The first episode of The Facts of Life premiered on Friday, August 24, 1979. It replaced "hello larry" midseason. It aired only 4 episodes that year, the last of which was on September 14. The show proved so popular, however, that the entire first season was shown in its entirety beginning on march 14, 1980.

Originally conceived as a spinoff of Diff'rent Strokes, the show changed considerably, much like its characters, through its incredible 9 seasons. Only 3 characters were present in all 9: Natalie Green, played by Mindy Cohn; Blair Warner, played by Lisa Welchel; and Tootie (Dorothy) Ramsey, played by Kim Fields. But The Facts of Life would not have been the same without 2 of its cast members: Edna Garret, played by Charlotte Rae, who provided the link to diff'rent strokes; she had been in the drummond's household, but left to pursue her career at Eastland. She left the show in 1986 to pursue her love life. And last but not least, Jo Polniazek, played by Nancy McKeon, who did not join the show until its second season. There were numerous characters in the first season of the show, who were dropped to streamline the cast and make room for Jo, who were barely heard of again. They included Nancy Olson, played by Felice Schachter; Sue Ann Weaver, played by Julie Piekarski; Cindy Webster, played by Julie Anne Haddock; and Molly Parker, played by Molly Ringwald.

For most of the show's life, it aired weekly on wednesday in prime time on NBC; this would only change near the end of the show's run. The show was also in syndication, aired on some Fox affiliates and the USA cable network. Guest stars were frequent, with Geri Jewell playing the part of Geri Tyler, blair's cousin. Other guest stars included George Clooney, MacKenzie Astin, Pam Segall, Cloris Leachman, Sherrie Krenn, Paul Provenza, Robert Romanus, Todd Hollowell, and Scott Bryce.

The final episode was aired May 7, 1988.
The title was "The beginning of the beginning",
in which Blair becomes headmaster of Eastland.

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