Old TV Shows from the 80s Still Gnarly After All These Years

Whenever you’re in the mood for a little nostalgia, it’s tough to beat a few go-rounds with the great old TV shows from the 80s. Or even some shows that maybe WEREN’T so great but that were still a ton of fun to watch. So, when that gnarly bug calls your name, you could do a lot worse than binging on these old 80s TV shows for a week or three.


A silly 80s classic, ALF is a furry, lovable alien who crash lands on Earth and takes up residence with the Tanner family. He’s more than just a house pet though– Alf is also an expert in space technology and gets to display his knowledge of complex theories that most kids would never get exposed to otherwise.

The show aired from 1986 to 1989, with 102 episodes total. The setting is suburban USA and the premise is that Alf’s goal was to find his way home– at least until he became a member of the Tanner family. It had many memorable characters, including ALF himself (an alien creature), Willie Tanner (the patriarch of the Tanner household), Kate Tanner (the matriarch of the household) and Brian Tanner, Lynn Tanner, Buddy Tanner.

Hill Street Blues

This old TV show from the 80s aired in 1981-1987, for a total of 146 episodes. The setting is urban America and the premise is that policemen on the Hill Street precinct try to maintain order in their community during troubled times. It had many memorable characters, including Capt. Furillo, the leader of the precinct who implores his charges to “be careful out there” each day.

Family Ties

Family Ties aired in 1982-1989 and had many memorable moments. The setting is suburban America during a time of great economic prosperity, with some episodes dealing with subjects like drug abuse or teenage pregnancy. Notable characters include Steven Keaton (the father), Alex P. Keaton (his son) and Mallory (adaughter).

This series gave rise to Michael J. Fox’s popularity, establishing him as a star.

Pee-wee’s Playhouse

Pee-wee’s Playhouse ran from 1986 to 1991. The show starred Paul Reubens as Pee-wee, a friendly, childlike man with an interest in fun and games. The show’s playhouse setting has no adults to provide adult supervision or discipline; Pee-wee Herman was left to his own devices. Notable characters include Jambi the Genie (who grants wishes), Captain Carl (his nemesis) and Miss Yvonne (his love interest).

This show gave rise to a film sequel in 1988 and an animated series that aired from 1990-1991.

Late Night with David Letterman

Late Night with David Letterman first aired in 1982. It was a comedic talk show that originally ran on NBC until 1993, when it moved to CBS and continued until its retirement in 2015. The series spawned the Late Show franchise of which David Letterman is still a part today.

Notable guests include Jerry Seinfeld (1983), Bill Murray (1984), Tom Hanks (1984) and Madonna (1983).

The show was notable for its absurdist humor as well as Letterman’s sarcastic wit. The series has been syndicated in more than 150 countries and territories.

The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show is a sitcom that originally aired from 1984 to 1992. It was one of the first American television series to portray an affluent black nuclear family, and it broke new ground in its focus on the young African-American characters as key contributors to the family and series.

Notable characters include Cliff Huxtable (Cosby), Clair Huxtable (his wife), and their five children — Sonrda, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, and Ru.


The show ran from 1982 to 1993, with 275 episodes total. It’s set in Boston– specifically Cheers Bar. The premise is that the bar was originally old and rundown but eventually became a popular destination for locals because it had been taken over by Sam Malone, a former professional baseball player, who turned it into more than just a tavern/bar but also a place where people could socialize.

(Like TV Shows from the 80s? Then you might like our article on TV Shows from the 70s, click here. Or how about 80s Doctor Shows, click here.)

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