What Happened to the Mom on 'Full House'? The Story Is Sadder Than You Remember
Any good child of the '90s knows all about Full House . John Stamos's dreamy Uncle Jesse Katsopolis was like the cool uncle you always wanted. Dave Coulier's comedian Joey Gladstone was the slightly lame, but goofy fun friend of your dad's. And Bob Saget's neat freak, advice-giving-machine Danny Tanner was . . . well, probably nothing like your dad. The three men helped to raise Danny's three daughters — DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle — after Danny's wife (and Jesse's sister) passed away. Even though Full House didn't shy away from tackling some tough issues, the death of the girls' mom was really never mentioned that much and looking back, whenever it was brought up, it made for a very emotional episode.
When you think of a family sitcom, the death of a mom doesn't jump to your mind, but since the premise of the show is based entirely on the fact that Danny needed help raising his kids, Full House had to acknowledge it. The first episode, "Our Very First Show" starts with Danny's mom leaving the house after months of helping Danny with the kids after his wife, Pam, died. Danny's brother-in-law, Uncle Jesse, and his best friend, Joey, move in to help out. But that doesn't mean that the girls wanted their grandmother to go.
With the extra people in the house, it means that D.J. and Stephanie have to share a room and D.J. lashes out by moving into the garage. Danny acknowledges that raising the girls without Pam is hard.
Your mom was always so good at this stuff. I'd come home from work and everything was always perfect.
Jesse also acknowledges the loss of his sister to Danny.
Pam was my big sister and I loved her very much and I love your kids and I'm happy to do what I can.
But it's not until the ninth episode, "The Miracle of Thanksgiving," that Jesse shows real grief over losing his sister. He goes through a photo album with Stephanie of old pictures of Pam and he opens up to Danny about how the pain of losing her never goes away. Danny convinces him to talk about her and the memories cause "that's what keeps her in your heart."
These moments were touching, but there are other times in the first season where it's almost odd that they don't mention Pam. Like in the fourth episode, "The Return of Grandma," Danny's mom stops by and upon seeing the terrible state the house was in, she recruits Jesse and Joey's moms to come visit too. Interestingly enough, Jesse's mom doesn't bring up Pam, who was her daughter. But Stephanie does call her "Grandma Irene," so they at least acknowledge the Jesse's mom would be their grandmother too. Fun facts: both grandmas were replaced by different actresses later in the show and Danny wasn't obsessed with cleanliness yet.
The next episode, "Sea Cruise," shows the guys on a boat cruise at night with some women having a wholesome good time.
(Cause doesn't everybody sing "Rockin' Robin" on a night out?) Danny feels attraction to Caroline (the only woman with sense enough not to sing), but when she asks him out on a date, he hesitates. Joey drops some wisdom on Danny by saying just cause Danny isn’t ready to date doesn’t mean he needs to throw away Caroline’s friendship. Luckily, Danny agrees he’s not ready for dating yet and Caroline seems genuinely okay with just being his friend.
In the second season episode "Goodbye Mr. Bear," Danny shows the family a home video of the day Pam came home from the hospital with baby Michelle. Warning: if you're known to have strong emotional reactions to Full House and you don't want to cry today, do not watch.
This "Goodbye Mr. Bear" episode was also where Danny confirms that Pam was killed in a car accident. In the Season 8 episode "Under the Influence" we learn that she actually was killed by a drunk driver.
The death of their mom is such a tragedy, but the girls are lucky to have three men who love and care for them so much. That doesn't mean that everything is always okay as shown in the Season 4 episode, "Slumber Party," where Joey attends Stephanie's Honey Bee's mother-daughter sleepover.
I mean, c'mon, Honey Bee moms. No one could've stepped in earlier to stop the awkwardness from just building and building until Stephanie inevitably burst into one of her breakdowns? (Although she absolutely has a right to be upset at this, even though Joey is trying his darndest.) This episode also shows that the girls have a female role model in the form of Aunt Becky. (And later with Danny's girlfriend Vicky.)
In the last episodes of the entire show, the two-parter "Michelle Rides Again," Michelle has amnesia after falling off a horse, so the family tries to help her remember her life. Michelle asks, "Where is my mom?" and the family has to explain that she died when she was just a baby. The amnesia storyline was ridiculous, but at least it gave the show a way to give a final farewell to their mom Pam.