Diff'rent Strokes

NBC (ended 1986)



User Score: 640

out of 10
User Rating
573 votes

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Diff'rent Strokes

Show Summary

Diff'rent Strokes took place in New York and centered around the happenings in the Drummond household. Philip Drummond was a widower and had a daughter, Kimberly. He was also quite wealthy and lived in the penthouse of a luxurious apartment building. His wealth was due to the fact that he was the president of Trans Allied, Inc.

However, the household was shaken up when Drummond's black housekeeper died and her deathbed wish was that he would take care of her two sons, Arnold and Willis Jackson. So, Drummond took both of them in and they became the sons Drummond never had.

Others in the cast included Mrs. Garrett the new housekeeper who later left for her own series, The Facts of Life. She was replaced by Adelaide, who was seen occasionally and she was later replaced by Pearl. In the seventh season, Drummond wed an aerobics instructor, Maggie McKinney and she moved in with her son, Sam, from a previous marriage.

First Telecast: November 3, 1978 Last Telecast: August 30, 1986

Episodes: 189 Color Episodes

Theme Song:

"It Takes Diff'rent Strokes" Written by: Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton

Sung by: Alan Thicke

Spinoffs: Hello, Larry and The Facts of Life

Episode descriptions: courtesy of Todd Fuller at Diff'rent Strokes Online.

NBC Broadcast History

November 1978-October 1979----Fridays----8:00 p.m. October 1979-October 1981----Wednesdays----9:00 p.m. October 1981-August 1982----Thursdays----9:00 p.m. August 1982-August 1985----Saturdays----8:00 p.m.

ABC Broadcast History

September 1985-March 1986----Fridays----9:00 p.m. June-August 1986----Saturdays----8:00 p.m.

Theme Song: "It Takes Diff'rent Strokes" Written by: Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton Sung by: Alan Thicke

Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some. A man is born, he's a man of means. Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.

But they got, Diff'rent Strokes. It takes, Diff'rent Strokes. It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.

Everybody's got a special kind of story. Everybody finds a way to shine. It don't matter that you got, not alot, so what. They'll have theirs, and you'll have yours, and I'll have mine, and together we'll be fine....

'cause it takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world. Yes it does. It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
Todd Bridges

Todd Bridges

Willis Jackson

Charlotte Rae

Charlotte Rae

Mrs. Edna Garrett (1978-1979)

Gary Coleman

Gary Coleman

Arnold Jackson

Dixie Carter

Dixie Carter

Margaret "Maggie" McKinney Drummond (1984-1985)

Mary Ann Mobley

Mary Ann Mobley

Margaret "Maggie" McKinney Drummond (1985-1986)

Mary Jo Catlett

Mary Jo Catlett

Pearl Gallagher (1982-1986)

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  • What else is there to say? Gary Coleman made this show what it was...

    The family friendly series made a star out of Gary Coleman, forever immortalised as the loveable scamp with the chubby cheeks, Arnold Jackson and his catchphrase "What u Talkin' About?" made television history. Yet despite it's cosy sitcom settings Diff'rent Strokes was not afraid to address sensitive issues and during it's long run expertly dealt with the likes of racial prejudice, child molestation and bullying.

    Conrad Bain a distinguished actor played tycoon Phillip Drummond the kindly widower who adopted the Jackson kids from Harlem, Arnold and Willis ( Todd Bridges ) after their death of their mother Lucy who had served as his housekeeper. The kids had to adjust to living in a swank Park Avenue penthouse with a new housekeeper and a teenage sister ( Dana Plato ).

    Bain, Coleman, Bridges and Plato were a formidable team and you cannot help but warm to their likeable characters. Once Diff'rent Strokes ended the young cast were unable to escape the pressures of fame and their various scrapes with the law somewhat tarnished the show's image.

    It still lives today in the minds of 30 somethings who grew up in there teens with the Drummonds and Jacksons.moreless
  • You may remember it fondly, but it's actually awful.

    I was recently YouTube-surfing and I came across a few old episodes of this series. "Aw," I thought, "A blast from my Gen X past!" I watched "Diff'rent Strokes" religiously as a kid, and I thought it'd be fun to see how it held up.

    Good God, people, this was some bad TV.

