ABC Afterschool Special

ABC Afterschool Special is an American television anthology series that aired on ABC from October 14, 1972, to July 1, 1997, usually in the late afternoon on weekdays. Most episodes were dramatically presented situations, often controversial, of interest to children and teenagers.[1] Several episodes were either in animated form or presented as documentaries. Topics included illiteracy, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. The series won 51 Daytime Emmy Awards during its 25-year run.[2]

ABC Afterschool Special
Title card, 1973.
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons25
No. of episodes154
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time60 minutes
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor
Original releaseOctober 14, 1972 (1972-10-14) 
July 1, 1997 (1997-07-01)

In 2004 and 2005, BCI Eclipse and Sunset Home Visual Entertainment issued six DVD collections of episodes from the series that had been produced by Martin Tahse, each collection containing four episodes. A boxed set, in the shape of a school bus, was also released containing all of the DVD releases, with a detailed information booklet of all the specials on the set and including an extra DVD of two specials that had previously not been released on DVD.

List of specials

Season One (1972–73)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Last of the CurlewsAnimated special about a father and son who go hunting, and debate whether or not to kill an Eskimo curlew, which may become [and may now be] extinct.October 4, 1972 [3]
Follow the North StarA young boy helps his friend escape slavery through the Underground Railroad.November 1, 1972
Santiago's ArkAn imaginative, determined 14-year-old Puerto Rican boy builds a boat in which to sail around Central Park. Co-starring Bill Duke and René Enríquez. Followed in 1975 by the sequel Santiago's America.December 6, 1972
William: The Life, Works, and Times of William ShakespeareSpecial introducing William Shakespeare to young people through sketches, readings and music.January 3, 1973
The Incredible, Indelible, Magical Physical, Mystery TripAnimated special about two youngsters who are miniaturized and travel through their uncle's body to understand more about his health. Features the first appearance of Timer, a character later featured in ABC's Time for Timer shorts.February 7, 1973
AlexanderThe story of a retired clown and his undying love for children. Starring Red Buttons, Robbie Rist and Jodie Foster.April 4, 1973

Season Two (1973–74)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Rookie of the Year11-year-old Sharon Lee (Jodie Foster) encounters opposition when she joins her brother's Little League baseball team, which happens to be all male. (1972 was when girls were first allowed on Little League teams.) Co-starring Steve Gustafson; based on Isabella Taves's book Not Bad For a Girl.October 3, 1973
My Dad Lives in a Downtown HotelJoseph Grant, Jr. (Ike Eisenmann) is shocked when his parents announce their decision to separate. Beau Bridges portrays Joe, Sr.November 28, 1973
Psst! Hammerman's After You!A sixth-grader has a run-in with the class bully, who then wants to meet with him after school. Starring Lance Kerwin and Willie Aames; based on Betsy Byars's novel.January 16, 1974
CyranoLong-nosed Cyrano de Bergerac helps an army officer woo Roxanne (voice of Joan Van Ark), the woman Cyrano himself loves, in this animated version of Edmond Rostand's play.March 6, 1974
The RunawaysLive-action;A small-town teenage girl teams up with a younger but wiser boy for survival. Co-starring Moosie Drier; written by Clyde Ware.March 27, 1974
The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's HeadTimer shrinks down two youngsters and shows them around their teenage sister's head, to discover how the mind works.May 15, 1974
The Crazy Comedy ConcertLive action/animation special geared to educate young people about classical music. Starring Tim Conway and Ruth Buzzi.June 5, 1974

Season Three (1974–75)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Sara's Summer of the SwansTeenage Sara (Heather Totten) must confront the problems regarding her mentally-challenged brother. Co-starring Chris Knight and Eve Plumb; based on Betsy Byars's novel.October 2, 1974
The Bridge of Adam Rush12-year-old Adam (Lance Kerwin) adjusts to a new way of life when his mother remarries and moves their whole family to the country.October 23, 1974
Winning and Losing: Diary of a CampaignThe 1974 Senate race is seen through the eyes of two teenage girls, each a campaign volunteer for George McGovern (Democrat) and Leo K. Thorsness (Republican).November 6, 1974
The Toothpaste MillionaireAspiring 12-year-old entrepreneur Rufus (Tierre Turner) decides to create and sell his own brand of toothpaste. Co-starring Wright King; based on Jean Merrill's book of the same title.November 27, 1974
The Skating RinkA teenager with a stuttering problem overcomes his shyness to become a championship figure skater. Based on Mildred Lee's novel; co-starring Cindy Eilbacher and Rance Howard.February 5, 1975
Santiago's AmericaA Puerto Rican boy is invited to a prestigious conference in Los Angeles. With no money, he re-builds a broken taxi to get there. Bill Duke and René Enríquez reprise their roles.February 19, 1975
The Secret Life of T.K. Dearing12-year-old T.K. (Jodie Foster) invites her grandfather to join a "secret" club. Co-starring Tierre Turner; based on Jean Robinson's book.April 23, 1975

