1980s have been very fruitful when it comes to television, sharing with us some of the most unforgettable and memorable shows that we still enjoy watching. Some have seen them upon their release, some twenty years ago and some are about to get to know them.
From detective series to some of the most popular sitcoms ever, the 80s had really plenty to offer and in this list, we are going to go back to some of them. It is the list of the 25 best 80s shows on Netflix you need to see.
1. Seinfeld (1989 – 1998)
A show about nothing, literally, as they once described it. And when we think of the plot, we really can’t find any specific words to describe it. And still, it is one of the most beloved sitcoms ever, taking place in New York City and dealing with everyday situations.
Jerry is a cynic who always has something to say, Elaine his grumpy ex-girlfriend and best friend, George his other best friend, always unsatisfied with his professional love life, and Kramer, his eccentric neighbor. The 20 minutes long episode contains their ponderings on various topics, related to a specific situation they have found themselves in.
2. The Simpsons (1989 – )
One of the longest-running shows ever on television is this educative, bold, and controversial animated series about a family of five living in Springfield, Missouri. From its very beginnings it has been dealing with some of the most important issues in the USA and the world, often being criticized as too daring and offensive.
Homer Simpson lives with his wife Marge and their three children, clever and talented Maggie, rebellious Bart and little Maggie in a suburban house where they get into various typical and atypical situations for a working-class family.
3. Cheers (1982-1991)
When you think of a show that 95 percent of the time takes place in one or two rooms, Cheers is probably one of the first that comes to your mind. Set in an underground cafe in Boston, it is a lovely sitcom full of life and joy, but it also deals with serious topics such as divorce and anxiety.
It follows a few ordinary people who come to this place for a drink or two, sharing their feelings, thoughts, and worries with several interesting bartenders. There is Sam, the cafe manager, Carla, the talkative waitress who always says what she thinks, and Woody, a young and naive bartender everyone likes.
4. Miami Vice (1984 – 1989)
Don Johson and Philip Michael Thomas play leading roles in this crime classic set in Miami, Florida. Don Johnson is detective Crockett who lives on a sailboat guarded by his alligator Elvis. Tubbs is his brother, an Afro-American New York officer searching for his brother’s killer.
The show has been running for five years, being one of the most influential at the time, with its catchy soundtrack, wonderful cityscape and beach scenes, as well as the men’s fashion and interior design ideas that were very popular among everyone.
5. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 – 1994)
One of the most popular and beloved Star Trek series is this seven-season-long sci-fi adventure set in the 24th century, seven to eight decades after the adventures of the original crew of the ship Enterprise.
This starship is under command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and its task is to travel to distant planets. The crew is in search of new lives far far away, relying on a catchy phrase to boldly go where no one has gone before.
6. Dragon Ball Z (1989 – 1996)
This animated show is a mixture of genres, from sci-fi to fantasy to thriller. It is the story of Son Goku, the world’s most powerful fighter and the guardian of justice who has to accept the task of protecting the Earth from the Saiyan warriors.
Goku will have to team up with his longtime enemy Piccolo to save not only the people he loves but the whole of humankind from all the unpredictable threats the warriors are about to do under the command of a dangerous space warlord Frieza.
7. The Golden Girls (1985 – 1992)
This hilarious sitcom follows the everyday situations in an apartment in Florida, shared by four elderly women, some of them divorced and some widowed. They are now roommates and we are witnessing their opinions and thoughts on love, friendship, and life in general.
Dorothy is constantly concerned about the companions she meets and her main goal is to find someone who understands her, while her mother always has something witty and humoristic to add to all her insecurities and dwellings. Rose is a loveable character, despite her being corny sometimes and Blanche is the flirty one who always has someone new to the court.
8. Roseanne (1988 – 2018)
In the 1980s very popular topic was the life of a working-class family and Roseanne is one of the shows that do its best at portraying it. Full of hilarious everyday situations in an ordinary family of five dealing with the most essential life’s problems – children, marriage, work, and money.
