Happy Days is an American television sitcom that aired first-run from January 15, 1974, to September 24, 1984 on ABC, with a total of 255 half-hour episodes spanning over eleven seasons. Created by Garry Marshall, the series presented an idealized vision of life in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s Midwestern United States, and starred Ron Howard as teenager Richie Cunningham, Henry Winkler as his friend Arthur "Fonzie"/"The Fonz" Fonzarelli, and Tom Bosley and Marion Ross as Richie's parents, Howard and Marion Cunningham. Happy Days became one of the biggest hits in television history and heavily influenced the television style of its time.
The series began as an unsold pilot starring Howard, Ross and Anson Williams, which aired in 1972 as a segment entitled "Love and the Television Set" (later retitled "Love and the Happy Days" for syndication) on ABC's anthology show Love, American Style. Based on the pilot, director George Lucas cast Howard as the lead in his 1973 hit film American Graffiti, causing ABC to take a renewed interest in the pilot. The first two seasons of Happy Days focused on the experiences and dilemmas of "innocent teenager" Richie Cunningham, his family, and his high school friends, attempting to "honestly depict a wistful look back at adolescence". Initially a moderate hit, the series' ratings began to fall during its second season, causing Marshall to retool it emphasizing broad comedy and spotlighting the previously minor character of Fonzie, a "cool" biker and high school dropout. Following these changes, Happy Days became the number-one program in television in 1976-1977, Fonzie became one of the most merchandised characters of the 1970s, and Henry Winkler became a major star. The series also spawned a number of spin-offs, including the hit shows Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy.