80sTV The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s  

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List Rules Drama series that aired on television between 1980 and 1989

If you’re an avid television fan, chances are there's a 1980s drama series that you love. For the first time, television was starting to step away from procedural elements, towards more serialized series. Procedural cop and detective shows were still among the biggest hits of the decade, however, shows like "Dallas," "St. Elsewhere," and "Dynasty" were leaning more towards long-term story arcs. These types of shows remain popular today as well.

The 80s were known for the flashy television shows. "Miami Vice" and "21 Jump Street" were known for their hot lead actors and unique 80s fashion. There was also a push towards fantasy and science fiction television like never before, with dramas such as "Quantum Leap," "Beauty and the Beast," and "The Greatest American Hero."

What were the best dramas of the 1980s? This list of the best dramatic television that aired during 1980-1989 has been ranked by the community. Did the 80s drama series you think are best make the list? Cast your votes below and see where the 1980s dramas you think are great rank.

list ordered by

1
179 66
M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
PayMie added Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swi M*A*S*H is an American television series developed by Larry Gelbart, adapted from the 1970 feature film MASH. The series, which was produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television for ...more

2
152 107
Moonlighting is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis, Allyce Beasley 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

3
142 109
Hill Street Blues is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren, Bruce Weitz Hill Street Blues is an American serial police drama that was first aired on NBC in 1981 and ran for 146 episodes on primetime into 1987. Chronicling the lives of the staff of a single police ...more

4
130 109
Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
LanaYoshii added Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes 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

5
108 81
The Wonder Years is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
curly67 added Fred Savage, Dan Lauria, Daniel Stern The Wonder Years is an American television comedy-drama created by Neal Marlens and Carol Black. It ran on ABC from 1988 through 1993. The pilot aired on January 31, 1988, following ABC's ...more

6
128 103
Cagney & Lacey is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Tyne Daly, Al Waxman, John Karlen Cagney & Lacey is an American television series that originally aired on the CBS television network for seven seasons from March 25, 1982 to May 16, 1988. A police procedural, the show stars ...more

7
116 112
St. Elsewhere is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Ed Begley Jr., William Daniels, Howie Mandel St. Elsewhere is an American medical drama black comedy television series that originally ran on NBC from October 26, 1982, to May 25, 1988. The series starred Ed Flanders, Norman Lloyd and ...more

8
183 96
Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley 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

9
79 99
L.A. Law is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
curly67 added Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Alan Rachins 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

10
151 97
Quantum Leap is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Scott Bakula, Dean Stockwell, Deborah Pratt 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

11
143 107
Dallas is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Larry Hagman, Ken Kercheval, Patrick Duffy Dallas is a long-running American prime time television soap opera that aired from April 2, 1978, to May 3, 1991, on CBS. The series revolves around a wealthy and feuding Texan family, the ...more

12
117 107
Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Stephanie Zimbalist, Pierce Brosnan, Doris Roberts 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

13
150 106
Miami Vice is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, Saundra Santiago Miami Vice is an American television crime drama series created by Anthony Yerkovich and produced by Michael Mann for NBC. The series starred Don Johnson as James "Sonny" Crockett and ...more

14
129 96
Knight Rider is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
David Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, Richard Basehart 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

15
138 97
Night Court is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, Richard Moll Night Court is an American television situation comedy that aired on NBC from January 4, 1984, to May 31, 1992. The setting was the night shift of a Manhattan court, presided over by the young, ...more

16
127 102
The A-Team is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
George Peppard, Mr. T, Dwight Schultz The A-Team is an American action-adventure television series, running from 1983 to 1987, about a fictional group of ex–U.S. Army Special Forces personnel who, after being imprisoned as war ...more

17
123 100
The Love Boat is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Ted Lange The Love Boat is an American television series set on a cruise ship, which aired on the ABC Television Network from September 24, 1977, until February 27, 1987. The show revolves around the ...more

18
103 54
MacGyver is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Richard Dean Anderson, Dana Elcar, Bruce McGill 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

19
112 121
Dynasty is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
John Forsythe, Linda Evans, Joan Collins 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

