7th Heaven is widely regarded as the family drama everyone loves to pick on. The show revolved around Reverend Camden, his wife, their brood of children, and their dog, Happy. The kids faced the trials and tribulations of growing up (some more exaggerated than others), and the adults dealt with counseling their friends, family, and neighbors. This led to plenty of dramatic moments throughout the show’s eleven seasons.
Though most fans of the show probably only watched occasionally, many things from the show are iconic. From the theme song to the launch of Jessica Biel’s career in the spotlight, most are familiar with the show, at least in passing. It helped define a new genre of family drama: one where the family was traditional, but nearly every episode was a “very special” episode. Aaron Spelling and Brenda Hampton contributed to the show’s massive success, which paved the way for similar shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Gilmore Girls.
Despite the show being such a prominent feature of pop culture, there are many things that viewers would be shocked to know. From the casts’ behind-the-scenes shenanigans to crazy plotlines, this show was a wild ride on and off-set. Audiences were able to see the child actors grow into adults. Similarly, the audience saw rumors and facts about the adult actors published in major gossip magazines. On the show, the family seemed perfect, but, in real life and on the show, things were not as perfect as they seemed.
25 The Terrible Musical Episode
7th Heaven fans have, for almost 15 years, tried to forget the musical episode. The Camdens, so moved by love, are driven to sing. However, the showrunners forgot to check if the actors could sing or dance. What the audience ends up with is an unbearable 45 minutes of musical 7th Heaven. It’s something no one asked for and no one enjoys.
This episode has many odd elements. The oddest of which is probably that it was written by actress Martha Plimpton, best known from The Goonies, and it remains her only screenwriting credit to this day. This episode, called “Red Socks” also has the distinct honor of being named what many people consider to be the worst episode of television ever made. Of all the shows and failed pilots (and even other musical episodes), many agree that this was, in fact, the worst.
24 The Show Had Weird Morals
7th Heaven expected that its characters would do their best to make their lives perfect. When they couldn’t do that, they were expected to amend things until they were done how they were supposed to be. It’s no surprise when the characters push this on minor characters during one episode in season three.
In a moment of zero awareness, the characters encourage two characters ten years apart to get married.
The two were a couple, but the age difference is staggering. It’s unclear why the two were together in the first place. Because they have a child together, they are pushed to marry. Moreover, the 25-year-old is an ex-convict. People can change, of course, but it seems he is committing yet another crime that’s central to the plot of the episode.
23 Barry Watson Was Written Out Of The Show Because...
Barry Watson’s character Matt was essentially a third parent to his siblings. Because there were so many children and his father had a demanding career, he was often around to pick up the slack. At the beginning of the show, he spent his time counseling his siblings and making sure they were meeting their obligations and growing as people. This was far more than most could expect of their sibling, but Matt was always willing to provide for others.
This is why it was particularly surprising to fans when Matt was written out of the show. Though Watson decided to leave in 2001, in 2002 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The diagnosis prevented him from returning to the show for more than a few episodes in each season. However, he was able to appear in the final episodes of the show.
22 Ruthie’s Plotlines Got Pretty Out There
Ruthie was the youngest Camden child for most of the show, and the youngest Camden daughter for the show’s entirety. Though the show began when Ruthie was just five years old, it ended when she was sixteen. At first, her plotlines centered around going to school and doing kid things, mostly with Simon, but, as Ruthie grew up, so did her plotlines.
One of the most scandalous moments of the show involved Ruthie. In it, Ruthie is dancing, but it’s much more grown-up than the usual dancing on the religious show. The sequence is uncomfortably long and involves her making eye contact with Reverend Camden for several seconds. Other plotlines include getting a tattoo (then wanting it removed), showing no sympathy for her father’s sickness, and choosing to no longer pursue her education and traveling the world with T-Bone instead. And this is all before Ruthie turns 18.
21 Jessica Biel Tried To Get Fired From The Show
Though some actors are happy to do it, most young, popular actors don’t want to be on the same show for over a decade. However, this is exactly what happened to Jessica Biel. Biel was the breakout star on 7th Heaven. Though she had a few acting credits to her name before the show, her role skyrocketed her career, and she became very famous and sought-after. However, the show’s filming schedule prevented her from taking other roles.
Biel did what anyone stuck in a contract would do: try to get fired.
Biel couldn’t quit the show, so she tried to get fired and have her character written out. These attempts mostly revolved around shucking the wholesome image Aaron Spelling wanted the cast to maintain during their tenure. However, she wasn’t fired, and her rebellion became a central plotline for Mary.
