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The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s 

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Updated January 6, 2020 22.7k votes 2.4k voters 101.5k views 70 items

List Rules Vote up the most quintessential TV shows that aired between 1950 and 1959.

List of the top TV shows of the 1950s, as ranked by television enthusiasts and fans. In the 1950s, television was still relatively new. People were only just beginning to add a television set to their furniture collection. At the time there were only a handful of channels, and a very limited program selection. Since there were less TV show options, more people were watching the same shows and experiencing the same cultural phenomenons at the same time.

The most memorable shows that came from the 50s were sitcoms like "I Love Lucy," "Leave it to Beaver," and "The Honeymooners." These programs still rerun on TV to this day, due to their timeless nature. However, many of the programs that aired in the 50s did not stand the test of time. Many of these shows included ideals and jokes that are no longer relevant today. Most of the top shows from the 50s were variety comedy programs, starring the top comedians of the day including Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle, and Red Skelton. Many of the top programs were also game shows.

What is your favorite 1950s show? This list features the highest rated, critically acclaimed, and fan favorite shows of the 50s.

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list ordered by
1
I Love Lucy is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance

Premiered: 1951

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, ...more

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The Complicated And Dark History Of Lucille Ball And Desi Arnaz's Marriage #86 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watchlisted on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

2
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts

Premiered: 1959

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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Creepy Parallels Between 'American Horror Story' And 'The Twilight Zone' You Never Even Knew Existed #53 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watchlisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

3
Looney Tunes is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added Mel Blanc, June Foray, Arthur Q. Bryan
Looney Tunes is an American animated series of comedy short films produced by Warner Bros. from 1930 to 1969 during the golden age of American animation, alongside its sister series Merrie ...more

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Looney Tunes Fan Theories That Will Burrow Their Way Into Your Brain #1 of 371 The Best Kids Cartoons of All Time #2 of 727 The Best Cartoons of All Time

4
Leave It to Beaver is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
Jerry Mathers, Hugh Beaumont, Barbara Billingsley

Premiered: 1957

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Leave It to Beaver is an American television situation comedy about an inquisitive and often naïve boy named Theodore "The Beaver" Cleaver and his adventures at home, in school, ...more

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#69 of 303 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History #37 of 214 The Most Important TV Sitcomslisted on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

5
The Honeymooners is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows

Premiered: 1955

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

The Honeymooners is an American sitcom, based on a recurring 1951–55 sketch of the same name. It originally aired on the DuMont network's Cavalcade of Stars and subsequently on the CBS network's ...more

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#54 of 303 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History #30 of 214 The Most Important TV Sitcoms #338 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

6
Alfred Hitchcock Present... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
Alfred Hitchcock, Harry Tyler, John Williams

Premiered: 1955

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Anthology, Anthology series, Drama, Horror Film, + more

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock. The series featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the time the show premiered on October ...more

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#96 of 289 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #31 of 214 The TV Shows with the Best Writinglisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

7
The Ed Sullivan Show is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
Ed Sullivan, Bern Bennett, Ralph Paul

Premiered: 1948

Genres (Tv): Sketch comedy, Variety show, Comedy, Family Film, Reality television

The Ed Sullivan Show was an American TV variety show that ran on CBS from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan. It was ...more

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#163 of 303 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History #39 of 43 The Best TV Shows That Lasted 10+ Seasons #3 of 29 The Best TV Shows of the 1940s

8
Perry Mason is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper

Premiered: 1957

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama, Legal drama, Legal

Perry Mason is an American legal drama series originally broadcast on CBS television from September 21, 1957, to May 22, 1966. The title character, portrayed by Raymond Burr, is a fictional Los ...more

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The Best Perry Mason Actors #76 of 289 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

9
Gunsmoke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
James Arness, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake

Premiered: 1955

Genres (Tv): Western, Action/Adventure

Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during ...more

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The Best Gunsmoke Actors #108 of 289 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #213 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

10
Tom and Jerry is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added Tom Kenny, Rick Zieff, Gary Cole

Premiered: 1940

Genres (Tv): Animation, Comedy, Family Film

Tom and Jerry is an American animated series of short films created in 1940, by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It centers on a rivalry between its two main characters, Tom Cat and Jerry ...more

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#2 of 371 The Best Kids Cartoons of All Time #1 of 727 The Best Cartoons of All Time #139 of 146 The Most Annoying Kids Shows of All Time

11
The Three Stooges is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard

Premiered: 1930

Genres (Tv): Comedy

A handful of Three Stooges shorts first aired on television in 1949, on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network. It was not until 1958 that Screen Gems packaged 78 shorts for national ...more

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#34 of 456 The Funniest TV Shows of All Time #7 of 84 The Best Trios Of All Time #2 of 29 The Best TV Shows of the 1940s

12
Father Knows Best is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
Robert Young, Jane Wyatt, Elinor Donahue

Premiered: 1954

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Father Knows Best is an American radio and television comedy series which portrayed a middle class family life in the Midwest. It was created by writer Ed James in the 1940s, and ran on radio ...more

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#148 of 303 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History #146 of 214 The Most Important TV Sitcomslisted on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

