Some 80s doctor shows are still just as funny today as they were when they first aired. Whether you want to laugh, cry, or be scared out of your mind, though, there’s an 80s show for everyone! Do you remember these classic 80s TV series that made us all fall in love with doctors and hospital dramas … and comedies?
A Korean War drama about a team of military surgeons who struggle to maintain their sanity while saving lives during the war. The series was based on the movie, which was based on an autobiographical novel by Richard Hooker.
The cast of 80s TV series included Alan Alda, Loretta Swit and Jamie Farr.
“St. Elsewhere” (1982-1988)
An American medical drama that focused on the lives of doctors at a Boston teaching hospital (St. Eligius) who eventually discover they are just characters in a boy’s make-believe world. St. Elsewhere starred Ed Flanders, Norman Lloyd and Howie Mandel.
“China Beach” (1988-1991)
A Vietnam War drama set at a USO beach in Cam Rahn Bay where Dr. David Allen works to heal the physical wounds of soldiers while struggling with his own mental anguish from being drafted into military service as an army doctor. The series starred Dana Delany, Marg Helgenberger and John F. Taylor.
“The Love Boat” (1977-1986)
Hear me out on this one …
Everyone knows The Love Boat was a comedy about the lives and romances of the crew members who work for a luxury liner. The series starred Gavin Macleod, Bernie Kopell, Ted Lange, Fred Grandy and Lauren Tewes.
But Kopell turned Dr. Adam Bricker into one of the most memorable and beloved, if slightly sleezy, docs in television history. And, once you were on board, he was sort of your one-stop medical shop.
“Trapper John M.D.” (1979-1986)
The series followed the travails of a doctor at an army hospital in San Francisco who is able to talk his way out of trouble by using humor as well as medical skills to treat patients and save lives. The series starred Pernell Roberts, Bobby Troup and Gregory Harrison.
Like the M*A*S*H television series, Trapper John was a spinoff of the original movie, and also relied on comedy and characters with diverse backgrounds to create a backdrop for the show’s serious medical.
“Quincy M.E.” (1976-1983)
Originally titled “The Last Precinct”, Quincy is the coroner of Los Angeles County, California and solves crimes that happen outside as well as within the coroner’s office. The 80s tv series starred Jack Klugman in the titular role with Robert Ito playing his assistant.
“Empty Nest” (1988-1995)
This 80s TV series was a spinoff from the sitcom “The Golden Girls” and starred Richard Mulligan as Dr. Harry Weston, who was trying to cope with the loss of his wife when his two daughters move back home and into the family nest. Empty Nest also featured Dinah Manoff, Kristy McNichol, and David Leisure, with frequent drop-ins from the Golden Girls themselves, who were Harry’s neighbors. Dreyfus, a lovable St. Bernard, also played a part in the series’ success.
“Doogie Howser, M.D.” (1989-1993)
Doogie Howser, M.D. starred a young Neil Patrick Harris in the titular role, a boy wonder who had graduated from high school at age 14 and was already a licensed physician when he became nationally famous as one of America’s youngest doctors ever. The show followed his medical career as well as his personal life as he and his family dealt with the challenges of being a child prodigy.
Sure, Baywatch was all about the tanned hardbodies, but there was also a medical component to the show. This 90s classic actually began at the tail end of the 1980s and followed lifeguards with diverse backgrounds on their jobs at Baywatch, including running rescue missions to saving lives in selfless acts of heroism. The show starred David Hasselhoff as one of the main leads, Mitch Buchannon, alongside Pamela Anderson.
And, of course, many rescues led to hospital visits or ambulance rides, so … doc show!
(Like 80s Doctor Shows? Then you might like our article on 90s Doctor Shows, click here.)