Family Ties

The WORST episodes of Family Ties

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

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: 5/8/2022Network: NBC
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Get Me to the Living Room on Time
star
5.00
3 votes

#1 - Get Me to the Living Room on Time

Season 7 - Episode 11 - Aired 1/29/1989

When Andy befriends two senior citizens, Steven decides to make them the focus of his new documentary. After Andy announces that he's invited a couple of friends over, the Keatons are surprised when two people in their seventies walk in! Andy introduces Joseph Simmons and Eva Martin to the family, explaining that they are from the retirement center which Andy's class visits each week as a school project. As Steven listens to Joseph and Eva talk about their lives and friendship with Andy, he gets an idea. Having been searching for a subject for his new documentary, Steven sees a story about Andy, Joseph and Eva as the perfect solution. A few days later, Steven and his cameraman visit the center and videotape Andy asking Joseph and Eva how they met, at which point Joseph suddenly pops the question to Eva, who agrees to marry him. Problems develop, however, when Joseph's son David strongly objects to the marriage and Steven is asked to try and reason with him. After an emotional scene tha

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Father, Can You Spare a Dime?
star
5.50
2 votes

#2 - Father, Can You Spare a Dime?

Season 6 - Episode 28 - Aired 5/1/1988

Nick again demonstrates his flair for teaching art by conducting a class at the "Y" for children, including Andrew. So popular is the class, in fact, that when the "Y" needs the classroom space back for another program, the kids and their enthusiastic parents are very disappointed. Mallory tells the family that Nick would really like to open up his own art school, and Alex escorts Nick to the bank to help him get a loan. When the bank loan doesn't work out, Mallory encourages Nick to ask his father for the money. Nick explains that because his father left home when he was only eleven, their relationship leaves a lot to be desired, and he feels uncomfortable approaching him. But when Mallory finds out that Nick's dad is Joe Moore, the well-known owner of a very successful car dealership in town, she feels sure that Joe will want to reconcile with his son and lend him the money.

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Rain Forests Keep Falling on My Head
star
5.75
4 votes

#3 - Rain Forests Keep Falling on My Head

Season 7 - Episode 21 - Aired 4/16/1989

Jennifer becomes obsessed with the environment after she begins studying the earth's ecological evils. As Alex presents Andrew with a pet parakeet, Jennifer arrives home with news that her science class has begun studying global ecology to explore how the earth is endangered by man's interference. Upset that the world is being destroyed for profit, Jennifer begins trying to make the family more ecologically aware as she laments the destruction of rain forests in Brazil and the ozone layer over the South Pole. While Mallory teaches the parakeet anti-Republican phrases, Jennifer becomes more and more obsessed. When she realizes how many toxic chemicals are in the Keaton home alone, she demands that the family throw out a bunch of household products and shop for safe alternatives. Not stopping there, however, she begins dwelling on the enormity of the world's environmental problems and becomes psychologically overwhelmed. Fixating on such evils as acid rain and radon gas, Jennifer sinks i

Directors: Rita Rogers
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Simon Says
star
6.00
7 votes

#4 - Simon Says

Season 7 - Episode 16 - Aired 3/5/1989

Jennifer is caught in the middle when she begins working with her friend Simon. As Alex recoils at declarations of love from Marla, an 11-year-old newspaper delivery girl who has a huge crush on him, Jennifer announces that she and her schoolmate Simon have landed jobs at a local fast food store. On their first day working together, an infatuated Simon sets out to impress Jennifer but proves totally inept at his new job. Jennifer, however, saves the day and, in recognition of her hard work, the owner promotes her to assistant manager. While Alex stealthily manages to avoid Marla, Jennifer's new position creates problems. She finally warns Simon that he had better concentrate more on his job rather on her. But despite her attempts to cover Simon's mistakes, the owner fires him. Meanwhile, Alex finally manages to convince the lovestruck Marla to abandon her dreams of dating him. Jennifer, too, resolves her situation by telling Simon that even if she agrees with the boss' decision to fire

Directors: Matthew Diamond
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My Buddy
star
6.13
8 votes

#5 - My Buddy

Season 4 - Episode 22 - Aired 3/6/1986

Steven has a very difficult time accepting that his youngest daughter, Jennifer,is growing up and no longer wants to "pal around" with him. As Jennifer grows and finds new interests, Steven feels rejected because she no longer spends time with him. The situation comes to a head when Steven insists on accompanying Jennifer on her girls-club outing, and she is mortified when he is the only male there.

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The Boys Next Door
star
6.40
5 votes

#6 - The Boys Next Door

Season 6 - Episode 25 - Aired 3/6/1988

As Elyse prepares for her high school reunion, she is contacted by her old buddy, Roger "Eggy" Erdman, a klutzy class nerd turned millionaire. Never a romantic couple, Elyse and "Eggy" made a bizarre team even as friends, since Elyse was the most popular girl in class. She explains to the family that Roger needed someone to keep the bullies away and to save him from his own clumsiness. Like an older version of Skippy, the ungainly Roger comes over for a visit. While Alex is enamored of "Eggy's" wealth, Roger is still clearly in love with Elyse, who always helped him stand up for himself. Steven, who would do anything to avoid attending Elyse's reunion, urges Roger to take her. Roger wants to resurrect the "Doo-Wop Twins" number they used to do in school, but when Elyse refuses, saying that those days are over, a hurt Roger rushes out.

