20 Best ’80s Sitcoms, Ranked
19 mins read

20 Best ’80s Sitcoms, Ranked


  • The top ’80s sitcoms were iconic hits that still hold up today, bringing laughter and heart to viewers.
  • From workplace humor to family dynamics, these sitcoms captured the essence of the decade for a timeless appeal.
  • Whether you’re looking for laughs alone or with the family, the ’80s sitcoms offer a time-warp back to classic comedy.



The best ’80s sitcoms were hits of the decade and built a legacy still remembered today. Sitcoms seemed to be the most fondly remembered genre of television from that particular decade. They took cues from the 1970s, centering largely around family, friends, and the workplace, adding relatability for the audience. Fans fondly remember these sitcoms not just for the laughs, but also because of the heart that went into each one. They’re time-locked specimens of a very different age, when the nuclear family was praised, and families enjoyed sitting around the TV to share some laughs together.

There’s no shortage of sitcom laughs from the groundbreaking sitcoms of the 1980s. Some of these classics have fallen into obscurity over the years, while others remain full-fledged icons of the genre, to this very day. Whatever the case, people looking for some good old-fashioned comedy with a lot of heart should time-warp back to the 80s. There are more than enough shows to keep the smiles coming, whether alone or with the entire family.


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20 One Day At A Time (1975-1984)

A Hardhitting Sitcom About A Working Mother

The ensemble cast of One Day At A Time smiling at the camera

One Day at a Time

Justina Machado , Todd Grinnell

Release Date
January 6, 2017


One Day at a Time was an ’80s family sitcom that followed a single mother moving her daughters to a new apartment, where she raised them on her own and balanced her own career to provide for them and herself. The sitcom also featured the odd superintendent of their building, Schneider, who popped in on them frequently to offer advice. The series was rebooted in 2017 with new characters, this time featuring a Cuban-American family, but with a very similar premise and a new collection of likable One Day at a Time characters that show the sitcom’s lasting impact.

One Day at a Time is available to buy on Apple TV, Google Play, and Amazon

19 Coach (1989-1997)

The Long-Running Sitcom Never Dropped In Quality

The ensemble cast of Coach standing in front of a chalkboard

Craig T. Nelson won an Emmy for his performance on Coach as the character Hayden Fox, the head coach of a university football team. The show had a lot of fun playing on the character as the typical machismo male whose obsession with sports goes to ridiculous lengths. However, to leverage the comedy, Fox had to find ways to bond with his elegant girlfriend Christine Armstrong, and his young daughter Kelly, with whom he had little in common. Together with pals Luther Van Dam and Michael “Dauber” Dybinski, Hayden made audiences laugh for eight solid years.

Where to Watch Coach

18 The Cosby Show (1984-1992)

The All-Black Cast Broke Down Racial Boundaries

The ensemble cast of The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show remains one of the best, and most influential family-friendly sitcoms ever made. Its all-black cast of main characters broke down racial boundaries in America at the time, all without making it a focal point. The Huxtables were traditional, hard-working parents who raised their children the right way, teaching them the values of responsibility, hard work, and friendship. There was a time when the series would have easily been called the very best of the ’80s, but Bill Cosby’s crimes have tarnished The Cosby Show‘s legacy.

The Cosby Show is available to buy on Amazon

17 Perfect Strangers (1986-1993)

A Foreigner Trying To Make It Big In America, Full Of Fish-Out-Of-Water Humor

The ensemble cast of Perfect Strangers smiling

Perfect Strangers is a hilarious and timeless sitcom that made physical humor a major component of its delivery. Emmy nominee Bronson Pinchot portrayed the lovable Balki Bartokomous, a fish-out-of-water foreigner from the remote island of Mypos, who decides to make it big in America. He ends up crashing with his cousin Larry, an aspiring journalist who tries to show Balki the ropes of American life.

In the process, the two bumble from one madcap situation to the next, while teaching each other valuable life lessons about compassion, honesty, forgiveness, and love in a show that captured a quintessential 80s vibe.

Perfect Strangers is available to buy on Apple TV, Google Play, and Amazon.

16 Mama’s Family (1983-1990)

A Spinoff Of A Carol Burnett Show Sketch

The ensemble cast of Mama's

Mama’s Family stars Vicki Lawrence as Thelma Harper – aka Mama – and revolves around the character and her family. It’s essentially a spin-off of the famous “The Family” sketches from The Carol Burnett Show, and Lawrence gives a fantastic performance as Mama. The show is hilarious, thanks to many classic episodes that stuck with fans for years. One of these episodes featured the family participating as contestants on the game show Family Feud. The outrageous and wacky humor was a big draw for audiences who loved Carol Burnett-style comedy.

Where to Watch Mama’s Family


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15 ALF (1986-1990)

ALF Is A Staple Of 1980s Pop Culture

The ensemble cast of ALF

80s sitcoms had a reputation for some outlandish premises and ALF proved how well that could work. This fun family sitcom involved the Tanner family and their adventures with an alien who crashed into their garage. They decide to keep the wise-cracking alien a secret. It’s considered a staple of 1980s pop culture, thanks to ALF’s well-developed character.

