8 Simple Rules
Also known as8 Simple Rules ... for Dating My Teenage Daughter (seasons 1–2)
Created byTracy Gamble
Based on8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter
by W. Bruce Cameron
ComposerDan Foliart
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes76 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
Running time22 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 17, 2002 (2002-09-17) –
April 15, 2005 (2005-04-15)

8 Simple Rules (originally 8 Simple Rules... for Dating My Teenage Daughter) is an American television sitcom originally starring John Ritter and Katey Sagal as middle-class parents Paul and Cate Hennessy, raising their three children. Kaley Cuoco, Amy Davidson, and Martin Spanjers co-starred as their teenage kids: Bridget, Kerry, and Rory Hennessy. The series ran on ABC from September 17, 2002, to April 15, 2005. The first season focused on Paul being left in charge of the children after Cate takes a full-time job as a nurse, with comedic emphasis on his often strict rules concerning his daughters and dating. The series' name and premise were derived from the book 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter by W. Bruce Cameron.[1]

While 8 Simple Rules was renewed for a second season and production had begun, Ritter's sudden death on September 11, 2003, left the series in an uncertain position. After a hiatus, the series returned and killed off his character. James Garner and David Spade later joined the main cast as Cate's father Jim Egan and her nephew C.J. Barnes. After three seasons, ABC cancelled 8 Simple Rules in May 2005 because of low ratings.


Main article: List of 8 Simple Rules episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedAverage viewers
(in millions)
First airedLast aired
128September 17, 2002 (2002-09-17)May 20, 2003 (2003-05-20)10.9[2]#46[2]
224September 23, 2003 (2003-09-23)May 18, 2004 (2004-05-18)10.0[3]#50[3]
324September 24, 2004 (2004-09-24)April 15, 2005 (2005-04-15)6.8[4]#90[4]




Guest appearances


Ritter's death

The first three episodes of the series' second season had been completed when Ritter experienced discomfort during a rehearsal on the afternoon of September 11, 2003.[7] Crew members took him to a nearby hospital, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where he was misdiagnosed as having a heart attack and, as a result, his condition had worsened when physicians later diagnosed him with an aortic dissection. He died that evening at the age of 54.[8][9][10] Following Ritter's death, ABC announced that 8 Simple Rules would continue after a hiatus and would incorporate the death of Ritter's character. The three new episodes that Ritter had completed were aired with an introduction by Sagal.

8 Simple Rules returned two months after Ritter's death with a one-hour episode, "Goodbye", which was turned into a tribute to Ritter's character. Subsequent episodes dealt with the family's reaction to his death and how they moved on from it. The first four post-Ritter episodes were shot without a live audience with James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette guest-starring as Cate's strict parents and David Spade guest-starring as Cate's wayward nephew, C.J. Barnes. Garner and Spade later received starring roles in order to fill the void left by Ritter for the remainder of the series' run.

Third season and cancellation

Before Ritter's death, 8 Simple Rules ranked 42nd in the Nielsen ratings. After Ritter's death, it had slipped to 50th, but was renewed for a third season, in which ABC moved the series to Friday at 8:00 p.m. as part of its TGIF comedy line-up. The series' creator and show-runner, Tracy Gamble, left the series for a time over creative differences prior to the third season, but he later returned as a consulting producer midway through the season. Gamble was replaced by Judd Pillot and John Peaslee, who had performed the same role in the final season of Spade's sitcom Just Shoot Me!.[11] The series plunged to 94th in the ratings. Even before the third-season finale's airing, rumors began circulating that 8 Simple Rules was facing cancellation because of Ritter's death and poor ratings. The Friday night "death slot" ratings took their toll on 8 Simple Rules. The third-season finale was not aired for May sweeps. The finale received a 3.9/8 rating share, which gave ABC a third-place finish behind NBC's Dateline (5.8/11) and CBS's Joan of Arcadia (4.9/10), which starred Ritter's son, Jason. ABC officially cancelled 8 Simple Rules in May 2005.[12]


While the ratings for 8 Simple Rules were well above those of the surrounding TGIF shows during the show's third season, ABC canceled it because a perceived inability to sell reruns of the show into syndication; a fourth season would have given the show one hundred episodes, traditionally considered the minimum number of episodes necessary for a show to successfully enter daily syndication.[13][14][15]