20 Happy Had It Sad
Happy is one of the most beloved characters on the show. The furry white dog was present in many episodes, and she was always featured in the credits. What most fans don’t know is that Happy was found on the street by Brenda Hampton. Happy was written into the show, and her lost dog backstory was even included, with some changes.
When she tried to find Happy’s former home, she discovered some sad truths.
Due to Happy’s horrible life with her previous owners, she was fearful of the men on set, including the actors. The actors spent extra time with her to make sure she was comfortable with them. However, she was still anxious and guarded from some of the people on set, so many of the first storylines with Happy include her with the youngest kids.
19 Lucy Asked Her Congregation A Serious Question
Some viewers may not know that Lucy followed in her father’s footsteps and became a Reverend. Though Lucy started as a grumpy, jealous teenager obsessed with Jimmy Moon, by the end of the show, she has graduated from college, gotten married, had multiple children, and taken over the elder Reverend Camden’s position in the church. However, it seems that Lucy can’t shake her impulsive ways entirely.
During one sermon, Lucy asks the congregation who is interested in her husband.
The elder Reverend Camden had a habit of inserting his personal life into his sermons, but Lucy takes it much farther. She passes speaking vaguely about her personal life (something she would get upset about when her father did it) and openly asks her parishioners if any of them are interested in having grown up fun with her husband.
18 A Synagogue Thought The Show Was Not Ok
7th Heaven centered around Reverend Camden and his family. Being a Reverend, it’s no surprise that much of the show centered around the Protestant religion. However, there were sometimes leaders of other religious groups present in the show. For instance, when Matt married his wife, he converted to Judaism. His father-in-law was a Rabbi, further extending the show’s religious themes.
It seems that not everyone was happy with the representations of Judaism on the show, however.
Originally, an unnamed synagogue had been slated for filming. When the leaders discovered that the Rabbi in the show was written to be hostile and close-minded, however, they backed out of their agreement. The leaders argued that this was an offensive representation of Jewish people. The show had to find another location for the episode.
17 Reverend Camden Accused Ruthie Of...
Even though Ruthie grew up on the show and made questionable decisions, her father always seemed to be suspicious of her activities. Though she was just five years old when the show began, her father lumped her in with the other children to see who was guilty of various wrongdoings. Not even Ruthie’s small stature, age, or naiveté could save her from Reverend Camden’s accusations.
In one of the first episodes, Reverend Camden threatens to test Ruthie.
Ruthie was just five years old at the time, and it was one of the first episodes of the show. After finding evidence of an illegal plant, Eric accused all of his children of being guilty and threatened to test them all to see who was lying. It seems like a gross overreaction on his part. Very few five-year-olds are involved in such activities.
16 Matt Married His Wife After One Date
In 7th Heaven, most of the characters follow the path of rebelling or doing unseemingly things in their youth, but settling down almost immediately when they reach adulthood. Matt followed this path almost perfectly. Though he was known for not being able to hold down a job and dating around, by season 6, he is married. By the end of the show, he has two children.
What’s especially strange about this is that Matt and Sarah marry on their second date. Not only do they marry, but they are afraid to tell their family for an extended period of time. This is especially odd considering that both come from conflicting religious backgrounds and, after only one date, both are marrying to be married rather than to be with each other.
15 Annie Threatens Norton
In the early seasons of 7th Heaven, Simon falls in with a bad crowd. These “bad” kids do generic things like listen to rap music and be rude to women. Still, it’s enough to cause major distress in the Camden household. After spending the episode with almost every character clutching their pearls, Annie stands up for her daughter.
Annie threatens that she has put seven kids into the world and she can take one out.
There is an added level of absurdity to this when the entire episode is taken into context. The “street thug” is named Norton, and, though he harassed and puts his hands on Lucy, Annie just gives vague threats and yells at Simon the entire episode. Not a totally effective strategy. Norton is arrested before he can apologize.
14 Annie Curses On The Show
Though 7th Heaven dealt with plots about Simon making rude hand gestures and the characters being called rude names. However, shockingly, the show managed to steer clear of curse words. Annie, the loving, conservative mom was actually the first to swear on the show. After letting loose the a-word, the show went back to its swear-free roots.
Despite the frequent allusions to dirtier language, the show was never interested in actually engaging in anything less than wholesome. While nearly every episode was a “very special” episode, everything always went back to normal at the end. It usually ended with a Camden kid learning a lesson, and then going back to his or her normal life. Despite the fact that some of the kids fall off the wagon hard, it’s never discussed beyond a vague reference to wrongdoing.
