The True Story Behind The Saddest Scene In ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ History

Senior Pop Culture Editor
09.25.14 84 Comments


Think back to any “emotional” scene on Full House. They were all pretty the same: the dialogue would get cheesy (well, cheesier) and the music, sappy (sappier). It was a formula that clearly worked, considering there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing more of the Tanners soon, but it was super-corny, especially when compared to another so-called “kids show” that was on the same time, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. You probably remember the goofy dancing scenes and guest appearances from DJ Jazzy Jeff, but every so often, The Fresh Prince would attempt something legitimately poignant.

Of course I’m talking about “Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse.”

It killed me when I first saw it, and still gets to me now. In the episode, Will’s deadbeat father Lou (played by Broadway legend Ben Vereen) returns after a 14-year absence to spend time with his son. The Banks, especially Uncle Phil, see through Lou’s lies, but Will can’t; he’s so happy to be with his dad that he drops his trademark swagger and acts like an eager child again. Guess what happens next.

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