Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns were both recently divorced when cast for the series. The two found themselves bonding over their mutual experience, and felt the bond was helpful in developing their working/on-screen relationship.
In one episode, Mike talks about confusion over the Russian playwright Chekhov, saying he thought Chekov was "The Russian guy on Star Trek." Andrew Koenig, who played Mike's best friend Boner on the series, was the son of Walter Koenig, who played Chekov on Star Trek.
Kirk Cameron and Tracy Gold played siblings in McDonald's commercial before they played siblings on Growing Pains
Rival network NBC poked fun at Growing Pains on their show Golden Girls in the episode "Family Affair" with Dorothy claiming "I can't believe Alan Thicke has a hit series".
Julie McCullough was unaware of her firing as she was handed the script just moments after showing up on-set. She found it difficult to do a follow-up episode a year later, as her character makes good with Mike, when in real life she resented Cameron for having her fired. Although Cameron and producer's denied she was fired.
Robin Thicke (Alan Thicke's son) appeared in a couple of episodes as the boy in the classroom.
The producers had to seriously re-tailor the show to better include other cast members after the network complained that the pilot too heavily focused on the Mike character.
Disney Channel aired the series between 1997-2000. Select episodes didn't air due to its adult themes such as the pilot episode (Mike getting arrested) Extra Lap (mild swearing and dealing with death) Thank God it's Friday (cocaine use/swearing) and select episodes in later seasons because of premarital sex, drunk driving, mild swearing etc.
When Tracey Gold took her leave of absence during the final season, Carol was temporarily written out by going to London to pursue college studies abroad there.
Many TV viewers and critics felt the show's depiction of a father who was a doctor whose office was in the home and a mother who was a working professional was ripped off from The Cosby Show (1984). Creator 'Neil Marlens (I)' has said that Jason and Maggie's occupations and related dynamics were based on those of his own parents while growing up and that the similarities were coincidental. The family attends a live taping of "The Cosby Show" in the opening scene of an episode in Season 2; this is especially odd since the two shows aired on different networks.
There were four renditions of the theme song. Initially, B.J. Thomas sang it solo. Later a track recorded by Dusty Springfield was overlaid to create a duet. Springfield's track was replaced by Jennifer Warnes version following her successful duet with Bill Medley on the Dirty Dancing (1987) soundtrack. The final season featured an a cappella version. A single episode in Season 6 (Ep. 19) also had the opening theme song sung by Mike and his fellow singing waiters, Broadway-style.
In 1990 the producers chose to "leap" the character of Chrissy five years, and she suddenly became seven years old.
Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, Jeremy Miller, Joanna Kerns and Leonardo DiCaprio all reunited at Alan Thicke's memorial service in 2016. It was the first time DiCaprio had united with most of the cast since the show's cancellation in 1992.
'Leonardo Dicaprio' was brought on in a last ditch effort to pump new life into the show and appeal to the teenage fan base, but the show ratings did not improve. Dicaprio's character was dropped and the show canceled. This was another example of Cousin Oliver Syndrome; an ill fated ploy tv show producers use to pump up the ratings on a dying show where they bring in a cute little kid at the last minute. This was named after Oliver Tyler, AKA Robbie Rist; who was Carol's nephew, sent to the Bradys as their ward when his parents decided to be missionaries and go to Africa for a couple years; on the last season of Brady Bunch. The ploy did not work in that case (it never does); and the show was cancelled soon after. Other shows that have used this ploy were Family Ties (Andy/Brian Bonsall); Happy Days (Heather O'Rourke); All in the Family (Stephanie/Danielle Brisebois); Eight is Enough (Ralph Machio); One Day at a Time (Alex); The Cosby Show (Olivia/Raven Symone); What's Happening (Little Earl); Diff'rent Strokes (Sam/Danny Cooksey); The Partridge Family (Ricky/Ricky Seagall); My Three Sons (Dodie); Family (Annie); The Facts of Life (Andy/Mackenzie Astin; also Kelly/Pamela Segall/ also Pippa); Little House on the Prairie (James/Jason Bateman and Cassandra/Melissa Frances); as well as many other shows. Growing Pains had two cases of Cousin Oliver Syndrome; little Chrissy was another example! In each of these cases the ploy failed; and the show was cancelled soon after the arrival of the new kid.
Tracey Gold (Carol) suffered from severe anorexia and missed most of the show's final season. Pay close attention to the final episode and you will notice that she does not take one bite of the pizza she is holding.
Kirk Cameron was so intent on keeping the show devoid of adult themes that he phoned the president of ABC and accused producers Dan Guntzelman, Steve Marshall and Michael Sullivan of being "pornographers". The three then resigned from the show, having had enough of Cameron's shenanigans.