13 Mary And Matt Got Too Close In The Pilot
7th Heaven was designed to be the most wholesome show on television. However, in an attempt to make a point of the kids’ innocence, they ended up doing some pretty weird things. The kids aren’t very knowledgeable about the world around them (other than long monologues about the evils of the world from Eric, Annie, or Matt), and it comes out in strange ways.
In the pilot episode, Mary asks Matt (her brother) to practice with her.
If it weren’t cringey enough, Eric, Mary and Matt’s father, sees this. They try to explain (though, really, what explanation is there?), but he simply tells them that he doesn’t want to know. For a show that spends entire episodes on bad words, they really did gloss over this particular quirk of the two oldest Camden siblings.
12 Eric Held Aunt Julie Hostage
Aunt Julie was a fan favorite on the show. Eric’s sister, who had issues that she battled throughout the show, would flip from sweet and nice to terribly angry. The characters all wanted to get her help, though some were less forgiving than others.
Eric tried his best to help his sister, but his methods were, at the very least, unorthodox. Rather than getting her help from professionals, Eric chose to take matters into his own hands. Instead of getting her to a doctor, he locked her in a bedroom for days. Aunt Julie did eventually get better, but this was a dangerous action to take on Eric’s part. Without professional help, there’s no telling what would have happened. In the real world, he would have been charged with kidnapping.
11 Mary Made Odd Decisions About Her Children
Mary is an interesting character on 7th Heaven. Despite the fact that her character started out motivated and morally upright, she started on a downward spiral toward the middle the show. This was to reflect Jessica Biel’s own rebellion, but it made the character inconsistent and somewhat cruel.
During the series, Mary gives up her son.
This is a hard decision for anyone, but Mary ends up being very happy about her decision and new freedom. This is distressing to her family, who don’t understand why she has made that decision. What’s also odd is that Mary eventually reverses this decision. She gets back together with her husband and son, and, shortly after, has even more children with him.
10 MacKenzie Rosman’s Sister Appeared On The Show
In a case of art imitating life, MacKenzie Rosman’s sister, who had cystic fibrosis, appeared as a character with the same disease. Like her character, Katelyn Salmont was faced with having a double lung transplant to combat her disease. Her character was meant to raise awareness on the show, and the platform allowed her to speak out about the disease.
Unfortunately, she passed a few years after her last episode was filmed.
Katelyn was able to receive a double lung transplant around the time she was filming the show. She lived for three years after the double transplant. However, this did not fix all of her medical problems. Though the surgery was successful, she still suffered from issues with her lungs, including getting pneumonia. She passed on Christmas Day 2008 at age 22.
9 The Camdens Have Weird Traditions
The Camden family had strange traditions. They were way too involved in each other’s lives, and it showed through the odd things that they did. When each of the kids, passes a major milestone, there is a big celebration. This is normal for most families, but it wouldn’t be the Camdens if they didn’t do something strange along the way. Sometimes, the milestones pile up on one another (pregnancies, weddings, graduations), and other times, they’re just things that should be kept private.
When Lucy becomes a woman, the whole family gets in on the celebration. She waits anxiously for it to start, and then she and her sisters celebrate and dance in the hallway when it does. Afterward, she happily tells her father that he needs to go to the store for her. It’s good to see that the Camdens are body positive, but this takes it a little far.
8 Eric Gave Awful Advice
Reverend Camden often counseled people who felt like they were trapped by their circumstances. Sometimes, this was through no fault of their own. Other times, it was a series of bad decisions that they hoped to reverse. Most of the time, it was something in between. Eric helped whoever came to him, and the show led viewers to believe that he changed many lives.
However, Eric often ended up giving some pretty terrible advice.
Some advice, in particular, stands out. While counseling young gang members, he advised that they could leave simply by asking. He then assured them that they weren’t real friends if they didn’t comply. This is unsurprising to anyone with even a basic knowledge of gangs. Also, Eric’s advice won’t be entirely productive in that situation. It seems that the reverend often did more harm than good.
7 The Characters Ignore Simon’s Worst Infraction
Simon was the most rebellious of the kids. From a young age, he was always doing his best to get into trouble. As he got older, he fell into the wrong crowd, and the storylines revolved around trying to get back on track. This usually involved his family being appalled by his behavior, and then forgiving him once he got back on the right track. However, one thing he did was particularly unforgivable.
