The BEST Episodes of Diff'rent Strokes

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2020

Network: NBC

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

The Older Woman

#1 - 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 9.75
4 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Debra Frank, Scott Rubenstein
In the Swim

#2 - 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 9.40
5 votes
Writers: Blake Hunter
Have I Got a Girl for You

#3 - Have I Got a Girl for You

Season 4 - Episode 21 - Aired Apr 8, 1982

Aunt Sophia's matchmaking unites an unsuspecting Drummond with her "working-class" hairdresser, but a slip of Arnold's tongue ignites charges that Drummond is a snob, turning a "budding romance" into a roaring feud.

star 9.00
3 votes
Writers: Dawn Aldredge
Lifesavers

#4 - Lifesavers

Season 4 - Episode 22 - Aired Apr 15, 1982

A quick-thinking, fast-acting Willis saves Arnold from a near-fatal accident and in doing so unleashes an adoring monster who dedicates his life to repaying his "hero."

star 9.00
2 votes
Writers: Ed Jurist
Return of the Gooch

#5 - 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 8.75
4 votes
Writers: Alan Rosen, Fred Rubin
Growing Up

#6 - 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 8.75
4 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Debra Frank, Scott Rubenstein
Kathy

#7 - Kathy

Season 4 - Episode 13 - Aired Feb 4, 1982

Arnold and his friend Kathy face big challenges in their lives and each holds the key to overcoming the other's obstacles, but when Arnold takes the first step forward, their entire relationship takes a big step backwards.

star 8.75
4 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Marshall Goldberg
The Squatter

#8 - The Squatter

Season 4 - Episode 15 - Aired Feb 18, 1982

Drummond learns the hard way that converting apartments into condominiums can mean hurting lots of innocent people when he becomes the unsuspecting "victim" of an eccentric tenant he's displacing.

star 8.75
4 votes
Writers: Danny Simon
Willis' Birthday

#9 - 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 8.69
13 votes
Directors: Herbert Kenwith
Writers: Michael Moye
The Car

#10 - 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 8.67
6 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Warren S. Murray
B.M.O.C.

#11 - B.M.O.C.

Season 4 - Episode 19 - Aired Mar 25, 1982

Willis' obsession with joining an "exclusive" high school club rocks the Drummond household and leaves several victims in its wake, including a shaken Arnold who takes his brother's "insensitive" actions to heart.

star 8.67
3 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: A. Dudley Johnson Jr., Robert Jayson
The Music Man

#12 - 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 8.67
3 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Larry Rhine
A Growing Problem

#13 - 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 8.67
3 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Ed Jurist
The Goat

#14 - The Goat

Season 6 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 15, 1983

Arnold's first day at junior high is emotionally devastating when he's shunned for not measuring up to the expectations that everyone had for Willis Jackson's brother, but Arnold devises a risky scheme that he feels certain will elevate his prestige.

star 8.67
3 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: A. Dudley Johnson Jr., Robert Jayson
The Trip (2)

#15 - 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 8.63
8 votes
Directors: Doug Rogers
Writers: Woody Kling
Willis' Privacy

#16 - 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 8.57
14 votes
Directors: Herbert Kenwith
Writers: Alan Rosen, Fred Rubin
Poor Drummond

#17 - 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 8.50
6 votes
Writers: Ben Starr, Ed Jurist, Howard Leeds
Health Club

#18 - 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 8.50
4 votes
Writers: Joseph Bonaduce
Dreams

#19 - 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 8.50
6 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Booker Bradshaw, Kurt Taylor
Cyrano De Jackson

#20 - Cyrano De Jackson

Season 5 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 16, 1982

Arnold's on the outs with his best friend Dudley after he innocently offers to help his bashful buddy win the heart of a young lady -- who falls for Arnold instead.

star 8.50
2 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Paul Robinson Hunter
Substitute Teacher

#21 - Substitute Teacher

Season 5 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 6, 1982

Arnold and his buddies fabricate a "little white lie" in an attempt to get rid of an overly-conscientious substitute teacher, but their tell tale could result in more than just removing the teacher from the classroom -- it could destroy his entire career.

star 8.50
2 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: A. Dudley Johnson Jr., Robert Jayson
The Van Drummonds

#22 - The Van Drummonds

Season 6 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 19, 1983

A short visit to the United States by Phillip Drummond's Dutch cousin Anna and her son Hans becomes an eternity for Arnold and Willis, who are made scapegoats for cousin Hans' mischief.

star 8.50
2 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Paul Haggis
Carmella Meets the Gooch

#23 - Carmella Meets the Gooch

Season 7 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 10, 1984

The Gooch returns to taunt Arnold and take on a new target--Sam, only to face his first challenge in the Drummond's new neighbor, an Italian foreign exchange student.

star 8.50
2 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: Bob Brunner, Bruce Taylor, Ken Hecht
Bully for Arnold

#24 - Bully for Arnold

Season 8 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 4, 1985

Guarding the school bully's girlfriend, Ramona, seems like a simple task to Arnold, until his natural Jackson "charm" creates some problems, Ramona falls head over heels for him and Herman, the bully, wants to rearrange his face.

star 8.50
2 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: A. Dudley Johnson Jr., Robert Jayson
Love on the Run

#25 - Love on the Run

Season 8 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 11, 1985

Sam and Arnold fear that the time their parents are spending apart is a symptom of an ailing marriage and the boys attempt to give them a dose of romance, hoping it will be the cure that will keep them from divorce.

star 8.50
2 votes
Directors: Gerren Keith
Writers: José Rivera