Season Four (1975–76)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
It Must Be Love ('Cause I Feel So Dumb!)A 13-year-old boy has a crush on a cheerleader at his school and dreams up creative ways to try to impress her. Starring Alfred Lutter.October 8, 1975
Fawn StorySiblings Jenna, Toby, and Louisa McPhail (Kristy McNichol, Poindexter Yothers, and Karen Obediear) discover a wounded deer and nurse it back to health. Co-starring Gordon Jump; Yothers is the brother of Corey and Tina.October 22, 1975
The Shaman's Last RaidDespite his failing health, a Native American medicine man is determined to teach his great-grandchildren the traditions of the Apache nation. Based on Betty Baker's novel; starring Dehl Berti.November 19, 1975
The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy MoonTired of ridicule, undersized sixth-grader Duffy (Ike Eisenmann) buys a mysterious book which enables him to "Think Big"—literally. Based on Jean Robinson's book. Co-starring Lance Kerwin, Jim Backus, and Jerry Van Dyke.February 4, 1976
Me and Dad's New Wife12-year-old Nina Beckwith (Kristy McNichol) deals with her new stepmother. Co-starring Lance Kerwin, Melendy Britt, Leif Garrett, and Jimmy McNichol. Based on Stella Pevsner's novel, "A Smart Kid Like You".February 18, 1976
Blind SundayIn order to better understand his blind girlfriend, teenage Jeff (Leigh McCloskey) spends an entire day blindfolded. Co-starring Robert Ridgely (as Jeff's dad), Cindy Eilbacher, and Corbin Bernsen.April 21, 1976
Dear Lovey Hart: I Am DesperateTeenage Carrie Wasserman (Susan Lawrence) takes up writing an advice column for her school newspaper. Based on Ellen Conford's novel. Co-starring Al Eisenmann as Carrie's brother Jeff.May 19, 1976

Season Five (1976–77)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Francesca, BabyIn this adaptation of Joan Oppenheimer's novel, teenager Francesca James (Carol Jones) deals with her alcoholic mother Lillian (Melendy Britt) by joining the support group Alateen. Co-starring Jody Britt (Melendy's real-life daughter).October 6, 1976
P.J. and the President's SonUpdate of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. A delivery boy and the President's son (Lance Kerwin in a dual role) meet, see that they are exact doubles, and decide to swap identities for mutual amusement. Co-starring Harry Kerwin and Rosalind Chao.November 10, 1976
Mighty Moose and the Quarterback KidA football coach (Dave Madden) tries to mediate a conflict between his star quarterback (Brandon Cruz) and the boy's father (Joseph Mascolo). Co-starring Alex Karras .December 1, 1976
My Mom's Having a BabyA curious 10-year-old big-brother-to-be seeks answers as to where babies come from.February 16, 1977
The Horrible HonchosThe neighborhood youth gang makes a pact to bully and torment the new kid on their 17th Street turf. Based on Emily Cheney Neville's novel The 17th Street Gang. Starring Kim Richards.March 9, 1977
Very Good FriendsSensitive Kate (Melissa Sue Anderson) gradually comes to terms with the accidental death of her younger sister in this adaptation of Constance Green's novel.April 6, 1977

Season Six (1977–78)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Hewitt's Just DifferentA mentally-challenged 16-year-old attempts to make friends with his neighborhood peers. Starring Moosie Drier, Russell Johnson, and Tom Gulager.October 12, 1977
The PinballsIn this adaptation of Betsy Byars's novel, three orphans (one portrayed by Kristy McNichol) from different backgrounds find themselves living with the same foster parents, while all three wait to be adopted.October 26, 1977
Michel's Mixed-Up Musical BirdLive-Action/animation special featuring Michel Legrand in a true story about the bird that inspired him while studying at the Paris Conservatory of Music.February 1, 1978
It Isn't Easy Being a Teenage MillionaireWhen 14-year-old Melissa Harrington (Victoria Paige Meyerink) wins the lottery, she thinks she'll never need to worry about money—or anything else—again. Unfortunately, fate has other plans.March 1, 1978
The Rag Tag ChampsA 14-year-old baseball player and his manager-uncle are at odds over their different interpretations of the philosophy "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing". Starring Larry B. Scott.March 22, 1978
Mom and Dad Can't Hear MeTeenage Charlie Meredith (Rosanna Arquette) is used to acting as the ears of her deaf parents, but she's ashamed when she introduces her peers to them; because of their reactions, the elder Merediths come off as being out-of-touch.April 5, 1978
It's a Mile From Here To GloryAfter a high school track star is crippled by a near-fatal accident, he must learn to depend on others for day-to-day living. Anthony Kiedis has a role as Jimmy. Based on Robert C. Lee's novel.May 5, 1978

