The 100 Best TV Sitcoms of All Time

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The 100 Best TV Sitcoms of All Time

We laughed, we cried, we raged against the dying of the light which sought to snuff out our personal favorite shows. Putting together a list like this is always equal parts painful and enjoyable for editors and writers, but I can’t think of a better time to look back on the greatest sitcoms of all time. We have arrived at a glorious point in history, where watching an excellent TV show might finally be intellectually on par with reading a great book. Indeed, it still feels blasphemous to utter such a statement, but the Mad Mens, True Detectives (Season One, ahem), Transparents and Undergrounds of the world have forever changed things. And as we celebrate such fare, it’s important to remember that these shows are all the descendants, in some way or another, of the good ol’ sitcom. Families and relationships (and the dysfunctional and/or loving ties that bind them), workplace drama, compelling historical settings and characters who made even the mundane seem worthy of our attention—these things are at the core of good storytelling. And Peak TV did not invent good storytelling in episodic form. The sitcom did that, and though it has evolved and morphed into the stuff of dreams, it always had those high-brow, cinematic qualities in its fiber. Some of our favorites managed to weave the high-brow with the low-brow; many of them seemed unconcerned with either brow, as long they made us happy.

So, with a focus on quality over nostalgia—no matter how much it hurt—the Paste editors and writers have chosen the 100 best sitcoms of all time. We apologize in advance that one (or more) of your favorites did not make the list. You can rest assured that many of our favorites didn’t either (including some great British sitcoms we’ll save for another list), which means we can all leave angry, but respectful, remarks in the comments section below, together. You know—like one big, happy, dysfunctional family.—Shannon M. Houston, TV Editor

threes-company.jpg 100. Three’s Company
Years: 1977-1984
Three’s Company’s best years were in the ’70s, before the Ropers got their own ill-fated spin-off. But John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt remained until the series ended in 1984, three years after Suzanne Somers was replaced by Jenilee Harrison. If prime time wasn’t ready for a gay character, it got around that taboo with Ritter’s womanizing Jack Tripper pretending he was gay so that their stuffy landlord would allow him to stay. At its best, it was a slapstick hit, spinning silly misunderstandings into sitcom gold.—Josh Jackson

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growing-pains.jpg 99. Growing Pains
Years: 1985-1992
It’s odd to think that there are people living today who are only familiar with “born-again Christian” Kirk Cameron and not “hunky teen dreamboat” Kirk Cameron, but it’s true. In truth, there’s not much that sets Growing Pains apart from any other family sitcom of its day, but it somehow manages to be one of the most fondly remembered sitcoms of the ’80s regardless, from its homey opening sequence of family photos to the classic theme song, “As Long As We’ve Got Each Other.” It’s perhaps most interesting for the sudden conversion of its star, Cameron, to born-again Christianity, which made working with him a challenge, considering his ladies’ man character could suddenly no longer exhibit most of the behaviors that were expected of him. We can only imagine that Tiger Beat subscriptions took a hit that day.—Jim Vorel

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best-sitcoms-peep-show.jpg 98. Peep Show
Years: 2003-2015
Although Peep Show has a similar sense of humor to other British sitcoms that came in the wake of The Office, it uses the same sort of awkward comedy for a very different purpose. The show’s title comes from the peek we’re offered into its leads’ brains, as throughout the show we’re offered running monologues of their thoughts in a way that almost no other sitcom has tried. More important than this stylistic quirk, though, is Peep Show’s preference for long arcs, continuity and running gags of the sort Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia would envy. The show has a deep memory and an equally deep sense of morality, so its characters are never let off the hook, even if it takes a few seasons to see how their horrible actions karmically return for their undoing. Peep Show can be difficult to binge-watch, especially early on, but its short seasons make for filler-free writing, and Mitchell and Webb are so good that they lend their characters a strange likability that’s closer to the U.S. Office than the original.—Sean Gandert

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best-sitcoms-flight-of-the-conchords.jpg 97. Flight of the Concords
Years: 2007-2009
When I hear the words “musical comedy,” I tend to think of old Broadway standards like My Fair Lady or Singin’ in the Rain. No offense to those shows, but I’m very glad that Flight of the Conchords was a musical comedy of a very different kind. Starring Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, the show is the story of an awful two-man band from New Zealand who have an incompetent manager (the wonderful Rhys Darby as Murray Hewitt) and literally one fan (the hilarious, obsessive Kristen Schaal) as they try to make it big in New York. Despite their repeated failures, there’s something both sincere and casual about their approach, which stands in stark contrast to the tense, cynical neuroses you might expect. Each episode is punctuated by two or three songs which range from “very good” to “classic”—the hits If You’re Into it and Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymoceros are two terrific examples of the latter. This is a show that you sink into, and that sweeps you along in its own relaxed rhythms, dispensing the sort of calm, surprising laughs that feels almost therapeutic.—Shane Ryan

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best-sitcoms-70s-show.jpg 96. That ‘70s Show
Years: 1998-2006
Just as the 1970s harkened back to the 1950s in the form of Grease and Happy Days, pop culture audiences of the 1990s demonstrated their own brand of nostalgia by popularizing Fox’s That ‘70s Show, a sitcom based on co-creator Mark Brazill’s teenage years as a smartass, Midwestern teen. Beyond highlighting the immense talent of its cast with sharp, punchy writing, the show also set itself apart by experimenting with visual structure, implementing split screens, dream sequences, drug-induced hallucinations and the show’s patented tableside panning for when the young teens found themselves “self-medicating.” In retrospect, That ‘70s Show‘s biggest sin is that—like many promising sitcoms—it simply outstayed its welcome, chugging along even after two main cast members (Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher) had departed. Still, at its peak, it was an unmistakably engaging and altogether groovy program that more than earned its place as one of Fox’s flagship shows.—Mark Rozeman

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best-sitcoms-sister-sister.jpg 95. Sister, Sister
Years: 1994-1999
For the most part, Sister, Sister was a light-hearted sitcom made up of all the traditional tropes and plot devices—sibling rivalries, petty high school drama, crushes, love triangles and annoying neighbors (Go Home Roger, AKA Marques Houston). Tia and Tamera Mowry played pre-teen twin sisters who were separated at birth, but discover each other—while shopping at a mall, obviously. And while it had its broad appeal, what made the show such a gem was that it carefully wove in greater and more complicated issues of family that came about, as the two sisters had both been separately adopted. The merging of the sisters was also a merging of households and personalities, via Tamera’s father Ray (Tim Reid) and Tia’s mother Lisa (the incomparable Jackée Harry). The series followed the sisters from middle school all the way through high school, making it the kind of show you could grow up with, at least over the course of five years. And sure, it could be corny and idealistic at times, but like other sitcoms on this list it was also entertaining and well-written. Unlike so many other shows on this list, and even most modern sitcoms and dramas, Sister, Sister centered on a fairly normal black family—one that wasn’t especially wealthy or poor; these characters didn’t own a music empire, nor did they run the streets of Baltimore. In spite of their odd beginnings, this was about a regular, schmegular black family that was still deemed worthy of our attention and a time-slot. Imagine that.—Shannon M. Houston

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best-sitcoms-kotter.jpg 94. Welcome Back, Kotter
Years: 1975-1979
There are a lot of interesting facts about Welcome Back, Kotter. It helped skyrocket John Travolta to fame. In the last season, Gabe Kaplan and Marcia Strassman didn’t really want to work together, and Marcia won that battle, forcing Kaplan to make sporadic appearances, even though he was the titular Kotter being welcomed back. The series centered on a teacher returning to his high school alma mater to teach the “Sweathogs,” a group of remedial students, of which he once was one. Primarily, we spend time with four of the students, all of them broadly drawn, but delightful, caricatures. The show is silly, but fun, and of course it spawned a bunch of catchphrases, mostly courtesy of Travolta’s Vinnie Barbarino. The last season is skippable, but, before things began to downhill, it was a nice sitcom that earned its classic status.—Chris Morgan

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best-sitcoms-wayans.jpg 93. The Wayans Bros.
Years: 1995-1999
The very first program to air on The WB, The Wayans Bros. was a relatively simple premise to start off a network with. Marlon and Shawn Wayans—both relative unknowns with few credits to their names—starred as two brothers who work at a newsstand near a restaurant owned by their father, played by John Witherspoon. Despite the fact that it was very low-concept, The Wayans Bros. worked incredibly well, largely due to the hilarious dynamics between the Wayans, Witherspoon and characters like Anna Maria Horsford’s security guard Dee. A year after The Wayans Bros. aired, the brothers would become much bigger, writing their first of many spoofs with Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, before going on to start the Scary Movie franchise. To quote Shawn’s character Ray in that film, “Watching TV shows doesn’t create psycho killers. Canceling TV shows does. I mean, The Wayans Bros. was a good show, man! It was a good show, but we never even got a final episode!” And it’s true. The Wayans Bros. was an immensely enjoyable show that deserved better than it got.—Ross Bonaime

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best-sitcoms-carmichael.jpg 92. The Carmichael Show
Years: 2015-present
It might seem premature to put The Carmichael Show on this list. It hasn’t even aired 20 episodes yet. It’s earned a slot, though, by being as brave as it is hilarious. It regularly tackles serious social and political issues, including gun control, trans rights and Black Lives Matter, during one of the most contentious times in recent history. It’s an unapologetically black show about real life on a major broadcast network, and despite being shot as traditionally as a sitcom can (a studio audience, multiple cameras, a studio soundstage) it feels more daring and realistic than the flashier Black-ish. If you miss the era of Norman Lear sitcoms that were about something more than just making you laugh, you should be watching The Carmichael Show. It also has one of the best casts of any sitcom on TV today, with hilarious work from Loretta Devine, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish and Jerrod Carmichael. If the Emmys had any sense, David Alan Grier would be a shoe-in for this year’s award.—Garrett Martin

