Growing Pains

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Growing Pains
Title card from the first three seasons.
Created byNeal Marlens
Directed by
  • John Tracy (seasons 1–6)
  • Various (seasons 1–2 & 7)
Theme music composerJohn Bettis
Steve Dorff
Opening theme"As Long as We Got Each Other"
performed by B. J. Thomas (season 1 solo) and with Jennifer Warnes (seasons 2, 3, 5 and most of 7) and Dusty Springfield (season 4);
Joe Chemay, Jim Haas, Jon Joyce and George Merrill (seasons 6, part of 7 and the series finale)
Ending theme"As Long as We Got Each Other" (instrumental)
ComposerSteve Dorff
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons7[1]
No. of episodes166 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Neal Marlens (1985–1986)
  • Dan Guntzelman (1985–1991)
  • Mike Sullivan (1985–1991)
  • Steve Marshall (1986–1991)
  • Dan Wilcox (1991–1992)
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time24 minutes
Production companiesGuntzelman-Sullivan-Marshall Productions (seasons 5–6)
Warner Bros. Television
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 24, 1985 (1985-09-24)[1] –
April 25, 1992 (1992-04-25)[1]

Growing Pains is an American television sitcom created by Neal Marlens that aired on ABC from September 24, 1985, to April 25, 1992.[1] The show ran for seven seasons, consisting of 166 episodes. The series followed the misadventures of the Seaver family, which included psychiatrist and father Jason, journalist and mother Maggie, and their children Mike, Carol, Ben, and Chrissy.[2][3]


"Jason: Hi, I'm Jason Seaver. I'm a psychiatrist and I believe in the infinite potential of the human spirit.

Maggie: And I'm Maggie Seaver. I'm a mother, and the infinite potential of the human spirit scares the hell out of me.

Jason: Don't let her fool you, she's not so tough.

Maggie: Oh yeah?

Jason: Yeah, well...anyway. Last week, after 15 years of motherhood. Maggie went back to work as a reporter for the local newspaper.

Maggie: And Jason moved his practice into the house so he could be there for the kids.

Jason: They're great kids.

Maggie: Yeah.

Jason: And we have a great relationship with them.

Maggie: Yeah, there's just one problem. Their father trusts them, and they know it.

Ben: Unbelievable."

— Opening narration of the unaired pilot

"Jason: Hi, I'm Jason Seaver. I'm a psychiatrist. I've spent the last 15 years helping people with their problems.

Maggie: And I'm Maggie Seaver. I've spent 15 years helping our kids with problems even Jason wouldn't believe.

Jason: Now Maggie has gone back to work as a reporter for the local newspaper.

Maggie: And Jason moved his practice into the house so he could be there for the kids.

Jason: They're great kids.

Maggie: Most of the time.

Jason: And the rest of the time...

Maggie: We love them anyway.

Jason: Yeah.

Ben: Unbelievable."

— Opening narration from episodes 1, 2 & 3

The show centers on the Seaver family of Huntington, Long Island, New York.[4] Dr. Jason Seaver (portrayed by Alan Thicke), a psychiatrist, works from home because his wife, Maggie (Joanna Kerns), has gone back to work as a reporter. Jason has to take care of the kids: ladies' man and rebellious troublemaker Mike (Kirk Cameron), bookish honors student Carol (Tracey Gold), and rambunctious Ben (Jeremy Miller) who follows Mike as his role model and becomes a troublemaker too.

A fourth child, Chrissy Seaver (twins Kelsey and Kirsten Dohring; Ashley Johnson), is born at the beginning of season 4, a day after Ben's twelfth birthday. She was played in her newborn/infant stage by two uncredited sets of twin sisters, who remained in the role until season four (1988–1989) ended. By season five (1989–1990), she was played in her toddler stage by alternating twins Kirsten and Kelsey Dohring. In seasons six and seven (1990–1992), Chrissy's age was advanced to five years old.

A new cast member was added for the seventh and final season (1991–1992) when homeless teen Luke Brower (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brought into the Seaver family to live with them until nearly the end of season seven.

Often mentioned but rarely seen are the Seavers' next door neighbors, the Koosmans – a reference to the 1969 Miracle Mets, as Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman anchored the 1969 Mets' pitching rotation.

