The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Fresh Prince Bel Aire logo.svg
Created byAndy Borowitz
Susan Borowitz
StarringWill Smith
James Avery
Janet Hubert-Whitten
Alfonso Ribeiro
Karyn Parsons
Tatyana M. Ali
Joseph Marcell
Daphne Maxwell Reid
Ross Bagley
Theme music composerThe Fresh Prince in association with A Touch of Jazz, Inc.
Opening theme"Yo Home to Bel Air", performed by The Fresh Prince
Composer(s)Quincy Jones
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes148 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Quincy Jones
Andy Borowitz
Susan Borowitz
Kevin Wendle (Season 1)
Winifred Hervey (Seasons 2–3)
Gary H. Miller (Season 4, Episode 1–Season 5, Episode 15)
Cheryl Gard (Season 5, Episodes 16-25)
Jeff Pollack
Will Smith (Season 6)
Benny Medina
Producer(s)Werner Walian
Lisa Rosenthal
Joel Madison
Leilani Downer
Joanne Curley-Kerner
Joel Markowitz
Production location(s)Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California (1990–1991)
Sunset Gower Studios
Hollywood, California (1991–1993)
NBC Studios
Burbank, California (1993–1996)
Camera setupVideotape; Multi-camera
Running time23 minutes
Production company(s)The Stuffed Dog Company
Quincy Jones Productions
(seasons 1-4)
Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment
(seasons 4-6)
NBC Productions
DistributorWarner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution
Original networkNBC
Picture format480i (SDTV)
Original releaseSeptember 10, 1990 (1990-09-10) – May 20, 1996 (1996-05-20)
External links

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990 to May 20, 1996. The show stars Will "The Fresh Prince" Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy aunt and uncle in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight in his hometown. In the series, his lifestyle often clashes with the lifestyle of his relatives in Bel Air. The series ran for six seasons and aired 148 episodes.[1][2]


The characters of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. From top left: Hilary Banks, Geoffrey, Vivian Banks, Carlton Banks. From bottom left: Ashley Banks, Philip Banks, Will Smith.

In 1990, music manager Benny Medina, along with his partner real estate mogul Jeff Pollack, decided to market a TV story based on Medina’s life. Medina had grown up poor in East Los Angeles but his life changed when he befriended a rich white teenager, whose family lived in Beverly Hills and allowed Medina to live with them. Medina decided to use this part of his life as the main focus of the show. However, given that by then a black character living with a white family was a concept that had been done multiple times on TV, Medina decided to change the rich white family to a rich black family “That way we could explore Black-on-Black prejudice as well as Black class differences“ said Medina in an interview for Ebony magazine.[3]

Medina pitched the idea to Quincy Jones, who had just signed a TV deal with Time-Warner. Jones was impressed by the idea and arranged a meeting with NBC chief Brandon Tartikoff. Medina wanted Will Smith to portray him in the show. Smith was well known by then as his music career as The Fresh Prince had put him in the main stream radar. After Tartikoff subsequently communicated he was interested in the show, Medina tracked down Smith who, at the time, was in the East coast, and asked him to get on the first plane to the Los Angeles area for a rushed casting session as Tartikoff said he wished to make sure Smith could act before advancing the project further.

Given the tight schedule of some of the parties involved, the casting for Smith and final detailing of the show's concept took place at Jones' 57th birthday party in his home.[3][4]

Smith says that mid celebration Jones had a group of people reconfigure his furniture in the livingroom to simulate a casting room and after Tartikoff was satisfied with Smith’s performance contracts were signed on the spot to get the show started and bind Smith to the project.[4]

Less than two months later the pilot episode began taping on May 1, 1990.[5] Season 1 first aired in September 1990, and ended in May 1991. The series finale was taped on Thursday, March 21, 1996.[6][7]

The theme song "Yo Home to Bel Air" was written and performed by Smith under his stage name, The Fresh Prince. The music was composed by Quincy Jones, who is credited with Smith at the end of each episode. The music often used to bridge scenes together during the show is based on a similar chord structure.


The theme song and opening sequence set the premise of the show. Will Smith is a street-smart teenager, West Philadelphia "born and raised". While playing street basketball, Will misses a shot and the ball hits a group of people, causing a confrontation that frightens his mother, who sends him to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in the opulent neighborhood of Bel Air, Los Angeles.

Will's working-class background ends up clashing in various humorous ways with the upper class world of the Banks family – Will's uncle Phil and aunt Vivian and their children, Will's cousins: Hilary, Carlton, and Ashley.

