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The Best 1980s Cult TV Series 

Ranker TV
Originally by
Updated June 14, 2019 3.9k votes 579 voters 23.8k views 23 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite cult shows that aired in the '80s

Tired of being left out of nearly every conversation your friends are having? Catch up on these classic 1980s cult TV series, ranked from best to worst by your votes. It's hard to put your finger on what made a show a great 1980s cult TV series. Some of the best 80s cult TV shows are sci-fi based and others gained cult status due to their subversive humor. One thing is for sure, the top 1980s cult TV series have very loyal fans and they aren't afraid to let you know it.

What are some of the shows that appear on this best 1980s cult TV series list? Pee-wee's Playhouse was a great 1980s kids' show that gained a cult following of adults because of its absurdist humor. This popular 80s cult classic aired from 1986 – 1990. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is another good cult show that aired in the 1990s.

Star Trek: The Next Generation proved to be just as popular as the original series during its seven seasons from 1987 – 1994. Other good shows that appear on this top 1980s cult TV series list include Doctor Who, SCTV and Quantum Leap.

Which 80s cult TV show is your favorite? Give the best shows a thumbs up and share some of your favorite episodes in the comments section.
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1
Cheers is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger

Premiered: 1982

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 273

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Cheers is an American sitcom that ran for eleven seasons between 1982 and 1993. The show was produced by Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions in association with Paramount Network Television for ...more

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2
Quantum Leap is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Scott Bakula, Dean Stockwell, Deborah Pratt

Premiered: 1989

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 95

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Procedural drama, Drama, Science Fiction

Quantum Leap is an American television series that originally aired on NBC for five seasons, from March 1989 through May 1993. Created by Donald P. Bellisario, it starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam ...more

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#184 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #14 of 310 The Best Sci Fi Television Series of All Time

3
The Simpsons is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner

Premiered: 1989

Number of Seasons: 24

Number of Episodes: 528

Network: Fox

Genres (Tv): Animation, Television comedy, Comedy, Family Film

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by the ...more

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#3 of 724 The Best Cartoons of All Time The Best Fake Words From The Simpsonslisted on Longest Running Animated Series

4
The A-Team is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
George Peppard, Mr. T, Dwight Schultz

Premiered: 1983

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 98

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Action/Adventure, Military, Adventure film, Action, + more

The A-Team is an American action-adventure television series, running from 1983 to 1987, about a fictional group of ex–U.S. Army personnel who escape and, while still on the run from the army, ...more

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#33 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #124 of 578 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time

5
MacGyver is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Richard Dean Anderson, Dana Elcar, Bruce McGill

Premiered: 1985

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 138

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Espionage, Action/Adventure, Adventure film, Action

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial MacGyver is an American action-adventure television series created by Lee David Zlotoff. Henry Winkler and John Rich were the executive producers. The show ran for seven seasons on ABC in the ...more

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#53 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time #112 of 396 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate #113 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time

6
Pee-wee's Playhouse is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Paul Reubens, John Paragon, Phil Hartman

Premiered: 1986

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 45

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Children's television series, Comedy

Pee-wee's Playhouse is an American children's television program starring Paul Reubens as the childlike Pee-wee Herman which ran from 1986 to 1990 on Saturday mornings on CBS. The show was ...more

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#87 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time #179 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #180 of 578 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time

7
Moonlighting is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis, Allyce Beasley

Premiered: 1985

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 66

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Drama, Romantic comedy, Mystery, Comedy-drama, Comedy

Moonlighting is an American television series that aired on ABC from March 3, 1985, to May 14, 1989. The network aired a total of 66 episodes. Starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis as ...more

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#82 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time #126 of 217 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

8
Star Trek: The Next Gene... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes

Premiered: 1987

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 178

Genres (Tv): Action/Adventure, Drama, Adventure film, Action, Science Fiction

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Star Trek: The Next Generation is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry twenty-one years after the original Star Trek series debuted in 1966. Roddenberry, ...more

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9
Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
salesgal added Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley

Premiered: 1980

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 157

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Action/Adventure, Police procedural, Drama, Adventure film, + more

Magnum, P.I. is an American television series starring Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator living on Oahu, Hawaii. The series ran from 1980 to 1988 in first-run broadcast on the ...more

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#52 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #4 of 66 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

10
Knight Rider is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
salesgal added David Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, Richard Basehart

Premiered: 1982

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 90

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Action/Adventure, Drama, Adventure film, Action, + more

Knight Rider is an American television series that originally ran from September 26, 1982, to August 8, 1986. The series was broadcast on NBC and stars David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a ...more

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#69 of 310 The Best Sci Fi Television Series of All Time #147 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time #59 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

11
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts

Premiered: 1959

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 156

Network: UPN, CBS

Genres (Tv): Anthology, Drama, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, + more

The Twilight Zone is a 1959 American television anthology series created by Rod Serling. It is a series of unrelated stories containing drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, ...more

