The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Created by Andy Borowitz
Susan Borowitz
Starring Will Smith
James Avery
Janet Hubert-Whitten
Alfonso Ribeiro
Karyn Parsons
Tatyana M. Ali
Joseph Marcell
Daphne Maxwell Reid
Ross Bagley
Theme music composer The Fresh Prince in association with A Touch of Jazz, Inc.
Opening theme "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", performed by The Fresh Prince
Composer(s) Quincy Jones III
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 148 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Quincy Jones
Andy Borowitz
Susan Borowitz
Kevin Wendle (season 1)
Winifred Hervey (seasons 2–3)
Gary H. Miller (season 4–5)
Cheryl Gard (mid-late season 5)
Jeff Pollack
Will Smith (season 6)
Producer(s) Werner Walian
Lisa Rosenthal
Joel Madison
Leilani Downer
Joanne Curley-Kerner
Joel Markowitz
Location(s) Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California (1990–1991)
Sunset Gower Studios
Hollywood, California (1991–1993)
NBC Studios
Burbank, California (1993–1996)
Camera setup Videotape; Multi-camera
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s) The Stuffed Dog Company
Quincy Jones Productions (seasons 1–3)
Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (seasons 4–6)
NBC Productions
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution (1994–present)
Original network NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original release September 10, 1990 (1990-09-10) – May 20, 1996 (1996-05-20)

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990, to May 20, 1996. The show 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 aunt and uncle in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight on a local basketball court. In the series, his lifestyle often clashes with the lifestyle of his relatives in Bel Air. The series ran for six seasons and aired 148 episodes.[1][2]


The cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. From top left: Hilary Banks, Geoffrey, Vivian Banks, Carlton Banks. From bottom left: Ashley Banks, Philip Banks, Will Smith.

In December 1989, NBC approached Will Smith, a popular rapper during the late 1980s.[3] The pilot episode began taping on May 1, 1990.[4] Season 1 production began in July 1990 and ended in March 1991. The series finale was filmed on Thursday, March 21, 1996.[5][6]

The theme song was written and performed by Smith under his rap stage name, The Fresh Prince. The music was composed by QDIII (Quincy Jones III), 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. The full version of the theme song was used unedited in the first three episodes. The full length version, which is 2:52, was included on Will Smith's Greatest Hits album and attributed to him only. A 3:23 version was released in the Netherlands in 1992, reaching #3 on the charts.

The home used for the exterior shots of the Banks mansion is in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California and was built in 1937.[7] Interiors were shot on a soundstage on pre-made sets. After Season 1 the mansion sets were completely rebuilt.

In the second season, the kitchen and living room sets were rebuilt much larger with a more contemporary style (as opposed to the much more formal style of the first season), and were connected directly by an archway, allowing scenes to be shot continuously between the sets.


The theme song and opening sequence set the premise of the show. Will Smith is a street-smart teenager, born and raised in West Philadelphia. While playing basketball, Will misses a shot and the ball hits a group of people, causing a confrontation that frightens his mother, who sends him to live with his aunt and uncle in the "town" of Bel Air, Los Angeles.

He flies from Philadelphia to Los Angeles on a one-way ticket in first class. He then whistles for a taxi that is described in the opening sequence as having a vanity plate with the word "FRESH" on it. Will's working class background ends up clashing in various humorous ways with the upper class, "bourgeois" world of the Banks family – Will's uncle Phil and aunt Vivian and their children, Will's cousins Hilary, Carlton, and Ashley.

Cast and characters

Major supporting characters


Crossovers and other appearances

During the fall 1991–92 season, NBC gained two hit television shows to anchor their Monday night line-up (Blossom aired immediately after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). 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 (Carlton and Ashley Banks) in the crossover episode "Dog Catchers". Later that season, James Avery (Phillip Banks) 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 (Vivian Banks) 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, also appeared as an officiating minister in the same episode.


The series was produced by NBC Productions in association with The Stuffed Dog Company and Quincy Jones Entertainment (later Quincy Jones David Salzman Entertainment in 1993). After the show was released to syndication in 1994, the series has been distributed by Warner Bros. Television, which continues to distribute the show worldwide (although NBCUniversal does own the series' copyright). WGN America was the first cable channel to acquire the series in 1997, TBS acquired the series a year later in 1998; both channels carried the series until the fall of 2003, though TBS reacquired the series in 2007.

The theme song was shown in the original TBS run, but after TBS re-acquired Fresh Prince in 2007, the opening credits were truncated and the theme song removed and replaced with the instrumental version used as the show's closing theme; these versions also re-added portions of scenes cut from the original syndicated prints for some episodes, particularly those from seasons 3–6. TBS continues to air the series today, early in the morning. Reruns also aired on WPIX-TV on weeknights from 1994 until 1996, and as a weekday basis, sometimes on weekends until 2004. But, the series was still rerunning on The WB's affiliation WPIX-TV until 2006.

The series aired on Nick at Nite from 2004 to 2009, as well as sister network (through Nickelodeon) The N (now TeenNick) with portions of scenes that were removed from other syndicated airings, with parts of scenes kept in other syndicated airings removed due to time constraints; the series was dropped from its schedule in September 2009 after Disney/ABC purchased the rights to the show. The show returned to Nick at Nite on September 29, 2014.

In July 2009, Disney XD acquired the rights to the series, though it was quickly moved from prime-time to late night airings, and only episodes from seasons 1-3 are aired, mainly because those episodes are more appropriate for young viewers and does not contain as much mature themes, sexual content and strong language as later episodes. But in August 2010, Disney XD stopped airing the show.

