The 13 Best 'Fresh Prince' Episodes To Watch If You Love Uncle Phil
When actor James Avery died in 2013, the loss felt deeply personal to fans of Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, and as such, the outpouring of heartfelt tributes from fans was completely understandable. In his portrayal of the Banks family patriarch, Phil, Avery was for many of us one of the ultimate father figures on TV. In watching some of the best Uncle Phil episodes from Fresh Prince, it's so easy to recognize the traits of many dads. He could be bold and terrifying when it came to trouble makers, warm and supportive when it came to love, and fun and silly when he was allowed to actually be himself and not just be a dad. Most importantly, Avery's unparalleled comedic performance gave us countless Uncle Phil moments in Fresh Prince that remain some of the funniest in TV sitcom history.
Phil was undoubtedly the emotional backbone of Fresh Prince. He was the voice of reason, no matter how loud or stern or angry that voice may have been, and he was also the central figure of support in the show. He was the one who kept every single last one of the characters in check and encouraged them to be the absolute very best person possible. And he was absolutely, ridiculously hilarious while he did so. What more could you want from a TV dad? Watch any one of these 13 episodes, and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.
1. Phil Saves The Day When Will And Carlton Get Arrested
I'd go as far as to say that this episode (titled, "Mistaken Identity") has become one of the most iconic from the entire series. And Uncle Phil's powerful speech, which he delivers to the less than helpful police officers holding his son and nephew behind bars, is easily one of the main reasons for that.
2. Phil Accidentally Kills Nicky's Pet Rabbit By Sitting On Him
Oh, boy. It's been over 15 years since I first saw this episode, and it still makes me guiltily howl with laughter every time. Part of that definitely comes down to Avery's impeccable comic timing leading up to the accidental bunny murder in question. There are also some amazing scenes showing Phil clumsily, panicking all the while, trying to fix his mistake before Nick finds out.
3. Phil Realizes He May Have Judged Will All Wrong
Be still my beating heart. The pilot episode of Fresh Prince is possibly one of my favorites of any TV show ever, and the ending of it has a lot to do with that. Showing Phil delivering a speech about how he's going to straighten Will out (much to Will's chagrin), we see how both the uncle and nephew have judged each other without really knowing each other well enough. As Phil leaves, though, Will takes to the piano, and we see him reappearing at the doorway looking stunned, and proud, of his nephew. And, oh god, it's a sweet moment.
4. Phil Totally Owns A Gang Of Pool Sharks
As so often happens on Fresh Prince, Will gets into trouble with a bunch of pool sharks and ends up owing them a sizable amount of money. Of course, Phil can help out. He's a powerful attorney after all. Except the magnificent twist of this episode is that Phil resolves the dispute on the same level as the pool sharks — by beating them at their own game. And it's amazing.
5. Phil Has A Heart Attack (And Struggles To Diet)
In "Home Is Where The Heart Attack Is," Phil is forced to reconsider his life choices after he suffers a heart attack. It's a touching episode for many reasons, but Avery is also in top form in it, delivering a serious message in a lighthearted manner.
6. Phil Tries On Toupees
OK, so this particular episode ("Geoffrey Cleans Up" from Season 2) isn't exactly very Phil-centric, but I could happily just watch a 20 minute episode of Phil trying on different wigs. It's an absolute tickle of a scene that never fails to leave me crying with laughter.
7. Will's Dad Turns Up And Then Leaves Him Again
You undoubtedly already know this one as the Fresh Prince episode that makes you weep every time. Will Smith's performance in the episode is truly devastating, but Avery is just as terrific, with Phil truly securing himself as one of the most remarkable father figures in television history. That hug, guys. It obliterates me.
8. Phil Sues Will And Carlton For Rent
After one of Will and Carlton's pool parties gets a little too wild, Phil decides to take legal action against them in order to teach them a lesson. And we get to enjoy a whole episode that shows the events of the pool party from both Will's and Phil's points of view — and both of them are equally as unbalanced, ridiculous, and hilarious as each other.
9. Phil Runs For Superior Court Judge
Will decides to help out his Uncle's campaign by doing some last minute edits to his campaign video. And, suffice to say, it's genius. It's hilarious and so incredibly '90s (those scratch-style mixes), but it also shows that Will's earnest efforts are genuinely sweet. He edits the footage because he wants to show his uncle in the same fun, personable light in which he also knows the guy. And you have to admit that Phil does come off as looking pretty great from it all, even if it isn't very professional.
10. Geoffrey Thinks He's Won The Lottery And Quits His Job
Hell hath no fury like a Philip Banks scorned, folks. After one of Will and Carlton's pranks goes horribly wrong when they pretend Geoffrey has won a lottery jackpot, Phil delivers a maniacal, terrifying, and ever so slightly evil threat to his son and nephew in order for them to rectify their major mistake. And it's absolutely majestic.
11. Phil And Vivian Are Invited Onto A Special Episode Of Soul Train
Phil might not have been fully on board with accepting the tickets and making an appearance on the show, but, by the end of the episode, it's clear that he's having the time of his life. And Phil dancing? Best thing ever. You can absolutely see where Carlton got his moves from.
12. Janice, Phil's Former Girlfriend, Comes To Visit
And sparks fly. Not just with Vivian, who's understandably annoyed about the whole scenario, but also with Will, who has a bit of a fling with Janice's daughter.
13. Vivian Goes Into Labor While Will And Phil Get Stuck In An Elevator Together
If ever you needed proof that Phil was an eminent badass in Fresh Prince, then this episode is it. Not only does he manage to keep an hysterical Will more-or-less calm, but he also manages to put an entitled jerk firmly (and repeatedly) in his place while they're stuck sharing the same air.
And let's just go right ahead and throw in every single time that Phil threw Jazz out of the house too, right? Because that joke definitely deserved an entire episode of its own. Here's to you, Uncle Phil — best TV dad, ever.
Images: Warner Bros. Television