Family Matters is an American television sitcom that originated on ABC from September 22, 1989 to May 9, 1997, before moving to CBS from September 19, 1997 to July 17, 1998. A spin-off of Perfect Strangers , the series revolves around the Winslow family, a middle-class African-American family living in Chicago, Illinois . Midway through the first season, the show introduced the Winslows’ nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (Jaleel White ), who was originally scripted to appear as a one-time character; however, he quickly became the show's breakout character (and eventually the main character), joining the main cast. Having run for nine seasons, Family Matters became the second-longest-running non-animated U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African-American cast, behind only The Jeffersons (11 seasons). Having aired 215 episodes, Family Matters is ranked third, behind only Tyler Perry's House of Payne (254), and The Jeffersons (253).
HistoryThe series was a spinoff from the ABC sitcom Perfect Strangers ; both shows aired Fridays nights on ABC's primetime slot called "TGIF" (Thank God It's Friday). Jo Marie Payton played Harriette Winslow, the elevator operator at a newspaper where Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous also worked. Reginald Vel Johnson would make cameos on the show as Harriette's husband Carl Winslow, a Chicago police officer. ABC and the producers loved the character Harriette for her great morale and quick-witted humor and decided to create a show that would focus on her and her family, husband Carl, son Eddie, elder daughter Laura, and younger daughter Judy (who appeared until the character was written out in season four). In the pilot episode , "The Mama Who Came to Dinner ," the family had also opened their home to Carl's street-wise mother, Estelle (Rosetta LeNoire ), usually known as "Mother Winslow." Prior to the start of the series, Harriette's sister, Rachel Crawford and her infant son, Richie, had moved into the Winslow household after the death of Rachel's husband. The Winslows' nerdy teenage next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), was introduced midway through the first season in the episode "Rachel's First Date" and quickly became the focus of the show. The popular sitcom was a mainstay of ABC's TGIF lineup from 1989 until 1997, at which point it became part of the CBS Block Party lineup for its final season. Family Matters was produced by Bickley-Warren Productions (1991–1998) and Miller-Boyett Productions , in association with Lorimar Television (1989–1993) and later Warner Bros. Television (1993–1998). As the show progressed, episodes began to center increasingly on Steve Urkel, and other original characters also played by White, including Steve's suave alter-ego, Stefan Urquelle, and his female cousin, Myrtle Urkel.