That '70s Show

That '70s Show is an American television period sitcom that originally aired on Fox from August 23, 1998 to May 18, 2006. The series focuses on the lives of a group of six teenage friends living in fictional Point Place, Wisconsin, from May 17, 1976 to December 31, 1979.[1] The main teenage cast members were Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon and Wilmer Valderrama. The main adult cast members were Debra Jo Rupp, Kurtwood Smith, Don Stark, Tommy Chong and Tanya Roberts.

That '70s Show
GenrePeriod sitcom
Created by
Directed by
Theme music composer
Opening theme
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes200 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Running time22 minutes
Production company(s)The Carsey-Werner Company
DistributorCarsey-Werner Distribution
Original networkFox
Picture format480i

(original broadcast)

1080i (remaster)
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseAugust 23, 1998 (1998-08-23) 
May 18, 2006 (2006-05-18)
Related shows
External links Website



  • Topher Grace as Eric Forman (seasons 1–7; uncredited special guest season 8): Eric is a nice guy, geeky, physically slight and somewhat clumsy. He is a smart-aleck with a fast wit and a deadpan sense of humor. His obsession with movies, particularly Star Wars, is often referenced throughout the show. For seven seasons Eric is in a relationship with his longtime love and neighbor Donna Pinciotti. His father, Red, is always hard on him. He convinces his parents to let his best friend Steven Hyde move in with them, making Hyde like a brother. He decides to become a teacher after high school and he leaves the series at the end of the seventh season to teach in Africa. Although Eric is mentioned at least once in every episode, he does not appear during the final season until the end of the series finale.
  • Mila Kunis as Jackie Burkhart: The youngest member of the group, Jackie starts the series as the pretty, spoiled rich, selfish, oftentimes annoying immature girl. She likes to give thoughtless and superficial advice, which occasionally turns out to be correct. As the series progresses she becomes more genuine, after her father, a crooked politician, goes to jail and her fortunes take a reversal. Partly as a result of these changes, Donna and she become better friends.[2] By the end of the series, Jackie had dated three of the four guys of the group: Kelso, Hyde and Fez.
  • Ashton Kutcher as Michael Kelso (seasons 1–7; special guest season 8): The dumb pretty boy of the group, who hopes to coast through life on his good looks. Often referred to as "The King" in many episodes, he spends the first half of the series in a relationship with the equally vapid Jackie. Their relationship comes to an end when Laurie (Eric's older sister) reveals their affair to Jackie. Kelso fathers a daughter, named Betsy, from his relationship with a librarian named Brooke during the seventh season. He becomes a police officer, but is fired for utter incompetence. In the 4th episode of the eighth and final season, he becomes a security guard at a Chicago Playboy Club and leaves the show. Kelso, along with Eric, returns for the series finale. James Franco had auditioned for the role, but was immediately passed over.
  • Danny Masterson as Steven Hyde: Eric's best friend and the anti-establishment member of the group. By the end of season one, the Formans allow Hyde to move in after he was abandoned by his mother, making him a foster brother to Eric. Hyde has a witty, blunt and sarcastic sense of humor and a rebellious personality. He is also experienced and the other group members often ask for his advice. Although Hyde dates Jackie for three seasons, in the final season he marries an exotic dancer named Samantha. Hyde later discovers Samantha was married to another man when she married him. As Donna points out in "My Fairy King", that means Hyde and Samantha are not legally married. In the seventh season, Hyde meets his biological father (William Barnett, played by Tim Reid), a wealthy black businessman (making Hyde, who was presumed white, biracial). Barnett, who owns a chain of record stores, makes Hyde first an office worker, then a manager and later the owner of the Point Place record store. He also previously worked for Leo in a Photo Hut earlier in the series. The original casting director, Debby Romano, resisted Masterson's audition because he was slightly older than the rest of the cast, but ultimately allowed him to audition. Robert Rodriguez cut out his part in The Faculty to allow Masterson to shoot the pilot.
  • Laura Prepon as Donna Pinciotti: Eric's longtime girlfriend (and briefly fiancée) who is literally and figuratively "the girl next door".[3] Donna is tall, intelligent, good-looking and athletic. Although she does not agree with what Jackie represents in the beginning of the series, they become friends.[2] Donna is in a relationship with Eric for seven seasons (despite their break-up during season 4). She has brief romances with Casey, Michael's brother and Randy during the final season and quickly ends it. She rekindles her relationship with Eric at the end of the show's finale. When production ended on the sixth season, Prepon dyed her hair blond due to production on Karla, resulting in her character Donna becoming a blond in the final two seasons.
  • Wilmer Valderrama as Fez: The horny foreign exchange student of the group whose hormones are usually out of control. He constantly flirts with Jackie and Donna and often makes romantic advances toward them. Initially, he has trouble getting attention from girls, but during the eighth season he becomes a ladies' man. He is in love with Jackie throughout the series but his love is not reciprocated until the eighth season when they become a couple. His home country is often referenced throughout the course of the show, but is never named specifically.
  • Josh Meyers as Randy Pearson (season 8): Hyde's employee at the record store. He is introduced in the final season. Randy appears laid back, gentle, polite and a ladies' man, although many of his flaws surface later, encompassing parts of the departed Kelso and Eric's personalities and other attributes. Tall (like Kelso), he tends to spout witty one-liners (like Eric), and makes silly voices. He forms a friendship with Red after showing Red how good he is at fixing things. While Hyde, Jackie, Donna and Kelso embrace him as a new member of their group, Fez initially does not, but soon warms up to him. Randy dates Donna for the majority of season eight, but she later breaks up with him. The two end on good terms and remain friends. He makes a brief appearance in the series finale. Meyers was originally slated to take on the role of Eric, but the producers feared that this recasting would offend Grace's fans, so the role of Randy was created instead. However, the character was met with mixed reviews, though Meyers' performance received high praise.


