Simply put, TV got better in the 1980s. With more households having better TV sets with stereo sound, TV would become much more ambitious in terms of programming, with cable television experiencing unprecedented growth. So many imaginative, important shows started in the mid-1980s and would last through the end of the decade in some cases. MTV, CNN, The Weather Channel, and Fox Broadcasting all got their beginnings in the 1980s as well.


Let's take a look at each year from 1980 to 1989 with the classic shows that debuted in each of those years.

1980 – Magnum PI, Nightline, Who Shot J.R.?
An advertising catchphrase created by CBS in 1980 to promote Dallas, the mystery surrounding who shot J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) was a global phenomenon, resulting in an estimated 83 million viewers tuning in.

1981 – The Smurfs, The People's Court, Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer
A “fairytale wedding” dubbed the “wedding of the century”, an estimated 750 million people around the world watched the nuptials.

1982 – Cheers, Knight Rider, Family Ties, The Weather Channel
Launched on May 2nd, the channel's 24-hour forecasts and radar imagery was the first of its kind.

1983 – The A-Team, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Inspector Gadget, Fraggle Rock, Press Your Luck, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
A cartoon running in syndication until 1986, a public service announcement at the conclusion of each episode instructed children on good behavior, ending with the catch phrase “...and knowing is half the battle!”

1984 – Murder She Wrote, Who's The Boss?, The Cosby Show, Night Court, Miami Vice
Simply put, Miami Vice was “cool” with its mix of pop culture, fashion, and music. An American crime drama starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, the series ran for five seasons.

1985 – MacGyver, Growing Pains, Mr. Belvedere, Moonlighting, The Golden Girls
Airing until 1992 spanning seven seasons, The Golden Girls won several awards and ranked among the Nielsen ratings Top 10 for six of its seven seasons.

1986 – The Oprah Winfrey Show, Perfect Strangers, Designing Women, Pee-wee's Playhouse
Considered a “cult classic” in later years, the children's program starring Paul Reubens developed from his HBO special The Pee-wee Herman Show.

1987 – Full House, Head Bangers Ball, Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, Married With Children
The longest-lasting live-action sitcom on FOX and the first to be broadcast in its primetime slot, the show's original run lasted until 1997.

1988 – Roseanne, In The Heat Of The Night, Murphy Brown, Yo! MTV Raps, America's Most Wanted, The Wonder Years
Joe Cocker's classic “With A Little Help From My Friends” served as the opening theme for the coming-of-age comedy-drama series considered to be a classic today.

1989 – The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Family Matters, Baywatch, Saved By The Bell, American Gladiators, COPS, Coach, America's Funniest Home Videos
Umm... seriously? How could we choose just ONE of these shows from 1989 to briefly summarize? What an amazing year to bid adieu to an amazing decade.