20
76 130
China Beach is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Dana Delany, Michael Boatman, Robert Picardo China Beach is an American dramatic television series set at an evacuation hospital during the Vietnam War. The title refers to My Khe beach in the city of Đà Nẵng, Vietnam, which was ...more

21
92 116
Fame is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Debbie Allen, Carlo Imperato, Gene Anthony Ray Fame is an American television series originally produced between 1982 and 1987. The show is based on the 1980 motion picture of the same name. Using a mixture of drama and music, it followed ...more

22
88 58
Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
lloyd-barker added Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith Charlie's Angels is an American crime drama television series that aired on ABC from September 22, 1976 to June 24, 1981, producing five seasons and 110 episodes. The series was created by Ivan ...more

23
98 99
The Greatest American Hero is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
William Katt, Connie Sellecca, Robert Culp The Greatest American Hero is an American comedy-drama television series that aired for three seasons from 1981 to 1983 on ABC. Created by producer Stephen J. Cannell, it premiered as a two-hour ...more

24
62 138
thirtysomething is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Timothy Busfield, Polly Draper, Mel Harris Thirtysomething is an American television drama created by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz for ABC. The series follows a group of baby boomers in their late thirties as they go about their ...more

25
83 62
Fantasy Island is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Ricardo Montalban, Hervé Villechaize, Christopher Hewett Fantasy Island is an American television series that originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company network from 1977 to 1984. A revival of the series originally aired on the same network ...more

26
110 100
Murder, She Wrote is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Angela Lansbury, William Windom, Ron Masak Murder, She Wrote is an American television mystery series starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. The series aired for 12 seasons with 264 episodes ...more

27
105 94
Matlock is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Andy Griffith, Linda Purl, Kene Holiday Matlock is an American television legal drama, starring Andy Griffith in the title role of criminal-defense attorney Ben Matlock. The show, produced by The Fred Silverman Company, Dean Hargrove ...more

28
76 65
Highway to Heaven is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Michael Landon, Victor French Highway to Heaven is an American television drama series which ran on NBC from 1984 to 1989. The series aired for five seasons, running a total of 111 episodes. It was shot entirely in ...more

29
92 114
21 Jump Street is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Johnny Depp, Dustin Nguyen, Peter Deluise 21 Jump Street is an American police procedural television series that aired on the Fox Network and in first run syndication from April 12, 1987, to April 27, 1991, with a total of 103 episodes. ...more

30
39 97
Lou Grant is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
buzzy added Edward Asner, Robert Walden, Mason Adams Lou Grant is an American television drama series starring Ed Asner in the title role as a newspaper editor. This drama series was a spinoff from a sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Aired from ...more

31
31 99
Wiseguy is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
sidapplebaum added Jonathan Banks, Jim Byrnes, Ken Wahl Wiseguy is an American crime drama series that aired on CBS from September 16, 1987 to December 8, 1990 for a total of 75 episodes. The series was produced by Stephen J. Cannell and was filmed ...more

32
95 114
Doogie Howser, M.D. is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Neil Patrick Harris, Max Casella, Belinda Montgomery Doogie Howser, M.D. is an American comedy-drama television series that ran for four seasons on ABC from September 19, 1989 to July 28, 1993, totaling 97 episodes. Created by Steven Bochco and ...more

33
61 62
Taxi is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Judd Hirsch, Jeff Conaway, Danny DeVito Taxi is an American sitcom that originally aired from 1978 to 1982 on ABC and from 1982 to 1983 on NBC. The series—which won 18 Emmy Awards, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series—focuses ...more

34
97 98
Hart to Hart is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers, Lionel Stander Hart to Hart is an American television series, starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, a wealthy couple who moonlight as amateur detectives, much in the style ...more

35
86 120
Full House is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Bob Saget, John Stamos, Dave Coulier Full House is an American sitcom created by Jeff Franklin for ABC. The show chronicles a widowed father, who enlists his best friend and his brother-in-law to help raise his three daughters. It ...more

