The BEST episodes of Family Ties

Every episode of Family Ties ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of Family Ties!

In this family sitcom, former 1960s flower children Steven and Elyse Keaton raise their four kids Alex, Mallory, Jennifer, and Andrew, who was born in 1985. The show revealed the changing values during the Reagan era as the 1960s hippie parents clashed with their 1980's conservative son, Alex. The show also tackled a number of serious issues ranging from suicide to racism to drug dependency.

Last Updated: 1/20/2023Network:NBC
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Designing Woman
star
9.17
6 votes

#1 - Designing Woman

Season 7 - Episode 2 - Aired 11/6/1988

Mallory's enthusiasm for her job at a prestigious fashion firm quickly fades when she discovers that her design ideas are being stolen by another employee. Mallory is thrilled when she earns an apprenticeship at David Campbell Fashions, a top-notch fashion design house in Ohio. Before starting her new job, Mallory discusses what her duties will be with the firm's star designer, Jamie Carter. When Mallory timidly asks whether the designs she's done for school will ever be made into David Campbell fashions, Jamie reacts somewhat coolly. Although Jamie seems pleased by Mallory's designs, she explains that the apprentice still has a lot to learn. Eager to succeed, Mallory throws herself into her work. Before long, however, Mallory is stunned when she discovers that Jamie has stolen her design ideas and pitched them to David Campbell as her own. What's more, Campbell likes "Jamie's" designs so much, he plans to feature them in his upcoming fashion show.

Directors: Matthew Diamond
Writer: Katie Ford
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
“A”, My Name is Alex (1)
star
9.09
11 votes

#2 - “A”, My Name is Alex (1)

Season 5 - Episode 23 - Aired 3/12/1987

When Alex's friend Greg dies in a car accident, Alex is thrown into a state of shock and begins to seriously question the meaning and purpose of his own life. Having been asked to accompany his friend on the fatal trip and refusing because it wasn't convenient, he is overcome by guilt. He tries to fathom why he was spared in the face of such selfishness, and begins to have encounters with Greg's ghost. His family urges him to get help. Alex seeks the counsel of a monk, Father Timothy, about changing his life, but ultimately decides against joining the order because of the chastity vow, Still hallucinating and tortured, Alex agrees to see a psychiatrist. In trying to come to terms with Greg's death, he talks about his life-long love of money and experiences flashbacks which reveal periods of his "selfish" past. During these flashbacks, Alex asks the various members of his family how they feel about their lives and about death, and comes to a new appreciation of them as individuals.

Directors: Will Mackenzie
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Super Mom
star
9.00
3 votes

#3 - Super Mom

Season 6 - Episode 6 - Aired 10/18/1987

As Elyse wraps up a major project for her firm, she realizes that her busy architectural career is causing her to neglect her family, especially Andy. Although Elyse feels terrible about not devoting more time with Steven and the kids, she doesn't want to give up her rewarding position at the firm. Just when she expects a breather, Elyse's boss dumps a prestigious project into her lap. Inspired by the challenge, she accepts the enormous job, despite initial misgivings. Later that afternoon, when a teacher calls to tell Elyse that no one has come to pick Andy up from school, "Super Mom" begins to feel like a failure, unable to juggle her private and professional demands.

Directors: Matthew Diamond
Writer: Alan Uger
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“A”, My Name is Alex (2)
star
8.92
12 votes

#4 - “A”, My Name is Alex (2)

Season 5 - Episode 24 - Aired 3/12/1987

When Alex's friend Greg dies in a car accident, Alex is thrown into a state of shock and begins to seriously question the meaning and purpose of his own life. Having been asked to accompany his friend on the fatal trip and refusing because it wasn't convenient, he is overcome by guilt. He tries to fathom why he was spared in the face of such selfishness, and begins to have encounters with Greg's ghost. His family urges him to get help. Alex seeks the counsel of a monk, Father Timothy, about changing his life, but ultimately decides against joining the order because of the chastity vow, Still hallucinating and tortured, Alex agrees to see a psychiatrist. In trying to come to terms with Greg's death, he talks about his life-long love of money and experiences flashbacks which reveal periods of his "selfish" past. During these flashbacks, Alex asks the various members of his family how they feel about their lives and about death, and comes to a new appreciation of them as individuals.