    Not sure what else to add. It's really just flabbergasting how bad it is. Every joke is hackneyed, every second is predictable. It's not offensive or anything, but it's just so... not... funny. The writers must've spent their days intentionally trying *not* to amuse themselves or anyone.

    That said, there *was* a reason Gary Coleman was a star -- despite the painful dialogue, he had real personality, and alone among the actors, seemed to actually be having fun.moreless
  • Diff'rent Strokes is the 1980's!!!

    The Show Diff'rent Strokes ran from 1978 to 1986. This show is the epitome of 1980's culture. I fell in love with this show from its humble beginnings and right up to the end. NBC ran this show for 7 seasons then ABC took over for its final season in 1985-6. I loved all the characters including Arnold Jackson and his older brother Willis Jackson. Phillip Drummond as the father of the two adopted sons and Kimberly Drummond his biological daughter. There were some notable changes in this show. 1. Three housekeepers were used throughout this show. Mrs. Garrett was the original then Adelaide Brubaker and finally Pearl Gallagher. 2. Mr. Drummond gets married to Maggie McKinney. She has a biological son named Sam McKinney. 3. Kimberly Drummond leaves for Paris, France and shows up in the later seasons of Diff'rent Strokes.

    I hope that Sony releases the rest of this wonderful sitcom in the near future. I have the first 2 seasons on DVD so hopefully more will come along soon.moreless
  • Great, But Too Much Drama

    This show is a good one I have liked for like 3 years now. But, it has far too many serious episodes. I mean, of course, there isn't anything wrong with it, it leads to interesting plots. I think they have a good deal of humor, and it does what current sitcoms today don't do: has a serious topic, such as kidnapping, hitchhiking, or something similar, and it handles it in a serious way. Even though it is a comedy, when it has issues like this, it forgets about the comedy and sticks to emotion and drama, something I commend it for.moreless
  • Review of Diff'rent Strokes – Seasons 1-4 and how it still makes me laugh to this day

    This is a program that was part of my TV staple diet as I grew up and even now, as an adult, Diff'rent Strokes still holds a special place in my heart. As a kid I was more into the family aspect of the program and, to be honest, I didn't really get how odd it was supposed to be for a white man to foster/adopt two little black boys. There didn't seem anything wrong with it as far as I was concerned because all I got as a kid was how loving and caring Mr Drummond was for keeping his promise to his dying housekeeper. As an adult, I'm fully aware of racism and of what that entails and I can now see that Diff'rent Strokes was a wonderful platform on which to hi-light such things, as well as hi-lighting the different lifestyles/upbringing of those who live in poverty and those in high society. For me, Diff'rent Strokes was a program which dealt with potentially explosive issues sensitively through comedy, as well as with an abundance of intelligent writing.

    As a side note, I've heard tell that Conrad Bain has taken some stick concerning his portrayal of Mr Drummond. As a kid, and even now as an adult, I had/have nothing but admiration for his portrayal as the Family Patriarch. You can see and at times feel his affection for both Gary and Todd, (and visa-versa), and I think this, for me, played a huge part in the success of Diff'rent Strokes, though Gary and Todd's ultimate cuteness in the first Two Seasons of this program certainly aided that success a heck of a lot too ...as did the wonderful writing. Sure there were occasions when I cringed at Conrad (usually when there was dancing was involved and him trying to be hip when clapping along with some song - chuckle) but how many times did that happen? Nigh-on all of the time Conrad Bain was that convincing as a loving, caring Father that I often wished I too had a Father who was as unafraid to say 'he loved me' as Mr Drummond was with Kimberly, Arnold and Willis.

    On that, when it comes to the family aspect of Diff'rent Strokes, my two favourite seasons are the first two, though the first season for me is, by the skin of its teeth, my ultimate favourite. The first season dealt with such an abundance of differing social issues ranging from strong, political ones to sensitive, personal ones. For instance, one of my favourite episodes in Season One was "Mother's Last Visit" where it plainly showed the difference between snobbery and bigotry – and, though both are ugly, there really is a world of difference between the two. In my opinion, 'Intent' is such an important part of understanding what is being said and done and that's what I think "Mother's Last Visit" hi-lighted so very well. Willis believing that Drummond's Mother's antics were all to do with racism and yet when it all came down to it, her briefly accepting the boys because she thought their father had been a member of the UN showed the audience that it was allllllll to do with snobbery and not at all to do with colour/race.

