Charles in Charge

Watch Charles in Charge

  • TV-G
  • 1984
  • 5 Seasons
  • 6.1  (6,569)

Charles in Charge is a classic sitcom from the 80s, starring Scott Baio as the titular character, Charles. The show aired from 1984 to 1990 and was syndicated across several networks during its run. Charles in Charge revolves around the titular character, a college student who takes a job as a live-in babysitter for the Pembroke family. Over the course of the show's six-year run, Charles becomes a beloved member of the Pembroke family, helping them to navigate the ups and downs of life.

The show's premise is fairly simple: Charles is a responsible and reliable college student who takes on odd jobs to help pay his way through school. When he responds to an ad for a babysitter, he meets the Pembroke family - the harried and overworked parents, Jill and Stan, and their three children: teenage daughter Lila, pre-teen son Douglas, and young daughter Jamie. Charles quickly becomes a valuable member of the household, helping with homework, cooking meals, and even dispensing sage advice when needed.

One of the strengths of Charles in Charge is its cast of likable and relatable characters. Scott Baio is charming and affable as Charles, painting him as a fun-loving guy who genuinely cares about the Pembroke family. Willie Aames, who plays Charles' friend Buddy, brings a welcome dose of humor to the show, while Julie Cobb, who portrays Jill Pembroke, is a standout as the harried but loving mother of the family.

Another notable aspect of Charles in Charge is its storytelling. While the show is episodic in nature, with each episode focusing on a particular problem or issue faced by the Pembroke family, there are also longer story arcs that play out over the course of multiple episodes. For example, the show explores the budding romance between Charles and Lila over the course of several episodes, a storyline that provides a nice counterbalance to the more lighthearted, comedic moments of the show.

Despite its many strengths, Charles in Charge did face some criticism during its run. Some viewers felt that the show was too formulaic, with each episode following a predictable pattern of problem-introduced-solution-found. Others found fault with the show's portrayal of women and girls, noting that the female characters often played second fiddle to the male characters.

Despite these criticisms, Charles in Charge remains a beloved sitcom of the 80s, one that continues to find new fans through syndication and streaming platforms. Its timeless message - of the importance of family, friendship, and responsibility - is one that still resonates with audiences today.

Charles in Charge is a series that is currently running and has 5 seasons (128 episodes). The series first aired on October 3, 1984.