36
93 105
Simon & Simon is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Gerald McRaney, Tim Reid, Jameson Parker Simon & Simon is an American detective television series that originally ran from November 24, 1981 to January 21, 1989. The series was broadcast on CBS and starred Gerald McRaney and ...more

37
65 66
Bionic Woman is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
lloyd-barker added Michelle Ryan, Miguel Ferrer, Molly Price Bionic Woman is an American science fiction television drama that aired in 2007, which was created by David Eick, under NBC Universal Television Group, GEP Productions, and David Eick ...more

38
58 73
In the Heat of the Night is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Carroll O'Connor, Howard Rollins, Anne-Marie Johnson In the Heat of the Night is an American television series based on the film and the novel of the same title. It starred Carroll O'Connor as the white police chief William Gillespie, and Howard ...more

39
82 109
The Fall Guy is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Joaquin Phoenix, Priscilla Presley, Markie Post The Fall Guy is an American action/adventure television program produced for ABC and originally broadcast from November 4, 1981 to May 2, 1986. It stars Lee Majors, Douglas Barr, and Heather

40
55 75
Hunter is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Fred Dryer, Stepfanie Kramer, Charles Hallahan Hunter is an American police drama television show that was created by Frank Lupo, and starring Fred Dryer as Sgt. Rick Hunter and Stepfanie Kramer as Sgt. Dee Dee McCall, which ran on NBC from ...more

41
64 120
Beauty and the Beast is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Kristin Kreuk, Jay Ryan, Nina Lisandrello Beauty and the Beast is an American drama series which first aired on CBS in 1987. Creator Ron Koslow's updated version of the fairy tale has a double focus: the relationship between Vincent, a ...more

42
48 71
Scarecrow and Mrs. King is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Kate Jackson, Bruce Boxleitner, Beverly Garland Scarecrow and Mrs. King is an American television series that aired from October 3, 1983, to May 28, 1987 on CBS. The show starred Kate Jackson and Bruce Boxleitner as divorced housewife Amanda ...more

43
50 80
Baywatch is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson, Yasmine Bleeth Baywatch is an American action drama series about the Los Angeles County Lifeguards who patrol the beaches of Los Angeles County, California, starring David Hasselhoff. The show was canceled ...more

44
40 80
The Equalizer is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
carbon_thief added Edward Woodward, Keith Szarabajka, Robert Lansing The Equalizer was an American crime drama television series, originally airing on CBS from fall 1985 until late-spring 1989. It starred Edward Woodward as a retired espionage/intelligence ...more

45
61 109
Knots Landing is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Michele Lee, Ted Shackelford, Joan Van Ark Knots Landing is an American primetime television soap opera that aired from December 27, 1979 to May 13, 1993 on CBS. A spin-off of Dallas, it was set in a fictitious coastal suburb of Los ...more

46
54 113
Falcon Crest is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
peanuts added Jane Wyman, Lorenzo Lamas, Chao Li Chi Falcon Crest is an American primetime television soap opera which aired on the CBS network for nine seasons, from December 4, 1981 to May 17, 1990. A total of 227 episodes were produced. The ...more

47
61 112
T. J. Hooker is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
William Shatner, Heather Locklear, Adrian Zmed T. J. Hooker is an American police drama television program starring William Shatner in the title role as a 15-year veteran police sergeant. The series premiered as a mid-season replacement on ...more

48
37 74
Life Goes On is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Bill Smitrovich, Patti LuPone, Chris Burke Life Goes On is an American television series that aired on ABC from September 12, 1989, to May 23, 1993. The show centers on the Thatcher family living in suburban Chicago: Drew, his wife ...more

49
2 0
The Waltons is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Jon Walmsley, Mary Beth McDonough, Eric Scott The Waltons is an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr., based on his book Spencer's Mountain, and a 1963 film of the same name. The show is centered on a family in a rural ...more

50
2 0
Quincy, M.E. is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Jack Klugman, John S. Ragin, Robert Ito Quincy, M.E. is an American television series from Universal Studios that aired from October 3, 1976, to September 5, 1983, on NBC. It stars Jack Klugman in the title role, a Los Angeles County ...more