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Diff'rent Strokes (1978–1986)

TV Series  |  TV-PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Family
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The misadventures of a wealthy Manhattan family who adopted the children of their late African American housekeeper from Harlem.

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1986   1985   1984   1983   1982   1981   … See all »
2 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete series cast summary:
 Philip Drummond / ... (181 episodes, 1978-1986)
 Arnold Jackson (179 episodes, 1978-1986)
 Willis Jackson (169 episodes, 1978-1986)
 Kimberly Drummond (140 episodes, 1978-1986)


Phillip Drummond, a widowed Manhattan millionaire and president of the mega-firm Trans Allied Inc., adopts two orphaned black brothers from Harlem, 8-year-old Arnold and 12-year-old Willis. Drummond had made a promise to their dying mother, his housekeeper that he would care for the boys after she passes on; their father had died years earlier. The boys, whom Drummond always introduced as his two sons, went from rags to riches literally overnight. At first, Willis was rather skeptical of their newfound wealth, but eventually, both he and Arnold felt right at home in their newfound surroundings. Also part of the family were Drummond's beautiful daughter, 13-year-old Kimberly; and his current housekeeper, Edna Garrett. As the years passed, Mrs. Garrett left to become housemother at the Eastland School for Girls; she was replaced by the cantankerous Adelaide Brubaker and still later, charming Pearl Gallagher. Arnold's friends, Dudley and Robbie (and later, Charlie); Willis' girlfriend, ... Written by Brian Rathjen <briguy_52732@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Family


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 November 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

45 Minutes from Harlem  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (189 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was NBC's replacement to the "Waverly Wonders" starring "Joe Namath". See more »


Willis Jackson: [Mrs. Garrett catches the boys throwing punches] Uhhh, it's a new dance we're doing... It's called, ummm... The Punch Shuffle.
Edna Garrett: Now if Mr. Drummond catches you practicing fighting, you're gonna switch from the Punch Shuffle to the Bruised Bottom Blues!
See more »


Referenced in Family Guy: Running Mates (2000) See more »


Diff'rent Strokes
(Theme Song)
Written by Alan Thicke, Al Burton and Gloria Loring
Performed by Alan Thicke
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

NBC's flagship of lame.
30 July 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There was an era on NBC where every show was lame except for the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Of all of those shows, this show was the flagship of lame. Sub-standard writing, horrible acting and a script built around one unfunny catch phrase: "What you talking about Willis?"

Of course, over the years, there were many variations, "What you talking about Dad?", "What you talking about Kimberly?", "What you talking about Mrs. Garrett?", and then there's the ultimate creative variation, "What you talking about 'insert name of guest star of the week'?"

Secondly, has Conrad Bain ever been on a show that had any value? Then they surround him with kids who couldn't act their way out of a loosely tied Walmart bag and an old hag with a quivering voice? This is comedy? Worse yet, you can see the child actors often mouthing the lines of their costars while awaiting their canned "humorous" reply, or their eyes wandering left to right as they read their poorly written lines from a cue card.

To further the vomit aspect, they bring in friends of Arnold to add to the fun. The annoying little girl crush, the kid in a wheelchair (to posture the show as caring and all inclusive) and his pet gold fish, with which he has heart to heart talks. And as ratings fell through the floor, big name guest stars would be brought in to help salvage the shipwreck.

And of course, as expected each one would be asked, "What you talking about?"

And yet there seems to be nothing but praise for this steaming pile of canned laugh track sitcom from NBC's era of suck. More than 1 star, seriously? No wonder all the child stars of this show crashed and burned. If it was this pathetic on the surface, I can only imagine how bad things were behind the scenes.

In summary, I could eat a box of Apha-Bits and crap a better script than any episode of this show, 1 star because zero isn't an option.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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