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Growing Pains is an Americanmarker television sitcom that ran on the ABC network from 1985 to 1992.

The show's premise is based around the fictional Seaver family, who reside on Long Island, New Yorkmarker. Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke), a psychiatrist, works from home because his wife, Maggie Malone (Joanna Kerns), has gone back to work as a reporter. Jason has to take care of the kids: troublemaker Mike (Kirk Cameron), honors student Carol (Tracey Gold), and rambunctious Ben (Jeremy Miller). From 1988 on, Chrissy Seaver became a part of the family. She was played in her infant stage by twins Kristen and Kelsey Dohring (who alternated). Beginning in the fall of 1990, Chrissy's character's age was advanced to six years old, whereupon Ashley Johnson took over the role. The show was relevant in the mid-1980s, as women going to work was becoming more and more common, as were stay-at-home dads.

Main cast

  • Alan Thicke as Dr. Jason Roland Seaver
  • Joanna Kerns as Margaret Katherine "Maggie" Malone (she kept her maiden name, although at some points she did refer to herself as Maggie Seaver)
  • Kirk Cameron as Michael Aaron "Mike" Seaver
  • Tracey Gold as Carol Anne Seaver (1985–1992) (Replaced Elizabeth Ward after the pilot was shown to test audiences with poor results.)
  • Jeremy Miller as Benjamin Hubert Horatio Humphrey "Ben" Seaver
  • Ashley Johnson as Christine Ellen "Chrissy" Seaver (1990–1992)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Luke Brower Seaver (later became a Seaver after they adopt him). (1991–1992)

Minor recurring characters

  • Josh Andrew Koenig as Richard Milhous "Boner" Stabone (1985-1989, character was mentioned during flashbacks in the series finale in 1992); Mike's friend.
  • K.C. Martel as Eddie; Mike's friend.
  • Lisa Capps as Debbie (1987-1988)
  • Rachael Jacobs as Shelley (1987-1988)
  • Jodi Peterson as Laura Lynn; Ben's girlfriend / love intrest(1989-1991)
  • Jane Powell as Irma Seaver (1988-1990); Jason's mother.
  • Gordon Jump as Ed Malone (1989-1991); Maggie's father.
  • Betty McGuire as Kate Malone (1989-1991); Maggie's mother.
  • Chelsea Noble as Kate MacDonald (1989-1992)
  • Jamie Abbott as Stinky Sullivan (frequent guest star 1987-1989, regular cast member 1989-1991); Ben's friend.
  • Julie McCullough as Julie Costello (1989-1990); Mike's former girlfriend.
  • Bill Kirchenbauer as Coach Graham Lubbock (1987–1988 on Growing Pains, starred in spin-off Just the Ten of Us); gym teacher.
  • Sam Anderson as Principal Willis DeWitt (frequent guest star); who had started as Mike's history teacher early in the series.
  • Fred Applegate as Francis X. Tedesco (1991), principal of the learning annex where Kirk teaches

Notable guest stars

Opening sequences

The Season 1 main opening featured various works of art, closing with a shot of the cast, which goes from black-and-white to color.

The opening credits from Seasons 2 through 5 featured an opening shot of the cast in front of the house where establishing shots of the Seaver house are used, switching to photos of each cast member from childhood and, in Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns' case, to adulthood, mixed with various episode clips. In all episodes that aired from 1986-1990, the opening sequence ends with a "house gag" immediately after the final episode clip, and, starting with the fifth season, ran while the executive producers names' were listed. The house gag changes from episode-to-episode, and usually features the cast standing in front of the Seavers' house. A typical gag featured all but one member of the cast (this was usually the cast member whom the main story was about in that particular episode) leaving to go inside the Seaver house, with the other leaving seconds later. This was a running visual joke mildly similar to that of the "couch gag" sequences on The Simpsons. Most house gags last only about 10 seconds, but the longest one lasted about 20 seconds. Certain house gags include:
  • Jason starts leaving before the rest of the cast, only to stop and turn back, and the rest of the cast leaves seconds later. (This was the static open for the 1986 and 1987 seasons.)
  • In the Season 4 episode "Birth of a Seaver", in which Chrissy is born, the sequence goes as normal, though the clips are abbreviated in the form of the syndication airings, while the full theme plays as normal. Near the end of the sequence, a pregnant Maggie realizes and announces to the rest of the family that she is in labor, to which everybody follows and guides Maggie back in the house.
  • Near the end of the opening credits in the next episode, fittingly, Carol holds up a sign saying "It's a Girl", which blocks Mike's face.
  • Everybody leaves, except for Carol. Noticing this, Ben, Mike, and Jason then turn back and pick Carol up and carry her into the house.
  • Everybody leaves to head into the house, except for Mike. Carol angrily turns back and taps Mike on the shoulder, and makes a hand gesture telling him to come in with them.
  • The family stands outside in the rain wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas, and they all head toward the house.
  • Everyone leaves, except for Ben. When Mike notices, he comes back, whispers something in Ben's ear, and they both go in the house.

