[[quoteright:310:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bra_9348.jpg]]

->''"What would we do baby, without us?''
->''Sha-la-la-la."''
-->--Last lines of "Without Us", the '''Family Ties''' theme song.

''Family Ties'' is a rather straightforward DomCom that was created and executive produced by Gary David Goldberg, produced by his company, Ubu Productions, and Creator/{{Paramount}}, and ran on Creator/{{NBC}} from 198289.

Former '60s flower children Steven (Michael Gross) and Elyse (Meredith Baxter-Birney) Keaton [[HappilyMarried are now adults]] living in Columbus, Ohio and raising three kids of their own: hyper-conservative Alex (Creator/MichaelJFox in the role that made him a star), [[TheDitz ditzy]] Mallory (Justine Bateman) and precocious Jennifer (Tina Yothers). A fourth Keaton child, Andrew, is born in the third season and played by Brian Bonsall beginning in season 5.

Much of the humor comes from the conflict between the [[TheGenerationGap Republican Alex and the very Democratic parents]]. In a rare example, there are no [[StrawCharacter Strawman Political]] sequences to be found here: both ideologies are given equal time in the spotlight, and there is no StrawmanBall episode either[[note]] though Alex was originally designed as a [[StrawCharacter Straw Conservative]], but backed out when he became the show's most popular character[[/note]].

Unlike many {{Dom Com}}s (and most of the ones made since TheSeventies), ''Family Ties'' is notable in that it features a completely standard, intact {{nuclear family}}. The fact that the show had no adopted children, stray cousins, stepkids from previous marriages, older kids living away from home, or single parents (in contrast to ''Series/MyThreeSons'', ''Series/FamilyAffair'', ''Series/TheBradyBunch'', ''Series/DiffrentStrokes'', ''Series/FullHouse'', etc.) made it something of a rarity, even for TheEighties, not to mention the fact the notorious lack of the backstage turmoil many 80s shows are known for.

----
!!Provides Examples Of:

