Drama 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.

1
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M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
PayMie added M*A*S*H 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
141 97
Moonlighting is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Moonlighting 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
133 102
Hill Street Blues is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Hill Street Blues 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
120 100
Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
LanaYoshii added Star Trek: The Next Generation 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
119 96
Cagney & Lacey is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Cagney & Lacey 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

6
93 73
The Wonder Years is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
curly67 added The Wonder Years 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

7
108 106
St. Elsewhere is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
St. Elsewhere 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
164 92
Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Magnum, P.I. 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
73 90
L.A. Law is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
curly67 added L.A. Law 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
138 91
Quantum Leap is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Quantum Leap 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
109 98
Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Remington Steele 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

12
131 102
Dallas is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Dallas 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

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13
132 102
Miami Vice is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Miami Vice 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
114 90
Knight Rider is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Knight Rider 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
122 91
Night Court is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Night Court 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
74 117
China Beach is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
China Beach 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

17
114 97
The A-Team is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
The A-Team 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

The Best 1980s Fantasy TV Series

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107 109
Dynasty is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Dynasty 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

19
115 92
The Love Boat is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
The Love Boat 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

20
89 49
MacGyver is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
MacGyver 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

21
84 106
Fame is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Fame 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
59 125
thirtysomething is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
thirtysomething 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

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Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
lloyd-barker added Charlie's Angels 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

24
76 55
Fantasy Island is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Fantasy Island 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

25
86 92
The Greatest American Hero is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
The Greatest American Hero 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

26
99 94
Murder, She Wrote is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Murder, She Wrote 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
94 88
Matlock is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Matlock 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

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Wiseguy is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
sidapplebaum added Wiseguy 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

29
37 87
Lou Grant is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
buzzy added Lou Grant 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

30
86 104
21 Jump Street is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
21 Jump Street 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

31
63 61
Highway to Heaven is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Highway to Heaven 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

32
86 105
Doogie Howser, M.D. is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Doogie Howser, M.D. 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

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Taxi is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Taxi 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
87 90
Hart to Hart is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Hart to Hart 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
85 96
Simon & Simon is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Simon & Simon 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

36
58 57
Bionic Woman is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
lloyd-barker added Bionic Woman 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

37
76 101
The Fall Guy is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
The Fall Guy 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

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51 66
In the Heat of the Night is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
In the Heat of the Night 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
74 117
Full House is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Full House 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

40
44 61
Scarecrow and Mrs. King is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Scarecrow and Mrs. King 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

41
48 66
Hunter is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Hunter 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

42
58 111
Beauty and the Beast is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Beauty and the Beast 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

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Knots Landing is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Knots Landing 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

44
33 71
The Equalizer is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
carbon_thief added The Equalizer 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
41 74
Baywatch is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Baywatch 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

46
57 104
T. J. Hooker is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
T. J. Hooker 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

47
48 105
Falcon Crest is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
peanuts added Falcon Crest 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

48
32 67
Life Goes On is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Life Goes On 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
5 6
That’s Incredible! is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Ann Springer added That’s Incredible! John Davidson, Cathy Lee Crosby

A collection of amazing feats of human and animal endeavor.

50
23 75
Matt Houston is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s
Matt Houston Lee Horsley, Pamela Hensley, Lincoln Kilpatrick Matt Houston is an American crime drama series that aired on ABC from 1982 to 1985. Created by Lawrence Gordon, the series was produced by Aaron Spelling.