Will Smith Points To The Moment Fresh Prince Series Began To Decline

Will Smith can pinpoint the exact episode and moment the The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air began to decline and fall off as a series.

By James Brizuela | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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Anyone who grew up in the early 90s’ was familiar with Will Smith and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. This was long before Smith became a movie star. The show held massive audiences in its six-year run on the air, which is small considering other television shows go well over 10 seasons. Will Smith recently explained the episode which led to the cancellation of the show. In season five, an episode titled “Bullets over Bel-Air” held a more dark and tragic storyline. Will is shot in a robbery attempt and Carlton buys a gun to protect himself.

This was not the first time in which Will Smith and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air got heavy. An episode of even deeper fame shows Will’s estranged father returning to his life. Then he leaves a crying Will at the end of the episode. Smith still states the gun was the moment in which the show that “jumped the shark”. This is a reference to when The Fonz jumped a shark in Happy Days and all but killed the show’s audience numbers. An even older show that was popular in the 1960s.

Will Smith reiterated that the episode in which Carlton has a gun was too dark for audiences and signaled the show’s downfall. He argues that shows needing to reach for such darker subject matter are on their way out. Smith also got advice from John Amos about not overstaying his welcome. Amos stated that Smith needed to get out before the network forced him out.

In Will Smith’s own words he said, “The storylines were becoming increasingly hokey and it was difficult to maintain the ‘Freshness.'” That makes sense when the entirety of the show was based around Carlton and Will’s antics. The darker subject matter didn’t exactly fit the build for the primary focus of the series.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reached massive fame in its tenure on television. The show reached syndication in 1994. Syndication is when a show is made for one network but is then popular enough to reach massive success on multiple networks. Will Smith would become a huge star due to his show’s success. The Fresh Prince helped catapult Smith to superstardom in the film world.

In 2020, Will Smith put together a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion. The episode aired on HBO Max. The fan-favorite Uncle Phil got a touching tribute in the episode. Even Janet Hubert returned to the show since her exit after the third season. Will Smith and Hubert discussed the trying circumstances that led to her exit. This moment was one of the hardest-hitting and eye-opening of the reunion.

All episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air can be streamed on HBO Max. Even nearly 30 years later, the show can still pack a punch with its hilarity. The darker moments are only minimal in the grand scheme of one of television’s most enjoyed shows. The series and reunion special are both heartwarming and hilarious. After binging both, be ready to crank up the Tom Jones and Carlton Dance throughout the night.