Also known asThese Friends of Mine
Created by
Theme music composer
Opening theme"So Called Friend", performed by Texas (seasons 3–5)
ComposerW. G. Snuffy Walden
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes109 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Tracy Newman
  • Jonathan Stark
  • David S. Rosenthal
  • Mark Grossan
  • Richard Day
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production companies
DistributorBuena Vista Television
Original networkABC
Original releaseMarch 29, 1994 (1994-03-29) –
July 22, 1998 (1998-07-22)[1]
Related showsThe Ellen Show (2001–2002)

Ellen is an American television sitcom that aired on the ABC network from March 29, 1994, to July 22, 1998, consisting of 109 episodes. The title role is Ellen Morgan, a neurotic bookstore owner in her thirties, played by stand-up comedian Ellen DeGeneres. The title of the series was These Friends of Mine for the first season, but it was subsequently changed to avoid confusion with the NBC series Friends, which premiered in September 1994.

The series centered on Ellen's dealing with her quirky friends, her family, and the problems of daily life, set in Los Angeles. The series was one of the first in the US with a main character to come out as gay, which DeGeneres' character did in the 1997 episode "The Puppy Episode", which aired shortly after DeGeneres publicly revealed that she was gay in real life. This event received a great deal of media exposure, ignited controversy, and prompted ABC to place a parental advisory at the beginning of each episode.

The series' theme song (used in season 3 onwards) is a version of "So Called Friend" by Scottish band Texas with altered lyrics. A running gag during the third and fourth seasons was that each episode had a distinct/different opening credits sequence (often with singing and dancing), resulting from Ellen's ongoing search for the perfect opening credits.


Main article: List of Ellen episodes

"The Puppy Episode"

Main article: The Puppy Episode

In 1997, Ellen made television history when the title character came out as a lesbian in the famous "Puppy Episode" (DeGeneres herself came out concurrent with the episode on The Oprah Winfrey Show and in Time). To ensure a memorable moment, the coming out scene was made into a gag where, at an airport, Ellen turns and tells Laura Dern's character "I'm gay!" – only to realize that she had turned right into the public address microphone, announcing her sexuality to the entire terminal. Ellen DeGeneres's mother Betty can briefly be seen as one of the people in the terminal with a shocked reaction to the announcement.[2]

The episode was ranked No. 35 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time.[3]

The revelation ignited a storm of controversy, prompting ABC to place a parental advisory at the beginning of each episode.

Ellen was successful enough in its early seasons to warrant annual renewal, due largely to DeGeneres's perceived appeal and comic ability, but only with Ellen's coming out did the show make its way into the wide public consciousness and hit a critical plateau. After the initial coming out frenzy, however, the show's ratings declined, and ABC began feeling the pain of a backlash regarding the "gay content" being exhibited. The final episodes of Ellen were criticized for focusing too much on gay issues.[4] Eventually, even some members of the LGBT community, including Chaz Bono (who at the time was the media director for GLAAD), began to criticize the show's serious new tone as well.[5] ABC cancelled the show in May 1998 after five seasons.

Viva Las Vegas

See also: Grace Under Fire § Viva Las Vegas, Coach (TV series) § Viva Las Vegas, and The Drew Carey Show § Viva Las Vegas

The episode "Secrets & Ellen" is part of a crossover with Grace Under Fire, Coach, and The Drew Carey Show set in Las Vegas. It features Brett Butler as Grace Kelly and Drew Carey as himself.

Cast and characters


Character Portrayed by Appearances
1 2 3 4 5
Ellen Morgan Ellen DeGeneres Main
Joe Farrell David Anthony Higgins Main
Adam Green Arye Gross Main Does not appear
Holly Holly Fulger Main Does not appear
Anita Warrell Maggie Wheeler Main Does not appear
Paige Clarke Joely Fisher Does not appear Main
Audrey Penney Clea Lewis Guest Recurring Main
Spence Kovak Jeremy Piven Does not appear Main


Note: Between seasons one and two, there was not only a title change from These Friends of Mine to Ellen, but several characters disappeared without explanation.


Broadcast history


Season Episodes Season Premiere Season Finale Ranking Viewers
(in millions)
1 1993–94 13[a] March 29, 1994 August 30, 1994 N/A[6] N/A[6]
2 1994–95 24 September 21, 1994 May 17, 1995 #13[citation needed] 21.05[citation needed]
3 1995–96 25 September 13, 1995 May 21, 1996 #39[citation needed] 16.59[citation needed]
4 1996–97 25[a] September 18, 1996 May 13, 1997 #30[citation needed] 16.79[citation needed]
5 1997–98 22 September 24, 1997 July 22, 1998 #42[7] 12.4[7]
[a]Two episodes that aired in Season 3, "The Tape" and "The Mugging", were filmed at the same time as Season 1 and are included in the Season 1 DVD box set as "bonus episodes", and are not included in the Season 3 DVD release.[citation needed][clarification needed]


Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Ellen

Home media

A&E Home Video has released the entire series on DVD in Region 1. These DVDs do not have captioning or subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired.

DVD Name Ep # Release date
Season One 13 September 28, 2004
Season Two 24 February 22, 2005
Season Three 25 February 28, 2006
Season Four 25 September 26, 2006
Season Five 22 November 28, 2006


  1. ^ "BBC – Comedy Guide – Ellen". Archived from the original on January 8, 2005.
  2. ^ Lowry, Brian (March 3, 1997). "Risks and Benefits Seen for an Out-of-the-Closet 'Ellen'". LA Times. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  3. ^ "Special Collectors' Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28 – July 4). 1997.
  4. ^ "Ellen in Jump The Shark". Archived from the original on October 10, 2007.
  5. ^ "Planet Out". Archived from the original on April 11, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Moore, Frazier (July 8, 1994). "NEWSMAGAZINES CROWD INTO TOP OF RATINGS". Sun Sentinel. p. 4E. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  7. ^ a b "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly. No. 434. May 29, 1998. Retrieved December 2, 2010.