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best-sitcoms-happy-endings.jpg 91. Happy Endings
Years: 2011-2013
File Happy Endings under the dreaded “canceled too soon” category. Happy Endings could have—and should have—lasted far longer than three seasons, but sometimes the TV gods are cruel. Based in Chicago, the ensemble comedy had a pretty simple premise (“a group of friends in their early 30s hang out in the city”), with the clever twist that one of them (Elisha Cuthbert’s Alex) leaves another at the altar (Zachary Knighton’s Dave) in the pilot. They try to remain friends, hence the titular happy ending, and it adds a pretty strong “will they or won’t they” element to the show, but ultimately what made Happy Endings so great was the chemistry between its six leads. Sometimes “friends hanging out” is the only situation you need for a comedy to work. Also worth noting: this show doesn’t get nearly enough props for one of the least stereotypical portrayals of a gay character on a sitcom; Adam Pally’s Max is basically no different from Peter, the character he’d go on to play on The Mindy Project. He’s a goofy frat bro who just happens to be attracted to men, and that’s just one of the ways Happy Endings managed to subvert the standard sitcom formula, while still adhering to it.—Bonnie Stiernberg

best-sitcoms-big-bang-theory.jpg 90. The Big Bang Theory
Years: 2007-present
Big Bang Theory is the last of the blockbuster sitcoms. It’s the last sitcom to get massive ratings, to build a huge, devoted audience who will absolutely watch the show whenever it’s on. Reruns of the series helped legitimize TBS as a comedy network. It has that broad, populist appeal that shows rarely have these days. Sure, it gets some critical kudos, and Jim Parsons has won about a million Emmys, but it will never be a hip show. Its future is Nick at Nite, not IFC. But, while Big Bang Theory is not a brilliant show, nor an iconic sitcom, it’s a solid series that delivers its very specific content with great reliability. The actors involved are all talented, and for every dumb joke delivered, the show provides at least one sharp one. Its immense popularity will always be held against it in some circles, but if you give it a chance, you realize that—even if it doesn’t belong in any sort of pantheon of iconic sitcoms—it’s a consistently entertaining story that has plenty to offer.—Chris Morgan

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best-tv-shows-2015-master-of-none.jpg 89. Master of None
Years: 2015-present
Like its creator and star, Master of None is stylish, smart and clever—a half-hour comedy that ranks as one of Netflix’s best efforts in original programming. Following the trend set by Louie, Transparent, You’re the Worst and many other modern sitcoms, Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang built a show that doesn’t mind the occasional laugh hiatus. Instead of pushing the joke quota to astronomical levels, Master of None is content to find poignancy amid the humor, and if the former outshines the latter, so be it. The result is a show that is fun to watch, emotionally satisfying and thought provoking. It’s also been paramount in furthering the discussion about race and representation on television, both with its own casting and the topics it addresses. There is so much to say about this show, and these few hundred words are a pathetic attempt to do it justice. Master of None was not only one of the best shows of 2015, but one of the most important series to premiere in a long, long time.—Eric Walters

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night-court.jpg 88. Night Court
Years: 1984-1992
This lively, ludicrous comedy based on a Manhattan courtroom’s graveyard shift was a success on NBC’s comedy lineup for nine seasons. The show’s oddball cast of characters and risqué humor thrust them into a myriad of tongue-in-check antics revolving around the trite, non-violent and petty crimes brought before the bench in each episode. The ensemble cast centered around the kooky Judge (and amateur magician) Harry Stone, played by Harry Anderson, and the raunchy, slightly corrupt prosecutor Dan Felding (John Laroquette). Other notable and recognizable characters were Nostradomus “Bull” Shannon, the towering yet doltish court bailiff (Richard Moll) and the gruff and witty female bailiffs, Selma, Florence and Roz, who were played by a succession of actresses over the show’s duration. This ensemble cast of bailiffs, lawyers, plaintiffs and criminals blended sexy and funny with a dash of slapstick humor, entertaining with gusto for the show’s nine-year run. Because while Night Court’s jokes were often uncouth and absurd, you couldn’t help but laugh.—Ann-Marie Morris

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best-tv-shows-2015-last-man-on-earth.jpg 87. The Last Man on Earth
Years: 2015-present
So, the title The Last Man on Earth turned out to be a bit of a mislead. That’s for the best, because, as ambitious and fascinating as it was to watch the show in its early moments when it was just Will Forte ambling around an empty landscape, more people in the cast, including the excellent Kristen Schaal, has benefited the series by giving it actual human dynamics. The shift also gives Forte other people to bounce off of, with his particularly brand of unhinged comedy. Over the course of two seasons, some of the earlier rough edges have been sanded down, the dynamics of the group have grown in interesting ways, and most importantly, the show keeps getting funnier. Who knew so much humor could be mined from a series about the vast majority of people on the planet dying off?—Chris Morgan

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best-sitcoms-girlfriends.jpg 86. Girlfriends
Years: 2000-2008
Girlfriends reigned as that divine creation that explored life, love, careers and a blossoming sisterhood among women. The show, often compared to Sex and The City, was a witty, intelligent and sexy exploration of the many facets of black womanhood through the lens of four very different women. There was Joan (lawyer and “den mother”), Toni (selfish and popular real estate agent), Maya (sassy law assistant) and Lynn (free-spirited Bohemian). During its eight-year run, Girlfriends was one of the highest-rated scripted shows among African-Americans ages 18-34 and tackled an endless number of issues, including colorism, AIDS and class issues. Since the show ended eight years ago, there’s still hope from fans and the cast for a reunion on the big screen.—Ashley Terrell

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best-sitcoms-blackadder.jpg 85. Black Adder
Years: 1982-1983
Leave it to the Brits to find humor in World War I. The fourth season of this show—which featured comedy heavyweights like Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry—took place during that Great War, but each prior season was set in a different historical era, with the Black Adder cast poking fun at the Middle Ages, the Elizabethan age and the Regency period.—Bonnie Stiernberg

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mork-mindy-tv.jpg 84. Mork & Mindy
Years: 1978-1982
The world was introduced to Robin Williams playing the Mork from the planet Ork on an episode of Happy Days. His talent was so apparent that ABC gave him his own show. His comedy was already alien, and the mile-a-minute slapstick of that first season felt completely original. Things went largely downhill from there with the introduction of Jonathan Winters as Mork and Mindy’s “baby” in Season 4, but even bad Mork & Mindy was better than most sitcoms of its era.—Josh Jackson

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best-sitcoms-The-Gamejpg.jpg 83. The Game
Years: 2006-2015
The Game is the perfect example of how, sometimes, the particular premise of a TV show doesn’t ultimately matter—it’s all about strong writing and believable, complicated characters. A series about professional football players and the women who love them may not sound especially exciting to some of us, but thanks to Mara Brock Akil (the brilliant mind responsible for Girlfriends and one of the most engaging dramas in recent years, Being Mary Jane), we were presented with a hilarious, nuanced tale that was soapy enough to be addictive, but so well-written that it was easy to forget you were watching a show, technically, centered on a bunch of rich and arrogant athletes. The Game presupposed that the women on the sidelines often had more to do with the outcome of a game than the men on the fields, and as a result a complex feminist narrative informed the three women who were initially at the center of the show. Melanie Barnett (Tia Mowry-Hardrict), Tasha Mack (the phenomenal Wendy Raquel Robinson) and Kelly Pitts (Brittany Daniel )were funny, compulsively watchable characters joined by Derwin Davis (Pooch Hall), Malik Wright (Hosea Chanchez) and Jason Pitts (Coby Bell). Melanie and Derwin would go on to have an intense, but also completely relatable romance, which made the series difficult to enjoy after the departures of Mowry and Hall at the end of Season Five (two season after the show’s revival on BET, following its cancellation on the CW). Although it was never quite the same, The Game would continue to deliver much of the same comedy, fantastic music, amazing guest stars and biting social commentary that made us fall in love with it in those early days.—Shannon M. Houston

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best-sitcoms-Honeymooners.jpg 82. The Honeymooners
Years: 1955-1956
Although The Honeymooners only ran for 39 episodes in the mid-’50s, this offshoot of The Jackie Gleason Show has had a considerable impact on the world of situation comedies for six decades now. Unlike so much of the fare on TV at the time, the show concerned a working class couple, Ralph and Alice Kramden (played by Gleason and the wonderful Audrey Meadows), struggling to get by and get along. A typical episode involved Ralph’s efforts to make a quick buck, and winding up right back where he started from. Throw in some fine supporting work by Art Carney and Joyce Randolph as next door neighbors Ed and Trixie Norton, and the perfect formula was built for scripts that mixed acidic banter, slapstick, and lots of mugging. The show is certainly dated in many ways, but without it, there would be no Flintstones, Roseanne, Home Improvement, or Shameless.—Robert Ham

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best-sitcoms-gilligans-island.jpg 81. Gilligan’s Island
Years: 1964-1967
Given Gilligan’s Island’s immense cultural footprint, it’s almost baffling to recall that the original show only lasted a sparse three seasons. And though subsequent reunion specials and kooky guest star bits from the Harlem Globetrotters would eventually dissolve the once innocuous half-hour into a kitschy ‘80s artifact, intense syndication has kept the show’s prime years alive in the hearts of countless new fans. Even if one acknowledges the show’s repetitive, simplistic formula, there’s no denying the inherent charm to be found in the cast’s immense chemistry as well as the goofiness that characterized so many of the show’s outlandish plotlines. At its best, the series—despite its isolated setting—was a warm, inviting world that felt like a great break from the banal mundaneness of life.  And, of course, it boasts one of the single most earworm-y opening TV theme songs of all time. Today, the mere mention of a “three hour tour” may very well be enough to get someone to start whistling that familiar, chipper melody.—Mark Rozeman

