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Empty Nest is an Americanmarker television sitcom that ran originally on NBC from 1988 to 1995. The series was created as a spin-off of The Golden Girls by creator and producer Susan Harris. For its first three seasons, Empty Nest was one of the top 10 most watched programs. It was produced by Touchstone Television.


The show revolved around pediatrician Dr. Harry Weston (Richard Mulligan), whose life is turned upside down when his wife dies and two of his adult daughters move back into the family home in Miamimarker. Early episodes established that The Golden Girls were neighbors of the Westons. (Dr. Harry Weston also appeared on episodes of The Golden Girls this same season.)

Eldest daughter Carol (Dinah Manoff) was a neurotic and high-strung recent divorcée, while middle daughter Barbara (Kristy McNichol) was a tough undercover police officer. The two sisters frequently bickered and vied for the attention of their father (whom they still called "Daddy"). The Westons' large dog Dreyfuss was also prominently featured.

In 1992, Kristy McNichol left the show and the youngest Weston daughter Emily (Lisa Rieffel) joined the cast. Her character had been mentioned, but not seen before as she had been away at college for several years. Rieffel left the show after one season and for the show's final two seasons only Carol remained of the Weston children. McNichol would later return for the series finale in 1995.

Another main character was the Weston neighbor Charley (David Leisure), a womanizing cruise ship employee who frequently barged into the house unannounced to borrow food or make sexist comments. Charley had a faux father-son relationship with Harry and a love-hate relationship with Carol.

Harry's job was another major focus for the show. For the first five seasons Harry worked at the hospital, where he was aided by his wise-cracking southern nurse LaVerne (Park Overall). In season six, Harry retired, eventually going to work for a struggling inner-city medical clinic run by the tough-talking Dr. Maxine Douglas (Marsha Warfield). LaVerne, having been fired by Dr. Weston's replacement, came to work there as well.

Other characters who later joined the cast were Carol's boyfriend, Patrick (Paul Provenza), an artist who was almost as eccentric as she. Patrick convinced the Westons to let him use their empty garage as his new painting studio, and when his relationship with Carol became serious, he eventually moved in altogether. Their romantic bliss was short-lived, as they broke up at the beginning of season six. However, this was not before Carol became pregnant with Patrick's child; their son, Scotty, was born in November 1993, but Carol chose to raise the baby on her own. Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), reprised her Golden Girls character during Empty Nest's final two seasons (after the cancellation of The Golden Palace). Sophia's appearance was explained in that she had moved back into the nearby Shady Pines retirement home in the neighborhood.


  • Originally, the planned Golden Girls spinoff which would eventually evolve into Empty Nest was going to feature different characters. In a 1987 episode of The Golden Girls entitled "Empty Nests", George and Renee Corliss (played by Paul Dooley and Rita Moreno) were introduced as the Girls' neighbors, a middle-aged couple suffering from empty nest syndrome. The set of the Corliss house was the exact same as the one that later became the Weston residence, and they also had an annoying neighbor played by David Leisure (although named Oliver). However, the couple apparently fared poorly with test audiences and the premise was extensively revamped, resulting in the name of the show no longer making sense.

  • The show concept was an adaptation of the British comedy series Father, Dear Father, also featuring a father living with his two daughters and large dog.

  • In 1991, Empty Nest spawned its own spinoff, Nurses, a sitcom about a group of nurses working in the same hospital as Dr. Weston.

  • The three series represented one of the few times in American television history that three shows from the same producer, all taking place in the same city and explicitly set up with the characters knowing each other from the very beginning, aired on the same network in one night. On at least two occasions, Harris wrote storylines which carried through all three series.

  • The show's theme song was Life Goes On, written by John Bettis and George Tipton and performed by Billy Vera. For the first three seasons, the song was done in a slower, more melancholy yet comical arrangement, and it was originally accompanied by scenes of Harry Weston taking Dreyfuss out for a walk around town. All other cast members besides Richard Mulligan had a still picture of theirs displayed with their credit over the scenes of Harry and Dreyfuss. With the first episode of season three, a more standard opening sequence was put into place featuring video footage of all cast members interspersed with episode scenes. For the remaining four seasons, the theme song was done in a higher, more upbeat arrangement and the sequence style introduced in the third season remained.

  • The show was a reunion for Richard Mulligan, Dinah Manoff, and Susan Harris. All three worked together on the sitcom Soap, which Harris created, years before Empty Nest. Mulligan and Manoff played father and daughter-in-law respectively on Soap. During that time Dinah also played Marty Maraschino in the 1978 Movie Grease.


  • During Empty Nest's run, it was part of NBC's Saturday night block of programming, and during its first four seasons it would air on Saturday at 9:30pm ET, directly following The Golden Girls.

  • Although the series had a run in syndication beginning in 1993, the show has not aired on a cable or a local station since 2000. The show previously aired on cable on TBS and WGN.

Nielsen Ratings

  • 1988-1989 Season: #9
  • 1989-1990 Season: #9
  • 1990-1991 Season: #7
  • 1991-1992 Season: #22


In 1989, Richard Mulligan won both the Emmy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. The series received a number of other Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations over the years, especially for Mulligan and for Park Overall who was nominated three times for a Golden Globe Award.

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