Season Seven (1978–79)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
One of a KindA free-spirited woman realizes her daughter is no longer a child and experiments with giving her more independence. However, the girl is puzzled by this sudden lack of attention and feels like her mom is pushing her away.September 27, 1978
A Home Run For LoveIn 1947, a young white boy and an elderly black man enjoy a warm and wonderful friendship based on their mutual love of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and of Jackie Robinson in particular. Co-starring Anne Ramsey and Edie McClurg; based on Barbara Cohen's novel.October 11, 1978
GauchoA young New York boy knows his mother misses her Puerto Rican homeland. Accordingly, he becomes an errand boy for a small-time hood, in order to earn enough money that she can move back to the Caribbean. Based on Gloria Gonzalez's novel; co-starring Danny De La Paz.October 25, 1978
Dinky HockerOverweight teenager Susan "Dinky" Hocker (Wendie Jo Sperber) is obsessed with food and cannot stop eating. Finally she turns to a friend who helps her change her eating habits. Co-starring June Lockhart and Alan Oppenheimer as Dinky's parents; based on the novel by M. E. Kerr.December 12, 1978 [3]
Make Believe MarriageHigh school students take a marriage course where they are coupled up and must complete assorted everyday tasks that go with married life. Co-starring Janina Mathews of The Electric Company fame.February 14, 1979
The Terrible SecretAfter teenage Bobbie Marston commits a hit and run, guilt takes its toll on her everyday life. Co-starring Michael Biehn.March 5, 1979
Seven Wishes of a Rich KidWealthy-but-lonely Calvin Brundage (Robbie Rist) is granted seven wishes by a genie. Calvin uses them in an effort to impress Melanie Gamble (Cynthia Nixon), the most popular girl in his school. But things don't work out the way he anticipated. Co-starring Christopher Hewett and Butterfly McQueen.May 9, 1979

Season-eight (1979–80)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Which Mother Is Mine?Arthur Allan Seidelman directed this adaptation of Joan Oppenheimer's novel My Other Mother. 16-year-old Alexandria (Melissa Sue Anderson) is stunned when her biological mother arrives to take her away from her adoptive parents. Co-starring Marion Ross and Woody Eney.September 26, 1979
A Movie Star's DaughterWhen shy teenager Dena (Trini Alvarado) enrolls in a new school, she doesn't make friends easily until they discover that her father is famous actor Hal McKain (Frank Converse). Overnight, she becomes the most popular student in school—but this brings its own problems.October 10, 1979
A Special GiftArthur Allan Seidelman directed this adaptation of Marcia L. Simon's novel. Needing a new challenge, a 14-year-old basketball star takes up ballet. Then he worries about what friends and family will think of his decision. Co-starring real-life brothers Al and Ike Eisenmann.October 24, 1979
The Late Great Me! Story of a Teenage AlcoholicA 15-year-old girl takes up drinking to impress a boy; instead, she soon develops a serious problem. Based on Sandra Scoppettone's novel The Late Great Me.November 14, 1979
The Heartbreak Winner: One Girl's Struggle For Olympic GoldBruce Malmuth directed this adaptation of Michael Bonadies's novel The Gold Test. Ambitious teenage figure skater Maggie MacDonald (Melissa Sherman) learns what champions are truly made of when she meets a paraplegic youngster.February 13, 1980
Where Do Teenagers Come From?12-year-old girl wonders about all of the changes happening to her body. Sequel to My Mom's Having a Baby.March 5, 1980
What Are Friends For?Two inseparable 12-year-old girls (Melora Hardin, Dana Hill), each one the daughter of a separate divorcing couple, are determined to keep their friendship alive despite the odds. Stephen Gyllenhaal directed this adaptation of Mildred Ames's novel.March 19, 1980

Season Nine (1980–81)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
A Family of StrangersA widower (Danny Aiello) with two daughters marries a widow with one daughter, creating a stepfamily.September 24, 1980
Schoolboy FatherWhen high school senior Charles Elderberry (Rob Lowe) discovers that his summer girlfriend has given birth to his child, he decides to fight for custody. Co-starring Dana Plato, Sharon Spelman, and Nancy McKeon.October 15, 1980
The GymnastHolly Gagnier stars as 16-year-old Ginny Coker, who's determined to become a world-class athlete.October 28, 1980
StonedJack (Scott Baio) is a motivated high schooler until he experiments with marijuana and falls in with a fast crowd; soon he's dabbling in harder drugs, such as LSD, quaaludes, and cocaine. Will he wise up before it's too late? Co-starring Largo Woodruff (The Funhouse, Coward of the County) and Anthony C. Sena.November 12, 1980
A Matter of TimeTeenager Lisl Gilbert (Karlene Crockett) must find the inner strength to deal with her mother Jean's (Rosemary Forsyth) impending death from cancer. Co-starring Rob Lowe.February 11, 1981
Run, Don't WalkA teenage girl does not know how to deal with being in a wheelchair, after an accident leaves her paralyzed. Then she befriends a boy in the same situation, and the future suddenly looks brighter for both of them. Starring Toni Kalem, Scott Baio, Dee Wallace, and Hal Williams.March 4, 1981
My Mother Was Never a KidA teenage girl is convinced that her mother does not understand the younger generation. Mysteriously, she is sent back in time and meets her mother as a teenager. Based on the novel by Francine Pascal.March 18, 1981

