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"Crossed Swords"
Season One, Episode ##1
Number (#1) in series (136 episodes)
S1 E1 Crossed Swords.png
Air date January 14, 1972
Network NBC-TV
Production code 101
Written by: Aaron Ruben
Directed by: Bud Yorkin
Episode guide
IMDb IMDb logo.svg Crossed Swords
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"N/A - Pilot episode" "Happy Birthday, Pop"

Crossed Swords was the first episode of Sanford and Son. It premiered on January 14, 1972.


Lamont Sanford brought a load of junk for his father, Fred G. Sanford to sell at their store. He also has an object, in a cardboard box, which he will not allow Fred to touch. Lamont reveals it to be a statue of a shepherdess and a sheep, and tells Fred it is a valuable piece of porcelain, which he bought from a silent film star for $15 in Hollywood (The lady originally wanted $10, but to Fred's dismay, Lamont felt sorry for the old lady and gave her five extra dollars. Upon hearing Lamont's description of her, Fred remarks that there is "nothing uglier than an old white woman.")

Lamont and Fred take the statue to an antique dealer, who reveals that the piece is very valuable, as the crossed swords on the bottom are the trademark of a major porcelain designer, and offers them $800, but only after provoking Fred with questions about the piece's origin, which Fred takes to be racially motivated. Fred wants to take the offer, but Lamont vetos, wanting to auction the piece instead.

Through shill bidding, Lamont is able to raise the price to $1500, but Fred bids $2,000, winning the auction. Later, at Sanford and Son, Lamont is dismayed at having to pay the $200 commission for his own good, and proclaims that the piece will be his "ticket out" of Watts. Fred accidentally drops the piece, blaming it on his "arthur-itis."

In his anger, Lamont runs to the truck, which won't start, forcing Lamont to stay with Fred. The next morning, Lamont finds a suicide note from Fred, and calls the police. Lamont is giving the police details about Fred, who then walks out of the coat closet and corrects Lamont on his weight. (Lamont cites Fred's weight as 180, Fred tells him 193.) Lamont hangs up, then chases Fred around the room with a broom.


  • This episode has a note in the opening credits, which includes the line: "Based on 'Crossed Swords' by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson" as that was the episode of the British series Steptoe and Son that this is a remake of. In the end credits it states "Based on 'Steptoe and Son'" (Galton and Simpson are the creators of the series that gave inspiration to Sanford and Son).

Sanford and Son
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Sanford and Son: Season 1
Crossed Swords | Happy Birthday, Pop | Here Comes the Bride, There Goes the Bride | The Copper Caper | A Matter of Life and Breath | We Were Robbed | A Pad for Lamont | The Great Sanford Siege | Coffins for Sale | The Barracuda | TV or Not TV | The Suitcase Case | The Return of The Barracuda | The Piano Movers