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Will Smith Reveals The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air Episode That’s Most ‘Special’ To Him

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is easily one of the most iconic sitcoms to ever grace a television screen. During its six-season run on NBC, the Will Smith-led show generated hilarious moments while also painting a sweet and tangible portrait of a Black family. There are various memorable episodes, and it’s honestly hard to pick just one as a favorite. Smith himself, though, does have an installment that’s particularly “special” to him, and it’s one that fans likely hold dear as well. 

Over the course of the show, audiences saw Will Smith do just about everything, from hilariously braving an earthquake to engaging in a dance-off on Soul Train. The show wasn’t always over-the-top, however, as it contained plenty of warm and relatable moments. When asked to name the episode that’s most memorable for him, Smith listed one of the show’s most emotional ones as his favorite. And what’s even more bittersweet is that it involves the late, great James Avery:

I think the one that people walk up to me on the street about is the father episode, the one when Will’s father left him. That was a very special one for me. James Avery and I had a really unique father and son relationship on and off camera. That’s most memorable for me.

The episode Will Smith discussed during his recent interview with GQ is Season 4’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse.” In it Will reunites with his wayward father, Lou, who claims he’s ready to be a permanent fixture in his son’s life, though Uncle Phil is skeptical. In the end, Phil’s intuition proves to be correct, as Lou once again walks out of his son’s life, ahead of the summer trip they’d planned. During the episode’s final moments, Will breaks down, before he's quickly embraced by his uncle. 

Just thinking about the scene is enough to make one teary-eyed. The story is a true testament to the writers, who sought to examine a familial situation that so many have experienced. It’s also a nice showcase for Will Smith and James Avery. In performing the scene, they only further solidified their chemistry as co-stars and, based on Smith’s comments, their bond as friends. 

James Avery was an integral part of the series, as Alfonso Ribeiro even once referred to him as “the backbone” of the show. The late stage, TV and film actor passed away back in 2014 and, though he’s gone, he’s certainly not forgotten. His former co-stars lovingly paid tribute to him during their reunion last year, and many fans still view him as one of TV’s best parents.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s upcoming reimagining, Bel-Air, is sure to maintain the deep relationship between the Philadelphia youth and his uncle. The Peacock series is set to be a drama, which means it’ll likely include an even greater number of heavy moments compared to its predecessor. As an executive producer on the show, Will Smith will likely work hand in hand with the showrunners to capture the funny and sentimental spirit that still  keeps fans going back to the original show 30 years after its debut.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and its reunion special are available to stream on HBO Max.

Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.