‘The Brady Bunch’: Why Robert Reed Didn’t Appear in the Final Episode

The Brady Bunch remains one of America’s most iconic blended families. Starring Robert Reed and Florence Henderson as newlyweds Mike and Carol Brady, the sitcom centered around the happy couple bringing up their six kids after remarriage.

While Reed was seen as a father figure by the Brady kids, the actor was known to constantly challenge scripts and producers. His rebellion went a bit too far when it came to the series finale.

Florence Henderson and Robert Reed of 'The Brady Bunch'
Florence Henderson and Robert Reed of ‘The Brady Bunch’ | CBS via Getty Images

‘The Hair-Brained Scheme’ didn’t sit well with Robert Reed

In the sitcom’s last episode, Bobby tried selling hair tonic to make money. When he tried out the product on Greg, the tonic turned his older brother’s hair orange. Making the timing even worse was Greg’s impending graduation ceremony.

Reed had already earned the reputation of being argumentative, often arguing over scripts on accuracy. This time was no different, where the actor had his agent call producers to let him know he wouldn’t be participating in the episode.

“[Reed] had written another one of his familiar diatribes to the studio which ended with his firm declaration: ‘And that is why I cannot do the episode,'” producer Lloyd Schwartz wrote in his 2010 book Brady, Brady, Brady: The Complete Story of the Brady Bunch. “Robert’s big complaint this time was that hair tonic can’t do that to hair.”

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Schwartz’ father Sherwood, the show’s executive producer, had already checked to see if hair tonic could actually have this result. Upon discovering that the product can sometimes change hair color, the producers decided that their script was legally accurate and wanted to move ahead with the show. But Reed wasn’t convinced.

Robert Reed gets written out

With Reed continuing his protest and deliberately not showing up on set, producers decided to rework the episode without him. The actor hadn’t predicted he would be removed from the script.

“Where was Robert Reed during all this?” Sherwood wrote. “He was in his trailer waiting for us to go to him with new scenes which would fundamentally change the script. We didn’t.”

Once Reed realized his demands weren’t being met, he decided to check out how the cast and crew were faring without him.

“For the next day or two, he would come out of his trailer and walk to the set,” Sherwood said of Reed. “He would stand in the eye line of the actors while they did work that he had refused to do.”

‘The Brady Bunch’ finale airs minus Mike Brady

Reed lingered while the episode was being filmed, staking his claim on the series in which he had invested five years of his time. When Sherwood Schwartz asked the actor why he was on the set even though he wasn’t in the episode, Reed stood his ground.

“Bob said, ‘The Brady Bunch is my show, and I’m interested in what goes on in my show,'” Sherwood recalled.

When studio heads caught wind of Reed’s refusal to leave, talk of having him physically removed began to circulate. Due to the effect it could have on the younger cast members who saw Reed as a father figure, the idea was quickly shut down by the show’s producers. Reed ended up leaving the set, not realizing he had missed out on appearing in the series’ final episode.

Robert Reed of 'The Brady Bunch'
Robert Reed of ‘The Brady Bunch’ | CBS via Getty Images

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“We didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the last episode that The Brady Bunch ever filmed, and Mike Brady wasn’t in it,” Schwartz wrote. “Not only was his heart not in it, he wasn’t either. People have spoken to me about the episode, and no one has ever mentioned that they didn’t realize Robert Reed wasn’t in it.”