TV Shows of the 80s

If you watch TV shows today and compare them to the shows back in the 80s, you will notice that the ones you watch today don’t usually involve aliens, androids, or adorably inept superheroes which were all part of television shows that were on the air in the 80s. Some of the most notable TV shows in the 80s were the era-defining action drama Miami Vice, a sitcom like Cheers, and a fantastically dated and silly show like Alf.

The 80s was a good decade for television. However, many of the shows back then subsequently slipped into obscurity, and people might not remember them at all. To help you recall those TV shows, we are going to give you a list of some of the TV shows of the 80s. We also provided links on where you can watch them again if you like. 

1. Cheers

Cheers ran on NBC from 1982 to 1993. It is an American sitcom with a total of 275 episodes across eleven seasons. It is set on a bar named Cheers in Boston where a group of locals meets to drink and socialize. It is where the characters talk about their problems, laugh at one another’s flaws, and try to be there when someone needs them.During the run of this TV show, it turned out to be one of the most prevalent series of all time and has received critical acclaim from its start to its end. It is a feel-good TV show that is highly relatable.

2. Family Ties

Family Ties also ran on NBC, and it aired for seven seasons. It premiered in 1982 and ended in 1989. It is an American sitcom created by Gary David Goldberg. This TV show echoed the move in the United States from the cultural liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s to the traditionalism of the 1980s. That was expressed through the relationship between a young republican and his ex-hippie parents. This TV show earned several awards, and some of those are three consecutive Emmy Awards as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Michael J. Fox

3. The Wonder Years

This TV show is a coming of age comedy-drama series that ran on ABC from 1988 to 1993. It is about a teenager growing up in a suburban middle-class family. The show takes place from 1968 to 1973, and it was narrated by Daniel Stern, the adult version of the protagonist. Many critics considered The Wonder Years as a classic TV show that has a huge impact on the industry over the years. For them, this series has inspired many other shows and how they are structured.

4. Magnum, P.I.

Magnum, P.I. is a crime drama series that was aired on CBS television network. It ran from 1980 to 1988. This TV show starred Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator from Oahu, Hawaii. In the first five years of its original run in the United States, this TV show ranked in the top 20 U.S. television programs. In 2018, a reboot series with the same title was premiered on CBS. 

5. Night Court

This is another TV sitcom that aired on NBC from 1984 to 1992. Night Court is set on a night shift of a Manhattan municipal court which was presided over by Harold T. Stone, a young, unorthodox judge. This TV show received multiple awards and nominations with the outstanding performances of its actors. Aside from that, it also received many awards and nominations due to its technical direction, editing, lighting, and sound mixing. It won seven Emmys out of its thirty-one nominations. 

6. M*A*S*H

M*A*S*H, which stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, is a war comedy-drama series that aired from 1972 to 1983 on CBS. This TV show was adapted from the 1970 feature film with the same title. It is about a team of doctors and support staff stationed in South Korea during the Korean War. This is one of the highest-rated shows in United States television history. 

7. The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls is a sitcom that ran on NBC from 1985 to 1992. It had a total of 180 episodes in seven seasons. This TV show revolves around the story of four older women who share a home in Miami, Florida. It received critical acclaim during its run, and it also won several awards such as the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.It is one of the top 10 highest-rated programs for six out of its seven seasons.

8. Moonlighting

This is a comedy-drama TV show that aired from 1985 to 1989 on ABC. It has a total of 66 episodes that aired on the network. This series was a mixture of drama, romance, comedy, and mystery. It has also been considered as one of the first successful and influential comedy-drama or dramedy which was emerging as a distinct TV genre. 

9. Hill Street Blues

Hill Street Blues is a serial police drama that aired from 1981 to 1987 on NBC’s primetime. It has a total of 146 episodes. This TV show is about the lives of the staff of a single police station on Hill Street. “Blues” was used as a slang term for police officers because of their blue uniforms. This TV show’s production innovationwas able to influence lots of subsequent dramatic TV series produced in the U.S. and Canada.  During its run, it had received a total of 98 Emmy nominations.

10. Taxi

This is a TV sitcom that aired from 1978 to 1982 on ABC. Its story revolved around the everyday lives of a few of New York City taxi drivers and their abusive dispatcher. The principal setting of the show is the company’s fleet garage in Manhattan. This TV show was able to win eighteen Emmy Awards including three wins for Outstanding Comedy Series.

11. Newhart

Newhart is a sitcom that aired from 1982 to 1990 on CBS. It has a total of 184 episodes and 8 seasons. This TV show’s story revolved around an author and his wife who own and operate an inn in a small town that is home to lots of eccentric characters. The finale of this series was one of the most memorable in television history. This TV show did not win any awards, but it has been nominated for 25 Emmy Awards.

12. The A-Team

This is an action-adventure TV series that was aired from 1983 to 1987 on NBC. It is about former members of a made-up United States Army Special Forces unit. The members, after being accused of a crime they did not commit, were able to escape from military prison. While they were on the run, they worked as soldiers of fortune. In 2010, a film based on this TV series was released by 20th Century Fox.

