June 28, 2018 | by: kerri

Best TV Shows of 1980

There were a lot of great shows on TV in 1980. Here are some of our favorites. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know.



The show was famous for its cliffhangers, including the “Who shot J.R.?” mystery. The episode “Who Done It” remains the second highest rated prime-time show ever. With its 357 episodes, Dallas remains one of the longest lasting full-hour prime time dramas in American TV history. Dallas also spawned the spin-off series Knots Landing which also lasted 14 seasons.


The Dukes of Hazzard

The series was developed from the 1975 film Moonrunners. The show aired for a total of 147 episodes spanning seven seasons. The Dukes of Hazzard was consistently among the top-rated television series, at one point, ranking second only to Dallas. Uncle Jesse and Boss Hogg are the only two characters who appeared and acted in all 146 episodes. Daisy appears in all but one, the third season’s “To Catch a Duke”. The General Lee also appears in all but one the first-season episode “Mary Kaye’s Baby”.



One of the highest-rated shows in U.S. television history, it struggled in its first season and was at risk of being cancelled. The finale, titled “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”, became the most-watched and highest-rated single television episode in U.S. television history at the time, with a record-breaking 125 million viewers.


The Love Boat

The original 1976 made-for-TV movie on which the show was based, also titled The Love Boat, was based on the nonfiction book Love Boats by Jeraldine Saunders, a real-life cruise director. For its first seven years, The Love Boat was very successful in the ratings. During that time, it ranked among the top 10. The Love Boat was canceled after nine years on ABC, although four three-hour specials aired during the 1986–87 season.


The Jeffersons

Lasting 11 seasons and a total of 253 episodes. The Jeffersons is one of the longest-running sitcoms, the second-longest-running american series with a primarily African American cast, surpassed in 2012 by Tyler Perry’s House of Payne by one episode. The Jeffersons had one spin-off, titled Checking In. The series was centered on the Jeffersons’ housekeeper, Florence.


Three’s Company

Premiering as a midseason show, network observers did not believe that Three’s Company would go anywhere. They were proven wrong when it raked in record ratings, breaking barriers at the time as the highest-rated midseason show ever broadcast on network television. ABC gladly renewed the show for a formal television season, giving it a permanent primetime spot.


Magnum, P.I.

The series ran from 1980 to 1988 and consistently ranked in the top twenty U.S. television programs during the first five years of its original run. Tom Selleck’s contract commitment to the Magnum, P.I. series famously cost him the role of Indiana Jones in the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which went to Harrison Ford. A remake of the show is in the works with Jay Hernandez set to star.


Happy Days

With a total of 255 half-hour episodes spanning eleven seasons Happy Days became one of the biggest hits in television history and heavily influenced the television style of its time. Initially a moderate hit, the series’ ratings began to fall during its second season, causing Marshall to retool it emphasizing broad comedy and spotlighting the previously minor character of Fonzie, a “cool” biker and high school dropout.


Diff’rent Strokes

The series made stars out of child actors Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges and Dana Plato and became known for the “very special episodes” in which serious issues such as racism, illegal drug use, hitchhiking, kidnapping and child sexual abuse were dramatically explored. Following the cancellation of Diff’rent Strokes, Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges and Dana Plato encountered difficulty in obtaining acting jobs.