  • Debra Jo Rupp as Kitty Forman: Red's wife and mother of Eric and Laurie, and Hyde's informally adoptive mother, Kitty is a cheerful, doting mother, but can also be assertive when pushed. A nurse by profession, she drinks heavily and is a former smoker. Her major mood swings are usually attributed to menopause, although the lack of affection and attention from her daughter (Laurie) and her mother (Bea) is also partly to blame. She is also a nurturing mother figure to Eric's rather dysfunctional friends, especially Fez.
  • Kurtwood Smith as Red Forman: Kitty's husband, father of Eric and Laurie, and Hyde's adoptive father. A conservative Navy combat veteran, he served in World War II and the Korean War. He is frequently hard on Eric and casually insults him, often calling him “dumbass”. Despite his mean exterior, Red also displays a soft side. His hobbies include working with his power tools, drinking beer, watching television, reading the newspaper, hunting and fishing. The producers sought Chuck Norris for the role, but the actor declined due to commitments with Walker, Texas Ranger. Smith (the only cast member born in Wisconsin) modeled his performance after his relationship with his stepdad, who died shortly before the pilot was filmed.
  • Lisa Robin Kelly (seasons 2–3; recurring season 1; special appearance season 5) and Christina Moore (recurring season 6) as Laurie Forman: Eric's attractive but promiscuous, manipulative and dishonest older sister. She flunked out of college during the first season and moves back home with her parents. Laurie enjoys tormenting Eric and manipulating her parents. She is promiscuous, often seen with various men, mainly Eric's friend Kelso, who cheats on his girlfriend Jackie. Eric, Hyde and Donna often insult her for her promiscuity. She also has a strained relationship with her mother who thinks of her as a freeloader. She leaves the series during the third season, but returns in a recurring role during the fifth. In season five, she marries Fez to prevent him from getting deported. She leaves the series again during season 6 and is never seen again. During the seventh season, she is mentioned as having moved to Canada, where, as Eric puts it drolly, "bottomless dancing is legal".
  • Tanya Roberts as Midge Pinciotti (seasons 1–3; special guest appearance seasons 6–7): Bob's wife, Donna's mother, and Kitty's best friend, Midge is the sexy neighborhood mom about whom Eric and his male friends fantasized when coming of age. Although often dim-witted, she later adopts some feminist ideals. She is written out of the series in 2001 after the third season after leaving Bob and moving to California. She returns during the sixth and seventh seasons in a limited recurring role. She is temporarily replaced in Bob's heart by the aggressive, assertive Joanne (played by Mo Gaffney), tall like Midge but not as pretty.
  • Don Stark as Bob Pinciotti: Midge's husband and Donna's father. Bob often brags about his service in the National Guard, which invariably irritates Red, a veteran of foreign wars. Bob is known for walking around his house with his robe wide open and no underwear. He eats constantly, even in bed. Bob is almost always in a good mood and is a ladies' man. His best friend is Red, who usually considers him to be a nuisance. He usually takes the brunt of Red's abuse in a jolly manner. After Midge left Bob in the fourth season, he began dating Joanne (in seasons four and five) and Pam Burkhart (played by Brooke Shields replacing Eve Plumb from the first season), Jackie's mother (in seasons six and seven).
  • Tommy Chong as Leo (seasons 4 & 8; special guest seasons 2–3 & 7): A hippie, and the owner of a Foto Hut at which Hyde once worked, Leo is an Army veteran who served in World War II, where he was awarded a Purple Heart. Leo often puts play before work and maintains an easy-going attitude in most things, business included. He disappears from the series after season four, but is later referenced in season five's "The Battle of Evermore" when the gang goes on a mission to find him, but with no luck. He returns in season seven and remains on the series until the show's end. In Season 8, he gets a new job working for Hyde at Grooves.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
125August 23, 1998 (1998-08-23)July 26, 1999 (1999-07-26)
226September 28, 1999 (1999-09-28)May 22, 2000 (2000-05-22)
325October 3, 2000 (2000-10-03)May 22, 2001 (2001-05-22)
427September 25, 2001 (2001-09-25)May 21, 2002 (2002-05-21)
525September 17, 2002 (2002-09-17)May 14, 2003 (2003-05-14)
625October 29, 2003 (2003-10-29)May 19, 2004 (2004-05-19)
725September 8, 2004 (2004-09-08)May 18, 2005 (2005-05-18)
822November 2, 2005 (2005-11-02)May 18, 2006 (2006-05-18)


