When Norman Lear, Mike Evans, and Eric Monte were first developing this show, it was not a spin off of "Maude" (1972) (itself a spin-off of "All in the Family" (1971)). Later, they decided to cast Esther Rolle and 'John Amos (I)' as the leads and promote the show as a spin off featuring Florida Evans and her family. The originally chosen family name was changed to Evans and the wife/mother's first name to Florida, but those of the other characters were left unchanged. It was nothing but coincidence that the younger son's name thus became the same as co-creator Mike Evans'. Two huge contradictions with "Maude" - that John Amos's character there was a Tuchahoe, N.Y., fire fighter named Henry who insisted that his wife cease demeaning herself and quit her job as a servant to a white family when he received a hefty raise as part of a promotion and they no longer needed that additional income, while here he was a man named James who was unemployed and had been for a significant amount of time; and that the characters here live in Chicago, Illinois, projects rather than the aforementioned New York suburb and repeatedly indicate that they have done so for many years - reveal that this series does not genuinely qualify as a spin-off of "Maude".
John Amos was fired from the series after the third season after comments he made about the backstage fights in an interview. His character was one of the first comedy sitcom characters to ever be killed off.
The first African American family sitcom.
During the first three seasons that John Amos was with the show, the closing credits showed a portrait of the Evans family painted by J.J. After Amos was killed off, a mural that J.J. painted for the local bank was shown. During the final season, a painting of the cast was shown during the opening credits and it morphed into a live shot of the cast.
(21-27 August 2005 issue).
Jimmie Walker's expression "DY-NO-MITE!" became a mid-1970s catchphrase. It was ranked #14 in TV Guide's list of "TV's 20 Top Catchphrases"