The Smash Club. Rigby. Ranger Joe. Mr. Egghead. Waaaakkkkee Up! If any of these things sound familiar to you or speak to your soul on a deep level, you’re in the right place. Welcome to the first of an entire week of posts dedicated to beloved 90s sitcom Full House. Each day, we’re covering a different topic on FH, leading up to the premiere of the much-anticipated spin-off, Fuller House, on Friday.
Today, we’re reminiscing about some of the most memorable, crazy, and downright ridiculous plot lines that appeared on the eight seasons of Full House. Back in the day, shows had *full* jam-packed seasons, with 20-26 episodes over the course of about nine months. It’s not like these days when shows have 13-episode seasons. There was a lot of ground to cover and a lot of stories that had to be made up when watching on a TV set was your only option for small screen entertainment, and that meant getting to break stories that would’ve been cut if it were 2016. But, there’s still a lot of quality plot lines covered over the course of the 192 episodes they filmed, and here are just some of our favorites.
Episode 11 – The Big 3-0
Danny is turning 30, which is our age, which is horrifying… but more on that later in the week. Okay, so Danny gets a midlife crisis (SHUTUP, MILLER-BOYETT PRODUCTIONS), and in the grand tradition of sitcoms, he also gets a midlife crisis car, Bullet. Jesse tries to buy seat covers for Bullet but accidentally drives it into the bay instead, arriving at the Tanner home with a zombie-car. The next day, Jesse and Joey get into a bidding war over a replacement Bullet, but the bidder on the other end of the phone is Danny.
The entire episode is an origin story for the Tanner’s drive across the bridge in the opening credits.
Episode 13 – Sisterly Love
D.J. has a stellar performance in a school production of the Frog Prince, and Danny scores her an audition for a cereal commercial. Stephanie accidentally swoops in, steals the limelight, and gets cast in the commercial. First of all, if I were DJ I would have been furious, too. Second, as someone who used to act as a kid, this isn’t how auditions work (I still remember my grandma saying “why don’t you bring your cousin to that commercial audition?” Um, how about because she’s NOT INVITED. And doesn’t have headshots or anything. And is cuter than me.) The episode comes to a head with Deej and Steph chasing each other around the table yelling “Stephanie Judith!” “Donna Jo Margaret!” as Steph wears a KILLER dress. I believe this is when we learned the girls’ middle names. Very exciting.
Oat Boats looks like boring, generic mom-approved cereal, anyway.
Episode 1 – Cutting It Close
Stephanie accidentally cuts a chunk of Jesse’s treasured hair, which seems like more of a Michelle thing but whatever. On the way back from getting it fixed, Jesse gets into a motorcycle accident, totals his bike and breaks both arms. Although everything that happened to him was horrible, what stands out in my memory is Jesse, both arms outstretched in casts, being a TOTAL DICK to Stephanie, a small motherless child.
Episode 11 – Aftershocks
When Stephanie gets really clingy to Danny, nobody can figure out that she’s traumatized because there was an earthquake and Danny was late getting home. The good: they show Stephanie visiting a child psychiatrist, which probably was a great way to normalize that for kids in the 80s. The bad: nobody seems to realize that after losing her mom at a young age, Steph’s maybe going to react poorly when she thinks her dad is in danger.
Also there are kind of a lot of car wreck/ totaled car plots in this show. Keep reading.
Episode 20 – Honey, I Broke the House
Joey gets a brand new car (it’s from 1963) and becomes a hardcore motorhead. Like there was a small nick on it and he went to get touch-up paint to fix it. Unfortunately for him, he was in for quite a nightmare when Stephanie gets behind the driver’s seat when he’s not around and mistakes the ‘R’ on the stick (lever?) for ‘Radio’, and the car goes at a faster speed than it should in reverse (?) and straight into the house. She panics and says she’s leaving for Mexico, obviously, but ends up at Becky’s house. And in one of the most memorable shots from the series, Steph hides from Uncle Jesse by putting herself in a long coat hanging from the door. The reveal of Jesse face to face with Steph is such a classic sitcom move that warms my heart.
Episode 24 – Our Very First Telethon
Danny and Becky are hosting the We Love Our Children telethon, because the organizer of this fundraiser was too lazy to come up with a creative title for the event. Danny makes his kids participate in this 24-hour telethon, and while we get a glimpse of Steph’s dance skills, we also get a glimpse of Deej’s singing AND grocery shopping talents with a song called Lollipops & Gummibears. Is this a real song? Or something especially crafted for two wholesome kids to sing on a family sitcom in 1990? Also, it’s worth noting this ep suggests there is more than one telethon but, guess what we don’t see for the next five seasons? Another telethon.
Episode 1 – Greek Week
The Tanners’ Greek relatives visit: Jesse’s grandparents, their great-granddaughter Melina (Olsen twin stunt casting), and some random woman and child who happen to be Jesse and D.J.’s ages. D.J. walks around the table with the Greek boy, then learns that that means that she’s married to him. It’s one of those 90s sitcom moments where they act like countries other than the U.S. are stuck somewhere in the mid-1800s. Luckily, Deej gets a quickie divorce (read: walks backwards around the table.) OPA!