Cast and characters[edit]


  • Alan Thicke as Dr. Jason Roland Seaver
  • Joanna Kerns as Margaret Katherine "Maggie" (née Malone) Seaver
  • Kirk Cameron as Michael Aaron "Mike" Seaver
  • Tracey Gold as Caroline Anne "Carol" Seaver
  • Jeremy Miller as Benjamin Hubert Horatio Humphrey "Ben" Seaver
  • Ashley Johnson as Christine Ellen "Chrissy" Seaver (seasons 6 & 7)
  • Kelsey and Kirsten Dohring as Christine Ellen "Chrissy" Seaver (toddler) (season 5, alternating)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Luke Brower (season 7)


  • Andrew Koenig as Richard Milhous "Boner" Stabone (seasons 1–4), Mike's friend; left to join the United States Marine Corps
  • Chelsea Noble as Kate MacDonald (seasons 5–7, Mike's girlfriend
  • Jamie Abbott as Stinky Sullivan (seasons 2–6), Ben's friend
  • K. C. Martel as Eddie Ziff (seasons 1–7), Mike's friend
  • Sam Anderson as Principal Willis DeWitt (seasons 1–7), Mike's history teacher in season one and principal from season two onward
  • Betty McGuire as Kate Malone (seasons 1–7); Maggie's mother
  • Lisa Capps as Debbie (seasons 2–4, Carol's friend
  • Rachel Jacobs as Shelley (seasons 2–4), Carol's friend
  • Gordon Jump as Ed Malone (seasons 1–7); Maggie's father
  • Julie McCullough as Julie Costello (seasons 4 & 5), Mike's former girlfriend who was originally hired by Jason to be Chrissy's nanny
  • Bill Kirchenbauer as Coach Graham Lubbock (seasons 2 & 3; starred in spin off Just the Ten of Us), a gym teacher
  • Jane Powell as Irma Seaver (seasons 4–6), Jason's mother
  • Jodi Peterson as Laura Lynn (seasons 4–6), Ben's girlfriend/love interest
  • Kevin Wixted as Bobby Wynette (seasons 2 & 3), Carol's former boyfriend
  • Christopher Burgard as Dwight Halliburton (seasons 7), Carol's love interest
  • Evan Arnold as Richie Flanscopper (seasons 1–3), Carol's school classmate who has a crush on her
  • Fred Applegate as Mr. Fred Tedesco (season 7), the principal of the learning annex where Mike teaches
  • Matthew Perry as Sandy, Carol's love interest of 3 episodes. He died several hours after a DUI accident following 'a few beers'.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRating
First airedLast aired
122September 24, 1985 (1985-09-24)May 13, 1986 (1986-05-13)1719.5[a]
222September 30, 1986 (1986-09-30)May 19, 1987 (1987-05-19)822.7
326September 18, 1987 (1987-09-18)May 4, 1988 (1988-05-04)521.3
422October 18, 1988 (1988-10-18)May 3, 1989 (1989-05-03)1317.6[b]
526September 20, 1989 (1989-09-20)May 2, 1990 (1990-05-02)2115.4
624September 19, 1990 (1990-09-19)April 24, 1991 (1991-04-24)2714.3[c]
724September 18, 1991 (1991-09-18)April 25, 1992 (1992-04-25)75[5]8.6[5]
Television filmsNovember 5, 2000 (2000-11-05)October 16, 2004 (2004-10-16)TBATBA
  1. ^ Tied with Knots Landing
  2. ^ Tied with L.A. Law
  3. ^ Tied with Baby Talk and Davis Rules


Soon after the cancelation of The Four Seasons, Joanna Kerns auditioned for a new series in late 1984, called Growing Pains. She auditioned with Alan Thicke, who was coming off the failure of his TV talk show Thicke of the Night.[6] Kerns joked in many interviews that she and Alan had immediate chemistry, especially when she kissed him on his nose by accident during their audition together. Kerns and Thicke's chemistry won them both the parts, and the two became great friends off the show; they both had many things in common, including both being newly divorced and both being single parents.[7]

In 1985, Tracey Gold auditioned for Carol Seaver's role on Growing Pains but was not initially cast. The actress chosen for the pilot was Elizabeth Ward, who had starred alongside Gold in The Hand-Me-Down Kid, a 1983 ABC Afterschool Special.[8] However, test audiences did not favor Ward in Carol's role, and Gold promptly replaced her. In 1988 at age 19, Gold gained some weight over the Growing Pains series hiatus. That season, the sitcom's scripts called for her to be the brunt of fat jokes from her television brothers for many episodes in a row.

