Top 11 1980s Sitcoms & Comedy TV Shows (2023) Release Date

Top 11 1980s Sitcoms & Comedy TV Shows (2023)

The 1980s was a great era for television comedy, as it saw the launch of many beloved sitcoms. It can be tough to pick favorites, but sometimes you just have to make those tough choices. Are you Team Golden Girls or Team Wonder Years? Night Court or Newhart? Married… with Children or Family Ties?

Back in the day, there weren’t as many TV channels to choose from. NBC has always been known for its high-quality sitcoms, and the ’80s only solidified that reputation. It gave us legendary shows like The Cosby Show and Cheers, both of which are considered among the greatest sitcoms in TV history. ABC, on the other hand, brought us Who’s the Boss? and the unforgettable Balki Bartokomous in Perfect Strangers. And let’s not forget CBS, which continued the iconic M*A*S*H until 1983 and defined a new generation with Murphy Brown.

It’s no surprise that many of these popular programs are among the longest-running US sitcoms. In fact, several of these ’80s shows went on to become the best comedies ever aired on NBC.

1. Cheers

Cheers was a sitcom that people really loved. It had a perfect mix of humor and complicated relationships. The show followed the lives of the staff and customers at the bar. The main cast included Ted Danson as the bartender, Sam Malone, Shelley Long as the uptight waitress, Diane Chambers, and Rhea Perlman as the sassy barmaid, Carla Tortelli. The series delved into the themes of fitting in, love, and finding happiness even when things aren’t perfect. It was a reminder that in a close-knit community like a local bar, “everybody knows your name.”

Premiered: September 30, 1982
Actors: Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt

2. The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls
The Golden Girls was a groundbreaking television comedy, as it dared to focus on older women. It starred Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty, who played the roles of four friends living together in Miami after being widowed or divorced. The show fearlessly challenged ageist stereotypes with its sharp wit and humor. It delved into themes of friendship, aging, love, and independence, all while introducing us to unforgettable catchphrases like “Thank you for being a friend.”

Premiered: September 14, 1985
Actors: Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White

3. Married… with Children

Married... with Children
Ed O’Neill played the role of Al Bundy, a clumsy and unlucky shoe salesman in this sitcom that dared to break boundaries. It delved into the lives of the Bundy family, who were often dysfunctional. The family included Al’s wife Peggy, played by Katey Sagal, their daughter Kelly portrayed by Christina Applegate, and their son Bud, played by David Faustino. Despite its risqué jokes and controversial plots, the show garnered immense popularity and set the stage for other sitcoms to push the limits.

Premiered: April 5, 1987
Actors: Ed O’Neill, Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate

4. Family Ties

Family Ties
This sitcom was a hit among viewers as it portrayed the clash of cultures between the liberal parents, Steven and Elyse Keaton, played by Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter, and their conservative children. The show’s focus was mainly on their oldest son, Alex P. Keaton, portrayed by Michael J. Fox. This sitcom provided an interesting reflection of the socioeconomic changes that occurred during the Reagan era. It delved into various themes such as family dynamics and the differences between generations, all while showcasing Fox’s incredible comedic abilities, which really made him stand out.

Premiered: September 22, 1982
Actors: Michael J. Fox, Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross

5. Night Court

Night Court
Night Court was set in a Manhattan municipal court and had this really quirky judge, Harry T. Stone, played by Harry Anderson. The show had an interesting mix of characters, like the lovable but not-so-smart bailiff, Bull Shannon, played by Richard Moll, and the always unlucky prosecutor, Dan Fielding, played by John Larroquette. People loved the show because it had a unique way of looking at the justice system and it showed how important it is to have empathy and understanding.

Premiered: January 4, 1984
Actors: Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, Richard Moll

6. The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years was a TV show that really stood out with its unique approach to storytelling. It cleverly used voiceover narration from an adult perspective to give us a heartfelt glimpse into the challenges and experiences of adolescence. The main character, Kevin Arnold, brilliantly portrayed by Fred Savage, took us on a journey through his teenage years.

What made The Wonder Years so special was its ability to tackle serious themes that teenagers face, such as love, friendship, and discovering oneself. It didn’t shy away from addressing these important issues, which made it relatable and impactful. Alongside these meaningful storylines, the show also captured the essence of life in the late 1960s and early 1970s, evoking a sense of nostalgia.

The combination of the adult voiceover and the nostalgic setting created a beautiful synergy that made The Wonder Years a truly memorable show. It allowed viewers to reflect on their own adolescent experiences while appreciating the historical context of the time. This unique blend of personal and historical storytelling set the show apart and made it a favorite among many.

Premiered: January 31, 1988
Actors: Fred Savage, Jason Hervey, Olivia d’Abo

7. Who’s the Boss?

Who's the Boss?
Step into the world of a modern family as they face the ups and downs of everyday life with a touch of humor and heartfelt moments. “Who’s the Boss?” is a delightful ’80s sitcom that welcomes viewers with open arms. The show revolves around the lives of Tony Micelli, a retired baseball player turned housekeeper, and Angela Bower, a successful advertising executive. Together, they challenge traditional gender roles while raising their two spirited children, Samantha and Jonathan.

Throughout its eight-season run, this captivating series received numerous award nominations, including Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe nods. It brilliantly captures the evolving dynamics of the American family unit, all while keeping us entertained with laughter and light-hearted storytelling.

Premiered: September 20, 1984
Actors: Judith Light, Tony Danza, Alyssa Milano

8. Growing Pains

Growing Pains
Growing Pains was all about the ups and downs of the Seaver family’s life. Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns played the lead roles of Dr. Jason Seaver and his journalist wife Maggie. But let’s be real, Kirk Cameron totally stole the show as their troublemaking son, Mike. The series tackled relatable issues like peer pressure, self-esteem, and family dynamics. It managed to find a sweet spot between making us laugh and tugging at our heartstrings with its heartfelt storytelling.

Premiered: September 24, 1985
Actors: Alan Thicke, Joanna Kerns, Kirk Cameron

9. Family Matters

Family Matters
Family Matters” was initially focused on the tight-knit Winslow family, led by their patriarch Carl (played by Reginald VelJohnson). However, it didn’t take long for the show to be completely taken over by the breakout character of nerdy and clumsy neighbor, Steve Urkel (played by Jaleel White).

What made “Family Matters” so beloved was its ability to showcase the heartwarming love and support within an African-American family. Alongside that, the show also fearlessly tackled important social issues like race, class, and gender

Premiered: September 22, 1989
Actors: Reginald VelJohnson, Judyann Elder, Darius McCrary

10. The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show
The Cosby Show was a major hit in the 80s, capturing the hearts of viewers across the board. It revolved around the Huxtable family, an African-American family who were well-off but not super wealthy. The parents, Cliff and Clair, played by Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad respectively, were incredibly loving and caring.

What set The Cosby Show apart was its ability to address important issues in a way that resonated with everyone. It fearlessly tackled topics like education, cultural identity, and family values, making it groundbreaking for its time.

Premiered: September 20, 1984
Actors: Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Malcolm-Jamal Warner

11. ALF

ALF, a sitcom that aired on TV, is about an alien from the planet Melmac who ends up in the Tanner family’s house. It’s not your typical family show though. The creator, Paul Fusco, did a great job with the puppetry and voice work, making the alien lovable and funny. ALF tackles deep themes like loneliness, acceptance, and the importance of family, all while ALF tries to figure out human culture, leading to hilarious chaos.

Premiered: September 22, 1986
Actors: Max Wright, Paul Fusco, Anne Schedeen

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