Welby was a family practitioner with a kind bedside manner, who was on a first name basis with many of his patients (and who also made house calls). Welby's unorthodox way of treating patients often conflicted with the more strait-laced methods of Kiley, but as the two worked together they learned something from each other. Many issues of the day were addressed, helping to make the show a major hit on ABC.
Elena Verdugo played the two doctors' dedicated and loving nurse and office manager, Consuelo Lopez.
The series aired on ABC from 1969 to 1976 and was one of the most popular shows of its era, helping to make the once-fledgling network the top-rated of the big three by the mid-'70s.
This series features examples of:
- Crossover: This show had two of them with Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law.note Both episodes were two-parters that started on Welby and concluded on Marshall.
- A Day in the Limelight: "Go Ahead And Cry" is this for Conseulo.
- Drugs Are Bad: "Homecoming" is about someone having flashbacks after having been "addicted" to LSD.
- Dude, Not Funny!: In universe, in the episode "Elegy for a Mad Dog." Welby is bitten by a dog that maybe didn't have his rabies shots. The dog is owned by a special needs teenager, who is mercilessly teased by his younger brother and his buddies. When the younger brother learns that the dog may be rabid and has attacked someone, he's just sure that the victim will begin acting "funny," all for a few yuks. Welby – who as it turns out will be fine – decides to use his experiences by talking to the boy's class at school, educating them about rabies and the need to tell an adult immediately if they are bitten.
- The Echoer: One of the earliest episodes, Season 1's "The Foal," has a little autistic boy whose only way of verbally communicating is to repeat what someone just said. Welby and his parents search for a way to help him communicate.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted in "Echo of a Baby's Laugh", involving a young pregnant wife whose husband and Dr. Welby believe she's having her first child.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: One episode deals with a promising young boxer who has to end his career due to epilepsy.
- "L" Is for "Dyslexia":
- One teenage patient of the week is being berated at the breakfast table for his bad report card. He becomes increasingly upset before finally yelling, "I'm sorry!" and running out the sliding glass door. Um, through the sliding glass door. He'd thought it opened the other way, and had cut himself badly on the glass. In taking him to the doctor for his injuries, guess what the family discovers he has.
- Sian Barbara Allen guest starred as Ellie, a "retarded" young woman, in an episode called "They Grow Up." Her older brother George, a college professor, blames himself for the accident that caused her brain injury and devotes his life to caring for her, becoming overprotective (and developing heart trouble) in the process. Welby discovers a note she left for George and realizes she is not "retarded". Guess what she has.
- Meaningful Name: Dr. Welby himself, whose name is suggestive of "Make us well be."
- Pilot Movie: "A Matter of Humanities"
- Reunion Show: The TV movies The Return of Marcus Welby, M.D. (1984) and Marcus Welby, M.D.: A Holiday Affair (1988).
- Sequel Episode: "All the Golden Dandelions Are Gone" sees the return of the Grahams from "Echo of a Baby's Laugh". This time it's the husband whose health is the focus.
- Syndication Title: Robert Young, Family Doctor