In October 1988, Gold dieted from 133 pounds to about 110 pounds on a medically supervised 500-calorie-a-day (2,100 kJ) diet, but occasionally, the scripts still included fat jokes at her expense. In her memoir, she says that between 1989 and 1991, she became increasingly obsessed with food and her weight and continued to slowly and steadily lose weight.[9]

Kirk Cameron was an atheist in his early teens.[10] When he was 17, during the height of his career on Growing Pains, he became a born-again Christian.[8] After converting to Protestant Christianity, he began to insist that plot lines be edited to remove anything he thought too adult or inappropriate in Growing Pains.[11][8] Cameron's conversion is said to have alienated him from his fellow cast members, as he did not invite any of them to his 1991 wedding.[12]

Julie McCullough landed the role of nanny Julie Costello on the show in 1989. Her character appeared in eight episodes until McCullough was fired in 1990. Though the show's producers have claimed that her character was never intended to be permanent and Cameron stated in his 2008 memoir Still Growing that he did not call for her firing, it is alleged McCullough's termination from the show was a result of Cameron's objections to her having posed nude in Playboy, prompting Cameron to claim to the producers they were promoting pornography by hiring McCullough.[11] Cameron reportedly did not reconcile with McCullough, who claims that Cameron refused to speak to her during a later encounter.[citation needed] She remains critical of him, stating that the public criticism she endured during the controversy damaged her career.

At about age 14, Jeremy Miller received numerous letters from an older male stalker during the run of Growing Pains.[13]

In 1990, Tracey Gold began group therapy in an eating disorder program but only learned more ways to lose weight. That season, her weight loss problem was touched upon slightly on the series, when Gold is seen looking at her body in a carnival mirror and describes to another character the distorted image in her head. In 1991, she started starving herself more than ever and vomiting, and lost a massive amount of weight, to the point that she was admitted to a hospital in early 1992.[9] Her lowest weight is estimated to have been near 80 pounds. She was suspended from the show for her skeletal appearance. Photos of Gold's emaciated body were plastered all over tabloid magazines, and she was one of the first celebrities ever to be formally outed for anorexia. She last appeared in the 1991 episode, "Menage a Luke," after missing the two prior episodes where her problem is very obvious in some scenes and did not return until the last two episodes of the series in the late spring of 1992. Gold eventually recovered from her years-long struggle and starred in the 1994 television movie For the Love of Nancy, drawing on her own experiences with anorexia nervosa to portray the title character.[9]

In 1991, Leonardo DiCaprio became a recurring cast member on Growing Pains, playing Luke Brower, a homeless boy who is taken in by the Seaver family.[14] Co-star Joanna Kerns recalled DiCaprio being "especially intelligent and disarming for his age," but also mischievous on set.[15] The teenage DiCaprio was cast by the producers to appeal to the teenage female audiences, but when the show's ratings did not improve, DiCaprio left.[14] He was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor Co-starring in a Television Series.[16]

In 1992, Alan Thicke appeared in the pilot episode of the sitcom Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. He appeared in the pre-credits teaser scene, alongside series star Mark Curry, humorously referencing the pilot episode being filmed on the same set used as the Seavers' home on Growing Pains.[17]

After the series was canceled, Kirk Cameron did not maintain contact with his former co-stars and did not speak to Tracey Gold for eight years.[12] Cameron has stated that this was not due to any animosity on his part toward any of his former cast-members but an outgrowth of his desire to start a new life away from the entertainment industry.[18] In 2000, Cameron revealed he apologized to his TV family for some of his prior behavior, saying, "If I could go back, I think I could make decisions that were less inadvertently hurtful to the cast--like talking and explaining to them why I just wanted to have my family at my wedding."[12]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominee/episode Result
1985 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actor Starring in a New Television Series Kirk Cameron Won
1985 Best Young Actress Starring in a New Television Series Tracey Gold Nominated
1985 Best Young Supporting Actor in a New Television Series Jeremy Miller Won
1986 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics "As Long As We Got Each Other" Nominated
1986 Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Series George Spiro Dibie (director of photography) / "My Brother, Myself"[citation needed] Won
1986 Young Artist Awards Exceptional Performance by a Young Actor Starring in a Television Comedy or Drama Series Kirk Cameron
1986 Exceptional Performance by a Young Actor in a Long-Running Series Comedy or Drama Jeremy Miller Nominated
1986 Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress, Guest Starring in a Television, Comedy or Drama Series April Lerman
1987 Young Artist Awards Best Young Superstar in Television Kirk Cameron Won
1987 Exceptional Performance by a Young Actor in a Television Comedy Series Jeremy Miller
1987 Best Young Actress Guest Starring in a Television Comedy Series Candace Cameron / "The Long Goodbye" Nominated
1987 Best Family Comedy Series Growing Pains Won
1988 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics Song: "Swept Away" / episode: "Aloha" Nominated
1988 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite TV Actor Kirk Cameron
1988 Favorite TV Show Growing Pains
1988 Golden Globe Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series – Comedy/Musical Alan Thicke
1988 Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for TV Kirk Cameron
1989 Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for TV Kirk Cameron
1989 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite TV Show Growing Pains
1989 Favorite TV Actor Kirk Cameron}
1989 Favorite TV Actress Tracey Gold
1989 Young Artist Awards Best Family Television Series Growing Pains
1990 Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series Jeremy Miller
1990 Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Television Series Kenny Morrison
1990 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite TV Actor Kirk Cameron Won
1991 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Comedy Series George Spiro Dibie / "Happy Halloween"
1991 Young Artist Awards Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress Under Nine Ashley Johnson Nominated
1992 Best Young Actor Co-starring in a Television Series Leonardo DiCaprio
1992 Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress Under Ten Ashley Johnson
1993 Outstanding Actress Under Ten in a Television Series Ashley Johnson


