Total Nerd

What Was The Most Popular TV Show The Year You Were Born  

Jonathan H. Kantor
4.1k votes 1.7k voters 90k views 26 items

List Rules Vote up the shows that best represent the year in which they reached peak popularity.

Television is a big part of our lives. Most people spend a few hours a night sitting in front of their idiot box, and it's easy to recall your favorite shows throughout major periods of your life. However, most folks don't remember much from their time spent as an infant, so you might not have ever asked yourself what was the biggest TV show the year you were born?

It might surprise you to find out the biggest TV show of your birth year, even if the show persisted well into your childhood. This knowledge can offer some insight into what actors your parents enjoyed before you came along and forced them to watch Big Bird and Elmo. Not many of these series are still on television, but every one of them is remembered among the most successful TV shows of their time. 

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Magnum, P.I. is a crime drama series starring Tom Selleck as the titular Thomas Magnum. Set in Oahu, HI, the series first premiered in 1980 and ran through 1988 with a total of 162 episodes. Although Selleck had been working consistently since 1969, his role on the series helped establish him as a Hollywood heartthrob and is perhaps the most memorable part of his career. Magnum, P.I. won numerous Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy Awards through its broadcast run.

Actors: Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley

Premiered: 1980

Number of Seasons: 8

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Mork & Mindy is a spin-off of Happy Days, and is inspired by the appearance of Robin Williams — who was at the time an unknown actor and comedian — in an episode of Happy Days that turns out to be a dream. The introduction of an alien in an otherwise grounded series was an attempt to capitalize on the success of Star Wars, but Williams's comedic take onMork worked so well that a new series was green-lit. Mork & Mindy aired a total of 95 episodes across four seasons from 1978-1981.

Actors: Robin Williams, Pam Dawber, Ralph James

Premiered: 1978

Number of Seasons: 4

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When it first aired on September 22, 1994, nobody could have predicted that Friends would develop into a cultural phenomenon that would launch the careers of Jenifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, Courtney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow. What began as a show about a bunch of 20-somethings chilling out at a coffee shop quickly birthed characters the audience could relate to and love. Friends ran for a total of 10 seasons consisting of 236 episodes and spawned a spin-off called Joey, which ran for two seasons.

Actors: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow

Premiered: 1994

Number of Seasons: 10

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When it comes to successful animated television series, it's impossible to discount the achievements of The Simpsons. The series is about an American family who is inexplicably yellow, and follows the adventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and a supporting cast comprised of hundreds of characters. The premise began with shorts that were featured on the Tracy Ullman Show but has since become a staple of American televisionThe Simpsons first aired on December 17, 1989 and has continued for well over 600 episodes. 

Actors: Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner

Premiered: 1989

Number of Seasons: 24

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