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Fascinating Facts About Your Favorite ‘TGIF’ TV Shows

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Do you remember those nights watching episode after episode of your favorite shows?

There was nothing quite like ordering pizza, making popcorn, and watching the new episode of Full House.

On September 22, 1989, ABC officially launched “TGIF,” a two-hour block of family-friendly sitcoms. 

And the rest is TV history.

What does TGIF mean?

Although many argue it is a riff on the phrase “Thank God It’s Friday,” this particular acronym actually stood for “Thank God It’s Funny”.

The block featured some of ABC’s most iconic programming, Including Full House, Family Matters, Step By Step, Boy Meets World, and Sabrina The Teenage Witch.

As well as some shows that are less well remembered such as Free Spirit, Camp Wilder, You Wish, and Teen Angel.

Family Matters

Urkel stole the hearts of many with his iconic catchphrase “did I do that?” But, he was only supposed to be in one episode.

The inspiration for Steve Urkel’s name actually came from co-creator Michael Warren’s real life friend Steve Erkel.

Urkel was so popular that he had cross-over episodes in various shows such as Full House and Boy Meets World.

Family Matters was the second longest-running sitcom focused on an African American family with 9 seasons. The longest-running one was actually The Jeffersons, which ran for 11 seasons.

Richie was played by twins because of California state regulations. But, they were only credited as one person: Joseph Julius Wright, rather than Joseph and Julius Wright.

Boy Meets World

Corey was originally supposed to have a group of friends instead of just Shawn, but no characters stuck.

In fact, the cast used to call the chair where those actors sat the “death chair” since they never made it longer than one episode.

Danielle Fishell was not the original Topanga. But, after the first actress was fired she was determined to take all notes to heart. After her first appearance, co-creator Michael Jacobs rehearsed lines with her and gave her a laundry list of notes.

“My heart stopped beating regularly, and my palms got sweaty: ‘Danielle, yesterday I gave you an enormous amount of notes. I did that because I believed you were capable of handling them,’ he said in front of all the writers and producers and my fellow actors,” Fisher said. “Then he stood up. I panicked. Was he going to fire me, slam his script on the ground, and storm out of there? ‘However, with your performance today, you exceeded my expectations,’ he concluded. He started clapping, and all the writers stood up and clapped next to him. Michael wasn’t going to fire me. He believed in me. He gave me a freaking standing ovation.”

No one else could play Topanga. And you can still see some of the original cast reprise their roles in the Disney Channel spin-off Girl Meets World.

Sabrina The Teenage Witch

Sabrina’s character was based on the Archie Comics comic book. Sabrina first appeared in Archie’s Madhouse #22 in October 1962.

Melissa Joan Hart’s mother, Paula Hart, was the one who first brought the concept to ABC.

“My mom doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her job as the woman spearheading the show. She is the one who was handed the Archie comic book on a playground at my sister’s school in Manhattan and sold it to Viacom as a Showtime movie,” Joan Hart said to Marie Claire. “She always knew it would make an incredible series but no one would listen.”

Sabrina was actually ABC’s highest-rated TGIF show.

Free Spirit 

The first official night of TGIF featured the series premiere of Free Spirit.

The Bewitched-like Free Spirit centered around a mischievous witch named Winnie, who worked as a live-in housekeeper for a divorced father of three.

Playing the 16-year-old-daughter was a young Alyson Hannigan, who also played Willow, a powerful witch and best friend of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

The series eventually moved to Sunday nights and was replaced on TGIF by the short-lived Growing Pains spin-off Just the Ten of Us.

Going Places 

This sitcom centered around four writers working at a hidden camera show, and featured a pre-Melrose Place Heather Locklear.

Though it was canceled after one season, co-creators Robert Gifford and Howard Adler and some cast members Stacey Keanan and Christopher Castile, would all find themselves working on a far more successful TGIF sitcom, Step By Step, the following season.

Camp Wilder 

The series focused on single mother Ricky Wilder who moves into her childhood home after the death of her parents and becomes the guardian of her teenage siblings.

Ricky opens up the house to their friends as both an escape from their overbearing parents and to offer her words of wisdom for their problems.

Though the 19-episode run is largely forgotten, Jerry O’Connell played Ricky’s teenage brother Brody.

And making appearances as some of his friends were future Oscar winners Hillary Swank and Jared Leto.

It also featured a potentially groundbreaking plotline, Ricky’s six-year-old daughter, Sophie exhibits increasingly tomboyish traits. On the Christmas episode, she announced that all “she ever wanted was to be a boy!”

This show is actually a hit in Germany.

You Wish

You Wish was something of a modern twist of I Dream of Genie.  The show centered on the Apple Family, who unwittingly frees a genie when visiting a carpet shop.

You wish ran for only seven episodes.

Teen Angel

Teen Angel focused on Steve Beauchamp who, after dying from eating a hamburger found under a bed (yes, you read that correctly…) returns to Earth to serve as his best friend’s Guardian Angel.

Despite an epic crossover event…

Which saw Sabrina’s Salem the cat appear on Boy Meets World, You Wish, and Teen Angel and send all shows into their own time-traveling vortex…

Both You Wish and Teen Angel were quickly canceled

Teen Angel only after 17 episodes.

But they were not the only ones. By then, ratings for TGIF were already on the decline, and two seasons later, TGIF was re-named ABC Working Comedy.

We still love these shows.