Taxi (TV series)

Last updated
Taxi title screen.jpg
Genre Sitcom
Created by
Directed by
Theme music composer Bob James
Opening theme"Angela"
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes114 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • James L. Brooks
  • Stan Daniels
  • Ed. Weinberger
  • David Davis
Production locationsStage 23, Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California
Camera setup Multiple-camera
Running time24 minutes
Production companies
Original release
Network ABC
ReleaseSeptember 12, 1978 (1978-09-12) 
May 6, 1982 (1982-05-06)
Network NBC
ReleaseSeptember 30, 1982 (1982-09-30) 
June 15, 1983 (1983-06-15)

Taxi is an American television sitcom that originally aired on ABC from September 12, 1978, to May 6, 1982, and on NBC from September 30, 1982, to June 15, 1983. It focuses on the everyday lives of a handful of New York City taxi drivers and their abusive dispatcher. For most of the run of the show, the ensemble cast consisted of taxi drivers Alex Reiger (Judd Hirsch), Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway), Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner), Tony Banta (Tony Danza), and "Reverend" Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd), along with dispatcher Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito) and mechanic Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman). Taxi was produced by the John Charles Walters Company, in association with Paramount Network Television, and was created by James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis, and Ed. Weinberger, all of whom were brought on board after working on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (which ended in 1977).


The show was a critical and commercial success. It was nominated for 34 Primetime Emmy Awards and won 18, including wins in three consecutive years for Outstanding Comedy Series. It has remained in syndicated reruns ever since the series ended. In 2007, Time magazine ranked it among their 100 ALL-TIME TV Shows.

Premise and themes

The show focuses on the employees who work the night shift at the fictional Sunshine Cab Company, and its principal setting is the company's fleet garage in Manhattan. Among the drivers, only Alex Reiger, who is disillusioned with life, considers cab driving his profession. The others view it as a temporary job.

Elaine Nardo is a single mother working as a receptionist at an art gallery. Tony Banta is a boxer with a losing record. Bobby Wheeler is a struggling actor. John Burns (written out of the show after the first season) is working his way through college. All take pity on "Reverend Jim" Ignatowski, an aging hippie minister, who is burnt out from drugs, so they help him become a cabbie. The characters also include Latka Gravas, their innocent, wide-eyed mechanic from an unnamed foreign country, and Louie De Palma, the despotic dispatcher.

A number of episodes involve a character having an opportunity to realize their dream to move up in the world, only to see it yanked away. Otherwise, the cabbies deal on a daily basis with their unsatisfying lives and with Louie's abusive behavior and contempt (despite being a former cab driver himself). Louie's assistant, Jeff Bennett, is rarely heard from at first, but his role increased in later seasons.

Despite the humor of the show, Taxi often tackles such dramatic life issues as drug addiction, single parenthood, blindness, obesity, dissociative identity disorder, animal abuse, homosexuality, racism, teenage runaways, divorce, nuclear war, sexual harassment, premenstrual mood disorders, gambling addiction, and grief.

Cast and characters


Alex Reiger Judd Hirsch Main
Bobby Wheeler Jeff Conaway Main Recurring [lower-alpha 1]
Louie De Palma Danny DeVito Main
Elaine O'Connor Nardo Marilu Henner Main
Anthony Mark "Tony" Banta Tony Danza Main
Latka Gravas Andy Kaufman Main
John Burns Randall Carver Main
Reverend Jim "Iggy" Ignatowski Christopher Lloyd Guest Main
Simka Gravas Carol Kane Guest Recurring Main
    1. Conaway is credited alongside the main cast for two episodes, which were held over from season 3, and makes one further appearance credited as a special guest star.
    Cast of the debut season (ABC, 1978-79). From left to right: (back) Marilu Henner, Judd Hirsch; (front) Andy Kaufman, Jeff Conaway, Randall Carver, Danny DeVito, Tony Danza Taxi cast ABC first season.jpg
    Cast of the debut season (ABC, 1978–79). From left to right: (back) Marilu Henner, Judd Hirsch; (front) Andy Kaufman, Jeff Conaway, Randall Carver, Danny DeVito, Tony Danza
    Cast of the final season (NBC, 1982-83). From left to right: (back) Kaufman, Carol Kane, DeVito, Hirsch; (front) Danza, Henner, Christopher Lloyd Taxi NBC cast final season.jpg
    Cast of the final season (NBC, 1982–83). From left to right: (back) Kaufman, Carol Kane, DeVito, Hirsch; (front) Danza, Henner, Christopher Lloyd



    Among the many guest stars, Ruth Gordon won an Emmy Award for her guest portrayal of Dee Wilcox in "Sugar Mama" (1979), and Eileen Brennan was nominated for an Emmy for her guest portrayal of Mrs. McKenzie in "Thy Boss's Wife" (1981).