Audiences fell in love with him, and no matter how ridiculous the storylines got, viewers stuck around from beginning to end. It blended the best aspects of zany 1960s sitcoms with 1980s cultural underpinnings, creating a classic in the process.

Where to Watch ALF

14 Who’s The Boss? (1984-1992)

The Sitcom Reversed Gender Stereotypes

Who’s the Boss

Tony Danza , Judith Light

Release Date
September 20, 1984


Tony Danza became a household name when he starred in Who’s The Boss? The actor had just come off a stint in Taxi, but this particular sitcom put him at the forefront of 1980s TV culture. It focused on his character Tony Micelli, a retired baseball player who becomes a housekeeper. He ends up playing a central role in the lives of Angela Bower, an advertising executive, and her two children. The concept was unique, featuring a reversal of gender stereotypes, which was starting to pick up traction during the 1980s. The show ended up nominated for 10 Emmys.

Where to Watch Who’s the Boss?

13 Growing Pains (1985-1992)

The ensemble cast of Growing Pains'

Growing Pains followed the close-knit family of Dr. Jason Seaver, his wife Maggie, and their four children Mike, Carol, Ben, and Chrissie. The sitcom, like many others, didn’t shy away from more serious issues in the storylines, tackling everything from drugs and alcohol, to suicide and peer pressure. Despite the darker episodes, the show was a major hit with audiences, led by the tag-team duo of Canadian superstar Alan Thicke, and then-teenaged heartthrob Kirk Cameron. It also added a young Leonardo DiCaprio in its final stretch.

Growing Pains is available to buy on Apple TV, Google Play, and Amazon.

12 Family Ties (1982-1989)

Michael J. Fox Won Three Emmys For Playing Alex P. Keaton

The ensemble cast of Family Ties

This extremely popular family sitcom series revolved around the Keatons, a middle-class family in Columbus, Ohio, and the day-to-day situations that brought their family closer together. The cast featured Back To The Future superstar Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton, a Reagan child growing up in a household led by two ex-hippie liberal parents.

Each member family member is lovable in their own way, and the connection between the kids and parents was well received by audiences. It was one of the few family sitcoms that successfully nailed the family dynamic in a way that others had trouble with.

Where to Watch Family Ties

11 Night Court (1984-1992)

Harry Anderson Shines As The Ringleader Of The Dysfunctional Courtroom

The ensemble cast of Night Court

Harry Anderson stars in this hilarious sitcom as a night court judge, who, with the help of his crew, handles some of the most bizarre cases imaginable. This workplace sitcom had a great ensemble cast, not to mention one of the most robust guest actors of any show at the time. The series was always creative, and the storylines were always entertaining, even if they went beyond the scope of rationality. Harry Anderson was a fantastic comedic actor, and the series gave him a great opportunity to shine as the ringleader of a dysfunctional courtroom.


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Where to Watch Night Court

10 Three’s Company (1977-1984)

John Ritter Won An Emmy For His Performance

Three’s Company was a typical sitcom of the ’70s and ’80s, but it wasn’t centered on a family. Instead, it focused on young twenty-somethings engaging in wacky hijinks, with lighthearted storylines that had little time for dramatic elements. The show followed two young women, Janet and Chrissy, who were searching for a new roommate when they came across a guy named Jack, and suggested they all move in together. As expected, things quickly derailed, leading to some of the funniest comedies of the decade. The show was a great ensemble, but John Ritter’s Emmy-winning performance stole the show.

Where to Watch Three’s Company


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9 Newhart (1982-1990)

One Of The Coziest ’80s Sitcoms

The ensemble cast of Newhart

Bob Newhart starred in this great sitcom about a man and his wife who decide to purchase and run a little inn in Vermont. There is a cozy charm to the series, with a message that championed living a simple life, and the rewards that come with it. His first big sitcom, the 1970s classic The Bob Newhart Show, was very successful, and it seemed unlikely that he would be able to duplicate its success. Fortunately, he beat the odds, proving that lightning can strike twice. Newhart was nominated for four Golden Globes during the series’ run.

Where to Watch Newhart

8 The Jeffersons (1975-1985)

Groundbreaking For Tackling Racism & Gun Control

The ensemble cast of The Jeffersons

The Jeffersons was a spinoff sitcom from All in the Family that ran between the 1970s and the 1980s. It followed George and Louise Jefferson “moving on up, to the East Side” with their family in a new and expensive high-rise apartment. The show put George Jefferson, a notorious bigot and opportunistic businessman, at the center of it all alongside his much gentler wife Louise played by Isabel Stanford in an Emmy-winning role. The series was groundbreaking for how it tackled topics like racism and gun control, and for featuring a Black family at the forefront.

Where to Watch The Jeffersons

7 Full House (1987-1995)

The Series Deals With Themes Such As Loss & Grief

Full House (US)

Bob Saget , John Stamos , Dave Coulier , Candace Cameron Bure , Jodie Sweetin , Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen , Lori Loughlin , Andrea Barber , Scott Weinger

Release Date
September 22, 1987


Full House is so iconic that it was recently revived on Netflix, picking up where the original story left off. It’s a timeless tale of a single, widowed dad raising his three young daughters with the help of his brother-in-law and his childhood best friend. The level of heart that went into Full House was legendary, and it shows. Audiences loved the themes of close-knit family bonds, dealing with loss, and growing up the right way, with the right values. It also helped spearhead the immensely popular TGIF Friday night lineup on ABC.