67-90-of-the-90s-Will-and-Grace.jpg 80. Will & Grace
Years: 1998-2006
Will & Grace remains a pivotal show for gay culture and the presentation of gay characters on a sitcom, the most successful show of its time to feature gay lead characters in anything but the “wacky best friend” role. It received an absurd 83 Emmy nominations throughout its run, and each of the four main stars won an individual Emmy, making it one of only three sitcoms to achieve that feat. The stories weren’t really anything you hadn’t seen before, revolving around life and love in New York City, but the places they were coming from (gay culture/Jewish culture) were refreshingly new to many more conservative Americans. For plenty of Bible Belters, Will & Grace was likely the first television exposure they had to characters of this nature.—Jim Vorel

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family-ties.jpg 79. Family Ties
Years: 1982-1989
One of the best family sitcoms of our time, Family Ties gave us the Keatons; they were our family. Liberal working parents Steven (Michael Gross) and Elyse (Meredith Baxter) raised their three children—smart and conservative older brother Alex (Michael J. Fox), flighty and fashionable middle child Mallory (Justine Bateman) and sarcastic younger sister Jennifer (Tina Yothers)—with love, compassion and limits. Fox, whose career was launched with the series, made Alex’s Republicanism funny yet not cliched. The series is still remembered for its very special episode, “A my name is Alex,” where Alex struggled to accept the sudden death of his friend. Today family comedies continue to try to capture the magic that was Family Ties.—Amy Amatangelo

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best-sitcoms-undeclared.jpg 78. Undeclared
Years: 2001-2003
Judd Apatow’s follow-up to Freaks and Geeks was unfortunately similarly doomed to last just one season, but Undeclared’s 17 episodes still manage to cram in a healthy amount of heart, hilarity and strong guest-stars. The series follows Steven (Jay Baruchel) and his pals (including Seth Rogen and Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam) as they navigate their freshman year of college, and it features appearances from Loudon Wainwright III, Jason Segel, Busy Phillips, Amy Poehler, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Jenna Fischer, Adam Sandler, Fred Willard, Felicia Day and Martin Starr, to name a few. Like its predecessor, Undeclared deals with the growing pains that go along with trying to figure out who exactly you are, but it handles the issue in typical Apatow fashion, never seeming inauthentic or after-school special-y and always doing it in a way that’ll make you grin.—Bonnie Stiernberg

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best-tv-shows-2015-brooklyn-nine-nine.jpg 77. Brooklyn 99
Years: 2013-present
“Consistency” might not be the most flattering virtue you can ascribe to a sitcom, but consistency is a big part of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s greatness. Week in and week out, Dan Goor and Michael Shur’s half-hour cop comedy manages to hit just the right notes without losing its groove. Some episodes hit higher notes than others, and yes, in the series’ lifespan, there have in fact been a few off-key episodes intermingled with the others. But when Brooklyn Nine-Nine is good, it’s good, and it’s good with an impressive regularity. When it’s great, it’s arguably the best sitcom you’ll find on network television, thanks in part to sharp writing, but mostly to an even sharper cast. Consistency is what fuels Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s motor, but the characters are the ones steering the ship. The show is enormously diverse in terms of not only gender and ethnicity, but also in terms of comic styles: There’s career sad sack Joe Lo Truglio, the stoically hilarious Andre Braugher, king of the clowns Andy Samberg, master of badassery Stephanie Beatriz, and that only covers a little less than half the team. Since Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s debut back in 2013, each character on the show has developed and grown, and in the process we’ve come to care about all of them in equal measure. At the top of its game, Brooklyn Nine-Nine harmonizes our attachment to these people with great gags, and occasionally even sharp (if brief) action. There’s a lot the series has to offer, in other words, and that just drives home how vital its constancy really is to its success. Never underestimate well-regulated humor.—Andy Crump

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BEST-SITCOMS-fresh-off-the-boat.jpg 76. Fresh Off the Boat
Years: 2015-present
One of the strange things about storytelling is that the more specific and unique the details, the more universal a story feels. Fresh Off the Boat tries to be extremely precise about the problems of being first and second-generation members of a Taiwanese family living in suburban Florida during the mid-90s—and this pointed humor is what makes the show’s cast and jokes rise above so many other sitcoms. The fact is, the show cares about offering a more nuanced version of Asian-American life, and this keeps its laughs honest. At the same time it never tries to make the protagonists out to be model minorities or fit them into any equally reductive role. Admittedly, Fresh Off the Boat broadened a bit in its second season, but it still remains one of the best traditional American sitcoms on the air.—Sean Gandert

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best-sitcoms-thick-of-it.jpg 75. The Thick of It
Years: 2005-2012
If you’re a fan of Veep, and find yourself jonesing for some more Armando Iannucci, then The Thick of It is definitely in your wheelhouse. A hilarious take on the British political system, it could be argued that it’s an even more biting take on politics than Veep. The show may have run from 2005 until 2012, but it was a sporadic run, as there are only 24 episodes. However, those 24 episodes are excellent. If you don’t know British politics, you might not fully understand every bit, but chances are you can still understand awful, stupid people saying awful, stupid things. Malcolm Tucker, as played by Peter Capaldi, remains Iannucci’s greatest creation. And if you’ve ever wanted to see the current Doctor saying the c-word a whole bunch, then this is the show for you.—Chris Morgan

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best-sitcoms-spaced.jpg 74. Spaced
Years: 1999-2001
Prior to blowing the film world out of the water with Shaun of the Dead, the creative partnership of writer/director Edgar Wright and actor/writer Simon Pegg first crystallized back in the late ‘90s with the British sitcom Spaced. Conceived by Pegg and co-lead Jessica Stevenson with Wright directing every entry, Spaced centers on a pair of aimless Londoners who decide to fake a relationship in order to secure a “couples only” apartment. Over the course of its 14 episode run, the series gleefully subverted the popular image of twenty-somethings leading cushy, comfortable lives with burgeoning careers (as evidenced by the likes of Friends) in favor of depicting a world filled with squalid living spaces, drug use and various artistic aspirations gone to seed. More notably, Spaced arguably served as the first post-modern sitcom in terms of how it employed specific, cinematic vocabulary as an extension of the characters’ interior lives (i.e., a horrible work experience turns into a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest parody, while a competitive game of paintball escalates into a dramatic action sequence straight out of Platoon or Saving Private Ryan). In a landscape where older, out-of-touch TV execs were frantically trying to appeal to erstwhile, younger viewers, Spaced was a show all about the less savory experiences of being a broke twenty-something; adding to its authenticity was the fact that it was being written and produced by individuals who were going through these specific experiences firsthand.—Mark Rozeman

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best-sitcoms-eastbound.jpg 73. Eastbound & Down
Years: 2009-2013
I feel like a lot of people dismiss Eastbound & Down as vulgar shock comedy, a TV version of the fratty comedies that proliferated over a decade ago after the success of the Farrelly brothers and American Pie. Jody Hill and Danny McBride’s vision is far deeper and pointed than that, though, parodying not just sports or Southern culture but the type of unhealthy masculinity that underpins so much of American culture. It has more in common with the best work of Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, but it’s darker and edgier than Stepbrothers or Talladega Nights, more violent and more truthful. It’s one of the few comedies I can think of where I was often afraid of what was about to happen, like I was watching a horror film or thriller. The first season in particular was a modern masterpiece, but the show remained on point throughout its four seasons.—Garrett Martin

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diffrent-strokes.jpg 72. Diff’rent Strokes
Years: 1978-1986
Two African American boys from Harlem are adopted by a rich, white businessman on Park Avenue, and hilarity ensues. Diff’rent Strokes was as defined by the way it tackled difficult American issues as it was by Gary Coleman’s endearing catch phrase, “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” Drugs, sexual abuse and racism were faced head-on, even as the effects of child stardom on its three leading kids were swept under the rug (when Dana Plato became pregnant, her character went to study in Paris). R.I.P. Ms. Plato and Mr. Coleman.—Josh Jackson

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the-it-crowd.jpg 71. The IT Crowd
Years: 2006-2013
Stuck in a small, chaotic basement office, IT nerds Roy Trenneman (Chris O’Dowd) and Maurice Moss (Richard Ayoade) are always happy to help—well, Moss is, Roy is a lot happier sitting on his arse doing nothing. Head of the IT department Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson) really has no idea of what she’s doing and is convinced that typing “Google” into Google will “break the internet”. Moss is your typical school-yard-bully victim. While he’s extremely articulate and proper in his way of speaking and dressing, he seems to have been overly coddled by his mother with whom he still lives. You might not necessarily want these guys to take a crack at fixing your computer, but you should definitely reserve them a place on your screen.—Roxanne Sancto

best-sitcoms-get-a-life.jpg 70. Get a Life
Years: 1990-1992
Fox often toyed with sitcom deconstructions in its early years, from the pitch-black satire of Married… with Children to the meta commentary of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. In a way those shows were a prelude to Get a Life, which, 26 years later, is still one of the weirdest and most subversive sitcoms to ever air on a network. Starring Chris Elliott and created by Elliott, Adam Resnick and David Mirkin, Get a Life was a half-hour distillation of the smart, ironic comedy Elliott performed on Late Night with David Letterman in the ‘80s, irreverently mocking well-worn sitcom and TV clichés and introducing the kind of absurdity that would come to define “alternative comedy” into American prime time. It wasn’t a hit (although it did stay on for two seasons) but it’s still beloved today by fans of Elliott and weird comedy.—Garrett Martin

