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All in the Family: Watch the Final Sweet Moments of the Groundbreaking Sitcom

All in the Family last episodeIn its day, All in the Family was truly a revolutionary sitcom. Created by Norman Lear, it broke new ground in network television and was the first sitcom to openly discuss subjects like racism, miscarriage, menopause, homosexuality, and breast cancer.

All in the Family revolves around a blue-collar household that’s owned by a bigoted working stiff, Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), and his sweet but dim-witted wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton). Living with them are their adult daughter, Gloria (Sally Struthers), and her liberal husband Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner). Recurring supporting characters are played by Sherman Hemsley, Isabel Sanford, Mike Evans, Mel Stewart, Betty Garrett, Vincent Gardenia, Danielle Brisebois, and Allan Melvin.

The show debuted on January 12, 1971 and CBS ran a disclaimer before it aired: “The program you are about to see is All in the Family. It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices, and concerns. By making them a source of laughter we hope to show, in a mature fashion, just how absurd they are.”

Struthers once said that the network was bracing for a barrage of angry phone calls but instead received lots of calls from people who wanted to see it return.

After eight seasons, Struthers and Reiner left the series. In season nine, Brisebois joined the cast as Edith’s young niece, Stephanie. Her mother had died and her father, Edith’s cousin Floyd, couldn’t take care of her properly so the Bunkers stepped in to raise her. The tone of the series had clearly changed.

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All in the Family ended more than 20 years ago, on March 25, 1979, but the characters continued on in a new series, Archie Bunker’s Place, in the Fall of 1979. The new sitcom focused more on Archie’s neighborhood bar. Stapleton appeared in some of the episodes and then asked to be written out of the show. After that, Edith was mentioned but not shown. In the second season opener, we learn that Edith has passed away from a stroke and Archie and Stephanie are left to continue on together.

Edith’s death is foreshadowed a bit in the series finale of All in the Family. In “Too Good Edith,” Archie calls on his wife to help cook the food for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at his bar. Unknown to him, Edith has a bad case of phlebitis and has been told by her doctor to stay off her feet. She doesn’t want to disappoint her husband but finally it catches up with her and she can’t walk. The doctor chews out Archie and then feels badly that Edith hadn’t told him.

In the final few moments of the series, Archie visits Edith in bed. Though the characters would continue on, the last scene makes a sweet end to the series and shows the heart of a bigot like Archie Bunker. Take a look.

 

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lise February 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Why do I remember seeing the actual episode where Archie finds Edith in bed, after she has passed away? And then I remember Gloria coming for the funeral. It’s a bit vague in my memory but I do remember seeing it. Where is that episode? It might have been on Archie Bunker’s Place but I’m not sure.

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admin February 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Sorry, but it doesn’t exist. We learn that Edith had died between the end of season one and the start of season two of Archie Bunker’s Place in November 1980. Archie remembers trying to wake her up but we don’t see it. Gloria and Joey didn’t return to visit Archie until February 1982 — on their way to start the Gloria spin-off.

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Saone (Tito) Grant August 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I really n truly feel that ALL IN THE FAMILY was indeed one of the very best shows on television…althou 4 some reason, I only loved seasons 6 thru 9.

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alegna April 26, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I WATCHED ALL IN THE FAMILY WHEN IT CAME OUT AND WAS TURNED OFF BY YELLING THAN WHEN I UNDERSTOOD IT AND GOT THE HANG OF IT, SHE SHOW GREW ON ME. THE CHARACTERS WERE SO INTENSE AND BIG ENOUGH TO FILL THE WHOLE SCREAN WHICH THEY DID AT TIMES. UNDERNEATH ARCHIE WAS AFRAIDE TO SHOW HIS TRUE FEELINGS. EDITH WAS DEDICATED AND SHARP IN HER OWN WAY. MICHAEL AND GLORIA WERE FUNNY TOO. MANY OF FUNNY MOMONETS IN THIS SHOW AND NOW I SEE RERUNS ON ANTENNA TV AND I LAUGH EVEN HARDER.

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BJK April 16, 2011 at 7:25 am

I recall not being able to watch the final season of the show because of news that Edith would. The show had that much of an impact on the American TV audience. You could not help but be fond of Archie. No matter how smug he was, Archie hid a heart of gold under his grumpy demeanor. His destruction of the English language was spot on. I’ll never forget Edith’s singing voice that could pierce a balloon. The show was such a brilliantly written situation comedy it spawned two other long running TV shows. Both “Maude” and “The Jeffersons” trace their origins back to “All in the Family.”.

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TCP March 28, 2011 at 4:58 am

We have just purchased seasons 5 and 6 on dvd – my son LOVES the show – he keeps on asking – “they were allowed to say that at that time?” – If the show still makes a teenager laugh over 20 years later, then it was one heck of a show..

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Kevin August 23, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I watch the first six seasons over and over on DVD, I never get tired of this wonderful show. I wish they would release the remaining seasons. Strangely enough, the first season of ‘Archie Bunker’s Place’ is on dvd, when the entire ‘All In The Family’ series has yet to make it to store shelves.

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