The BEST Episodes of Family Ties

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: May 17, 2021

Network: NBC

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.

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Super Mom

#1 - Super Mom

Season 6 - Episode 6 - Aired Oct 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.

star 10.00
1 votes
Directors: Matthew Diamond
Writers: Alan Uger
Spring Reminds Me (a.k.a.) Rosalie's Legacy

#2 - Spring Reminds Me (a.k.a.) Rosalie's Legacy

Season 6 - Episode 24 - Aired Feb 28, 1988

As Steven goes thru another one of his dreaded "magician phases" and tries to rope the whole family into participating in his magic tricks, the Keatons get a visit from Evelyn Mitchum, a former neighbor now living in New York, whose daughter Rosalie was beat friend with Mallory in junior high. The family is delighted to welcome Evelyn, but the tragic suicide of her daughter a year earlier makes for some awkward moments when they reminisce about old times. Sensing that Evelyn may need someone to confide in, Elyse makes a gentle but unsuccessful attempt to get her to open up about her devastating loss. When Evelyn turns her attention almost exclusively to Mallory, first inviting her to lunch, then on trips to the mall and the museum, Elyse begins to suspect that Mallory has become a surrogate Rosalie for Evelyn and warns Mallory she may get hurt. But Mallory insists she can and must handle the situation herself.

star 10.00
1 votes
Directors: Matthew Diamond
Writers: Katie Ford
The Play's the Thing

#3 - The Play's the Thing

Season 6 - Episode 18 - Aired Jan 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.

star 9.50
2 votes
Directors: Debbie Allen
Writers:
The Real Thing (2)

#4 - The Real Thing (2)

Season 4 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 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.

star 9.20
5 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Michael J. Weithorn
My Back Pages

#5 - My Back Pages

Season 5 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 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.

star 9.00
3 votes
Architect's Apprentice

#6 - Architect's Apprentice

Season 5 - Episode 16 - Aired Jan 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

star 9.00
1 votes
Directors: Steve Robman
Writers: David Tyron King
It's My Party (2)

#7 - It's My Party (2)

Season 5 - Episode 30 - Aired Aug 13, 1987

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
Citizen Keaton

#8 - Citizen Keaton

Season 6 - Episode 11 - Aired Nov 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.

star 9.00
1 votes
The Spirit of Columbus

#9 - The Spirit of Columbus

Season 6 - Episode 19 - Aired Jan 17, 1988

Alex is more than a little sceptical when Nick enters his sculpture "Spirit of Columbus", priced at $200, in an art show at the mall. but when Nick returns with the money and the news that he had several buyers vying for the piece, Alex decides that Nick is completely unaware of the marketability of his work. Appalled that Nick let potential buyers go away empty-handed, he insists that Nick increase the supply to meet the demand and steps in as Nick's manager for a hefty commission. At first, both Nick and Mallory are opposed to the commercialization of Nick's artistic work, but they become seduced by the idea of building a substantial "nest egg" for their future, and give in to Alex's pressure.

star 9.00
1 votes
The Blues Brother

#10 - The Blues Brother

Season 6 - Episode 20 - Aired Jan 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.

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

#11 - Read It and Weep (2)

Season 6 - Episode 22 - Aired Feb 14, 1988

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.

star 9.00
2 votes
A Sign of the Times

#12 - A Sign of the Times

Season 6 - Episode 26 - Aired Mar 13, 1988

While Alex prepares little Andrew's resume for future kindergarten elections, Elyse proudly tells the family that Andy has been chosen as "Buddy for the Day" at school, which means he will be responsible for showing a new classmate around. The new student, Josh Richards, turns out to be deaf. Accompanied by his mother, Josh is introduced to Andy by Andy's teacher, who explains that although Josh can't hear, he can speak by signing with his hands. Tentative at first, Andy leads Josh off to "show him the ropes", telling his curious classmates about Josh's deafness and his ability to sign. When several of Josh's schoolmates begin to tease him, Andy becomes very upset and rushes to defend him. He becomes even more disturbed at the end of the day when Josh confesses that the other children's cruelty does indeed hurt him. Experiencing the beginnings of a solid friendship, Andy begins to brood about Josh's handicap and stops talking altogether in sympathy for his friend.

star 9.00
1 votes
Directors: Asaad Kelada
Writers: Matthew Monaher
Return of the Native

#13 - Return of the Native

Season 6 - Episode 27 - Aired Mar 20, 1988

Cousin June returns to the Keaton household for a visit after a three year stay in London. All of the Keatons are eager to hear her tales of England, but they just can't seem to let her get a word in edgewise.

