Family Ties: Season 4


# Air Date Title
1 Sep 26

The Real Thing (1)

Alex implements a fail-proof, and extremely unromantic, method of meeting the girl of his dreams: He picks her from pictures in the freshman directory. His selection, Tricia, s…

2 Oct 03

The Real Thing (2)

Alex realizes he must make Ellen aware of his feelings, but she is on a train on her way to marry another man, so he takes drastic measures to stop the wedding.
The usual…

3 Oct 17

Mr. Wrong

Mallory brings home her new boyfriend, Nick, a Rambo-type environmental artist, to meet her family, but Steven and Elyse are shocked by his crude appearance and gruff manner.

4 Oct 24

Designated Hitter

Jennifer takes on the class bully to defend her boyfriend and unwittingly humiliates him by undermining his masculinity and Alex is devastated when Mallory scores higher than h…

5 Oct 31

Don't Go Changin'

Alex does some fancy footwork on the dance floor to impress Ellen when he thinks he is losing her because of their divergent interests.
Alex feels he has to compete with…

6 Nov 07

The Old College Try

When Mallory informs her parents that she has no intention of going to college after graduation, they are sure she is being influenced by her boyfriend, Nick, a high school dro…

7 Nov 14

My Tutor

Alex hires a tutor to help him with math, but his ““teacher”“ turns out to be a 13-year-old genius who suddenly becomes more interested in Jennifer than…

8 Nov 21

Mr. Right

Mallory’s boyfriend, environmental artist Nick Moore, swaps his T-shirt, camouflage pants, combat boots and earrings for a three-piece suit and a haircut to impress Mallo…

9 Dec 05

Just One Look

Steven’s old college buddy Richard Schofield is in town for and Steven looks forward to reminiscing about old times until he learns that Richard and Elyse share some memo…

10 Dec 12

How Do You Sleep?

Alex, who prides himself on being in control of his life, is embarrassed to admit that he is having a problem with insomnia, which is creating stress in his personal life as we…

11 Dec 19

You've Got a Friend

Mallory begins to feel severe guilt after reporting a young girl to the police for shoplifting, especially when he learns that the girl is from a home for abused children. Mall…

12 Jan 02

Nothing But a Man

Steven gets the promotion he has been waiting years for, but as the new regional manager of the station, he is required to put in long hours at the office, and soon realizes he…

13 Jan 09

The Disciple

Alex offers to help Jennifer with a speech project and winds up creating a monster, the speech is such a success that she is asked to repeat the performance for an awards panel…

14 Jan 16

Where's Poppa?

Alex secretly invites Ellen’s dad to Parent’s Day Weekend at Leland College, thinking that she will be pleasantly surprised to see him, but what he doesn’t kn…

15 Jan 23

Fool for Love

Skippy’s lifetime obsession with Mallory builds to a climax when he refuses to accept that she is in love with Nick, and creates an embarrassing scene at the Homecoming d…

16 Jan 30


A chess tournament between Leland College students and a visiting Soviet team turns into a wrestling match when Alex and his opponent, Ivan Rozmirovich, match wits and “&…

17 Feb 06

Engine Trouble

Elyse enrolls in an auto mechanics class to prove Alex and Steven that women can be just as competent with cars as men, but to protect his own masculinity, Alex joins the class…

18 Feb 13

A Word to the Wise (1)

The Keaton family fills in his girlfriend, Ellen, on some of the more humorous events in Alex’s life before they met in this special one-hour episode.
Flashbacks to…

19 Feb 13

A Word to the Wise (2)

The Keaton family fills in his girlfriend, Ellen, on some of the more humorous events in Alex’s life before they met in this special one-hour episode.
Flashbacks to…

20 Feb 20

Art Lover

Mallory suspects there’s more involved than ““art appreciation”“ when a wealthy and beautiful older woman takes a special interest in Nick’s…

21 Mar 02

Teacher's Pet

Alex lands a teaching-assistant position and runs into big trouble when he has to grade a student who also happens to be his girlfriend, Ellen.
When Ellen is assigned to…

22 Mar 06

My Buddy

Steven has a very difficult time accepting that his youngest daughter, Jennifer,is growing up and no longer wants to ““pal around”“ with him.
As J…

23 May 01

Once in Love with Elyse (a.k.a.) Loan Arranger

Elyse must deal with Paul, a young architect associate who falls in love with her.
After working for a year in the same office as Elyse, Paul, a very promising architect,…

24 May 08

Paper Chase (a.k.a.) Mallory's Graduation

Mallory discovers that her high school graduation is in jeopardy unless she can pass a very tough history exam.
Never an avid student, Mallory faces the possibility of fa…

About Family Ties

Set during the early years of the Reagan administration, Elyse and Steven Keaton (Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross) are Baby Boomers and liberals [2] raising their three children: Alex (Michael J. Fox), Mallory (Justine Bateman) and Jennifer (Tina Yothers) in suburban Columbus, Ohio. Married in 1964, Elyse, an independent architect, and Steven, a manager in a local public television station, were hippies during the 1960s. According to the episode, “A Christmas Story” in season one, they were influenced by John F. Kennedy and were members of the Peace Corps following their marriage in 1964. Alex was born in 1965 in Africa. Mallory was born while Elyse and Steven were students at the University of California, Berkeley in 1967, and Jennifer was born the night Richard Nixon won his second term in 1972.

Much of the humor of the series focused on the cultural divide during the 1980s when younger generations rejected the counterculture of the 1960s and embraced the conservative politics which came to define the 1980s.3 Both Alex and Mallory embrace Reaganomics and exhibit right-wing attitudes: Alex is a Young Republican and Mallory is a more traditional young woman in contrast to her feminist mother.2 Jennifer, an athletic tomboy and the youngest child, shares the values of her parents. Elyse and Steven have a fourth child, Andrew, born in 1984.