Season Ten (1981–82)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
She Drinks a Little16-year-old Cindy Scott (Amanda Wyss) and her younger brother Brett gradually wise up to their single mother Miriam's (Bonnie Bartlett) drinking problem. Cindy wonders if she should join Alateen for help. Arthur Allan Seidelman directed this adaptation of Anne Snyder's novel First Step.September 23, 1981
StarstruckAn aspiring teen folk singer (Trini Alvarado) is torn whether to continue her singing or to accept an educational scholarship. Co-starring Lee Curreri.October 14, 1981
Tough GirlA streetwise teenager from inner-city Los Angeles (Karin Argoud) is sent to live in the suburbs with her father's new family. Based on Barbara Morgenroth's novel Will the Real Renie Lake Please Stand Up?. Laurence Lau also appears.October 28, 1981
The Color of FriendshipTwo teenagers, one black and one white, hit it off. Starring James Bond III, Chris Barnes, Cleavon Little, and Kadeem Hardison.November 11, 1981
The Unforgivable SecretAmanda Plummer portrays a 15-year-old who's stunned to discover that her "deceased" father is very much alive, and that's just the beginning of the story. Co-starring Barbara Feldon and Danny Aiello; based on Hila Colman's novel Tell Me No Lies.February 10, 1982
Daddy, I'm Their Mama NowA 12-year-old girl assumes responsibility for her two younger brothers (one of them portrayed by Jason Hervey), after their mom passes away. Based on Betsy Byars's novel The Night Swimmers.March 3, 1982
Sometimes I Don't Love My MotherAfter her father's death, teenager Dallas Davis (Melinda Culea) struggles with her mother Ellen's (Patricia Elliott) total dependency on her.April 7, 1982

Season Eleven (1982–83)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Amy & the AngelDepressed 17-year-old high-schooler Amy Watson (Helen Slater) is visited by aspiring guardian angel Oliver after wishing she had never been born. As with George Bailey and Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life, Oliver shows Amy how important she is to the people in her life, particularly her divorced mom, her paternal grandfather (David Huddleston), and her best friend (who's a lot more troubled than Amy realizes). The twist is that Oliver himself committed suicide and, as a punishment, was forced to roam the world for years afterward, witnessing the repercussions of his action. Now senior angel Gabriel (James Earl Jones) is giving Oliver a chance to redeem himself by making sure Amy doesn't make Oliver's mistake. Also starring Matthew Modine and Meg Ryan.September 22, 1982
Between Two LovesTeen violinist is torn between her musical career and her boyfriend. Co-starring Robert Reed.October 27, 1982
A Very Delicate MatterTeenage girl is shocked when a former boyfriend tells her he has gonorrhea. Not only does she get tested, she must tell her current boyfriend to get tested as well. Co-starring Zach Galligan.November 10, 1982
Please Don't Hit Me, MomTeenager Nancy Parks (Nancy McKeon) stumbles upon a case of child abuse. It turns out her new boyfriend's (Lance Guest) younger brother is regularly beaten and emotionally abused by their overworked mom (Patty Duke, whose real-life son Sean Astin portrays the victimized little boy).January 19, 1983
The Woman Who Willed a MiracleA blind, developmentally disabled infant with cerebral palsy is left in the care of an elderly English woman who refuses to let him die. Starring Cloris Leachman, M. Emmet Walsh, James Noble, and Kirk Cameron.February 9, 1983[3]
Have You Ever Been Ashamed of Your Parents?Kari Michaelsen and Jennifer Jason Leigh star as two teenagers—one rich, the other middle-class—who become best friends over the summer. Co-starring Marion Ross and Julie Piekarski.March 16, 1983
But It's Not My FaultBilly Warlock portrays 16-year-old Craig Foster, whose efforts to prove himself to his peers land him in juvenile hall. Co-starring Al White.March 22, 1983
The WaveHigh school teacher decides to conduct a social experiment, asking his students to take part. What they don't know is that the experiment is on mind control. (Previously broadcast on ABC in October 1981 as a standalone special.)March 30, 1983[3]