The creators had wanted the show to have a 1970s "feel" from the beginning, so opted to set the series later in the decade, when trends and political ideologies had become firmly established and disseminated. The idea that the duration of the series would carry sociopolitical undertones also necessitated a chain of social events which could influence the characters. Thus, 1976 was chosen, which allowed episodes set within a short time frame to address streaking, the sexual revolution, the Equal Rights Amendment, the 1973 oil crisis, and the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, all of which were culturally influential events that occurred in the earlier years of the 1970s. The shift to 1977 during the last half of the first season also allowed the inclusion of the first Star Wars movie, which premiered in May 1977.

Throughout the first two seasons, episodes opened with title cards showing the season/month and year (example: Late Spring, 1977 or June 1977). These were largely abandoned after season two, with few subsequent episodes using them. However, they were used again in the final episode, i.e. "December 31, 1979 10:45 a.m." From the premiere onward, the episode's year could be determined by the registration tags on Eric's Vista Cruiser at the end of the opening and closing credits. Season 1 showed a "76" year tag, seasons 2-3 showed "77" tags, seasons 3-6 showed "78" tags, seasons 7-8 showed "79" tags, and the final episode of season 8's closing credits showed an "80" tag.

The show was set in May 1976 in the August 23, 1998 premiere. After 12 episodes, the series transitioned to 1977. The 23rd episode, "Grandma's Dead", was also set in 1976, because it was supposed to be the season finale of season 1. The show remained in 1977 for the next two seasons. Near the end of the third season, the series transitioned to 1978 until early in the sixth season. The remaining episodes took place in 1979, and the series finale abruptly ends during a New Year's Eve party as the characters reach "one" during a countdown to January 1, 1980.[4]

The show's unexpected longevity (it was the only series to debut on Fox in 1998 to survive cancellation) combined with the first season jump to 1977 necessitated a slow-down of the series' timeline. Over time, this proved problematic from a narrative standpoint, as nearly every year featured a Thanksgiving and/or Christmas episode, and the teen-aged actors playing high-school student characters all aged into their mid-20s by the time their characters graduated from high school after five seasons (except Mila Kunis, who was not quite 20). As the series timeline sped up and slowed down with more rapidity near the series' climax, the timeline necessitated that several major events depicted as having occurred months apart would have in fact happened within weeks or even days of one another.

