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Trivia / The Jeffersons

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  • Absentee Actor: This trope is the reason Mike Evans relinquished his role of Lionel after the first season. He'd approached producer Norman Lear with an ultimatum about appearing in more episodes or quitting, and was released from his contract. Damon Evans (no relation) took over as Lionel for next the 3 seasons. After which, he too was let go from the series. Lear rehired Mike Evans prior to season six, but once again left the show during season 8 for the same reasons. This time, his character was sent to work in Japan, not appearing again until Mike Evans reprised the role for two final season episodes
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  • The Character Died With Her: Zara Cully died during the fourth season, and Mother Jefferson was written out as having died also.
  • Fake Brit: Paul Benedict, who played the English Harry Bentley, was American.
  • Fake Mixed Race: Tom & Helen Willis are an interracial couple with two children. However, their daughter Jenny was portrayed by Belinda Tolbert who is 100% Black. While their son Alan, was played by Jay Hammer, who is 100% white.
  • I Am Not Spock:
    • Isabel Sanford rarely was seen outside of cameos and commercials pairing her with her on-screen husband after the show was cancelled. (Example: Sanford and Hemsley appeared as a joint Villain of the Week on an episode of Lois & Clark.)
    • Somewhat averted with Marla Gibbs and Sherman Hemsley, who went on to star in their own sitcoms afterwards; even they, however, continued to reprise their respective roles and pairings in commercials and cameos for years afterwards. Gibbs even came back for a live recreation of the pilot in 2019, shortly before her 88th birthday.
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  • Old Shame: Damon Evans came to regret taking the role of Lionel. He states that he would regularly miss rehearsals and didn’t enjoy working on a sitcom.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Lionel was played by Mike Evans in season 1, Damon Evans (no relation) in seasons 2-4, then Mike Evans again for seasons 6-8 (and a two-part guest appearance in season 11).
    • Tom, Helen, and Jenny Willis were all played by different actors in the All in the Family episode that first introduced the characters ("Lionel's Engagement").
    • Allan Willis was played by Andrew Rubin in the first season as a one shot. He reappeared semi-regularly later in the series, played by Jay Hammer.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Many times. For example, "The Blackout", which aired January 21, 1978, was inspired by the infamous Blackout of 1977 in New York.
  • Reality Subtext: Roxie Roker's husband was white. When the producers asked if she was willing to play half of a mixed race couple, she pulled out a picture of her family and was hired on the spot (her son is Lenny Kravitz). Franklin Cover himself was also a part of an interracial marriage, married to a black woman Mary Bradford Stone.
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  • Screwed by the Network: The series was abruptly cancelled by CBS after 11 seasons without a proper finale. The cast wasn't informed until after the last episode, and Sherman Hemsley didn't know until he read about it in the newspaper.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Jeffersons Wiki.


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