The BEST Episodes of Diff'rent Strokes

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Network: NBC

1980s sitcom staple centered around millionaire widower Phillip Drummond, daughter Kimberly, and adopted sons Arnold and Willis.

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The Music Man

#1 - The Music Man

Season 4 - Episode 24 - Aired May 6, 1982

Willis sets what he's sure is a "cinch" audition for girlfriend Charlene to sing with his musical group, but his "big plane" hit a sour not when Arnold's intervention threatens to destroy both Charlene's chances with the group and her relationship with Willis.

star 10.60
5 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Larry Rhine
A Growing Problem

#2 - A Growing Problem

Season 5 - Episode 13 - Aired Jan 8, 1983

At 16, Willis thinks he's man enough and old enough to "top" a few drinks with the guys, but Drummond's objections send Willis storming out of the house intent on proving his father wrong.

star 10.50
6 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Ed Jurist
The Older Woman

#3 - The Older Woman

Season 5 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 13, 1982

A false I.D. and a false bravado create real problems for Willis and a beautiful "older" woman when an evening on the town doesn't go quite as he had planned.

star 10.14
7 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Debra Frank, Scott Rubenstein
In the Swim

#4 - In the Swim

Season 5 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 9, 1982

Willis is completely supportive of Kimberly's transfer into his public school, until his sister's "innocent" actions begin getting him into hot water.

star 10.13
8 votes
Writers: Blake Hunter
Growing Up

#5 - Growing Up

Season 4 - Episode 1 - Aired Oct 29, 1981

His friends' stories of their sexual exploits convince Willis it's time he became a man, so now he must convince his girlfriend Charlene.

star 9.86
7 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Debra Frank, Scott Rubenstein
Health Club

#6 - Health Club

Season 4 - Episode 8 - Aired Dec 17, 1981

Arnold and Willis discover that Drummond's health club, which has just named him the recipient of an award, excludes minorities from membership.

star 9.86
7 votes
Writers: Joseph Bonaduce
Poor Drummond

#7 - Poor Drummond

Season 2 - Episode 18 - Aired Jan 23, 1980

A crucially important business deal keeps Mr. Drummond on edge and Arnold and Willis wondering whether they pack for a California vacation or move back to Harlem.

star 9.75
8 votes
Writers: Ben Starr, Ed Jurist, Howard Leeds
The Car

#8 - The Car

Season 4 - Episode 16 - Aired Feb 25, 1982

When his girlfriend plans on taking a drive with someone else, a careless Willis -- refusing to be outdone -- gets an idea for a real joy ride neither of them will forget.

star 9.62
8 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Warren S. Murray
The Election

#9 - The Election

Season 2 - Episode 16 - Aired Jan 9, 1980

Drummond puts his convictions on the line to run for city council, and rooting him on are Arnold, Willis, Kimberly, and an "unexpected" new addition to the household. Nedra Volz plays Adelaide Brubaker, the small but sassy housekeeper who helps Drummond mobilize the family for a "win."

star 9.56
9 votes
Writers: Ed Jurist
The Bicycle Man (1)

#10 - The Bicycle Man (1)

Season 5 - Episode 16 - Aired Feb 5, 1983

Unaware that he's being lured into the carefully crafted trap of a child molester, Arnold eagerly agrees to perform a simple task in return for an overly generous reward from a "friendly" neighborhood merchant.

star 9.44
9 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Blake Hunter

#11 - Fire

Season 4 - Episode 14 - Aired Feb 11, 1982

A fire traps Drummond and his family in their penthouse and has him "working" overtime trying to protect them without letting on that there's anything wrong.

star 9.44
9 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Jill Gordon
The Trip (2)

#12 - The Trip (2)

Season 1 - Episode 21 - Aired Mar 30, 1979

The stars of "Diff'rent Strokes" and "Hello, Larry" get together in a special, hilarious hour in which Phillip Drummond realizes that the purchase of a Portland radio station could mean the loss of a job for his old friend Larry Alder.

star 9.40
10 votes
Directors: Doug Rogers
Writers: Woody Kling
The Slumber Party

#13 - The Slumber Party

Season 2 - Episode 24 - Aired Mar 12, 1980

Leaving Willis in charge of the house for Kimberly's slumber party is a mistake Mr. Drummond soon regrets as the ensuing chaos disrupts his own date with a lovely lady. The Facts of Life stars Mindy Cohn, Kim Fields, Julie Anne Haddock, and Molly Ringwald guest star.