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best-sitcoms-reno.jpg 69. Reno 911!
Years: 2003-2009
Making a parody of the show Cops might seem like punching downward—how do you parody something that already seems like it’s one big joke? But thanks to creators Kerri Kenney-Silver and The State members Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, Reno 911! was more like an improvised sketch show set in the world of an inept police department. Like Cops, the series succeeded due to the insanity captured on camera, such as a roller-skating prostitute warning cops about a guy shooting babies with rocket launchers, or a repeat offender known for hiding under kiddie pools. Reno 911!’s phenomenal ensemble of brilliant comedic actors made the series wildly hilarious, along with the endless barrage of strange criminals played by the likes of Zach Galifianakis, Patton Oswalt and Keegan-Michael Key. Although we love and need our serious cop dramas, Reno 911! almost makes you wish law enforcement could always be this funny.—Ross Bonaime

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best-sitcoms-workaholics.jpg 68. Workaholics
Years: 2011-present
Several shows have attempted to tackle the post-collegiate letdown of the working world, but following these three man-bros as they party their way through jobs at a telemarketing firm takes low-brow humor to astoundingly hilarious depths. Adam Devine, Blake Anderson and Anders Holm (along with their on-screen drug dealer and off-screen co-creator Kyle Newacheck) take turns half-assing the climb up the corporate ladder, while maintaining an unwavering devotion to Super-blunt Sundays, Half-Christmas parties (keg of egg nog and all) and out-there drug experiences. Combining the absurdity of competitive corporate culture with the absurdity of “getting weird” on the weekend couldn’t be more relatable to the average internet show binge-watcher, even if we’re not all bartering for clean urine on the playground. The result is a quotable, re-watchable series that is very tight butthole, indeed.—Dacey Orr

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best-sitcoms-murphy-brown.jpg 67. Murphy Brown
Years: 1988-1998
How many television shows actually become part of the national conversation? That’s exactly what happened on May 19,1992 when Vice President Dan Quayle called out Murphy Brown (Bergen) for being a single mom. It’s hard to even imagine in 2016 the scandal the show caused by allowing its title character to have a baby out of wedlock. But Murphy Brown was also much more than its most well-known zeitgeist moment. As a newswoman with a penchant for firing her secretaries, Brown was her generation’s Mary Richards. Surrounded by her naïve and nervous executive producer Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud), best friend Frank (Joe Regalbuto), stuffy newsman Jim (Charles Kimbrough) and way-too-cheery Corky (Faith Ford), the series was consistently topical and political, but most importantly, it always made us laugh.—Amy Amatangelo

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best-sitcoms-dick-van-dyke.jpg 66. The Dick Van Dyke Show
Years: 1961-1966
Before Dick Van Dyke became the toast of Disney live-action films and the star of every senior citizen’s favorite crime procedural Diagnosis: Murder, he was the titular star of this fantastic sitcom. The classic half-hour gave viewers two shows in one: a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a TV variety show and a warm-hearted family comedy. The former allowed for plenty of sharp dialogue and fast-paced jokes courtesy of show creator Carl Reiner and co-stars Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie, all playing comedy writers. The latter took full advantage of the winning chemistry between Van Dyke and former dancer and TV bit player Mary Tyler Moore.—Robert Ham

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best-sitcoms-Family-Guy.jpg 65. Family Guy
Years: 1999-present
It’s the show that made Seth MacFarlane a household name, and unfortunately, the one it seems he’ll never top. This is with good reason. MacFarlane created a family that’s easy to relate to despite the fact that it includes a talking dog (sniff) and an inexplicably British, bloodthirsty infant. Combine the characters’ eccentricities with jokes that (sometimes literally) won’t quit, and you’ve got one of the most important cartoons to grace the small screen.—Austin L. Ray

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18-90-of-the-90s-Sports-Night.jpg 64. Sports Night
Years: 1998-2000
A Sportscenter parody was a pretty ripe idea for a comedy-drama when Aaron Sorkin dreamed it up in the late ’90s, but unlike other Sorkin gems such as The West Wing, Sports Night never ended up finding the popular appeal to match its critical acclaim. One gets the sense that it could have gone over better had it been more squarely in the hands of its creators, but in its first season, ABC insisted the show be a comedy first and foremost. Over time, the laugh track was eliminated and the show began to incorporate many more of the stylistic choices that one would see on other Sorkin shows, such as the witty, fast-paced repartee and the tendency to “walk and talk.” Perhaps this could have eventually breathed some new life into the series, but by 2000 The West Wing was taking off as a hit show and Sorkin left to focus on a sure thing. Sports Night was left behind as a program that displayed a ton of promise but didn’t quite manage to harness it.—Jim Vorel

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best-sitcoms-blackish.jpg 63. Black-ish
Years: 2014-present
To enjoyBlack-ish is to enjoy all that the show has to offer in the name of entertainment. The sitcom about an upper class, black family is especially hilarious when the child stars (Marsai Martin and Miles Brown) are leading the plot. But when the show veers to address topics that reflect America’s race relations and systematic injustices, it shines brightest, because the writers are not afraid to be strikingly honest and come at an issue from different angles (without losing any of the writers room wit). Season Two’s “Hope,” stands apart, as the police brutality episode that examines the emotional tolls that arise as the Johnsons wait to see if a police officer will be indicted for the murder of a black child. Simultaneously conscious and comedic, it’s going to be pure joy to see what future season have in store for this series.—Iris Barreto

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17-90-of-the-90s-Everybody-Loves-Raymond.jpg 62. Everybody Loves Raymond
Years: 1996-2005
Everybody Loves Raymond was the quintessential “family/marriage sitcom” of its decade, never genre-bending but generally solid, always dependable. The insecurities of its characters were certainly relatable, from Ray’s struggles to assert himself in any facet of his life to the general concerns of age and sexual inadequacy. Between them, Ray and Debra seemed like people who could easily be living across the street from you, which was the whole idea. Of course, the characters of Ray’s parents and his brother Robert were just as important if not more so at times—look no further than the show’s Emmy history, where Doris Roberts and Brad Garrett led the series in wins. If Ray is the gravitational center of the show, Garrett is the heart and Roberts is the verve.—Jim Vorel

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best-sitcoms-red-dwarf.jpg 61. Red Dwarf
Years: 1988-Present
Produced mainly due to an unexpected surplus in the BBC budget, Red Dwarf was a fluke program that ended up becoming one of the most innovative and successful British sitcoms of all time. The central premise concerns Dave Lister, a slovenly crew member on the titular Red Dwarf spaceship, who is put into suspended animation as punishment and—after a catastrophic radiation leak—awakens millions of years later as the last surviving human. Left alone, Lister’s only companions are the ship’s computer, the sentient hologram of his former boss and a cat that, thanks to millions of years of evolution, has developed into a conveniently humanoid figure. Originally presented as a more traditional, multi-cam sitcom, wherein the cast (including a scene-stealing “mechanoid” named Kryten in later seasons) would bicker about the various problems and threats that emerged week after week, the creative team soon proved to be much more ambitious in their storytelling aspirations, incorporating plotlines centering on parallel dimensions, genetically modified monsters and terraforming (not to mention displaying a significant upgrade in production design quality). At times, the show would even downplay its farcical elements in favor of a more dramatic approach. And though behind-the-scenes disputes have resulted in the (sometimes temporary) departure of several key cast members and creative figures throughout the years (including co-mastermind Rob Grant), Red Dwarf’s enduring legacy has carved it a secure place in television history. One part Alien and one part Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Red Dwarf remains a beast all its own.—Mark Rozeman

best-sitcoms-modern-family.jpg 60. Modern Family
Years: 2009-present
When Modern Family premiered in 2009, it was coming off the heels of two shows that helped enforce its style: Arrested Development’s interconnected family comedy and The Office’s handheld, documentary-style approach. While not as good as its two predecessors, Modern Family learned from the shows that paved the way, combining the strengths of these two series and creating an overwhelmingly popular show—one of the few to get millions of people to watch each week and earn an insane amount of awards. But despite being quite hilarious, Modern Family’s success comes from evolving the way we see the American family. Whether its May-December romances or one of the best gay couples in television history, Modern Family’s warmth and humor brings light to the types of relationships that rarely get the attention they deserve on television.—Ross Bonaime

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best-sitcoms-venture-bros.jpg 59. Venture Bros.
Years: 2003-Present
While The Simpsons and South Park get most of the love when it comes to animated satire, The Venture Bros. deserves a seat right there with them. From an initial premise of “Just how fucked up would someone like Johnny Quest be once he reached adulthood?”, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer’s series quickly expanded in tone and topic to explore pretty much every trope and cranny of comic book cliché. In the process, Venture Bros. has done things seemingly beyond the ability of DC and Marvel, diving into the action in medias res and trusting viewers to figure it out as we go along. (The series’ riffs on The Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom are arguably truer takes than anything Fox has crapped out.) Now in its sixth season (spanning 13 years), The Venture Bros. may never possess the cross-demographic appeal of some of its animated brethren, but as the MCU especially continues to spread the billion-dollar comic book gospel, Publick and Hammer’s creation should continue to find new converts for its brand of genre madness.—Michael Burgin

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best-sitcoms-young-ones.jpg 58. Young Ones
Years: 1982-1984
The classic British sitcom was essentially a sketch show in a sitcom format. It had regular characters and thinly drafted plots, but would constantly take weird detours and make absurd asides, often involving puppets and bands like Motorhead and Madness. It’s an anarchic anti-sitcom that brought the British alternative comedy scene to the BBC, influenced sketch comedy on both sides of the pond, and foreshadowed the smart, self-aware, genre-expanding American sitcoms of the late 1980s and 1990s. (RIP Rik Mayall.)—Garrett Martin

