June 28, 2018 | by: kerri

Best TV Shows of 1986

There were a lot of great shows on TV in 1986. Here are some of our favorites. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know.


Family Ties

The show won multiple awards, including three consecutive Emmy Awards for Michael J. Fox as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. The show had been sold to the network using the pitch “hip parents, square kids.” Originally, Elyse and Steven were intended to be the main characters. However, the audience reacted so positively to Alex during the taping of the fourth episode that he became the focus on the show. Fox had received the role after Matthew Broderick turned it down.


The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show spent five consecutive seasons as the number-one rated show on television. The Cosby Show and All in the Family are the only sitcoms in the history of the Nielsen ratings to be the number-one show for five seasons. It spent all eight of its seasons in the top 20. It helped make possible a larger variety of shows with a predominantly African-American cast, from In Living Color to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.



With a total of 275 episodes over eleven seasons, Cheers became one of the most popular series of all time. Nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series for all eleven of its seasons on the air, it earned 28 Primetime Emmy Awards from a record of 117 nominations. Believe it or not, it was nearly canceled during its first season when it ranked almost last in ratings for its premiere.


Murder, She Wrote

Starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. The series aired for 12 seasons with 264 episodes and was followed by four TV films. It’s among the most successful and longest-running television shows in history. The title comes from Murder, She Said, which was the title of a 1961 film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple novel 4:50 from Paddington.


The Golden Girls

In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Golden Girls number 54 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time. After six consecutive seasons in the top 10, and the seventh season at number 30, The Golden Girls came to an end when Bea Arthur chose to leave the series. The series finale was watched by 27.2 million viewers. As of 2016, it was the 17th-most watched television finale.


Night Court

The show featured over five cast changes within the first year. The only cast members to remain from the pilot until the finale were Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, and Richard Moll. Night Court received a number of awards and nominations. Both Selma Diamond and John Larroquette earned Golden Globe nominations. The show became part of NBC’s semi-legendary “Must See Thursday” along with The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, and later A Different World.


Growing Pains

The ABC sitcom series Growing Pains aired from September 24, 1985 to April 25, 1992, with 166 episodes produced spanning 7 seasons. Behind-the-scenes turmoil shaped the series’ later years. ‘Leonardo Dicaprio’ was brought on in a last ditch effort to pump new life into the, but the show ratings did not improve. Dicaprio’s character was dropped and the show canceled. In 2000, the cast reunited for The Growing Pains Movie, followed by Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers in 2004.


Who’s the Boss?

In early development, the series was titled You’re the Boss. Before the fall 1984 premiere, the producers changed it to Who’s the Boss?, an open-ended title which hinted that any one of the leads could get their own way and be the “boss”. Who’s the Boss? was nominated for more than forty awards, including ten Primetime Emmy Award and five Golden Globe Award nominations, winning one of each.



ALF (an acronym for Alien Life Form) premiered in September of 1986 and ran for four seasons and produced 99 episodes, including three one-hour episodes that were divided into two parts for syndication. The Alf puppet was operated from various “trap doors” hidden within the set. This made filming the show somewhat more hazardous than a normal sitcom as the cast had to remember where each of doors was so that they could avoid them.