The timeline issues experienced on the show were not unprecedented, as other period-specific TV series have had similar issues. Most notably, M*A*S*H aired for 11 seasons despite the Korean War only lasting three years. Additionally, many TV series over the years that take place in the present time have characters age faster than normal while other characters age naturally.

Eighth season and series finale

The character of Eric Forman was written out of the series at the end of the seventh season, as Topher Grace wanted to move on with his career.[5] Ashton Kutcher switched to a recurring guest role when he also chose to depart following the seventh season.[5] However, Kelso had not been written out yet, so to give better closure to the character, Kutcher appeared in the first four episodes of the eighth season (credited as a special guest star) and later returned for the finale. Tommy Chong (who began reappearing by late season 7 after a long absence) became a regular again to help fill Kelso's role as the dimwit of the group. Eric was originally supposed to be replaced by his new friend Charlie, played by Bret Harrison, as an "innocent character", who proved fairly popular with audiences, but the character was killed off after Harrison was offered a lead role in the series The Loop.[6] Another new character named Randy Pearson, played by Josh Meyers, was introduced to take the place of both Eric and, to a lesser extent, Charlie.[7] Another new character, Samantha, a stripper played by Jud Tylor, was added as Hyde's wife for nine episodes. The location of the show's introductory theme song was changed from the Vista Cruiser to the circle. Both Eric and Kelso returned for the series' final episode, although Topher Grace was uncredited.

The eighth season was announced as the final season of the show on January 17, 2006,[8] and "That '70s Finale" was filmed a month later on February 17, 2006, first airing on May 18, 2006.[9]



The working titles for the show were:

However, due to song-rights refusals (including The Who's Pete Townshend) and Fox Network's deeming Feelin' All Right less than memorable, co-creator Bonnie Turner suggested that the show should be titled That '70s Show, after hearing an audience member saying "I loved that show about the '70s." It was at that point where it ultimately became the official title for the show.[10]


Theme song

The show usually opens with the theme song, "In the Street", written by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell of the highly influential cult band Big Star. The original version of the song appeared on Big Star's 1972 debut album #1 Record. In 2000, Chilton confirmed that he was paid $70 in royalties each time the show aired, an amount he thought ironic, given the show's title.[11]

Big Star's original version of the song was not used on the show. Instead, a cover version sung by Todd Griffin was used as the theme song for the show's first season. Beginning in the second season, the theme song was performed by the band Cheap Trick. Unlike previous versions of the song, Cheap Trick ended the song with the repeated phrase "We're all alright!" quoting the ending of their 1978 hit song "Surrender".[12]

Both versions of the song (Todd Griffin and Cheap Trick) used on the show end with somebody yelling "Hello, Wisconsin!" In Griffin's version, Danny Masterson is the one yelling "Hello, Wisconsin!"[13] while it is unknown who yells it in Cheap Trick's version. On the soundtrack, That '70s Album (Rockin'), Cheap Trick's lead singer Robin Zander yells "Hello, Wisconsin!"[14] Alternate holiday versions of the theme song were arranged for Halloween and Christmas specials, using organ music and bells, respectively.

Opening credits

Opening credits for seasons 1–7 showed members of the cast driving in Eric's car singing the theme song together. At the conclusion of the opening, a shot of a 1970s-style Wisconsin license plate (black letters/numbers on a yellow background) is seen, showing the year in which the episode was taking place in the bottom right corner. During the first season's opening, a single shot of the group is used; beginning with season 2, numerous alternating shots were used of the cast in various groupings (including the adult cast members, who had not appeared in the first season's opening).

After Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher left the series, the opening credits were reworked for season 8 to feature close-up shots of each of the actors singing (or mouthing) a line of the theme song in the Circle (for example, Mila Kunis "Hanging Out...;" Danny Masterson "Down the Street"). The only actors to not say or do anything in the new opening credits were Kurtwood Smith and Tommy Chong, with the exception of the first episode of season 8, when Chong sings the last "We're all alright". Smith looks at the camera frowning and rolls his eyes. Chong looks around the room, confused as he hears "Hello, Wisconsin!" The final episode omits most of the opening sequence and instead only shows the license plate shot.

