The Entire Golden Girls Timeline Explained

The Golden Girls stole America's hearts and continues to warm them today, while inducing a slew of belly laughs along the way. 

The hit comedy show, made up of four older women/roommates/BFFs aired from 1985-1992 on NBC with 177 knee-slapping episodes. Of course, the show had an all-star cast, too. Betty White played the lovably ditzy Rose Nylund, Rue McClanahan portrayed Southern belle and man-eater Blanche Devereaux, Bea Arthur played sensible and sarcastic Dorothy Zbornak, while Estelle Getty stole the show as her wise-cracking Sicilian mother, Sophia Petrillo. The women all won Emmy awards for their performances while working on the critically acclaimed sitcom — which is kind of a big deal. 


The show, created by Susan Harris, was very much ahead of its time as far as plot lines and sensitive topics — tackling abortion, gay marriage, and even AIDS throughout the series. Plus, the jokes just never seem to get old. At 25-26 episodes per season, there's certainly no shortage of character hijinks, saucy one-liners, '80s fashion trends, and a myriad of discussion topics that still grace the dinner table today. This is the entire Golden Girls timeline explained.

Here's how the Golden Girls came to live together in Miami

The Golden Girls foursome might be BFFs, but that doesn't mean they'e known each other forever. 

As revealed in Season 1, Episode 25, Blanche — a widow who was living all alone in her Miami home — was putting up a "roommates wanted" sign at the grocery store when she met Rose (played by Betty White), who walked up looking lost just as the Southern belle was pinning up the ad. Later in the episode, Dorothy comes to scope the place after seeing the ad herself, and decides to make it her home. Dorothy's mother Sophia later joins the trio after Shady Pines, her nursing home, burns down. And the rest, as they say, is history!


The girls have a lot to commiserate over, as Blanche, Rose, and Sophia are all widows, and Dorothy is a divorcée. Sophia is the oldest, meant to be in her 80s, while the rest of the girls are supposed to be in their 60s, as noted by CBS News. Plus, the ladies all bond over their love of cheesecake, which is basically a character in itself on this hit show.

Dorothy gets real with her cheating ex-husband on The Golden Girls

Golden Girl Dorothy was married to her ex-husband, Stanley, for a whopping 38 years. And as proven by a storyline which lasts throughout most of the series (via Showbiz Cheatsheet), Dorothy still has her issues with Stanley (or, Stan) cheating on her with another woman. 


Dorothy's walls rarely come down, but when they do, it's to get real with her ex. In Season 1, Episode 11 of The Golden Girls, Stan works up the audacity to tell Dorothy he wants her back. However, she isn't having it, reminding philandering Stan that he walked out on her. Still, Dorothy lends an ear as Stan describes how his much-younger current wife is leaving him for a younger man, and even attempts to genuinely comfort her ex-husband. Unfortunately, the two spend the night together, and Stan is given the wrong impression.

The girls, unhappy about the hook-up, urge Dorothy to tell Stan to buzz off. Stan then professes his love for Dorothy, who is tempted — but while talking to Blanche about the pain and humiliation she went through two years ago, realizes she'd never be able to fully trust him again. 


Rose's date suffered a fate similar to her late husband's on The Golden Girls

In Season 1 of The Golden Girls, Betty White's Rose sleeps with her date, Al — who winds up dying in bed during sex (via Funny Or Die)Rose is understandably in a state of shock — and this shock becomes even more warranted when she reveals her late husband Charlie died during sex as well


Fortunately, Al's sister reveals that he would have died anyways due to clogged arteries, meaning Rose isn't at fault. However, in a rare moment, the normally naive Rose takes the opportunity to pull one over on the rest of the gang, keeping a straight face while telling them that she killed yet another date by sleeping with them. 

And Rose continues her twisted jeer by adding that she slept with a policeman and killed him, too. The girls totally buy into it until Rose cracks from a solemn deadpan, breaking into a fit of proud giggles for pulling one over on the girls. Her roomies quickly realize that she's thankfully joking, and that there have only been TWO men who have died during sex with Rose. Phew!


Blanche deals with sexual harassment in class in this episode of The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls was a show way ahead of its time, as proven by the way it addressed sexual assault and power dynamics. And the series tackled the sensitive topic in the very first season of the show!


In Season 1, Episode 20, Blanche is caught off guard when her teacher sexually harasses her, grabbing her hand and basically telling her she'll have to come over and sleep with him for some "extra credit" in order to pass the class. When she shares her unfortunate news with the girls, Rose points out that she'll be so much happier if she uses her brains over her body, to which Blanche sadly replies, "I don't know if I can." 

Dorothy demands that Blanche report the man who harassed her; however, when she does, yet another no-good guy tells Blanche there's no evidence she was sexually harassed, essentially giving her a "life isn't fair" excuse. Still, Blanche takes things into her own hands and tells off the professor herself, saying that she's a lady, has self-respect, and telling him to "kiss her A" after finishing her test.