In a car accident, Simon caused his classmate to pass. To his credit, he feels incredibly guilty about this, but his family’s response is to just go on a vacation. Simon is upset the entire time, to which everyone inexplicably advises him to just get over it. Also baffling is the fact that there’s no criminal investigation into this. Perhaps Reverend Camden had more connections that he let on.
6 Ruthie Gets Stopped At The Airport
In the post-2001 world, many shows had to change the way they wrote about airports. Security had tightened, and it showed in characters’ storylines. Where, before September 2001, characters could freely run through airports to their loved ones, more recently, there have been increased security measures and accusations of trying to attack others.
This is part of yet another series of adult storylines for Ruthie.
When she gets a little older, she gets stopped at the airport and accused of being part of an evil organization. This causes shocked reactions from the Camdens. Ruthie is still relatively young, and she’s also one of the most sheltered Camdens, due to her age. However, this doesn’t stop the airport from making its accusations. It’s yet another episode to show the characters trying to navigate the hardships of the world, though it’s unclear why Ruthie was chosen for this plot.
5 Mary The Criminal
At the start of the show, Mary was the quintessential good girl. She was an athlete—one of the best in her school, making varsity her freshman year—got good grades, and she was respectful to adults in her life. However, in one of the first Mary-gone-bad episodes, she steals a glass from a local restaurant. This seems innocuous enough, but it ends in Mary facing legal and criminal woes.
In a very Scooby-Doo-like twist, she would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for her meddling parents. Her parents, angry that she would do something like this, make her return it and apologize. However, when faced with admitting theft, the police are called and she must go to court for theft. The episode ends with all of her classmates returning their glasses as well. Ironically, Simon’s crimes were much worse and he received no punishment.
4 Lucy Struggled With Wardrobe
Because it was on the air for so long, 7th Heaven did nearly every storyline possible. Many of the kids grew up and got married. Most of them had children of their own. With the wide variety of ages and interests, the show was able to capture nearly every part of childhood and adulthood. However, with so many possibilities, it’s a given that some episodes will be weirder than others.
One episode featured a plot about Lucy refusing to buy maternity jeans.
It’s definitely an adjustment to have your body change during pregnancy, but the entire episode centered around how her pants kept falling down. The others worry about her denying her pregnancy. This is an odd way for this to manifest, especially since Lucy has, on some level acknowledged it. For whatever reason, in 11 seasons of 7th Heaven, we have an entire episode dedicated to pants falling.
3 A Shoulder Massage That Goes On
While Mary was still in school, she had to deal with a creepy coach. Not every athlete faces this, but the ones who do probably saw some of their situation in this episode. It showed the coach acting inappropriately towards her while they were alone and Mary’s refusal to engage with his behavior. Then, she had to figure out what she was going to do about the situation.
The scene where the coach acts inappropriately is uncomfortable to watch. This is more than him just doing something normal. It just goes on way too long. Mary asks him not to several times, but they filmed the coach massaging her shoulders for nearly a whole minute. Far longer than it takes for the audience to get the point.
2 Most Of The Actors Left
7th Heaven had a huge cast of characters. Between Annie, Eric, and all of their children, they had quite the ensemble cast. Moreover, when the kids started getting married and having kids of their own, the cast got even bigger. It would have been messy to have all of the characters still present in the show. Moreover, the actors had other personal and professional obligations, and couldn’t solely commit to the show’s 11 year run.
By the end of the series, Eric and Lucy were the only regular original cast members.
Many of the kids had gone onto greener pastures. Even young Ruthie was studying abroad. Lucy, who, at the beginning of the show, was often upset with her family and embarrassed by them, was, shockingly the one to stick around. She even takes over her father’s church. Everyone else was unable to film as much as the series demanded, so the show brought minor characters to the forefront.
1 Annie Forces Her Kids To Live In Squalor
Annie never was the best mother. She seemed like she tried, but, between having inconsistent reactions to wrongdoings and more kids than she had time, some of her decisions ended up not being the best. She tried to give advice and guide them, but her punishments sometimes ended up being cruel and unusual.
It’s a plot point on the show that the Camdens have an unfinished apartment above their garage. Though Mary wants to live in the apartment, she is refused access. However, when the other kids disagree with how Annie is treating Mary, she kicks them out and sends them to the apartment. Normally, this would be fine, except the apartment is totally unfinished with no furniture or plumbing. It’s hard to say what Annie was thinking in this particular instance.