The Best Episodes of Family Ties

Last Updated: Mar 27, 2019

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.

The Play's the Thing

#1 - The Play's the Thing

Season 6 - Episode 18

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. When opening night arrives, Elyse and Jeff are rather uneasy about Steven's changes, which include turning a passionate kiss into a high-five slap. After complying with the high-five sign, the artistically stifled El

star 10.00
1 votes
Directors: Debbie Allen
Writers:
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The Real Thing (2)

#2 - The Real Thing (2)

Season 4 - Episode 2

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.

star 9.20
5 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Michael J. Weithorn
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It's My Party (2)

#3 - It's My Party (2)

Season 5 - Episode 30

In her quest to become one of the popular kids, Jennifer invites her trendy classmates to her thirteenth birthday party. When they become bored and begin grumbling at her ""lame"" party (which includes a traditional puppet show by her father), Jennifer takes drastic action. With Mallory's guidance, she becomes a ""valley girl"", who then deserts her own party. Yet, it's only a matter of time before Jennifer realizes she isn't having any fun and she rebels against her new friends.

star 9.00
1 votes
Directors: Asaad Kelada
Writers: Susan Borowitz
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Dream Date

#4 - Dream Date

Season 6 - Episode 5

Jennifer is appalled when nerdy sophomore Simon Wickerson falls head over heels in love with her. Although Jennifer rejects his advances, Simon is undaunted. He follows her home and tries to shower her with expensive gifts, but Jennifer only has eyes for Roger, a sophomore ""hunk"" who doesn't even know she's alive. Simon pleads with Jennifer to attend the sophomore dance with him and at first, she refuses. She finally relents, however, when she realizes that Simon is her only chance to attend the dance, thereby giving her the opportunity to run into Roger. Although she is reluctant to use Simon no less be seen with him Alex reassures her that manipulation is the way of the world. Despite Elyse's warnings that she's doing the wrong thing, Jennifer has made up her mind. At the dance, she scans the room for Roger and Ignores Simon, who is deliriously happy to be with her. When she finally approaches her idol, he is rude and insensitive and obviously has no desire to get to know her. Then,

star 9.00
1 votes
Writers:
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The Blues Brother

#5 - The Blues Brother

Season 6 - Episode 20

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. Later, on Alex's program, he answers call-in questions from fans, one of whom is a Leland College music professor who extend

star 9.00
2 votes
Directors: Matthew Diamond
Writers: Burt Pretlusky
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Read It and Weep (2)

#6 - Read It and Weep (2)

Season 6 - Episode 22

While Jennifer steels herself for a showdown with school authorities, Steven and Elyse prepare to back her up in her fight against the school board's book banning policy. Even Mallory gets into the act and shocks the family by falling in love with the forbidden ""Huckleberry Finn"", which she ends up reading aloud to Nick. Nothing is solved at the meeting with the school principal, Dr. Hewitt, the head of the school board and Jennifer's English teacher Mr. Flaherty when the Keaton's refuse to comply with the new school ruling. Jennifer is crushed by the fact that Flaherty, whom she respects and admires, will not stand up to Hewitt and the board even though he claims to be completely on her side. Pushed to a more serious confrontation, Steven and Elyse hire a lawyer to challenge the School Board decision, while Jennifer fields calls from reporters and grows increasingly uneasy with her notoriety. When the final face-off comes, Jennifer makes an impassioned plea for the freedoms of speech

star 9.00
1 votes
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Designing Woman

#7 - Designing Woman

Season 7 - Episode 2

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. Feeling completely disillusioned, Ma

star 9.00
3 votes
Directors: Matthew Diamond
Writers: Katie Ford
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The Fugitive (1)

#8 - The Fugitive (1)

Season 1 - Episode 14

Elyse's younger brother, Ned, a go-getting corporate executive who is Alex's idol, pays a surprise visit and puzzles everyone with his cloak-and-dagger behavior. Ned claims to be on vacation and insists that no one be told of his whereabouts. Several mysterious phone calls, replete with code words, arouse the family's suspicions. Finally, an FBI agent turns up at the Keaton's doorstep with astounding news after Ned's quick exit.

star 8.63
16 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Michael J. Weithorn
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Not An Affair to Remember

#9 - Not An Affair to Remember

Season 2 - Episode 5

Steven's assistant at the station is bright, talented, funny, witty...and in love with him. And it looks like Steven may be returning her affections. It becomes obvious that Steven's assistant, Stacey Hughes, is very much attracted to him. And after a rough evening at home, as brief fling begins to look better and better to him.

star 8.60
5 votes
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Say Uncle

#10 - Say Uncle

Season 2 - Episode 14

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.

star 8.58
12 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Ruth Bennett
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A, My Name is Alex (1)

#11 - A, My Name is Alex (1)

Season 5 - Episode 23

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. Thou

star 8.57
7 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Alan Uger, Gary David Goldberg
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Birth of a Keaton (2)

#12 - Birth of a Keaton (2)

Season 3 - Episode 18

Still trapped at the television station, Elyse realizes she cannot make it thru the snowstorm to the hospital and prepares to gibe birth in Steven's office. Meanwhile, stuck at home by the same storm, Steven enlists the help of Bud the plumber and his truck, and heads for the hospital, thinking Elyse will be there. Elyse makes a plea on camera to Steven, wherever he is, to come to the station, so Steven, the doctor, the plumber and Skippy all frantically head for WKS, hoping they arrive in time for the birth.