Blanche's sexuality is threatened in The Golden Girls Season 2

As fans of The Golden Girls know, Blanche makes no apologies for her sexuality. However, the Southern belle's sexual prowess is threatened in the premiere episode of Season 2, when the man-eater learns that her false positive pregnancy test is actually the result of her body starting to go through menopause.


Sensible Dorothy tries to comfort her exasperated friend by pointing out that she at least won't have monthly cramps anymore, as noted by BuzzFeed. Nevertheless, Blanche is a mess and holed up in bed, convinced that she is no longer desirable to men aka her life is over. The girls eventually convince her to see a shrink, who valuably points out that Blanche must take note of the special traits she possesses aside from just her desirability — especially as she ages. A confused Blanche doesn't know what to make of this news, but heeds the doc's advice and starts feeling better. And when she later receives some male attention, Blanche realizes she's still got it. 

Menopause is rarely openly discussed by women today, let alone on a sitcom nearly 35 years ago. Way to be progressive, Golden Girls!


Rose is pursued by Dorothy's lesbian friend in The Golden Girls Season 2

In Season 2 of The Golden Girls, Rose has a female admirer — which is just another example of the series' highly progressive storylines for a show in the 80s. 

When Dorothy's friend Jean comes to visit, she quickly realizes she has feelings for Rose. However, Rose — unaware that Jean is a lesbian since it was only just revealed to Dorothy — is startled as Jean confesses her admiration. Not knowing what to do, an alarmed Rose feigns snoring while turned over in bed. The plan works, and Jean retreats to the couch across the room.


Rose wakes up, confesses to Dorothy what has happened, and decides to have a talk with Jean to politely tell her that she's flattered but doesn't have feelings in that way. Jean apologizes for her abruptness, revealing that her female partner had died and that she hasn't had feelings for anyone since, which is why she acted on them. Rose and Jean hug it out and agree to be friends as they are spied on by the gang, who are obviously looking for some juicier action. Not today, girls!

The Golden Girls Season 3 sees Sophia struggle with a close friend's Alzheimer's diagnosis

In The Golden Girls Season 3 premiere, Sophia is struggling with aging and has been taking walks by herself in order to feel more independent (via Variety). While on one of these walks, the sassy mother befriends a man named Alvin, who she converses with daily on a park bench. 


However, Sophia soon begins to realize that her friend is starting to mentally deteriorate in bouts of confusion. And while Sophia is usually tough-as-nails, the spitfire shows a softer side to her pal, comforting Alvin as he cries over his mental anguish. The wisecracking Golden Girl holds him, saying, "That's okay, cry all you want." It should come as no surprise to learn Estelle Getty actually won an Emmy for her work on this very season. 

Sophia's moment with Alvin is certainly one of the most tender moments throughout the entire show. And interestingly (and disappointingly) enough, this episode was also one of the only episodes in which a black actor is featured in a more prominent role without his race being used as a plot device. 


The girls deal with drug addiction in Season 4 of The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls tackled an array of serious topics during its run, including drug addiction and abuse.

In Season 4, Episode 20, the girls discover that Rose has been hooked on painkillers for around 30 years, due to a back injury she sustained earlier in her life. Rose has a hard time admitting that she's an addict, promising her roomies that she can go without taking them, no problem. However, the middle of the night, the girls bust Rose as she's looking for the pills. Rose shows common addict behavior by saying that she'll stop tomorrow, before finally admitting that she doesn't know if she can stop taking them, saying she's too "ashamed" and "embarrassed" to go to rehab (via USA Today). 


Blanche assures Rose she has nothing to be ashamed of, and tells her that her addiction is a medical problem for which she needs help. Ultimately, Rose heeds her friends' advice and decides to finally enter rehab. And while the girls worry she'll be different when she gets back, Betty White's character returns as the same ol' lovable, ditzy Rose she always was!

Rose loses her late husband's pension in Season 5 of The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls addresses very real issues for people in retirement in the Season 5 episode "Rose Fights Back," in which Rose loses her late husband Charlie's pension when his horseshoe company goes under. 


Rose faces shame and humiliation — not to mention despair — as the rest of the girls rally around her, letting their frightened bestie know they've got her back. Since she doesn't make quite enough money working at the counseling center, Rose is set on finding a better job — however, getting back out there at 60-something is daunting. In fact, Rose later shares that she was blatantly told by a pet store that she was simply too old to work there. Appalled, the girls suggest reporting the store to the local news station, and Rose marches on down. While at the station, however, she hears they are hiring a production assistant. She inquires about the position, and while she is met with more discrimination, the episode sees Rose fighting back and getting the job. 


While a bit naive in the beginning of the series, Rose certainly seems to find her voice throughout the show's seven seasons.

Blanche's daughter wants to have a child via artificial insemination in Season 5 of The Golden Girls

Season 5 of The Golden Girls was packed full of heavy-hitting episodes that addressed difficult, real world topics. 