Directors: Will Mackenzie
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
It Happened One Night
star
8.80
5 votes

#5 - It Happened One Night

Season 7 - Episode 1 - Aired 10/30/1988

A family camping trip turns into a comedy of errors. While the Keaton kids and Lauren argue about politics, Steven and Elyse decide it's time to get away from such serious concerns. They eagerly suggest that the whole family go on a camping trip, like they used to do. The kids don't share their parents' enthusiasm, however, and quickly come up with reasons why they can't go. As a result, little Andy is the only Keaton willing to go along with Steven and Elyse. When their parents leave for the campground with Andy, the older kids try not to feel guilty for disappointing them. At first, they all agree that they don't feel the urge for the great outdoors that they did in the old days, but soon remember that camping with the family was always a lot of fun. Before long, they decide to drive up and surprise Steven, Elyse and Andy at the campsite. With Nick in tow, Mallory, Alex and Jennifer pack up their sleeping bags and take off. Unfortunately, their good intentions are dashed when the car

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The Real Thing (2)
star
8.75
8 votes

#6 - The Real Thing (2)

Season 4 - Episode 2 - Aired 10/3/1985

Alex realizes he must make Ellen aware of his feelings, but she is on a train on her way to marry another man, so he takes drastic measures to stop the wedding. The usually cool Alex decides he must let down his defenses or lose the girl he loves.

Directors: Will Mackenzie
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Heartstrings (1)
star
8.75
4 votes

#7 - Heartstrings (1)

Season 7 - Episode 5 - Aired 12/4/1988

The Keaton family unites in crisis when Steven suffers a serious heart attack. While Alex and Andy discuss the upcoming Presidential race, Mallory and Jennifer prepare for another legendary shopping expedition. Moments later, Elyse returns home from jogging, but Steven lags behind, explaining that his run was slowed by a burning pain in his side. Steven dismisses the pain, assuming it was due to something he ate, while Alex kids him that the pain was caused by the guilt of being a Democrat. Feeling much better the next day, Steven goes on a long bicycle ride. But when he returns home, he has difficulty breathing and collapses on the floor. After rushing Steven to the hospital, the family is stunned when Dr. Harrison tells them that Steven has suffered a heart attack and needs bypass surgery immediately. In the waiting room, the Keatons befriend Ruth Hobart, the kind and encouraging wife of another heart patient, and the jocular Mr. Meyers. Before Steven is wheeled into surgery, he and

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My Back Pages
star
8.67
6 votes

#8 - My Back Pages

Season 5 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/16/1986

When Steven is asked by an old college friend to help him re-establish a left-wing political magazine they had worked on 20 years before, Steven realizes he is no longer in tune with the radical thinking it reflected and that his values are more middle-of-the-road than he had ever expected. When Matt Gilbert tells Steven he has the funds to revive "The Scavenger," Steven is excited about the opportunity to again express his viewpoints and to vividly recall the college days when he pursued Elyse. It only takes one story for him to realize, however, that he no longer represents the revolutionary left.

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Keaton vs. Keaton
star
8.63
8 votes

#9 - Keaton vs. Keaton

Season 5 - Episode 22 - Aired 3/5/1987

Brother and sister go head-to-head when Steven announces a scholarship competition sponsored by his station, WKS. A confident Alex scoffs as the family encourages a reluctant Mallory to enter the competition. In spite of Alex's arrogant comments, Mallory prepares her fashion presentation for the competition and realizes that no matter what he says, she really wants to try. Alex discovers that he may have grossly misjudged his sister's business acumen as well as her sense of fashion. When the winner is announced, Alex and Mallory react to the news in a way that surprises even themselves. Andy loses his favorite toy, Mr. Pig, causing Nick and Skippy to begin a topsy-turvy search of the household to comfort the devastated three-year-old. After their attempt to pass off a newly-bought imposter, Mr. Pig re-surfaces in a most unusual spot.

