Pop Culture | TV | 90s
10 Facts About '3rd Rock From The Sun' Direct From The Big Giant Head
First hitting the airwaves in 1996, 3rd Rock From The Sun was a really interesting and different concept for a sitcom. It focused on a family of four who were actually aliens, and often ones in mismatched human bodies. For example; Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was the youngest cast member, but the alien disguised as him was actually the oldest, while Sally (Kristen Johnston), the only female, was actually a male alien in disguise.
This simple concept lead to some extremely funny episodes and moments, and despite only running for five seasons, we still love the show to this day. See if you love it so much you even knew these facts!
It has a pretty clever Twilight Zone reference.
When William Shatner first appears as The Big Giant Head, he says he saw something on the wing of his plane, which Dick responds to with "The same thing happened to me!"
Shatner famously starred in the "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" episode of The Twilight Zone, where he sees a strange creature on the wing of the plane he's on. 20 years later, John Lithgow would star in a remake of the episode in Twilight Zone: The Movie.
There's a lot of "Dick" jokes in the episode titles.
109 of the show's 139 episodes all have some reference to the character Dick's name in their title. Highlights include "Lonely Dick," "Father Knows Dick," "World's Greatest Dick," and "Fifteen Minutes of Dick."
It went through a ton of time-slot changes.
Despite only running for a relatively short five years, the show went through a whopping FIFTEEN time-slot changes (for the record, some shows have been entirely ruined by one or two time changes).
Dick's most abused student was played by his son.
Leon, who is routinely called upon and singled out in Dick's class, is actually played by John Lithgow's real-life song, Ian.
The facts behind the show just get more surprising from here...
Jane Curtin wasn't supposed to be a main cast member.
She only signed on for seven episodes at the outset of the first season, but she enjoyed working on the show so much that she asked to stay. Can you imagine the show without Mary? I sure can't.
Harry's squint wasn't in the script.
The character's signature perpetual squint was a development by actor French Stewart himself. Personally I just thought that's how he always looks.
Two background characters kept changing actors.
Don's police buddies, Rico and Rusty, are almost never played by the same actors between appearances.
They brought on a scientist to write dialogue.
Brian Greene, an American theoretical physicist and mathematician, was brought on to help with Dick's dialogue, to try to keep some of the physics jargon accurate.
John Lithgow had an oddly-specific reason for taking the gig.
He wanted to be closer to his family and spend more time with them, and couldn't do it performing in theater or film. Theater productions had curtain calls at 8 PM and tons of rehearsals, while movies required location shooting. 3rd Rock, on the other hand, required neither.
There's a hidden joke behind the names of the characters.
The three men of the Solomon family are named Tommy, Dick, and Harry. "Tom, Dick and Harry" is a term that refers to "a set of nobodies" or that could mean "anybody and yet nobody at all," according to the dictionary. This makes it perfect for three aliens trying to blend in.