    Some played themselves: actresses Marcia Wallace and Penny Marshall, psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers, cookie entrepreneur Wally "Famous" Amos, newscasters Edwin Newman and Eric Sevareid (the latter in a fantasy sequence), and ring announcer Jimmy Lennon. WBC world welterweight boxing champion Carlos Palomino appeared in the first-season episode "One-Punch Banta" as himself. Palomino accidentally punched Danza in the face during a brief fight scene. Martial artist and professional wrestler Gene LeBell played himself in multiple episodes as the referee for Banta's boxing matches.

    George Wendt and Ted Danson, who appeared in separate episodes, went on to star in primary Taxi director Jim Burrows' next series, Cheers , as did recurring Taxi performer Rhea Perlman. Tom Selleck and Mandy Patinkin had memorable guest appearances, each as one of the memorable fares of Cab 804 (in "Memories of Cab 804: Part 2"), while Tom Hanks portrayed Reverend Jim's college roommate in the flashback episode "The Road Not Taken, Part 1". Allan Arbus, who portrayed US Army psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman in M*A*S*H , played his manager in the episode. Football player-turned-actor Bubba Smith appeared in one episode. In the episode "Jim Joins the Network", Martin Short played a failing TV network executive who takes advantage of Jim's exceptional ability to schedule shows for his own career advancement.


    SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
    First airedLast airedNetwork
    1 22September 12, 1978 (1978-09-12)May 15, 1979 (1979-05-15) ABC
    2 24September 11, 1979 (1979-09-11)May 13, 1980 (1980-05-13)
    3 20November 19, 1980 (1980-11-19)May 21, 1981 (1981-05-21)
    4 24October 18, 1981 (1981-10-18)May 6, 1982 (1982-05-06)
    5 24September 30, 1982 (1982-09-30)June 15, 1983 (1983-06-15) NBC

    Awards and nominations

    Taxi is one of television's most lauded shows. During its run, the sitcom was nominated for 31 Emmy Awards and won 18, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series. It was also nominated for 25 Golden Globes, with four wins (three for Best TV Series – Musical/Comedy). In 1979, it received the Humanitas Prize in the 30 minute category. It was also ranked 48th in TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 1997, two of the show's episodes, "Latka the Playboy" and "Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey" were respectively ranked #19 and #63 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. [9] In 2013, the series was ranked #35 on TV Guide's 60 Best Series of All Time [10] and #19 by the Writers Guild of America on their list of the 101 Best Written TV Series. [11] In 2023, Variety ranked Taxi #75 on its list of the 100 greatest TV shows of all time. [12]

    Emmy Awards

    Wins in bold

    Golden Globe Awards

    Wins in bold


    Taxi was inspired by the non-fiction article "Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet" by Mark Jacobson, which appeared in the September 22, 1975, issue of New York magazine. [13] This article helped suggest the idea for the show to James L. Brooks and David Davis, though nothing from the article was used directly. [14] The article was a profile of several drivers who worked the night shift for a New York cab company.

    The series was produced on Stage 23 at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California, from July 5, 1978, to February 18, 1983.

    When the series was cancelled by ABC, it seemed for a time that the premium cable television network HBO would pick up the series. When it did not, the series was picked up by NBC, which at first kept it on at its ABC time slot of Thursday 9:30 p.m following the first season of Cheers . An NBC promo for Taxi's move to the network featured Danny DeVito in character as Louie saying "Same time, better station!" [15]

    The taxicabs shown in the show are Checker A11s.

    Opening and closing sequence

    The opening titles show a Checker cab driving east across the Queensboro Bridge. The footage originally was intended as a "bridge" between scenes and is only about fifteen seconds long; parts of it are repeated to fill the opening. Driving the vehicle is cast-member Tony Danza. [16] The closing version consisted of a cab driving into the night.

    Theme music

    Bob James wrote the opening theme, "Angela", which had been intended for a sequence in episode #3 ("Blind Date"). The producers liked this slower, more melancholic tune better than the up-tempo opening theme they had originally chosen ("Touchdown"), and were able to make the switch before the first episode aired. Both songs are on James's 1978 album, Touchdown .

    It uses the "Sunny" chord progression. [17]

    In 1983, James released The Genie, an LP containing much of the incidental music he had written for Taxi during its run.


    Reruns of Taxi began airing in syndication in 1983 on 64 television stations immediately after NBC's cancelation; It has been airing in syndication since. The program also aired on Nick at Nite from 1994 to 2001. Taxi currently reruns Sunday nights on MeTV as part of the "Last Laughs" block. Hulu, Pluto TV and Amazon Prime Video have all five seasons; however, as of February 2023, only Paramount+ has every episode, including some available with original music for the first time outside of the original and syndicated runs. In the UK, Taxi aired on BBC1 with repeats airing on Paramount Comedy 2 and CBS Drama. As of 2020, the series has been airing weeknights on Decades (later rebranded as Catchy Comedy) as part of its “Smartcoms Across The Decades” block (later re-named as the "Smart and Catchy Sitcoms" block). Taxi has also aired on Decades and Catchy Comedy as a "Weekend Binge" and a "Catchy Binge", respectively, most recently on June 10–11, 2023.