On July 11, 2005 (less than two months after ABC officially canceled the show), The WB network announced that it would air all 76 episodes of 8 Simple Rules from 4–5 p.m. as part of its replacement of Kids' WB with the Daytime WB block, aimed at a broader audience. The show aired weekdays from January 2, 2006, to September 15, 2006, when it was replaced by Reba upon the merger of UPN and The WB into The CW.[16]

On Tuesday, June 12, 2007, the show joined the ABC Family lineup, airing weekdays from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. In September 2008, the show began airing from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., continuing at that time until October 10, 2008. On October 3, 2009, 8 Simple Rules returned to ABC Family, having been absent for a year, airing on Saturdays from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.[17] Airings have been sporadic because of the channel's unpredictable movie schedule and holiday programming block. On February 8, 2010, the series was added back to ABC Family's weekday lineup, airing from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, replacing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After a few more months of absence, 8 Simple Rules resumed on ABC Family at 7:00 p.m. ET on select weekend mornings, beginning on July 18, 2010. In mid-December 2012, 8 Simple Rules was removed from ABC Family's weekday lineup, only to be added back in September 2013. The series was removed from the network's lineup once again in 2014.

In the United Kingdom, the show began airing on the Disney Channel in 2003, with the episodes edited for a children's audience.[18] It was picked up by ABC1, which aired it until the channel's closure in 2007. The same year, Channel 5 began airing Season 1 of the series. From 2008, all three seasons of the show were aired on 5*.[19] The series was aired uncut on subsequent channels following its cancellation by Disney Channel. Both Channel 5 and 5* aired the series in its original widescreen format. In 2017, Comedy Central obtained the rights to the show and started airing it on June 12, 2017.

In Denmark, "8 Simple Rules" aired on TV3.

In Canada, the show aired on YTV and ABC Spark (the Canadian version of Freeform).

In the Republic of Ireland, "8 Simple Rules" aired on RTÉ Two. Later, rights to the show were acquired by TG4, which aired the series weeknights at 5:35 p.m. The series was shown on both channels uncut, despite the early time of day, but the show was issued an age rating. On RTÉ Two, it was issued a "PS" rating and, on TG4, a "12" rating.

In Israel, the show aired on satellite provider yes, using its shortened title 8 Simple Rules in Hebrew ("8 כללים פשוטים").

Home media

On August 7, 2007, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released Season 1 of 8 Simple Rules on DVD in Region 1. Season 1 was released in the UK on September 1, 2008.[20]

In August 2008, Lionsgate Home Entertainment announced that it had acquired the rights to the series from ABC Studios. Lionsgate subsequently released Season 2 on DVD in Region 1 on May 19, 2009.[21]

DVD Name Ep # Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season 28 August 7, 2007 September 1, 2008 November 12, 2008[22]
The Complete Second Season 24 May 19, 2009 TBA TBA
The Complete Third Season 24 TBA TBA TBA

The first 2 seasons of the series were released on Disney+ on May 20, 2022. For reasons unknown, season 3 is absent from the service.


Critical reception

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season reports a 57% approval rating, based on 21 reviews.[23] In a review for Variety, Michael Speier deemed the series unoriginal, but did praise the cast performances, especially John Ritter. Critical of the show's humor, he did go on to comment, "nothing even remotely deep here, but “Rules” isn’t as silly as some of its plotlines suggest. Going for the mass appeal, bow’s reach goes a little too far, trying to appease every single potential audience member off the bat with standard-fare jokes about clothing, dating and busy spouses. It would really be something if execs went for the slowburn once in a while, letting some of these shows breathe before jamming punchlines down viewers’ throats."[24]

The second season reports a 60% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 5 reviews.[25]

