Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse
Airdate May 9, 1994
Written by David Zuckerman
Bill Boulware
Directed by Shelley Jensen
Mother's Day
For Sale by Owner

Papa's Got A Brand New Excuse is the 24th episode of Season 4. It originally aired on May 9, 1994. It was written by David Zuckerman and Bill Boulware, and directed by Shelley Jensen.

Synopsis Edit

Life without Father. Will's deadbeat dad shows up full of bright, shiny father-and-son plans.


Will is reunited with his father, Lou, after 14 years of not seeing him after he abandoned Will and his family. Vivian and Philip can't forgive Lou for abandoning Will and his mother when he was younger. Lou tells Will that the real reason that he abandoned him was because he was scared. Will forgives him and wants to give him another chance but Philip sees that this reunion is in Lou's favor rather than Will's. Will and Philip subsequently get into a heated argument over this with Will leaving Phillip visibly upset and depressed when Will says in anger that he doesn't care what Phillip thinks because he's not his father. Vivian helps Phillip realize that he is being selfish due to his hatred for Lou with Phillip and Will apologizing for their behavior. After Will finishes packing to go on a trip with his father for the summer, his father lets him down yet again for the last time. Phil and Lou have an intense argument about how the two of them responded to fatherhood in the first place, which culminates with Lou flippantly conceding Phil is the better man for not running out on his children as he did Will. When Will walks in on Lou as he tries to duck out without saying goodbye, he realizes what is happening. He calmly but icily renounces Lou as his father, calling him "Lou" instead of "dad" and cutting him out of his life. Though Lou appears hurt by this, he makes no attempt to save face and leaves for good. At first seeming okay with Lou abandoning him, Will launches into an emotional rant about how he learned to do things growing up without Lou and how he will continue to live his life and be successful without Lou before he begins to cry and asks Phillip why his father doesn't want him. He and Uncle Phil embrace each other crying.

Trivia Edit

  • At the end of this episode, if you listen closely, you can hear a woman crying. This was Karyn Parsons (Hilary) backstage.
  • According to Will Smith, his character was meant to shrug off Lou leaving him yet again, but he partly improvised the final scene and broke down in tears.
    • This led to a misconception that Smith himself was also abandoned by his biological father in real life when he was young and had "broken character" while delivering the rant which went from being directed towards Lou to being directed towards Smith's own real-life father. In reality, Smith's parents separated when he was 13, but his father had a major impact in his life. However, he had a lot of friends who never knew their fathers and his emotions in the final scene came from thinking of all his friends who never had a father in their lives.
  • Ben Vereen stated in an interview that he broke into tears himself after walking out of the camera shot to leave Will.
  • There is no funny outtake of the cast messing up their lines. Instead, it shows slides of the end credits.
  • The episode title is a reference to the James Brown song Papa's Got a Brand New Bag.

Quotes Edit

Will: Hilary, this is my father...
Hilary: (laughing) No, Will's father is a deadbeat who left Will and his mom flat!
Lou: Hello.
Hilary: Uncle Lou!!! (hugs him)

