband Carl Winslow, a Chicago police officer. ABC and the producers loved the character Harriette for her great morale and quick-witted humor and decided to create a show that would focus on her and her family, husband Carl, son Eddie, elder daughter Laura, and younger daughter Judy (who appeared until the character was retconned after season four as having not existed).[4]

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. The Winslows' nerdy teenage next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), was introduced early in the first season and given a significant role midway through the season in the episode "Laura’s First Date" and quickly became the focus of the show.[5]

The popular sitcom 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. Family Matters was produced by Bickley-Warren Productions (1991–1998) and Miller-Boyett Productions, in association with Lorimar Television (1989–1993) and later Warner Bros. Television (1993–1998). As the show progressed, episodes began to center increasingly on Steve Urkel, and other original characters also played by White, including Steve's suave alter-ego, Stefan Urquelle (who is similar to Jaleel White's real-life self), and his female cousin, Myrtle Urkel.

Network change[edit]

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.[6] 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 1996 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.[7]

Miller-Boyett Productions agreed to a $40 million offer from CBS for a 22-episode season for both Family Matters and Step By Step. CBS scheduled Family Matters along with Meego and Step By Step as a part of its new Friday lineup, branded as the CBS Block Party. The network scheduled the family-oriented block against ABC's TGIF lineup, where the two series originated. Jo Marie Payton's contract had just expired and she was reluctant to continue, feeling the show had jumped the shark years prior. She agreed to stay to keep continuity[7] but left midseason shortly after very nearly getting into a physical altercation with White in what would be her last regular episode; in that episode, White (playing a gangster instead of his usual Urkel) was attempting to insert material that violated Broadcast Standards and Practices. The resulting dispute between White and Payton escalated to the point where Darius McCrary had to separate the two.[8] Payton would appear in only one more episode after that—a Christmas episode that also brought back several former characters from the ABC run who had been written out on CBS—before Judyann Elder took over as Harriette for the remainder of the season.

While Family Matters continued to lose viewership compared to previous years, it was initially a modest success on CBS, beating the show that replaced it, You Wish. Meego, however, was a ratings failure and was canceled after six weeks. After the holiday special season, CBS replaced Meego with Kids Say the Darndest Things, and with that show's child-centered focus, it was placed in Family Matters' 8/7c time slot. Family Matters was pushed an hour later and paired with Step by Step. The ratings for Family Matters fell even further in this later slot, and the entire block except for Kids Say the Darndest Things was canceled in spring 1998, with the remaining episodes burned off in the summer.


Clockwise from bottom-left: Jaleel White as Steve Urkel, Kellie Shanygne Williams as Laura, Michelle Thomas as Myra, Darius McCrary as Eddie, Jo Marie Payton as Harriette and Reginald VelJohnson as Carl
Character Portrayed by Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Carl Otis Winslow Reginald VelJohnson Main
Harriette Baines Winslow Jo Marie Payton Main
Judyann Elder Does not appear M
Estelle "Mother" Winslow Rosetta LeNoire Main G
Edward "Eddie" Winslow Darius McCrary Main
Laura Lee Winslow Kellie Shanygne Williams Main
Judith "Judy" Winslow Valerie Jones M[b] Does not appear
Jaimee Foxworth Main Does not appear
Richard "Richie" Crawford Joseph & Julius Wright M Does not appear
Bryton McClure Does not appear Main R
Rachel Baines Crawford Telma Hopkins Main Does not appear R Does not appear G
Steven "Steve" Quincy Urkel Jaleel White R Main
Waldo Geraldo Faldo Shawn Harrison Does not appear R Main Does not appear
Myra Monkhouse Michelle Thomas Does not appear R Main
Jerry Jamal "3J" Jameson Orlando Brown Does not appear R Main


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRatingViewers
First airedLast airedNetwork
122September 22, 1989 (1989-09-22)April 27, 1990 (1990-04-27)ABC3913.722.2
225September 21, 1990 (1990-09-21)May 3, 1991 (1991-05-03)1515.826.4
325September 20, 1991 (1991-09-20)May 8, 1992 (1992-05-08)2713.521.6
424September 18, 1992 (1992-09-18)May 14, 1993 (1993-05-14)3212.620.8
524September 24, 1993 (1993-09-24)May 20, 1994 (1994-05-20)3012.620.7
625September 23, 1994 (1994-09-23)May 19, 1995 (1995-05-19)3411.618.4
724September 22, 1995 (1995-09-22)May 17, 1996 (1996-05-17)4210.517.0
824September 20, 1996 (1996-09-20)May 9, 1997 (1997-05-09)508.814.02
922September 19, 1997 (1997-09-19)July 17, 1998 (1998-07-17)CBS995.98.17

