Hangin’ out down the street, the same old thing we did last week. Not a thing to do but talk to you. We’re all alright, we’re all alright. That ’70s Show was about hanging out with friends, falling in love, dealing with family and smoking a lot of grass. That ’70s Show was a sitcom that aired for 8 seasons on the Fox Network. The series revolved around a group of teenagers living in the 70s as they struggle with school, family, love and each other. Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner and Mark Brazill created that series that aired from August 23, 1998 to May 18, 2006. The series was praised for its writing, cast and a depiction of life in the 70s. The series starred an outstanding ensemble cast that all went on to achieve great success in their respective careers. The teenage cast members were Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Laura Prepon, Danny Masterson, Wilmer Valderrama, Josh Meyers and Ashton Kutcher. All the teenagers were relatively unknown when cast in the series. The adult cast members included Kurtwood Smith, Debra Jo Rupp, Don Stark, Lisa Robin Kelly, Tanya Roberts and Tommy Chong. The series was very successful and popular and is still remembered today.
That ’70s Show was also known for several innovations, real life love stories and some very tragic endings. There is a lot about the series that has been discussed and reported. However, there are also a few hidden secrets and things fans might not know about one of the most popular sitcoms. Here is a look at 15 things you didn’t know about That ’70s Show.
15. Topher Grace Was Discovered In A High School pPlay
That ’70s Show revolved around Eric Forman as he struggled with growing up, his love life and his father. Eric and his friends would usually hangout in his basement. Eric was a bit of a nerd who was a big fan of Star Wars and the band Styx. In fact, Eric would often compare himself to Luke Skywalker. Somehow he managed to date one of the hottest and coolest girls in all of Wisconsin.
Topher Grace portrayed Eric Forman for 7 seasons. Series creators Bonnie and Terry Turner, discovered Topher when they saw him perform in their daughter’s high school play. Like much of the cast Topher became a huge star and began to receive offers for films. He got a role in Spider-Man 3 playing Venom/ Eddie Brock. There were also rumors that Topher didn’t get along with the rest of the cast but that has never been confirmed. Eric left the series at the end of the 7th season but made a cameo appearance at the end of the series finale. Topher Grace has continued to appear in movies, such as Win A Date With Tad Hamilton, Interstellar and American Ultra.
14. Pastor Dave And His Dog
Kevin McDonald is a comedian and actor who had his big break through as a member of the sketch comedy group The Kids in the Hall. The Kids in the Hall consisted of Kevin McDonald, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Scott Thompson and Mark McKinney. After his time with Kids in the Hall, Kevin McDonald made appearances on several comedy series in the 90s, such as Ellen, Friends and Seinfeld. He also portrayed Pastor Dave in That ’70s Show. He got the role in a pretty unconventional way. He was out walking his dog when Topher Grace saw him. As it turns out, Topher was a pretty big fan of Kids in the Hall. He told Kevin that he was a fan and eventually it resulted in him landing the role of Pastor Dave. His character suddenly disappears and Kevin noted that he believed it was because series co-creator Mark Brazill left to work on the spin-off, That ’80s Show. Kevin felt that because of this Pastor Dave was forgotten.
13. The Circle
The 1970s are often known for having some of the most iconic music, greatest fashion and sweet Marijuana. That ’70s Show was known for its many innovations they introduced. One of the most memorable original concepts was “The Circle”. The circle would feature the gang sitting around and talking to the camera directly. The Circle is actually the gang smoking pot, however we never see them smoking but it’s heavily implied. The gang enjoyed smoking pot just like every other teenager in the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond. However, the network and the censors would never allow the consumption of marijuana on the prime time slot. So the creators of the series found a way around that. Unfortunately for the gang, there was no pot ever involved in the scene. The smoke was actually strawberry scented smoke. Additionally, Laura Prepon, Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson would hide their lit cigarettes and smoke them in between takes.
12. Eric’s License Plate
That ’70s Show takes place from May 17, 1976 to December 31, 1979. The series creators wanted the show to have a strong sense of the 70s so they decided to start in 1976, as they felt by that point ideologies and events had more of a 70s vibe. By the end of the first season it’s already 1977.
Later, storylines had to be slowed down because of the series’ longevity. The remaining seasons mostly take place in 1978 and 1979, which was difficult since there were several Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes. Originally a title card would appear at the start of each episode to indicate the year and date. However, that was largely dropped by the middle of the first season. The passage of time was indicated during the opening theme. At the end of the opening credits a shot of Eric’s Vista Cruiser’s license plate would appear. In the corner would be the year that episode was occurring.