Where to Watch Full House

6 Roseanne (1988-1997)

The Sitcom Tackled Serious Issues Such As Abusive Households & Clinical Depression


Roseanne Barr , John Goodman , Laurie Metcalf , Sara Gilbert , Lecy Goranson , Michael Fishman

Release Date
October 18, 1988


In direct conflict with the family-friendly sitcoms of the time period, Roseanne opted to go the other way, portraying a dysfunctional working-class family with real-world problems, most of which centered around their kids. While the show was loaded with laughs, it also wasn’t afraid to tackle serious issues, from teenage drinking to abusive households to clinical depression. The show swung back and forth between lighthearted and serious with expert timing, making it one of the landmark sitcoms of the decade. Decades later, The Conners became a success without Roseanne but it still owes everything to the original sitcom.

Where to Watch Roseanne

5 Taxi (1978-1983)

The Sitcom Turned Danny DeVito & Christopher Lloyd Into Stars

The ensemble cast of Taxi

Taxi was a sitcom that ran between the 1970s and 1980s, and followed a group of New York cab drivers in their personal and work lives. Each character is unique in their own right and views the taxi driver job as a stand-in until they’re able to achieve their actual dreams.

The series also featured some of the most talented actors in the business, many of whom went on to star in Hollywood films. The show itself won an Emmy for comedy series while cast members Judd Hirsch, Christopher Lloyd, and Danny DeVito won for their performances.

Where to Watch Taxi

4 Family Matters (1989-1998)

Steve Urkel Completely Changed The Trajectory Of The Series

The ensemble cast of Family Matters

Family Matters

Reginald VelJohnson , Jaleel White , Jo Marie Payton , Darius McCrary , Kellie Shanygne Williams , Rosetta LeNoire , Shawn Harrison , Valerie Jones , Joseph Wright , Julius Wright , Bryton McClure

Release Date
September 22, 1989


William Bickley , Michael Warren

Family Matters attempted to capitalize on the iconic success of The Cosby Show by portraying another Black family that transcended stereotypes. The first few seasons were very big on the concept of the family unit, though the overall show opted for more over-the-top storylines and hilarious physical comedy.

The introduction of bumbling, nerdy wrecking ball Steve Urkel changed the trajectory of the show irrevocably, but Family Matters was able to retain its popularity for almost a full decade, before hanging up its hat. Things became more over-the-top as Urkel’s storylines grew wilder but there was always heart at the forefront of the series.

Where to Watch Family Matters

3 Married… With Children (1987-1997)

A Sitcom That Perfected Grungy, Low-Brow Humor

The ensemble cast of Married With Children

This hilarious, over-the-top family sitcom focuses a dirty lens on the Bundys, a family that nobody would want living next door. The patriarch of the house is Al, a women’s shoe salesman who thinks his life is miserable. His wife is Peggy, an Oprah-loving couch potato who refuses to work, and spends all her husband’s money. Together they raise two of the most irresponsible children ever conceived. Every episode was grungy, low-brow humor that refused to take itself seriously. Married… with Children played up its own sleaziness with genius-level intellect, attracting a wide net of viewers.

Where to Watch Married… with Children

2 The Golden Girls (1985-1992)

A Sitcom That Wasn’t Afraid To Tackle Big Issues

This classic sitcom centers around four older women as they tackle life and friendship together in Miami. The series was an instant hit with people of all ages, and the show, with only older women as leads, was absolutely groundbreaking. It featured a fantastic ensemble cast, with comedic legend Betty White standing out as a fan favorite.

Golden Girls tackled many big issues that are still discussed today, including poverty, adultery, addiction, and harassment, yet it was still able to maintain a sense of humor with a host of outrageously funny situations and storylines.

Where to Watch The Golden Girls

1 Cheers (1982-1993)

One Of The Most Innovative Sitcoms With One Of The Most Iconic Theme Songs Ever


Ted Danson , Shelley Long , Nicholas Colasanto , Rhea Perlman , George Wendt , John Ratzenberger , Kelsey Grammer , Woody Harrelson , Kirstie Alley , Bebe Neuwirth

Release Date
September 30, 1982


In addition to boasting one of the most recognizable theme songs of all time, Cheers is also one of the best ’80s sitcoms and most beloved TV sitcoms ever made. It starred Ted Danson as Sam Malone, the owner of a local watering hole, and his relationship with his co-workers, friends, and patrons. The series ran for 11 seasons, and the finale was one of the most-watched of all time.

The series was also one of the first TV series to use the will-they/won’t-they approach when it came to TV couples, making viewers anxious to see if Sam and Diane would end up together. From the pitch-perfect first episode to the satisfying finale, Cheers is a sitcom that holds up incredibly well. Its record 28 Emmy wins include four for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Where to Watch Cheers

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