* AbhorrentAdmirer: Skippy to Mallory, though he gets a girlfriend in the later seasons.
* AbsenteeActor: Meredith Baxter is absent from some of the season three episodes. Sometimes it is explained, often nobody bothers with an excuse.
* ArtisticTitle: Beginning in Season 2, the opening sequence begins with the first brush strokes of a family portrait of the Keatons. By the end of the sequence, the painting is finished.
* BelligerentSexualTension: Alex and Ellen. So much so that, years after she moved to Paris and they broke up, when Alex met Lauren he knew he liked her because "No girl has made me this angry this quickly since Ellen."
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Steven Keaton is generally a mellow, understanding person. Unless you make him mad, in which case you best vacate the premises at once.
* BigBrotherWorship: Andrew, for Alex.
* BigDamnMovie: ''Family Ties Vacation'', an action-adventure TV movie filmed on-location in England ([[NoExportForYou but ironically never shown there]]).
* BigEgoHiddenDepths: Alex has, on many occasions, shown that beneath his arrogant, overachieving self lies a rather insecure and scared young man who fears failure and seriously needs a hug.
* BittersweetEnding: To "They Can't Take That Away From Me". Alex ends things with both Lauren and Marty, realizing that neither is the girl for him, but manages to do so without either of them hating him and genuinely wishing him well.
* BourgeoisBohemian: The elder Keatons are the UrExample.
* BrattyTeenageDaughter: Mallory, sometimes. Jennifer, when Andy came along and later when she was going through puberty.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: In the episode, "The Fugitive" Bert Carlyle the FBI agent who comes to apprehend [[spoiler: Uncle Ned]], is this. He is so quirky, especially in his first and last appearances, that it makes you wonder how he even became an agent. However, he isn't as dumb as he seems, since he knows the Keatons are lying successfully follows Alex to the airport and while he doesn't make an arrest, he prevents a "known criminal" from fleeing the state. He also knows the law very well. And while he kinda got lucky that the fugitive gave up running, he took the correct actions to get him. Although he almost let him slip through his hands AFTER catching him. He still qualifies.
** He even says "I'm pretty good at this, aren't I?"
* CanonWelding: In the last episode of ''Series/SpinCity'' where Creator/MichaelJFox appears as a regular, it is suggested that the series takes place in the same universe as ''Family Ties''.
* CantGetAwayWithNuthin
* ClipShow: Several. Two of them see the Keatons sharing stories with Alex's girlfriends Ellen and later Lauren, another has the men and women of the family rehashing past incidents.
** Parodied on ''[[Series/SaturdayNightLive SNL]]'' when Justine Bateman hosted. They did a ''Family Ties'' spoof where they would flashback to another episode and in that episode they flashback to '''another''' episode and so on until they flashback to a real episode of ''TheJeffersons'', which was itself a ClipShow.
* ComicallyMissingThePoint: In "Remembrances of Things Past", Robbie tells Steven's family a funny story of how he got in trouble for refusing to write his name on his paper at school. Alex doesn't see any humor in this because...
-->'''Alex:''' Papers ''needed'' to be graded. All those names have to be in the same place every time. That was deviant behavior, and I hope Grandpa Jake punished you appropriately.\\
'''Steven:''' [[SarcasmMode I was]] [[TarAndFeathers tarred and feathered.]]\\
'''Alex:''' [[{{Beat}} ...]]okay.
* CoolUncle: Uncle Ned (played by Creator/TomHanks) is really cool, but has a drinking problem.
* {{Costumer}}: In the episode "Philadelphia Story" Alex has a dream where he must convince Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence and the cast wears clothing from that time period.
* TheCouch
* CousinOliver: Andrew
* {{Crossover}}:
** Oddly happened a decade after the show ended. Michael J. Fox went on to play the lead on ''Series/SpinCity'' and his character on that show eventually had an off-screen [[ActorAllusion run-in with Alex]] -- who is revealed to have become the junior senator from Ohio.
** There was also a crossover in the short-lived series ''Day By Day'', which was co-created by ''Family Ties'' creator Gary David Goldberg.
* DeadpanSnarker: '''''Everyone'''''.
* TheDitz: Mallory. Although she's not as bad as most examples.
* DitzyGenius: Alex. He's a hyper-competitive straight A student and math genius who was doing his parents' taxes when he was five years old and advised his parents on mortgage rates when they bought their house. Yet in everyday activities he often proves completely incapable. His little sister frequently beats him in sports, he fails at things like building kites, cooking or fixing cars even with extensive directions.
* DomCom
* DropInCharacter
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: Even though Alex P Keaton is a major focus in the pilot episode, the whole incident is shown from the POV of the parents, Steven and Elyse. We only get to see the controversial club when Alex is being picked up there by his parents. Also, in the very first episode where Skippy Handelman appears, Alex treats him with just as much contempt as Mallory does -- and is only later established that they were friends from childhood.
* TheEighties: The show ran from 1982 til 1989 and was drenched in the fashion and look of upper middle class 1980s Reagan America.
* EightiesHair: Jennifer's hair in later seasons was a fairly extreme case.