The opening used in Seasons 6 and 7 featured an opening shot of the mantle on the Seavers' fireplace panning over pictures of the cast. The past photos of each cast member were kept, but the clips where each cast member's name is overlaid was replaced with current photos of each cast member. In this sequence, the males wore tuxedos and the females wore formal dresses. The only exception was Leonardo DiCaprio: when he was added to the cast, his photo featured him wearing a hooded shirt and jeans, although for the first few episodes he appeared in, the camera would zoom to a wide shot, then his name was displayed. The end of this sequence featured various still-shots of the entire cast trying to get together for their picture, closing with a shot of the pictures on the wall on and above the mantle.

Theme song

The show's theme song is "As Long As We've Got Each Other," which was written and composed by both John Bettis and Steve Dorff. It was performed by:

B.J. Thomas (singing solo); Season 1

B.J. Thomas & Jennifer Warnes; Seasons 2, 3, 5, part of 7

B.J. Thomas & Dusty Springfield; Season 4

Take 6 (Grammy-winning jazz acapella group); Season 6, part of 7, series finale

There were 9 versions of the theme song; others included a Halloween-themed version not sung by Thomas or Warnes used in a 2-part Halloween episode in 1990. The first 3 seasons featured an instrumental part at the end of the theme, but in the fourth season, the original last verse of the TV version of the theme song, "Sharing the laughter and love," was added in its place.There was also an a cappella version of the song which was used for all of Season 6, but this version was abandoned for most of Season 7 in favor of the reinstatement of Thomas's and Warnes's duet version, although the a capella theme returned for three episodes , as well as the series finale. A full-length version by Thomas and Springfield was released as a single in 1988. By this time, however, the show was already a well-established hit and the song failed to chart.



At the beginning of the seventh season, a new character, homeless teen Luke Brower (then-unknown Leonardo DiCaprio), was introduced in a last-ditch attempt to salvage ratings, to no avail. Growing Pains had declined slightly on its established Wednesday time slot in Season 6, and was moved to Saturday nights in the fall of 1991 to make room for newer comedies. The other long-running show initially affected by this strategy was Who's the Boss?, which also moved to Saturdays. Ratings for both shows plunged to new lows, with insiders stating that ABC was getting rid of both programs by putting them on the "graveyard shift". To diffuse this fact, ABC moved the long-running sitcom Perfect Strangers, a show with reasonably high ratings, to Saturdays in February 1992; its presence helped to launch a new comedy block known as I Love Saturday Night. This final effort at scheduling had an adverse effect for all 3 shows, and, most of all, for new cartoon Capitol Critters, which was cancelled after only 2 months. By then, Growing Pains (along with Who's the Boss? and MacGyver) was canceled.


Despite the show's success, there were a few behind-the-scenes controversies.

Kirk Cameron's clashes

In 1987, Kirk Cameron became a born again Christian. Afterward he began to increasingly raise objections behind the scenes to what he viewed as the depiction and promotion of immoral behavior on the show.

After Cameron's conversion, his beliefs frequently interfered with production of the show. He insisted that no "adult themes" be incorporated into episodes, and he often demanded that entire episodes be re-written when he objected to the content (when one planned episode revolved around Julie giving Mike the key to her apartment, Cameron objected to the sexual connotations, and he asked a new script to be written) . According to the Growing Pains episode of E! True Hollywood Story, Cameron at one point once called the President of ABC on the phone, and refer to executive producers Dan Guntzelman, Mike Sullivan and Steve Marshall as pornographers, due to the content of some of the episodes.

In 1991, after the show's sixth season, the three men quit the show as a result of Cameron's actions and statements. Cameron's conflicts with the writers were frequent in part due to his low level of tolerance for percieved immoral behaviour. For example, according to the aforementioned E! True Hollywood Story episode, one scene which he objected to would have shown Mike in bed with a girl. The camera would then pull back to reveal that the two were on stage, rehearsing a scene for a play. The most significant instance of Cameron's editorial interference occurred in the 1989-1990 season which was supposed to involve Mike marrying his girlfriend Julie. However, Cameron objected to the fact that actress Julie McCullough, who played the popular character Julie Costello, had once posed nude for Playboy. Cameron demanded that the producers fire her or he would quit. McCullough was fired, and Julie was written out of the series as having left Mike at the altar.

In 2003, according to the article "The Re-birth of Kirk Cameron" in Christianity Today, Cameron "admits he made some mistakes common to new believers — such as distancing themselves so far from the world that they do no good for anyone ... In time, however, he realized his missteps. In 2000, he re-joined his former cast members for a Growing Pains reunion movie. He stood in front of his TV family, and apologized for his behavior. 'I was a 17-year-old guy trying to walk with integrity, knowing that I was walking in the opposite direction from many other people. I didn't have the kind of maturity and graceful way of putting things perhaps that I would now,' he says. Cameron's fellow actors immediately embraced him.