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Wrap Around the Clock (2)
star
8.50
2 votes

#10 - Wrap Around the Clock (2)

Season 7 - Episode 23 - Aired 4/23/1989

As Andy's time capsule fills to overflowing with family mementos, the Keaton clan looks back and laughs at their funniest moments. Although Andy protests that his time capsule has too many items in it, Alex continues to add things from his personal archives, including his collection of report cards from nursery school to first grade. Munching on popcorn as they reflect on their lives, the Keatons continue to share memories of Andy's first day at school, Steven's terrible magic tricks, Nick's reunion with his long-lost father and Nick and Mallory's aborted elopement. Even after Andy falls asleep and goes to bed, the family remembers the time Alex and Lauren met, and also when the girl of Skippy's dreams fell for Alex instead. Filled with warm memories of times past, Elyse persuades the entire gang to join her in a sing along.

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The Play's the Thing
star
8.40
5 votes

#11 - The Play's the Thing

Season 6 - Episode 18 - Aired 1/10/1988

The Keaton kids are dismayed when the local playhouse agree to stage Steven's radical 60's college play, "A Draft Card for the Burning". Embarrassed by the script's laughably dated hippie lingo, they are not surprised when Elyse refuses to reprise her leading role as Sequola Free, the play's sexy activist/anthropology student. Crushed by her decision, Steven goes off in a huff to cast another actress. But after numerous fruitless auditions, Elyse finally succumbs to Steven's wishes. Just as she predicts, Steven becomes insanely jealous of her leading man and finds it impossible to separate his dual roles as husband and director. Elyse and her co-star, local dentist Jeff Cooper, grow frustrated with Steven, who keeps changing the script to avoid any intimacy between them.

Directors: Debbie Allen
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The Way We Were
star
8.33
6 votes

#12 - The Way We Were

Season 6 - Episode 9 - Aired 11/8/1987

The Keatons are surprised, but delighted, when Elyse's Aunt Rosemary shows up for a visit. Although Rosemary claims to have sent a letter and spoken with Mallory about her arrival, the mix-up is quickly forgotten as the family warmly welcomes their loving and favorite aunt. Rosemary charms the Keatons with her wit, humor and wonderful family stories. But soon, she begins to act strangely to simple questions, and Elyse starts to worry when Rosemary begins repeating things that have just been discussed. Finally, Rosemary admits that she has been having trouble with her memory and has no idea how she even got to the Keaton home. A trip to the doctor confirms beyond any doubt that Rosemary has Alzheimer's disease, which will get progressively worse and ultimately, render her helpless. Stunned by this tragic news, Rosemary nevertheless refuses to despair, determined to make the most of the time she has left. Both she and the Keatons rise to the challenge courageously, as she passes the f

Directors: Will Mackenzie
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
The Blues Brother
star
8.33
6 votes

#13 - The Blues Brother

Season 6 - Episode 20 - Aired 1/24/1988

Alex becomes a deejay of his own college radio show with a program he calls "Syncopated Money", designed to "combine classic American music with an indepth analysis of the business scene". While on the air one day, Alex introduces a tune by "the late blues great, Eddie Dupre", only to discover that Dupre is alive when the legendary blues artist himself calls the station. Embarrassed and apologetic, Alex learns that Eddie is now driving a bus in Columbus and hasn't recorded in more than 20 years. He eagerly tries to persuade Dupre to guest on his radio show and finally succeeds when he assures Eddie that a fee is involved. When Dupre visits the Keatons to meet Alex prior to the show, he charms them with his stories and his talent. But he confesses that he has no money to show for all his years in the music business and swears he will never perform again in public.