Episode 8 – Shape Up
Kimmy is having a pool party, and since Deej is a 13-year-old Cathy comic she is terrified about showing up in her bathing suit. D.J. grows one of those sitcom-induced 24-hour eating disorders. Things I still remember about this episode after 25 years: Michelle getting to go to that cool kiddie gym in a gymboree-style aerobics outfit; Deej snacking on ice cubes; Michelle cramming wedding cake samples into her mouth like a feral child; D.J. telling Comet that dogs don’t have to wear bathing suits, which is true but that’s because they’re always naked instead; Stephanie blowing a piece of gum out of a recorder in a particularly weak B-story. This episode aired during the interlude between Karen Carpenter and Tracey Gold when eating disorders were cured by a talk about how bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
Episode 7 – The Volunteer
D.J. makes an elderly friend who has Alzheimers, even though she’s in junior high, just because that seems like a pretty D.J. thing to do. She breaks her old friend Eddie out of the nursing home and he comes to the Tanner’s house, where he becomes confused and thinks that Deej is his daughter, Gloria. Eddie stays for dinner and is never heard from again. Meanwhile, Steph and Kimmy stage a dog show for all of the dogs in the neighborhood, which is probably why this episode stands out in my memory. So many dogs! Comet does not win, but he does fall in love with another dog (who is also never heard from again).
Episode 16 – Crushed
It’s Steph’s 10th birthday and her one wish is that pop star/teen heartthrob Tommy Page, who is a guest on Wake Up, San Francisco, comes to her party. BTW, Tommy Page is A) a real singer B) Still a real singer and continues to tour! Luckily, Danny’s one step ahead of Steph and surprises her by having him show up and sing a song specifically for her, making her think he likes her back. But then she sees Deej kissing him and the siblings are at war. But like, why is this pop star making out with a rando 15 year old at a 10 year old girl’s party???
Episode 14 – Birthday Blues
D.J. and Steve are celebrating their 6 month anniversary, which in high school terms is like their 50th anniversary. Deej is so into Steve that she forgets that it’s Kimmy’s Sweet 16. She throws a makeshift party, and – the only important thing in the episode – makes Kimmy a hash brown and ketchup cake. To this day, I use the hash brown cake as shorthand for forgetting to make plans for someones birthday and throwing together a crappy present or party. D.J. has a dad talk with Danny, then Kimmy has a dad talk with D.J., and everything’s fine.
Episodes 23 & 24 – The House Meets the Mouse, Parts 1 & 2
Season 6 is jam packed with great episodes, but the finale where the entire Tanner clan goes to Disney World has to be one of the most iconic in series’ history. A lot goes on in this ep, but in a nutshell, Jesse and the Rippers are hired to play at show at Disney World and it incidentally coincides with his and Becky’s anniversary, so they decide to go together. But then, because it’s Full House and they are all attached to the hip, the entire extended fam goes. Michelle wins Princess for the Day and Steph is jealous. Danny keeps trying to propose to Vicky. Joey, yet again gets the short end of the stick and is alone visiting the Disney animation studios because ABC/Disney need to have synergy on their programs, and Deej misses Steve so much she hallucinates that he’s basically every Disney character. Including Aladdin, which is weirdly meta since Scott Weinger actually did voice Aladdin IRL. This is such a memorable episode in FH history that even to this day, when I go on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, I think Steve’s going to pop out and surprise me.
Episode 5 – Fast Friends
Steph is now in sixth grade with not a lot of friends due to redistricting ala FNL, and she wants to make ‘Fast Friends’. So naturally, she falls into the trope of a group of bad girls, led by Gia aka Marla Sokoloff, who is 2 cool 4 skool, and proves it by smoking in the bathroom. For me, it’s difficult to make fun of this since I understand it’s like a life lesson they want to teach kids watching the show, because now I’m seeing it through the lens of an adult.
Episode 9 The Day of the Rhino
When Michelle and her rag-tag gang of moppets receive paltry little action figures when they were ordering a giant rhino doll, they learn a thing or two about advertising and another thing or two about civic resistance. The kiddos go to Rigby the Rhino’s mall performance and chant “Rigby Is A Ripoff!” Rigby makes it all right by tracking down Michelle at her home, giving her a stuffed toy, and offering replacements to all of the kids who got the ripoff Rigbys.
Next time you read a think piece about how millennials are at once entitled, but also principled and engaged, think of this episode: we’ve been like this since we were 7.
Episode 17 The Last Dance
Papouli, the Tanners’ great-grandfather who the kids have only met one other time, visits and dies. Michelle is devastated because he was supposed to teach Greek dance to her class, but eventually she gathers her resolve and does it herself. As a child I was kind of like, sure it’s sad, but wasn’t Papouli a stranger, more or less? But now that we’re watching through our adult lens, this episode was a good way to introduce the death of a family member in a way that kids could relate to, but that wasn’t as traumatic as, like, killing Joey.
Episode 3 – Making Out Is Hard To Do
In a weird parallel universe, Barry Williams, aka Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch, is playing himself and replaces Jesse as the frontman of Jesse and the Rippers. Naturally, Jesse gets a bit jeal, because who wouldn’t be if a ’70s TV star took over your job? Also this is the episode where Steph goes to a make out party (hence the title). When I was watching this, I thought this was a real thing teens did. I showed up to boy/girl parties and was greatly disappointed. Or was I just not invited to the ‘cool’ parties?
Episode 11 – Arrest Ye Merry Gentlemen
In the show’s final Christmas episode, Michelle decides she needs to exchange the plastic tie with cup holders on it for a legit present for her dad, and she and Jesse go to the novelty store where she got them from. But the owner, played by Mickey Rooney, is a curmudgeonly old man who refuses to exchange the gift and comes to the conclusion Jess and Michelle are thieves, so he locks them in his store. Otherwise known as holding them hostage. But it’s ok because he’s Mickey Rooney and it turns out he’s just misplacing his anger because he hasn’t seen his daughter and family in years. Jesse and Michelle invite him to have Christmas dinner with the Tanners, and Mickey Rooney dresses up like Santa. The casting of Mickey Rooney was really a coup, since he was is in high demand for TGIF shows in the 90s. JK what was he even doing there.