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Party of Five is an American teen drama television series that aired on Fox for six seasons, from September 12, 1994, until May 3, 2000.

Critically acclaimed, the show suffered from low ratings and after its first season was slated for cancellation. In 1996 it was the surprise winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama, making it one of the lowest rated shows ever to win the award.

The show launched the careers of cast members Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt, who both starred in their own box office hit slasher films, Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, respectively, while also appearing on the series. The show was also the launching pad for the careers of Lacey Chabert, who later starred in the hit movie Mean Girls; Matthew Fox, who would later go on to star in the ABC hit Lost; Scott Wolf who would star in the movie Go and the 2009 remake of V; and Jacob Smith, who later starred in the Cheaper by the Dozen films.

In 1999, the show generated a spin-off, entitled Time of Your Life, which followed the character of Sarah (Hewitt) as she moved to New York. It ran for just one season.

In 1995, TV Guide named the series 'The Best Show You're Not Watching'.[1]


Set in the city of San Francisco, the show centered on the five siblings of the Salinger family (the "party of five" referenced in the show's title), who become orphans after their parents were hit and killed by a drunk driver. Charlie (Matthew Fox) is the eldest, a 24-year-old, womanizing, immature manual laborer who struggles with the responsibility of being the new head of the family; 16-year-old Bailey (Scott Wolf) is the rebellious teen later-turned-substance abuser; 15-year old Julia (Neve Campbell) is a sensitive teen facing adolescent issues of her own; 11-year old Claudia (Lacey Chabert) is a precocious child prodigy, and Owen is the baby, barely one year old.

The siblings take over the running of their family's restaurant, Salingers, with Charlie initially serving as bartender and manager and later with Bailey taking over. The struggles faced by the Salingers over the years included Charlie's battle with cancer, Bailey's battle with alcoholism, Julia dealing with domestic violence in a relationship, and the long term effects of parental loss.[2]

As the series progressed, romantic relationships became plot points and new cast members joined the show, including Hewitt as Bailey's girlfriend Sarah, Jeremy London as Julia's bad-boy boyfriend and-later-husband Griffin and Paula Devicq as Owen's nanny Kirsten who developed an on-again-off-again relationship with Charlie through most of the series.



  • Scott Wolf as Bailey Salinger
  • Matthew Fox as Charlie Salinger
  • Neve Campbell as Julia Salinger
  • Lacey Chabert as Claudia Salinger
  • Paula Devicq as Kirsten Bennett Thomas Salinger (seasons 1–2, 5–6, recurring otherwise)
  • Scott Grimes as Will McCorkle (seasons 1–2, 6, recurring otherwise)
  • Michael Goorjian as Justin Thompson (season 2, recurring otherwise)
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt as Sarah Reeves Merrin (seasons 2–6)
  • Alexondra Lee as Callie Martel (season 3)
  • Jeremy London as Griffin Chase Holbrook (seasons 4–6, recurring seasons 2–3). This character was played by James Marsden only in season 1, episode 22 ("The Ides of March").
  • Jennifer Aspen as Daphne Jablonsky (season 6, recurring seasons 4-5)
  • The role of the youngest, Owen Salinger, was recast three times as the character grew. He was played by Alexander and Zachary Ahnert in the pilot episode, Brandon and Taylor Porter as an infant, Andrew and Stephen Cavarno as a preschooler, and Jacob Smith until the end of the show. The Owen character was aged faster than real time, in a television process known as "SORAS-ing", when he was rapidly aged from infant to preschooler.


the following lists all actors who appeared in 5 or more episodes during the run of the show


Theme song

"Closer To Free" was performed by The BoDeans.

Early in the series "Climb on (A Back That's Strong)" by Shawn Colvin from her album Fat City was also used. Due to music licensing issues it was not included on the Season 1 DVD.


The show was created by the team of Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman, and produced by Columbia Pictures Television (CPT) and High Productions. CPT would later be folded into Columbia TriStar Domestic Television which soon after became Sony Pictures Television. In March 2009, Sony began streaming the third season of the show on Crackle. Each weekday at 8:45am, Party of Five is shown on Irish TV Channel 3e.

Reception and ratings

The show suffered from poor ratings and was slated to be canceled after its first season. In 1996, it received the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama during its second season. After the win, the shows ratings significantly improved until its fifth season, when ratings yet again fell into a slump. The ratings continued in a nose dive during its sixth and final season. The series finale, however, delivered strong ratings.

Nielsen ratings

SeasonEpisodesTimeslot (ET)Season PremiereSeason FinaleRankRating
(in millions)

Monday 9:00

September 12, 1994March 15, 1995#125[3]6.2[3]N/A

Wednesday 9:00

September 27, 1995March 27, 1996#96[4]7.1[4]N/A

Wednesday 9:00

August 21, 1996April 2, 1997#82[5]7.4[5]N/A

Wednesday 9:00

September 17, 1997May 13, 1998#56[6]N/A11.5[6]
525Wednesday 9:00September 16, 1998May 19, 1999#70[7]N/A10.1[7]
624Tuesday 9:00October 5, 1999May 3, 2000#113[8]6.6[8]6.135[9]

Home video releases

On April 27, 1999 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the season 2 episode "The Wedding", the season 3 episode "Intervention", and the season 4 episode "Richer, Poorer, Sickness, and Health" on VHS.[10][11][12]

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has also released the first two seasons of Party of Five on DVD in Region 1 and 2. Season 3 was released in Region 1 on March 25, 2008, more than two years after the release of season 2.[13] The first season DVD was re-issued on March 1, 2009.[14]

DVD NameEp #Release Date
The Complete 1st Season22May 4, 2004[15]
The Complete 2nd Season22December 20, 2005[16]
The Complete 3rd Season25March 25, 2008[13]

Due to licensing issues, the majority of the music from the original broadcasts have been replaced on the DVDs. The new music was handpicked by the original music supervisors from the show.


  1. ^ TV Guide Book of Lists. Running Press. 2007. pp. 212. ISBN 0-7624-3007-9. 
  2. ^ "Party Of Five Fares Better Than `On Our Own'". Chicago Tribune. September 12, 1994. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  3. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1994-1995". Retrieved 02-12-2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1995-1996". Retrieved 02-12-2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1996-1997". Retrieved 02-12-2010. 
  6. ^ a b "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #434 May 29, 1998. May 29, 1998.,,283382,00.html. Retrieved 02-12-2010. 
  7. ^ a b "TV Winners & Losers: Numbers Racket A Final Tally Of The Season's Show (from Nielsen Media Research)". GeoCities. June 4, 1999. Archived from the original on 2009-10-29. Retrieved 02-12-2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1999-2000". Retrieved 02-12-2010. 
  9. ^ "US - Jahrecharts 1999/2000". May 30, 2002. Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Party of Five: The Wedding (VHS) (1994)". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Party of Five: The Intervention (VHS) (1994)". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Party of Five: Richer, Poorer, Sickness, and Health (VHS) (1994)". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Lambert, David (January 4, 2008). "Invitation to a Party at Last! 3rd Season Set Coming in March, 3rd Season Arrives 2? Years After The 2nd Season!". Retrieved January 18, 2008. 
  14. ^ "Party of Five - The Complete First Season (1994)". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  15. ^ Lambert, David (February 23, 2004). "Party of Five - Season 1 announced, including WINNING Cover Art!". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Party of Five - The Complete Second Season (1994)". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 


  • John J. O'Connor. "Trying to Make a House a Home." The New York Times. October 17, 1994. C16.
  • Brenda Scott Royce. Party of Five: The Unofficial Companion. Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 1998.

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