star 9.00
1 votes
Directors: John Pasquin
Writers: Lloyd Garver
Designing Woman

#14 - Designing Woman

Season 7 - Episode 2 - Aired Nov 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.

star 9.00
3 votes
Directors: Matthew Diamond
Writers: Katie Ford
“A”, My Name is Alex (1)

#15 - “A”, My Name is Alex (1)

Season 5 - Episode 23 - Aired Mar 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.

star 8.75
8 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Alan Uger, Gary David Goldberg
“A”, My Name is Alex (2)

#16 - “A”, My Name is Alex (2)

Season 5 - Episode 24 - Aired Mar 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.

star 8.56
9 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Alan Uger, Gary David Goldberg
My Mother, My Friend

#17 - My Mother, My Friend

Season 5 - Episode 12 - Aired Dec 18, 1986

When Mallory brings her new friend, Allison King, home with her to study, little does she expect that Allison will find a kindred spirit in Elyse. Bound together by their love of architecture, Allison and Elyse soon become fast friends, with Elyse even becoming the subject of Allison's architecture research project. They study together, shop together, go to exhibits together, always inviting Mallory to join them, but unconsciously making her feel like a fifth wheel. Matters come to a head when Allison is invited to dinner at the Keatons " after getting an "A" on her college architecture project. Mall unexpectedly vents her resentment and jealousy, and storms out, leaving her mother upset and confused. When Mallory finally does return home, she and Elyse have to deal wtih the conflict that Allison's friendship has stirred. And together, they reaffirm that blood is, indeed, thicker than common interests.

star 8.50
2 votes
Directors: Lynn Hamrick
Writers: Kate Boutilier
Just One Look

#18 - Just One Look

Season 4 - Episode 9 - Aired Dec 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.

star 8.40
5 votes
Writers: Paul Wolff
Beauty and the Bank

#19 - Beauty and the Bank

Season 5 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 30, 1986

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 8.40
5 votes
Directors: Asaad Kelada
Writers: Stephen J. Curwick
Say Uncle

#20 - Say Uncle

Season 2 - Episode 14 - Aired Jan 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.

star 8.35
17 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Ruth Bennett
The Fugitive (1)

#21 - The Fugitive (1)

Season 1 - Episode 14 - Aired Jan 19, 1983

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 8.35
23 votes
Directors: Will Mackenzie
Writers: Michael J. Weithorn
Keaton vs. Keaton

#22 - Keaton vs. Keaton

Season 5 - Episode 22 - Aired Mar 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.

star 8.33
6 votes
Read It and Weep (1)

#23 - Read It and Weep (1)

Season 6 - Episode 21 - Aired Feb 7, 1988

Jennifer comes home from school feeling blue because after choosing the American classic "Huckleberry Finn" as the subject of her book report, she learns that the novel has been put on the school board's list of banned books. Although her favorite English teacher, Mr. Flaherty, disagrees with the decision, he informs Jennifer that he must uphold the board's ruling about the book. Jennifer decides to disregard the school's edicts and goes ahead with her report, which she insists of reading aloud in class. Flaherty is forced to summon the principal, who confiscates the paper. Later, Flaherty tells Jennifer and her family that even though he personally admires her courage and commitment, he must fail her on her report. Even worse, she must face the wrath of the principal and possible suspension.

star 8.33
3 votes
Quitting Time

#24 - Quitting Time

Season 6 - Episode 23 - Aired Feb 21, 1988

While Andy is inspired by his parents' old love letters to try his hand at writing one to a kindergarten sweetheart, Lauren finds herself less and less able to spend time with Alex. She is struggling with her psychology thesis and is becoming increasingly depressed by her lack of significant progress. She confesses to the Keatons that she sometimes has the urge to quit, but Steven and Elyse encourage her to hang in there and keep working on it, much to Alex's chagrin. The day after she has broken yet another date with Alex to work on her thesis, Lauren complains to him that the project which once thrilled her has become incredibly boring. Having received a lukewarm response from her professor on what she has accomplished so far, Lauren finds the temptation to quit and spend more time with Alex too strong to resist. Alex happily assures her that she is making the right decision. At first, Alex revels in being waited on hand and foot by Lauren. But his enthusiasm for her total devotion q

star 8.33
3 votes
Paper Chase (a.k.a.) Mallory's Graduation

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

Season 4 - Episode 24 - Aired May 8, 1986

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