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laverne-shirley.jpg 57. Laverne & Shirley
Years: 1976-83
“Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incoporated!” That’s the extent of my Yiddish, thanks to a pair of lovable roomies in the ’70s and ’80s. The low-rent, blue-collar, brewery-working buddies began their TV lives as friends of the Fonz. But Penny Marshall’s Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williams’ Shirley Feeney quickly outdrew Happy Days, doing it their way. Michael McKean and David Lander arrived fully formed as their upstairs neighbors Lenny and Squiggy, characters they created for comedy routines during college. The four characters were unlike any we’d seen on TV before.—Josh Jackson

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BEST-ANIMATED-SHOWS-bobs-burgers.jpg 56. Bob’s Burgers
Years: 2011-present
It’s weird to think that Bob’s Burgers, a show centered around a constantly failing business and the proprietor’s eccentric and unpopular children, has become a bit of an institution. Despite this fact, it’s barely beginning to show its age, and rather than becoming by-the-numbers, Bob’s Burgers has become stranger and more willing to step away from the Simpsons-esque format that’s always centered its storytelling. The show’s cast keeps getting more distinct as time goes on, and as a result the humor has veered away from the inevitable broadening that’s occurred for just about every other animated show Fox has aired. There’s no attempt at making the Belchers into an every-family, and while that might explain the show’s declining ratings, it’s also kept its jokes and episodes remarkably consistent six years in.—Sean Gandert

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best-sitcoms-party-down.jpg 55. Party Down
Years: 2009-2010
Party Down boasts a formula so simple and ingenious, it’s absolutely insane that no one had attempted it before. The general premise centers on a gang of aspiring LA-based actors, writers and entrepreneurs who make ends meet by working at a catering company. This being Hollywood, their assignments veer from the mundane (corporate retreats, birthday parties, weddings) to the absurd (backstage concert parties, porn awards, orgies). No matter what the setting, however, the lackadaisical crew of Party Down catering can always be counted on to ruin the occasion, frequently in ways that leave the audience crying from laughter. Taking cues from the best Judd Apatow productions, however, beneath all the crass, scatological humor and cringe-inducing scenarios lies a bittersweet story of dreams deferred and the lengths people go to, in order to find validation and acceptance. Boasting an insanely talented main cast that included Adam Scott, Ken Marino and Lizzy Caplan, the show also employed its “new week, new location” structure to recruit guest turns from the likes of J.K. Simmons, Kristen Bell, Rob Corddry, Thomas Lennon and—in one highlight episode—Steve Guttenberg. In the end, despite strong critical reviews and a devoted cult following, the show’s ratings were nothing short of anemic and Starz pulled the plug after two seasons. Though both fans and critics would bemoan the show’s short existence, there’s no denying that it lived fast and left a great-looking corpse.—Mark Rozeman

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best-sitcoms-fawlty.jpg 54. Fawlty Towers
Years: 1975-1979
While we can’t say we’d ever want to stay at the titular hotel, run by the hapless Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), we sure do enjoy watching him struggle to maintain it. Cleese has said the show was inspired by his stay at the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay and his encounters with its owner, Donald Sinclair, whom he’s described as “the most marvelously rude man I’ve ever met.”—Bonnie Stiernberg

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best-sitcoms-boondocks.jpg 53. Boondocks
Years: 2005-2014
Based on writer, producer and cartoonist Aaron McGruder’s popular comic strip of the same name, The Boondocks’ four season, 55-episode run saw brothers Huey and Riley—transplants of inner city Chicago—navigate black culture in the fictional white suburb of Woodcrest. Part of Cartoon Network’s late-night comedy block on Adult Swim, the series was a brazen attack on the white American establishment and an unabashedly black satire that honed in on the complicated conversations surrounding racial identity, stereotypes, class, celebrity and viewpoint. From November 2005 to the end of its run in June 2014, the series unquestionably earned its reputation as one of the most controversial and culturally significant pieces of modern American comedy through its unapologetic approach to blackness, painfully honest humor, and clever subversion of traditional cultural dialogue.—Abbey White

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best-sitcoms-archer.jpg 52. Archer
Years: 2009-present
Archer has succeeded as a hilarious parody of both James Bond and Mad Men with the comedic sensibilities of FX’s best. Season Two was full of surprising twists—like Archer’s breast cancer. The mini third season—the “Heart of Archness” trilogy following Archer’s revenge on the man who killed his Russian love—made Archer one of the few story-driven animated series that actually delivers. Ross Bonaime

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best-sitcoms-taxi.jpg 51. Taxi
Years: 1978-1983
Let’s just pause for a minute and remember that somebody once convinced a network to put Andy Kaufman on the air. I just wish it had been live TV. Like M*A*S*H, Taxi often tackled serious social issues like drug and gambling addiction, but did it with a wonderfully strange cast of characters from the alien-like Latka Graves (Kaufman) to drugged-out hippie Reverend Jim (Christopher Lloyd) to misanthrope Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito).—Josh Jackson

BEST-TV-SHOWS-OF-2015-so-far-broadcity.jpg 50. Broad City
Years: 2014-present
For the last few years, Comedy Central has consistently presented us with great comedy duos: Key & Peele, Kroll and Daly, and now Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. Broad City gives us two unforgettable characters who are desperately trying to become the boss bitches they are in their minds. This epic friendship is instantaneously contagious, and the brilliant plots, centered on the two twenty-somethings scraping by in New York City, makes this one of the great, most promising new-ish series.—Ross Bonaime and Hudson Hongo

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best-sitcoms-everybody-hates-chris.jpg 49. Everybody Hates Chris
Years: 2005-2009
Chris Rock is one of the funniest comedians of all time. This is far from a controversial stance. Upon developing a period sitcom about his Brooklyn childhood for the (now defunct) UPN back in the mid-2000s, however, the question emerged of whether or not his brand of knowing, acerbic comedy could survive the transition to network TV. The answer proved to be both yes and no. From the opening seconds of its pilot, Everybody Hates Chris positions itself as an incisive, utterly confident comedic tour-de-force that is perfectly in line with Rock’s brand. And yet, in the hands of co-creator/showrunner Ali LeRoi, the show aimed to be much more than simply the comedian’s stage work reformatted into TV storylines. The result was a family sitcom that both harkened back to the Norman Lear comedies of old, while still retaining the rapid pace and tight construction of the best single-camera productions. The show was never more successful, however, than when it came to its casting, with Tyler James Williams demonstrating immense charisma and comic timing as a young Chris; meanwhile, Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold would promptly enter the pantheon of great TV couples as Chris’ larger-than-life parental units. And though low ratings and frequent schedule shifts would ultimately snuff the Chris out after four seasons, it quickly sketched out its place as one of the greatest sitcoms of the aughties, and living proof of why we can’t have nice things.—Mark Rozeman

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38-90-of-the-90s-King-of-the-Hill.jpg 48. King of the Hill
Years: 1997-2010
When you really consider the traits and personalities of the characters, one can’t help but realize that King of the Hill is honestly one of the most unique animated shows of both the 1990s and 2000s. Name one other popular, long-running sitcom where the protagonists—people we at least like, if not agree with—are staunch conservative, mildly redneck individuals. You can’t do it, because King of the Hill tapped into an aspect of the American ethos that is often ridiculed and made those characters funny, human everymen. With the possible exception of Peggy (who can be a real pill with few redeeming qualities), the characters on King of the Hill are really decent people, even when they’re a little overzealous. But in the end, Hank always fundamentally does the right thing, even if that does involve threats to “kick your ass” on a disturbingly regular basis.—Jim Vorel

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65-90-of-the-90s-Daria.jpg 47. Daria
Years: 1997-2002
Significantly more influential than one would have expected from a Beavis and Butt-head spin-off, Daria is without a doubt the defining show of angsty teens of the late ’90s who couldn’t quite get over the death of grunge. It’s a paean to the lazy, the slackers, the cynical and the sarcastic, as Daria and her friend Jane bemoaned the plight of a broken society by watching tabloid shows with titles like Sick, Sad World. Its fatalism was deep, dark and often hilarious, and one got the sense that few shows have ever actually captured the zeitgeist of their subjects more accurately. Every teen who ever shrugged their shoulders and sighed in frustration after being asked how their day at school was by Mom was clearly thinking, ‘My life is just like Daria.’—Jim Vorel

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best-sitcoms-sanford-son.jpg 46. Sanford and Son
Years: 1972-1977
Although Sanford and Son was developed by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin as an adaptation of a British sit-com, there’s a bitterness and nihilism to the show that don’t appear in Lear’s other works, let alone other sitcoms from the ‘70s. Much of this comes from the brilliant Redd Foxx, who delivered an iconic performance as the titular Sanford, co-owner of a junk store. Really, though, the show was a two-hander, relying just as much on the underrated Demond Wilson, who played the progressive straight man to Foxx’s childish firebrand with perfect comedic timing. Yes, the laugh track is there, and Foxx’s language is disarmed so as to make it past network censorship, but despite the genre trappings, there was a realism to Sanford and Son that made it like nothing else on television at the time, and very little since.—Sean Gandert