Elements of the show

The 1970s

The show addressed social issues of the 1970s such as sexual attitudes, generational conflict, the economic hardships of the 1970s recession, mistrust of the American government by blue-collar workers, and underage drinking/teenage drug use. The series also highlighted developments in the entertainment industry, including the television remote ("the clicker"), reruns, VCR, and cable TV; the video games Pong and Space Invaders; the cassette tape and Disco; MAD magazine; and Eric's obsession with Star Wars.[15] The show has been compared to Happy Days, which was similarly set 20 years before the time in which it aired.[16]

Beginning with the second season, the show focused less on the sociopolitical aspects of the story. For example, the dynamic of the relationship between Eric and Donna was altered in later seasons to more closely resemble the relationships of other "power couples" on teen dramas. Likewise, the first season of the show featured a recurring, more dramatic storyline in which the Formans were in danger of losing their home due to Red's hours being cut back at the auto parts plant where he worked. Storylines in later seasons were generally presented more comically and less dramatically.

The show also featured guest-starring actors from 1970s TV shows, such as Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper and Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Tom Poston and Jack Riley (The Bob Newhart Show), Pamela Sue Martin (The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries), Tim Reid and Howard Hesseman (WKRP in Cincinnati), Eve Plumb, Barry Williams and Christopher Knight (The Brady Bunch), Tom Bosley and Marion Ross (Happy Days), Monty Hall (Let's Make A Deal), Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat and The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Don Knotts, Richard Kline and Jenilee Harrison (Three's Company), and Danny Bonaduce and Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family). Series recurring cast member Tanya Roberts also starred in a popular show in the 1970s (Charlie's Angels).

Beginning with season 5, each episode in the series is named after a song by a rock band that was famous in the 1970s: Led Zeppelin (season 5), The Who (Season 6), The Rolling Stones (season 7), and Queen (season 8, except for the finale, titled "That '70s Finale").[17]

Split screens

One device in the show is to present a split screen in which two pairs of characters speak. One character is usually seeking advice on a problem with a character in the second pairing and the other character advises them. Although the conversations appear to mirror each other, notable differences often occur. It is most often used by the couples of the show, with each member of the couple being advised on the relationship. For example, in the episode "Who Wants It More?", Donna and Eric tell Jackie and Hyde that they have been holding out on each other sexually for three days and that maybe they should cave. Both Jackie and Hyde tell Donna and Eric not to cave or the "caver" will be owned by the other.

Dream sequences

The show includes character daydream sequences, some of which refer to or parody fads and films of the time, such as Star Wars, Rocky, and Grease.

The character picturing the dream sometimes also narrates it, but regardless, the other characters present see the same dream. In the episode "Stone Cold Crazy", Jackie mentioned she liked the song playing in Fez's dream sequence. The sequences are usually introduced by a wobbling screen transition. Sometimes, the transition is absent when the characters who imagine the scene believe they are real (for example, Eric's dream about Donna in "Eric's Birthday" or Jackie's dream about Hyde proposing in "It's All Over Now").

In the 100th episode, "That '70s Musical", all singing scenes were Fez's dream sequences.

The circle

In the circle, a group of characters, usually the teenagers, sit in a circle (generally in Eric's basement, though occasionally elsewhere), as the camera pans, stopping at each character as he or she speaks. It was usually apparent that the characters are under the influence of marijuana. Thick clouds of smoke, frequent coughing and an extreme wide-angle lens added to the "drug-induced" feel, although the audience never saw anyone actually smoking the drug. Also, no visible drug-related paraphernalia were seen, such as bongs or joint papers. Characters never spoke the word "marijuana" while in the circle (except in one episode "Reefer Madness"), often referring to it as "stuff" or a "stash". In the episode "Bye-Bye Basement", Theo (Leo's cousin) refers to "weed"; in "The Relapse", Kelso tells Fez that the concrete wall behind the gym is used mostly for "smoking weed and beating up freshmen;" in "Ski Trip" Kitty asks Eric why he is taking so much oregano to Jackie's ski lodge; in "Eric's Burger Job", Kelso blames his "roach clip" when the water bed pops on which he is sitting at a party; in two episodes ("That Wrestling Show" and "Hyde Moves In"), Eric and Hyde can be seen wearing shirts with the words "Cannabis Sativa" written on a Campbell's soup can; and in "The Pill", Red, referring to Kelso, exclaims, "That kid's on dope!" A gimmick related to the circle and the marijuana smoking was Eric watching the kitchen wall moving erratically, although this technique was also used to show that Eric was drunk.

