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The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked

Updated September 29, 2020 268.0k votes 10.4k voters 489.3k 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
    2,019
    711

    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
    1,927
    810

    ActorsJohn Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 3
    Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,922
    1,310

    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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  • 4
    Knight Rider is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,373
    1,030

    Knight Rider

    1982-1986

    ActorsDavid Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, Richard Basehart

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

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  • 5
    Cheers is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,856
    1,311

    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
    2,530
    1,051

    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
    2,292
    921

    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
    2,436
    1,080

    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
    1,585
    584

    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
    2,433
    1,172

    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
    1,438
    575

    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
    2,467
    1,126

    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
    1,199
    334

    ActorsScott Bakula, Dean Stockwell, Deborah Pratt

    Genres (Tv)Procedural drama, Drama, Science Fiction

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  • 14
    The A-Team is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,428
    1,070

    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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  • 15
    Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 15 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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  • 16
    WKRP in Cincinnati is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,713
    847

    ActorsGary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Howard Hesseman

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 17
    Growing Pains is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
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  • 18
    The Jetsons is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,511
    612

    ActorsGeorge O'Hanlon, Janet Waldo, Mel Blanc

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

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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
    Family Ties is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    2,324
    1,226

    Family Ties

    1982-1989

    ActorsMichael J. Fox, Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 21
    Saved by the Bell is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,282
    620

    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 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
    CHiPs is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,549
    776

    CHiPs

    1977

    ActorsErik Estrada, Larry Wilcox, Robert Pine

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

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  • 24
    Who's the Boss? is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,762
    893

    ActorsTony Danza, Judith Light, Alyssa Milano

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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  • 25
    Diff'rent Strokes is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked
    1,307
    658

    ActorsGary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Conrad Bain

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Comedy

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    #24 of 89 The Greatest Black Sitcoms of All Time#138 of 439 The Funniest TV Shows of All Time

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