ByJonathan Sim, writer at
I'm a writer/film theorist. Check out my articles on Pixar, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, Die Hard, politics, and more!
Jonathan Sim

I'm not only a fan of movies, but I'm also a fan of TV shows. And out of all the shows I like, the one that dates farthest back is Family Ties, a show about an American family that starred Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross, Michael J. Fox, Justine Bateman, Tina Yothers, and starting in Season 5, Brian Bonsall. So, to show how much I loved the show, here are 10 awesome fun facts about Family Ties:

1. Fox Filmed Family Ties And Back to the Future At The Same Time

Steven Spielberg approached Family Ties producer, Gary David Goldberg, to see if Fox could have a starring role in Back to the Future. However, Goldberg refused to let Fox have time off the show as the show was just getting popular. But when the show went on hiatus due to Baxter's pregnancy, Goldberg decided to let Fox work on both, as long as Fox filmed Family Ties in the day and Back to the Future at night. Fox got approximately two-three hours of sleep a night and recalls the experience:

"I'd be backstage in Family Ties waiting for my entrance and going 'Where's my camcorder?' I'd be looking for props from Back to the Future. I almost called Meredith Baxter 'Doc'."

2. Mallory Wasn't Always A Dumb Character

Many who watched Family Ties know Mallory as a dim-witted character. However, it turns out that her low intelligence wasn't planned. She was supposed to be more of a normal sister. In the show's pilot, Alex brings over a girl for dinner and she says, "I really love helping people, and I really love cheerleading." Mallory then responds, "Oh, kind of like an Albert Schweitzer with pom poms."

This is a line that Mallory would never have later in the show. They decided to make her more of a dumb character because whenever Alex would make fun of Mallory, actress Justine Bateman would take it as a compliment.

"...the writers saw that and went, ‘Oh, s***, if she thinks that’s funny, that’s so great.’ So we just started going in that direction."

3. Brian Bonsall Had A Lot Of Trouble With Legal Issues

Bonsall portrayed the young, cute Andrew Keaton on the show. When the show ended, he continued acting until 1994. In 2004, he was arrested for drunk driving, in 2007, he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, and in 2009, he was arrested for hitting his friend with a stool. Not something you expected Andrew to do.

4. The Cast Wanted To End The Show With The Family Dying In A Plane Crash

Apparently, they really didn't want to do a reunion show in the future.

5. Fox Based The Role Of Alex Off Of His Brother

Fox says:

“My brother was so funny at the dinner table that you’d wait for what he had to say. He’d put his glass of milk down and from the minute he took the glass of milk from his mouth you’re waiting for what he had to say. So later, all that became a part of Alex.”

6. Alex Was Later Mentioned In Spin City

As we know, Fox went on to be in Spin City. He eventually left the show due to his increasing Parkinson's symptoms and because he wanted to spend more time with his family and finding a cure. During his last few episodes, there were many references to Family Ties and at one point, his character of Mike Flaherty is said to meet a conservative junior senator named Alex P. Keaton.

7. Nick Moore Was Originally Planned To Appear In One Episode


The character of Nick Moore, Mallory's boyfriend, was supposed to be a one-shot character, but he made a strong impression on the show's audience and therefore was made a recurring character. His character was so popular that there was going to be a Family Ties spinoff with Nick as the main character. However, it didn't work out.

8. Meredith Baxter Became Pregnant During The Show's Production

Baxter became pregnant between the second and third season, so her pregnancy was written into the show as Elyse being pregnant with Andy. She was written out of several episodes in season three, however.

9. Fox Ad-Libbed The P In Alex P. Keaton During His Audition

The writers loved it and decided to keep it. Fox also almost didn't get the part because NBC exec Brandon Tartikoff thought it would be unrealistic for Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross to have a child so short (5'4").

10. Where Is Alex Now?

Family Ties producer Gary David Goldberg said that Alex would not feel comfortable about the Republican party of the late 2000s. He would have supported John McCain in the 2000 election, but no obvious candidate in the 2008 election. Goldberg believes that Alex is a pro bono lawyer for the children's defense fund, while Fox believes that Alex is finishing a prison sentence.

And that's it!

Follow me on Twitter! @JonathanESIm


Did you like Family Ties?


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