Season Twelve (1983–84)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
It's No Crush, I'm in LoveA high-school girl (Cynthia Nixon) has a crush on a soap-opera star and believes she's in love with him. At school, her new English teacher (Mark LaMura) closely resembles the soap star.September 21, 1983
The Hand-Me-Down KidTired of receiving hand-me-downs from her sister, an 11-year-old girl "secretly borrows" her bicycle, which then gets stolen. Tracey Gold and Cheryl Arutt portray the sisters; Terry O'Quinn plays their dad. Also starring Corey Parker and Martha Plimpton; based on the Francine Pascal novel.October 19, 1983
The Celebrity and the Arcade KidVideo-arcade whiz and teen movie star discover they are exact doubles and decide to switch identities. A modern version of Mark Twain's The Prince and The Pauper.November 19, 1983
Andrea's Story: A Hitchhiking TragedyTeenage Andrea Cranston (Michele Greene) is traumatized after surviving an assault by a stranger from whom she hitched a ride. Co-starring Moosie Drier, Carrie Snodgress (as Andrea's mom), Robert DoQui and Kirk Cameron. Based on Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea? by Gloria D. Miklowitz.December 7, 1983
The Great Love ExperimentTeenagers bait a timid girl to get her involved with various displays of affection. Starring Tracy Pollan, Pete Kowanko (Solarbabies, Date with an Angel), and Jennifer Grey.February 8, 1984
Backwards: The Riddle of DyslexiaReal-life brothers River and Leaf Phoenix star in this tale of a 13-year-old boy who has reading problems which his teachers attribute to laziness. It is ultimately discovered that he has dyslexia.March 7, 1984
The Hero Who Couldn't ReadA teacher discovers that one of his students, the school's star basketball player, is illiterate and makes it his mission to teach him to read. Starring Clarence Williams III; with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Dorn.April 18, 1984

Season Thirteen (1984–85)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Summer SwitchKen Kwapis directed this adaptation of Mary Rodgers's novel about a man who magically switches personalities with his son and the comical chaos that ensues.September 19, 1984
Out of StepAn aspiring teenage dancer gets the chance to try out for a dance troupe, but fear of failure might keep her from auditioning. Terry Donahoe stars as Lisa Williams.October 10, 1984
The Almost Royal FamilyA family inherits a house on a tiny island between Canada and the United States, outside the jurisdiction of either country. Sarah Jessica Parker stars.October 24, 1984
Mom's on StrikeAn overworked homemaker goes on strike to persuade her family to share household chores. Co-starring Yeardley Smith, George Gaynes, Jonathan Ward, and Sam McMurray.November 14, 1984
I Want to Go HomeTom Junior and Mary Sanders (Seth Green, Maddie Corman) go on the run with their divorced mom Louise (Lindsay Crouse), then realize that she is kidnapping them from their dad Tom Senior (John Getz).February 13, 1985
First the EggA group of high-school students take part in a parenting class where their first assignment is to 'parent' an egg. Starring Justine Bateman, Jimmy McNichol, Chris Hebert, and Helene Udy.March 6, 1985
One Too ManyActor Peter Horton directed this tale of four high-school friends (Lance Guest, Val Kilmer, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Mare Winningham) who find their lives changed forever when one of them drives drunk with devastating results. This special was originally shown in prime-time.[4]May 21, 1985[5]

Season Fourteen (1985–86)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
No Greater GiftAnson Williams co-wrote and directed this tale of two terminally ill boys who hit it off in a hospital ward. One makes the ultimate sacrifice to give the other a fighting chance at life. Co-starring Betty Thomas and Jeff Cohen.September 11, 1985
Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy TaleActress Lee Grant directed this contemporary remake of Cinderella aimed at preteens. Starring Pearl Bailey, Kyra Sedgwick (in the title role), Jennifer Grey, Kelly Wolf, Grant Show, Melanie Mayron, Stephen Keep Mills, and Sylvia Miles.October 9, 1985
Don't TouchAfter a teenage babysitter discovers that her young charge is being molested by a family friend, harrowing memories of her own past molestation by her uncle resurface. Co-starring Blair Brown, Corey Parker, John Glover, Lisa Bonet and Danielle Carin; featuring real-life brothers Joey and Matthew Lawrence.November 6, 1985
High School NarcA 22-year-old police officer (Michael E. Knight) poses as a student to sniff out the drug supplier for an inner-city high school.December 4, 1985
Can a Guy Say No?A 17-year-old student learns how deceiving looks can be when he befriends the prettiest girl in school and discovers that her beauty compensates for unhappiness and low self-esteem...or does it? Starring Steve Antin, Heather Langenkamp, Christa Denton, Khrystyne Haje, and Beau Bridges.February 12, 1986
Are You My Mother?A teenage girl is stunned to discover that her supposedly-deceased mother is actually mentally ill and institutionalized. Co-starring Marian Mercer and Michael York.March 5, 1986
Getting Even: A Wimp's RevengeTired of being bullied at school, a boy starts drawing a master scientist. He begins to imagine what it would be like, as the scientist, standing up to the bullies at school. Directed by James Scott and starring Adolph Caesar.March 19, 1986

