Watch Diff'rent Strokes

Diff'rent Strokes is a sitcom that takes place in Manhattan; it is the story of Arnold (Gary Coleman) and Willis Jackson (Todd Bridges), two African-American children from Harlem that go to live with wealthy, widowed Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain) and his daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato) in their upscale Park Avenue penthouse following the death of their mother who was the Drummond's housekeeper.

The first season of the show primarily dealt with the adjustments of two young African-American boys living with white, upper-class Mr. Drummond. The boys eventually were adopted by him, took his last name and began referring to him as dad and Kimberly as their sister. Maggie McKinney (Dixie Carter) and her son, Sam (Danny Cooksey) joined the Drummond household late in the show's run when she and Mr. Drummond married.

Along with being funny Diff'rent Strokes also tackled serious social issues such as child sexual abuse, racism, and the use of illegal drugs. The race issue was talked about frequently on the show; the Drummonds, often had to deal with peoples confused looks when Arnold and Willis were introduced to friends of Kimberly and associates of Mr. Drummond. The topic of illegal drug abuse offered an episode that featured first lady, Nancy Reagan who discussed her Just Say No anti-drug program.

No matter what the topic of the episode, at some point Arnold would say his tag line, "What you talkin' bout, Willis?" which was sure to bring laughter and lighten the mood. Full of wholesome, family entertainment, the sit-com offers laughter when dealing life lessons.

Diff'rent Strokes had a successful television run 1978-1986, it was broadcast on ABC from 1978-1985 and moved to ABC their final season 1985-1986.

The Minisode Network
8 Seasons, 345 Episodes
November 3, 1978
Comedy
6.7/10
Cast: Conrad Bain, Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Dana Plato
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Diff'rent Strokes Full Episode Guide

  • Arnold's feature story about his high school football team threatens to turn into a controversial expose for the school newspaper when he witnesses team members buying steroids.

  • Arnold is disgruntled over being partnered with archenemy Lisa in photography class but his frustration soars when the two are accidentally locked together in the basement darkroom.

  • A date with a gorgeous girl has Arnold walking on a cloud, until he learns she was bribed by Willis to go out with him.

  • Sam's contempt for a classmate who incessantly insults and badgers him is pacified when he learns that the boy is an orphan who's jealous of Sam's "perfect" family life.

  • To prevent Drummond from seeing his "F" in geometry, Arnold arranges to have Drummond's signature forged on his report on his report card, but the scheme backfires when Drummond insists on a personal inspection of Arnold's grades.

  • Arnold's preoccupation with girls and school leaves younger brother Sam alone and bored until Willis steps in, takes over as "big bro" and causes a row when Arnold decides to fight back for the title.

  • Arnold's initiation into the "cool" club at school jeopardizes his friendship with the mildly-retarded dishwasher at the Hamburger Hangar, after a prank Arnold "must" pull causes the man to lose his job.

  • Drummond has "insured" that Sam will have an unforgettable birthday party by arranging for a local television personality to be the main attraction, until the swash-buckling "Captain Jack" steals the show and the birthday boy jumps ship.

  • Arnold succumbs to peer pressure and boasts he went "all the way" with his girlfriend, but his lie puts him in a more awkward position once the girl finds out about his claim to fame.

  • Father and son are feuding over First Amendment rights when an outraged Arnold objects to a white supremacy organization speaking at his high school and a discerning Drummond can't support Arnold's fury on the basis of the American right to free speech.

  • A music instructor "backs up" Arnold after he claims to be an expert sax player in order to impress a girl.

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar guest stars as a high school English teacher who gives Arnold a "classic" punishment for "goofing off" in class and the freshman quickly learns his lesson when his penace is teaching "A Tale of Two Cities" to his rowdy classmates.

  • Arnold's dream of becoming an "overnight" success as a photo-journalist run headlong into reality when he gets his first job on a local newspaper.

  • Sam and Arnold fear that the time their parents are spending apart is a symptom of an ailing marriage and the boys attempt to give them a dose of romance, hoping it will be the cure that will keep them from divorce.

  • Guarding the school bully's girlfriend, Ramona, seems like a simple task to Arnold, until his natural Jackson "charm" creates some problems, Ramona falls head over heels for him and Herman, the bully, wants to rearrange his face.

  • Mr. Drummond and Maggie are too busy to spend time together, which has Sam worried that their marriage may be in trouble. So he and Arnold put together a romantic evening for the two of them.

  • A tough guy wants Arnold to take care of his girlfriend while he is away, but the girl develops feelings for Arnold.