Charles in Charge
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Almost Family
26. Almost Family
July 30, 1990
In the series finale, Sarah's class field trip is cancelled due to lack of funding, so Charles volunteers to direct a benefit show to raise the necessary money. Buddy gets various acts to audition for Charles, including the entire Powell family. At the same time, Charles finds out that he has to take an exam to get accepted at Princeton for his post-graduate work, and it happens to be on the same date as the benefit. Buddy fills in as director, but soon everyone realizes that he is not organized and cannot handle the job. As Charles is about to take the exam from Prof. Hastings, he realizes he has let everyone down at the show. Stay tuned for the surprise ending of Charles in Charge!
Fair Exchange
25. Fair Exchange
July 30, 1990
Jamie is invited to New Mexico to visit her cousin Amanda, but she would rather stay at home, so Sarah goes in her place. Sarah meets Amanda and her family for the first time, including Nikki and the foreign exchange student who is staying with the family. Sarah and Nikki soon discover that Sarah's cousins never talk seriously to each other, and they don't sit down together at the dinner table at the same time. The parents are preoccupied with their careers and never seem to be around to give their children advice. Nikki decides he is going to bring the family closer together.
Charles Be DeMille
24. Charles Be DeMille
July 30, 1990
The Powell family plans a surprise birthday party for Mrs. Powell, and it is up to Charles to pick up the cake that evening. After Charles gets the cake, he stops by school and gets trapped in an elevator with a beautiful girl, Kelly Morgan. At home, the Powells are preparing for the party, and they begin to worry about Charles' whereabouts with the cake. Meanwhile, Charles and Kelly are waiting in the elevator for help, and while they finish off the whole cake, they find that they have a lot in common. Suddenly, the elevator doors open, and when they walk out Charles notices that Kelly is blind.
Teacher's Pest
23. Teacher's Pest
July 13, 1990
When Lillian forgets to mail her sister Sally a birthday present, she asks Charles to deliver it to her at the car wash in Brooklyn. As part of the divorce settlement, Sally has taken over the car wash. When Charles arrives, Sally tells him the business has not been doing well for about a year. She was about to pay her income tax and did not have enough for money for the lease payment, and she is afraid she will have to close up. But she is determined to show her ex-husband that she can make a profit from the business.
Seeing Is Believing
22. Seeing Is Believing
July 6, 1990
The Powell children are tired of having to go places with their grandfather, so they get Charles to convince Walter to take a history class at the college where Charles is an assistant teacher. The next day, Walter shows up for class and listens to Charles lecture on World War II, correcting Charles on his facts, then informs the class he will give them private lessons. Now that Walter has found a new interest, the Powell children feel they are being ignored because Walter has no time for them.
La Cage Aux Fools
21. La Cage Aux Fools
June 25, 1990
Sarah discovers that experiments on animals are being conducted at Copeland College, but Charles does not believe her. After finding out that a professor is doing research with monkeys and losing the bet to Sarah, he and Buddy decide to lock themselves into a cage at the diner and soon, the diner is filled with students and a TV camera crew. When Charles and Buddy discover that they have no key, they are taken to the college science department where they have to spend the night. Meanwhile, the Powell children think that Charles has forgotten about his promise to take them to the movies, and they are upset.
Lost Resort
20. Lost Resort
June 11, 1990
Charles is assigned to teach Sarah's high school history class, and he splits the class into co-ed teams, pairing Sarah with Russell Davis, a popular new transfer student. Their first assignment is an essay, but Sarah ends up doing most of the work. Charles knows that Russell is taking advantage of Sarah and has a talk with her, but she is convinced that Russell has a crush on her. Russell tells Sarah that he cannot write his essay because he is thinking about her and cannot concentrate on writing, and Sarah begins writing his essay.
Dead Puck Society
19. Dead Puck Society
June 11, 1990
Charles is offered a job during spring break to work at the reservations desk at a resort hotel in Hawaii managed by his professor's brother. When Charles realizes that he cannot accept the job because of his obligations to the Powell family, he asks Buddy if he is interested. Buddy is otherwise committed, but offers it to his cousin Dudley, who accepts. In the meantime, the Powells decide that Charles needs to get away and encourage him to accept the job. Charles does so, not realizing that Dudley has too.
All That Chaz
18. All That Chaz
May 21, 1990
While Charles is working at the diner, Frankie Romano, a salesman, stops in to sell his 'Dog-O-Matic,' a device that turns food into the shape of a hot dog. Moments later, Lillian arrives and rushes into Frankie's arms. She tells Charles that they almost married years ago, but he introduced her to his best friend instead, who was Charles' father. Charles is upset that Frankie and Lillian are spending so much time together.
Up Your IQ
17. Up Your IQ
May 14, 1990
While Charles is studying for finals, Lillian tells him that she is going on vacation and Aunt Vanessa will be taking care of the diner. Charles starts feeling that he is under too much pressure with finals, plus taking care of the Powells and looking after Aunt Vanessa and the diner. Moments later, Adam accidentally opens a door and hits Charles on the head, knocking him out cold. When Charles comes to, he is his alter ego "Chaz."
Let's Quake a Deal
16. Let's Quake a Deal
May 14, 1990
Jamie is dating Todd Gordon, captain of the school's football team, to increase her chances of getting elected Homecoming Queen, and Sarah tells her that is a shallow reason for dating someone. Once Todd discovers Jamie's intentions, he ends their relationship. Jamie worries that everyone thinks she is superficial, so Charles asks his girlfriend Karen to give Jamie "culture lessons".
Frankie and Mommy
15. Frankie and Mommy
May 14, 1990
After a recent earthquake, Walter Powell asks Charles to teach the Powell children emergency procedures to prepare them for the next quake. Charles discovers that an emergency drill is not realistic enough, so he invents a device to help people practice for a real quake -- a battery-operated belt that shakes your body, called the 'Quake-Maker.'
Brain Man
14. Brain Man
May 7, 1990
Jamie is given the option of writing a civics paper or running for a class office. She opts to run for student body president, so she can do away with school rules. Sarah asks Charles for advice on how to save the school from Jamie, and he suggests she should either run against Jamie or lower her scholastic goals. So Sarah decides to run for the presidency also. On election day, the competition begins to heat up, and Jamie enlists Buddy as her campaign manager.
Don't Rock the Vote