11. The Series Was Almost Called “Teenage Wasteland”
That ’70s Show had one of the most memorable opening credits and theme songs of any series. Initially, the opening credits features the cast driving in Eric’s Vista Cruiser. Music played an important part of the series and is often remembered for its catchy theme music, “In The Street” by Big Star. It incorporated a lot of 70s music and bands from that time. The series creators and writers named several episodes after songs by Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Rolling Stones. Before being called That ’70s Show, the series went through several name changes. Originally the series was going to be called either “Teenage Wasteland” or “The Kids Are Alright”. Both are lyrics and songs created by the iconic band The Who. However, The Who refused to allow the series to use those titles for the series.
10. Fez = Foreign Exchange Student
Fez was the last one to join the group of friends. He was from a foreign country and at times struggled to understand the American culture. While his friends struggled to understand his culture, it was mostly because nobody was certain where he was actually from. Although Fez could come across as weird and strange, he was also shown to be very charming, a great dancer and a very loyal friend. He was very close with all of his friends but had a particular special relationship with Kelso. There were also times where he was one of the girls. Very early on many fans of the series wondered why his name was Fez. Turns out that the rest of his friends called him Fez because they could not pronounce his actual name. In fact, Fez stood for Foreign Exchange Student, and according to the That ’70s Show website it was spelt “Fez” instead of “Fes” because of “poetic license”. Wilmer Valderrama portrayed Fez for all 8 seasons of the show.
9. Blonde Donna
Donna Pinciotti was the fiery red head that lived next door to the Forman family. Donna and Eric had an intense love story that lasted pretty much the entire series. Donna was tall, gorgeous and known for her red hair. In the early days of the series it was her trademark. The guys in the gang would often call her “Big Red”.
In season 7 after Eric and Donna call off their wedding, Donna feels she needs to make a change and decides to go blonde. That meant the guys had to go back to an old nickname, Jugs A Poppin’. The blonde hair ends up being a huge hit with Fez, Hyde, Kelso and Eric. However, it was more than just a storyline. Laura Prepon portrayed Donna for the series’ entire run. In the middle of the series she was offered the leading role in a film based on the life of serial killer Karla Homolka, Karla. Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo are two of Canada’s most notorious serial killers. The film created a considerable amount of controversy in Canada. However, it jump started her film career and ushered in ‘Blonde Donna’.
Fun fact: Laura Prepon dated Danny Masterson’s brother, Christopher Masterson, from 2000 to 2007.
8. Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number
Jackie Burkhart was the pretty, snobby popular girl. She could be very shellfish, conceited and mean. At the same time, she could show understanding and a very sweet side. Mila Kunis portrayed Jackie Burkhart on That ’70s Show for the entire series. When auditioning for the series all actors were required to be at least 18 years old. Mila Kunis was 14 years old but told the producers that she’d be 18 on her birthday. She just left out the part that her 18th birthday wasn’t for another four years. She ended up getting the part and the rest is history. She had a lot of firsts while on the series. Her first kiss was on screen with Ashton Kutcher; Wilmer Valderrama taught her how to drive and Danny Masterson took her to her first club and bought her her first drink. She has gone on to have a very successful career and has appeared in several films, such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Ted and Black Swan.
7. Eric’s Buddy – Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Eric Forman was geeky, not popular and really into Star Wars. Somehow he managed to date one of the hottest, coolest and prettiest girls in all of Point Place, Donna. However, she wasn’t the only one who found Eric irresistible. The season 1 episode “Eric’s Buddy”, revolved around Eric making a new friend, Buddy, who reveals that he has feelings for Eric. They share a kiss and Eric politely turns him down. The episode featured Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing the role of Buddy. Originally, the character was to appear in several more episodes as a recurring character. However, viewers reacted negatively to the storyline and the on-screen kiss. The story was dropped and Gordon-Levitt didn’t appear again. No need to worry though, as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s career turned out to be pretty good. He’s gone on to star in several films, such as Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and 50/50. He did mention that he enjoyed being an important part of the series and noted that Topher Grace is a bad kisser.
6. Josh Meyers Was Going To Be The New Eric
At the end of season 7, Eric decided to move to Africa to teach for a year. In reality, Topher Grace had decided to leave the series to focus on a film career. The series introduced a new character, Randy Pearson, to replace the hole left by Eric. Josh Meyers played the role of Randy Pearson in season 8. Josh Meyers was best known for his time on the Fox Sketch Comedy, Mad TV. However, originally the plan was for Meyers to play the role of Eric. The idea was that Eric had changed while in Africa and became a man to explain why he now looked completely different. The writers instead scrapped that idea and made Randy an original character. Fans of the series heavily criticized the addition of the Randy character and he did not go over well.
