|The series was based on the hit Britcom Man About the House.|
The first pilot produced for ABC featured different actresses for the part of the two girls, and a different setting, along with a completely different writing style. John Ritter played David Bell, an aspiring filmmaker, Valerie Curtin (of '9 to 5' fame) plays Jenny, a sex-starved sarcastic DMV secretary, Susanne Zenor plays Samantha, a naive blonde, who aspires to be an actress. After ABC found it to be too risque, and deciding they didn't care for the characters, they demanded a rewrite. The second pilot was written by the developers we know today (Nicholl Ross West), with only one major difference: Susan Lanier played Chrissy Snow. ABC liked this pilot, but demanded a recast, and thus, we have, Three's Company as we know today.
When borrowing ideas from Man About the House, the writers usually follow the basic plotline, scramble in a few M.A.T.H lines, and tweak the plotline. Aside from the first episode, Three's Company generally came up with original lines and did not borrow too much from M.A.T.H except the basic episode principle, despite popular belief that they completely stole scripts.
Audra Lindley and Norman Fell left their roles as Helen and Stanley Roper after the third season in 1979 to join each other in their own sitcom, The Roper's, which ABC believed to be promising. The first season checked in with outstanding ratings, but the second season was doomed for failure in a new timeslot, resulting in an end after the seasons run. In total, The Roper's lasted twenty-seven episodes, and by the time the show ended, there was no spot left for The Roper's on Three's Company, as Don Knotts had already come in as Ralph Furley. Audra and Norman, however, do appear once more in a season five episode titled, "Night of the Roper's".
Ann Wedgeworth was brought in the fourth (1979-1980) year as the sex-starved divorcee Lana Shields, who pined for Jack, originally as a full contract character. However, the producers quickly ran out of ideas for her character and wrote her off after only ten episodes. There would never be any explanation as to why her character disappeared.
Two episodes of The Roper's are included in the Three's Company syndication package. The pilot episode of The Roper's "Moving On" airs in re-runs after the 3C episode "An Anniversary Surprise". Meanwhile, the episode "Stanley, the Ladies Man" airs in re-runs after the fourth season episode "Jack on the Lam". "Moving On" does not feature the 3C cast, however, Jack, Janet and Chrissy all appear in "Stanley, the Ladies Man".
After four complete seasons, Suzanne Somers began to feud with the producers for more money and 10% ownership of the show. After excessive absences from filming, and a huge public array with her co-stars (mainly Ritter and DeWitt), Suzanne's role as Chrissy Snow was reduced to sixty-seconds per episode, in the tag sequences. In the meantime, Jenilee Harrison started as Cindy Snow, Chrissy's clumsy cousin, living in Chrissy's place. Chrissy appeared talking on the phone (usually to Janet). After the episode "And Baby Makes Four", Chrissy was written off the show for good, without explanation and never to be mentioned again. Even though she rarely appears in the fifth season, she is given star billing for the entire season, while Jenilee Harrison is only listed amongst the guest credits.
After one season as the roommate in the apartments, the producers decided Cindy Snow did not fill the neccessary void of the much missed Chrissy. For the sixth season, the producers brought in witty but neurotic Terri Alden, played by Priscilla Barnes. Jenilee remained on the show in the sixth season as Cindy, but did not return for the seventh season.
Jack's dream of owning his own restaurant comes true in the seventh season, when he founded "Jack's Bistro".
The series ends after eight popular seasons with the start of a new spin-off, Three's A Crowd, about Jack, his live-in girlfriend Vicky, and her conservative father, James, all living together above the Bistro (Vicky's dad bought the Bistro and the apartment from Mr. Angelino). Three's A Crowd was unpopular with the fans and only lasted twenty-two episodes.