As the series progressed, the circle became one of the series' recurring features. The only four episodes where the whole gang is in the circle are "Class Picture", "I'm A Boy", "Substitute", and in the series finale. During the eighth and final season, the circle sans smoke replaced the Vista Cruiser as the setting of the opening credits.

The stupid helmet

The stupid helmet refers to a replica of a Green Bay Packers helmet that a character is forced to wear after having done or said something deemed stupid by the rest of the gang. Eric had to wear it when he said he wanted to propose to Donna and Fez wore it when he started banging his head on the table after trying to help Kelso keep Jackie. The helmet can be seen in the Forman basement on a shelf behind the cast. When the series concluded in 2006, the last one up the staircase had to call Red a "dumbass", something he always called the kids. Since Kelso was the last one up, he grabbed the helmet.

The water tower

In many episodes, the teenaged characters often hang out on a local water tower. At the end of several water tower segments, at least one character falls off (usually Kelso). When Charlie Richardson (played by Bret Harrison) fell off and died in season 8, the water tower was renamed in his honor.

After Charlie's death, Kelso fell off again, but survived, leading him to believe he was "invincible". In the "Water Tower episode", the gang painted a marijuana leaf on the tower, but it looked more like a green hand giving the finger. In the episode "The Immigrant Song (a.k.a. Fez Gets Busted)" Kelso paints Jackie and his names on the tower to annoy Hyde just before falling and ending up in the hospital. During this episode, Fez paints his manhood on the tower but only gets as far as drawing a circle when the police arrive to arrest him. Kelso was known to fall off the water tower once in every grade since middle school. This is also where Eric proposes to Donna ("Hot Dog"), and where Jackie and Fez share their first official kiss in the show's finale.

Scene transitions

In the first season, scene transitions (also known as bumpers) consisted of animated smiley buttons[18] or still images of faces from the 1970s with only the mouth moving using Syncro-Vox, usually yelling, in a rock form, "Yeahhh!" or something similar (ex. Farrah Fawcett saying "Yeah!" or Richard Nixon saying "Are you ready to rock and roll?") The smiley buttons were removed for re-runs and home video, replaced with flowers likewise exploding, replicating, deflating or bouncing around. Sometimes they would be visuals of lava lamps with the show's logo plummeting to the bottom of the screen in front of it.

Beginning in season 2, transitions featured the characters doing something in front of a colorful, psychedelic, lava lamp-like background. These transitions featured the most prominent characters of the scene usually dancing, falling or making facial expressions. The music accompanying these colorful sequences would match the tone of the episode and characters.

By the show's final season, new transitions were created to accommodate cast changes (e.g. Donna's hair color, Leo continuing as a series regular and the insertion of Randy).

"Nobody's Fault But Mine (2)" is the only episode where Laurie Forman is featured in a transition. Tanya Roberts is the only regular actor not to be featured in a transition.

The Vista Cruiser

Many of the show's episodes featured Eric and the rest of the kids in or around Eric's "Aztec Gold" 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, handed down to Eric by Red. For the first seven seasons of the show, the show's introduction showed the cast inside the Vista Cruiser.

That particular station wagon was bought by Wilmer Valderrama at the show's conclusion from Carsey-Werner for "no more than" US$500.[19]

In August 2009, the show's Vista Cruiser was named third-greatest television car ever by MSN Autos.[20]

Running gags and catchphrases

In one of the show's major running gags, Red often threatens to punish Eric with many variations of catchphrase, "kicking your ass".[21] For example, in "Kitty and Eric's Night Out", Red mistakenly thinks Eric offended Kitty, so Red says, "I swear I'll kick his ass!" In "Eric's Hot Cousin", Eric tries to get out of something by claiming he's sleepwalking and Red says, "And I'm about to be sleep-kicking your ass", and, in "Prank Day", when Red gets covered in oatmeal, Eric tries to explain that it was just a prank that had gone "horribly, horribly wrong" Red says, "Well, I have a prank, too. One where my foot doesn't plow through your ass. Let's hope it doesn't go horribly, horribly wrong!" Several of the running gags were shown in edited clips for the series finale.

