Watch Finding Your Roots

Finding your roots is a new production of a 10 part series with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This is to be a continuation of Gates' quest to uncover and discover more of our pasts. These discoveries are sometimes surprising; sometimes disturbing, but for enlightened family members the knowledge is truly welcomed. Something about knowing who you are; about where you've come from.

Each episode features well-known people who are somehow, in some way connected. Henry Gates takes the viewer down the road in the discovery of a link between the two that has sometimes been hidden; is usually surprising and often times, life changing. The audience gets to experience the discoveries of Robert Downey Jr. through his mother's family all the way back into the 1400's. It's thrilling for him and almost as much for those watching as well.

Gates is the show's executive producer and he along with experts in genealogy and family ancestry scour through family histories and stories to find relatives and events the guests have never known. And after they have exhausted all of those avenues, they can then tap into the knowledge and expertise of geneticists and DNA diagnosticians. With a sampling of DNA these specialists can determine specific bloodlines and possibly debunk generations of misconceptions.

As a side treat the audience is encouraged to look into their own pasts. Gates gives plenty of incentive and enthusiasm for questioning families; poking through archives and generally keeping your eyes and ears open to the past. Sending in your own story might not get experts to pick up your trail for you, but it will put it out there for others to hear and possibly inspire a portion of their own tale. There are avenues of rich heritage out there ready to connect.

Tuesday 8:00 pm EST on PBS
4 Seasons, 41 Episodes
March 25, 2012
Family, History
Cast: Henry Louis Gates
Watch Episodes

Finding Your Roots Full Episode Guide

  • Garrison Keillor, Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari, who have mined their family stories for comedy, learn about ancestors who overcame immense suffering. They are struck by the contrast between themselves and these unknown ancestors and stories.

  • Join actresses Tea Leoni and Gaby Hoffmann as they learn about unknown ancestors.

  • Follow along as Lupita Nyong'o, Carmelo Anthony and Ana Navarro learn their heritage.

  • Watch as Bryant Gumbel, Tonya Lewis-Lee and Suzanne Malveaux discover unexpected ancestry.

  • Follow Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd and John Turturro as they learn about immigrant ancestors.

  • Learn why Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ava DuVernay and Janet Mock's ideas of their families are upended.

  • Learn about nonconformist ancestors of Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and William H. Macy.

  • See what Fred Armisen, Christopher Walken and Carly Simon each learn about a grandparent.

  • Join Larry David and Bernie Sanders, who learn they have more in common than they thought.

  • Learn how Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow, who last shared the screen together in 1969, also share a history of tragic deaths in their families that played major roles in shaping future generations.

  • Discover how actress Julianna Marguiles, author Azar Nafisi and chef Lidia Bastianich are bound together by their ancestors' singular and deeply human desire to preserve their most cherished traditions.

  • Discover how Neil Patrick Harris, Gloria Steinem and Sandra Cisneros are connected to pioneers who broke new ground and paved the way for their modern day descendants to continue shaping our culture.

  • Uncover family mysteries about two legends of hip hop, Sean Combs and LL Cool J, through the use of DNA technology that reveals information that shakes their very foundations.

  • Uncover a long history of military service in the families of Patricia Arquette, Julianne Moore and John McCain, and how this has instilled in each of them an enduring spirit of strength and integrity.

  • Discover how the ancestors of business mogul Richard Branson and architects Maya Lin and Frank Gehry took audacious risks to create opportunities, and how their luck, ingenuity and chutzpah was passed on to these three visionaries.

  • Uncover a history of tragedies and triumphs in the families of three of America's funniest men--Jimmy Kimmel, Norman Lear and Bill Hader - as they learn how comedy truly has its place in all aspects of life.

  • Learn how the ancestors of Maya Rudolph, Shonda Rhimes and Keenen Ivory Wayans struggled for freedom, and how each of these cultural trailblazers gain a new understanding of how they fit into this proud trajectory.

  • Explore the shared Irish ancestry of Soledad O'Brien, Bill O'Reilly and Bill Maher and how they have been deeply influenced by their Irish roots.

  • Discover the unsolved mysteries behind the family stories of political organizer Donna Brazile, actor Ty Burrell and artist Kara Walker as they learn how the legacy of slavery has shaped their identities.

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