Directors: Matthew Diamond
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Mr. Wrong
star
8.33
12 votes

#14 - Mr. Wrong

Season 4 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/17/1985

Mallory brings home her new boyfriend, Nick, a Rambo-type environmental artist, to meet her family, but Steven and Elyse are shocked by his crude appearance and gruff manner.

Writer: Alan Uger
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Auntie Up
star
8.30
10 votes

#15 - Auntie Up

Season 3 - Episode 15 - Aired 1/10/1985

Mallory is crushed when her favorite aunt dies suddenly, but her feelings of sadness turns to anger when family and friends at the funeral seem to be taking Aunt Trudy's death too lightly. Mallory feels that she has lost her best friend, and is shocked that no one else seems to share her grief.

Directors: John Pasquin
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Architect's Apprentice
star
8.25
4 votes

#16 - Architect's Apprentice

Season 5 - Episode 16 - Aired 1/29/1987

Steven and Elyse are forced to take a new closer look at Nick and his considerable artistic talents when they invite him to compete with other local artists to create a sculpture for the lobby of Steven's television station. Hired to re-design the lobby of the WKS building where Steven works, Elyse is busy pouring over architectural drawings one evening when Nick arrives at the Keatons. As he studies her work, he begins to suggest some of his own ideas and takes Elyse completely by surprise with his immediate grasp of what she is trying to achieve. When Steven comes home and announces that the station has agreed to sponsor a local art competition to produce the sculpture for the lobby, Mallory instantly suggests that Nick be allowed to compete, especially when she and Nick learn of the $2,500 winning prize. A somewhat open-minded Elyse and a very skeptical Steven finally agree to interview Nick and allow him to enter the contest. When Steven ends up casting the deciding vote in anothe

Directors: Steve Robman
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
The Other Woman
star
8.25
4 votes

#17 - The Other Woman

Season 6 - Episode 4 - Aired 9/27/1987

While Nick entertains the Keatons with a demonstration of the "salesmanship" he's using in his new job selling lightbulbs over the phone, an impatient Andrew waits for Alex to come home so they can watch a special edition of "Wall Street Week" together. When Alex finally arrives, Andy is depressed to see that he has brought his new love, Lauren Miller. To make matters worse, Alex forgoes watching "Wall Street Week" in favor of spending time with Lauren, which only adds to Andy's frustration. As the evening wears on, Andy is the only Keaton who isn't enjoying Lauren's company. She amuses the family with an analysis of Steven and Mallory's dreams, while Andy vies unsuccessfully for Alex's attention.

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Citizen Keaton
star
8.25
4 votes

#18 - Citizen Keaton

Season 6 - Episode 11 - Aired 11/22/1987

When Mallory decides to run for student body president of Grant College, her family is surprised at her uncharacteristic interest in politics. She explains that "it just sounded like a good idea", and introduces Skippy as the manager of this rather unfocused campaign. Still her most ardent admirer, Skippy encourages the whole family to work on Mallory's behalf. Alex, who considers Mallory the ideal candidate ("attractive and generally non-offensive") begins to take over the entire campaign. He makes up buttons and posters that include his picture with Mallory's and starts advising her about the kind of campaign promises she should make to get herself elected. As voting time nears, Mallory becomes exhausted by the heavy schedule that Alex has set for her, and is also somewhat nervous about the promises she's made, which have escalated from new drapes and a diet soda machine to Alex's suggestion of free trips to Hawaii.