U.S. television ratings

Viewership and ratings per season of 8 Simple Rules
Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes First aired Last aired TV season Viewership
Avg. viewers
Date Viewers
Date Viewers
1 Tuesday 8:00 pm 28 September 17, 2002 (2002-09-17) 17.29 May 20, 2003 (2003-05-20) 7.88 2002–03 46 10.9[26]
2 24 September 23, 2003 (2003-09-23) 16.97 May 18, 2004 (2004-05-18) 7.54 2003–04 50 10.0[27]
3 Friday 8:00 pm 24 September 24, 2004 (2004-09-24) 6.11 April 15, 2005 (2005-04-15) 5.26 2004–05 90 6.8[28]


Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref(s)
2003 Art Directors Guild Awards Multi–Camera Television Series Jay Pelissier (episode: "All I Want for Christmas") Nominated [29]
ASCAP Film & TV Awards Top TV Series Dan Foliart Won [30]
British Academy Children's Awards Best International 8 Simple Rules Nominated [31]
Artios Awards Outstanding Achievement in
Comedy Pilot Casting
Lori Openden Nominated [32]
Genesis Awards Best TV Comedy Series "8 Simple Rules" (episode: "Goodbye") Won [30]
People's Choice Awards Favorite Television New Comedy Series 8 Simple Rules Won [30]
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Comedy 8 Simple Rules Nominated [30]
Choice TV Actress: Comedy Kaley Cuoco Nominated [30]
Choice Breakout TV Show 8 Simple Rules Won [33]
Choice Breakout TV Actress Kaley Cuoco Won [33]
Young Artist Award Best Performance in a TV Series
(Comedy or Drama) - Leading Young Actress
Kaley Cuoco Nominated [30]
Best Performance in A TV Series
(Comedy or Drama) - Leading Young Actor
Martin Spanjers Nominated [30]
2004 British Academy Children's Awards Best International 8 Simple Rules Won [34]
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series James Widdoes (episode: "Goodbye") Nominated [30]
Primetime Emmy Awards Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series Bruce L. Finn (episode: "Goodbye”) Won [35]
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series John Ritter (posthumously) Nominated [35]
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actress: Comedy Kaley Cuoco Nominated [30]
Young Artist Award Best Young Adult Performer in a Teenage Role Kaley Cuoco Nominated [30]
Best Performance in a TV Series - Recurring Young Actress Kaitlin Callum Nominated [30]
Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) - Leading Young Actor Martin Spanjers Won [30]
2005 Genesis Awards Sid Caesar Comedy Award Episode – "Finale: Part Deux" Won [36]
Prism Awards Performance in a Comedy Series Katey Sagal Won [37]
TV Comedy Episode Episode: "Consequences" Nominated [38]


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  3. ^ a b "2003–2004 TV Ratings Archived 2008-05-21 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved July 29, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "2004–2005 TV Ratings Retrieved July 29, 2008.
  5. ^ "Drummer Boy (part 2)". 8 Simple Rules. Season 1. Episode 18. February 11, 2003. ABC.
  6. ^ "Sex Ed". 8 Simple Rules. Season 2. Episode 2. September 30, 2003. ABC.
  7. ^ "John Ritter Legacy Lives in "Ritter Rules"". cbsnews.com. March 17, 2010.
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  12. ^ "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter last episode". August 2, 2009.
  13. ^ Barry Garron (March 29, 2006). "Anatomy of a hit: George Lopez". The Hollywood Reporter. HollywoodReporter.com. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
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  15. ^ Michael Schneider (July 6, 2004). "Duo 'Standing' tall in 20th deal". Variety. Archived from the original on October 15, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
  16. ^ "Breaking News - The WB Sets Its 3:00 Pm-5:00 PM Afternoon Block Line-Up for January 2006 Through September 2006 | TheFutonCritic.com". www.thefutoncritic.com.
  17. ^ "ABC Family October 2009 Has 8 Simple Rules Returning; Big Three To Air Obama Address on Wednesday".
  18. ^ "8 Simple Rules... for dating my teenage daughter". disney.co.uk. Archived from the original on March 15, 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  19. ^ "Fiver to air 8 Simple Rules". the8rules.co.uk. April 21, 2008. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  20. ^ Listing at Amazon.uk
  21. ^ Season 2 on DVD Archived February 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine at TV Shows on DVD
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  38. ^ Morfoot, Addie (March 10, 2005). "EIC names 9th annual Prism noms". Variety. Retrieved March 1, 2022.