80s Nostalgia: 25 Classic TV Shows That Are Still Fun Watches Today

The 1980s gave us lots of fun television that is still watch-worthy today. From hilarious sitcoms to medical dramas, these are some of the best TV series from the ’80s. Do you remember?

1. Hart to Hart (1979-1984)

Hart to Hart
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures Television.

While technically released in 1979, it ran five seasons into the ’80s. Hart to Hart followed the glamorous, wealthy couple Jonathan and Jennifer Hart as they dabbled in amateur sleuthing.

The show combined elements of romance, intrigue, and detective work, all against the backdrop of their luxurious lifestyle. The chemistry between the leading duo, Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner, added a charming element to the show. 

2. Scarecrow and Mrs. King (1983-1987)

Scarecrow and Mrs. King 80s TV shows
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Scarecrow and Mrs. King blended elements of espionage and romantic tension as it followed the adventures of Lee Stetson (Scarecrow) and Amanda King, an ordinary housewife who gets unwittingly involved in espionage.

The show struck a chord with viewers due to its unique premise and the evolving relationship between the two main characters. It offered a fresh take on the spy genre by showcasing the transformation of an everyday woman into a capable agent.

3. The Equalizer (1985-1989)

The Equalizer 1980s TV show
Image Credit: Universal Television.

The Equalizer starred Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a retired secret agent who takes on a new role as a vigilante for justice. The show’s focus on McCall’s efforts to help those in need set it apart from the typical crime drama.

McCall’s meticulous approach to problem-solving and sense of justice made for compelling storytelling. The Equalizer is a quintessential ’80s series that exemplifies the era’s fascination with morally complex protagonists.

4. Cagney & Lacey (1981-1988)

Cagney & Lacey
Image Credit: Orion Television.

Cagney & Lacey was a trailblazing police procedural series that showcased the professional and personal lives of two female detectives, Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey.

The show addressed critical social issues and gender dynamics in the workplace, making it a significant cultural touchstone for the time. Its focus on strong, independent female characters paved the way for the portrayal of women in law enforcement on television.

5. Falcon Crest (1981-1990)

Falcon Crest 1981
Image Credit: Danbuckley – Falcon Crest Wiki.

Falcon Crest was a beloved prime-time soap opera that revolved around the rivalries and scandals of the wealthy Gioberti and Channing families. With its luxurious settings, conniving characters, and dramatic plot twists, Falcon Crest epitomized the allure of the ’80s soap opera.

The show was known for its iconic opening sequence set amidst the picturesque Napa Valley vineyards and the larger-than-life personalities that filled each episode.

6. Empty Nest (1988-1995)

Empty Nest 80s TV shows
Image Credit: Touchstone Television.

A spin-off of The Golden GirlsEmpty Nest followed Dr. Harry Weston, a widowed pediatrician, and his life as an empty nester. The show was a heartfelt comedy that resonated with viewers experiencing similar life transitions. Richard Mulligan’s portrayal of Dr. Weston’s quirky, lovable character made Empty Nest a standout hit of the ’80s.

7. Jake and the Fatman (1987-1992)

Jake and the Fatman
Image Credit: Viacom Productions.

Jake and the Fatman was a classic ’80s crime drama centered on the partnership between the brilliant, stylish district attorney J.L. “Fatman” McCabe and the street-smart investigator Jake Styles. The show brought together humor, suspense, and intricate legal drama. Its memorable characters and engaging cases made it a must-watch series for fans of the genre.

8. Square Pegs (1982-1983)

Square Pegs 80s TV shows
Image Credit: Columbia/TriStar.

Square Pegs was a teen sitcom with a humorous and relatable portrayal of high school life in the ’80s. The show tackled issues such as popularity, friendship, and the quest for self-identity. Sarah Jessica Parker and Amy Linker’s performances as the socially awkward Patty and Lauren resonated with many teenagers of the era, making Square Pegs a unique and memorable series.

9. Kate & Allie (1984-1989)

Kate & Allie
Image Credit: Alan Landsburg Productions.

