[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/A_Different_World_9369.jpeg]]

Originally, this was a SpinOff of ''Series/TheCosbyShow'': Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) goes to college. It ran on Creator/{{NBC}} from 1987 to 1993.

The show was set at fictional, historically-black Hillman College in Virginia. Two of the supporting cast, Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison) and Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy), proved to be {{Ensemble Darkhorse}}s. In the second season, Lisa Bonet was let go because she and then husband Lenny Kravitz were having a baby and [[ContractualPurity the producers were concerned about Denise appearing to be an unwed mother]]. This led to Dwayne and Whitley becoming the new leads. Despite all the odds working against them, this actually changed the show into a hit and altered the formula from being a mere spin-off to an entity of its own.

The show also became acclaimed for tackling issues that other shows (especially ''The Cosby Show'') refused to at the time, and became the first prime-time show to actually address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
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!!Tropes:
* AccidentalMisnaming: Kinu to Whitley.
* AlliterativeName: Dean Dorothy Dandridge Davenport
* AndNinetyNineCents: After becoming tipsy on cheap wine while celebrating her 21st birthday, Whitley states that she would never again buy a wine whose price ended in this trope.
* AscendedExtra: Both Ron and Walter were recurring characters in Season 1, but the ReTool in Season 2 saw them promoted to main cast.
* BackForTheFinale: Walter
* BettyAndVeronica: Dwayne (Archie), Whitley (Veronica), and Kinu (Betty) in season 4.
* TheBGrade: Kimberly, Dwayne
* BigBrotherMentor: Walter
* BlackGalOnWhiteGuyDrama: Briefly, when Freddie's cousin Matthew takes a shine to Kim.
* BreakoutCharacter: Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert.
* BrokeEpisode: Whitley, Kimberly
* ButNotTooBlack: Averted. The show featured African-Americans of varying skin tones and despite each person having various flaws and qualities, no particular shade was depicted as more desirable/intelligent/successful than the other.
* TheCastShowoff: Several cast members get to show off their singing talents in various episodes.
* CelebrityStar - En Vogue, Blair Underwood, Kris Kross, Patti [=LaBelle=], Diahann Carroll to name a few.
* ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: Maggie (Marissa Tomei) and Whitley's sidekick, Millie, along with the first dorm mom Stevie (Loretta Devine) (season 1), Lettie (seasons 1-2)
* ConveyorBeltVideo - the TitleSequence from Season 2 on
* CoolBigSis: Jaleesa
* ContentWarnings: 2 episodes
* CousinOliver: Col. Taylor's son Terrance (Season 4), Lena, Gina, and Charmaine (Cousin Pam's friend from TheCosbyShow) (Season 5), Season 6's new freshman class
* CreeSummer: A rare Live-Action role as Freddie Brooks.
* CrossOver: Unsurprisingly, often with its parent series. Cliff appeared in cameos during phone conversations, while Claire, Theo, Rudy, and Grandpa Russell each visited Hillman. After Denise's departure, Claire still made appearances and Vanessa made one. In a later episode, Dwayne visits Denise (in her final appearance on the series) and meets Olivia. Lance and Charmaine also appeared in Season 5, with the latter joining the cast the next season.
* DateRapeAverted: Freddie.
* DomesticAbuse: One of it's VerySpecialEpisode s focused on Gina Deveaux being abused by her rapper boyfriend.
* EmbarrassingMiddleName: Dwayne's full name: Dwayne Cleophus Wayne
* EthnicMenialLabor: Nearly a whole episode was devoted to a discussion on the mammy archetype after Whitley decides to dedicate an art installation to said archetype.
* FakeHigh: In Season 2 episode, "If You Like Pilgrim Coladas", Whitley and Kim go to a bar with a fake ID and are found out when they act drunk after several of the eponymous drink, which contains no alcohol.
* ForgottenBirthday: They run this plot with Whitley three times (technically.) The first season, she's surprised with a cake by the main cast. Then, on her 21st b-day, she assumes everyone forgot, gets drunk and nearly makes out with a photo of DenzelWashington, but is given a "spinster" dinner by her dorm mates, and receives some sentimental gifts from Dwayne and Julian. While not exactly the same, special mention has to go to her first birthday as Dwayne's wife, where she gets paranoid and PLANS HER OWN SURPRISE PARTY, Dwayne finds out and cancels it, gives her a crappy dinner at a diner, and bluffs her all the way home where a roomful of people surprise the crap out of her with a cake and gifts.