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Beyond Therapy
star
8.25
4 votes

#19 - Beyond Therapy

Season 7 - Episode 4 - Aired 11/27/1988

In an attempt to get Alex to open up emotionally, Lauren persuades him to join a therapy group. Returning from a date, Alex and Lauren arrive at the Keaton home and finish a fight they began in the car. Lauren resents the fact that Alex has dragged her to a boring economics department function and accuses him of avoiding any conversation which becomes personal. The next day, Alex is relieved when Lauren shows up to apologize for her outburst. She then insists that they should try group therapy and although Alex balks at the idea, he agrees to accompany her to a session, where they are introduced to two other couples. Immediately unimpressed with the group, Alex avoids all personal questions about his relationship with Lauren and walks out. Regretting his actions, Alex resolves to prepare for his next session by reading psychology books and memorizing whatever appropriate lingo he can pick up. At the next group meeting, he wows everyone by speaking openly about his repression. Applaudin

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Heartstrings (2)
star
8.25
4 votes

#20 - Heartstrings (2)

Season 7 - Episode 6 - Aired 12/11/1988

While Steven fights for his life in surgery, the family fights to remain optimistic about his condition. When Steven's surgery extends beyond the expected five hours, tension in the waiting room increases. A nervous Alex, however, begins to express acute concern only for himself fearing that he has inherited a weak heart, he searches in vain for his pulse. Lauren soon makes Alex realize that he is fixated on his own health to block the anguish he really feels for his father. While the Keatons wait, they receive hope and encouragement from Mrs. Hobart and Mr. Meyers, whose spouses are also undergoing surgery. Everyone's spirits are lifted when Mr. Meyers is joyfully reunited with his wife. But shortly afterward, their happiness turns to grief when it is learned that Mrs. Hobart's husband, who had actually been in recovery, has suddenly died. As the Keatons search for a way to comfort her, they become even more anxious about Steven. When Elyse begins to panic, Alex finally realizes that

Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Say Uncle
star
8.18
22 votes

#21 - Say Uncle

Season 2 - Episode 14 - Aired 1/26/1984

Alex discovers that his idol, young Uncle Ned, has a serious drinking problem when the bright, but ill-fated corporate whiz kid returns for a visit after losing another job.

Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writer: Ruth Bennett
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Remembrances of Things Past (2)
star
8.17
6 votes

#22 - Remembrances of Things Past (2)

Season 3 - Episode 24 - Aired 3/28/1985

Steven takes a nostalgic trip to his hometown following the death of his father and, with the support of Elyse and the children, tries to prepare his mother for her new life in a special two-part episode. Good and bad memories of Steven's childhood (including flashbacks to his boyhood) are stirred up as he sorts thru family photos and heirlooms. But an on-going rivalry with his older brother Robert, and the unsettled feelings he has about his dad make it a difficult period of adjustment for everyone.

Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Matchmaker
star
8.17
6 votes

#23 - Matchmaker

Season 5 - Episode 28 - Aired 7/23/1987

When Mallory comes home from her sixth disastrous date in a row, Alex tries to comfort and then help. He will find her a new and perfect boyfriend using a computer that the Keaton's have gotten for Jennifer's "educational" use. Yet, when Roger and Mallory don't hit it off, Alex refuses to give up on getting this "perfect couple" together.

Directors: Barbara Schultz
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Just One Look
star
8.17
6 votes

#24 - Just One Look

Season 4 - Episode 9 - Aired 12/5/1985

Steven's old college buddy Richard Schofield is in town for and Steven looks forward to reminiscing about old times until he learns that Richard and Elyse share some memories he wasn't aware of. Steven loses his normally cool composure and becomes insanely jealous, imagining that Elyse and Richard are secretly attracted to one another.

Writer: Paul Wolff
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
How Do You Sleep?
star
8.17
6 votes

#25 - How Do You Sleep?

Season 4 - Episode 10 - Aired 12/12/1985

Alex, who prides himself on being in control of his life, is embarrassed to admit that he is having a problem with insomnia, which is creating stress in his personal life as well as in school. Although Alex refuses to discuss his sleeping problems with anyone, his restlessness is disrupting the whole family.

Watch Now:AmazoniTunes

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