The list of the ten best American sitcoms of the 80's includes some classics that can still make you laugh in syndication today. It was an era when ethnic diversity was better represented on prime time TV than it is now. Most shows from this era featured classic family schtick, but they were entertaining nonetheless.

  1. “The Cosby Show.” This show, starring comedy legend Bill Cosby, is perhaps the greatest sitcom of all time, and not just one of the best American sitcoms of the 80's. Featuring the antics of the Huxtable family, the show was loosely based on Cosby’s own family, and his charm and style led the show to the top of the ratings year after year.

  2. “Diff’rent Strokes.” This show is nearly iconic, with the little Gary Coleman playing Arnold, whose catchphrase, “Whatchyou talkin’ about?” became a household phrase. Arnold and his brother Willis—both black—were adopted by a wealthy white man.

  3. “Full House.” One of the best sitcoms of the 80’s, this show launched the career of the Olson twins and starred comedians Bob Saget, John Stamos, and Dave Coulier. All the characters—related in one way or another—were packed into one house, while hilarity ensued.

  4. “Cheers.” Cheers was set in a Boston bar and, as the theme song said, was a place where “everybody knows your name.”  Certainly one of the best sitcoms of the 80’s, Sam, played by Ted Danson and Woody, played by Woody Harrelson, lead the antics in this bar, that had a full cast of memorable characters.

  5. “Night Court.” This show was about the craziness that occurs in a court that opens its docket through the night. Hardly a show about the law, the cast was led by John Larroquette and was a staple on NBC’s Thursday night line up. It finished in the top 10 in the ratings twice.

  6. “ALF.” ALF stood for “Alien Life Form” and this show, one of the best sitcoms of the 80’s told the unlikely story of a family that took in an alien who had crashed to earth. Not exactly “E.T.,” this alien was irascible, sharp-tongued, and cranky.

  7. “The Golden Girls.” This show was an unlikely hit as a sitcom, finishing in the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings six times, making it one of the best sitcoms of the 80’s. It consisted of several old women living in a home together in Florida and the humorous antics that occur with all their personalities bumping into each other.

  8. “Family Ties.” This show starred up-and-coming Michael J. Fox as Alex Keaton. The sitcom revolves around the life of the Keaton family, with Alex as the headstrong conservative trying get the most out of life, despite living in a house with two sisters and overly preachy parents.

  9. “Growing Pains.” This show focused on the Seaver family, headed by patriarch Jason, played by Alan Thicke. The mom, Maggie tries to balance a career as a reporter with keeping an eye on three kids, played by actors Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, and Jeremy Miller. The show was a solid rating performer.

  10. “My Two Dads.” This show helped launch the career of comedia Paul Reiser and was about a young girl whose mother had passed away and who lived with two men, either of which might have been her biological father.

Additional Resources:

"Full House"; 


"Family Ties";

"Growing Pains";

"My Two Dads";