  • Arnold hopes to become a photojournalist and ends up getting a job at a newspaper, but he becomes disillusioned when he's asked to run errands instead of taking pictures.

  • A father who suffers the loss of one of his sons decides to kidnap Sam to replace him. Part 1 of 2.

  • Sam manages to get a popular children's show host for his birthday party, but is disappointed when his friends are more interested in the guest than in him.

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar returns as Arnold's teacher and has Arnold take over teaching the class for one day. Arnold isn't thrilled about the assignment at first, but after reading the assigned book, he gets excited.

  • Arnold and his friends find out that a racist group will be speaking on campus, so they decide to interrupt their assembly by throwing rotten food at them. When Mr. Drummond find out, he objects to Arnold's behavior.

  • Arnold tries to learn the saxophone to impress a girl, but is so bad that his friends try to kick him out of their group.

  • Arnold gets blamed when food starts disappearing from the house, but he soon discovers that Kimberly, who has developed bulimia, is the culprit.

  • Arnold tells his friends that he has had sex with a girl, which leads to her deciding to have sex for real - which Arnold isn't ready for.

  • Arnold pulls a prank at the local burger place in order to get into a club, but his prank causes a mentally challenged worker to get fired, so Arnold tries to make things right.

  • Sam begins to hang out with Willis a lot more than with Arnold, making Arnold feel left out.

  • Arnold enlists a hustler to help him conceal a poor grade from Drummond, but the ruse becomes increasingly tricky to maintain.

  • Sam gets into a fight at Hamburger Hanger with a kid who constantly picks on him. Sam later discovers the bully is a foster child and is very jealous of what Sam has.

  • Willis gets the sister of one of his old girlfriends to go out with Arnold by giving her concert tickets. When Arnold finds out he is angry at what Willis did, but turns out the girl likes Arnold for real.

  • Arnold and Lisa get stuck working together on a school assignment, and get locked in their school's darkroom. This leads to the two of them coming to an understanding about their adversarial relationship.

  • Arnold finds out that several athletes at school are using anabolic steroids, so he goes undercover to expose the full story.

  • Arnold and Sam befriend a street performer, much to Mr. Drummond's chagrin. When they try to tell her they can't hang out with her anymore, she begins having an epileptic seizure.

  • Arnold is mugged on his way home from school, and is so traumatized that he begins carrying a knife. In order to get him to open up about the incident, Mr. Drummond arranges for a crime-prevention demonstration at school.

  • Arnold enjoys going out with a classmate, but his friends think she isn't good enough for him and get him to dump her for a pretty cheerleader.

  • Mr. Drummond takes Sam and Arnold camping, but is unable to compete with Sam's more-experienced dad.

  • Arnold is pressured to drink by an alcoholic classmate. His parents find out and lay down the law, but when his friend is caught with some of Mr. Drummond's liquor, Arnold is accused of using it.

  • Arnold's toy rocket crash lands at the Russian embassy and nearly causes an international incident.

  • Maggie and Sam surprise Mr. Drummond for his birthday by having Kimberly return from France to visit him. She brings a present of her own - the Drummond family tree.

  • Mr. Drummond tries to turn around Sam's losing baseball team; in order to do so, he has to leave Sam on the bench.

  • Sam's scout troop is asked to work with a bunch of senior citizens on projects, but Sam's assigned senior citizen calls Sam a brat and refuses to help, so Sam has to put together a model airplane by himself.

  • Willis' friend, a promising athlete who was crippled in a car accident, gets a gymnasium named after him and sees a performance by the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympics men's gymnastics team.

  • Arnold and Sam go into business selling roach spray, but Arnold's greed causes Sam to go his own way.

  • Arnold has to ask Carmella for help when his plans for the school pageant fall apart.

  • Foreign exchange studen Carmella faces off against Arnold, develops a crush on Willis, and helps Sam fight off the Gooch.

  • Sam's father wants Sam to stay with him instead of the Drummonds.

  • Arnold and Sam try to keep a children's television show from getting taken off the air.

  • In this take-off on Ghostbusters, Arnold and Sam explore a haunted house.

  • Arnold is forced to choose between his friend Robbie and a girl he likes when she is accuses Robbie of being a nerd, and Arnold has to judge the matter in student court.

  • Lisa's mother takes over teaching Arnold's class, and Lisa forces him and his friends to be nice to her or she'll rat them out to her mom. But Arnold finds out that Lisa'a mom doesn't like her telling on her classmates.