star 8.50
4 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Alan Uger, Marc Lawrence
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My Back Pages

#13 - My Back Pages

Season 5 - Episode 4

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.

star 8.50
2 votes
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Auntie Up

#14 - Auntie Up

Season 3 - Episode 15

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.

star 8.43
7 votes
Directors: John Pasquin
Writers: Lawrence Levy
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A, My Name is Alex (2)

#15 - A, My Name is Alex (2)

Season 5 - Episode 24

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. Thou

star 8.43
7 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Alan Uger, Gary David Goldberg
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Just One Look

#16 - Just One Look

Season 4 - Episode 9

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.

star 8.40
5 votes
Writers: Paul Wolff
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Mr. Wrong

#17 - Mr. Wrong

Season 4 - Episode 3

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.

star 8.33
9 votes
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The Fugitive (2)

#18 - The Fugitive (2)

Season 1 - Episode 15

With the FBI hot on Ned's heels for embezzling $4-1/2 million in corporate funds, Elyse's ethical brother and Alex's idol tells the family why and where he hid the money and flees with Alex, leaving Elyse and Steven in a quandry. Ned explains that to stop a merger that would result in firing of 1800 people, he hid a portfolio of corporate records and assets in a company computer. The top-level junior mogul confides that he couldn't deal with a company structure that puts profits above the public good. Alex is shattered by his idol's rejection of the exciting business world but agrees to drive Ned to the airport, where they're spotted by FBI agent Carlyle. After a wild and crazy charade, Ned flees again and winds up back at the Keatons' where Carlyle and Ned's boss awaits him.

star 8.31
13 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Michael J. Weithorn
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Margin of Error

#19 - Margin of Error

Season 1 - Episode 16

Alex amasses a bundle by playing the stock market on paper for his economics class, and courts disaster by secretly investing his father's money. Even broker Dan Matthews, who takes Alex's class on a tour of his company is so impressed by the teenager's acumen that he advises clients to buy his choices. Sure of himself and frustrated by his parents' insistence of holding onto their AT&T stock, Alex impersonates his father in a telephone call to Matthews and reopens Steven's account. However, when a typhoon causes the stock of his choice to plummet, Alex must scramble to get out of a gigantic jam.

star 8.29
14 votes
Directors: Tony Mordente
Writers: Michael Russnow
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Best Man

#20 - Best Man

Season 3 - Episode 9

When his best friend, Doug, meets and falls in love with Eleanor, and decides to marry her, Alex resents the fact that someone has come between their friendship and refuses to be in the wedding. Alex cannot accept the fact that he and everyone around him are growing up, and desperately clings to his old ways.

star 8.29
7 votes
Directors: John Pasquin
Writers: Alan Uger
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Lady Sings the Blues

#21 - Lady Sings the Blues

Season 2 - Episode 18

Excited at the prospect of reviving her folk-singing career at a local niteclub, Elyse faces the skepticism of Alex and Mallory and an audience unattuned to the songs of the sixties. Though Elyse hasn't performed on stage since college days, friend's of the Keaton's are impressed when she pulls out the old guitar and sings such folk classics as ""Turn, Turn, Turn"", ""The Times They Are A'changin'"" and ""If I Had a Hammer"". They encourage her to audition at a small neighborhood club, and Elyse joins the Top Spot's slate of performers to eye opening results.

star 8.25
4 votes
Writers: Alan Uger, Michael J. Weithorn
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Beauty and the Bank

#22 - Beauty and the Bank

Season 5 - Episode 5

Alex is emotionally torn when he goes to work in a bank and finds that the vice president to whom he reports is Ms. Ryan, a beautiful, smart and self-confident woman and that he's growing more romantically interested in her each day. The Keaton family delights in Alex's taking orders from Ms. Ryan, but their playfulness wanes when they discover his attitude toward her is taking a toll on his career and ego.

star 8.25
4 votes
Directors: Asaad Kelada
Writers: Stephen J. Curwick
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Fabric Smarts

#23 - Fabric Smarts

Season 3 - Episode 6

Mallory's enthusiasm for her part-time job at a boutique causes her school grades to slip even lower than usual and Steven and Elyse agree that she must quit work, but Alex comes up with a proposal that could resolve the situation. Alex has his own reasons for wanting Mallory to keep her job, it keeps her away from the house, so he initiates a plan that will allow her to work and improve her grades at the same time.

star 8.20
5 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: David Lloyd Garver
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Paper Chase (a.k.a.) Mallory's Graduation

#24 - Paper Chase (a.k.a.) Mallory's Graduation

Season 4 - Episode 24

Mallory discovers that her high school graduation is in jeopardy unless she can pass a very tough history exam. Never an avid student, Mallory faces the possibility of failing her senior year in high school because of her poor grades. As the school term rapidly draws to a close, her only hope is to score extremely well on a tough final exam.

star 8.20
5 votes
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Mrs. Wrong (2)

#25 - Mrs. Wrong (2)

Season 5 - Episode 7

Alex sees Mallory and Nick leaving the Keaton residence in the predawn hours to elope, and unable to stop them, follows them to New Jersey where he finds the young couple taking a hard look at their decision. After Nick bumbles around the outside of the house with a 16-foot ladder, Alex makes a desperate attempt to keep his younger sister Mallory from marrying Nick. But they are too much in love to listen. It takes Erin and Mike, another couple, to give them perspective on their maturity.

star 8.20
5 votes
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