11.4k voters

The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked

Updated February 18, 2021 281.2k votes 11.4k voters 533.3k views312 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

  • Cheers1



    ActorsTed Danson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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    Behind The Scenes Secrets From The Set Of 'Cheers'#26 of 253 The Best TV Shows Streaming On Hulu

  • Magnum, P.I.2

    Magnum, P.I.


    ActorsTom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley

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

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    #17 of 95 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time#32 of 51 TV Shows That Actually Deserve A Revival

  • Happy Days3

    ActorsRon Howard, Henry Winkler, Marion Ross

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

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    #86 of 220 The Greatest TV Shows for Women#30 of 140 The Worst TV Series Finales Ever

  • The Dukes of Hazzard4

    ActorsTom Wopat, John Schneider, Catherine Bach

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

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    #13 of 70 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series#65 of 94 TV Shows You Wish You Were A Character On

  • Married... with Children5

    ActorsEd O'Neill, Christina Applegate, Katey Sagal

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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    The Best Seasons of 'Married... With Children'#148 of 389 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate

  • MacGyver6



    ActorsRichard Dean Anderson, Dana Elcar, Bruce McGill

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

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    #31 of 125 The Best Action-Adventure TV Shows#13 of 106 The Best Espionage TV Shows

  • The Muppet Show7

    ActorsJim Henson, Frank Oz, Richard Hunt

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

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    The Most Interesting Muppet Show Characters#31 of 132 The Best, Most Fab Cartoons from the '70s

  • Knight Rider8

    Knight Rider


    ActorsDavid Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, Richard Basehart

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

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    #55 of 106 The Best NBC TV Shows of All Time#11 of 47 The Best 1980s NBC Shows

  • Three's Company9

    ActorsJohn Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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    #12 of 76 The Best ABC Shows of All Time#3 of 64 The Best Sitcoms of the 1980s

  • M*A*S*H10



    ActorsAlan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swi

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

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    #27 of 98 The Best Dramedy TV Series#8 of 403 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

  • The Golden Girls11

    ActorsBea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • The A-Team12

    The A-Team


    ActorsGeorge Peppard, Mr. T, Dwight Schultz

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

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    #22 of 55 The Best NBC Dramas of All Time#26 of 149 The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots

  • Quantum Leap13

    ActorsScott Bakula, Dean Stockwell, Deborah Pratt

    Genres (Tv)Procedural drama, Drama, Science Fiction

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    #17 of 266 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time#5 of 538 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time

  • Family Ties14

    Family Ties


    ActorsMichael J. Fox, Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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    #34 of 77 The Best And Nicest Feel-Good TV Shows#5 of 117 The Best Shows About Families

  • WKRP in Cincinnati15

    ActorsGary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Howard Hesseman

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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    #111 of 201 The TV Shows with the Best Writing#11 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation16

    ActorsPatrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes

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

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    Every Time Picard Said 'Make It So,' Ranked By How Well They Made It So#3 of 12 The Most Emotional Final Scenes In TV Dramas

  • Mork & Mindy17

    ActorsRobin Williams, Pam Dawber, Ralph James

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

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    #96 of 297 The Best Duos of All Time#264 of 277 The Most Overrated TV Shows Of All Time

  • Growing Pains18

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

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

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    #14 of 59 The Best ABC Comedies of All Time#9 of 26 The TGIF Shows You Wish Still Existed

  • The Jetsons19

    ActorsGeorge O'Hanlon, Janet Waldo, Mel Blanc

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

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    #58 of 645 The Best Cartoons of All Time#7 of 350 The Best Kids Cartoons of All Time

  • Night Court20

    Night Court


    ActorsHarry Anderson, John Larroquette, Richard Moll

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy, Legal

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    #113 of 141 The Funniest Shows To Watch When You're Stoned#38 of 160 Shows With The Best Freakin' Series Finales Of All Time

  • The Incredible Hulk21

    ActorsBill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin

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

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    #42 of 78 The Best CBS Shows of All Time#36 of 141 The Best Comic Book & Superhero Shows of All Time

  • The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show22

    ActorsFrank Welker, Lou Scheimer

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

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  • Miami Vice23

    Miami Vice


    ActorsDon Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, Saundra Santiago

    Genres (Tv)Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Drama

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    #5 of 13 13 Times Movies And TV Shows Totally Cheated By Giving A Character Amnesia#9 of 30 The Best Wardrobes in Television Show History

  • Who's the Boss?24

    ActorsTony Danza, Judith Light, Alyssa Milano

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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    #82 of 309 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History#205 of 397 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch

  • Saved by the Bell25

    ActorsMark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Dustin Diamond

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Teen situation comedy, Comedy

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    Screech's 'Saved By The Bell' Tell-All Makes Some Damning Allegations Against His Former Castmates#53 of 83 The Best After School Shows from the '90s