star 9.38
8 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Fred S. Fox, Seaman Jacobs
The Bicycle Man (2)

#14 - The Bicycle Man (2)

Season 5 - Episode 17 - Aired Feb 12, 1983

Arnold and Dudley's "friendship" with a local merchant reaches a dangerous turning point when, unbeknownst to the boys, the man, who is actually a child molester, is about to make his move.

star 9.33
9 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Blake Hunter
Willis' Privacy

#15 - Willis' Privacy

Season 1 - Episode 17 - Aired Feb 23, 1979

To get rid of his pesky little brother, Willis divides the bedroom in half and spends more time at his friend's house.

star 9.19
16 votes
Directors: Herbert Kenwith
Writers: Alan Rosen, Fred Rubin
Willis' Birthday

#16 - Willis' Birthday

Season 1 - Episode 23 - Aired Apr 13, 1979

Willis is hurt when he thinks his family has forgotten his upcoming birthday. After dropping several unsubtle hints he discovers that not only has everyone remembered, but also his fondest wish has been granted -- a birthday party in his old Harlem neighborhood.

star 9.19
16 votes
Directors: Herbert Kenwith
Writers: Michael Moye
Arnold's Hero (a.k.a.) The Hero

#17 - Arnold's Hero (a.k.a.) The Hero

Season 2 - Episode 7 - Aired Oct 24, 1979

Arnold's wildest dream is realized when he comes face-to-knee with "The Champ" -- special guest star Muhammad Ali. When the meeting arranged by Mr. Drummond between Arnold and his idol, Muhammad Ali, falls through, Kimberly and Willis concoct a wild scheme to insure that Arnold's dream will come true.

star 9.07
14 votes
Writers: Ben Starr, Howard Leeds, Martin Cohan, Martin Ragaway
Mrs. Garrett's Crisis

#18 - Mrs. Garrett's Crisis

Season 1 - Episode 18 - Aired Mar 2, 1979

When Mrs. Garrett decides her life as a housekeeper is unfulfilling, she ends up being a guest in the Drummond home, and then makes an important decision concerning the future.

star 9.00
15 votes
Getting Involved

#19 - Getting Involved

Season 1 - Episode 22 - Aired Apr 6, 1979

When Arnold is witness to a hold up, the robber tries to ensure that the youngster will not identify him.

star 9.00
15 votes
Writers: Norm Liebmann

#20 - Dreams

Season 4 - Episode 12 - Aired Jan 28, 1982

A cancelled fishing trip leaves Arnold having a series of bad dreams that the entire family loses sleep over, until a psychiatrist's examination reveals what really is causing his nighttime terror.

star 9.00
9 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Booker Bradshaw, Kurt Taylor
The New Landlord

#21 - The New Landlord

Season 1 - Episode 16 - Aired Feb 16, 1979

The kids devise a scheme hoping to make Arnold convince the new landlord to let the family keep the penthouse.

star 8.78
18 votes
Directors: Herbert Kenwith
Writers: Norm Liebmann
Return of the Gooch

#22 - Return of the Gooch

Season 2 - Episode 20 - Aired Feb 6, 1980

The "Gooch" is back and this time he's terrorizing Arnold, but Arnold plans to be ready when the bully strikes. In building Arnold's confidence, Willis convinces him that his martial arts lesson has given him a "killer" foot.

star 8.67
6 votes
Writers: Alan Rosen, Fred Rubin
The Dog Story (a.k.a.) A Dog Story

#23 - The Dog Story (a.k.a.) A Dog Story

Season 2 - Episode 15 - Aired Dec 19, 1979

Arnold saves a dog's life, is bitten and then the dog is needed to save Arnold. The Drummond household members frantically search for the ungrateful canine, while Arnold faces a series of rabies shots or death.

star 8.64
14 votes
Writers: Roland Wolpert
The Job (a.k.a.) Willis' Job

#24 - The Job (a.k.a.) Willis' Job

Season 1 - Episode 19 - Aired Mar 16, 1979

In order to earn the money to buy disco skates, and to prove a point to Mr. Drummond, Willis gets a job...but is fired on his first working day.

star 8.47
17 votes
The Club Meeting

#25 - The Club Meeting

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired Jan 12, 1979

Willis invites his neighborhood club from Harlem to visit, but things get out of hand when he tries to impress them with his new wealth.

star 8.31
48 votes
Directors: Herbert Kenwith
Writers: Helen August, Tom August