    However, my ultimate favourite episodes of Season One were "The Social Worker" and "The Fight". In "The Social Worker" Conrad Bain broke my heart with his wonderful understated acting towards the end of the episode when Willis is being deliberately hurtful towards Mr Drummond and yet, despite all that, I still left this episode on such a wonderful high when, having sorted out the horrible misunderstanding which had occurred, the three of them hugged each other on the couch. "The Fight" was another favourite of mine because it showed two differing opinions concerning the handling of bullies in school and, as far as I was concerned, neither one was wrong, par se, but neither were right either because bullies are individuals and each one is possibly motivated by different reasons – Sadly we never got to know what motivated the Gooch, which was a shame because I think that would have helped more in trying to understand certain bullies and therefore in trying to handle them. However, Mr Drummond's advice to Arnold at the end was spot on and to this day I honestly think that that piece of advice is something I unconsciously took from Diff'rent Strokes and adopted into my own way of thinking.

    But again it was an episode that pulled heavily on my heartstrings one way or another, (the tension between Drummond and Willis, the cuteness between Willis and Arnold and the uber cuteness between Drummond and Arnold), but ultimately it left me on such a high with the pillow fight at the end. Wonderful, wonderful stuff!!

    There were others too, such as Prep School and The Trial and so forth. I even adored the Crossovers with Larry Alder and his kids, and wished there had been more of them, though, as an adult, I think that's because I wish Morgan and Mr Drummond could have got together. Oh well... :D

    ~ ~

    Aaaanyway, Diff'rent Strokes did have a lot to say comically, as well as politically, socially and personally, and most of the time it did get it spot on, however, every once in a blue moon it did leave a bit of a faux-pas along the way, such as in Season 3 the "Roots" episode. This was an episode that was a bit of a mish-mash thing for me, where you could see the point it was trying to make but, character wise, it did leave one huge faux-pas on show. ...It was when Arnold told Mr Drummond that as far as he (Arnold) was concerned he (Mr Drummond) was colourless. I know what Arnold meant, (Or at least I hope I do) and I do understand why Arnold believed that the whole issue was to do with colour – because Willis was mentioning black and white in nigh-on every sentence and they both (Willis and Arnold) had even divided those who resided at the Drummond household into colours – but because of that, for Mr Drummond not to have corrected Arnold when he defined him as being 'colourless' was a BIG faux-pas in my opinion.

    But anyway, don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the episode as a whole, especially the last speech from the psychiatrist. From a character POV, I think Mr Drummond should have given Arnold that speech, but from an audience's POV, at least the message (that the colour of someone's skin doesn't define them but that who and what they are does) got out there one way or another :D

    I know, I know, it's a comedy program, (and not only that a program made in 1978), and maybe I should have just laughed along with the audience at the time, but hey-ho, there you go :D

    As a side note, this episode did also contain one of my favourite quotes as well, which was:

    Kimberly: "Yeeah, you know, you didn't even eat your breakfast this morning"

    Arnold: "That snap, crackle and pop stuff is white too"

    Mr Drummond: "It is? ...Well maybe we can find a cereal that says diggit, get down and right on"

    ~ ~

    Aaanyhooo, all in all, of the Four Seasons I've seen thus far (I have seen the other seasons but only once and a looooong time ago) I thoroughly enjoy Diff'rent Strokes. A lot of the time it makes me laugh out loud and some of the time it has me misty-eyed, but on the whole it makes me wish for a world where ignorance/bigotry has been eradicated and that prejudice was something our ancestors knew all about but somehow got wise somewhere along the line.

    For the Four Seasons of Diff'rent Strokes I've seen recently I'll give this program 9/10 because it was/is funny, sensitive and intelligently written. I also couldn't imagine anyone else playing the roles of Mr Drummond, Arnold and Willis. Truly top notch stuff that gave me such a lot when I was a kid and it still makes me laugh to this day :-)moreless
  • R.I.P.

    Conrad Bain, Diff'rent Strokes' Mr. Drummond, Dies at 89

    The actor who also starred in Maude and Bananas has passed away of natural causes.


    Gary Coleman (1968-2010)

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