Between the 1988-89 season cliffhanger and 1989-90 season premiere, Kirk Cameron had a religious awakening and demanded that Julie McCullough's character of Mike's fiancee be written out of the show because she had appeared in "Playboy" Magazine in the past. Cameron's girlfriend, Chelsea Noble, was then hired to replace her. Cameron later claimed the reason she was ousted was simply because he felt it was out-of-character for Mike Seaver to have a long-term relationship with any woman.
Jamie Abbott, who played Ben's best friend "Stinky Sullivan", was first featured on the show as another character who bullied Ben.
Heather Graham appeared in one episode of the series. Mike goes with 3 girls to the winter's ball and one of them is her. She doesn't say anything but "Hello".
Jeremy Miller openly admitted that Kirk Cameron and Leonardo Dicaprio didn't get along well on the set.
Alan Thicke was mainly known as a Canadian talk show host before appearing in this series. Most involved with the production did not want him, but when no one reading for the part fit the bill, he was auditioned and hired.
When they did the Growing Pains Reunion Kirk Cameron apologized to the other cast members for pushing his fundamentalist beliefs on everyone else during the original run of the show.
About a decade after the original show wrapped; ABC hosted a Growing Pains Reunion. All the original (main) cast was present. During the special Kirk Cameron admitted that during the run of the original show he became a born again Christian; and for awhile became very confrontational with the other cast members; and was proselytizing in a very aggressive way. He apologized for this on air. Joanna Kearns accepted his apology and said," I'm glad you said that. Because at the time I was like, 'Stop telling me how to feel!'"
Jason (Alan Thicke) is seen a few times in the series drinking both Coors and Coors Light. Thicke originally sang radio jingles in Canada advertising Coors.
Kirk Cameron's sister Candace Cameron Bure appeared on a couple of episodes playing a classmate of Ben's.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt were both on Growing Pains. Later both would co-star in 2015s Audition, and 2019s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Although Mike is the oldest of the Seaver kids, Kirk Cameron actually was more than a year younger than Tracey Gold, who played Mike's younger sister Carol.
'Joanna Kearns' was only 16 years older than Tracey Gold and 17 years older than Kirk Cameron.
Howard Stern used to publicly criticize the show in the 80's on his New York Radio talk show and in later years publicly chastised Kirk Cameron for become religious and even called him a "fake" Christian.
The video portion of the theme featured five different variations; season 1 had artwork from various eras (Egyptian, Renaissance, Victorian, etc.) with the cast names superimposed; season 2 had clips of season 1; season three showed real-life photos of the cast when they were younger, and always had Thicke standing alone at the end of the song, then running to catch up with other cast members; season four and five had a different cast member linger in front of the camera before running for other cast members; seasons six and seven featured a professional family photo before and after the credits.
The character Jason Seaver was ranked #37 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" (20 June 2004 issue).
Joanna Kearns became a successful Hollywood director after she left Growing Pains. She told friends that she had to basically give up acting to be accepted as an director though. JoBeth Williams, her close friend, who was starring in the Poltergeist franchise at the time; complained "Why should a woman have to give up her career when the man (like Clint Eastwood and Mel GIbson) does not?" In spite of this, JoBeth Williams followed in her friend's footsteps and also became a Hollywood director.
The Season 2 episode "Fast Times at Dewey High" was edited on the Disney Channel and on ABC Family because the original episode plays Honeymoon Suites' "Bad Attitude". Disney edited the part out due to not wanting to pay royalties and ABC Family did it for time constraints. Ironically enough in Season 4, Ben has a Honeymoon Suite record in his room and Alan Thicke had the band on his show "Thicke of the Night" and was a big fan of theirs as they were fellow Canadians.
Once Kirk Cameron became a Born Again Christian his relationship with Andrew Koenig strained since Koenig was an atheist as was Alan Thicke.
Andrew Koenig played Mike's best friend, Richard Milhous "Boner" Stabone, for four seasons. He was the son of Walter Koenig, who played Chekov on Star Trek. Sadly, Andrew Koenig took his own life in 2010. After his death Joanna Kerns said in an interview "he was struggling then just like he's been struggling now. It's very sad."
Kirk Cameron first met his wife on the set of Full House (she later joined Growing Pains).
The family's last name was Seaver and they had neighbors named Koosman. Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman were teammates on the New York Mets during the '60s and '70s. The show takes place on Long Island so it's likely that the creators were Mets fans.
Elizabeth Ward was originally cast as Carol. She beat out Tracey Gold during the auditions for the role; but tested badly with audiences once the pilot was filmed; so producers asked Tracey Gold to read for the part again. Gold initially said no; she had already auditioned for the part and had moved on. But the producers were persistent and Gold eventually relented and the rest is television history.