Production notes[edit]

The Family Matters house in Chicago (depicted as the Winslow family home) in 2010. In 2017, the house was demolished and replaced with condos.[9]

Family Matters was created by William Bickley and Michael Warren (who also wrote for, and were producers of, parent series Perfect Strangers) and developed by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett (who also served as executive producers on Perfect Strangers); all four also served as executive producers of the series. The series was produced by Miller-Boyett Productions, in association with Lorimar Television who co-produced the show until 1993, when Warner Bros. Television absorbed Lorimar (a sister company under the co-ownership of Time Warner).

Starting with season three, the series was also produced by Bickley-Warren Productions. The series was filmed in front of a live studio audience; the Lorimar-produced episodes were shot at Lorimar Studios (later Sony Pictures Studios) in Culver City, California, while the Warner Bros.-produced episodes were filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in nearby Burbank.

The show's original theme was Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"; it was scrapped after the fifth episode of season one ("Straight A's"), though it was heard only in the pilot episode in syndicated reruns. The second theme, "As Days Go By", written by Jesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay and Scott Roeme and performed by Frederick, was the theme for the majority of the series until 1995. The sixth season's opening credits was last used in the season seven episodes "Talk's Cheap" and "Fa La La La Laagghh", the only two episodes during the final three seasons to feature the theme song (this was heard in season one episodes in ABC Family and syndicated airings). A longer version of "As Days Go By" was used during the first three seasons, though in syndicated reruns the short version is heard (in ABC Family airings, the long theme was used for all of the episodes during the first three seasons).

Family Matters is set in the same fictional universe as several other TV shows related to ABC's TGIF or CBS's Block Party. Before Family Matters, Harriette Winslow was originally the elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle newspaper office in the third and fourth seasons of Perfect Strangers. Family Matters was a spin-off series given to this character in 1989. Characters from Family Matters appeared on other shows, including Full House, Boy Meets World, Step by Step and Meego.


In September 1993, Warner Bros. Television Distribution began distributing Family Matters for broadcast in off-network syndication; most television stations stopped carrying the show by around 2002, though some stations in larger markets such as WTOG in Tampa, Florida continued to air Family Matters until as recently as 2005 and New York's WPIX as 2006. In 1995, reruns of the series began airing on TBS Superstation, where it ran until 2003. TBS would air two episodes of Family Matters each weekday afternoon from October 1995 to September 1999. From 1999 to 2003, TBS only aired the series once per weekday typically playing in the early mornings. The series returned to TBS in 2020.

From 1997 to 2003, reruns of the series aired on WGN America. In 2003, ABC Family picked up the series and aired it for five years until February 29, 2008. From 2004 to 2006, UPN aired the show for 2 years. BET aired reruns briefly in December 2009 and began airing the series on a regular basis on March 1, 2013; the series returned to BET in mid-February 2023. MTV2 also began airing reruns on September 7, 2013. The show aired on Nick at Nite from June 29, 2008, to December 31, 2012. ABC Family and Nick at Nite airings cut the tag scenes at the end of all episodes, despite the fact that many episodes during the series have tag scenes during the closing credits. The series also aired on TV One from 2019 to 2023. In Canada, the series also aired on CTV, CBC and currently airs on Family Channel.

On September 29, 2017, Family Matters became available for streaming on Hulu.[10] In the UK it aired on Sky One whilst Perfect Strangers aired on BBC One.

Reruns of the series aired on Cartoon Network's ACME Night block in 2021.

TruTV began airing reruns in 2023 as part of their "Comfort Food" block.[11]

On October 1, 2021, Family Matters began streaming on HBO Max after its streaming rights expired from Hulu, but has since returned to the Hulu platform.[12]

International airings[edit]

In France, it aired as La Vie de famille (Family Life) as part of the show Club Dorothée on January 1, 1995, and on RTL9 (from August 28, 1995), France 2 & M6 (from June 1, 2000).

