Finding Your Roots Season 4 Episodes

Find out where to watch Season 4 of Finding Your Roots tonight

Season 4 Episode Guide

Episode 1 - The Impression

Two guests linked by one hilarious impersonation trace their roots from 1940s Brooklyn back to Jewish communities in Europe. Larry David discovers his German heritage by way of ancestors who settled in Mobile, Alabama in the mid-19th century — including one who became a slaveholding Confederate; Bernie Sanders gains greater understanding of his father’s dangerous childhood in Austrian Galicia during World War I. Both guests discover what happened to the family members who were still in Europe during the Holocaust — Larry David’s grandfather lost nine siblings; Bernie Sanders’ uncle, a member of the Limanowa Judenrat, heroically went head to head with a Nazi officer. Through DNA testing, our guests learn that there is more to their uncanny likeness than they ever suspected.


Episode 2 - Unfamiliar Kin

In this episode, three guests each learn about a grandparent whose real identity and background had been a mystery to them. Along the way, two of them also discover that their close relatives were on the wrong side of history. Christopher Walken, who grew up never meeting or even knowing the name of his mother’s father, learns that he was a Scottish felon who served prison time in the 1880s. Walken also learns about his paternal uncle, a German baker who served in a notorious Reserve Police Battalion that helped perpetrate the Holocaust. Fred Armisen, too, discovers an unexpected connection to Nazi Germany as he sees evidence that his grandfather — a man he’d thought to be a Japanese dancer — had a much more complicated life than he’d ever imagined. Carly Simon learns the surprising ethnic identity and hidden Cuban past of her own mysterious grandmother. Each guest comes to see his or herself in a new light based on these freshly revealed facts about their intimate kin.


Episode 3 - Puritans and Pioneers

Three mainstays of modern-day Hollywood discover family legacies that predate the United States itself. Ted Danson learns of two Colonial ancestors who broke the mold: a Connecticut Revolutionary colonel who allowed his slave to buy his freedom, and famed iconoclast Anne Hutchinson, who was banished from Massachusetts Bay for her subversive religious views. William H. Macy learns of his own family’s nonconformists — a Puritan punished for helping Quakers who went on to help purchase Nantucket, and a Confederate widow who committed pension fraud to attempt to regain the family’s financial stability. Mary Steenburgen’s ancestors, too, refused to follow the script, including a rowdy drunkard who served under George Washington in the French and Indian War, and a Tennessee soldier who paid the price of siding with the Union. Taken together, these diverse stories from the past show our guests how personal choices can change history.


Episode 4 - The Vanguard

Three guests who have helped to redefine Black America in the last decade find their identities challenged as they learn about their family origins. Ava DuVernay’s biological roots place her family in the Haitian Revolution on the opposite side she expected: as white French slave owners fleeing the revolt. Ta-Nehisi Coates follows the ancestry of his Black Panther father to Virginia, where his fourth great-grandmother saw the transition from slavery to freedom, and his mother’s family to Maryland, where his third great-grandmother had a very different experience of the slave era. Janet Mock follows the Mock surname to Louisiana and her maternal roots to Hawaii, where her second great-grandparents were farm laborers. By placing their ancestors’ lives in the larger context of history, our guests gain a deeper appreciation for their family narratives and see how those narratives illustrate the diversity of the black experience — a diversity that is even reflected in their DNA.


Episode 5 - Immigrant Nation

Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd and John Turturro explore the challenges faced by their immigrant forebears. In the end, each guest gains a greater understanding of how their immigrant ancestors laid the groundwork for their success.


Episode 6 - Black Like Me

Three African-American guests, Bryant Gumbel, Tonya Lewis-Lee and Suzanne Malveaux, delve deep into their family trees, discovering stories that challenge our assumptions about black history.


Episode 7 - Children of the Revolution

Lupita Nyong’o, Carmelo Anthony and Ana Navarro explore how their family trees were shaped by political turmoil and violence, discovering unexpected ancestry along the way and realizing that history is more complex and personal than thought.


Episode 8 - Relatives We Never Knew We Had

Téa Leoni and Gaby Hoffman, whose lives have been shaped by family mysteries, are introduced to ancestors they never knew they had. Following the paper trail, both guests take these lines back to the 18th century.


Episode 9 - Southern Roots

Questlove, Dr. Phil and Charlayne Hunter-Gault dig into their roots where slavery shaped families. These stories reassure them that they are not alone by exposing them to stories that show that America’s racial history is shared by all.


Episode 10 - Funny Business

Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari and Maya Rudolph, who have mined their family stories for comedy, learn about ancestors who overcame immense suffering. They are struck by the contrast between themselves and these unknown ancestors and stories.


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