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Be True to Your Preschool
star
6.43
7 votes

#7 - Be True to Your Preschool

Season 5 - Episode 1 - Aired 9/25/1986

Alex shocks his parents when he visits his 3-year-old brother Andrew's very special preschool class, decides the wrong values are being stressed and withdraws him from the school. Steven and Elyse had pulled strings to get Andrew into the special preschool. They are shocked when Alex announces that the school teaches "anti-competitive" values, and argues that his brother should be taught in a more aggressive manner.

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It's My Party (1)
star
6.50
4 votes

#8 - It's My Party (1)

Season 5 - Episode 29 - Aired 8/6/1987

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.

Directors: Asaad Kelada
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To Snatch a Keith
star
6.62
13 votes

#9 - To Snatch a Keith

Season 2 - Episode 10 - Aired 12/21/1983

Steven and Elyse realize how lucky they are when their friends come over for a visit, but are unaware that it will be for the last time. Divorced "Sunday father" Richard Bailey and his son, Keith, come over to the Keaton's before taking off on a secret flight of their own. It seems Keith's mother is moving to California with her new husband and plans on taking her son with them. When a satisfactory visiting arrangement can't be reached, Richard decides it's time to make a move and it's up to Steven to put a stop to their travel plans.

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Double Date
star
6.67
15 votes

#10 - Double Date

Season 2 - Episode 17 - Aired 2/16/1984

Alex courts disaster when he invites two dates to the senior prom and devises an elaborate scheme for escorting each of the unknowing girls on a night to remember. Prom chairman Alex is all set to attend the big evening with an ecstatic Rachel Miller, when he finds that his heartthrob, Jocelyn Clark, has just broken up with her boyfriend. While consoling her, Alex invites her to be his date and finds himself in a major jam. With Skippy's help he tries to juggle both dates, until the truth comes crashing down.

Directors: Will Mackenzie
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The Spirit of Columbus
star
6.67
3 votes

#11 - The Spirit of Columbus

Season 6 - Episode 19 - Aired 1/17/1988

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.

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A Sign of the Times
star
6.67
3 votes

#12 - A Sign of the Times

Season 6 - Episode 26 - Aired 3/13/1988

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.

Directors: Asaad Kelada
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Return of the Native
star
6.67
3 votes

#13 - Return of the Native

Season 6 - Episode 27 - Aired 3/20/1988

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.

Directors: John Pasquin
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Suzanne Takes You Down
star
6.72
25 votes

#14 - Suzanne Takes You Down

Season 1 - Episode 19 - Aired 3/16/1983

Soon after free lance architect Elyse Keaton hires her friend Suzanne Davis to handle clerical chores, she wants to fire the under-qualified, overly aggressive secretary, but Suzanne's marriage breaks up, making the new job her only salvation. After 20 years as a housewife, Suzanne feels she lacks an identity outside the home. Swamped with paperwork, Elyse decides to solve that problem while easing her friend's mid-life crisis. Unfortunately Suzanne's take-charge approach to business throws a wrench into Elyse's client dealings and threatens to ruin the women's friendship. On the brink of firing Suzanne, the frustrated Elyse faces a terrible dilemma when Ron Davis decides he "needs space" and leaves his wife.

Directors: Will Mackenzie
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Diary of a Young Girl
star
6.77
13 votes

#15 - Diary of a Young Girl

Season 2 - Episode 21 - Aired 5/3/1984

In the hospital awaiting a tonsillectomy, Jennifer fears she may never see her family again and, while writing in her diary, she flashes back to regrettable incidents with each family member. Jennifer conjures up memories of the time she deliberately ruined Mallory's date with a boy, and also recalls an incident when her stubborn refusal to rehearse a play with Alex caused him to lose out on the lead.

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This Year's Model
star
6.81
21 votes

#16 - This Year's Model

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/26/1983

After Mallory secretly submits a picture of Elyse and herself to an ad agency for a mother-daughter modeling contest, she's ecstatic to have won but dismayed and jealous when the reluctant Elyse becomes the star model. Mallory is thrilled at the prospect of entering the glamorous world of modeling, but Elyse must be coaxed into participating. At the photo session, Elyse is showered with attention, while Mallory is shunted to the sidelines. To the chagrin of the teenager, her mother who is becoming seduced by the glamour, is offered a TV commercial for TV dinners to be filmed in the Keaton home. The filming ensues, but Mallory is determined to create a few stumbling blocks.