** Alex had a bit of a mullet around season 6, too.
* EvilMatriarch
* ExecutiveMeddling: In-universe, when Alex becomes manager of Jennifer's rock band and makes them into a group more like the Andrews Sisters (Jennifer: "(One audience) thought we ''were'' the Andrews Sisters!"). In the end, they rebel and go back to what they used to be.
* ExtravertedNerd: Skippy Handelman, even though he's not particularly intelligent.
* FieldTripToThePast: In one episode, Alex P. Keaton falls asleep - and he witnesses the Declaration of Independence. As this episode occurred around the time that Michael J. Fox (Alex's actor) was also playing Marty [=McFly=] on ''Back to the Future'', this episode was possibly a nod to the then upcoming film. In the film, Doc Brown types in the date of the Declaration of Independence - when demonstrating to Marty how his time machine works.
* FourPhilosophyEnsemble: Steve (the Cynic), Skippy (the Optimist), Jennifer and Nick (the Apathetic), Alex (the Realist), Elyse (the Realist-Optimist), and Mallory (the Conflicted).
* FourTemperamentEnsemble: Alex (choleric, a very gentle and affectionate choleric, but a choleric nontheless), Steve (melancholic/phlegmatic), Nick (melancholic), Mallory (melancholic), Skippy and Andy (sanguine), Elyse (sanguine/choleric), and Jennifer (phlegmatic).
* GenderSeparatedEnsembleEpisode: In one episode Elyse takes Mallory and Jennifer away to a cabin for a mother-daughter weekend. Steven stays home with Alex and Andy and attempts some male bonding. [[HilarityEnsues Neither weekend goes well.]]
* GirlinessUpgrade: Over the years Jennifer went from a sport-loving tomboy to a music loving GirlyGirl with massive EightiesHair.
* GoodParents: Steven and Elyse
* GRatedDrug: One episode has Alex becoming dependent on "diet pills" (implied to be amphetamines) to stay up late studying.
* HairTriggerTemper: Steven's father.
* HappilyMarried: Steven and Elyse
* HeelRealization: Happens in about half the episodes, usually to [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Alex]], though the other characters get their fair share as well.
* HiredForTheirLooks: Alex hired Karen as a housekeeper, despite her being a klutz and having no experience.
* HollywoodNerd: Alex is the "sexy" nerd, while Skippy is an ExtravertedNerd.
* HugeGirlTinyGuy: Karen (played by Geena Davis) and Alex, especially in one episode where he hugs her and his feet dangle off the floor.
* InsomniaEpisode: In one episode, Alex is unable to sleep, even when his family offers various ways that usually help them sleep.
* InterClassRomance: Mallory and Nick.
* InWithTheInCrowd
* {{Irony}}: Alex prepares to end things with Marty and Lauren, only to have each of them say to him almost verbatim what he was planning to say to him.
* IvyLeagueForEveryone: Subverted.
* IWantYouToMeetAnOldFriendOfMine
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Alex
* LamazeClass: Elyse and Steven attend this during Elyse's pregnancy with Andy. It's also the focus of the episode "Oh, Donna" in which Alex becomes obsessed with helping out an unmarried student of the class.
* LockedInARoom
* LongLostUncleAesop: Elyse's alcoholic brother Ned (Creator/TomHanks), and Elyse's sister Michelle--although in an earlier episode Elyse argues with her mother and refers to herself as "your only daughter". There's a VerySpecialEpisode featuring Mallory's favorite aunt, the never-before-seen Trudy, who dies of a heart attack (which of course is never again mentioned). Also teen pregnancy was dealt with by bringing in a never-seen-before friend, and both Alex and Mallory mourn friends whom we'd never seen alive or would hear about later.
** Ned was in a two-part episode the previous season fleeing the FBI for stealing money from his company.
* LoveTriangle: Between Alex, Lauren, and Marty (a music student he develops feelings for while tutoring her). RealityEnsues--despite the deep feelings he has for both women, he realizes that neither of them is "The One" for him and ends it with both of them.
* ManlyTears
** Alex in "A, My Name Is Alex." His best friend was just killed in a car crash. Alex was supposed to be with his friend but wasn't. Alex later admits that he wasn't with him out of his own selfishness. Alex begins sobbing uncontrollably and repeatedly yelling, "Why am I alive?!" It's one of the few moments in the series that we see Alex vulnerable and completely fall apart. He cries again in front of the therapist later in this episode.
** In "Heartstrings Part 2", we find out the happenings of the day Steven's father died. Steven and Alex are watching the World Series on TV when the phone rings. Steven goes to answer it and while he is in the other room on the phone, the game ends. Alex is excited for his father that the Detroit Lions had just won. However, Steven somberly enters the room and explains that his his father (and Alex's grandfather), Jacob, had just died from heart failure. Alex pauses and then begins to talk about how well-off his grandmother will be because of his grandfather's earnings, and when Steven stops him, Alex tearfully admits it will be the only way to stop himself from crying. Steven, beginning to get emotional, tells Alex that it is OK to cry, and the two embrace, sobbing in each other's arms. Played straight -- the two were the only ones home when the call came, and there was no scene where the women came into the room, saw Alex and Steven crying, and mistakenly conclude the Tigers had lost -- the scene was critically praised as a very sweet, tender moment between father and son grieving the loss of a loved one.
* MysteriousMiddleInitial: Both actor Michael J. Fox and character Alex P. Keaton.