13
The Lone Ranger is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added The Lone Ranger

Genres (Tv): Western

The Lone Ranger is an American western drama television series that aired on the ABC Television network from 1949 to 1957, with Clayton Moore in the starring role. Jay Silverheels, a member of ...more

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#238 of 1,429 The Greatest TV Characters of All Time #1,217 of 3,534 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #173 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

14
Dragnet is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, Don Ross

Premiered: 1952

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Drama

Dragnet is an American radio, television and motion picture series, enacting the cases of a dedicated Los Angeles police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, and his partners. The show takes its name ...more

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#141 of 289 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #30 of 68 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Serieslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

15
Lassie is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
June Lockhart, Andy Clyde, Pamelyn Ferdin

Premiered: 1954

Genres (Tv): Action/Adventure, Drama, Children's television series, Adventure film, Action

Lassie is an American television series that follows the adventures of a female Rough Collie dog named Lassie and her companions, both human and animal. The show was the creation of producer ...more

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#146 of 303 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History #53 of 122 The Best Shows About Familieslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

16
American Bandstand is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added Dick Clark

Premiered: 1952

Genres (Tv): Music, Talk show, Variety show

American Bandstand is an American music-performance show that aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989 and was hosted from 1956 until its final season by Dick Clark, who also served as ...more

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#192 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #16 of 41 The Best Dance TV Shows #10 of 29 The Best "American" TV Shows

17
The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added Robert Stack, Jerry Paris, Walter Winchell

Premiered: 1959

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Drama

The Untouchables is an American drama that ran from 1959 to 1963 on the ABC Television Network, produced by Desilu Productions. Based on the memoir of the same name by Eliot Ness and Oscar ...more

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#32 of 39 The Best Shows About the FBI #59 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time #61 of 249 The Very Best Shows That Aired in the 1960s

18
The Mickey Mouse Club is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
RobLein added Jimmie Dodd, Tommy Cole, Eileen Diamond

Premiered: 1955

Genres (Tv): Variety show, Children's television series, Sketch

The Mickey Mouse Club is an American variety television show that aired intermittently from 1955 to 1996. Created by Walt Disney and produced by Walt Disney Productions, the program was first ...more

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Mickey Mouse Club: Where Are They Now? #113 of 214 The Most Important TV Sitcoms #94 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

19
Adventures of Superman ... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added George Reeves, Noel Neill, Bill Kennedy

Premiered: 1952

Genres (Tv): Action/Adventure, Police procedural, Drama, Children's television series, Adventure film, + more

Adventures of Superman is an American television series based on comic book characters and concepts created in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The show is the first television series to ...more

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#465 of 727 The Best Cartoons of All Time #302 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #206 of 236 The Greatest Cartoon Theme Songs of All Time

20
The Adventures of Ozzie ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Hilliard, David Nelson

Premiered: 1952

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet is an American sitcom, airing on ABC from October 3, 1952, through March 26, 1966, starring the real-life Nelson family. After a long run on radio, the show ...more

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#223 of 303 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History #157 of 214 The Most Important TV Sitcomslisted on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

21
Bonanza is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker

Premiered: 1959

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

Bonanza is an NBC television western series that ran from September 12, 1959, to January 16, 1973. Lasting 14 seasons and 430 episodes, it ranks as the second longest running western series, and ...more

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#362 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #40 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #71 of 214 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

22
Captain Kangaroo is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added Robert Keeshan, James E. Wall, Deborah Weems

Premiered: 1955

Genres (Tv): Animation, Children's television series, Puppet

Captain Kangaroo is an American children's television series that aired weekday mornings on the American television network CBS for nearly 30 years, from October 3, 1955 until December 8, 1984, ...more

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#214 of 236 The Greatest Cartoon Theme Songs of All Time #90 of 249 The Very Best Shows That Aired in the 1960s #12 of 77 The Best Puppet TV Shows

23
The Rocky and Bullwinkle... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added Bill Scott, June Foray, Paul Frees

Premiered: 1959

Genres (Tv): Animation, Satire, Animated cartoon, Variety show, Children's television series, + more

The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show is an American animated television series that originally aired from November 19, 1959, to June 27, 1964, on the ABC and NBC television networks. Produced by Jay ...more

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#31 of 371 The Best Kids Cartoons of All Time #108 of 727 The Best Cartoons of All Time #43 of 200 The Best Adult Cartoon Shows in TV History

24
The Yogi Bear Show is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added The Yogi Bear Show Daws Butler, Don Messick, Jimmy Weldon

Premiered: 1961

Genres (Tv): Animation, Variety show, Children's television series, Comedy, Animated series

The Yogi Bear Show is an animated television series and the first incarnation produced by Hanna-Barbera about a picnic basket stealing bear named Yogi. The show debuted in syndication on January ...more

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#127 of 371 The Best Kids Cartoons of All Time #92 of 727 The Best Cartoons of All Time #113 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

25
The Rifleman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Shows of the 1950s
slaft added Chuck Connors, Johnny Crawford, Paul Fix

Premiered: 1958

Genres (Tv): Western, Action/Adventure

The Rifleman is an American Western television program starring Chuck Connors as rancher Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as his son, Mark McCain. It was set in the 1870s and 1880s in the town ...more

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#301 of 422 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch #31 of 249 The Very Best Shows That Aired in the 1960s #112 of 153 The Best Action-Adventure TV Shows