Kate & Allie was a heartwarming sitcom centering on the friendship and living arrangement of two divorced women, Kate McArdle and Allie Lowell, who decided to share a New York City apartment.

The show depicted their trials and tribulations as they navigated single motherhood and the challenges of modern life. Its humor and realistic portrayals of life’s ups and downs made it a beloved ’80s classic.

10. Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)

Hill Street Blues
Image Credit: MTM Enterprises and Hill Street Blues Wiki.

Hill Street Blues was a groundbreaking police drama that introduced a gritty, realistic portrayal of the inner workings of a precinct. The show featured an ensemble cast of complex characters, and its use of handheld camera techniques and overlapping dialogue added to its authenticity. Hill Street Blues earned critical acclaim and a loyal fan base, setting the standard for future police procedurals.

11. Newhart (1982-1990)

Image Credit: CBS.

Newhart was a comedic gem that starred Bob Newhart as a Vermont innkeeper. The show was known for its clever, dry humor and quirky characters, including the unforgettable Darryl brothers. Its unique blend of absurdity and wit made it a standout in the ’80s comedy landscape.

12. Too Close For Comfort (1980-1987)

Too Close for Comfort
Image Credit: D.L. Taffner Productions.

Too Close for Comfort was a sitcom following cartoonist Henry Rush and his family living in a San Francisco duplex. The show explored the humorous dynamics of a close-knit family and the quirky tenants living downstairs. With memorable catchphrases and endearing characters, it left an indelible mark on ’80s television.

13. The A-Team (1983-1987)

The A-Team 1983 Mr. T Boy George
Image Credit: NBC.

The show centers on a gang of ex-Special Forces troops who become mercenaries and use their special abilities to aid individuals in need while avoiding military capture. The A-Team became a beloved element of 80s television culture thanks to its unique blend of humor, friendship, and thrilling escapades.

14. Knight Rider (1982-1986)

Knight Rider 1982 David Hasselhoff
Image Credit: NBC.

With the legendary crime-fighting team of Michael Knight and his talking vehicle named KITT, Knight Rider transported viewers on an incredible journey. The program’s protagonist is Knight, a former police officer who uses cutting-edge technology and his slick, high-tech vehicle to battle injustice. 

15. Cheers (1982-1993)

Cheers One More for the Road
Image Credit: CBS Television.

One of the most beloved and enduring sitcoms from the 1980s is Cheers. The program is set at a Boston bar and centers on regular customers and workers. Viewers felt as if they were a part of the Cheers family thanks to the clever humor, enduring characters, and distinctive theme tune. 

16. Alf (1986-1990)

ALF 1986
Image Credit: NBCUniversal, Inc.

Alf introduced viewers to Gordon Shumway, an extraterrestrial life form that goes by the name of Alf. Alf, who crash-lands on Earth and moves in with the Tanner family, is the sitcom’s main character. While attempting to elude federal agents, this adorable and cheeky alien brought havoc and fun into their lives. 

17. Family Ties (1982-1989)

Family Ties Michael J Fox
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Through the life of the Keaton family, Family Ties examines the generational divide. The show contrasts the liberal beliefs of Steven and Elyse Keaton, played by Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter, with the conservative viewpoints of their son Alex P. Keaton, played by Michael J. Fox.

18. Miami Vice (1984-1989)

Miami Vice 1984
Image Credit: NBC.

Miami Vice gave the crime drama genre a new, chic spin. The series, which was set against the colorful backdrop of Miami, followed two vice detectives named Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs and James “Sonny” Crockett as they fought drug lords and other criminals. 

19. Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996)

Murder She Wrote
Image Credit: Universal Television.

Murder, She Wrote enthralled viewers with its deft blending of mystery, detective work, and Angela Lansbury’s magnetic performance as Jessica Fletcher. The program centers around Jessica, a successful mystery author who is involved in homicide investigations. 

20. The Golden Girls (1985-1992)

The Golden Girls 1985
Image Credit: NBC.

