Classic ’70s and ’80s TV Shows To Rewatch

African pensioner sitting at his cozy home, watching television and eating popcorn. He is enjoying the afternoon.

To enjoy television is to enjoy reruns. Watching a rerun from a favorite television series is like enjoying a gooey grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. It's all comfort.

Fun fact: We have I Love Lucy to thank for the television rerun. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz saw the value in the rerun. They were the first television series to shoot on film and preserve the episodes for decades.

Thanks to all the great streaming channels, you can rewatch the entire series run of some classic TV from the '70s and '80s. Here's the list to search with your remote.

older couple facing tv while sitting on a couch and holding a remote

M*A*S*H (1972-1983)

Set during the Korean War, M*A*S*H is a comedic and poignant portrayal of life in a mobile army surgical hospital. This groundbreaking series follows a group of doctors and nurses navigating war's chaos with humor and humanity.

The show expertly blended comedy and drama, tackling important social and political issues while maintaining a lighthearted tone. With its iconic characters like Hawkeye Pierce, Radar O'Reilly, Corporal Klinger, and Hot Lips Houlihan, M*A*S*H left an indelible mark on television, becoming a cultural touchstone for future generations. The final episode, entitled "Goodbyes, Farewell, and Amen," still holds the record as the most-watched episode of a TV series of all time.

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964, 1985-1989)

Although it began in the late '50s, The Twilight Zone experienced a revival in the '80s, captivating audiences once again with its eerie tales of suspense, science fiction, and the supernatural. Each episode presents a standalone story, often with a twist ending, exploring themes of morality, humanity, and the unknown.

Created and hosted by Rod Serling, this anthology series became a cult classic, with its imaginative storytelling and thought-provoking narratives leaving a lasting impact on television viewers the world over. It's worth a rewatch if you missed out on the '80s reboot.

Cheers (1982-1993)

Cheers introduced us to the lovable regulars of a Boston bar where everybody knows your name. The show centers around the charismatic bartender Sam Malone, played by Ted Danson, and the quirky patrons who frequent the establishment.

With its witty writing and delightful ensemble cast, including the likes of Diane, Norm, Carla, and Cliff, Cheers became a beloved sitcom, offering heartfelt humor and genuine camaraderie. The show's memorable theme song and its famous catchphrase, "Norm!" have become part of television lore.

Happy Days (1974-1984)

Transporting viewers to the 1950s, Happy Days captured the essence of a bygone era through the eyes of the Cunningham family and their friends. The show revolved around the iconic character Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli, played by Henry Winkler, who became an instant pop culture phenomenon. How much of a phenomenon? Fonzie's beloved leather jacket currently resides on display in the Smithsonian Museum.

Happy Days not only provided a nostalgic look at the post-war era but also served as a lens through which to explore the changing society of the '70s. It became a symbol of Americana and influenced fashion, music, and popular catchphrases, such as "Sit on it!" It was also the launching pad for two additional sitcom classics of the era, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)

The Mary Tyler Moore Show follows the life of Mary Richards, a single woman in her thirties, as she navigates the world of television news in Minneapolis. This groundbreaking sitcom challenged traditional gender roles and tackled contemporary social issues with wit and charm. Mary Tyler Moore's portrayal of the independent and career-driven Mary Richards became an inspiration for many women and set the standard for television comedy writing.

All in the Family (1971-1979)

In the early '70s, All in the Family sent a seismic shock wave across the television landscape, forever changing the industry. It was a comedy that fearlessly addressed racism, sexism, and politics. Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O'Connor, embodied the lovable but bigoted character whose views were consistently challenged by his progressive daughter, Gloria, and her liberal husband, Mike. The show's bold approach to social issues sparked conversations across America.

"I would get mail by the tens of thousands. Whether they agreed with Archie or disagreed with Archie, what they all said was, 'My father … my mother … my sister … my family … we argued about this, that and the other thing,' " series creator Norman Lear said in 2009. "I think the conversation about those issues is what our democracy is all about."

It's fascinating to rewatch today.

Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)

As a groundbreaking police drama, Hill Street Blues revolutionized the portrayal of law enforcement on television with its realistic portrayal of a diverse group of police officers and the challenges they faced. The show pioneered the ensemble cast format and embraced serialized storytelling, exploring its characters' personal and professional lives. With its complex characters and gritty narrative style, Hill Street Blues remains one of the best police dramas in television history.

Dallas (1978-1991)

Dallas captivated audiences with its high-stakes family feuds and the lavish lifestyles of the wealthy Ewing family. The show centered around the charismatic J.R. Ewing, played by Larry Hagman, as he navigated the oil industry and engaged in ruthless power struggles.

The iconic "Who shot JR?" cliffhanger captivated the nation, leaving viewers eagerly anticipating the resolution. Dallas remains a prime example of the addictive primetime soap opera genre.

The Jeffersons (1975-1985)

A spin-off of All in the Family, The Jeffersons followed the upwardly mobile African American couple George and Louise Jefferson as they moved to the affluent Upper East Side of Manhattan. The show provided a fresh perspective on race relations and tackled social issues while delivering hilarious comedy.

With George's larger-than-life personality and his catchphrase "Weezy!" (referring to Louise), The Jeffersons became one of the longest-running sitcoms with predominantly African American leads.

The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978)

In May 2023, Carol Burnett celebrated her 90th birthday with a career retrospective that reminded everyone why we love Carol.

The Carol Burnett Show is a variety sketch comedy show hosted by the talented Carol Burnett. With a mix of comedy sketches, musical numbers, and hilarious parodies, the show featured a rotating ensemble cast that included Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner. Burnett's infectious humor and ability to bring out the best in her cast members made the show tremendously successful.

It became known for its signature segments, like the Q&A with the audience and the famous "Went with the Wind!" parody. The Carol Burnett Show remains an enduring classic and a testament to Burnett's comedic brilliance. You'll also enjoy the parade of amazing guest stars that dropped in to have fun with Carol and the gang.

older couple laughing on couch together with a bowl of popcorn

Grab Your Remote

Grab your remote, dim the lights, relax in your favorite recliner, and immerse yourself in the magic of these timeless classics. Whether you're revisiting or discovering them for the first time, these shows from the '70s and '80s will surely entertain, inspire, and transport you to an era filled with laughter, suspense, and unforgettable moments. Happy binge-watching!

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