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Family Matters is an American sitcom about a middle-class black American family living in Chicago. The series was a spin-off of Perfect Strangers and revolves around the Winslow family.
Midway through the first season, the show introduced the Winslows' nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (played by Jaleel White), who quickly became its breakout characterand eventually a main character. Family Matters aired from September 22, 1989 to September 19, 1997 on ABC, and on CBS from September 19, 1997 to July 17, 1998.
With 215 episodes, Family Matters is the second-longest-running U.S. sitcom with a predominantly Black-American cast, surpassed only by The Jeffersons, also a spinoff (of All in the Family) which lasted longer than its parent series.
Family Matters originally focused on the character of Carl Winslow and his family: wife Harriette, son Eddie Winslow , intelligent daughter Laura Winslow , youngest child Judy Winslow (until Season 4), and (later) let his sister-in-law Rachel Crawford and her son, Richie Crawford live in his house.
In the series opener, the family had also opened their home to Carl's street-wise mother,Estelle Winslow (usually known as "Mother Winslow"), as well as Harriette's sister, Rachel Crawford, and her son, Richie Crawford, after the death of Rachel's husband prior to the start of the series.
The Winslows' nerdy next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel, was introduced midway through the first season and quickly became the focus of the show. The popular sitcom was part ofABC's TGIF from 1989 until 1997, before it became part of the CBS Block Party lineup from 1997 until 1998. Family Matters was produced by Bickley-Warren Productions andMiller-Boyett Productions, in association with Lorimar Television (1989–1993), and laterWarner Bros. Television (1993–1998).
As the show progressed, episodes began to center more and more on Urkel (and occasionally his alter-ego, Stefan), and other original characters also played by Jaleel White.
In early 1997, CBS bought Family Matters and Step by Step for $40 million from ABC. ABC then promised to pay Miller-Boyett Productions $1.5 million per episode for a ninth and tenth season of Family Matters. However, tensions had risen between Miller-Boyett Productions and ABC's parent company, Disney. Miller-Boyett thought that they would not be big players on ABC after recently being bought up by Disney. So in turn Miller-Boyett Productions signed in the $40 million offer from CBS for both Family Matters and Step By Step to be renewed for a 22-episode season on CBS. CBS put Family Matters, along with Step By Step as a part of their new Friday line-up they called the "CBS Block Party". They put up the "CBS Block Party" against ABC's TGIF lineup, where the two series previously originated. CBS cancelled Family Matters and Step By Step after one season, along with the rest of the "Block Party" lineup.
The cast was told to get ready to film a tenth and final season after the ninth one was completed. However, it was later discovered that CBS had the sets for the show demolished. Had the show continued for one more season, several events would have occurred:
- Steve and Laura's wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii
- The return of Cornelius Eugene Urkel and Myrtle Mae Urkel
- 3J deciding to return to his biological mom
- Stefan merging back into Steve's personality, making him a more mature person
- Eddie and Waldo marrying their respective girlfriends
- The birth of Stephanie Laurine Urkel
- Reginald VelJohnson –Carl Winslow
- Jo Marie Payton –Harriet Winslow #1 (episodes 1–206)
- Judyann Elder – Harriet Winslow #2 (episodes 207–215)
- Darius McCrary –Eddie Winslow
- Kellie Shanygne Williams –Laura Winslow
- Valerie Jones – Judy Winslow #1 (pilot only)
- Jaimee Foxworth –Judy Winslow #2 (seasons 1–4)
- Rosetta LeNoire –Estelle Winslow (seasons 1–7, sporadic appearances in 8 and 9)
- Jaleel White –Steve Urkel (seasons 2-9; recurring, season 1)/Stefan Urquelle(recurring, season 5–9)/Myrtle Urkel (guest character, seasons 2 and 7-9)/Original Gangster Dawg (O.G.D.) (guest character, season 9)
- Telma Hopkins –Rachel Crawford (season 1–4, recurring, seasons 6 and 9)
- Joseph & Julius Wright - Richie Crawford #1 (season 1)
- Bryton McClure – Richie Crawford #2 (seasons 2–8, guest star, season 9)
- Orlando Brown –Jerry Jamal "3J" Jameson (seasons 7–9)
- Michelle Thomas –Myra Monkhouse (seasons 6–9; recurring, season 4 and season 5)
- Shawn Harrison –Waldo Geraldo Faldo (seasons 4–7; recurring, seasons 2–3)