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#8 of 310 The Best Sci Fi Television Series of All Time Creepy Parallels Between 'American Horror Story' And 'The Twilight Zone' You Never Even Knew Existedlisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

12
ALF is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
salesgal added Mihaly 'Michu' Meszaros, Paul Fusco, Max Wright

Premiered: 1986

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 102

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy, Science Fiction, Puppet

ALF is an American sitcom that aired on NBC from September 22, 1986 to March 24, 1990. It was the first television series to be presented in Dolby Surround sound system. The title character is ...more

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#158 of 502 The Funniest TV Characters of All Time #140 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time 'ALF' Is A Bizarre Fever Dream Of An '80s TV Show That’s Way Darker Than You Remember

13
Murder, She Wrote is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
salesgal added Angela Lansbury, William Windom, Ron Masak

Premiered: 1984

Number of Seasons: 12

Network: The Biography Channel, CBS

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Crime, Procedural drama, Drama, Cozy mystery, + more

This show is a television mystery series starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. The series aired for 12 seasons with 264 episodes from 1984 to 1996 on ...more

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#208 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time #208 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

14
Who's the Boss? is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Tony Danza, Judith Light, Alyssa Milano

Premiered: 1984

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 196

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Who's the Boss? is an American sitcom created by Martin Cohan and Blake Hunter, which aired on ABC from September 20, 1984 to April 25, 1992. Produced by Embassy Television, in association with ...more

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#158 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #51 of 205 The Most Important TV Sitcomslisted on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

15
Mystery Science Theater ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Joel Hodgson, Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu

Premiered: 1988

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 198

Network: Comedy Central, Syfy

Genres (Tv): Comic science fiction, Comedy, Puppet

Mystery Science Theater 3000, often abbreviated MST3K, is an American television comedy series created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains, Inc. The show premiered on KTMA in ...more

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16
Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
salesgal added Stephanie Zimbalist, Pierce Brosnan, Doris Roberts

Premiered: 1982

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 94

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama, Comedy, Detective fiction

Remington Steele is an American television series co-created by Robert Butler and Michael Gleason. The series, starring Stephanie Zimbalist and Pierce Brosnan, was produced by MTM Enterprises ...more

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#13 of 62 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series #27 of 66 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows

17
Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith

Premiered: 1963

Number of Seasons: 26

Number of Episodes: 798

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC America, BBC One, S4C, BBC HD

Genres (Tv): Sci-fi, Adventure, Drama

Doctor Who (BBC, 2005) is a British science-fiction television show created by Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber, and Donald Wilson. The further adventures in time and space of the alien adventurer ...more

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#30 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch The Most Messed Up Things the Doctor Has Done on Doctor Wholisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

18
Beauty and the Beast is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Linda Hamilton, Ron Perlman, Roy Dotrice

Premiered: 1987

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 56

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Romance Film, Paranormal romance, Crime, Drama, Fantasy

Beauty and the Beast (CBS, 1987) is an American drama television series created by Ron Koslow. This updated version of the fairy tale has a double focus: the relationship between Vincent (Ron ...more

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#398 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #136 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time Ron Perlman Starred In An '80s Version of 'Beauty And The Beast,' And It’s Actually Horrifying

19
L.A. Law is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
salesgal added Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Alan Rachins

Premiered: 1986

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 172

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Drama, Legal drama, Legal

L.A. Law is an American television legal drama series that ran for eight seasons on NBC from September 15, 1986 to May 19, 1994. Created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, it contained ...more

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#225 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #45 of 217 The TV Shows with the Best Writinglisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

20
Red Dwarf is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules

Premiered: 1988

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 61

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation, Dave

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy, Science Fiction

Red Dwarf is a British comedy franchise which primarily comprises ten series of a television science fiction sitcom that aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1993 and from 1997 to 1999, and on Dave ...more

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#28 of 310 The Best Sci Fi Television Series of All Time #85 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time

21
Dynasty is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
salesgal added John Forsythe, Linda Evans, Joan Collins

Premiered: 1981

Number of Seasons: 9

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Soap opera, Drama

Dynasty is an American prime time television soap opera that aired on ABC from January 12, 1981 to May 11, 1989. The series, created by Richard and Esther Shapiro and produced by Aaron Spelling, ...more

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#46 of 66 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows #92 of 260 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

22
Sledge Hammer! is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
David Rasche, Anne-Marie Martin, Harrison Page

Premiered: 1986

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 41

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Television comedy, Sitcom, Comedy

Sledge Hammer! is an American satirical police sitcom produced by New World Television that ran for two seasons on ABC from 1986 to 1988. The series was created by Alan Spencer and stars David ...more
23
Second City Television ... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best 1980s Cult TV Series
John Candy, Robin Duke, Joe Flaherty

Premiered: 1976

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 135

Network: Global Television Network, CBC Television, Movie Central, NBC

Genres (Tv): Sketch comedy, Comedy

SCTV is a Canadian television sketch comedy show offshoot from Toronto's Second City troupe that ran between 1976 and 1984.

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#340 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #6 of 154 The Best Sketch Comedy Groups