Directors: John Pasquin
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Miracle in Columbus
star
6.83
6 votes

#17 - Miracle in Columbus

Season 6 - Episode 17 - Aired 12/20/1987

The Christmas spirit has come to the Keaton house, where the family is busy baking Christmas cookies when Skippy stops by to ask a favor. He wants Alex to pinch-hit for him as Santa at the mall, and Alex agrees after hearing about the excellent hourly wage. With Mallory and Jennifer along as his wall-paid elves, "Santa" Alex dispenses stock tips and financial advice to long lines of children. Besieged by kids with elaborate Christmas lists, Alex is surprised when he's approached by a sad-looking little girl who insists she doesn't want anything for Christmas and doesn't believe in Santa Claus. Her mother explains that seven-year-old Michelle is very depressed that her father, a traveling salesman who is struggling to make a living, won't be home for the holiday.

Directors: Lynn Hamrick
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I Gotta Be Ming
star
6.86
21 votes

#18 - I Gotta Be Ming

Season 1 - Episode 18 - Aired 2/23/1983

As "Big Brother" to a 10-year-old Vietnamese boy, Alex tries to mold Ming into his own image, and he learns an unforgettable lesson when he breaks a promise to the adoring child.

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M is for the Many Things
star
6.86
14 votes

#19 - M is for the Many Things

Season 2 - Episode 13 - Aired 1/19/1984

Elyse is chocked by her soon-to-be-divorced mother's quick and free-spirited plunge into the singles world, and sparks fly between the two women when Elyse can't help but interfere.

Directors: Will Mackenzie
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Don't Know Much About History . . .
star
6.86
7 votes

#20 - Don't Know Much About History . . .

Season 3 - Episode 20 - Aired 2/14/1985

Alex and his good friend James go into business together as tutors for their fellow students at Leland. However, their competitiveness threatens to undermine their business let alone their friendship particularly when one of their students turns out to be a very attractive young lady.

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Batter Up
star
6.87
45 votes

#21 - Batter Up

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired 11/30/1983

Steven and Elyse worry that Alex, who is the new coach of Jennifer's softball team, is pushing the girls too hard when Jennifer fails to jog all the way home he orders her to do 20 extra pushups. Alex takes his coaching duties seriously and his players are leaving the team in droves. Two days before the championship game they don't even have enough players to qualify as a team unless Alex can convince Jennifer to persuade Skippy's klutzy sister Arlene to join the team. Arlene is happier making dresses for her turtles, but desperately wants Jennifer's friendship and agrees to play ball with some disastrous consequences.

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Band on the Run
star
6.88
8 votes

#22 - Band on the Run

Season 5 - Episode 21 - Aired 2/26/1987

As chairman of the entertainment committee for the Leland College 10th reunion, Alex has big plans, which include hiring some great bands to impress attending alumni in the music business. Jennifer finally talks a very skeptical Alex into letting her new all-girl band, The Permanent Waves, audition for the affair. At the audition, Alex is thrilled with the unexciting Polka Boys, but his fellow committee members are left cold until they hear The Permanent Waves. They are so good, in fact, that even Alex is impressed and not only books the group but convinces them to sign with him as manager. Once in charge, Alex decides to completely revamp the look and style of the band. For the reunion performance, he has the girls dress in evening gowns and changes the group's name to The Swinging Corporate Raiders, persuading them to sing such golden oldies as "Mr. Sandman". After being completely ignored, the girls finally break into one of their own tunes and immediately win the crowd over.

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Oh Donna
star
6.89
9 votes

#23 - Oh Donna

Season 3 - Episode 14 - Aired 1/3/1985

Alex becomes involved with Donna, a young, unwed expectant mother from Elyse's natural-childbirth class but his interest in her becomes an obsession when he starts planning for her child's future and acting as if they were a real family. Donna is flattered by Alex's concern for her and her unborn baby, but soon begins to realize that he is becoming a little bit too helpful.

Directors: Will Mackenzie
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A Keaton Christmas Carol
star
6.90
21 votes

#24 - A Keaton Christmas Carol

Season 2 - Episode 9 - Aired 12/14/1983

A cynical Alex finds the spirit of Christmas in a dream, when he's shown shocking visions of the past and future by ghosts of Mallory and Jennifer. While the family enjoys trimming the tree, singing carols and taking pictures, Alex would rather listen to stock reports and finds Christmas "a silly sentimental farce" except for the commercialism. That evening, when he drifts off to sleep, Jennifer, The Ghost of Christmas Past, takes him back ten years to a scene in the Keaton living room and a time when young Alex loved Christmas. Next, the Ghost of Christmas Future, Mallory, appears and transports Alex 15 years ahead in time. The impoverished Keaton household is a sorry sight, visited by a rich fat cat on his way to Las Vegas - the future Alex.

Directors: Will Mackenzie
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Working At It
star
6.91
11 votes

#25 - Working At It

Season 2 - Episode 22 - Aired 5/10/1984

When Elyse lands a job with a top architectural firm, the load begins to get to her at work and at home. Elyse feels the need to expand her horizons. She lands a job at one of the major architectural firms in the city. But twelve years of not working in an office have put her behind the times. When she becomes over-worked, she starts to neglect her family and the major presentation to the president of the company is jeopardized.

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