The premise is loosely based on the real-life story of the show's producer Benny Medina.[8]

Cast and characters[edit]


Actor/actress Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6
Will Smith Will Smith Main
James Avery Philip Banks Main
Janet Hubert-Whitten Vivian Banks Main
Daphne Maxwell Reid Main
Alfonso Ribeiro Carlton Banks Main
Karyn Parsons Hilary Banks Main
Tatyana M. Ali Ashley Banks Main
Joseph Marcell Geoffrey Butler Main
Ross Bagley Nicky Banks Main


Actor/actress Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6
DJ Jazzy Jeff Jazz Recurring
Vernee Watson-Johnson Viola "Vy" Smith Recurring
Michael Weiner Kellogg Lieberbaum Recurring
Lisa Fuller Toni Recurring
Jenifer Lewis Helen Smith Recurring
Charlayne Woodard Janice Smith Recurring
Perry Moore Tyriq "Ty" Johnson Recurring
Brian Stokes Mitchell Trevor Collins-Newsworthy Recurring
Tyra Banks Jacqueline "Jackie" Ames Recurring
Nia Long Beullah "Lisa" Wilkes Recurring


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedNielsen ratings[9]
First airedLast airedRankRating
125September 10, 1990 (1990-09-10)May 6, 1991 (1991-05-06)N/AN/A
224September 9, 1991 (1991-09-09)May 4, 1992 (1992-05-04)2214.3[A]
324September 14, 1992 (1992-09-14)May 10, 1993 (1993-05-10)1614.6[B]
426September 20, 1993 (1993-09-20)May 23, 1994 (1994-05-23)2113.7[C]
525September 19, 1994 (1994-09-19)May 15, 1995 (1995-05-15)N/AN/A
624September 18, 1995 (1995-09-18)May 20, 1996 (1996-05-20)N/AN/A

Crossovers and other appearances[edit]

During the fall 1991–1992 season, NBC gained two hit television shows to anchor their Monday night lineup (Blossom aired immediately after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). To gain popularity between the two shows, Will Smith appeared in the Blossom episode "I'm with the Band" as himself under his rap stage name, The Fresh Prince. That same season, Karyn Parsons appeared in the Blossom episode "Wake Up Little Suzy" as Hilary Banks. Parsons also appeared in the Patti LaBelle sitcom Out All Night as Hilary.

In the House and Fresh Prince were both executive-produced by Winifred Hervey, David Salzman and Quincy Jones. During the second season's first episode, Alfonso Ribeiro and Tatyana Ali appeared as their Fresh Prince characters (Carlton and Ashley Banks) in the crossover episode "Dog Catchers". Later that season, James Avery (Phillip Banks) appeared as a mediator in the episode "Love on a One-Way Street".

In the Season 4 episode "My Pest Friend's Wedding", James Avery and Daphne Maxwell Reid (Vivian Banks) guest starred as Dr. Maxwell Stanton's parents (Stanton was played by Ribeiro). Both Avery and Reid portrayed the parents of Ribeiro's Fresh Prince character. Joseph Marcell, who played the wisecracking Geoffrey Butler on Fresh Prince, appeared as an officiating minister in the same episode.

Celebrity guests[edit]

The show is notable for having a heavy celebrity guest presence with more than 40 celebrities guest starring throughout the series. Seasons 1 and 4 had the highest celebrity participation with 10 guest stars each.[10]

