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The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked

Updated September 29, 2020 272.7k votes 10.6k voters 499.1k views314 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
    2,059
    743

    ActorsRon Howard, Henry Winkler, Marion Ross

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

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  • 2
    Knight Rider
    2,420
    1,058

    Knight Rider

    1982-1986

    ActorsDavid Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, Richard Basehart

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

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  • 3
    Three's Company
    1,963
    846

    ActorsJohn Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 4
    Magnum, P.I.
    2,967
    1,330

    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
    2,920
    1,319

    Cheers

    1982-1993

    ActorsTed Danson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 6
    Married... with Children
    2,572
    1,075

    ActorsEd O'Neill, Christina Applegate, Katey Sagal

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 7
    MacGyver
    2,324
    938

    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
    2,473
    1,096

    ActorsTom Wopat, John Schneider, Catherine Bach

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

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  • 9
    The Muppet Show
    1,623
    594

    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
    2,471
    1,186

    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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    #6 of 352 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time#25 of 95 The Best Dramedy TV Series

  • 11
    Mork & Mindy
    1,460
    593

    ActorsRobin Williams, Pam Dawber, Ralph James

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

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  • 12
    The Golden Girls
    2,495
    1,153

    ActorsBea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 13
    Quantum Leap
    1,234
    351

    ActorsScott Bakula, Dean Stockwell, Deborah Pratt

    Genres (Tv)Procedural drama, Drama, Science Fiction

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    #96 of 639 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch#5 of 537 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time

  • 14
    Star Trek: The Next Generation

    ActorsPatrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes

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

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  • 15
    WKRP in Cincinnati
    1,745
    859

    ActorsGary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Howard Hesseman

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 16
    The A-Team
    2,466
    1,087

    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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  • 17
    Growing Pains
    1,584
    666

    ActorsAlan Thicke, Joanna Kerns, Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, Jeremy Miller

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

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    #21 of 112 The Best Shows About Families#13 of 24 The Dark On-Set Drama Behind The Scenes Of Hit TV Shows

  • 18
    The Jetsons
    1,543
    620

    ActorsGeorge O'Hanlon, Janet Waldo, Mel Blanc

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

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    #4 of 132 The Best, Most Fab Cartoons from the '70s#7 of 347 The Best Kids Cartoons of All Time

  • 19
    Family Ties
    2,366
    1,230

    Family Ties

    1982-1989

    ActorsMichael J. Fox, Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 20
    The Incredible Hulk

    ActorsBill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin

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

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    #116 of 266 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time#276 of 507 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

  • 21
    Saved by the Bell
    1,311
    633

    ActorsMark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Dustin Diamond

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Teen situation comedy, Comedy

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  • 22
    The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show

    ActorsFrank Welker, Lou Scheimer

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

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  • 23
    CHiPs
    1,565
    793

    CHiPs

    1977

    ActorsErik Estrada, Larry Wilcox, Robert Pine

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

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    #24 of 68 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series#36 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows

  • 24
    Who's the Boss?
    1,789
    903

    ActorsTony Danza, Judith Light, Alyssa Milano

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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    #112 of 453 The Funniest TV Shows of All Time#81 of 300 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History

  • 25
    Miami Vice
    2,097
    1,086

    Miami Vice

    1984-1990

    ActorsDon Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, Saundra Santiago

    Genres (Tv)Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Drama

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