In Italy, it aired as Otto sotto un tetto (Eight under one roof) on Canale 5, Italia 1 in 1992, with subsequent airings on Fox Retro & Sky Atlantic.

Home media[edit]

Warner Home Video has released the first four seasons of Family Matters on DVD in Region 1[13][14][15] while the remaining five seasons were released by the Warner Archive Collection.[16][17][18][19][20] On February 4, 2014, Warner Home Video released season 4 on DVD, but consumers complained when it was found that the season 4 set contained syndication edits rather than the original broadcast masters. Warner Bros. responded to the complaints, offered a replacement program to receive corrected discs and reissuing the set with corrected broadcast copies on April 4, 2014. All episodes are the original broadcast form, except for the episode "Number One With a Bullet", disc 1, episode 6. The entire series is also available for digital download on and the iTunes Store, all but season 6 remastered in both SD and HD.[21]

A Complete Series DVD boxset was released on September 26, 2023

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Ref(s)
The Complete 1st Season 22 June 8, 2010 [13]
The Complete 2nd Season 25 February 14, 2012 [14]
The Complete 3rd Season 25 February 12, 2013 [15]
The Complete 4th Season 24 February 4, 2014 [16]
The Complete 5th Season 24 February 16, 2016 [17]
The Complete 6th Season 25 April 12, 2016
The Complete 7th Season 24 July 26, 2016
The Complete 8th Season 24 September 20, 2016
The Complete 9th Season 22 November 8, 2016 [22]
The Complete Series 215 September 26, 2023

Urkel Saves Santa: The Movie![edit]

On September 1, 2021, it was announced an animated Christmas film Urkel Saves Santa: The Movie! (originally Did I Do That to the Holidays? A Steve Urkel Story) was planned to air on Cartoon Network as part of the block ACME Night in 2022.[23][24] It was set to be released on HBO Max. However, on August 22, 2022, it was announced the film will not be moving forward on HBO Max and would be shopped elsewhere due to the Warner Bros. Discovery merger.[25][26] Warner Bros. Discovery instead released the film on digital on November 21, 2023.[27]

A Family Matters Christmas[edit]

In 2022, a Christmas-themed movie titled A Family Matters Christmas was made and released direct-to-video on November 8, 2022. The plot focuses on blended family in which the children switch bodies and learn about the others, and must work together to switch back. Jo Marie Payton and Kellie Shanygne Williams appear[28] briefly. However, they play entirely new characters and the movie has no connection to the actual Family Matters show.


Association Year[c] Category Nominee(s) / Work Result Ref(s)
Broadcast Music, Inc (BMI) Film & TV Awards 1991 BMI TV Music Award Bennett Salvay Won
1992 BMI TV Music Award Bennett Salvay Won
NAACP Image Awards 1994 Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Jaleel White Won
1995 Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Jaleel White Won
1996 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Jaleel White Nominated
1997 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Jaleel White Won
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 1996 Favorite Television Show Family Matters Nominated
Favorite Television Actor Jaleel White Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards 1996 Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects Kelly Sandefur
(For episode "Send in the Clone")
Nominated [29]
TV Land Icon Awards 2008 Favorite Character(s) Who "Went Missing" Jaimee Foxworth Nominated
Young Artist Awards 1990 Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series Darius McCrary Nominated
Best New Television Series Family Matters Nominated
Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Television Series Randy Josselyn Won
1991 Best Young Actress Supporting or Re-Occurring Role For a TV Series Jaimee Foxworth Nominated
Best Young Actress Starring in a Television Series Kellie Shanygne Williams Nominated
Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series Darius McCrary Nominated
Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series Jaleel White Won
1992 Outstanding Young Comedienne in a Television Series Kellie Shanygne Williams Nominated
1993 Outstanding Young Comedienne in a Television Series Kellie Shanygne Williams Nominated
Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series Darius McCrary Nominated
Best Young Actress Recurring in a Television Series Cherie Johnson Nominated
Best Young Actor Recurring in a Television Series Patrick J. Dancy Nominated
Best Young Actor Co-starring in a Television Series Shawn Harrison Nominated
Best Young Actor Recurring in a Television Series Bumper Robinson
(Tied with Aeryk Egan for Brooklyn Bridge)


  1. ^ Some non-scripted shows from the 1980s such as America's Funniest Home Videos also lasted longer, while other scripted comedy/drama series such as Roseanne were revived much later after significant stoppages in production. Seinfeld debuted in the same season as Family Matters but aired its final episode two months earlier.
  2. ^ In the first season, Valerie Jones was credited as a series regular in only the first episode.
  3. ^ Indicates the year of ceremony. Each year is linked to the article about the awards held that year, wherever possible.


