Against the Odds (partially found Nickelodeon documentary series; 1982-1988)

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Title card for the series.

Status: Partially Found

Against the Odds was a children's documentary TV series that aired on Nickelodeon from July 4th, 1982 to January 18th, 1988. The show was created by Cy Schneider, hosted by Bill Bixby, and narrated by Philip Proctor, and profiled stories of inspirational people who innovated and broke through barriers in history.[1]


The series was hosted by actor and director Bill Bixby, of My Favorite Martian and The Incredible Hulk fame.[1] Each episode would revolve around two inspirational historical figures who broke through barriers in a similar field and worked "against the odds". Bixby would deliver monologues centring around the historical figures, with former Firesign Theatre member Philip Proctor narrating the documentary segments.[2]

Some examples of historical figures that were profiled on Against the Odds include Martin Luther King Jr., Franklin D. Roosevelt, Al Capone, Bessie Smith, Susan B. Anthony, and Amelia Earhart.[3][4][2]


Against the Odds was created by the then-president of Nickelodeon, Cy Schneider, produced by Marcus Keys, and executive produced by Bob Klein and Bruce Littlejohn.[2] Regular airings of the show aired from October 16th, 1982 to September 4th, 1984 on Nickelodeon, airing at 4:30 and 7:00 pm EST for much of its run. Reruns continued until January 18th, 1988.[5]

Various audiences and critics panned Against The Odds due to its extremely stern nature not fitting with Nickelodeon's "for kids" approach, unfunny gags, and unusual mix of serious and unserious content.[2] Then-programming manager and future president of Nickelodeon Geraldine Laybourne denounced the show and stated her son called it "a series of little tragedies" that famous people overcame on their journey to what made them so well known.[2] Some Italian-American groups and the Anti-Defamation League also criticized episodes featuring Al Capone and Adolf Hitler due to possible objectifying content, though Schneider was skeptical of these claims.[2][6]


Due to the show's poor legacy and much of Nickelodeon's early content being largely forgotten by the general public, much of Against the Odds is considered lost. The show has not received any home media or streaming release, and only two full episodes about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Space Race, as well as several promos and short clips, can be found online.

Episode List

Episode Topic Status
Martin Luther King Jr. Found
The Space Race Found
David Livingstone and Amelia Earhart Found
Albert Einstein Lost
Paul Robeson Lost
Pablo Picasso Lost
Bessie Smith

partially found

Louis Pasteur Lost
Margaret Mead Lost
Elizabeth Blackwell Lost
Dorothea Lange Lost
Malcolm X Lost
Napoleon Bonaparte Lost
Walt Whitman Lost
Joan of Arc Lost
George Washington Carver Lost
Frank Lloyd Wright Lost
Pancho Villa Lost
Adolf Hitler Lost
Charles Darwin Lost
Al Capone Lost
Jackie Robinson Lost
Harry Houdini Lost
Golda Meir Lost
Helen Keller Lost
D.W. Griffith Lost
Samuel Adams Lost
Abraham Lincoln Lost
Charles Lindbergh Lost
Thomas Edison Lost
Henry Ford Lost
Vladimir Lenin Lost
Franklin Roosevelt Lost
Eleanor Roosevelt Lost
Andrew Carnegie Lost
Rudolph Valentino Lost
John Glenn Lost
Babe Didrickson Lost
Robert Oppenheimer Lost
Pele Lost
Ludwig Van Beethoven Lost
Mahatma Gandhi Lost
Mae Tse-tung Lost
Winston Churchill Lost
Clara Barton Lost
Woody Guthrie Lost
Elizabeth Cady Stanton Lost
Susan B. Anthony Lost
Sarah Bernhardt Lost
P. T. Barnum Lost


Poparena’s “Nick Knacks” episode on Against the Odds.


A short clip from the 20th century innovations episode.

A short clip from the Bessie Smith episode.


A promo for the Martin Luther King Jr. episode.

A promo for the Roosevelt family episode.

A promo for the women's suffrage episode.

See Also

Anthology and Short Series

Bumpers and Promos


Game Shows

Inaugural Series

Live Action



External Links