Some other notable running gags and catchphrases are:

  • Red's favorite insult is "dumbass", the origin of which is revealed in "Halloween". Ironically, Eric is the first character to say "dumbass" in "Eric's Burger Job" (season 1 episode 5). The insult is adopted by the whole gang and even occasionally by Kitty. Red regularly comes up with new choice insults such as "kettlehead" (which refers to Kelso).
  • Fez's country of origin is never revealed. Sometimes, Fez is about to disclose where he is from, or at least hint at it, but something happens to prevent him from doing so, like someone entering the room as seen in "Stolen Car", or Fez rambling in "Love of My Life".[22]
  • Fez's real name was also never revealed. Even Fez stood for FES, Foreign Exchange Student.[23][24] Red often calls Fez by some exotic foreign name when he is speaking directly to him.
  • Someone, usually Kelso, falls off the Water Tower.[25]
  • The word "burn", a term used by a character after something bad or offensive happens at another character's expense, although it is more often used by Kelso. According to Kelso in "Dine and Dash", a good burn consists of two elements: "You didn't see it coming; parts of it really hurt."
  • Hyde would usually give Kelso a punch in the arm for either his stupidity or bad behavior.
  • Kelso yells "Ow, my eye!" when Hyde rough-houses with him. For example, in the episode "Class Picture", a series of flashbacks feature Hyde beating up Kelso. While the two are out of the immediate sight of the audience, Kelso yells, "Ow, my eye!" and the scene cuts to the next flashback. This gag is repeated several times throughout the series, although the only time Kelso appears with an injured eye is in "Jackie's Cheese Squeeze" after he was punched by Todd, Jackie's manager. On that occasion, Kelso did not yell, "Ow, my eye!"[26]
  • Fez uses the phrase "Good day", followed by another cast member saying, "But Fez..." and Fez immediately interrupts with an exclamatory, "I said good day!" In some instances, the words vary, but the interaction is the same.
  • Eric has a never-ending streak of quoting Star Wars. In several episodes, he relates things to Star Wars, or quotes the film. In times of trouble, he brings a toy light saber and his going-away present from Donna was her dressing up as Princess Leia.
  • Everyone who calls Eric's action figures "dolls" is always loudly corrected by Eric: "They're action figures!"
  • Kitty often uses alcohol or her use is mentioned, particularly after she starts menopause during the fifth season.
  • Fez's sex life or usually lack thereof. Often Fez accidentally reveals some perverse behavior he performed, like hiding in Donna's room.[27]
  • The best thing to do or the best solution can be found by "The Circle".[28]
  • Eric's attempted "secret" money stash locations are known by everyone.[29][30]
  • Guest stars from 1970s sitcoms would often have an inside joke referring to their earlier series.
  • Kitty will often laugh in situations she finds awkward.
  • Whenever Red is furious, he usually goes out boating by himself for the whole day. Like in the episode when Eric told Red he is going to marry Donna.
  • Eric has a curse every year on school picture day. A pimple appears on his face before it is his time to take his picture.
  • Eric's sister, Laurie, is known for sleeping around with many men. In fact, she slept with her professor while she was in college.