Other problems

In addition to the problems with Cameron, the show's constant references to Carol Seaver as "fat" (notwithstanding her normal weight and size for her age) took their toll on Tracey Gold. The producers were unaware that Gold had a long history of eating disorders, and the constant insults of her character eventually triggered a serious case of anorexia nervosa in Gold. She was forced to resign from the cast in January 1992 and did not return until the 2-part final episode, for which she had to leave the hospital where she was still undergoing treatment.

In addition, in 1990, Jeremy Miller, who played younger son Ben Seaver, began to be stalked by an older man who wrote letters to Miller expressing his plans to rape the actor. The threat to Miller resulted in heightened security until the stalker revealed his home address in a threatening letter and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned.


International names

Country Name Literal translation
Mainland China 成长的烦恼 (Chéngzhǎng de Fánnǎo) Growing up's worry
Taiwanmarker 歡樂家庭 (Huānlè Jiātíng) Happy Family
Francemarker Quoi de neuf docteur? What is new doctor? or What's up doc?
Germanymarker Unser lautes Heim Our loud home
Italymarker Genitori in blue jeans Parents in blue jeans
Japanmarker 愉快なシーバー家 (Yukai na Seava (Seaver) Ke) Happy Seaver's family
Latin America Ay! Cómo duele crecer Ouch! How painful is growing up
Polandmarker Dzieciaki, kłopoty i my Our kids, trouble and us
Spainmarker Los Problemas Crecen The Problems grow
Swedenmarker Pappa vet bäst Dad knows best

United States

ABC aired reruns of the show on its daytime schedule from July 1988 to August 1989. The show originally aired at 11:00am (EST) until January 1989, when with the cancellation of Ryan's Hope and the expansion of Home to an hour (from 11:00am-noon), the reruns moved to 12:00pm.

In the fall of 1989, the show was sold to local syndication, which continued until 1996. The show also aired on TBS for several years.

Reruns aired on the Disney Channel from 1998-2001 with the episodes featuring Leonardo DiCaprio given special emphasis in an attempt to draw in pre-teen crowds who had recently seen him in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic. The cable rights for the show moved to sister network ABC Family, where it ran from 2001 to 2004. It has also aired on ION Television in 2007.

Nick at Nite began airing Growing Pains on February 12, 2007, launching with a marathon from 9:00PM ET-1:00AM ET. It was pulled from the line-up shortly after, and later moved to sister network The N, where it aired up until early 2009. It is no longer considered to be on at a regularly scheduled time, but GP has seen rare showtimes on The N's rebranded TeenNick, having aired episodes since October 12, 2009.

Latin America

Nick at Nite formerly showed it in Latin America Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 pm ET/PT, beginning January 2009, the series was removed from Nick at Nite.


Mainland China
  • This show was dubbed in Chinese by the Shanghai Television in the late 1980s with the title of "Chéngzhǎng de Fánnǎo" (成长的烦恼; Chéngzhǎng means Growing, Fánnǎo means Pains). It was one of the first American sitcom introduced to mainland China and instantly became a smash hit. The show also had a great impact on the Chinese family values and broadened many people's ideas of parenting. Some parents regard Dr. and Mrs. Seaver as models and try to befriend their kids after watching the show. The show has been rerun numerous times across mainland China up to date. It is becoming popular once again due to the new DVD release in 2006. Growing Pains remains one of the most favorite American TV shows in China, where the major cast members still enjoy huge popularity. Many Chinese use this show as materials for English learning.
  • The recent Disney Channel TV show Lizzie McGuire was titled in Chinese as the "New Growing Pains."
  • The Chinese sitcom Home with Kids is considered to be a Chinese adaptation of Growing Pains.
  • Growing Pains was dubbed in Japanese, and broadcasted by the NHKmarker of Japanmarker in the title of "Yukai na Seaver Ke(愉快なシーバー家)" (Happy Seaver's family) from 1997 to 2000.


Two books published in French exclusively about Growing Pains: Cyrille Rollet, Ph.D (EHESS, Paris),
  • Physiologie d'un sitcom américain (voyage au cœur de Growing Pains), (volume 1) - Physiology of an American Sitcom (Journey to the Heart of Growing Pains)
  • Circulation culturelle d'un sitcom américain (volume 2) - The Cultural Circulation of an American Sitcom

DVD Release

On February 7, 2006, Warner Home Video released the complete first season of Growing Pains on DVD in Region 1. In conjunction with the release, Thicke, Kerns, Cameron, Gold, and Miller reunited for a CNN Larry King Live interview, which aired on that same date. Currently, it is unknown whether the remaining six seasons will be released.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 22 February 7, 2006

Nielsen Ratings

1985-1986 Season: #18

1986-1987 Season: #8

1987-1988 Season: #5

1988-1989 Season: #13

1989-1990 Season: #21

1990-1991 Season: #27


Just the Ten of Us was an ABC show that had Coach Graham Lubbock, Mike and Carol's gym teacher, moving to California with his large family to teach at an all boys Catholic school after he was fired from Thomas Dewey High School. It was a consistent hit on the Friday lineup, but was abruptly cancelled after three seasons.


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