Growing Pains spawned the spin-off series, Just the Ten of Us, which featured Coach Graham Lubbock, Mike and Carol's gym teacher, moving to California with his large family to teach at an all-boys Catholic school after he was fired from Thomas Dewey High School.

Reunion movies[edit]

In 2000, the cast reunited for The Growing Pains Movie, followed by Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers in 2004. Before the premiere of The Growing Pains Movie, Kirk Cameron described his regrets over how his relationship with his cast mates changed after his religious conversion during the production of the series, admitting, "I definitely kind of made an about-face, going toward another aspect of my life," and "I shifted my focus from 100% on the show, to 100% on [my new life], and left 0% on the show—and even the friendships that were a part of that show."[12]

Home media[edit]

Warner Home Video released the first two seasons on DVD in Region 1.[19] Seasons 3-7 were released via the Warner Archive Collection as manufactured-on-demand titles, available exclusively through Warner's online store and

On February 28, 2023, Warner Bros. released Growing Pains: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1.[20]

DVD name Ep # Release dates
Region 1 Region 4
Season 1 22 February 7, 2006 June 5, 2007
Season 2 22 April 26, 2011 N/A
Season 3 26 May 21, 2013
Season 4 22 April 14, 2015
Season 5 26 July 14, 2015
Season 6 24 October 20, 2015
Season 7 24 January 26, 2016
Complete Series 166 February 28, 2023


United States[edit]

ABC aired reruns of the show on its daytime schedule from July 1988 to August 1989. The show originally aired at 11:00 AM (ET) until January 1989, when Ryan's Hope was canceled and Home was expanded to an hour from 11:00 AM–noon. The reruns moved to noon.

In the fall of 1989, the show was sold to local syndication, which continued until 1997. The show also aired on TBS for several years premiering in October 1993 at 6:35 PM. The show continued to air on TBS until September 1996.

Reruns aired on the Disney Channel from September 1997 to September 2001. The cable rights for the show moved to sister network ABC Family, where it ran from 2001 to 2004. It has also aired on ION Television during the fall of 2006 into the spring of 2007.

Nick at Nite began airing Growing Pains on February 12, 2007, launching with a marathon from 9:00 PM–1:00 AM. It was pulled from the line-up shortly after, and reruns later moved to sister network Noggin (as part of its teen block, The N). TeenNick re-aired the series on Monday, September 13, 2010, in a 5:00 AM hour block, and aired its final showings on December 27, 2010.

Growing Pains aired on Up TV from January 2015 to July 2017. Antenna TV began airing the series in December 2017.

It is currently available on the Roku channel (streaming app) as of November 2019.


Mainland China
  • The show was dubbed by Shanghai Television in the late 1980s Chéngzhǎng de Fánnǎo (成长的烦恼; literally "Growing vexation")
  • Growing Pains was dubbed in Japanese, and broadcast by the NHK of Japan in the title of "Yukai na Shiba Ke (愉快なシーバー家)" (Happy Seaver family) from 1997 to 2000
  • Growing Pains was broadcast by RCTI from September 1989 to August 1991 and re-run by SCTV from 1991 to around 1994.
  • Growing Pains was aired by PTV-4 with Simulcast on GMA-7 in 1986–1991; it moved to ABC-5 in 1993–2000 with English Dubbed in 1993–1994 & Tagalized in 1994–2000



The show aired with the title Quoi de neuf docteur? (What's New Doctor?) on Antenne 2 from 1987 then as part of a block called Giga from February 19, 1990, on the same network.