Season Fifteen (1986–87)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
A Desperate ExitWhen his best friend commits suicide, a stunned teenager is left with one unanswered question: Why? Based on Eve Bunting's novel Face at the Edge of the World; co-starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Rob Stone.September 19, 1986
Wanted: The Perfect GuySensing that his widowed mom Ellie (Madeline Kahn) is lonely and looking for companionship, 13-year-old Danny Coleman (Ben Affleck) places a personal ad for "The Perfect Guy". Co-starring Keith Szarabajka.October 1, 1986
Teen FatherActor Kevin Hooks directed this tale of a college-bound 18-year-old (Corey Parker) whose life is turned upside-down when his 16-year-old girlfriend announces that she is pregnant.October 22, 1986
The Gift of Amazing GraceA teenager (Tempestt Bledsoe) is frustrated about being the only member of her gospel-singing family who cannot carry a tune. When she writes a song about her problems, she discovers that she's got musical talent after all, just not where she or anybody else suspected. Co-starring Della Reese.November 19, 1986
Supermom's DaughterA career-driven woman opposes her daughter's future plans. Starring Barbara Bosson and Marisa Tomei.February 18, 1987
Divorced Kids' Blues15-year-old struggles through the politics of divorce as his parents split up. Written by Donald Margulies.March 4, 1987
Class Act: A Teacher's StoryA wealthy businessman returns to teaching after conquering the stock market. He inherits a class of underachievers and sets out to make them winners. Starring Ralph Garman.March 18, 1987
Read Between the LinesWhen an illiterate toy maker has the right to his invention stolen, his grandson and the Harlem Globetrotters team up to get them back.June 3, 1987

Season Sixteen (1987–88)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Just a Regular Kid: An AIDS StoryTeenager Kevin Casio (Christian Hoff) discovers he has been infected with AIDS by a blood transfusion. Co-starring Florence Henderson and Ronny Cox as Kevin's parents; featuring Lewis Arquette as one of his doctors.September 9, 1987
The Kid Who Wouldn't Quit: The Brad Silverman StoryTrue story about a teen with Down syndrome who begins attending college classes.September 23, 1987
The Day My Kid Went PunkTeenage musician Terry (Jay Underwood) hopes to distinguish himself from "the crowd", by becoming a punk rocker. Also starring Bernie Kopell, Albert Hague, and James Noble.October 23, 1987
Seasonal DifferencesA Christmas Nativity scene is displayed at a high school, where it sparks debate and protest from the student body; this leads to the separation of church and state being examined, formally, and in depth. Co-starring Megan Follows.December 2, 1987
Terrible Things My Mother Told MeHard-working 16-year-old Julia (Katherine Kamhi) does not realize that her mother Eleanor (Beth Howland), who alternately harasses and ignores Julia and dotes on lazy younger daughter Katie (Ita DeMarco), is being emotionally and verbally abusive. But when Julia gets the lead in a school play directed by popular Randy (Ian Ziering), she realizes she's every bit as worthy of Eleanor's support and encouragement as is her pampered sister.January 20, 1988
Daddy Can't ReadTeenager Alison Watson (Cheryl Arutt) does not understand why her father Bill (Edward Albert) opposes her campaign to promote literacy at his factory until she discovers that he cannot read. Co-starring Joey Travolta, Michael Jackson (as himself), gymnast Cathy Rigby, and Richard Roundtree.[6][7]March 16, 1988

Season Seventeen (1988–89)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Date RapeA teenage girl goes on a date with the most popular boy in her school—who rapes her. Co-starring John Savage, David Patrick Kelly, and Gabrielle Carteris.September 15, 1988
A Family AgainA family must come to grips with the sudden death of their eldest daughter (Sherilyn Fenn). With Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker; also featuring Judith Barsi, Rob Stone, Ricki Lake, Rhea Perlman, and Tonya Crowe. This special was originally shown in primetime under the name "ABC Family Theater",[8] and was dedicated to Judith Barsi.[9]October 15, 1988
Tattle: When to Tell on a FriendFour girls on their high-school swim team are inseparable until two of them experiment with cocaine and get hooked. Tammy Lauren portrays one of the addicts; also starring Katharine Ross and Allison Smith.October 27, 1988
Taking a StandAn entire neighborhood examines their feelings of racism after the home of a black family is vandalized by a neighbor. Co-starring Dan Lauria, Betty Buckley, and Michael Beach.January 19, 1989
Just Tipsy, HoneyTeenager Patty Adams (Ellie Cornell) is in total denial about her mother Carolyn's (Joanna Pettet) drinking problem, which is glaringly evident to everybody else.March 16, 1989
The CheatsThree girls steal the answers to their final exam. When the headmistress finds out, she gives those responsible one day to confess before she expels and/or prosecutes everybody with any connection—no matter how remote—to the theft/cover-up.March 30, 1989
Torn Between Two FathersActor Richard Masur directed this tale of a divorced couple's teenage daughter who wages a custody battle of her own: After her natural mother dies in an accident, she sues her biological father for the right to live with her disabled stepdad.April 20, 1989