Celebrity Episode Notes
Rev. Jesse Jackson Season 1, Episode 2 Himself.[10]
Richard Roundtree Season 1, Episode 3 Dr Mumford, father of Will's love interest. Also played Rev. Sims in Season 6.[10][11]
Don Cheadle Season 1, Episode 5 Ice Tray, Will's best friend from Philly.[10]
Bo Jackson Season 1, Episode 8 Himself.[10]
Heavy D Season 1, Episode 9 Himself.[10]
Al B. Sure Season 1, Episode 9 Himself.[10]
Isiah Thomas Season 1, Episode 11 Himself.[10]
Evander Holyfield Season 1, Episode 15 Himself.[10]
Jasmine Guy Season 1, Episode 21 Kayla Samuels, Will's girlfriend.[10]
Queen Latifah Season 1, Episode 25 Marissa Redman, Hilary's Boss. Also played "Dee Dee" in season 2.[10][12]
Zsa Zsa Gabor Season 2, Episode 10 Sonya Lamor, Uncle Phill's celebrity client.[10]
Bell Div Devoe Season 2, Episode 11 Themselves.[10]
Brandon Quintin Season 2, Episode 12 Bryan, Ashley's friend. He returns as Bryan in season 4.[13][14]
Milton Berle Season 2, Episode 18 Max Lakey, Will's hospital roommate.[10]
Riddick Bowe Season 3, Episode 3 Himself.[10]
Sherman Hemsley Season 3, Episode 6 Judge Carl, Uncle Phill's rival.[10]
Oprah Winfrey Season 3, Episode 9 Herself.[10]
Vanessa Williams Season 3, Episode 11 Danny Mitchell, Will's love interest.[10]
Kim Fields Season 3, Episode 17 Monique, Will's girlfriend.[10]
Tom Jones Season 3, Episode 18 Himself.[10]
DL Hughley Season 3, Episode 22 Keith Campbell, Will's comedian friend from Philly.[10]
Hugh Hefner Season 4, Episode 9 Himself.[10]
Robin Quivers Season 4, Episode 12 Judith, one of the ghosts playing cards.[10]
Boyz II Men Season 4, Episode 13 Themselves.[10]
Branford Marsalis Season 4, Episode 14 Himself. Also plays "Duane" a repair man in the same season.[10][15]
Robert Guillaume Season 4, Episode 19 Pete Fletcher, Will's boss.[10]
Ben Vereen Season 4, Episode 24 Lou Smith, Will's father.[10]
Donald Trump Season 4, Episode 25 Himself.[10]
Marla Maples Season 4, Episode 25 Herself.[10]
Dick Clark Season 4, Episode 26 Himself.[10]
Quincy Jones Season 5, Episode 1 Himself.[10]
Kareem Abdul Jabbar Season 5, Episode 6 Himself.[10]
Don Cornelius Season 5, Episode 8 Himself.[10]
Ken Griffey Jr. Season 5, Episode 9 Himself.[10]
Jay Leno Season 5, Episode 10 Himself.[10]
Isaac Hayes Season 5, Episode 18 The Minister, assigned to officiate Will's express wedding.[10]
Robin Gives Season 5, Episode 23 Denise, Will's love interest.[10]
Chris Rock Season 6, Episode 2 Maurice, a famous actor. Also plays Maurice's sister in the same episode.[10]
B. B. King Season 6, Episode 4 Pappy, the bar's blues player.[10]
Jaleel White Season 6, Episode 7 Derek, Ashley's boyfriend.[10]
Wayne Newton Season 6, Episode 8 Himself.[10]
Regis Philbin Season 6, Episode 21 Himself.[10]


The series received mixed critical reviews.[16]


The series was produced by NBC Productions in association with the Stuffed Dog Company and Quincy Jones Entertainment (later Quincy Jones-David Salzman Entertainment in 1993). After the show was released to syndication in 1994, the series was distributed by Warner Bros. Television, which continues to distribute the show worldwide (although NBCUniversal does own the series' copyright).

The series formerly aired reruns on WGN America, TBS, Nick at Nite, Disney XD, ABC Family, BET, Centric, MTV and VH1.

Home media[edit]

Warner Home Video has released the complete series, seasons 1 to 6, on DVD in Region 1.[17] Seasons 1 to 4 have been released in Regions 2 and 4. Seasons 5 to 6 have been released in Region 2 in Germany, and in the complete series boxset in the United Kingdom.

DVD name Ep # Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season 25 February 8, 2005[18] February 21, 2005[19] April 13, 2005[20]
The Complete Second Season 24 October 11, 2005[21] November 21, 2005[22] March 1, 2006[23]
The Complete Third Season 24 February 14, 2006[24] June 26, 2006[25] August 9, 2006[26]
The Complete Fourth Season 26 August 8, 2006[27] January 22, 2007[28] December 6, 2006[29]
The Complete Fifth Season 25 May 11, 2010[30] June 18, 2010 2018
The Complete Sixth & Final Season 24 April 19, 2011 May 6, 2011 2018
The Complete Series 148 April 12, 2011

