In March 1974, the television movie, The Rockford Files, aired in the US via NBC. The movie – a detective picture starring James Garner – followed the story of Jim Rockford, a private investigator and former convict, who is pardoned after being wrongfully convicted.
Due to the popularity of The Rockford Files movie, a television show quickly followed. This in turn proved to be a big hit during the 1970s, running multiple seasons in the process, and it was soon accompanied by a collection of television movies which aired across the 1990s.
But if you’re not familiar with The Rockford Files you might be asking yourself how many seasons are there, how many movies were produced, and what is the correct viewing order of each?! Well, don’t worry, because in this post I am providing you with all those answers, in one easily accessible guide.
Understanding The Rockford Files timeline
As noted above, The Rockford Files began in 1976 when a one-off television movie first aired on NBC. This movie was conceived as a sort-of pilot, to gage interest in Jim Rockford, and to see if audiences would like to see more from the character.
As it turned out, audiences did want to see more from Jim Rockford, and following on from the broadcast of this ‘pilot’ movie, NBC quickly commissioned a follow-on series to continue Rockford’s story. The first episode of this new show, landed on screens in September of the same year, with lead actor James Garner reprising the role, and this kick-started a 23-episode run of weekly instalments.
With the first season of The Rockford Files proving equally as successful as the pilot movie, a second season went into production in 1975, with a further 22 episodes hitting screens between ’75 and ’76. A third season then followed in late 1976, with a fourth airing in late 1977.
A fifth season of The Rockford Files aired in 1978, with a six season following in 1979. However, the sixth season would prove to be the show’s final run of episodes, with the series coming to a rather abrupt end.
Why did it end? Because during the production of Season Six, and following a few ongoing health issues, lead actor James Garner was advised by his doctors that he needed to take time out from the show to recuperate.
Rather than put the show on hiatus, while Garner took an indefinite break, NBC decided it was time to pull the plug on The Rockford Files. As such, after a shortened sixth year, The Rockford Files came to a swift end, with the final episode airing in January 1980.
But as it turned out, this wasn’t quite the end of the road for The Rockford Files. As the 1980s rolled on, the show went into syndication, where it picked up a new audience, and this convinced studio heads (this time over at CBS) that there was still plenty of life left in the series.
But rather than revive the show via a new season, CBS instead commissioned a television movie called I Still Love L.A., which continued Jim Rockford’s adventures via a feature-length story. James Garner reprised the lead role, and upon making its debut in November 1994, the film proved to be a hit with audiences.
Due to the success of I Still Love L.A., a second movie followed in 1995, titled A Blessing in Disguise. Once again, this movie proved popular, which paved the way for six additional movies to follow.
Four of these television films aired in 1996, while another landed in late 1997. The eighth and final film hit screens in 1999, bringing the adventures of Jim Rockford to an end.
The Rockford Files details
In total, between 1974 and 1999, The Rockford Files clocked up six seasons of television, and 123 episodes, as well as one pilot movie and eight follow-up television films. This breaks down as follows:
- The Rockford Files: 1 pilot movie
- The Rockford Files: 123 episodes (6 seasons)
- The Rockford Files movies: 8 television movies
The Rockford Files TV show and movies in order
If you have never watched any of The Rockford Files before, and you are only now just finding your way into this little universe, hopefully the following list will ease you in nicely. As you will see, it is very simple to follow, so it shouldn’t be difficult to navigate your way through.
The viewing order of The Rockford Files TV show and movies is as follows:
- The Rockford Files (aka Backlash of the Hunter) – Pilot movie (1974)
- The Rockford Files – Season One (1974 – 1975)
- The Rockford Files – Season Two (1975 – 1976)
- The Rockford Files – Season Three (1976 – 1977)
- The Rockford Files – Season Four (1977 – 1978)
- The Rockford Files – Season Five (1978 – 1979)
- The Rockford Files – Season Six (1979 – 1980)
- The Rockford Files: I Still Love L.A. (1994)
- The Rockford Files: A Blessing in Disguise (1995)
- The Rockford Files: If the Frame Fits (1996)
- The Rockford Files: Godfather Knows Best (1996)
- The Rockford Files: Friends and Foul Play (1996)
- The Rockford Files: Punishment and Crime (1996)
- The Rockford Files: Murder and Misdemeanours (1997)
- The Rockford Files: If It Bleeds, It Leads (1999)
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