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best-sitcoms-newsradio.jpg 45. NewsRadio
Years: 1995-1999
One of the most perfectly cast sitcoms of the past 20 years, NewsRadio elevated the stature of the workplace comedy, thanks to a marvelous absurdist streak and an unwillingness to stick to the rules of the traditional three-act structure. Few lessons are learned and no one within the show really grows as a human being. Creator Paul Simms also threw aside the idea of dragging out a “will they/won’t they?” storyline with station manager Dave (Kids In The Hall member Dave Foley) and producer/news director Lisa (Maura Tierney, who would go to star in The Affair) by having the characters sleep with each other in the second episode. As much fun as their relationship woes were, NewsRadio was anchored by its supporting cast, especially Phil Hartman as the Ted Knight-like buffoon Bill McNeal, Vicki Lewis as Dave’s snarky secretary, and the always reliable Stephen Root playing Jimmy James, the wildly eccentric billionaire owner of the radio station. The show maintained decent ratings numbers for four seasons, but its spirit was deflated prior to season five due to the untimely death of Hartman.—Robert Ham

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best-sitcoms-malcolm-in-the-middle.jpg 44. Malcolm in the Middle
Years: 2000-2005
Motherhood changes you: your body, your priorities, your relationship with your significant other. And not all of them are drastic or even negative. But in Lois’ case, after raising five particularly unruly, rambunctious boys, her personality has adapted to her parental struggles. Once a happy-go-lucky, free-spirited mother after the birth of her first child, Francis, she grows into the dark, paranoid, tough, sometimes cruel disciplinarian she is at the premiere of the show. Her loving relationship with her husband, seems, curiously enough, largely untouched. Their marriage has survived the changes parenthood has brought because they’re a pretty solid team, with an us-against-the-boys mentality. While Lois’ intentions are usually good, there’s also an odd side of her that does relish in punishing her children, and it’s the same side of her that allows her to be pretty successful after all in the raising of her children.—Anita George

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best-sitcoms-different-world.jpg 43. A Different World
Years: 1987-1993
This Cosby Show spin-off had a rocky start, but after writing out Denise Huxtable and hiring Debbie Allen to oversee it before the second season, it turned into one of the most distinct sitcoms in TV history. Instead of focusing on one member of a beloved TV family in a new setting, it refocused on the setting itself, a historically black college called Hillman that was a fictional stand-in for Howard University. Jasmine Guy and Kadeem Hardison might’ve lead the ensemble as Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne, but it was a true ensemble, with a cast that reflected the diversity of black life in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. It also often dealt with social issues that The Cosby Show and other sitcoms at the time shied away from, and usually without the schmaltz you’d expect from “very special” sitcom episodes.—Garrett Martin

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best-sitcoms-andy-griffith.jpg 42. The Andy Griffith Show
Years: 1960-1968
It’s honestly hard to imagine a TV landscape before The Andy Griffith Show. Much like air or water, the show has an almost elemental feel to it, as if it’s always been there. That’s not to say, of course, that it’s easy to ignore. Quite the contrary, out of all the classical sitcoms, Andy Griffith not only boasts a remarkably sharp comedic sensibility that has stood the test of time, but also demonstrates a sense of naturalism that remains notable even to this day. Though shot in and around Los Angeles, the show’s production team expertly crafted Mayberry into a fully realized location that boasted the tangible look and feel of a small, rustic town. Not to mention that the creative team brilliantly populated the area with a memorable group of characters, with Andy serving as the town’s Zen beacon of wisdom forced to spend every week wrangling the crazy town kooks—including Don Knotts’ Deputy Barney Fife, who remains the gold standard for which all subsequent scene-stealing TV goobers have aspired. A beautifully crafted relic of a time and place long gone, The Andy Griffith Show has more than earned its position as a newfound icon of Americana.—Mark Rozeman

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best-sitcoms-satc.jpg 41. Sex and the City
Years: 1998-2004
Most of us who watched Darren Star’s Sex and the City could not relate to the very specific demographic of women who were showcased. And, for a series whose beating heart was NYC, the show did not do well in its presentation of gay characters or characters of color (whenever they showed up). Hell, even the main character was problematic and difficult to root for at times—Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), the not-so-eloquent writer who was better at choosing a pair of Manolo Blahniks than making decisions in her love life (Team Aiden)? Indeed, this was an infuriating show to experience sometimes, and that’s partly why we loved it. It remains a phenomenon, and as cliché as it may sound, it opened the door for more complex narratives about women and sex, and it did so unapologetically thanks in large part to Kim Cattrall’s role as Samantha Jones. And if Samantha was too much for you, Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) and Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) offered up their own unique perspectives, giving the foursome an original, entertaining, and important balance of personalities and feminist (or anti-feminist) outlooks. Whatever class issues, or race issues, or gender and sexuality issues Sex and the City might have swept under the rug (or addressed in an off-putting way), it still functioned as a loud, oft-obscene call for agency among the marginalized. And it did all of this with some of the funniest dialogue and sex talk we’d ever heard. “My man has funky tasting spunk!” will go down in history as one of the most horrifying, incredible TV moments of all time, and that’s just the tip (ahem) of the legendary SaTC iceberg.—Shannon M. Houston

best-sitcoms-himym.jpg 40. How I Met Your Mother
Years: 2005-2014
Very few shows are able to teeter on the tightrope of daytime soap opera and a laugh-out-loud sitcom without going overboard. For over half a decade HIMYM has spun a hilarious tale of how Ted met his children’s mother without growing stale. Sure, fans were starting to grow weary, but since the dramatic and uplifting turn in Marshall and Lily’s life and the return of the Ted-Robin-Barney love triangle, the show is back in top form and geting more like Friends than ever. We’re closing in on a lot of mysteries, but so much more has developed to keep us intrigued.—Adam Vitcavage

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best-sitcoms-living-single.jpg 39. Living Single
Years: 1993-1998
In a 90s kind of world, I’m glad I’ve got my girls! During the 90s era of successful black TV sitcoms, Living Single was the flyest. It remained in the Top 5 as the most watched African American show during its entire 5-year run and eventually knocked Martin out the No. 1 spot. The beloved show had unforgettable style, unparalleled verbal sparring between Kyle and Max and an opening credit theme song by Queen Latifah that has since become iconic. Yvette Lee Bowser (a producer on A Different World) drew on experiences from her life to create the award-winning show that followed six single African Americans in their 20s living in a brownstone in Brooklyn, New York dealing with their personal and professional lives. Khadijah, Synclaire, Regine, Max, Kyle, and Overton chemistry as a group was comedy perfection, introducing a special kind of humor, personality, and heart to network TV, that is missed today.—Ashley Terrell

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best-sitcoms-bob-newhart-show.jpg 38. The Bob Newhart Show
Years: 1972-1978
Like many a sitcom star, national treasure Bob Newhart made his name as a comedian first, thanks to his best-selling series of standup albums including the Grammy-winning The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. As his celebrity rose, Hollywood came a-calling leading to several dalliances with TV shows and the occasional film appearance. But what cemented his legacy in the small screen universe was this titular sitcom, on which he played a frequently put-upon psychologist barely putting up with his troubled clientele, his sharp-witted assistant (played by the late great Marcia Wallace), and the other folks that worked in his office building. Even better was the repartee Newhart had with his TV wife, played winningly by Suzanne Pleshette. There was such a lived-in quality to their on-screen marriage that made their tart interactions completely believable.—Robert Ham

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only-fools-and-horses.jpg 37. Only Fools and Horses
Years: 1981-1991
Following the attempts of a pair of South London brothers living with their grandfather, scheming to get rich, Only Fools and Horses dominated British TV in the 1980s, watched by up to a third of the U.K.’s total population. Del Boy Trotter has the ambition to make it selling goods on the black market, but not the wisdom to match it. After the death of his mother, he raised his much younger brother Rodney, an easily manipulated sidekick. In 2007, the show was voted Britain’s Best Sitcom.—Josh Jackson

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best-sitcoms-good-times.jpg 36. Good Times
Years: 1974-1979
When you’re a kid you watch Good Times to hear J.J. say “Dy-no-mite!” and crack mean (but funny) jokes about Bookman. As you get older you realize that, at its best, it’s actually a pretty daring (and, at times, heartbreaking) show, finding humor and humanity in a setting that much of its audience was probably afraid of or depressed by. It might be one of the more egregious examples of a show losing sense of itself by focusing too tightly on a breakout character, but the earliest episodes—focusing on Esther Rolle and John Amos as proud but struggling parents trying to provide for their family as best as they could in a society and economy that didn’t have much use for them—is a strong, illuminating depiction of the working poor, and life in the projects in the 1970s.—Garrett Martin

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41-90-of-the-90s-The-Wonder-Years.jpg 35. The Wonder Years
Years: 1988-1993
The Wonder Years was set in a perfectly evoked 1960s, but just hearing Joe Cocker’s take on “With a Little Help From My Friends” immediately makes me think of watching the show with my family in my childhood living room. The show featured some of the best-developed characters of any sitcom, especially owing to the trademark narration by Daniel Stern, which examined all the events with the knowledge of age. An episode like “My Father’s Office” is still a beautiful thing and such an identifiable nugget of childhood—the realization that one’s father is just a man and a worker bee, rather than a patriarch in all aspects of his life. The Wonder Years was filled with those kinds of revelations.—Jim Vorel

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happy-days.jpg 34. Happy Days
Years: 1974-1984
Happy Days had already literally jumped the shark before the Reagan era began. But the show endures—in our hearts and on our late-night TV blocks—all these years because of its endearing innocence, whether from Marion Cunningham or her kids Richie and Joanie. When Ron Howard left after seven seasons (gone off to the army), Fonzie carried the series on his leather-jacket-clad shoulders.—Josh Jackson

