A new theory suggesting that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air‘s Geoffrey is Carlton’s real father is circulating the net. And, when you think about it, it actually makes sense.
Sitcom genetics has always been the subject of many a heated debate among die-hard TV fans. From the Olsen twins looking ever so slightly different as they grew older in Full House to Angus T. Jones’s impressive transformation, leaving him looking nothing like Jon Cryer in Two and a Half Men – casting can be a very tricky subject in long-running shows.
However, what happens when the casting is spot-on, but the characters that look alike aren’t supposed to do so? That’s what happened in Will Smith‘s iconic sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where one of the main characters has close to no resemblance to the actor who’s supposed to be his father.
He is nothing like Uncle Phil
Carlton Banks (played by Alfonso Ribeiro) grew a lot over the course of Fresh Prince – figuratively speaking, of course. Still, he never looked like his father, Philip Banks. What’s more, he never behaved like his dad, and it’s not like Uncle Phil didn’t spend a good chunk of the series teaching his kids (and Will) valuable life lessons.
On the other hand, Carlton bears a suspicious resemblance with another member of the Banks’ household: Geoffrey Barbara Butler – better known as just Geoffrey, the family’s butler.
There are some clues here and there that point towards the “Geoffrey is Carlton’s Father” theory being a cheekily hidden fact and some others that flat out debunk it. Someone who’s not all too familiar with the show would immediately think, based on their looks, that Carlton and the Butler are related.
Beyond the physical similarities – with both Carlton and Geoffrey standing out as the shortest main characters in the show – we also have to take into consideration many of Carlton’s mannerisms and even speech patterns. He might not be English like Geoffrey, but the excessive poshness and stylish behaviour that Carlton frequently exhibits can rarely be seen in his father, Phil.
Now, one could argue that these similarities appear not because Carlton is Geoffrey’s biological son, but because he was effectively raised by the family’s butler instead of his dad. After all, Geoffrey has been the moral compass for every member of the Banks family at least once in the series, not to mention he seems to be one of the more lenient characters with Will.
Geoffrey also has a somewhat turbulent past. As we learn later on in the series, he had a family that left him, and a biological son – Frederick Vickers – who tries to reconnect with him.
All that said, there are some insinuations – coming from Uncle Phil, no less – that seems to indicate that, yes, Carlton might not be entirely a Banks and Geoffrey may actually be his father. In a moment that sounds like a fleeting joke but could be so much more, Uncle Phil mentions that he has “a butler who may be the father of [his] child.”
This happened in season 4, episode 1 of the series, Where there’s a Will, there’s a Way: Part 1. After Will and Carlton “move” onto a place of their own, Uncle Phil goes on a tirade about all the things in life that might upset you, and he lets that seemingly innocuous line about his butler slide.
Granted, this is just an entertaining fan theory – a “what if” in the Fresh Prince continuity. Still, the fact that Alfonso Ribeiro and Joseph Marcell (who plays Geoffrey) look and act so similarly might have fueled the fires of speculation for fans of the show.
Let’s just hope that Nicky, the youngest of the Banks, doesn’t develop an unexplainable fascination with becoming a butler later on. Perhaps that’s something they could explore in the Bel-Air show.
Tell us, do you think Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Geoffrey is Carlton’s father?