Family Matters brought the world the Winslows, the Urkel dance and a shining example of how to make a spinoff sitcom eclipse even its parent show. Afer all, it may have started life as an offshoot of Perfect Strangers, but once Steve Urkel was introduced Family Matters very much became its own show. And it also became one of the most popular African-American sitcoms of all time. But what have the cast been up to in the 18 years since it ended?
10. Reginald VelJohnson (Carl Winslow)
Reginald VelJohnson had already carved out a niche for himself playing cops and authority figures before being cast as police officer Carl Winslow in Family Matters. And in 2015 he would go on to tell The Hollywood Reporter that he loved the show because “there was always a subtle message or something of value that you could come away with.”
Indeed, after Family Matters ended, VelJohnson – who has barely aged over the years – remained friends with all his co-stars. “The actual family on the show became my family,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. And in the 2015 TV movie The Flight Before Christmas he even starred as the husband of Jo Marie Payton – a.k.a. Harriette – once again.
9. Jo Marie Payton (Harriette Winslow)
Jo Marie Payton is the reason Family Matters existed in the first place – it was her character, Harriette Winslow, who proved popular enough on Perfect Strangers to be given her own show. She left before Family Matters ended, though, and was replaced by Judyann Elder.
However, it’s still Jo Marie Payton who is best remembered as the character of Harriette; certainly, her ability to yell “Caaaaaaaarl!” has gone down in TV history. And after leaving Family Matters, Payton continued to appear on TV screens, with roles in shows like Desperate Housewives and Mann and Wife.
8. Darius McCrary (Eddie Winslow)
Eddie Winslow was one of the most lovable characters on Family Matters, and audiences watched his character grow from a teenage waster into a responsible policeman as the show went on. To this day, in fact, Eddie is the character that his actor, Darius McCrary, is most remembered for.
That’s not to say that McCrary hasn’t been in some pretty well-known stuff since – he’s starred in Transformers and Saw VI, among others. But unfortunately, he’s also had a run-in with the law. Specifically, in 2015 he was arrested for failure to pay child support, and he wasn’t impressed when Twitter users made the incident into a meme about Eddie.
7. Kellie Shanygne Williams (Laura Winslow)
Child model Kellie Shanygne Williams played Laura, the dedicated and good-natured Winslow daughter. She was only 13 when she began the show and so, perhaps understandably, she ended up befriending the other child actors on the set – particularly Jaleel White, who played Steve Urkel.
And while Williams has done some acting and hosting work as an adult, she’s mostly devoted her life to being a full-time mom. She has two children and a husband, Hannibal Jackson, with whom she appeared on the show Celebrity Wife Swap in 2015.
6. Jaimee Foxworth (Judy Winslow)
After starting out as a child model aged just five years old, Jaimee Foxworth was cast as the youngest Winslow child Judy on Family Matters. But unfortunately, it didn’t last. After the fourth season, Judy was dropped from the script entirely due to financial restrictions and never mentioned again.
It’s not known what effect this had on young Foxworth, but undoubtedly her adulthood was very troubled. Desperate for cash and struggling with substance abuse, she ended up in the adult film industry where she performed under the name “Crave.” She’s sober now, and a mom, but she regrets that she didn’t have a typical upbringing.
5. Telma Hopkins (Rachel Crawford)
Telma Hopkins was already an established entertainer before she took up acting, as part of ’70s band Tony Orlando and Dawn. After stints on shows like Bosom Buddies and Gimme a Break!, then, she was cast as Harriette’s widowed sister Rachel on Family Matters.
Now Hopkins is in her late sixties, but looking very good for her age. And Rachel Crawford turned out to be just one more role in a career that’s spanned decades: Hopkins has been in multiple post-Family Matters TV shows and movies including Are We There Yet? and Toast.
4. Bryton McClure (Richie Crawford)
At first, Rachel’s son Richie was played by twin baby boys. But then storylines necessitated that the character grow up, and young actor Bryton McClure was cast as four-year-old Richie. And his Michael Jackson impressions and boundless energy made him one of the show’s most popular characters.
Once he grew up, though, McClure changed his name to Bryton James and went on to achieve quite a lot of success. From 2004, for example, he played Devon Hamilton on the soap opera The Young and the Restless: a role that won him a Daytime Emmy Award among other accolades.
3. Orlando Brown (3J)
Orlando Brown was a late addition to the cast of Family Matters. In season eight, he joined the show as Jerry Jamal “3J” Jameson, an orphan who was ultimately adopted by the Winslows. And this role, as well as his turn as Eddie on That’s So Raven, made him a huge child star.
Unfortunately, after his stint as a child star, Brown’s life disintegrated. Indeed, although he’s worked since – he was in Straight Outta Compton, for one – he’s been continually busted for drug and DUI offences. Then in 2016 he was arrested for domestic battery, and he may now be facing a period behind bars.
2. Shawn Harrison (Waldo Geraldo Faldo)
Shawn Harrison played the dumb but lovable Waldo Geraldo Faldo, best friend to Eddie Winslow and Steve Urkel. His sheer stupidity, his strangeness and his array of catchphrases like “No prob, Bob!” made him one of the most popular characters on the show.
Harrison is still best known for playing Waldo, but he’s had other roles too – as Peaches in Girlfriends, for example, and as the voice of assorted characters on Legion of Superheroes. Plus, in 2012 he appeared in the comedy horror Silent But Deadly.
1. Jaleel White (Steve Urkel)
Jaleel White’s Steve Urkel wasn’t even in the first few episodes of Family Matters, but after he was introduced he quickly became one of the most popular sitcom characters of all time. In fact, the show gradually became almost all about him, and toys and foodstuffs were even released bearing his image.
White had difficulty adjusting to his sudden mega-fame, however. Once Family Matters was over he even told The New York Times, “If you ever see me do that character again, take me out and put a bullet in my head.” Over time, however, he found other work – and his attitude towards Steve mellowed a little.