The Jeffersons

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The Jeffersons is the longest-running TV series with a predominantly African-American cast in the history of American television, running from January 18, 1975 to July 2, 1985. It features an upper-class black couple, George and Louise Jefferson, and is a Spin-Off of All in The Family, as they had been the neighbors of Archie and Edith Bunker.

Although created (like its parent show) by Norman Lear, it wasn't that political. Still, it was the first series to prominently feature a mixed-racial couple, Helen and Tom Willis.

The show had its own spin-off, titled Checking In. The short-lived series was centered on the character of Florence. It was aborted and Florence returned to The Jeffersons.

The show did not get a proper finale, as it was ended early due to Executive Meddling on the part of CBS. Most of the cast found out after the last episode, but actor Sherman Hemsley didn't know until he read about it in the newspaper.

Tropes used in The Jeffersons include:
  • Aloha Hawaii / Vacation Episode: The Jeffersons and Willises take a trip to Hawaii in a four-part episode arc.
  • The Boxing Episode
  • The Bus Came Back: Mr. Bentley moved away at the end of season 7, then moved back at the beginning of season 10.
  • Clip Show: The three-part episode "George and Louise in a Bind," in which the Jeffersons are tied up by a robber and begin reminiscing, leading to flashbacks (including from their time on All in The Family).
  • Drop-In Character: Mr. Bentley.
  • Funny Foreigner: Mr Bentley.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Florence, especially during the early years. At least once, Florence did get fired ... only for her habit of eavesdropping on George's telephone conversations to save him from a potential scam – two con artists had wanted to sell George delivery vans that had been damaged in a flood – and it also saves Florence's job. By the early 1980s, the trope no longer applied and Florence's place in the Jeffersons' lives was secure.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Gary Coleman appeared in an episode aired just before Diff'rent Strokes premired. Needless to say, CBS promoted the episode heavily when it was rerun.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: The theme song was sung by Ja'net DuBois, who also starred in Good Times, another Norman Lear project.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: George.
  • Mammy: Florence subverts the trope hard.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Happens twice:
    • In one episode George meets with his old navy buddy who had a sex change (see below).
    • In another George has been working late even though Louise doesn't like it. When he tries to sneak in and is caught she believes he's having an affair and he tells her this rather than let her know the truth.
    • Subverted in another episode, where Louise confronts George about mysterious withdrawals from their banking account and unexplained visits out of town. (This turned into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold moment, as Louise eventually tracked down George to an apartment in the Bronx ... their old apartment, where a black couple and young son were living. George was helping the couple financially as the father was trying to find a good job.)
    • Subverted in another episode where Louise finds George in a hotel room with a lovely young woman (long story, but it is completely innocent), but instantly believes him when he tells her nothing is going on between them, because she notices that he doesn't display the physical tic that usually tells her that he's lying.
  • N-Word Privileges: Rarely did Norman Lear's comedies use the word "nigger," but the notable exception is "Sorry, Wrong Meeting," where two Klu Klux Klansmen freely use the slur towards the regular characters.
    • Usually, this trope was reversed when George calls various white people – especially Tom – a "honky" and his daughter-in-law a "zebra" (the slur for a bi-racial person born to a Caucasian and an African-American). At least once, however, George uses the term in front of a child he is baby-sitting, and when the kid uses it to one of George's clients, it jeopardizes a lucrative business deal.
  • The Other Darrin: Lionel was played by Mike Evans in season 1, then by Damon Evans in seasons 2-4, then by Mike Evans again for the rest of the series.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: "The Jeffersons Move on Up", which aired as an episode of All in the Family.
  • Pretty in Mink: A few furs showed up, including Tom buying Helen a red fox jacket after taking a stock tip from George.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: In one episode, George tries to teach Tom how to "act black," in order to fit in with Helen's friends.
  • 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 family portrait. (And on a trivia note, her son is Lenny Kravitz.)
  • Sassy Black Woman: Florence.
  • Servile Snarker: Florence, again.
  • Shared Universe: With All in the Family and its other Spin-Off, Maude (and its spin off, Good Times).
  • Something's Different About You Now: George goes to visit his old Navy buddy Eddie Stokes, only to find out he's now Edie Stokes.
  • Spinoff Sendoff: In the pilot, as Louise is packing the kitchen Edith Bunker comes over from next door to wish them luck in their new place.
  • Stealth Insult: Mother Jefferson's specialty, directed at Louise.