Skip to main content

The Facts of Life is a classic TV show that ran for nearly 10 years. As one of the longest-running sitcoms of the ’80s, The Facts of Life earned an audience of viewers that spanned all ages and interests, and when it eventually went off the air in 1988, fans were devastated.

Still, it has remained hugely popular in syndication, regularly earning new fans, decades after it was canceled. The cast of The Facts of Life has reunited several times over the years, igniting fans’ nostalgia, but according to Mental Floss, fans missed out on several major ways to connect with other characters and story opportunities. 

When did ‘The Facts of Life’ debut on TV?

Mindy Cohn as Natalie Letisha Sage Green, Kim Fields as Dorothy 'Tootie' Ramsey
Mindy Cohn as Natalie Letisha Sage Green, Kim Fields as Dorothy ‘Tootie’ Ramsey | Alice S. Hall/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

The Facts of Life first started airing on NBC in 1979. The series was originally conceived as a spinoff of the popular TV show Diff’rent Strokes, telling the story of Edna Garrett, the Drummonds’ former housekeeper, as she becomes the housemother of a dormitory at Eastland School, a private all-girls school in upstate New York. The fictional school hosts many young girls, from the spoiled Blair Warner to naive Natalie Green.

While comedy was the backbone of The Facts of Life, the character development in the girls, and in their housemother, provided a lot of heartwarming moments over the years. From the peppy theme song, composed by Alan Thicke, to the sweet way that Edna advances her career by becoming a dietitian, The Facts of Life had something for everyone. 

The Facts of Life ran on television until 1988, spawning a number of television movies, including The Facts of Life Down Under and The Facts of Life Goes to Paris. Years later, many members of the original cast reunited for a television movie called The Facts of Life Reunion. Over the past decade, the cast has come together on several additional occasions, for reunion projects that manage to capture much of the magic of the original series.

For fans, The Facts of Life is one of the all-time great television shows, a series that broke boundaries when it came to portraying the relationships between friends as well as the growing pains that accompany adolescence. There’s no doubt that people would have been on board for even more opportunities to see the featured characters in additional projects — and as it turns out, showrunners once had as many as six different spinoffs prepared. 

‘The Facts of Life’ almost launched six unique spinoffs


Did You Know These 3 Beloved Series Are Actually Spinoffs?

According to Mental Floss, showrunners for The Facts of Life at one point had as many as six “backdoor” pilots prepped and ready, in an attempt to launch six new spinoffs. An episode titled “Brian & Sylvia” in season two would have ultimately led to a new TV series focusing on interracial marriage, a season three episode called “The Academy” would have introduced an all-boys military school, and the season four finale “Graduation” toyed with the premise of sending students Blair and Jo off to live on their own. 

Additionally, the season three episode “The Cousin” introduced Jo’s family, while “Big Apple Blues,” in season nine, played with a storyline involving Natalie and assorted characters who live and work in SoHo. Even The Facts of Life series finale had a backdoor spinoff incorporated, one that would have featured Blair taking over Eastland and making it a co-ed school. Ultimately, every single one of these spinoff ideas failed to take off, so fans are left with the possibility of what might have been.