The Ropers was an American sitcom that ran from March 13, 1979 to May 22, 1980. It was a spinoff of Three's Company and based on the popular British sitcom George and Mildred. The series focused on middle-aged couple Stanley and Helen Roper (played by Norman Fell and Audra Lindley) who had been the landlords to Jack, Janet, Chrissy, and Larry on Three's Company.
- Stanley Roper (Norman Fell) - A working-class, frugal, and often embarrassing retiree. Has moved into Cheviot Hills after he is duped into making a promise to his wife Helen that he would buy the condo she wants if it wasn't already sold. His realtor's son suddenly reveals that the condo is in fact not sold.
- Helen Roper (Audra Lindley) - A sexually frustrated, social-climbing middle-aged woman who tries to fit in the community despite her husband Stanley's constant boorishness. Despite her attempts to fit in, she often proves herself as bumbling as her husband.
- Jeffrey P. Brookes III (Jeffrey Tambor) - The snobbish realtor who is also the Ropers' next-door neighbor. As revealed in the show's pilot (which aired as a Three's Company episode), he is not a third-generation namesake, when his wife Ann chides him for the "III" in his name when his father's name is actually Al. Jeffrey responds by trying (unsuccessfully) to convince her that Al is short for Jeffrey. He is forced to sell them the condo after his son David innocently reveals the condo isn't sold to someone else...an obvious effort by Brookes to keep the Ropers out.
- Anne Brookes (Patricia McCormack) - Brookes' long-suffering, down-to-earth homemaker wife, who looks after the house and their young son David.
In this spinoff, the Ropers moved from their apartment in Three's Company
to live in the upmarket community of Cheviot Hills
, where the social-climbing Helen struggled to fit in with her neighbors. Stanley made little attempt to fit in with the standards of the community, thereby causing Helen much embarrassment.
Success and failure
The show premiered directly after Three's Company
in the spring of 1979
. In its first season, ratings
were very high (the show finished #8 for the 1978-79 season) and Three's Company
and The Ropers
broke records at the time as the most popular hour-block of programming in television history . At the beginning of the 1979-1980 season, it was moved to the weekends where it experienced a moderate ratings drop. Being placed on Saturday nights, rather than on the lucrative Tuesday night lineup, caused the ratings slip. The move upset Fell to the point that he actually went to ABC headquarters in New York to plead with the network to move the show to a better time slot. His effort was in vain, however, and the show continued to pull in mediocre ratings. The drop in ratings and the fact that the show wasn't pulling in the key young demographic audience, led to the show's cancellation that year by ABC despite placing number 25 in the ratings.
Season One: 1979
Moving On: March 13, 1979
Season One, Episode Two: Friends and Neighbors: March 20, 1979
Season One, Episode Three: Your Money or Your Life: March 27, 1979
Season One, Episode Four: The Doris Letters: April 3, 1979
Season One, Episode Five: The Family Planning: April 10, 1979
Season One, Episode Six: Opportunity Knocks: April 17, 1979
Season Two: 1979-1980
The Party: September 15, 1979
Season Two, Episode Two: Days of Beer and Rosie: September 22, 1979
Season Two, Episode Three: Power Play: September 29, 1979
Season Two, Episode Four: Baby Talk: October 20, 1979
Season Two, Episode Five: Two for the Road: October 13, 1979
Season Two, Episode Six: Puppy Love: October 20, 1979
Season Two, Episode Seven: All Around the Clock: October 27, 1979
Season Two, Episode Eight: Odd Couples: November 3, 1979
Season Two, Episode Nine: Pal Joey: November 17, 1979
Season Two, Episode Ten: Helen makes Music: November 24, 1979
Season Two, Episode Eleven: The Skeleton: December 1, 1979
Season Two, Episode Twelve: The Other Man: December 15, 1979
Season Two, Episode 13: And Who's been sleeping in my...?: January 26, 1980
Season Two, Episode 14: Jenny's Date: February 2, 1980
Season Two, Episode 15: Of Mice and Horses: February 9, 1980
Season Two, Episode 16: Family Feud: February 16, 1980
Season Two, Episode 17: The Other Woman: March 1, 1980
Season Two, Episode 18: Man About the House: March 8, 1980
Season Two, Episode 19: Old Flames: March 15, 1980
Season Two, Episode 20: The Rummage Sale: May 1, 1980
Season Two, Episode 21: Four Letter Word: May 8, 1980
† Season Two, Episode 22: Mother's Wake: May 15, 1980
†This was the final episode of the series.
Despite the fact that moving from Three's Company
to The Ropers
meant that Fell and Lindley moved from supporting roles to becoming primary stars of their own series, Fell claimed that he had never wanted to assume the risk of leaving an established, successful series for one that was unproven and obviously might fail. He said that he would only agree to it after securing a guarantee that if The Ropers
was canceled after less than a year, he and Lindley would be allowed to return to Three's Company.
During the time that The Ropers was on the air, the characters had been replaced on Three's Company by Don Knotts. The addition had worked well and Three's Company had retained its popularity. The idea of returning Fell and Lindley to their original Three's Company roles was undesirable to producers, mainly because they had one character playing the landlord role now as opposed to two, which would require more money to be paid out per episode, (the show's cancellation came just as Suzanne Somers began to renogotiate her contract, which would lead to her very public contract dispute during the 1980-81 television season), something that was undersirable to the shows producers and ABC. The cancellation of The Ropers came just one month after the one-year contractual deadline passed. Fell would later state that he always believed the decision to pull the plug on the show had been made much earlier, but that the network deliberately postponed making the cancellation official until after the one-year mark specifically to be relieved of the obligation to allow Fell and Lindley to return to Three's Company
Despite the hard feelings, both Fell and Lindley made one final guest appearance on Three's Company several months after the end of their own series. For audiences, it was a chance to see all three landlords — Fell, Lindley, and Knotts — on the same stage.
As was the case during their time on Three's Company openings for this show exist with both Audra Lindley and Norman Fell credited first.
is rarely in syndication
these days. It was seen on local channels in the 1980s and early 1990s, but has not been seen recently. Two episodes of the series, however, play in the syndication package of Three's Company
. When initially offered in syndication, the series ran under the title Three's Company's Friends, The Ropers
. That version used an instrumental version of the original series' theme song. Six episodes of the series were aired on TV Land
in September 2006.
The Ropers aired in Canada beginning September 15, 2007 on CanWest Global's digital specialty channel, DejaView. It will air weekends at 6:00 pm and 3:00 am.