The Golden Girls changed the 80s television scene by bringing friendship, levity, and timeless humor. Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia are the four women at the center of the sitcom. They share a home in Miami.

The Golden Girls explored the complications of aging and the enduring strength of friendship while tackling some social topics through their clever banter, engaging personalities, and uplifting moments.

21. Magnum, P.I. (1980-1988)

Magnum, P.I. 1984
Image Credit: CBS.

Tom Selleck’s flamboyant private investigator, Thomas Magnum, was first presented to audiences in the television series Magnum, P.I. The Hawaii-based program centers on Magnum as he solves problems with the aid of his friends and other Vietnam War veterans.

22. China Beach (1988-1991)

China Beach 1988
Image Credit: ABC.

By examining the lives of several people stationed at a hospital for evacuation in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, China Beach transports viewers to that time. In a country that was devastated by war, the series dives into the personal and emotional experiences of nurses, doctors, soldiers, and civilians.

23. Thirtysomething (1987-1991)

Thirtysomething 1987
Image Credit: ABC.

Thirtysomething dives at the struggles and difficulties of adulthood, job aspirations, relationships, and children for a group of baby boomers in their thirties. The program captures the hardships and goals of those attempting to combine their personal and professional lives, offering a reflective and accurate representation of the generation’s realities. 

24. Moonlighting (1985-1989)

Moonlighting 1985
Image Credit: ABC.

Audiences were enchanted by Moonlighting’s distinctive fusion of romance, humor, and detective work. Private investigators David Addison, played by Bruce Willis, and Maddie Hayes, played by Cybill Shepherd, are the center of the comedy-drama series. Moonlighting shattered the fourth wall and gained recognition for its creative storytelling tactics thanks to its clever banter, flirtatious chemistry between the protagonists, and frequent meta-references.

25. St. Elsewhere (1982–1988)

St. Elsewhere 1988 Series Finale
Image Credit: NBC.

St. Elsewhere was a groundbreaking medical drama in the fictional St. Eligius Hospital. It captivated audiences with its complex characters and engaging storylines.

The show offered a gritty, accurate portrayal of the medical profession, a departure from the sanitized depictions of doctors and hospitals seen in earlier TV shows. St. Elsewhere is also known for its shocking and controversial series finale, which left viewers with lingering questions about the entire series.

16 Once Upon a Time Hilarious TV Sitcoms That Nobody Remembers — Do You?

Obscure TV sitcoms
Image Credit: NewRadio -Sony Pictures Television. Major Dad – Universal Television. Caroline in the City – Barron/Pennette Productions and
CBS Productions.

Every time I click into an article about sitcoms, these ones are never mentioned, and it’s a travesty! Hey, I love The Office and Friends as much as the next guy, but these sitcoms are worthy of another watch.

Top 25 Popular TV Shows That Would NEVER Be Made Today

The Big Bang Theory TBBT
Image Credit: Chuck Lorre Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

There is no contesting that pop culture is evolving, and what was acceptable in the past is being corrected for today. For example, many hit TV series were massive successes and would never be made today. Here are the top 25.

25 Fan Voted Greatest Television Episodes of All Time — Do You Agree?

The Twilight Zone
Image Credit: United Paramount Network.

With thousands upon thousands of television episodes over the decades, it is difficult to narrow down the best. However, one entertainment forum tried to do just that. Do you agree with their picks?

15 of the Worst Series Finales of Your Favorite Shows on Television

How I Met Your Mother
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

Have you ever been disappointed with a TV series finale? You’re not alone. After someone asked a popular online entertainment forum what the worst series finales are, here is what they had to say. Do you agree?

The Top 25 Worst TV Sitcoms of All Time

Hope & Faith
Image Credit: Touchstone Television.

What do you think the worst sitcom of all time was? There have been plenty of doozies. However, according to IMDb, these are the top 25. Do you agree?

Featured Image Credit: Magnum P.I. – Image Credit: Universal Television. China Beach – Warner Bros. Television. Knight Rider – Universal Television.