The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American sitcom television series created by Andy and Susan Borowitz that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990, to May 20, 1996. The series stars Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy uncle and aunt in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight in his hometown. However, his lifestyle often clashes with the lifestyle of his upper-class relatives. It ran for 148 episodes over six seasons.


The theme song and opening sequence set the premise of the show. Will Smith is a street-smart teenager, West Philadelphia "born and raised". While playing street basketball, Will misses a shot and the ball hits a group of gang members, causing a confrontation that frightens his mother, who sends him to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in the opulent neighborhood of Bel Air, Los Angeles.
Will's working class background ends up clashing in various humorous ways with the upper class world of the Banks family – Will's uncle Phil and aunt Vivian and their children, Will's cousins: spoiled Hilary, entitled Carlton, and impressionable Ashley.
The premise is loosely based on the real-life story of the show's producer Benny Medina.

Cast and characters





In 1990, music manager Benny Medina, along with his business partner, real estate mogul Jeff Pollack, decided to market a TV story based on Medina's life. Medina had grown up poor in East Los Angeles but his life changed when he befriended a rich white teenager, whose family lived in Beverly Hills and allowed Medina to live with them. Medina decided to use this part of his life as the main focus of the show. However, given that by then a black character living with a white family was a concept that had been done multiple times on TV, Medina decided to change the rich white family to a rich black family. "That way we could explore black-on-black prejudice as well as black class differences", Medina said in an interview for Ebony magazine.
Medina pitched the idea to Quincy Jones, who had just signed a TV deal with Time-Warner. Jones was impressed by the idea and arranged a meeting with NBC chief Brandon Tartikoff. Will Smith was well known by then as his music career as The Fresh Prince had put him on the mainstream radar, but he had come into debt after failing to pay taxes. At the suggestion of his then-girlfriend, Smith went to a taping of The Arsenio Hall Show where he met Medina by chance. Medina pitched the idea to Smith, but Smith was reluctant, having never acted before. Medina invited Smith to meet Jones at a party that Jones was throwing at his house in December 1989. There, Jones handed Smith a script for a failed Morris Day pilot that he had produced and challenged Smith to audition for Tartikoff on the spot. Smith did so, and the first contract for the show was drawn up that night in a limo outside. Three months later, the pilot was shot.
The pilot episode began taping on May 1, 1990. Season 1 first aired in September 1990, and ended in May 1991. The series finale was taped on Thursday, March 21, 1996, and aired on Monday, May 20, 1996.
The theme song "Yo Home to Bel Air" was written and performed by Smith under his stage name, The Fresh Prince. The music was composed by Quincy Jones, who is credited with Smith at the end of each episode. The music often used to bridge scenes together during the show is based on a similar chord structure.

Crossovers and other appearances

During the fall 1991–1992 season, NBC gained two hit television shows to anchor their Monday night lineup. To gain popularity between the two shows, Will Smith appeared in the Blossom episode "I'm with the Band" as himself under his rap stage name, The Fresh Prince. That same season, Karyn Parsons appeared in the Blossom episode "Wake Up Little Suzy" as Hilary Banks. Parsons also appeared in the Patti LaBelle sitcom Out All Night as Hilary.
In the House and Fresh Prince were both executive-produced by Winifred Hervey, David Salzman and Quincy Jones. During the second season's first episode, Alfonso Ribeiro and Tatyana Ali appeared as their Fresh Prince characters in the crossover episode "Dog Catchers". Later that season, James Avery appeared as a mediator in the episode "Love on a One-Way Street".
In the Season 4 episode "My Pest Friend's Wedding", James Avery and Daphne Maxwell Reid guest starred as Dr. Maxwell Stanton's parents. Both Avery and Reid portrayed the parents of Ribeiro's Fresh Prince character. Joseph Marcell, who played the wisecracking Geoffrey Butler on Fresh Prince, appeared as an officiating minister in the same episode.

