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The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked

Updated September 29, 2020 266.8k votes 10.3k voters 487.3k views321 items

List RulesOnly TV series that aired between 1980 and 1989, based only on the seasons and eps of those years.

List of the best television shows from the '80s, as ranked by television fans. In the 1980s, sitcoms were among the most talked about and most watched shows on the air. Shows like Cheers, The Cosby Show, Murphy Brown, and The Golden Girls were always topics of conversation around the water cooler. Family sitcoms were especially popular, with the rise of shows like Family Ties, The Wonder Years, The Facts of Life, and Who’s the Boss.

Procedural crime dramas like Miami Vice, Knight Rider, and Remington Steele were popular, not only for the feather-haired hunks and uniquely '80s fashion, but also for their action-packed plots. The '80s also saw a rise in soap-style primetime television. The goings on in Dynasty and Dallas were constant topics of conversation. Many of the more popular shows lasted well into the next decade, but even some of the most well-remembered shows of the 80s only lasted a season or two, such as Max Headroom and The Greatest American Hero.

What are your favorite shows from the '80s? Take a look at this list filled with the best shows the '80s had to offer. Maybe you’ll be inspired to take out those old Betamax recordings and rewatch your favorite actually-good '80s shows that really hold up. For more 80s TV, check out the best shows set in the 1980s

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  • 1
    Happy Days is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,012
    701

    ActorsRon Howard, Henry Winkler, Marion Ross

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Musical, Comedy, Family Film

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  • 2
    Three's Company is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,919
    796

    ActorsJohn Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 3
    Knight Rider is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,365
    1,017

    Knight Rider

    1982-1986

    ActorsDavid Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, Richard Basehart

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

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  • 4
    Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,912
    1,303

    Magnum, P.I.

    1980-1988

    ActorsTom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley

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

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  • 5
    Cheers is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,837
    1,308

    Cheers

    1982-1993

    ActorsTed Danson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 6
    Married... with Children is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,512
    1,047

    ActorsEd O'Neill, Christina Applegate, Katey Sagal

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 7
    MacGyver is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,285
    912

    MacGyver

    1985-1992

    ActorsRichard Dean Anderson, Dana Elcar, Bruce McGill

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

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  • 8
    The Dukes of Hazzard is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,427
    1,072

    ActorsTom Wopat, John Schneider, Catherine Bach

    Genres (Tv)Action/Adventure, Drama, Adventure film, Comedy-drama, Comedy

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  • 9
    The Muppet Show is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,580
    578

    ActorsJim Henson, Frank Oz, Richard Hunt

    Genres (Tv)Sketch comedy, Variety show, Children's television series, Live action, Comedy

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  • 10
    M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,420
    1,166

    M*A*S*H

    1972-1983

    ActorsAlan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swi

    Genres (Tv)Black comedy, Medical drama, Sitcom, Satire, Military

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  • 11
    Mork & Mindy is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,433
    572

    ActorsRobin Williams, Pam Dawber, Ralph James

    Genres (Tv)Soap opera, Sitcom, Comedy, Science Fiction

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  • 12
    The Golden Girls is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,454
    1,124

    ActorsBea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 13
    Quantum Leap is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,192
    330

    ActorsScott Bakula, Dean Stockwell, Deborah Pratt

    Genres (Tv)Procedural drama, Drama, Science Fiction

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  • 14
    Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked

    ActorsPatrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes

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

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  • 15
    The A-Team is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,418
    1,064

    The A-Team

    1983-1987

    ActorsGeorge Peppard, Mr. T, Dwight Schultz

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

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  • 16
    WKRP in Cincinnati is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,705
    844

    ActorsGary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Howard Hesseman

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 17
    The Jetsons is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,510
    611

    ActorsGeorge O'Hanlon, Janet Waldo, Mel Blanc

    Genres (Tv)Animation, Sitcom, Animated cartoon, Children's television series, Science Fiction

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  • 18
    Growing Pains is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
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  • 19
    The Incredible Hulk is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked

    ActorsBill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Live action, Action, Science Fiction

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  • 20
    CHiPs is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,547
    769

    CHiPs

    1977

    ActorsErik Estrada, Larry Wilcox, Robert Pine

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

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  • 21
    Family Ties is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,312
    1,223

    Family Ties

    1982-1989

    ActorsMichael J. Fox, Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 22
    The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked

    ActorsFrank Welker, Lou Scheimer

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

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  • 23
    Saved by the Bell is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,274
    620

    ActorsMark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Dustin Diamond

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Teen situation comedy, Comedy

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  • 24
    Who's the Boss? is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,755
    890

    ActorsTony Danza, Judith Light, Alyssa Milano

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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    #48 of 72 The Longest Running US Sitcoms#80 of 297 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History

  • 25
    Little House on the Prairie is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked

    ActorsCameron Bancroft, Erin Cottrell, Kyle Chavarria

    Genres (Tv)Miniseries, Children's television series

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