    Cast reunions

    Danny DeVito hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live (on NBC) soon after Taxi was canceled after the fourth season. During the opening monologue, DeVito read a letter supposedly from his mother asking God to forgive ABC for cancelling the show, adding that "but I'll understand if you don't." A filmed bit had him driving around New York looking morose until inspiration strikes, and he blows up the ABC building. In addition, the Taxi cast members were given an opportunity for closure, which up to that point had been denied for them due to the abrupt cancellation. The actors took their "final" bows during DeVito's opening monologue, only to have NBC (which aired SNL) pick up the show.

    More than 15 years later, most of the cast returned to play their younger selves and briefly re-enact scenes for the Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon . Judd Hirsch, Marilu Henner, Jeff Conaway, Carol Kane, Randall Carver, J. Alan Thomas and Christopher Lloyd all reprised their roles. The only two living members of the principal cast who did not were Danny DeVito, who produced and co-starred in the film as Kaufman's manager George Shapiro, and Tony Danza, who at the time of filming was performing in A View from the Bridge on Broadway. [18]

    Several of the cast members (along with cast members from other Judd Hirsch and Bob Newhart vehicles) reunited in different roles for an episode of the Judd Hirsch/Bob Newhart series George & Leo .

    In January 2009, Danny DeVito mentioned wanting to make a Taxi reunion movie. [19] [20] [21]

    Home media

    All five seasons of Taxi have been released from Paramount Home Entertainment. The first three seasons of Taxi were released on DVD in Region 1 between 2004 and 2005. It took almost four years until Paramount released The Fourth Season on September 22, 2009, and The (Fifth &) Final Season on December 22, 2009 (the last two seasons were released through CBS Home Entertainment). As of October 2014, all seasons have been released in Germany (Region 2).

    On November 11, 2014, CBS Home Entertainment released Taxi- The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. All 114 episodes are featured on a 17-disc collection. [22]

    DVD NameEp #Release dates
    Region 1Region 2
    The Complete First Season22October 12, 2004April 28, 2008
    The Complete Second Season24February 1, 2005February 9, 2009
    The Complete Third Season20September 13, 2005TBA[ contradictory ]
    The Fourth Season24September 22, 2009TBA[ contradictory ]
    The (Fifth &) Final Season24December 22, 2009TBA[ contradictory ]
    The Complete Series114November 11, 2014May 30, 2016


    1. "The Lost Roles of Robin Williams". 31 March 2011. Archived from the original on 19 July 2021. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
    2. " - Stern Show News - Archive". Archived from the original on 2011-03-03. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
    3. "Danny Devito: Biography". TV Guide . Archived from the original on 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2008-10-03.
    4. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, pg 242
    5. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made Them by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, pg 242
    6. Jeff Sorensen, The Taxi Book, St. Martin's Press, 1987, p. 39.
    7. Willis, J.; Monush, B. (2000). John Willis' Screen World. Vol. 51. Applause Books. ISBN   9781557834317 . Retrieved 2014-11-15.
    8. Picou, Sabrina (August 13, 2022). "Tony Danza's Kids: Everything To Know About 'Who's The Boss?' Star's 4 Children". Hollywood Life . Archived from the original on March 20, 2023. Retrieved March 20, 2023.
    9. "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28 – July 4). 1997.
    10. "TV Guide Magazine's 60 Best Series of All Time". December 23, 2013. Archived from the original on November 19, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
    11. "101 Best Written TV Series". Writers Guild of America West. June 2, 2013.
    12. "The 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time". Variety. December 20, 2023.
    13. Jacobson, Mark (September 22, 1975). "Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet". New York . Archived from the original on January 17, 2011. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
    14. Jeff Sorensen, The Taxi Book, St. Martin's Press, 1987, p. 3.
    15. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present . Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1174. ISBN   0-345-45542-8.
    16. "15 Behind-the-Scenes Facts About Taxi". 12 September 2018. Archived from the original on 1 April 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
    17. Cleary, Tom (2019-11-26). "A history of the chord progression from Bobby Hebb's 'Sunny', and an original tune based on it ('Eye On The Sky')". BirdFeed. Archived from the original on 2024-01-15. Retrieved 2024-01-15.
    18. ""Man On The Moon" shoot starts". 8 August 1998. Archived from the original on 29 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
    19. "Danny Devito—Devito Calls For Taxi Movie". Archived from the original on 2010-12-22. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
    20. "Danny DeVito Calls For 'Taxi' Movie". Starpulse Entertainment News. Archived from the original on 2009-12-27. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
    21. "A 'Taxi' Reunion?". Extra. Archived from the original on 2010-08-14. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
    22. "Taxi DVD news: Announcement for Taxi - The Complete Series -". Archived from the original on 2014-08-26.

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