Season-eighteen (1989–90)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
My Dad Can't Be Crazy...Can He?Actress Joanna Lee wrote and directed this tale of a teenager and his mom (Wil Wheaton, Loretta Swit) who make up their minds how to deal with a schizophrenic husband/father (Don Murray).September 14, 1989
Private AffairsTeenager Madeline (Kerri Green) discovers her father's affair with her mother's best friend. Will it tear her family apart? Co-starring Christopher Daniel Barnes, Michael Warren, Nancy Kulp, Lynne Thigpen, Wendy Brainard, and Christopher Collet.October 26, 1989
A Town's RevengeTeenager Eric Nelson (Keith Coogan) urges his town to farm without the use of pesticides, but many of these farmers are resistant to change.November 30, 1989
All That GlittersSeveral high school students (including Marc Price) learn about ethics versus seductive power when they start a cookie company as their class project. Co-starring William H. Macy.January 25, 1990
Over the LimitHigh-schooler Matt Thompson (Keith Coogan) must decide whether to come forward with the truth about a tragic drunk-driving accident. Co-starring Sam Rockwell.February 22, 1990
The Perfect DateA 16-year-old student is sure that his upcoming date with the school prom queen will be perfect. But the way the evening unfolds is far from perfect. Co-starring Will Smith, Art LaFleur, and Charles Hallahan.April 19, 1990

Season Nineteen (1990–91)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
A Question About SexTracey Gold portrays Shauna Kelly, a cheerleader who advocates sex education at her high school. As a result, she locks horns with her mother Joanne (Cindy Pickett) who aspires to a seat on the school board. Co-starring Tom Skerritt (who also directed), Kristin Dattilo, Renée Estevez, and Vince Vaughn.September 13, 1990
Testing DirtyHaving never used illegal drugs in his life, model teenager Will Hatch (Christopher Daniel Barnes)—a competitive swimmer who works as delivery boy for a medical clinic—is shocked when he tests positive for amphetamines (actually, it was medication for swimmer's ear). He's even more shocked when "speed" is found in his locker, which school security forcibly searches—in his absence—over the test results. Also shocked are his mom Linda (Alley Mills) and his girlfriend Carla (Lisa Dean Ryan), who believe in his innocence; and swim-team coach Stanley Daniels (Chris Rich) and Will's high-school principal (Art LaFleur), who do not. Stan is also Carla's father and Linda's fiancé; he even turns against his own daughter when she's expelled for refusing to take the same drug test as Will. Adam Sandler has a cameo as a pusher.October 18, 1990
Stood Up!After getting stood up for the prom a high-school girl sues her date.December 6, 1990
The Less-Than-Perfect DaughterA demanding woman and her daughter knock heads when the daughter (Robyn Lively), aspiring to be less reliant on her family, moves in with a troubled friend (Andrea Elson). Robyn's real-life father Ernie Lively portrays her character's dad. Co-starring Renee O'Connor.January 24, 1991
It's Only Rock & RollA teenage musician (Alison Bartlett) finds her song lyrics being scrutinized as too suggestive. Co-starring Davy Jones and Carole King.March 21, 1991

Season Twenty (1991–92)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
In the Shadow of Love: A Teen AIDS StoryTwo high-school journalists write a story about a teen HIV support group and are stunned by some of the stories they hear.September 18, 1991
Summer Stories: The Mall – Part 1Three-part series about high-school graduates contemplating their futures while working at the mall. In "First Impressions", a girl has mixed sentiments about meeting her birth mother for the first time.March 19, 1992
Summer Stories: The Mall – Part 2In "Second Chances", a girl struggles with mixed feelings about her widowed mother's upcoming remarriage.April 2, 1992
Summer Stories: The Mall – Part 3In "Temptations" the gang prepares to go their separate ways as summer winds down. Meanwhile, a recovering teenage alcoholic struggles to stay sober when an old drinking buddy shows up. Co-starring Todd Graff.April 16, 1992

Season Twenty-One (1992–93)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Surviving a Break-upOprah Winfrey moderates a panel of teens, celebrities and experts to discuss surviving the end of a relationship.October 1, 1992
Shades of a Single ProteinOprah Winfrey moderates a panel of teens discussing race relations in America.January 28, 1993
Learning Not to HurtRoz Abrams hosts a special report on youth violence and later moderates a panel discussion.March 18, 1993
GirlfriendTwo teenage girls, one black and one white, become friends while working on a mural to honor a black classmate killed by random gunfire.April 15, 1993

Season Twenty-Two (1993–94)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Love Hurts16-year-old Christie (Holly Shaw) turns to a support group when her boyfriend begins to physically abuse her.September 16, 1993
Montana CrossroadsJulia Morrow-Wheeler (Jacklyn Zeman) struggles with her daughter Samantha (Kellie Martin) wanting to leave the nest...and her father Frank's (Don Murray) reluctance to enter a retirement home. Co-starring Michael Cutt.December 9, 1993
I Hate the Way I LookOprah Winfrey moderates a panel of teens, celebrities and experts to discuss the obsession teens have with their appearance.March 21, 1994
Jacqui's DilemmaA pregnant 16-year-old girl examines her choices over what to do with her unborn baby amidst interviews with teens, parents, educators, counselors, social workers, and doctors that amplify the issues.June 2, 1994

Season Twenty-Three (1994–95)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Boys Will Be Boys: the Ali Cooper StoryNot to be confused with the same-named TV series, this chronicles the ordeal of a high-school marching band-member (Ami Dolenz) who becomes the victim of sexual harassment by several male classmates, including some close friends of her elder brother Steve (David "Viper" Lipper of Full House fame). Fortunately, he takes her side. Ali and her family decide upon suing the school after Principal Pritchard (Steven Gilborn) cites the title excuse instead of doing anything to protect her. Directed by Joan Van Ark, who also portrays Ali and Steve's mom; Larry Wilcox plays their dad. Also starring Jeremy Jordan and Danny Cooksey.September 15, 1994
Magical Make-OverTeenage girl desperately wants to be popular. One day an angel grants her that wish by giving her a new image every day. Soon she wishes she could just be herself.December 8, 1994
Bonnie Raitt Has Something to Talk AboutWhoopi Goldberg interviews musician/singer Bonnie Raitt about her life, career and future plans.March 16, 1995
Notes for My DaughterTeenage girl struggles with her mother's illness from breast cancer.April 6, 1995
Long Road HomeTeenager Hank Atkins (Micah Dyer) does not know what to think of his dad John's (Jameson Parker) new wife Amanda (Kristen Cloke), who's young enough to be his daughter. Then Hank takes a long road trip alone with Amanda.May 25, 1995

Season Twenty-Four (1995–96)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Fast ForwardA teenager is shown how being involved with booze will shape his life: ultimately, he will become a bombed-out derelict (Gerald McRaney).September 21, 1995
Positive: A Journey Into AIDSDocumentary following two actors from ABC's General Hospital (Kimberly McCullough, Michael Sutton) as they research and talk to people living with HIV and AIDS.December 7, 1995
Just ChillAfter the senseless death of his twin brother, a teen drug pusher decides to seek revenge against all who have wronged him in the neighborhood.January 24, 1996
Educating MomSoccer mom Nancy Gallagher (Jane Kaczmarek) feels like a hypocrite when lecturing her kids Jason and Carly (Will Friedle, Lacey Chabert) about the importance of finishing one's education, since she's a high-school dropout. She decides to practice what she's been preaching by sharing classes with Jason. Co-starring Kevin Connolly.March 14, 1996
Daddy's GirlTeenage girl Alicia (Elise Neal) reunites with her father for the first time in 10 years and yearns to reunite her family despite their opposition. Featuring Lauryn Hill as Alicia's friend Malika.April 18, 1996
Through Thick & ThinTwin sisters, one slim and one overweight, magically switch personalities, giving them a new appreciation of each other.June 11, 1996

Season Twenty-Five (1996–97)

EpisodeSynopsisAir date
Too Soon for JeffIn this adaptation of Marilyn Reynolds' novel, a high school senior's (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) future plans change abruptly when he learns that his girlfriend is pregnant. Co-starring Ed Begley, Jr., Breck Wilson, and Jessica Alba.September 12, 1996
Me and My HormonesThree women from three generations deal with the various changes taking place in their lives. Starring Courtney Peldon, Marion Ross, Bruce Boxleitner, Sara Gilbert (whose real-life sister Melissa directed), and Chad Lowe.October 24, 1996
Teenage ConfidentialAndrea Mattson's (Lauren Woodland) overprotective parents (Morgan Fairchild and Sam McMurray), out of excessive concern for their daughter's well-being, hire a private eye to shadow her every move. Predictably, this does much more harm than good. Co-starring Danny Cooksey.December 5, 1996
Miracle at Trapper CreekUnderprivileged and troubled teens join the Trapper Creek Jobs Corp in Montana to learn a trade, work in the wilderness, and achieve a solid work ethic.January 23, 1997


In 1993, TV Guide named the series the best kids' show of the 1980s.[10]

See also


  1. Terrace, Vincent (2009). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2007 (Volume 1). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-3305-6.
  2. Awards for ABC Afterschool Special (1972), retrieved April 13, 2009
  3. "Full List of ABC Afterschool Special Episodes". Ranker.
  4. "The Lost Art of TV Guide Advertising, Vol. 8 of 265,890".
  5. O'Connor, John J. "Teen-Age Drinking Examined," The New York Times, Monday, May 20, 1985.. Retrieved August 14, 2018
  6. "Article". Anchorage Daily News. March 13, 1988.
  7. Margulies, Lee (March 11, 1988). "ABC-TV to target literacy". The Bulletin. Central Oregon. The Bulletin and LA Times. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  8. "The Lost Art of TV Guide Advertising, Vol. 8 of 265,890".
  9. Heffley, Lynne (October 15, 1988). "Television Reviews : 'A Family Again' Shows the Impact of a Child's Death". Los Angeles Times.
  10. TV Guide April 17–23, 1993. 1993. p. 79.
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