In the pilot episode, viewers meet the rest of Chicago Chronicle elevator operator Harriette Winslow's family. The first plot centers around her husband, Carl, a police sergeant with the Chicago Police Department. He's uptight when he learns that his mother, Estelle (aka Mother Winslow), is moving in - especially since his position as the family's "Head Kahuna" is threatened.
Harriette loses her job as elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle when she asks for a raise. The lack of a second income into the Winslow household puts additional strain on the budget, prompting Harriette to apply for an opening as head of security. Initially, she's turned down, but her impassioned speech about what skills she has makes quite the impression.
Early in the series, Harriette's widowed sister, Rachel Crawford, is a budding freelance writer who has just written a short story. She's really excited when Tomorrow's Woman magazine wants to buy the story, but no one else (except Eddie) wants to celebrate. It seems they've read the story, see negative representations of themselves in Rachel's characters and are offended that she's using her story as a way to express her frustrations about them.
To everyone's surprise, Eddie comes home with a report card with straight A's. Eddie's even more surprised, since he knows his academic performance has been what could be best described as marginal. Eddie later finds out his buddy Rodney Beckett was behind the scheme. Things soon become a matter of conscience: Don't say anything and have his parents be proud of him, or tell the truth?
Carl wants Eddie to become a big-time basketball star, and invites star player Will "The Thrill' Morgan over for encouragement. But Morgan sees through Carl's desire to live out his dreams through Eddie and helps set him straight.
Rachel decides to treat herself to a spin in Carl's vintage police car and promptly gets into a minor accident. Can she repair the damaged front fender before Carl gets home to drive it in a Columbus Day parade ... knowing that she was not to drive the car in the first place?
Carl wants to build a bathroom for Mother Winslow. Ignoring Harriette's plea to call a contractor to do the work properly, Carl recruits Eddie in an inept attempt to renovate one of the unused rooms downstairs.
Carl and his attractive new partner, Vanessa, are involved in a stake-out in a hotel room. Harriette worries (over nothing, as it turns out) that Carl will put aside his professionalism and try to woo Vanessa.
Working security at a television studio, Carl makes a simple request to actor Buddy Goodrich to move his parked car from a fire lane. Buddy is very rude and refuses to move the car. He presses his luck and is arrested when he tries to punch Carl. Carl thinks the matter is settled ... until the family learns about the arrest and won't talk to him. Later, Buddy shows up at the Winslows home in an attempt to bribe Carl with free tickets to his TV show, where again he runs his mouth off and lets slip the truth. The others then decide to give Buddy back the tickets and ...
Estelle shows off an heirloom quilt that's been in the Winslow family for more than 200 years. Despite being told not to sell the quilt at the family's garage sale, Laura accidentally does so when a museum curator offers $200 for it. Laura then goes all out to get the quilt back, using a tearful speech to soften up the stubborn curator. Estelle is impressed and lets Laura keep the quilt until it's her turn to pass it down a generation.
The episode that ensured "Family Matters'" success. It all began with Laura bemoaning her inability to get a date with cute classmate Mark for the school dance. Eddie and Carl make well-meaning attempts to set Laura up with someone. It is Carl who - in a decision he'd live to regret - sets his daughter up with Steven Q. Urkel. The quintessential nerd drives everyone batty just being himself. Even though Laura eventually gets over her shyness and asks Mark out, Urkel decides to stay until 10 p.m. - the earliest his folks want him home - and makes himself at home!
Man's best friend isn't a dog, at least in Carl's eyes, when a stray pooch follows the kids home. Carl wants to get rid of the dog, but his feelings begin to change when the dog scares off unwelcome visitor Urkel. Carl soon becomes attached to the dog, but it isn't long before the canine disrupts the family routine.
Carl's lemon tarts - made using a secret recipe - is a big hit with Rachel's church group. One of her friends is a restaurant manager who wants to buy dozens of the tarts. Carl agrees to turn the kitchen into a makeshift bakery ... and with less than 24 hours to fulfill the contract, the results are disastrous.
Carl leaves Eddie in charge of the household while the adults go on an overnight trip. There's one major rule: No guests allowed! Eddie obeys at first, but then Rodney comes over to deliver pizza. Then two pretty girls show up ... and things quickly spiral into a huge house party that Eddie quickly loses control over. Rival football players even play football with Urkel! Only when Carl and Harriette arrive home early does everything calm down ... that is, until Urkel utters from inside the sofa, "Party of the year!"
Eddie's flunking algebra and has nowhere else to turn but math-whiz Urkel. Urkel agrees to help Edd-o on one condition: He gets a date with Laura. And just so he'll get what he wants, he takes Eddie's Prince concert tickets for collateral. Laura reluctantly agrees to go with Urkel on a "non-date," which goes just as one would expect. In the end, Harriette assures Laura that Urkel is well satisfied - and then the phone rings!
Seeking a promotion, Carl invites no-nonsense Capt. Davenport over for dinner. Simple enough, except he doesn't know that Laura - who has opened a baby-sitting service - is looking after dozens of crazy children. Carl is sure his promotion (not to mention job) is down the drain, especially when Capt. Davenport is a little tied up thanks to the kids. But things turn out OK when Capt. Davenport moans, "You ruined the game" and admits he loves children.
A bully named Bull Watson terrorizes Urkel into giving up his lunch money. Urkel wants Eddie to stick up for him, but gets no sympathy. That is, Rodney witnesses Urkel sticking up for himself and Bull threatening him with serious injury if he refuses to hand over his lunch money. After going to Carl for some advice, Eddie decides to fight Bull ... and easily defeats him.
Eddie is persuaded to run for class president vs. Margie Flatman. Rodney - and later, Laura - decide that a campaign of style is better than substance, but Eddie eventually sees that Margie is simply more qualified for the job than he is and drops out.
It's the guys (don't forget Urkel) vs. the gals in grudge match at the bowling alley. The usual hijinks ensue, and a huge argument breaks out. Then a severe thunderstorm knocks out the power, and Estelle later points out that it was God calling everyone to their senses.
Eddie wants to make a rock video for a TV contest, but finds himself in a bind when his band deserts him. No wonder, Harriette points out: "That was a love letter from Eddie Winslow, to Eddie Winslow!" Eddie decides he needs to change his narcissistic attitude and recruits Urkel and his family to make a rock video ("We Are a Family") that everyone can be proud of.