* FurAndLoathing: Freddie would of course freak out when she saw one.
** Whitley learned about this the hard way when she started dating a politician and offended one of his potential supporters by wearing a fur.
* GraduateFromTheStory: adverted as once the main cast graduated, the show went on for two more seasons and showed them going to graduate school and/or working.
* GrandFinale
* GranolaGirl: Freddie
* IDrankWhat: In one episode, Lena is babysitting for Jaleesa's baby while Colonel Taylor is hosting Byron's bachelor party. Ron makes pina coladas and decides to use the milk in the fridge. Cue several spit takes when Lena comes down to get the breast milk for the baby.
** Also counts as YoureDrinkingBreastMilk.
* LongLostUncleAesop: guest stars, including but not limited to Tisha Campbell (of ''Martin'' fame) and Sista Souljah, introduced topics such as date rape, AIDS, the Gulf War and the LA Riots to viewers and then disappeared.
** In regards to the Gulf War and AIDS episode, [[FridgeHorror there may be an unfortunate reason why neither character was ever seen or heard from again]].
* MusicalEpisode: although several of the actors sang from time to time in the series, "The Little Mister," the episode spoofing the 1992 presidential elections, counts as one of these.
* MRSDegree: One episode has Whitley confessing to Dean Hughes that when she initially came to Hillman, this was her plan, complete with a wedding the day after graduation and using her art history degree to pick out the right paintings to decorate the living room.
* PerkyFemaleMinion: Millie.
* PrettyInMink: Whitley owned a few furs. Although she was spoiled and materialistic, they didn't disappear as she got CharacterDevelopment.
* PutOnABus: When Season 2 begins it's explained that Denise isn't coming back to Hillman for another term.
* TheRashomon: An episode in which Ron and Dwayne get into a brawl with three white students from a rival college is depicted as it really happened (both sets of students saying and doing things to provoke each other, culminating in one of the white students vandalizing Ron's car), then from Ron's point of view (showing himself and Dwayne as completely innocent and depicting the one white student who was trying to ''stop'' the incident from escalating as equally aggressive as his friends), then from the white students (claiming that Ron and Dwayne were the aggressors and omitting the damage done to Ron's car).
* RichBitch: Whitney initially, although this was toned down over time.
* RomanticFalseLead: Hoo boy. Before Dwayne and Whitley marry, he dates Denise, Suzanne and Kinu. For Whitley, there's Julian and Byron (whom she almost married.) Ron (seriously) dates Millie and Kim before his relationship with Freddie, who dated Ernest, Garth (who tried to rape her,) and Shazza Zulu before him. Kim dated Robert, Freddie's cousin Matthew, and Ron before hooking up with her eventual fiance Spencer, and Jaleesa almost married Walter before shocking everyone and eloping with Col. Taylor.
* RunawayBride: Whitley literally leaves fiance Byron at the altar to run down the aisle into Dwayne's arms.
* SassyBlackWoman: Post-Denise, pretty much all of them, outside of Whitley and Freddy.
* SitCom
* SoapBoxSadie: Usually Freddie, but others had their turns.
* SpecialGuest: Includes several appearances of cast members from parent series ''TheCosbyShow''; as well as appearances from Montel Williams and Jesse Jackson.
* SpinOff
* SternTeacher: Col. Taylor (AKA. "Dr. War")
* TeamMom: Stevie, Lettie, Dwayne's mom (Patti Labelle)
* UncannyFamilyResemblance: Jasmine Guy playing Whitley Gilbert and her cousin Liza in one episode.
* UncleTomfoolery: Ron (though he got better as the show went on)
** He would fit the trope if his best friend was a white guy, but Dwayne is about as far from that as the show got. Ron did have some Daffy Duck tendencies, but as time went on, he showed himself to be sincere, thoughtful, innovative, and genuine. Sure he was greedy, but given that his father was a used car salesman, he could have turned out a LOT worse.
* UnrequitedLoveSwitcheroo: Dwayne, Whitney, and Kinu.
* VerySpecialEpisode
* WeddingDeadline: In "Save the Best for Last," Dwayne interrupts the wedding just before Whitley says "I will" to Byron, only to say "I do" to Dwayne, marrying him instead.
* WhamEpisode: One episode had Kim's detective father (played by [[{{Shaft}} Richard Roundtree]]) coming down hard on her after she defied him to go to a concert in DC. The next episode? Kim, Whitley, Dwayne and Freddie drive from Virginia to Ohio after finding out he was shot and possibly paralyzed.
* WhyWasteAWedding: Dwayne and Whitley, Jaleesa and Walter
* YetAnotherChristmasCarol: Whitley
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