ABC must love the name Carol. They named the female star of three of their similarly themed family sitcoms in the 70s, 80s and 90s Carol. There was Carol Brady on Brady Bunch; Carol Seaver on Growing Pains, and Carol Foster-Lambert on Step by Step. (Ironically; these were three of ABC's flagship shows; all about step families; the Bradys, Seavers and Lamberts all had step children or foster children in them).
Rhonda, in the "Thank God It's Friday" episode; the blonde girl who offers Mike the cocaine at the party they crash, is played by Buffy the Vampire star Kristy Swanson.
Kirk Cameron has denied allegations that he had Julie McCullough fired from the series, referring to such reports as gossip. According to Cameron, Mike and Julie's romance was only meant to be fling, and that Mike being in a permanent or committed relationship such as marriage would be too out of character for him, and would prove to be a dead end for the series. Producers back Cameron's claim also noting that Julie McCullough's casting was only as guest star status, and was never a member of the regular cast, nor intended or planned to be.
Leonardo Dicaprio joins the cast in the last couple seasons as Luke Brower, a homeless kid that the Seavers take under their wing. This is another version of Cousin Oliver Syndrom: when TV shows add cute kids in the last couple seasons to beef up the ratings; Chrissy Seaver was another example. Of Leonardo Dicaprio, the cast members said they knew he was talented but they never knew how much, as Leonardo Dicaprio become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood just a few years after Growing Pains was cancelled.
Jeremy Miller said in a recent interview that he and Kirk Cameron "tortured Tracey Gold" on the set all time. (He was talking about teasing her with co-star Kirk Cameron).
"Mike" and "Carol" were clearly lifted from the Brady Bunch; another iconic ABC family sitcom. "Mike"; whose character is an inversion of the Alex character on Family Ties; is also a nod to Michael J Fox.
Jeremy Miller's character, Ben Seaver, has the middle names "Hubert Horatio Humphrey" in honor of the famous senator from Minnesota.
Kirk Cameron and Alan Thicke co-hosted one episode of NBC's Friday Night Videos Together. Ironically, their rival family sitcom stars Justine Bateman and Michael J Fox, from rival show Family Ties, also hosted.
This tv show featured three of the biggest stars from the 90s: Matthew Perry, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. Both Perry and Pitt played Carol's boyfriends; and DiCaprio played Luke Bower, a ward of the Seavers; who was a foster kid and recurring character for one season. Pitt and DiCaprio would go onto A List stardom and Leading Man status in Hollywood just a few years later; and Perry would star on the tv hit Friends which dominated tv ratings from 1994 to 2004. It also featured Kristy Swanson who went on to play Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Jenny Garth who went on to star in Beverly Hills 90210; Hillary Swank who won two Oscars, for Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby; Robin Thicke, Allan Thicke's son who became a music superstar in his own right; Candace Cameron Bure who is Kirk Cameron's sister and went on to star in Full House, Fuller House, The View, and John Hughes' Teen Classic Some Kind Of Wonderful; and other stars as well.
Joanna Kerns and Alan Thicke dated each other before being cast as husband and wife on "Growing Pains." And Tracey Gold and Kirk Cameron played brother and sister in a TV movie before Growing Pains started as well.
The Seavers lived on Long Island in New York. They traveled into NYC in many episodes and when Mike and Boner went to spy on Coach Lubbock when he got fired, they went to his apartment by JFK.
Matthew Perry and Brad Pitt were both on Growing Pains. (They both played boyfriends of Carol on different episodes). Both later appeared on Friends in the same episode. Matthew was of course Chandler Bing, one of the stars of the show, one of the eponymous FRIENDS. And Brad played a man who was rejected and ridiculed by Rachel in High School, Will Collbert, who went so far as to start an I Hate Rachel Club, that Ross was in briefly! And now, ten years later, Monica invites Will to Thanksgiving, and though Rachel has no idea who this person is, Will still holds a grudge. This is all an elaborate in-joke of course, because Pitt and Aniston were married at the time; they certainly did not hate each other- not yet anyway, that would come later! (Incidentally, Friends did the same basic storyline with Julia Roberts and Chandler/Matthew Perry, where she played a former classmate who was planning a revenge scheme on Chandler).
Gordon Jump, who played Maggie's father, was only twenty years older than Joanna Kerns, and less than forty years older than his TV grandchildren Tracey Gold and Kirk Cameron.
Maggie was 34 years old during season 1, Michael was 14, She had him while she was 20 years old. Which is the same in real life as Kirk Cameron's mother Barbara had him at that age.