Two books were published in French exclusively about Growing Pains: Cyrille Rollet, Ph.D. (EHESS, Paris),

  • Physiologie d'un sitcom américain (voyage au cœur de Growing Pains), (volume 1) – Physiology of an American Sitcom (Journey to the Heart of Growing Pains)
  • Circulation culturelle d'un sitcom américain (volume 2) – The Cultural Circulation of an American Sitcom

The show aired with the title Unser lautes Heim (Our noisy home) on ProSieben from 1993.


The show aired in 1987 with the title Genitori in blue jeans (Parents in blue jeans) where the first two seasons original aired on Canale 5 then it moved to Italia 1 for the later four seasons.[21] This was also the name of an Italian comedy film from the 60s.


The show aired in 1986 with Dutch broadcast organization AVRO as Growing Pains in English with subtitles in Dutch.


In Spain the series aired with the title Los problemas crecen (Growing problems) and was dubbed to Spanish. Originally aired in La 1 (Spanish TV channel) from the end of the 80s to the beginning of the 90s, and subsequently in La 2 (Spanish TV channel), Antena 3 (Spanish TV channel) y Factoría de Ficción


  • Digital free-to-air channel 7TWO began airing reruns of Growing Pains in October 2010, and reached the final episode in June 2011, replacing it with Night Court. The Nine Network first aired the show back in the 1980s and 1990s.
New Zealand
  • The show aired on TVNZ's TV2 on Saturday afternoons in the late 1980s-early 1990s.


The show aired at the beginning of the 1990s on Turkey's first private TV channel, Star TV.

Latin America[edit]

The show was previously aired on Nickelodeon's block, Nick at Nite from 2006 to 2009.


  1. ^ a b c d "Growing Pains TV Show: News, Videos, Full Episodes and More". TV Guide. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  2. ^ "Why Do People Watch These Shows? : A tale of two sitcoms: Audiences often seem to love what the critics hate". Los Angeles Times. February 26, 1989. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  3. ^ Stransky, Tanner (October 7, 2011). "'Growing Pains': The Seavers explain why their sitcom makes you go 'Aww'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  4. ^ "Alan Thicke, '80s icon and renaissance man, wasn't a Long Islander, but he played one on TV". Newsday. December 14, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "1991-92 Ratings History". The TV Ratings Guide. Archived from the original on August 20, 2017.
  6. ^ James, Emily St (December 15, 2016). "Before his death, Alan Thicke spoke to us about his legacy and being a TV dad". Vox. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  7. ^ "Mr. And Mrs. Seaver From 'Growing Pains' Considered Dating In Real Life". HuffPost. May 6, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c "The Cast of 'Growing Pains:' Where Are They Now?". MSN. December 13, 2020. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c Gold, Tracey; McCarron, Julie (2003). Room to Grow: an Appetite for Life. New Millennium Press.
  10. ^ Weeks, Lee (July 1, 2019). "Kirk Cameron and Candace Cameron Bure—Hollywood Siblings Leverage Stardom for Audience of One". Decision. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Did Kirk Cameron Really Get His TV Wedding Canceled Over a Playboy Appearance?". May 1, 2022. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  12. ^ a b c d Keck, William (November 3, 2000). "TV Family's Cast Gets Over Its Own 'Growing Pains'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2008.
  13. ^ "Show Me That Smile Again". February 20, 2009. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Wight 2012, pp. 331, 275.
  15. ^ Yahr, Emily (February 23, 2016). "How Leonardo DiCaprio went from being a dorky teenage actor to a superstar". The Independent. Archived from the original on October 9, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  16. ^ "13th Annual Awards". Young Artist Awards. Archived from the original on February 2, 2000. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  17. ^ "Revisit Alan Thicke's hilariously meta guest appearance in 'Hangin' With Mr. Cooper'". Me-TV Network. October 13, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  18. ^ "'Growing Pains' stars call out Kirk Cameron for maskless caroling". December 25, 2020. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  19. ^ "Growing Pains - Leonardo DiCaprio Joins the Cast for the Final, '7th Season'". December 21, 2015. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015.
  20. ^ Growing Pains: The Complete Series
  21. ^ "Genitori in blue jeans, che fine hanno fatto i protagonisti?". Tvzap (in Italian). December 14, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2022.


  • Wight, Douglas (2012). Leonardo DiCaprio: The Biography. Blake Publishing. ISBN 978-1782197270.

External links[edit]