British remake

In 1999, the show was remade by the ITV network in the United Kingdom as Days Like These using almost verbatim scripts with minor changes to cultural references.[31]


Home media

That '70s Show was released on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment at an increment of two seasons per year between 2004 and 2008 and a complete series release on October 14, 2008. Mill Creek Entertainment released all eight seasons between 2011 and '13 and released a complete series set on May 14, 2013. On March 6, 2012, Mill Creek released the first season on Blu-ray and season two on October 16, 2012. On November 3, 2015, Mill Creek Entertainment released That '70s Show The Complete Series on Blu-ray 1080p, featuring all 200 episodes from the series, presented digitally remastered in High Definition from the original film negatives for optimum sound and video quality and for superior home entertainment Blu-ray presentation with remastered 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound and 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio.[32]


Several prominent songs from the decade can be heard on the series, and two soundtracks were released in 1999. The first is a collection of funk, soul, and disco, called That '70s Album (Jammin'). The second is a collection of album-oriented rock songs, called That '70s Album (Rockin'). AllMusic gave both albums 3 out of 5 stars in their reviews.[33][34]


American ratings

Over the course of its run, the series was a consistent performer for Fox, becoming one of their flagship shows. Its eight seasons, consisting of 200 episodes, made it Fox's second-longest-running live-action sitcom ever behind Married... with Children, though That '70s Show did not have the same ratings success, despite surviving cancellation.

SeasonEpisodesTimeslotPremiereSeason finaleRankViewers
(in millions)
11998–9925Sunday 8:30August 23, 1998July 26, 199949[35]11.7
21999–200026Tuesday 8:30September 28, 1999May 22, 200086[36]9.0
32000–0125Tuesday 8:00October 3, 2000May 22, 200165[37]10.8
42001–0227September 25, 2001May 21, 200267[38]9.1
52002–0325Tuesday 8:00 (2002)
Wednesday 8:00 (2003)
September 17, 2002May 14, 200352[39]10.4
62003–0425Wednesday 8:00October 29, 2003May 19, 200449[40]10.0
72004–0525September 8, 2004May 18, 200585[41]7.0
82005–0622Wednesday 8:00 (2005)
Thursday 8:00 (2006)
November 2, 2005May 18, 2006103[42]5.8


Over the course of its run, the series was nominated for a substantial number of awards, including 16 Primetime Emmy Awards. The only win for the series at this event came in 1999, when Melina Root was awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series for "That Disco Episode". Additionally, the show was nominated for a large number of Teen Choice Awards, with both Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama winning on three occasions.


  1. "That '70s Finale". That '70s Show. Season 8. Episode 22. May 18, 2006. 21:20 minutes in. FOX.
  2. Barash, Susan Shapiro (March 6, 2007). Tripping the Prom Queen: The Truth About Women and Rivalry. Macmillan. ISBN 9780312334321.
  3. Smith, Laura (March 28, 2014). "Tomboy Chic: That 70s Show's Donna Pinciotti". Retrieved September 23, 2018.
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  6. DVD commentary of episode 25 of season 7 by director Trainer.
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  12. "Readers Poll: The Best Television Theme Songs – 7. That '70s Show – 'In the Street'". Rolling Stone. September 21, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  13. EW Staff (June 13, 2006). "HeadScratcher No. 44: It's time to play the music". Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly Inc. Retrieved November 22, 2013. And yes, it's true that the theme song of That '70s Show, 'In the Street', was sung by Cheap Trick (after Todd Griffin sang the original version), but the cast members sing along with them. You can even hear Hyde (Danny Masterson) yell out 'Hello, Wisconsin!' at the end of the Griffin version of the song.
  14. "In the Street" by Cheap Trick. That '70s Album (Rockin'). 1999. Track 1. Compact disc. Various Artists. Volcano Entertainment.
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  17. Egan, James (2016). 3000 Facts about TV Shows. Lulu. p. 328.
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  19. That 70s Show wrap party Access Hollywood official on YouTube
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  23. "Frequently Asked Questions". Carsey-Werner LLC. 2004. Archived from the original on February 6, 2008. Retrieved April 16, 2009.
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  25. "10 Running Gags From Your Favorite 90s TV Shows". EMGN. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
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  28. "10 of TV's Most Memorable Weed-Based Episodes". Splitsider. April 7, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
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  33. Boldman, Gina. "That '70s Show Presents That '70s Album: Jammin'". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  34. Boldman, Gina. "That '70s Show Presents That '70s Album: Rockin'". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
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  37. "TV Ratings 2000-2001".
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  39. "2002-2003 Season Ratings for Network TV Primetime - Sitcoms Online Message Boards - Forums".
  40. "ABC Medianet".
  41. "Final 2004-05 TV Ratings Now Out".
  42. "Alias Community".

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