  • Sam has to have his tonsils removed but is afraid to go to the hospital. When Mr. Drummond has to undergo surgery himself, he and Sam try to face their fears together.

  • Arnold and his classmates protest dress code changes at school, but when the principal threatens suspension, Arnold is the only one willing to stand for his beliefs.

  • Willis' new girlfriend is actually an undercover cop trying to bust drug dealers at school.

  • Mr. Drummond goes undercover at his company to find out how his employees really feel about working there.

  • Sam develops a bedwetting problem, and the family begins showing him a lot more attention, which rubs Arnold the wrong way.

  • Arnold and Sam's new friendship with a street performer gets mired in fear and confusion when they discover she has epilepsy.

  • Although Arnold boasts he held his own in a mugging, Drummond fears the incident goes deeper than Arnold will admit and becomes concerned when he finds Arnold has sought a dangerous method of protection.

  • When Drummond is accused of being out of touch with his employees, he secretly takes a job in one of his own factories working on an assembly line. Much to his surprise, his job is threatened when he makes suggestions to boost morale and improve production.

  • Arnold is faced with a dilemma when his friends insist he take a cute cheerleader to the dance instead of the girl Arnold really likes who they consider an "ugly duckling."

  • A camping trip with Arnold and Sam intended to strengthen Drummond's relationship with Sam goes awry when Sam's real father shows up and invites himself along.

  • Arnold's attempt to stop a friend from drinking backfires as he's left standing in the boy's bathroom holding a bottle of booze when the teacher walks in.

  • When Arnold's rocket for his school project is accidentally set off and lands atop the Russian Embassy, the state department is led to suspect the Drummond's participation is foul play.

  • Sam is taken aback when he realizes his new "buddy" is a girl, but Mr. Drummond is even more dumbfounded when the kids want to have a sleepover.

  • Kimberly returns home from school in Paris to surprise Drummond on his birthday prompting Arnold and Willis to try and match her special gift, they decide to change their name to Drummond, until Willis suddenly has second thoughts.

  • The Drummonds are concerned when the normally lovable Sam battles with a cynical senior who rejects the Cub Scout's "Adopt A Grandparent" program, leaving Sam with a tainted view of older people.

  • When Sam visits a taping of "The Sandy Squirrel Show" he is overcome by the news his favorite television idol is about to be cancelled, but it's big brother Arnold to the rescue as he rallies the Boy Scouts of Manhattan to demand the Squirrel be given a reprieve.

  • Sam persuades a reluctant Mr. Drummond to become the coach of his bad news baseball team and then regrets it after he winds up on the bench.

  • In order to be elected the entertainment chairman for a school charity fundraiser, Arnold promises to get a celebrity but when it's time to deliver, he's forced to look to his nemesis Carmella for help, hoping she can save the day.

  • Drummond is a tower of strength for Sam as he prepares to have his tonsils removed, but what will happen when Drummond finds out he is to be Sam's roommate while having some "minor" knee surgery.

  • Drummond's surprise meant to encourage an Olympic hopeful felled by a tragic accident backfires when the young man instead becomes embittered at meeting the 1984 Men's Olympic Gold Medal-winning Gymnastics Team until Willis and Sam take on the challenge of setting things right.

  • When Arnold is appointed judge of the school court, he is suddenly faced with jeopardizing a longtime friendship or losing a date with the school heartthrob--everyone has their day in court.

  • Entrepreneur Arnold reluctantly allows Sam to be a part of his new scheme, when Sam realizes only Arnold will reap the profits, he breaks up the partnership and becomes the competition.

  • The Gooch returns to taunt Arnold and take on a new target--Sam, only to face his first challenge in the Drummond's new neighbor, an Italian foreign exchange student.

  • Sam must choose between a penthouse apartment and a honky-tonk club when his real father comes knocking on the Drummond's door, wanting to take Sam with him.

  • Arnold risks expulsion from school when he leads a strike against some new rules he feels are "unfair."

  • Willis becomes the middleman in a police effort to halt use and trafficking of drugs at his high school.

  • The Drummond household is faced with Sam's bed-wetting problem trying everything from scolding to fawning, only to have Sam become more frustrated and hurt.

  • Arnold thinks the school science fair is the perfect opportunity to sabotage the project of his least favorite female classmate, but with a closer look he wonders if her aggravating behavior is really a cry for help.

  • When Arnold and Sam creep through the crevices of the neighborhood's haunted house they find the ghost boasts a bounty of surprises--the biggest being a love for people and contempt for war.

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