The Best Episodes of Family Ties

Last Updated: Jun 17, 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.

Say Uncle

#1 - 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 10.00
1 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Ruth Bennett
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Birth of a Keaton (2)

#2 - 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 10.00
1 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Alan Uger, Marc Lawrence
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A, My Name is Alex (2)

#3 - 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 10.00
1 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Alan Uger, Gary David Goldberg
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The Real Thing (2)

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

#5 - 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 8.75
8 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Alan Uger, Gary David Goldberg
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The Fugitive (1)

#6 - 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 8.61
18 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Michael J. Weithorn
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Not An Affair to Remember

#7 - 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 8.50
6 votes
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My Back Pages

#8 - 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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Just One Look

#9 - 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

#10 - 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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Lady Sings the Blues

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

#12 - 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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Sherry Baby

#13 - Sherry Baby

Season 1 - Episode 13

When popular sorority girl Sherry Marshall befriends Mallory to get close to Alex, Mallory brings them together in hopes of joining Pi Nu but her plan backfires. Mallory's thrilled when Sherry chooses her for a science project partner, though the snobbish girl's ulterior motive soon surfaces. Eager to join the sorority, Mallory persuades Alex to escort Sherry to the Pi Nu dance. She even agrees to his condition that she attend the dance with the adoring, nerdy Skippy Handleman.

star 8.00
16 votes
Directors: Dick Martin
Writers: Barbara Hall
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The Disciple

#14 - The Disciple

Season 4 - Episode 13

Alex offers to help Jennifer with a speech project and winds up creating a monster, the speech is such a success that she is asked to repeat the performance for an awards panel. Jennifer does her class project perfectly, but doesn't understand what she said because Alex coached her on most of the material. So when asked to present it to the panel of judges, her nerves get the best of her.

star 8.00
5 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Rich Reinhart
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Matchmaker

#15 - Matchmaker

Season 5 - Episode 28

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.

star 8.00
4 votes
Directors: Barbara Schultz
Writers: Bruce Helford, Bruce David
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Alex Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1)

#16 - Alex Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1)

Season 7 - Episode 25

When Alex lands his dream job in New York, everyone's delighted for him, except Elyse. As Steven helps Andy rehearse for his school play on dental hygiene, Alex bursts into the Keaton kitchen with a rousing chorus of ""New York, New York"", and the news that he's been hired by one of Wall Street's biggest investment firms. The family is thrilled, but Elyse is somewhat taken aback when she learns that Alex is expected to move immediately. While everyone pitches in to help Alex get ready, Elyse becomes miffed over a family photo that he packed without her permission and a palpable tension begins to develop between them. In the course of packing, Alex battles wits with Jennifer, accepts fashion tips from Mallory, receives fatherly advice from Steven and shares some final moments with Nick, Skippy and Lauren. All the while, Elyse continues to withdraw from him. She becomes even more upset when the family plans to go out to dinner together and Alex begs off, claiming he is just too busy to sp

star 8.00
1 votes
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Go Tigers

#17 - Go Tigers

Season 2 - Episode 12

Alex is both amazed and furious when a critical admissions interview at Princeton University is shattered by his hysterical sister Mallory, who feels her anger over discovering her boyfriend kissing another girl is more important than his college education. Alex is overjoyed at going to Princeton for the interview, but not too keen about taking his sister along so she can visit her boyfriend Jeff at the university. He drops Mallory off at Jeff's and heads for his important interview, only to be humiliated when he has to leave the meeting to comfort his weepy sister.

star 7.89
9 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Michael J. Weithorn
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Hotline Fever

#18 - Hotline Fever

Season 3 - Episode 7

Alex is teamed with long-time rival James Jarrett and assigned to work at a ""hotline"" crisis center to fulfill a course requirement, and the two end up in a crisis of their own when they get a call from a suicidal student. As an economics student, Alex finds it demeaning to be forced into a public service position, but his experiences at the crisis center gives him a new outlook on life.

star 7.86
7 votes
Directors: John Pasquin
Writers: Marc Lawrence
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Tender is the Knight

#19 - Tender is the Knight

Season 2 - Episode 1

When pretty Carrie Newman and her mother Julia come to visit the Keaton's, Carrie's forward behavior sends Alex into a panic.

star 7.78
9 votes
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Ladies' Man

#20 - Ladies' Man

Season 2 - Episode 15

Alex pretends to support the Equal Rights Amendment to impress a pretty feminist and winds up behind bars after championing the cause at a debate that turns into a riot. To get a date with Deena Marx, the conservative Alex starts spouting feminist rhetoric. While it's all a sham, he gets in over his head when he accompanies Deena to a debate, stands up for a feminist being heckled and is carted off to jail following a near riot. He's a hero to the women in his cell, but when he's asked to be the keynote speaker at an ERA rally, he realizes the charade has gone too far.

star 7.75
8 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Alan Uger
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I Never Killed for My Father

#21 - I Never Killed for My Father

Season 1 - Episode 5

Sensitive, liberal Steven and his macho, conservative father, Jake, clash as usual during the elder's annual visit until Jake's startling news leads to a first effort to bridge the gap.

star 7.67
30 votes
Directors: Dick Martin
Writers: Kimberly Hill
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Don't Kiss Me, I'm Only the Messenger

#22 - Don't Kiss Me, I'm Only the Messenger

Season 3 - Episode 11

Alex plays Cupid to help his shy pal Skippy get together with Jane, the girl of his dreams, but his good intentions goes awry when the girl falls for him instead. When Skippy and Mallory find Alex locked in a passionate embrace with Jane, Skippy accuses him of stealing his girl.

star 7.67
6 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Ruth Bennett
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Remembrances of Things Past (2)

#23 - Remembrances of Things Past (2)

Season 3 - Episode 24

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.

star 7.67
3 votes
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Alex Doesn't Live Here Anymore (2)

#24 - Alex Doesn't Live Here Anymore (2)

Season 7 - Episode 26

While Alex packs for New York, Elyse struggles to deal with her feelings of loss. After Elyse's blow-up with Alex, Steven is finally able to get her to admit that much of what she's suffering is classic separation anxiety. But she is still unable to put her anger aside, telling Steven that Alex is too self-centered to appreciate all the things they've done for him. That night at Andy's school play, Steven asks Alex to talk with his mother about what she's feeling. Later, when the family decides to go out for ice cream, Elyse excuses herself and goes home alone. Standing in Alex's room, a melancholy Elyse is surprised when her son walks in and apologies for fighting. Elyse confesses that his leaving reminds her that a part of her life is ending, while Alex tells her that bravado aside, he's scared about leaving the security of the family. Their love for each other reaffirmed, Alex and Elyse embrace. Early the next morning, the sleepy family gathers for breakfast before taking Alex to th

star 7.64
14 votes
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Have Gun, Will Unravel

#25 - Have Gun, Will Unravel

Season 1 - Episode 10

The Keatons are burglarized, and a terrified Steven and Elyse wrestle with the previously unthinkable notion of buying a gun for protection. As pacifists, Steven and Elyse have always hated guns. However, the burglary and a discouraging neighborhood-watch meeting make them begin to see things in a different light. After a reluctant trip to the the sporting goods store, they emerge with a weapon they hope to put out of sight forever. That evening though, a bump in the nite and the sound of breaking glass force them to face the threat - one way or another.

star 7.61
18 votes
Directors: Alan Bergmann
Writers: Ruth Bennett
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