Fun fact: Josh Meyers is the brother of Seth Meyers, the host of Late Night.
5. Lisa Robin Kelly
Laurie Forman was Eric Forman’s older sister. She was manipulative, mean and sexy. She was the typical older sister that loved to see her little brother get in trouble. She dated one of his Eric’s best friends, Kelso. Lisa Robin Kelly portrayed Laurie Forman on the series for three seasons.
She suddenly left the series midway through the third season because of drug and alcohol abuse. In an interview with ABC News she said that she left the series because of alcoholism and to deal with a miscarriage. She returned in season 5 for a few episodes but left again due to her personal issues. Christina Moore replaced her in the series in season 6. However, Lisa Robin Kelly’s problems didn’t end there. After leaving the series she had several legal issues. She was arrested on several occasions for DUIs and for assault. Later, she checked into the Pax Rehab House in California. Sadly, she died just a few days later on August 15, 2013.
4. Leo Disappears And Tommy Chong Goes To Jail
Leo was a laid back hippie that was always stoned. He owned the Foto Hut where he employed Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson). He wasn’t a strict boss and always had time for fun or smoking pot. Leo proved to be one of the most beloved and popular characters in the series. Leo made regular appearances on the show for the first four seasons. However, his character abruptly left the series during season 5. Comedian Tommy Chong portrayed Leo in the series. His character suddenly left because Tommy Chong was serving a 9-month prison sentence.
Chong is best known for his time as part of the comedy duo Cheech & Chong. Two fun loving hippies who enjoy smoking weed and spend the rest of the time trying to find weed. Chong was the target of Operation Pipe Dreams. It was an investigation into companies selling drug paraphernalia and focused on bongs and water pipes. Tommy Chong’s son Paris Chong, was the C.E.O. of Chong Bongs/Nice Dreams. They were the subjects of the investigation, which cost $12 million and included resources of 2,000 law enforcement officers. Tommy plead guilty and took a plea bargain in order to save his son and wife from prosecution. After his release, Leo returned to That ’70s Show and continued his pot smoking, easy going ways.
3. Midge Leaves
Midge Pinciotti was the mother of Donna Pinciotti and wife of Bob Pinciotti (Don Stark). Midge was highly influenced by the movement of the 70s. She was searching for independence and wanted to be her own person. However, her husband Bob, didn’t feel the same way and felt that a woman’s place was in the kitchen. Midge was slightly dim-witted but sweet and kind. However, Midge and Bob were having marital issues and eventually she left Bob. In the middle of the season, Midge suddenly runs away leaving Bob and Donna on their own.
Tanya Roberts portrayed Midge from 1998 to 2001. She abruptly left the series because of personal issues. She left the show because her husband, Barry Roberts, was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She felt that she needed to be there for her husband, so she left the series. She returned for a few guest appearances before leaving again. Eventually, her husband’s condition worsened and he died in 2006.
2. Chuck Norris Was Considered To Play Red Forman
Red Forman was the strict, no-nonsense father of Eric Forman and husband of Kitty Forman. He was a World War II and Korean War veteran. He was toughest on Eric but at the same time cared deeply about his son. He was also the adoptive father to Steven Hyde and also cared deeply about him. He was tough, mean and scary to everyone. Nobody wanted to cross Red with the fear that his foot would be placed somewhere very unpleasant. Kurtwood Smith portrayed Red for the entire series. However, Kurtwood wasn’t the only one considered for the role. In fact, actor and martial artist Chuck Norris was originally considered for the role. He couldn’t audition for the role because of commitments to Walker, Texas Ranger. That might have worked out better for the kids in the series.
1. Mila Kunis And Ashton Kutcher Didn’t Get Along At First
Jackie Burkhart and Michael Kelso had a serious and intense teenage love. Jackie was spoiled, shellfish and rude. Kelso was conceited, silly and not the brightest person in the group. They were constantly on-again and off-again. In the series, they end up going their separate ways with Kelso having a child and moving to Chicago, while Jackie ended up with Fez.
Mila Kunis portrayed Jackie Burkhart and Ashton Kutcher played the role of Michael Kelso. Even though they had love on the screen there actually wasn’t much off screen. It’s been reported that while working on That ’70s Show, Mila and Ashton “despised” each other and barely got along. However, Mila’s first kiss was when she kissed Ashton on screen. After leaving the series, both went on to have successful film and TV careers. They were also involved in high profile relationships, as Mila dated Macaulay Culkin and Ashton was married to Demi Moore. After both of those relationships ended, Mila reached out to Ashton to resolve their past issues. They started dating and were married in 2015. They have one child with a second on the way. Jackie and Kelso didn’t end up together but Mila and Ashton sure did.