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newhart.jpg 33. Newhart
Years: 1982-1990
Bob Newhart had the best second act in sitcom history. Newhart ran for most of the 1980s, longer than The Bob Newhart Show did, and despite resting heavily on Newhart’s patented brand of deadpan exasperation, the two shows had strong enough settings and casts to stand out from each other. Newhart featured career work from Tom Poston, Julia Duffy and Peter Scolari, and its remote Vermont setting lead to the creation of three of the most memorable breakout sitcom characters of the 1980s: Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl. Newhart was a smart, confident, hilarious show, and people still talk about the ingenious twist in its final episode 26 years later.—Garrett Martin

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best-sitcoms-louie.jpg 32. Louie
Years: 2010-present
If there is a formula for Louie, it would go like this: Disasters ranging from annoying to semi-tragic befall our hero, and they’re always tinged with an inhumanity that becomes absurd. Our hero struggles gamely in the face of a seemingly uncaring world, sighs, over-acts just the slightest bit, and presses onward despite a lack of hope. Just at the moment when he’s about to crack, an unlikely character delivers a big speech with a lesson that is emphatically delivered, but simple at its core. Our hero understands, is somewhat renewed, and immediately subjects himself to the pain of being human, with results that are never redemptive, but still somewhat reassuring—the juice of living is worth the squeeze of existence, even if we can’t quite explain why. There are sitcoms that just want to make you laugh, there are sitcoms that seek meaning through the addition of emotions like sadness and anger, and then there are sitcoms that seek those depths with a studied absurdity that slowly transforms into sincerity—and then back again. Louie belongs to that third category, but let’s go a step further: The category exists because of Louie. Nobody else is doing it.—Shane Ryan

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84-90-of-the-90s-Martin.jpg 31. Martin
Years: 1992-1997
A lot of people, Martin Lawrence included, probably thought this would be the peak of the former stand-up’s career in comedy, but they were simply unaware that he would one day make Big Momma’s House. Set in direct opposition to the dominance of NBC’s “Must See TV” block on Thursday nights, Martin became a counterbalance, a story set in urban Detroit with a largely black cast. A bit of a blowhard and a paper tiger, Martin is a funny guy who likes to act tough, but is secretly a softy on the inside, a characteristic only rarely seen by his more serious, long-suffering girlfriend, Gina. The show had a bit of an odd conclusion, as a sexual harassment lawsuit from Tisha Campbell resulted in her being absent through a good portion of the final season. She eventually settled and filmed three final episodes under the stipulation that she wouldn’t appear in any scenes with Lawrence, which certainly sounds like it must have been awkward to witness.—Jim Vorel

7-90-of-the-90s-Friends.jpg 30. Friends
Years: 1994-2004
In terms of pure marketability, Friends was a juggernaut. Everyone watched Friends. Parents watched alongside kids. Its mass appeal is summed up by its incredibly general title alone—I mean really, “Friends”? Its success may be the ultimate reminder that truly populist sitcoms are all about the characters and not necessarily the storylines. Friends simply had the best-defined characters: Nebbish Ross, prickly Chandler, air-headed Joey, domineering Monica, bubbly Phoebe and “I’m very attractive” Rachel. The writing was just clever enough to let a talented bunch of actors grow into their roles and become archetypes that have been echoed in dozens of sitcoms in the decade since the show’s finale. The reach of Friends extends to every end of pop culture, even fashion. Case in point: “the Rachel” hairstyle, which became the decade’s defining ’do. That is the definition of influence.—Jim Vorel

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30-90-of-the-90s-The-Larry-Sanders-Show.jpg 29. The Larry Sanders Show
Years: 1992-1998
The Larry Sanders Show was basically the result of a skilled stand-up comedian taking everything he knew about every facet of the entertainment business and throwing it into a blender set to “puree.” Gary Shandling played late night TV host Larry Sanders, just as he had done in real life as a Tonight Show guest-host. Other comedians and well-known actors appeared as guests, playing exaggerated or satirical versions of themselves, toying with audience expectations. Its combination of deadpan humor and “behind the scenes” setting made it an obvious influence on series such as The Office and 30 Rock in particular, because no joke was “too meta.” One of the first great successes in original programming for HBO, it remains the standard by which many comedy series on premium TV networks are judged.—Jim Vorel

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23-90-of-the-90s-Futurama.jpg 28. Futurama
Years: 1999-2003 (first run)
Totally under-appreciated in its original run, one gets the sense that Futurama at first suffered from misplaced expectations. Knowing it was coming from Matt Groening, perhaps people expected a futuristic version of The Simpsons, but Futurama is fundamentally different in quite a few aspects. Although it was similar in its satirical lampooning of modern (or futuristic) daily life and media, it was also capable of being surprisingly—even shockingly—emotional at times. Just ask anyone who remembers the end of “Jurassic Bark” or “The Luck of the Fryrish,” among other episodes. Likewise, its self-contained continuity was unlike almost every other animated sitcom, with events unfolding in both its first and second run on TV that fundamentally affected the viewer’s perception of earlier plot points. It’s now rightly recognized as one of the best animated comedies ever.—Jim Vorel

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best-sitcoms-always-sunny.jpg 27. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Years: 2005-present
The idea behind Sunny is simple yet brilliant—bring together the most narcissistic and cruel characters imaginable and let them wreak havoc on the world. Dennis, Dee, Mac, Charlie, and Frank all run Patty’s Pub together, though that endeavor never seems to keep them occupied for long. To entertain themselves, the group hatches one scheme after another. “The D.E.N.N.I.S. System,” for example, is Dennis’ foolproof method for manipulating women’s emotions so that they’ll fall in love with him. To give you an idea of how it works, the strategic acronym begins with “Demonstrate value” and ends with “Separate entirely.”—Riley Ubben

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BEST-TV-SHOWS-OF-2015-so-far-silicon.jpg 26. Silicon Valley
Years: 2014-present
Though this HBO sitcom does a great job skewering the doublespeak and hyper-positivity of the tech world, Silicon Valley shines the brightest when the antisocial misfits of startup Pied Piper find themselves in more and more ridiculous situations. But, like most of Judge’s projects, Silicon Valley has found that perfect sweet spot where smart comedy and dumb comedy collide. And it located it very early on, as evidenced by that still-genius scene at the end of Season One where all the Pied Piper engineers, realizing their imminent defeat at TechCrunch Disrupt, decided to devote their time to calculating the fastest way to jerk off a room full of men. There’s no doubt that the comedic talent working in the writers room could churn out some loud, brash show, a la the dreck that’s cluttering up the multiplexes right now. But they want better for us, which is how we get a series that wants to dip its toes, occasionally, into the waters of pure indecency, all while holding a mirror up to the insanity of the trillions of dollars being tossed around in the tech industry.Robert Ham

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40-90-of-the-90s-Married-with-Children.jpg 25. Married…with Children
Years: 1987-1997
Each era has its “low-brow classic” show, and for the late ’80s and most of the ’90s, that show was Married…with Children. Unlike Ed O’Neil’s current stint on Modern Family, there’s really no wit or morals to be had here, just a crass commentary on the state of the lower-class American family in the early ’90s. Al Bundy is a simple man, and he has few redeeming characteristics: He’s cheap, he’s a loser, he’s a depressed would-be philanderer, but damn if people couldn’t identify with the sad sack and his quest to simply put meals on the table with enough money left over for beer. It’s the kind of show that received heaping amounts of scorn from the literati for its entire run but is remembered today with fondness by just about anyone who wanted to kill a half hour on a Sunday night with a few harmless laughs.—Jim Vorel

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mash-tv.jpg 24. M*A*S*H
Years: 1972-1983
The best part of M*A*S*H’s run was in the 1970s—by the time Reagan rolled into office, we’d already lost Henry Blake, Trapper McIntyre, Frank Burns and even Radar O’Reilly. But with replacements for all but Radar firmly in place, there was still enough momentum in the end to make the season finale the most-watched TV episode up to that point in history with 125 million viewers. Alda, as both star and executive producer, steered the show into more serious waters with episodes like “Follies of the Living” and “Where There’s Will, There’s a War,” without ever losing the sharp wit at its heart.—Josh Jackson

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best-sitcoms-veep.jpg 23. Veep
Years: 2012-present
Veep satirizes the political world by distilling it down to what the public likes to watch most: the screw-ups. From foot-in-mouth moments to mis-sent documents to squeaky shoes, everything Selina Meyer (Julia Louis Dreyfus) does is scrutinized, turned into an offense, and spit back at her through the distorted prism of Twitter and never-ending public opinion polling. They never specify Meyer’s political party, and it’s no surprise that its fans span the political spectrum. Because the main thing Veep stays true to is shining a light on the people more desperate to be near power than to make any real social impact. Dreyfus may be the funniest person on TV right now. She’ll truly commit to a bit, and she has a habit of taking them beyond surface level cute into the truly disastrous and unflattering. Selina Meyer doesn’t walk into glass doors, she shatters them and stands in a pile of glass with bleeding cuts all over her face. She takes bad advice, wears terrible hats, gets a Dustin Hoffman haircut, and can’t go abroad without committing terrible international faux pas. And Selina is at her best as a character when she’s at her most terrible—full of ego, more concerned with being liked than passing legislation, and blaming her staff for her mistakes. Selina’s “bag man” Gary (Tony Hale) is a glorious sad sack, and Dan Egan (Reid Scott) is so coldly ambitious his every misstep feels like a victory. But for every unknowingly selfish thing each person says, Veep’s ace-in-the-hole is Anna Chlumsky’s Amy, whose Olympic-level reaction faces land everyone else’s jokes. And the smaller recurring roles offer cameos from some of America’s best improvisers. Through and through, it’s a comedy nerd’s dream team.—Erica Lies

