John Amos who will always be remembered as James, the father on Good Times, sits down for a rare interviewed with EmmyTVLegends.org’s Archives of American Television. In the interview John Amos speaks out his character being killed off the popular sitcom.
While Amos was less public with his dissatisfaction, he was ultimately fired after season three due to disagreements with Norman Lear. Amos’ departure was initially attributed to his desire to focus on a film career, but he admitted in a 1976 interview that Norman Lear called him and told him that his contract option with the show was not being renewed. Amos stated, “That’s the same thing as being fired.” The producers decided not to recast the character of James Evans, instead opting to kill off the character in the two-part season four episode, “The Big Move”
Good Times was intended to be a vehicle for Esther Rolle and John Amos. Both expected the show to deal with serious topics in a comedic way while also providing positive characters for viewers. However, the character of J.J. was an immediate hit with audiences and became the breakout character of the series. J.J.’s frequent use of the expression “Dy-no-mite!” (often in the phrase “Kid Dy-no-mite!”), credited to director John Rich, became a popular catchphrase (later included in TV Land’s “The 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catch Phrases” special).
Florida and James Evans and their three children live in a rented project apartment, 17C, at 721 N. Gilbert Ave., in a housing project (implicitly the infamous Cabrini–Green projects, shown in the opening and closing credits but never mentioned by name on the show) in a poor, black neighborhood in inner-city Chicago. Florida and James’ children are James Jr., also known as “J.J.”, Thelma, and Michael. When the series begins, J.J. and Thelma are seventeen and sixteen years old, respectively, and Michael, called “the militant midget” by his father due to his passionate activism, is eleven years old. Their exuberant neighbor, and Florida’s best friend, is Willona Woods, a recent divorcée who works at a boutique. Their building superintendent is Nathan Bookman (seasons 2–4), to whom James, Willona and later J.J. refer as “Buffalo Butt”, or, even more derisively, “Booger”.