13. Married…with Children

This is an American TV sitcom that aired from 1987 to 1997 on Fox. It is the longest-lasting live-action sitcom on Fox and the first to be broadcasted on the primetime slot of the network. This TV show is about the suburban Chicago lives of Al Bundy, a once glorious high school football player who turned into a hard-luck women’s shoe salesman, and his family. Most of the storylines of this series involve Al’s schemes being hindered by his cartoonish dim wit and bad luck. It has 259 episodes in 11 seasons. 

14. Miami Vice

Television crime drama series, Miami Vice, aired on NBC and it ran for five seasons from 1984 to 1989. Then, the TV show was rerun in 1988 on the USA Network. This series is about two Metro-Dade Police Department detectives working undercover in Miami. But unlike usual police procedurals, it drew heavily on 1980s music and New Wave culture. It became popular due to its visual effects and integration of music. 

15. The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show, a TV sitcom starring Bill Cosby, aired on NBC for 8 seasons starting 1984 to 1992. This TV show is about an upper-middle-class black family living in Brooklyn, New York. On five of its seasons, it was the number one rated show on television, and it was the only sitcom in the history of the Nielsen ratings to achieve that. Allits seasons were in the top 20 as well.

16. The Dukes of Hazzard

The Dukes of Hazzard is an action-comedy TV show that was aired from 1979 to 1985 on CBS. It has 147 episodes in 7 seasons. This series was inspired by Moonrunners, a 1975 film created by Gy Waldron. This show is about the adventures of “the Duke boys” who live on a family farm in Georgia. They always get themselves in trouble that’s why there’s never a dull moment in their place. It is a feel-good and great TV show, and you’d enjoy watching it with your friends. 

17. L.A. Law

L.A. Law is a legal drama series on TV which was aired on NBC from 1986 to 1994. This TV show reflected the social and cultural ideologies of the 1980s. A lot of the cases featured in this series were a hot-topic issue such as racism, abortion, capital punishment, domestic violence, and more. It also often showed social tensions between the rich senior lawyers and their less well-paid junior staff. If you’re into watching law cases, then this 80s TV show is for you. 

18. Knight Rider

Knight Rider is a TV series that ran on NBC from 1982 to 1986. It is about a high-tech modern crime fighter named Michael Knight, who was assisted by an advanced artificially intelligent car. This TV show was followed by another series with the same title in 2008. It is also related to the Code of Vengeance and Team Knight Rider. 

19. MacGyver

MacGyver is an action-adventure TV series that starred Richard Dean Anderson. It ran for seven seasons from 1985 to 1992 on ABC in the United States and different other networks abroad. It is about a secret agent named Angus MacGyver. He works as a troubleshooter for Phoenix Foundation in L.A., and as well as an agent for a United States government agency. He’s known to be resourceful, and he can solve complex problems by making things out of ordinary objects. This is a great series to watch, especially if you’re into action and adventure. 

20. Remington Steel

This is an American TV series produced by MTM Enterprises. It aired from 1982 to 1987 on NBC network. This TV show is a blend of romantic comedy, drama, detective procedural, and as well as an international political conspiracy. It is known for launching the career of Pierce Brosnan and as well as being a forerunner of a similar series, Moonlighting. This TV show also pioneered the “will they or won’t they” relationship arc which is now popular to TV shows of all genres.

21. WKRP in Cincinnati

This is a sitcom in the United States that was aired from 1978 to 1982. It features the misadventures of the staff of a struggling radio station in Ohio. The storylines of this series are mostly based on its creator’s experience in working in advertising sales at Top 40 radio station in Atlanta. This TV show was able to win a Humanitas Prize, and it also received 10 Emmy Award nominations. It also won an Emmy Award for Videotape Editing. 

22. Who’s the Boss

Who’s the Boos is a sitcom which aired from 1984 to 1992 on ABC. It is about an Italian American retired major league baseball player who moves to Fairfield, Connecticut to work as a housekeeper for a divorced advertising executive. This was the most popular sitcom of the mid-to-late 80s. It also won five Golden Globe Awards. 

23. Murphy Brown

This is another sitcom that aired on CBS from 1988 to 1998. Murphy Brown is about a famous investigative journalist and news anchor for FYI newsmagazine. It has a total of 247 episodes over 10 seasons. In 2018, it had a 13-episode revival but was canceled after a single season by CBS in 2019. This TV show was able to earn different awards such as eighteen Emmy awards and three Golden Globe awards 

24. Cagney & Lacey

Cagney & Lacey is a TV series that aired from 1982 to 1988 on the CBS network. This TV show is about two New York City police detectives who have very different lives. For six years, one of the two lead actresses of this series won the Emmy Award for Best Lead Actress in Drama. After this series, it was followed by four TV movies.

25. ALF

ALF, short for Alien Life Form, is a sitcom that aired from 1986 to 1990 on NBC network. The title is based on the name of the friendly extraterrestrial who crash-lands in the garage of the suburban middle-class Tanner family. This TV show ran for four seasons with a total of 100 episodes. It won many awards in the United States including People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Comedy Program.

These are some of the TV Shows of the 80s, and you can still watch them today if you like. These are all very interesting shows to watch if you haven’t seen them way back, or if you just want to reminisce and see them again. If you want to know more TV shows in the 80s, you can also check out our Top Television Shows of the 80s for more information.

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