TV URBAN LEGEND: Had The Brady Bunch been renewed for a sixth season, Robert Reed’s patriarch, Mike Brady, would have been killed off.
The classic sitcom, The Brady Bunch, is best known for its awesome opening credits, where we learned that a lovely lady (Florence Henderson) who was bringing up three very lovely girls
and a man named Brady (Robert Reed), with three boys of his own…
met up and decided to form a family…
And that family? Why, it was the Brady Bunch…
However, despite being all smiles on the screen, there were some major issues behind the scenes, which have been fodder for a lot of talk, especially the two actors who played the parents. Florence Henderson had to deal with the legend instigated by her TV son, Barry Williams, that they went on a date together (I covered that legend here) while Robert Reed had to deal with the fact that he felt that the show was unworthy of his talents.
Reed believed that the show could say something about modern day so-called “blended” families, but he was irked that as the series went on, the show just got goofier and goofier and less about the natural conflicts that arise from mixing in six teens and pre-teens together and forcing them to live as a family.
While he loved the kid actors on the show and they loved him, he routinely clashed with Sherwood Schwartz, the creator and producer of the series. Reed constantly pushed for the quality of the show to get better, which naturally irritated Schwartz, who grew to really dislike Reed (and the feeling was undoubtedly mutual).
The show kept on going, until the end of the fifth season. The show’s ratings weren’t awesome (the show became a monster hit only years later in syndication) but they were decent enough that a sixth season seemed very possible. However, the last episode of the season dealt with the oldest child in the family, Greg Brady (the aforementioned Barry Williams) graduating high school, but his younger brother accidentally tuns his hair orange right before graduation…
Reed had had enough. The episode, he felt, was just dreck. He wouldn’t do it. He insisted that they re-write the script and that he would not appear in the episode until they did so. They called his bluff and just cut Mike Brady from the episode, divvying his lines up between Mrs. Brady and the Brady’s trusty housekeeper, Alice.
Although he wasn’t in the episode now, though, Reed still showed up on set, with Schwartz telling him to leave and Reed refusing. Reed eventually left when he realized that the episode was just going to go on without him.
So, the rumor is is that Schwartz was going to kill Mike Brady off if the series had continued for Season 6. That is untrue, but it IS true that Robert Reed was finished. While waiting to hear whether ABC would bring them back, they had to continue planning for a sixth season and that included re-signing the entire cast, who all had the standard five-year deals. They decided, though, that they were not bringing Reed back. They called up his agent and said he was done with the show.
They were not going to kill Mike Brady off, though. They were unsure exactly what to do with the character, with one likely possibility being Mike Brady being sent overseas for an important business trip and that lasting all season.
Also, though, this was only a couple of years after Bewitched successfully replaced their co-lead Darren with Dick Sargent replacing Dick York for the final three seasons of Bewitched (York also did the first five seasons).
Or heck, what about the Brady’s dog, Tiger? They replaced him during the series!
So re-casting Mike Brady was certainly a possibility. Instead, ABC passed on a sixth season, so we never got to learn exactly how Schwartz would have replaced Reed on the series.
Amusingly enough, after a wildly popular Christmas TV movie reunion featuring the Bradys in 1988, CBS decided to make a new series starring the grown Bradys. Reed returned for this project, but once again, he and Schwartz clashed. This series only lasted a single season, but Schwartz planned on dumping Reed on this series, as well, had it had another season, only this time, he would have killed off Mike Brady…
Reed passed away in 1992.
The legend is…
STATUS: False, with a lot of truthiness mixed in there.
Be sure to check out my archive of TV Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of TV.
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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