Celebrity guests

The show is notable for having a heavy celebrity guest presence with more than 40 celebrities guest starring throughout the series. Seasons 1 and 6 had the highest celebrity participation with over 10 guest stars each.
Richard RoundtreeSeason 1, Episode 3Dr Mumford, father of Will's love interest. Also played Rev. Sims in Season 6.
Don CheadleSeason 1, Episode 5Ice Tray, Will's best friend from Philly.
Bo JacksonSeason 1, Episode 9Himself.
Heavy DSeason 1, Episode 9Himself.
Quincy JonesSeason 1, Episode 9Himself.
Al B. SureSeason 1, Episode 9Himself.
Kadeem HardisonSeason 1, Episode 9Himself.
Naomi CampbellSeason 1, Episode 10Helen, Geoffrey's date.
Isiah ThomasSeason 1, Episode 11Himself.
Evander HolyfieldSeason 1, Episode 15Himself.
Vivica A. FoxSeason 1, Episode 19Janet, Jeff's sister and Will's date.
Jasmine GuySeason 1, Episode 21Kayla Samuels, Will's girlfriend.
Tevin CampbellSeason 1, Episode 24Little T, Teen idol.
Queen LatifahSeason 1, Episode 25Marissa Redman, Hilary's Boss. Also played "Dee Dee" in season 2.
Malcolm-Jamal WarnerSeason 2, Episode 9Eric, Hilary's love interest.
Zsa Zsa GaborSeason 2, Episode 10Sonya Lamor, Uncle Phill's celebrity client.
Bell Biv DeVoeSeason 2, Episode 11Themselves.
Brandon QuintinSeason 2, Episode 12Bryan, Ashley's friend. He returns as Bryan in season 4.
Allen PayneSeason 2, Episode 15Marcus, Will's basketball rival.
Milton BerleSeason 2, Episode 18Max Lakey, Will's hospital roommate.
Riddick BoweSeason 3, Episode 3Himself.
Sherman HemsleySeason 3, Episode 6Judge Carl, Uncle Phill's rival.
Oprah WinfreySeason 3, Episode 9Herself.
Vanessa WilliamsSeason 3, Episode 11Danny Mitchell, Will's idol.
Naya RiveraSeason 3, Episode 16Cindy
Kim FieldsSeason 3, Episode 17Monique, Will's girlfriend.
Tom JonesSeason 3, Episode 18Himself.
DL HughleySeason 3, Episode 22Keith Campbell, Will's comedian friend from Philly.
Michael RapaportSeason 4, Episode 1Mike
Hugh HefnerSeason 4, Episode 9Himself.
Robin QuiversSeason 4, Episode 12Judith, one of the ghosts playing cards.
Boyz II MenSeason 4, Episode 13Themselves.
Branford MarsalisSeason 4, Episode 14Himself. Also plays "Duane" a repair man in the same season.
Stacey DashSeason 4, Episode 17Michelle Michaels, a famous singer/celebrity.
Robert GuillaumeSeason 4, Episode 19Pete Fletcher, Will's boss.
Ben VereenSeason 4, Episode 24Lou Smith, Will's father.
Donald TrumpSeason 4, Episode 25Himself.
Marla MaplesSeason 4, Episode 25Herself.
Dick ClarkSeason 4, Episode 26Himself.
Quincy JonesSeason 5, Episode 1Himself.
Brad GarrettSeason 5, Episode 5John "Fingers" O'Neill
Kareem Abdul JabbarSeason 5, Episode 6Himself.
Don CorneliusSeason 5, Episode 8Himself.
Ken Griffey Jr.Season 5, Episode 9Himself.
Jay LenoSeason 5, Episode 10Himself.
Isaac HayesSeason 5, Episode 18The Minister, who happens to be an Isaac Hayes impersonator, assigned to officiate Will's express wedding.
Robin GivensSeason 5, Episode 23Denise, Will's love interest.
Chris RockSeason 6, Episode 2Maurice, a famous actor. Also plays Maurice's sister in the same episode.
B. B. KingSeason 6, Episode 4Pappy, the bar's blues player.
Jaleel WhiteSeason 6, Episode 7Derek, Ashley's boyfriend.
Wayne NewtonSeason 6, Episode 8Himself.
Regis PhilbinSeason 6, Episode 21Himself.
William ShatnerSeason 6, Episode 22Himself.
Conrad BainSeason 6, Episode 24Phillip Drummond, open house attendee.
Gary ColemanSeason 6, Episode 24Arnold Jackson-Drummond, open house attendee.
Marla GibbsSeason 6, Episode 24Florence Johnston, open house attendee.
Sherman HemsleySeason 6, Episode 24George Jefferson, open house attendee.
Isabel SanfordSeason 6, Episode 24Louise Jefferson, open house attendee.


The series was produced by NBC Productions in association with the Stuffed Dog Company and Quincy Jones Entertainment. After the show was released to syndication in 1994, the series was distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, which continues to distribute the show worldwide.
Currently, the series airs reruns on MTV2, BET, and VH1, while previously airing reruns on WGN America, TBS, Nick at Nite, TeenNick, Disney XD, ABC Family, Centric, MTV, and CMT.
The series developed significant popularity in the United Kingdom, where it aired on BBC Two between 1991 and 1996 with reruns airing on the network between 1996 and 2004, and was shown alongside The Simpsons and was later repeated on Trouble, Bravo, Channel One, Living, Sky Living Loves, Viva, MTV, Nickelodeon and currently Comedy Central, Comedy Central Extra, and 5Star.
The series became available to stream on HBO Max on May 27, 2020.

Home media

has released the complete series, seasons 1 to 6, on DVD in Region 1. Seasons 1 to 4 have been released in Regions 2 and 4. Seasons 5 to 6 have been released in Region 2 in Germany, and in the complete series boxset in the United Kingdom.

Awards and nominations

Possible reboot

On August 13, 2015, it was reported that a reboot of the show was in development by Overbrook Entertainment, with Will Smith serving as a producer. In August 2016, during a promotional interview with the E! television network for his then upcoming film Suicide Squad, Smith denied that a reboot was in development, saying that it would happen "...pretty close to when Hell freezes over."
In 2019 a mock trailer titled Bel-Air was uploaded on YouTube, written and directed by Morgan Cooper, for a darker, more dramatic re-imagining of the sitcom. Will Smith subsequently heavily praised the fan film, commenting that "Morgan did a ridiculous trailer for Bel-Air. Brilliant idea, the dramatic version of The Fresh Prince for the next generation." expressing interest in expanding the idea beyond the short film into a full Bel-Air reboot series.

Possible spinoff

On October 10, 2019, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Westbrook Inc., a cross-platform company overseen by Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, was developing a spinoff of the series.