80s The Best 1980s Black TV Shows  

Ranker TV
647 votes 163 voters 19.4k views 15 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite black series that aired on TV in the '80s

These are the best 1980s Black TV shows, ranked from best to worst by user votes. These shows are from every genre of television in the 80s. Some good 1980s African American TV series were comedies, others were dramas, and some pushed the envelope of genre convention. A few of the top 80s Black TV shows even feature live performance, music, and interviews.

What shows appear on this best 1980s Black TV shows list? From the time it premiered in 1984, The Cosby Show fought racial stereotypes through great writing, laughter and original stories. This great show also inspired another good 80s Black TV series in A Different World. Frank's Place was also a good Black TV show that aired in the 1980s.

A few famous African American talk show hosts launched their shows in the 1980s. The Oprah Winfrey show premiered in 1986 and The Arsenio Hall Show debuted in 1989. Other good shows that appear on this top 1980s Black TV series list include Soul Train and Reading Rainbow.

Which 80s Black TV show do you think is the best? Vote for your favorites!
The Cosby Show is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best 1980s Black TV Shows
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1 69 VOTES

The Cosby Show


The Cosby Show is an American television sitcom starring Bill Cosby, which aired for eight seasons on NBC from September 20, 1984 until April 30, 1992. The show focuses on the Huxtable family, an upper middle-class African-American family living in Brooklyn, New York. According to TV Guide, the show "was TV's biggest hit in the 1980s, and almost single-handedly revived the sitcom genre and NBC's ratings fortunes". Entertainment Weekly stated that The Cosby Show helped to make possible a larger variety of shows with a predominantly African-American cast, from In Living Color to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The Cosby Show was based on comedy routines in Cosby's stand-up act, which in turn were ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Keshia Knight Pulliam

Premiered: 1984

Number of Seasons: 8

Also Ranked

#5 on The Most Important TV Sitcoms

#35 on Shows with the Best Freakin' Series Finales of All Time

#30 on The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History

#58 on The Funniest TV Shows of All Time

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A Different World is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best 1980s Black TV Shows
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2 56 VOTES

A Different World


A Different World is an American television sitcom which aired for six seasons on NBC. It is a spin-off series from The Cosby Show and originally centered on Denise Huxtable and the life of students at Hillman College, a fictional historically black college in the state of Virginia. After Bonet's departure in the first season, the remainder of the series primarily focused more on Southern belle Whitley Gilbert and mathematics whiz Dwayne Wayne. The series frequently depicted members of the major historically black fraternities and sororities. While it was a spin-off from The Cosby Show, A Different World typically addressed issues that were avoided by The Cosby Show writers. One episode that ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Lisa Bonet, Kadeem Hardison, Jasmine Guy

Premiered: 1987

Number of Seasons: 6

Also Ranked

#53 on The Best Sitcoms of the 1980s

#12 on The Greatest Black Sitcoms of All Time

#40 on The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows

#38 on The Best TV Spinoffs

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Soul Train is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best 1980s Black TV Shows
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3 48 VOTES

Soul Train


Soul Train is an American musical variety television program, which aired in syndication from 1971 until 2006. In its 35-year history, the show primarily featured performances by R&B, soul, and hip hop artists, although funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artists have also appeared. The series was created by Don Cornelius, who also served as its first host and executive producer. Production was suspended following the 2005–06 season, with a rerun package airing for two years subsequently. As a nod to Soul Train's longevity, the show's opening sequence contained a claim that it was the "longest-running first-run, nationally syndicated program in American television history," with over 1,100 ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Nick Cannon, Rosie Perez, Don Cornelius, Jermaine Stewart, Dorian Gregory, + more

Premiered: 1971

Also Ranked

#45 on TV Shows Most Loved by African-Americans

#16 on The Best Dance TV Shows

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Family Matters is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best 1980s Black TV Shows
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4 59 VOTES

Family Matters


Family Matters is an American sitcom which originated on ABC network from September 22, 1989 to May 9, 1997 and then aired on CBS network from September 19, 1997, to July 17, 1998. A spin-off of Perfect Strangers, the series revolves around the Winslow family, a middle-class African American family living in Chicago, Illinois. Midway through the first season, the show introduced the Winslows' nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel, who quickly became its breakout character and eventually the show's main character. Having run for nine seasons, Family Matters is the second longest-running U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African American cast behind The Jeffersons, which aired for 11 seasons. In terms of ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Reginald VelJohnson, Jaleel White, Kellie Shanygne Williams

Premiered: 1989

Number of Seasons: 9

Also Ranked

#84 on The Best Saturday Morning Cartoons for Mid-'80s — '90s Kids

#54 on The Most Important TV Sitcoms

#18 on The Greatest Sitcoms of the 1990s, Ranked

#35 on The Best Sitcoms of the 1980s

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