In Season 5, Episode 3, Blanche's daughter Rebecca reveals that she plans to have a baby via artificial insemination. Blanche is caught off guard that her daughter wants to be a single mother, leading to yet another progressive storyline that raised awareness for a rarely-talked-about method of conception — not to mention the show boldly proving that a woman does not need a man's presence to start a family. Of course, Blanche's life revolves around men, so this is certainly all Greek to her.


Blanche and Rose accompany Rebecca to her appointment, which leaves Blanche horrified. "They didn't want to make eye contact with anybody going to the fifth floor — the sperm floor!" she says with a shudder. Soon, her emotions go into overdrive when she says she doesn't want a "test tube baby" for a grandchild. However, after a heart-to-heart with the girls, Blanche admits to her daughter that she's "been dumb" and needs to support her decision (via Yahoo!).

Rose finds out she may have contracted HIV in a memorable 1990 episode of The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls fearlessly cover another taboo topic in Season 5, when the show addresses the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

Rose unexpectedly finds out via letter that she could have contracted HIV in a blood transfusion years ago, (via Yahoo! Life).The hospital urges her to take a blood test immediately. A panic-stricken Rose lashes out at Blanche basically saying that she should be the one dealing with this considering her oversexed lifestyle. Fortunately, after an emotionally agonizing few days waiting on test results, Rose finds out she is clear.


This show hit close to home as one of the editors had an HIV-positive partner, along with Estelle Getty's HIV-positive nephew (via Vulture). Blanche's line, "AIDS is not a bad person's disease, Rose. It is not God punishing people for their sins!" was a powerful statement, especially because real world religious groups were saying that AIDS was God's way of punishing gay people. The writers believed that giving innocent Rose this storyline would be more impactful — and considering it's still one of the most talked-about episodes, it seems they were right.

Blanche's brother Clayton marries his partner in Season 6 of The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls was an LGTBQ-friendly show, as proven by the way Blanche's brother Clayton — who came out in Season 4 — gets his very own happy ending in this Season 6 episode. 

In "Sisters of the Bride," Clayton visits Miami to tell Blanche that he plans to marry his partner, Doug. While Blanche says can accept that Clayton is gay, she questions the need for him to marry a man (via BuzzFeed). However, Sophia sums it up for Blanche with her beautiful, famous line, "Everyone wants someone to grow old with. And shouldn't everyone have that chance?" 


After some deliberation, Blanche gives Clayton her blessing and welcomes her new brother-in-law to the family. In the end, the girls always seem to wind up on the right side of equality, no matter what the conflict. HuffPost spoke about the show's LGBTQ storylines with writer Matt Baume, who said, "'The Golden Girls provided a roadmap toward acceptance." Baume continued, saying, "If these girls could do it, so can America."

Sophia loses her son and comes to terms with his lifestyle in this Season 6 episode of The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls remains one of the funniest sitcoms there is. However, the show never shied away from showing the harder moments of the girls' lives — especially as the series neared its end. 

In Season 6, Episode 12, Dorothy's brother Phil suddenly dies of a heart attack. The girls attend the funeral, where Sophia finds herself having a hard time reflecting on her only son's crossdresser lifestyle. Dorothy even struggles to write the eulogy, since the whole situation is — and has always been — awkward for the mother-daughter pair.


Though viewers never actually met Phil, Dorothy's brother has been the butt of many jokes throughout the series. Despite thoughts that he was gay, Phil was actually happily married with children to his wife, Angela, who Sophia always looked down upon for seemingly condoning her son's crossdressing hobby. At the funeral, Sophia confronts Angela (via ScreenRant) finally breaking down at the end of this raw, emotional episode. "My baby is gone," Sophia sobs, suffering from her own guilt of never fully accepting her son.

Dorothy marries Blanche's uncle and leaves the girls in the emotional Golden Girls finale

Unfortunately, The Golden Girls couldn't last forever.

After seven long seasons, the girls reluctantly say goodbye to their familiar living situation. In the two-parter final episode, Dorothy marries Blanche's Uncle Lucas (played by Nielsen), and Blanche makes the difficult decision to sell the house (via Southern Living)Sophia, who was supposed to leave Miami with her daughter and new son-in-law, tells Dorothy that she's staying behind with Rose and Blanche, according to TVSeriesFinale.comwho also describes how Dorothy's ex-husband, Stanley, shows up in a surprise limo to take Dorothy to her wedding. Fortunately, Stan's not trying to stop the wedding — he simply wants to show Dorothy how much he cares.


After crying and hugging Blanche, Rose, and Sophia before leaving town, Dorothy continues coming back inside the house to say goodbye to the girls in this sweet, tearjerker finale. Of course, we can't blame Dorothy for not wanting to say goodbye; however, as the girls stare at the door and wait for Dorothy to burst in one more time, they soon realize she's gone for good. Thank you for being a friend, girls!