3J in the House is the fifth episode of the eighth season in this television sitcom on Family Matters, which was aired from ABC on October 11, 1996. It was directed by Richard Correll and written by Meg DeLoatch.
Orphaned 3J sneaks into the Winslows' attic, as he is afraid of being forced to move to another orphanage. Harriette suggests to Carl that they take 3J in, noting that beneath that sometime smart-mouthed demeanor lies a sweet, innocent young boy who is pining for a family. Carl and Harriette decide to become 3J's foster parents.
In a B-Story, Steve tempts Carl with the cheese pizza after Harriette puts him on a diet. He is later kicked out of the house by Carl who then tries to eat the whole thing himself. He's caught by an angry Harriette who takes the pizza away and forces him to eat the carrot. She gives the pizza to Eddie, Laura, and Richie, while she admonishes Steve for tempting Carl in the first place.
After visiting Richie at the house, 3J vanishes from Fenster Hall, a home for kids who are up for adoption. The Winslows try to find him. They are unaware that Richie is secretly housing him in one of the rooms next to Eddie's own bedroom in the attic. Steve suspects 3J is hiding somewhere in the house because he previously showed the boy around as a volunteer brother and uses his new homing device invention to search for him. The device leads him upstairs in one of the unused rooms in the attic next to Eddie's room which he and Urkel share. When Steve opens the door, he finds Richie and 3J there. Confronting them, Urkel reprimands Richie for making a foolhardy decision in this. He admits responsibility for his actions and begs Urkel not to say anything. Steve points out that Carl and Harriette will be in big trouble if Mr. Morrison finds out about this. Richie convinces him to hear them out before saying anything. Urkel decides to hear both boys out and sits down. Richie confesses that 3J's aunt signed away her rights when she could no longer afford to keep him and had put him in Fenster Hall. 3J mentions he is afraid that Mr. Morrison is planning to move him to another orphanage should there be no potential adopters for him. Both he and Richie begs Steve not to tell anyone about this until they can convince his mom, Rachel, to adopt him. He reluctantly agrees to keep their secret until then.
Meanwhile, Laura starts dating Curtis to take her mind off of missing Stefan, who is in Milan. Harriette discovers this and warns her that it will backfire on her one day. She tells Laura that she needs to think about the consequences of her actions because what if Stefan makes an unscheduled return home and she is found with Curtis. It would make for an awkward scene for both guys and she'd end up being alone.
Despite Steve's promise, his conscience grows heavy for having to keep such a monumental secret. He finally tells Carl and Harriette the truth about 3J hiding in one of the unused rooms in the attic. Leading them upstairs to one of the unused rooms, Carl and Harriette finds 3J there. Carl and Harriette confront him for running away from Fenster Hall. He reveals everything that happened with his mom being gone, his aunt gave him away and his own fears of being sent away to another orphanage. Harriette suggests to Carl that they adopt 3J, noting that beneath that sometime smart-mouthed demeanor lies a sweet, innocent young boy who is pining for a family. Carl agrees to the plan and informs Mr. Morrison that they've decided to adopt 3J as their own child, while planning to confront Richie for his behavior.
- Reginald VelJohnson as Carl Winslow
- Jo Marie Payton-Noble as Harriette Winslow
- Darius McCrary as Eddie Winslow
- Kellie Shanygne Williams as Laura Winslow
- Jaleel White as Steve Urkel
- Bryton McClure as Richie Crawford
- Bruce Jarchow as Mr. Morrison
- Juan Lamont Pope as Curtis (credited by J. Lamont Pope)
- It was unspecified in what punishment Richie got after Carl and Harriette confronted him off screen