** It's been suggested that the P stood for [[EmbarrassingMiddleName Peace]]. Mallory at one point suggests, not necessarily jokingly, that it stands for Pompous.
** Since the "J" doesn't stand for anything, this troper always thought the "P" was out-of-universe meant to reference that.
* NamedAfterSomebodyFamous: Michael J. Fox's real middle name is Andrew. (He changed to a StageName for professional reasons.) Andy is a loving meta-MythologyGag.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: Michael J. Fox plays Alex (a teenager from Ohio) with his own native Canadian accent. Any time he says "tomorrow" or "sorry" is a dead giveaway.
* OpeningCreditsCastParty
* OppositesAttract: Alex and Ellen.
* PapaWolf: Steven is a rather nice guy to get along with, but harm his children and he will get you. Even his brother-in-law (Played by Creator/TomHanks) is not safe from his wrath.
* ParentExMachina
* PostRobberyTrauma: Elyse invests in a gun after a break in.
* {{Scatting}}: Mallory unconsciously does a weird, Yiddish scat to the tune of "If I Were a Rich Man" while she and Alex are sitting at the kitchen table working. Alex starts dancing in place for a moment before he stops her.
--> '''Alex:''' You were yidle-didle-ing.
* ScreamingBirth
* SmugSnake: Mr. Tadesco, Alex' teacher in "The Harder They Fall".
* SoapboxSadie: Jennifer in later years.
* SoapOperaRapidAgingSyndrome: Andy. Went from infant in season 4 to about four years old in season 5.
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent: "A, My Name is Alex", a 45min character piece dissecting everything that made Alex who he was. Arguably Michael J. Fox's finest hour.
* SuckySchool: Grant College.
* TakeTheThirdOption: In one episode, Mallory is torn between boyfriend Nick and a handsome young teacher who writes sappy love letters. Alex hears one of the teachers love letters and tells Mallory, "I think you should dump both of them and start over in the morning."
** Which ends up inadvertently {{Foreshadowing}} Alex being in a similar situation and doing exactly that.
* TeensAreShort: Alex being only 5'5", exactly a foot shorter than 6'5" Michael Gross. Interestingly, then NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff initially thought Creator/MichaelJFox was ''too'' short to be Michael Gross' son.
* ThematicThemeTune: "Without Us", sung by Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams.
* TalkAboutThatThing
* TitleMontage: In the first season.
* TomboyAndGirlyGirl: Jennifer (in early years) and Mallory.
* TranquilFury: ''Don't'' get Steven mad. The best example might be the chillingly matter-of-fact way he asks his longtime (now ex) friend who's been making passes at Mallory, "Can you think of one reason why I shouldn't kill you?"
* VacationEpisode: See BigDamnMovie, above.
* VerbalTic: Nick's "aeehh" anytime he's introduced or enters a room.
* VerySpecialEpisode: A number of these including: Uncle Ned's alcoholism, a colleague of Stephen's inappropriately touches Mallory, Alex gets hooked on stay-awake pills, a friend of Alex's is killed in a car crash, Alex suffers from insomnia, Stephen has a heart attack, among others...
* WackyGuy: Mallory's boyfriend, Nick
* WhatHaveIDone: Uncle Ned (SpecialGuest Creator/TomHanks) in "Uncle Ned" (from Season 2), where he loses out on an opportunity to work at the TV station where Steven works (after he shows up to the job interview drunk), then comes home even more drunk ... and then (fitting the trope) after getting into an argument with Alex, punches him in the head, sending him flying across the room. Only then is Ned shocked into realizing he has a serious problem.
* WhereDidWeGoWrong:
** The Keatons are at a loss as to how their kids ended up so differently, particularly Alex.
** Also, with Mallory, when she begins dating Nick. They had envisioned Mal dating a nice guy, perhaps college educated ... not some biker and Rambo-wannabe.
* YesVirginia: "Miracle in Columbus" has a little girl called Michelle not believe in Santa Claus but by the end of the episode, Santa's existence is confirmed.
* YetAnotherChristmasCarol: Jennifer and Mallory take the form of the Ghosts of Christmas past and future (respectively) and Alex learns the true meaning of Christmas, and what his greed could lead to.
* YouAreNotAlone:
** A particularly stirring example is the episode "'A,' My Name is Alex,." After denying the death of a close friend, Alex begins to feel guilt for not going with his friend the night he died (his friend asked him to drive across town with him and was killed in a car crash). Feeling it is his fault, Alex begins sobbing uncontrollably and yelling "Why am I alive?!" His mother runs and hugs him while his father assures him they'll get help.
** Alex returns the favor for his mother in "Heartstrings Part 2." After finding out Steven needs surgery, Elyse is going hysterical about how she doesn't know how she will get by without him. Alex calms his mother down and wipes her tears. He tells her that he has depended on her for all his life and that she can depend on him now. His exact words: "There's no way that I'm not going to be here for you and let you go through this alone."
** Mallory actually winds up doing this for the shattered mother of a friend who committed suicide.
* YoungerThanTheyLook: In the last couple of seasons, Jennifer is 15 or 16 years old, but look like she could be in her late teens or early twenties toward the end of the series. Also, Michael Gross who plays Steven. He went grey early, his hair thinned a bit, and was only about 42 by the time the show ended.
----

[[VanityPlate "Sit, Ubu, sit. Good dog."]]\\

''[[VanityPlate "Woof."]]''

----