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.


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

Full Episodes

The Against the Odds episode about Martin Luther King Jr.
The Against the Odds episode about the Space Race.


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