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Family Ties Wiki

Margin of Error is the sixteenth episode of the first season of Family Ties and the sixteenth episode of the series overall. It originally aired on February 9, 1983.

Episode Info[]

Episode #16 - Season 1, Episode 16

First Aired: February 9, 1983

Title: A reference to the investment term "Margin Call" (and, of course, the error Alex made).


Alex has a school project picking stocks.  Seeing that he's losing money by not investing, without his father's knowledge, Alex invests Steven's money in a stock (Video Industries of the Philippines) that crashes due to a typhoon in Manila.  This leaves his father owing $2700.  Alex tries to talk to the broker (played by Philip Charles MacKenzie) but he's not able to help.  Alex finally tells his parents the truth.

Funny Moments[]

  • Elyse is designing a university chapel to accommodate many different faiths.  She explains her plan to Mallory by comparing the chapel to The Hollywood Squares: different faiths on different levels.  For example, the Unitarians will meet down where Charley Weaver used to sit, the Jews will meet where Jan Murray used to sit, and the Catholics in the center square (where Rose Marie used to sit).


  • Parts of this episode are used as a flashback in "A Word to the Wise".
  • When Alex is at the brokerage house, he witnesses one of the brokers speaking harshly to an older lady.  It turns out to be his mother.  A similar gag was used in "The Job Not Taken " at the investment firm office.