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards Outcome Recipient(s) Year
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards:
Top TV Series Won Quincy Jones
Will Smith
DJ Jazzy Jeff
Emmy Awards:
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Lighting Direction for a Comedy Series Nominated Art Busch 1996
Golden Globe Awards:
Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series – Comedy/Musical Nominated Will Smith 1994
Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series – Comedy/Musical Nominated[31] Will Smith 1993
Image Award:
Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated 1997
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Won Alfonso Ribeiro 1996
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated Will Smith 1997
Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Won Tatyana M. Ali 1997
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated Janet Hubert-Whitten 1991
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated Nia Long 1996
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated Daphne Maxwell Reid 1996
Kids' Choice Awards:
Favorite Television Actor Nominated Will Smith 1996
Favorite Television Show Nominated 1996
Favorite TV Actress Nominated Tatyana M. Ali 1996
NCLR Bravo Awards:
Outstanding Television Series Actor in a Crossover Role Nominated Alfonso Ribeiro 1996
TP de Oro:
Best Foreign Series (Mejor Serie Extranjera) Nominated 1996
Best Foreign Series (Mejor Serie Extranjera) Won 1994
Teen Choice Awards:
Choice TV Show: Throwback Nominated 2017
Choice TV Show: Throwback Pending 2018
TV Land Awards:
Best Broadcast Butler Nominated Joseph Marcell 2004
Favorite "Fish Out of Water" Nominated Will Smith 2004
Young Artist Awards:
Best Performance by an Actor Under Ten – Television Won Ross Bagley 1996
Best Performance by an Actor Under Ten in a TV Series Won Ross Bagley 1995
Best Youth Comedienne Nominated Tatyana M. Ali 1994
Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Television Series Nominated Larenz Tate 1993
Best Young Actor Guest Starring or Recurring Role in a TV Series Nominated Tevin Campbell 1992
Best New Family Television Comedy Series Won 1991
YoungStar Award:
Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy TV Series Won Tatyana M. Ali 1997

Possible reboot[edit]

On August 13, 2015, it was reported that a reboot of the show was in development by Overbrook Entertainment, with Will Smith serving as a producer.[32][33] In August 2016, during a promotional interview with the E! television network, for his then upcoming film Suicide Squad, Smith denied that a reboot was in development, saying that it would happen "...pretty close to when Hell freezes over."[34]



  1. ^ "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Coker, Cheo Hodari (May 20, 1996). "Good Night, 'Prince'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Ebony Magazine. April 1991. pp. 34, 38.
  4. ^ a b Smith, Will (2018). "How I Became The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air | STORYTIME".
  5. ^ Wolf, Matt (February 11, 1991). "'Fresh Prince' makes Marcell changed man". Kentucky New Era. Associated Press. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  6. ^ Cerone, Daniel. "Rap's Prince Soon to Be TV Royalty?". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  7. ^ "The Hollywood Minute". CNN. Cable News Network Inc. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2007-10-23.
  9. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (Ninth Edition). Ballantine Books. p. 1693. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap "The Complete History of Guest Stars on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"". COMPLEX. September 10, 2012.
  11. ^ "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air "Hare Today..."".
  12. ^ "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air "She Ain't That Heavy"".
  13. ^ "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air "Something For Nothing"".
  14. ^ "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air "Stop Will! In The Name Of Love"".
  15. ^ "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air "Sleepless In Bel-Air"".
  16. ^ Metacritic
  17. ^ "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air DVD news: Announcement for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete 6th Season". May 25, 2007. Archived from the original on January 15, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  18. ^ "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete First Season DVD @ DVD Empire". February 8, 2005. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  19. ^ "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - The Complete First Series DVD: Will Smith, James Avery, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell: DVD". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  20. ^ "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 1st Season (5 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". April 27, 2005. Archived from the original on April 13, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  21. ^ "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Second Season DVD @ DVD Empire". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  22. ^ "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - The Complete Second Series DVD: Will Smith, James Avery, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Ellen Falcon: DVD". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  23. ^ "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 2nd Season (4 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". Archived from the original on April 13, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  24. ^ "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Third Season DVD @ DVD Empire". February 14, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  25. ^ "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - The Complete Third Season DVD: Will Smith, James Avery, Karyn Parsons, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell: DVD". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  26. ^ "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 3rd Season (4 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". August 9, 2006. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  27. ^ "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Fourth Season DVD @ DVD Empire". August 8, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  28. ^ "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - Series 4 [DVD]: Will Smith: DVD". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  29. ^ "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 4th Season (4 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". December 6, 2006. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  30. ^ "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Fifth Season DVD @ DVD Empire". November 5, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  31. ^ "Awards for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". Retrieved August 7, 2008.
  32. ^ Lovett, Jamie (August 13, 2015). "Will Smith Producing A Fresh Prince Of Bel Air Reboot". Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  33. ^ ""Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" Reboot in the Works - thenewbenjamin". thenewbenjamin. Archived from the original on August 14, 2015.
  34. ^ Loughrey, Clarisse (August 2, 2016). "Will Smith says Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot will happen when 'hell freezes over'". The Independent. Retrieved August 4, 2016.

External links[edit]

Quotations related to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air at Wikiquote Media related to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air at Wikimedia Commons