  1. ^ "Myths and Mysteries Surround Pioneering of 3-Camera TV : Broadcasting: A popular belief is that Desi Arnaz created the technique for 'I Love Lucy' in 1951, but evidence of the system dates to 1947". Los Angeles Times. July 29, 1991. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  2. ^ Fearn-Banks, Kathleen (2006). Historical Dictionary of African-American Television. Vol. 7. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 135. ISBN 0-8108-5335-3.
  3. ^ Fisherkeller, JoEllen (2002). Growing Up With Television: Everyday Learning Among Young Adolescents. Temple University Press. pp. 178. ISBN 1-56639-953-X.
  4. ^ Haithman, Diane (January 4, 1991). "Is Uncool Urkel the '90s Answer to the Fonz?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
  5. ^ Bellafante, Ginia (December 9, 1996). "Revenge of The Nerd". Time. Archived from the original on September 19, 2010. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
  6. ^ Boedeker, Hal (July 18, 1997). "He's A Goober But CBS Has A Lot Riding On Urkel TV". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Family Matters: Why Did JoMarie Payton Leave the TV Show? [Interview, part one]". July 27, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  8. ^ "'Family Matters' Star JoMarie Payton Says Jaleel White Once Threatened to Fight Her on Set (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight". May 3, 2022. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  9. ^ "'Family Matters' House Will be Demolished, Replaced with Condos". Archived from the original on November 26, 2021. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
  10. ^ Hatchett, Keisha (September 29, 2017). "This Is Not a Drill: Boy Meets World Is Now On Hulu". Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  11. ^ "Family Matters -". Retrieved November 5, 2023.
  12. ^ ""Dune," "The Many Saints Of Newark," The Third Season Of "Succession," And The Final Season Of "Insecure" Arrive On HBO Max This October". WarnerMedia Pressroom. September 23, 2021. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Family Matters DVD news:Announcement for Family Matters – The Complete First Season". Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  14. ^ a b "Family Matters DVD news:Announcement for Family Matters – The Complete Second Season". Archived from the original on March 17, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Family Matters DVD news:Announcement for Family Matters – The Complete Third Season". Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  16. ^ a b "Family Matters: The complete Fourth Season Season". Archived from the original on December 27, 2015.
  17. ^ a b "Family Matters – EXCLSUVE! Release Date for 'The Complete 5th Season DVD". Archived from the original on December 27, 2015. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  18. ^ "Family Matters – Warner Archive Gives Us the CORRECT Word About 'The Complete 6th Season' DVDs". Archived from the original on March 17, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  19. ^ "Family Matters DVD news: Announcement for the Complete 7th Season |". Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  20. ^ [permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Family Matters, Season 1". September 21, 1989. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  22. ^ "Family Matters DVD news: Announcement for the Complete 9th Season |". Archived from the original on October 22, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  23. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (September 1, 2021). "WarnerMedia Kids & Family Launching 'ACME Night' Block Sept. 19". Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  24. ^ @cartoonnetwork (December 2, 2021). "It's December and that means a BRAND NEW ACME Night Lineup! 🍿 🎥 Grab the fam for your fav blockbusters and magical…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  25. ^ "'Batman: Caped Crusader' Series Not Moving Forward at HBO Max". August 23, 2022.
  26. ^ "'Batman: Caped Crusader': Apple TV+, Netflix and Hulu Are Interested in Acquiring Cancelled HBO Max Series". Collider. August 26, 2022.
  27. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (November 15, 2023). "'Urkel Saves Santa' Xmas Special Rescued from the Naughty List for Digital Release". Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  28. ^ "'Family Matters' Stars to Reunite for Upcoming Holiday Film". October 6, 2022.
  29. ^ "Television Academy–Awards & Nominations". Archived from the original on May 25, 2021. Retrieved December 27, 2021.

External links[edit]