I Know Why the Caged Bird Screams
Season 04
Episode infomation
Original Broadcast Date January 24, 1994
Written by David Zuckerman
Directed by Shelley Jensen
Chronological Information
Preceded by Who's the Boss
Followed by When You Hit Upon a Star

I Know Why the Caged Bird Screams is the sixteenth episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's fourth season which was first broadcast on January 24, 1994.

Summary Edit

When Carlton, the mascot of the university's football team, is abducted by the students from a rival college, Will wears Carlton's peacock costume to inspire the team during a championship game. It doesn't work because they are so attached to Carlton already and his inspiring speech puts even more of a damper on their team spirit.

Plot Edit

Will and Carlton discover the campus restaurant has been vandalized by a rival college, forcing Will and Jazz to abduct a statue of the college's mustang mascot before the big game. The rival college kidnaps Carlton and locks him in a steel bird cage at the school's sorority as Carlton is a good luck charm for ULA, who have been on a winning streak. Will is unable to break Carlton out so he poses as the peacock mascot and attempts to motivate the team who is losing by 4 touchdowns during the championship. Will's speech, however, ends up dampening their spirits until Carlton manages to show up and motivates them once again to play. Ultimately, ULA loses the championship by a point, having made a comeback once Carlton returned.

Meanwhile, Phillip gets an excessive security system installed in the house featuring a guard dog and laser systems but later has it removed when he accidentally hits a laser when the family goes to the ULA game and triggers an armed response.


  • The episode title is a reference to "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", an autobiography of writer and poet Maya Angelou.