Drummond and Maggie begin an all-out effort to rescue Sam from their captors through a variety of methods, some of which backfire. Meanwhile, Don goes to great lengths to hide from his own ... See full summary »




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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ronne Troup ...
May Brown
Donald Thompson ...
Bobby Brown
Daniel Martínez ...
Sam Shamshak ...
Aaron Williams ...
Himself (as Sergeant Aaron Williams)


Drummond and Maggie begin an all-out effort to rescue Sam from their captors through a variety of methods, some of which backfire. Meanwhile, Don goes to great lengths to hide from his own family the fact that he kidnapped Sam. But the 7-year-old Sam uses his intuition and instinct to rescue himself, knowing that everyone he loves could face a very violent death if he is caught. Written by Brian Rathjen <briguy_52732@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Family





Release Date:

27 September 1985 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


An alternate title considered for this episode was "Sam's Shotgun Adoption". See more »


Mr. Drummond announced a $50,000 reward for Sam's safe return. He first mentions this to the detectives who visit the Drummond residence, and then once again during the news segment. However, when the character Mr. Brown (kidnapper) is seen reading the newspaper, the reward is incorrectly listed as $50 million. See more »


Pearl Gallagher: Nobody wants to eat but I've got to stay busy. I know, I'll dust the furniture.
Philip Drummond: Pearl! There's no furniture.
Pearl Gallagher: Oh right!
See more »

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User Reviews

The Most Heartbreaking TV Episode I've Ever Seen. Should Have Been A TV Movie or Mini-Series.
5 February 2015 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

What I like about Diff'rent Strokes is that it is not afraid to discuss issues that people face in the world that other shows don't have the nerve to feature. The most common episodes deal with racism and sibling rivalry. But there is some episodes that deal with traditional coming-of-age issue like drinking and smoking. While every family show says that those are bad habits, Diff'rent Strokes actually shows why they are bad to the highest degree. Then there are "very special episodes," where Conrad Bain would give an out-of-character parental warning statement. He did not do it for all the "episodes" including this, which I am surprised about.

Why do a review of an episode? Mainly because almost nobody does. But this is also the one that has has impacted me more than any other.

For anybody this is unfamiliar with Diff'rent Strokes: wealthy businessman, Phillip Drummond (Bain) adopts his late housekeeper's two black sons, Willis and Arnold Jackson (Bridges, Coleman) from Harlem. By late season 6, Phillip marries fitness trainer, Maggie McKinney (Dixie Carter and Mary-Ann Mobley in season 8) and takes in her young son, Sam (Danny Cooksey). Many people did not like the character of Sam and wished for him to be gone. They got their wish in the first episode of the 8th and final season.

The Drummonds are decorating their penthouse and Arnold is taking his photography career seriously. Sam wants to be his assistant and Arnold assigns him as more of a messenger and tells him to get a role of film and some chips. Sam falls directly into the trap of aggressive Don Brown. Brown's son, Tommy died and his whole family has mourned for too long and Don wanted to find a kid to take home and replace Tommy. Sam is tricked and Brown kidnaps him. The situation is played out perfectly. Sam knows not to talk to strangers, but he is badgered and suckered in anyway. Bystanders are errs and provide no help when the search begins. We get a good look into the life of the Browns and it is so sad. Sam hasn't even been taken and the episode is sad. When Sam arrives at the Brown household, Don puts a tremendous scare into Sam for him not to run away or call for help or say that he was kidnapped, or else he would kill his entire family. That puts a scare into anybody that watches it. Sam goes along with it at first but is very tense and worried about his own fate. Don says that it is his new family and he is never going home. Meanwhile at the Drummond house, everybody is scared to death of what is happening to Sam and Phillip puts a reward out for $50,000. Don cuts out the add in the paper and throws it away. After about a week at the Brown's Sam can't hold it in and tells new brother, Bobby, everything and shows him the add he found in the garbage. He is also able to sneak a phone call that day and briefly converses with Arnold telling him his whereabouts. Sam is gone for a week before he cracks. I'm surprised he didn't do it sooner. But when he does, it is terrible to watch as your heart goes out. But it also shows that Cooksey is truly a talented actor. His phone call to Arnold is brief and realistic. Sam being successful at talking on the phone after a week is realistic too. Nothing was shown about how he got alone, but the given time said enough. The cops and Phillip bust down the door and the Browns are arrested. That made me feel so good when I watched it. My heart was crumbling into a million pieces throughout the episode. Sam's rescue was nothing short of masterful. His arrival back home brings happy tears to my eyes. I like when things can push my buttons that much. One minute you laugh, next you cry, next you shed tears of joy. But the realism of the whole episode is probably why it folded out so well. This isn't like other episodes that every show does: wrap everything up quickly at the end. This takes no shortcuts. Despite there being no shortcuts taken, I still think that this could have been its own TV movie or miniseries. Lots of shows like Power Rangers and Facts of Life do it. Would that have made the whole thing sadder? Of course. Would that have made the ending happier? Of course. But the whole thing would have been stronger than it already is.

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