Roseanne lives with her husband Dan and their three children, Becky, Darlene, and J.D. who are all dealing with their own personal struggles. She gets occasional help from her single sister Jackie and various friends, who come and go every now and then.
9. Red Dwarf (1988 – )
One of the best sitcoms ever is this British sci-fi comedy about the crew of a mining ship Red Dwarf, stranded three million years into deep space. Lister is a slacker from Liverpool who wakes up one day from a high-tech stasis chamber placed on Red Dwarf.
He might be the last human alive and he is about to have to deal with various situations no one is prepared to face. Red Dwarf is hopelessly lost in space, with a crew of sad individuals consisting of Lister, a hologram named Rimmer, a robot called Kryten, Holly, the ship’s computer, and Cat, the humanoid form of a cat and the descendant of Lister’s pregnant cat Frankenstein.
10. Alf (1986 – 1990)
Alf used to be one of the 1980s favorite aliens, loved for his witty remarks. He is a furry alien who lands on Earth, straight into the home of an ordinary working-class American family. Coming from the planet of Melmac, Alf isn’t sure what his task here is so he stays as a guest in Tanner’s household.
They name him ALF – Alien Life Form and agree to keep him safe as long as he doesn’t reveal his presence. But is not very easy having him as a guest, since he is arrogant, loud, and always speaks his mind, regardless of other people’s feelings.
11. Perfect Strangers (1986 – 1993)
Balki Bartokomous and Larry Appleton are a famous duo from this hilarious sitcom, playing two distant relatives, at least according to Balki. He is a shepherd from the small Greek island of Mypos who travels to the United States in search of his relatives.
He finds Larry who seems to be one of his cousins and is now forced to share his apartment with this unusual European. They really couldn’t be any more different. Larry is a panicky businessman who has finally gotten rid of his large family and wants to enjoy his apartment, while Balki never stops talking and is very open and laid-back.
12. Murder, She Wrote (1984 – 1996)
Angela Lansbury is Jessica Fletcher, a professional writer, and amateur sleuth who is somehow always in the middle of a criminal case that needs to be solved. Former high school English teacher has a great sense for solving mysteries and it seems they are following her around.
She often solves them, by using her charm, knowledge, experience, and wits, sometimes aided by her friend Dr. Seth Hazlitt or the local Sheriff and later his successor Mort Metzger. Jessica is also the narrator of some seasons and in the last ones, she moves to Manhattan to teach criminology at Manhattan University.
13. Married…With Children (1987 – 1997)
This funny and controversial sitcom gained its cult status almost immediately after its release. Once again it is the story of a working-class family, living in the Chicago suburbs. The main protagonist is the never-satisfied Al Bundy, a shoe seller who is always complaining about his work, neighbors, and basically everything and everyone around him.
He lives with his wife Peggy, a housewife who doesn’t do any housework but mostly spends her days watching television and gossiping and his two children, smart, but childish Bud and dim-witted, but beautiful Kelly who are facing problems of their own.
14. Quantum Leap (1989 – 1993)
Time travel has always been an interesting topic and it is very often one of the themes in various sci-fi movies and shows. This is one of the best in its genre, talking about the Quantum Leap Accelerator that takes you back in time.
At least this is what happened to Dr. Sam Beckett who found himself trapped in the past and is being driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. Completely lost in this time period, Beckett’s only help is Al, a hologram from his own time only Beckett can see.
15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 – 1996)
This is a beloved story of four mutant heroes who live in New York sewers. Four small turtles have been transformed into humanoids by a strange leakage. They have been trained in martial arts by a human martial arts expert, Hamato Yoshi who was changed into a giant rat called Splinter.
They are using their skills to fight various criminals and threats around the world. They go by the names of four famous Italian painters, Michelangelo, Donatello, Rafaello, and Leonardo.
16. Night Court (1984 – 1992)
This comedy follows judge Harold T. Stone who presides over “Night Court” which deals with petty crimes. These are almost always bizarre cases but it is even better since judge Stone is not a regular judge.
He is assisted by a crew of clerks and District Attorneys who are very often even more chaotic than all the criminals they bring to court.