13. Don't Rock the Vote
May 7, 1990
Charles has to find a job that will pay quick cash to buy a computer, so he and Buddy volunteer to participate in E.S.P. testing. At the test center, Buddy surprisingly gets every test correct, and Charles begins to believe that Buddy really does have E.S.P. Buddy predicts a woman will come into Charles' life, and shortly thereafter Charles meets Lily Stevens. Soon everything Buddy predicts begins to come true. The next day, Buddy warns Charles that he had a vision that Lily's father wants to shoot him!
Buddy Flips a Disc
12. Buddy Flips a Disc
April 9, 1990
Lillian is nervous about the city inspector's examination of her diner as well as Buddy's radio show, which will be broadcast live from "The Yesterday Caf?." Buddy is concerned that he will not be able to fill up the air time on his own, so he begs Walter and the Powell kids to help out and be his guests. The next day at the diner, the inspector arrives to check on the electrical wiring and announces that he is closing the place unless Lillian pays him off. Meanwhile, Buddy panics just as he is about to go on the air. The Powell children appear, and Buddy convinces Charles to entertain the audience.
Daffy Doc
11. Daffy Doc
March 19, 1990
Charles and Buddy have a Psychology paper to write and Buddy decides to get information first hand by talking with Dr. Clay at the Psychiatric Hospital. Charles drops Buddy off with intentions to pick him up later. After Buddy's talk with Dr. Clay about his research on Abnormal Psychology, Dr. Clay decides to admit him for observation. A frantic phone call from Buddy sends Charles to the hospital to get him released. At the sanity hearing with Psychiatrist Willard, Charles unexpectedly gets admitted to the hospital while Buddy gets released.
Advice and Contempt
10. Advice and Contempt
February 19, 1990
Walter Powell feels Jamie is spending too much time with her boyfriend Cliff, so he asks Charles to have a talk with her. Knowing how upset Jamie gets when anyone tells her what to do, Charles reluctantly suggests that she and Cliff should stay apart for a while, not realizing that those were Jamie's intentions before his conversation with her. Jamie decides that she cannot dump Cliff because Charles will think she took his advice.
Paper Covers Rock
9. Paper Covers Rock
February 5, 1990
Charles' childhood friends stay with him at the Powells' home, and they discover just how rude and obnoxious they can be. They invite him to go on a trip with them, but he would rather stay home because he still has to find out if he has been accepted as a part-time teacher. Opting to go on the trip, he arranges for Buddy to fill in for him, helping Sarah in the charity bike race as he had promised. One of Charles' buddies answers the phone, and pretending to be Charles, turns the teaching job down.
Baby Bummer
8. Baby Bummer
January 29, 1990
Sarah gets her first assignment for the city newspaper to interview rock star Samantha Steele. When Charles finds out, he convinces Sarah to conduct the interview at the Powells' home, hoping he can meet her. Charles finds himself falling head over heels for Samantha, and he asks her out that evening, only to discover their attraction is mutual. When Charles mentions to Samantha that he is being considered for an Ethics Scholarship from college, she asks him to be her road manager, assuming he is someone she can trust to handle her finances. But he is considering becoming her husband.
Child Hoods
7. Child Hoods
January 22, 1990
Adam has been picking up bad habits, so Buddy offers to give him some advice, even convincing Adam to invest his savings in the stock market as Buddy did. Charles feels that Adam listens to Buddy's advice because he gives him easy solutions, so he lets Adam learn the hard way by following Buddy's bad advice.
Judge Not Lest Ye Beheaded
6. Judge Not Lest Ye Beheaded
January 22, 1990
Lillian is holding a "Miss Yesterday Café" beauty contest at the diner; Buddy and Charles have been chosen to judge the pageant. Charles soon discovers that two of the girls he is dating, Valerie and Wendy, have entered the contest as well as Jamie and Sarah. Sarah's reason for entering is different from the other girls; she is planning to denounce publicly the open display of male chauvinism in beauty contests.
There's a Girl in My Ficus
5. There's a Girl in My Ficus
January 15, 1990
Charles and Jennifer plan to spend an evening alone together when Buddy shows up unannounced, carting a ficus tree for which he is developing a plant growth formula for his horticulture class. Jealous of their relationship, Jennifer concocts a plan to keep Buddy away from Charles. She lies to Buddy, telling him that Charles does not need him in his life anymore. Her fabrication causes serious friction between the two friends.
Out with the In Crowd
4. Out with the In Crowd
January 1, 1990
Jamie becomes friends with Stacy, who is president of 'The Club,' the snobbiest clique in school. After Charles meets Stacy, he tries to discourage Jamie from remaining friends with her, but Jamie does not listen because she is determined to become a member of the group. Although Buddy is going bowling, he wants to borrow a tennis racket from Charles so he can carry it to impress others. Now it is Jamie's turn to question Charles about his taste in friends.
Three Dates and a Walnut
3. Three Dates and a Walnut
December 18, 1989
The day starts with each of the Powell children wanting something from the other and none willing to give in. Charles catches them arguing, and he warns them against practicing deception to get what they want. In the meantime, Walter somehow manages to make dates with three women for the same night at the same restaurant. Because he cares deeply for all of them, he cannot say no to any of them. Directed by series star Scott Baio.
Get Thee to a Nuttery
2. Get Thee to a Nuttery
December 18, 1989
After a hummingbird's beak nearly misses entering his ear and puncturing his brain, Buddy sees his life passing before him. Deciding this is a "sign" from a higher power, Buddy starts thinking about life and where he fits into the master plan. A worried Charles convinces Buddy to talk with Father Michaels for some professional advice, and father Michaels advises Buddy to find the answer through meditation. Buddy spends the next day at a monastery and discovers his calling is to become a priest.
Summer Together, Fall Apart
1. Summer Together, Fall Apart
November 13, 1989
After spending summer vacation together, Charles and the Powell family return home, and the children complain that Charles' rule-making ruined their trip. Charles gets permission from Mrs. Powell to let the kids make their own rules. Walter feels he is not needed anymore and informs them he will be staying with Ellen for a few days. Each one of the children is allowed to make one rule for himself or herself, and unanimously they decide to have no rules. Charles, tired of being the villain, lets them do as they please, hoping they will learn a lesson.
Where to Watch Charles in Charge
Charles in Charge is available for streaming on the Syndicated website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Charles in Charge on demand at Amazon and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    October 3, 1984
  • IMDB Rating
    6.1  (6,569)