ABC Family (now called Freeform) acquired the series in September 2008, though airing all 148 episodes; originally airing exclusively on Saturday nights, the series was added to ABC Family's weekday line-up in late 2009. On September 29, 2014, Disney/ABC rights to the show expired. Viacom Media Networks got the series back.

In October 2014, Viacom Media Networks also gave the series to BET, it also will air on Centric. It was previously aired on MTV's retro block. Also, the series reruns on VH1.

On November 2, 2015, the series started airing on the Family Channel in Canada.


Season U.S. ratings Network Rank
1 1990–91 13.1 million NBC #39
2 1991–92 14.3 million NBC #22
3 1992–93 14.6 million NBC #18
4 1993–94 13.7 million NBC #21
5 1994–95 10.4 million NBC #49
6 1995–96 9.6 million NBC #55

DVD releases

Warner Home Video has released the complete series, seasons 1-6 on DVD in Region 1.[8] Seasons 1-4 have been released in regions 2 & 4. Seasons 5-6 have been released in Region 2 in Germany. The episodes and DVD menus are in English; only the DVD packaging is in German.

DVD NameEp #Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season 25 February 8, 2005[9] February 21, 2005[10] April 13, 2005[11]
The Complete Second Season 24 October 11, 2005[12] November 21, 2005[13] March 1, 2006[14]
The Complete Third Season 24 February 14, 2006[15] June 26, 2006[16] August 9, 2006[17]
The Complete Fourth Season 26 August 8, 2006[18] January 22, 2007[19] December 6, 2006[20]
The Complete Fifth Season 25 May 11, 2010[21] June 18, 2010 TBA
The Complete Sixth Season 24 April 19, 2011 May 6, 2011 TBA

Awards and nominations

Awards Outcome Recipient(s) Year
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards:
Top TV Series Won Quincy Jones
Will Smith
DJ Jazzy Jeff
Emmy Awards:
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Lighting Direction for a Comedy Series Nominated Art Busch 1996
Golden Globe Awards:
Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series – Comedy/Musical Nominated Will Smith 1994
Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series – Comedy/Musical Nominated[22] Will Smith 1993
Image Award:
Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated 1997
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Won Alfonso Ribeiro 1996
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated Will Smith 1997
Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Won Tatyana M. Ali 1997
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated Janet Hubert-Whitten 1991
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated Nia Long 1996
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated Daphne Maxwell Reid 1996
Kids' Choice Awards:
Favorite Television Actor Nominated Will Smith 1996
Favorite Television Show Nominated 1996
Favorite TV Actress Won Tatyana M. Ali 1996
NCLR Bravo Awards:
Outstanding Television Series Actor in a Crossover Role Nominated Alfonso Ribeiro 1996
TP de Oro:
Best Foreign Series (Mejor Serie Extranjera) Nominated 1996
Best Foreign Series (Mejor Serie Extranjera) Won 1994
TV Land Awards:
Best Broadcast Butler Nominated Joseph Marcell 2004
Favorite "Fish Out of Water" Nominated Will Smith 2004
Young Artist Awards:
Best Performance by an Actor Under Ten – Television Won Ross Bagley 1996
Best Performance by an Actor Under Ten in a TV Series Won Ross Bagley 1995
Best Youth Comedienne Nominated Tatyana M. Ali 1994
Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Television Series Nominated Larenz Tate 1993
Best Young Actor Guest Starring or Recurring Role in a TV Series Nominated Tevin Campbell 1992
Best New Family Television Comedy Series Won 1991
YoungStar Award:
Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy TV Series Won Tatyana M. Ali 1997

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.[23][24] While the original aired on NBC, a network for the reboot has yet to be determined.[25] 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."[26]


  1. "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  2. Coker, Cheo Hodari (May 20, 1996). "Good Night, 'Prince'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  3. Rohter, Larry (September 17, 1990). "'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' Puts Rap in Mainstream". The New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  4. Wolf, Matt (February 11, 1991). "'Fresh Prince' makes Marcell changed man". Kentucky New Era. Associated Press. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  5. Cerone, Daniel. "Rap's Prince Soon to Be TV Royalty?". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  6. "The Hollywood Minute". CNN. Cable News Network Inc. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  7. "Fresh Prince House – For Real This Time! - IAMNOTASTALKER".
  8. "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air DVD news: Announcement for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete 6th Season". May 25, 2007. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  9. "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete First Season DVD @ DVD Empire". February 8, 2005. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  10. "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - The Complete First Series DVD: Will Smith, James Avery, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell: DVD". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  11. "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 1st Season (5 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". April 27, 2005. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  12. "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Second Season DVD @ DVD Empire". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  13. "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - The Complete Second Series DVD: Will Smith, James Avery, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Ellen Falcon: DVD". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  14. "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 2nd Season (4 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  15. "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Third Season DVD @ DVD Empire". February 14, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  16. "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - The Complete Third Season DVD: Will Smith, James Avery, Karyn Parsons, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell: DVD". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  17. "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 3rd Season (4 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". August 9, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  18. "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Fourth Season DVD @ DVD Empire". August 8, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  19. "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - Series 4 [DVD]: Will Smith: DVD". Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  20. "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 4th Season (4 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". December 6, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  21. "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Fifth Season DVD @ DVD Empire". November 5, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  22. "Awards for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". Retrieved August 7, 2008.
  23. Lovett, Jamie (August 13, 2015). "Will Smith Producing A Fresh Prince Of Bel Air Reboot". Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  24. ""Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" Reboot in the Works - thenewbenjamin". thenewbenjamin.
  25. "Will Smith Reboots Fresh Prince of Bel Air". August 13, 2015. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  26. Loughrey, Clarisse (August 2, 2016). "Will Smith says Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot will happen when 'hell freezes over'". The Independent. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
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