17. Mister T (1983 – 1985)
This is an animated show about Mr. T who runs a gymnastics team made of talented teenagers. On their way to a competition, they will run into various different crooks and start investigating all the cases connected with them.
Soon the criminals will become aware that there is a new group of detectives they have to be afraid of, consisting of a combination of kids’ acrobatic skills and Mr. T’s strength.
18. V (1984 – 1985)
This sci-fi action-adventure takes place one year after Liberation Day when a group of humanoid lizard-formed aliens come to Earth claiming to be our friends but in fact hiding a dangerous motive. Nathan Bates is the industrialist who is in charge of a biological weapon that helped destroy the aliens in the mini-series that led to this show
He now wants to get his hands on alien technology and make a profit from it so he makes a deal with their leader Diana. But rebel leaders are suspicious of her motives and are constantly trying to figure out what she is up to.
19. Guest From the Future (1984)
This Soviet Union sci-fi mini-series tells the story of a 6-grader Kolya Gerasimov who discovers a time machine in a basement of an old house in Moscow and gets transferred to the 21st century. He witnesses two pirates who arrive from Saturn and try to steal a divide that can read thoughts.
He manages to steal it from the pirates and takes it back to the 20th century. But he is not the only one since the pirates and Alisa, the girl they tried to steal the device from, come back as well. She knows where he might be, but doesn’t know what he looks like and the pirates saw him but don’t know anything about him.
20. Lonesome Dove (1989)
Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones are two former Texas Rangers who are back to their old days when they join a cattle drive to the Montana Territory, together with some other residents from their small Texas town.
This beautiful mini-series is an epic story about these two rangers who are going to move mountains to get to their goal, facing numerous dangerous adventures on their way, sometimes unfortunately with a great number of casualties.
21. Cops (1989 – 2022)
This is a reality TV show that lasted for 33 years, being one of the most long-lasting shows of that type. It is an action crime drama about police officers who are followed by a camera while at work. The audience gets the opportunity to experience what police officers do every day.
These police officers are armed only with their cameras so they can film what they are doing. We are following various numbers of cops frond different parts, departments, and regions of the United States.
22. Inspector Morse (1987 – 2000)
One of the first British detective series and definitely an influence on many to come is this crime drama about Chief Inspector Morse, a senior officer who works in the Criminal Investigation Department of the Oxford Police.
He is responsible for solving heavy crimes in and all around Oxford with the help of his sidekick Detective Sergeant Robert Lewis. Morse and Lewis are complete opposites, with the honest and good-hearted Lewis who often makes grumpy and strict Morse nervous with his sometimes too earnest comments.
23. Unsolved Mysteries (1987 – 2010)
This crime-drama documentary combines reenactments and interviews about numerous interesting unsolved mysteries. Robert Stack is the host of this intriguing series that deals with topics from UFO sightings to murders.
The viewers are presented with all the known information and they are all urged to contact the shoe’s producers if they are familiar with the case or have any additional interesting facts about it.
24. The A-Team (1983 – 1987)
George Peppard and Mr. T star in this successful and beloved adventure crime drama about Colonel John Smith and his team who were framed for robbing the Bank of Hanoi and sent to prison. They managed to escape and were pursued by numerous other Colonels.
While on the run, they became national heroes, helping people in need or in danger. They were four skilled men and members of their A-Team, which included their leader Hannibal, a con artist named Templeton, Baracus, their mechanics, and H.M.Murdoch, a lunatic they would get out of a mental hospital every time they needed him for one of their missions.
25. Saved By the Bell (1989 – 1992)
This was a well-accepted teen show about a group of friends attending Bayside High School and their numerous adventures. We meet various students who all function excellently as a group, despite their many differences.
A.C.Slater is the jock with a big heart, Screech Powers is a goofy and smart nerd, Kelly Kapowski is one o the most beautiful girls in school and Zack Morris’ obsession, Lisa Turtle is the girl with a great sense for fashion but also likes to gossip and Jessie Spano is the straight A feminist.