The Real Reason ‘Family Ties’ Ended After 7 Seasons

Family Ties Tina Yothers, Justine Bateman, Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter Birney, Michael J. Fox, 1982-1989
NBC/Everett Collection

35 years ago, fans said goodbye to the Keaton clan. Family Ties, starring Michael J. Fox, Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter, Tina Yothers, Justine Bateman and Brian Bonsall ended on May 14, 1989, after seven seasons. In the series finale titled “Alex Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” Alex Keaton (played by Fox) got a job in New York City. The episode focused on Alex’s goodbyes to his family and friends and served as a tidy wrapup to the beloved series.

The show was still rating very high when it ended and likely could have gone on for several more seasons. So, why did it end? Similar to shows such as Seinfeld, it ended because the creators felt that they took the story as far as they could go without a decline in quality.

Family Ties from left: Michael J. Fox, Meredith Baxter, Tina Yothers, Michael Gross, Justine Bateman, 1982-89

NBC/Everett Collection

Gross, who played Steven Keaton, explained, “At the end of the sixth season, the producers came to us and said, ‘We’re only doing one more season.’ [We asked,] ‘Why? We’re a hit.’ [They said,] ‘Well, because it’s getting tougher and tougher for us to make stories. We’re running out of stories. We got Alex P. Keaton, we’ve taken him through high school, college, graduate school. He wants to conquer the world. He’s still living at home with mommy and daddy! It makes no sense.’ So, we ended after seven years.”

Family Ties Michael J. Fox, 1982-89

Paramount Television/Everett Collection

In addition, Fox’s career was taking off and he was ready for more of the big screen. During Family Ties, he appeared in films such as Back to the Future and Teen Wolf and was skyrocketing to stardom. After Family Ties ended, he starred in the second and third Back to the Future films and was focusing on growing his family. He married his wife Tracy Pollan, whom he met on the set of Family Ties, just one year before the show ended and they had their first child weeks after the series finale aired on television.

What did you think of the Family Ties finale?

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