Philip: If you'll excuse me, I think I'll skip dinner. I don't have much of an appetite.
Geoffery: Shall I call 911?
Will: Hey, Uncle Phil, that is not cool, man, the way you dissin' my father like that.
Philip: The hell with your father!
Vivian: Philip, for God's sake...
Philip: He waltzes in here after 15 years!?
Will: Fourteen!
Philip: Oh, excuse me. 14 years ... and acts like nothing has happened. Wake up, Will. This is the same guy who didn't think enough of you to pick up the damn phone!
Will: He made a mistake. I'm sorry that everybody can't be as perfect as you, Uncle Phil. But if I can forgive him, how come you can't?
Philip: Because he's not doing this for you. He's doing this for himself and if you think any differently, then you're a fool!
Vivian: Hey, hey, just cool it. Just cool down. We can talk about this another time.
Will: You know what, Aunt Viv? Ain't even nothin' to talk about. I've been waiting for this a long time, my whole life and ain't nobody going to stop me. Come tomorrow, or I'm outta here.
Philip: Oh, yeah? I don't think so.
Will: Who cares what you think? YOU'RE NOT MY FATHER!
Philip: Carlton, am I a good father?
Carlton: Yes, you're the best! Now can I have early access to my trust fund?
Philip: Not a chance.
Carlton: I HATE YOU!
Philip: Oh, yeah? Well, TAKE A NUMBER!
Vivian: Philip, stop moping. You know Will didn't mean any of that stuff he said.
Philip: Yeah, then why did he say it? For four years, I treated that boy like my own son. Whatever he needed, whether it was a pat on the head or a kick in the pants, I was there for him. I worked my ass off trying to keep him in line!
Geoffrey: And yet it's come back with a vengence.
Philip: Sit down.
Lou: I ain't got time for no lecture.
Philip: I said sit down, Lou!
(Lou sits down)
Philip: You know, Will was doing just fine until you showed up. But now that you're back, you have responsibilities to him.
Lou: Hey, look, we're still gonna take the trip...
Philip: Oh, bull! BULL!!! Will is not a coat that you hang in the closet, then pick it up when you're ready to wear it. His life goes on. He's not supposed to be here for you! You're supposed to be here for him!
Lou: You get off my back! You think I want this?! IT JUST HAPPENED!!! Now, when Will was a baby, I was scared...
Philip: CUT THE CRAP, ALL RIGHT?! CUT IT! 'Cause I've been there! But I didn't run out of my family. I was there everyday from them because that's what a man does.
Lou: Fine, Philip! You win. You the man. You a better man than me. You happy? Now, are you gonna tell Will or not?
Philip: I'm not gonna do your dirty work for you.
Lou: Fine. I'll call him from the road.
Philip: Yeah, why don't you do that?
Lou: Yeah, I'll do that.
(Will enters)
Will: Daddy-o! Whazzup?
Lou: Will, man I'm glad you're here. Some business came up I gotta have, so we're gonna have to put our trip on hold. You understand, right?
Will: Yeah, yeah, that's cool.
Lou: Just for a couple weeks.
Will: Mmhm, I understand.
Lou: Maybe a little longer.
Will: Yeah, whatever, whatever.
Lou: Look, I'll call you next week and we'll iron out the details, okay?
Will: Yeah, yeah.
Lou: It was great seeing you, son.
Will: You too, Lou.
Philip: I'm sorry, Will.
Will: You know what? Actually, this works out better for me. You know, the slimmies this summer come to class wearing next to nothing, you know what I'm saying?
Philip: Will, it's all right to be angry.
Will: Hey, why should I be mad? I'm saying, at least he said good-bye this time. I just wish I hadn't wasted my money buying this stupid present!
Philip: I-I'm sorry. If there was something that I...
Will: Hey, you know what? You ain't got to do nothing, not now, Uncle Phil. You know, it ain't like I'm still 5 years old, you know? It ain't like I'm gonna be sitting up every night asking my mom, "When's Daddy coming home?", you know? Who needs him? Hey, he wasn't there to teach me how to shoot my first basket, but I learned, didn't I? And I got pretty damn good at it, too, didn't I, Uncle Phil?
Philip: Yeah, you did.
Will: Got through my first date without him, right? I learned how to drive, I learned how to shave, I learned how to fight without him. I had 14 great birthdays without him! He never even sent me a damn card! TO HELL WITH HIM!!! (pauses) I didn't need him then, I don't need him now.
Philip: Will...
Will: No, you know what, Uncle Phil? I'ma get through college without him, I'ma get a great job without him, I'ma marry me a beautiful honey, and I'ma have me a whole bunch of kids. I'ma be a better father than he ever was, and I sure as hell don't need him for that, 'cause there ain't a damn thing he could ever teach me about how to love my kids! (long pause) How come he don't want me, man?

Photos Edit