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roseanne.jpg 22. Roseanne
Years: 1988-1997
Appearing near the tail end of the ’80s, Roseanne presented a monumental shift in the depiction of the American family. Like Married…with Children, which had premiered a year-and-a-half beforehand, it was a show with real bite, as evidenced by star Roseanne Barr’s stand-up material. Unlike the Fox program, however, the stories of Roseanne and Dan Conner and their rambunctious kids were almost always rooted in heart. In a landscape filled with pretty people and their petty problems, Roseanne chose to tackle the realities of a blue-collar family struggling to get by. Besides highlighting a side of America not seen since the heyday of Norman Lear, the show also used its primetime platform to discuss controversial issues of birth control, drug abuse and homosexuality. And though the show’s much maligned final season did not sit well with most audiences, one cannot deny that Roseanne was, like its titular character, bold and uncompromising.—Mark Rozeman

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best-sitcoms-scrubs.jpg 21. Scrubs
Years: 2001-2010
J.D. and the gang gave a completely absurd (and yet, often, the most realistic) look into the world of hospitals. Each episode didn’t center around some outlandish disease that everyone thought was lupus, only to find out it was something else in the last five minutes of the show. Instead Scrubs was character-driven. It was consistently overlooked by the Emmy Awards, and viewership dwindled throughout the seasons. Still, the witty writing and off-beat characters deserved more. When NBC canceled the show, ABC was confident enough to pick it up for two more (laborious, unwatchable) seasons. But in its prime, it was one of the best sitcoms on TV.—Adam Vitcavage

best-sitcoms-curb-your-enthusiasm.jpg 20. Curb Your Enthusiasm
Years: 2000-2011
Larry David pulled off the rare successful second act in television comedy—Curb Your Enthusiasm was almost as hilarious as Seinfeld, and thanks to HBO’s more laidback production schedules, it actually lasted longer than his first sitcom, running off and on from 2000 to 2011. (It’s still not officially cancelled, although David apparently is doubtful that it’ll return.) Curb was Seinfeldian in its rhythms, with David basically playing the George Costanza version of himself as an eternally perturbed and self-defeating schlemiel who just happens to be fantastically wealthy after creating a show called Seinfeld. A lot of cringe comedy forgets to actually be funny, but that was never a problem for Curb, which remained as funny (and cringeworthy) as ever over its eight seasons. And it’s not just the increasingly uncomfortable situations or David’s masterful escalation from annoyance to rage to embarrassment that made the show work so well—David surrounded himself with a fantastic cast, from regulars like Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, JB Smoove and Susie Essman, to such recurring guest stars as Wanda Sykes, Richard Lewis, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Bob “’Super Dave’ Osborne” Einstein. Oh, and also there’s an entire season about a Seinfeld reunion, guest starring the original cast. Curb can be hard to watch at times, but it was always hilarious, and was HBO’s trademark comedy throughout the last decade.—Garrett Martin

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best-sitcoms-all-in-the-family.jpg 19. All in the Family
Years: 1971-1979
When it comes to creative reigns, few in Hollywood can claim to have a more consistent, high-quality streak than writer/producer Norman Lear did in the 1970s. Debuting in 1971, All the Family, a remake of the British sitcom ’Til Death Us Do Part, served as the maiden voyage for Lear’s brand of comedy—namely, delivering gut-busting comedy that aimed to Trojan Horse controversial, yet topical social issues of race, sex and class into the American living room. Spearheading the series was Archie Bunker, the cantankerous, crusty and altogether racist working man who, in the hands of actor Carroll O’ Connor, became one of TV comedy’s greatest creations and a beacon for both liberals and conservatives alike (those on the right were convinced he was espousing their values, while those on the left viewed him as a caricature of old world sentiments). Each week, Archie would find his limited worldview challenged by the likes of his counter-culture-friendly son-in-law, thus opening the doors to discussions that were as illuminating as they were humorous. Though not all of the show’s 200-plus episodes were home runs, All in the Family remains one of the most influential and powerful programs of all time. Today, much of the abundance of great television on display can be traced back to Lear’s insistence that the medium could be an instrument of social change, rather than simply the “vast wasteland” it has been dubbed.—Mark Rozeman

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best-sitcoms-community.jpg 18. Community
Years: 2009-2015
As a half-hour sitcom, Community didn’t merely break the fourth wall; it broke it, openly commented on the fact that it broke it, only to then build a fifth wall for the express purpose of further demolition. Yet, if deconstructing the sitcom formula was all creator Dan Harmon’s magnum opus had to offer, it would have been a fun, if superficial lark. Instead, in telling the story of a ragtag group of community college students, the show used its vast pop culture vernacular as a vessel for telling surprisingly resonant stories about outcasts attempting to find acceptance, a sense of belonging and, yes, community. Whether the Greendale study group was participating in an epic game of paintball or being confined to their study room in search of a pen, Harmon and Co. perfected the art of taking gimmicky concepts and transforming them into strong, character-driven gems. And while only time will tell if the show will ever fulfill the “movie” segment of its #sixseasonsandamovie battle cry, the strange, winding saga of Community will forever stand as the stuff of TV sitcom legends.—Mark Rozeman

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49-90-of-the-90s-Fresh-Prince-of-Bel-Air.jpg
17. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Years: 1990-1996
Most beloved opening theme song of the 1990s? Could very well be, judging from the response this one will get at literally any bar karaoke night—seriously, try it the next time you’re out on the town. Looking at this series in the context of 1990, it’s funny to think that Will Smith was already sort of viewed as a “has-been” in his music career, a guy desperately trying to stay relevant by joining a sitcom. Of course, he ultimately had the last laugh as the fish-out-of-water story of Fresh Prince became popular immediately and survives in syndication to this day. Smith went on to become Hollywood elite, and the rest of the country learned to dance The Carlton. Everyone wins.—Jim Vorel

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best-sitcoms-barneymiller.jpg 16. Barney Miller
Years: 1974-1982
Barney Miller had all the witty banter and shaggy charm of your typical workplace comedy. It just so happened that this one took place within the dingy, paper-strewn squad room of the 12th Precinct. Along the way, Capt. Miller and his crew of hangdog detectives dealt with all manner of crimes, squabbles, and broke open the occasional social issue like drugs and gay rights for examination. What it never got was too preachy, too dark, or too scary, even though all the cops on the scene were carrying pieces. Instead, the crew took everything in stride, washed down with a mug of lukewarm coffee.—Robert Ham

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5-90-of-the-90s-Frasier.jpg 15. Frasier
Years: 1993-2004
Many of the sitcoms on this list are paeans to blue-collar family life, but Frasier was the odd show that made cultural elites and eggheads somehow seem like lovable characters to a mass audience. Both Frasier and his brother Niles can be infuriatingly snobbish, but audiences soon found that when their petty jealousies were directed at each other, they could also be hilarious. The show soon became an off-hand representation of the idea of “smart comedy” on TV, but it was also still a sitcom full of relationship humor. Viewers waited a hell of a long time in particular for the long-teased relationship between Niles and Daphne to finally come to fruition (seven full seasons). Frazier, on the other hand, is never really lucky in love, but he was always better as a semi-depressed single, turning his probing mind on himself.—Jim Vorel

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golden-girls.jpg 14. The Golden Girls
Years: 1985-1992
It’s hard to imagine NBC making a show like this today—how would four elderly women with clashing personalities attract the coveted 18-39 demo? Dorothy (Bea Arthur) is the put-upon voice of reason. Her snarky mother Sophia (Estelle Getty) is always ready with a pithy one-liner. Blanche (Rue McClanahan) reminisces constantly about nights of passionate romance. And all of this goes right over the head of doe-eyed, naive Rose (Betty White). Through it all, the show has incredible heart and over the years we grew to care as deeply for these four women, as they clearly cared for one another.—Liz Shinn

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best-sitcoms-mary-tyler-moore.jpg 13. Mary Tyler Moore
Years: 1970-1977
Even if you were born long after the show premiered, you probably are familiar with its most iconic moments—Mary triumphantly tossing her hat in the air, the death of Chuckles the clown or the traveling group hug that ended the series. Mary Richards (Moore) remains iconic as the first single, career woman to ever be the subject of a television show. She lived by herself! Made her own decisions! And wasn’t worried about getting married! Can you believe it? Set in the newsroom of WJM in Minneapolis, Mary’s co-workers included her irascible boss Lou Grant (Asner), affable news writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), and goofy anchorman Ted Baxter (Knight). This was an office-based comedy in a time when family comedies were all the rage. The groundbreaking series paved the way for shows as varied as Murphy Brown, 30 Rock and The Mindy Project. Plus Mary had spunk, and we love spunk.—Amy Amatangelo

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6-90-of-the-90s-South-Park.jpg 12. South Park
Years: 1997-present
The South Park of the 1990s was quite a different show from the one it grew into over the years. In its earliest episodes, it was absolutely committed to raising as much controversy as possible, which was certainly a success in terms of media coverage alone. But the main characters were also quite a bit different—Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman were more innocent characters back then, truly childlike in many ways, less mature and grizzled from the insane experiences of living in their “quiet mountain town.” The early episodes are focused much tighter on those central characters as well, while just beginning to dip into pop culture parody (such as “Chinpokomon”) and episodes dedicated to supporting characters (such as “The Succubus”). The ’90s show hadn’t quite grown to its full potential, but it’s still easy to miss some of these character-driven stories compared to South Park’s more recent product, which so often dedicates whole episodes to Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s opinions on a single trend, celebrity, film or limited subject matter.—Jim Vorel

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best-sitcoms-2015-parksandrec.jpg 11. Parks and Recreation
Years: 2009-2015
 Parks and Recreation started its run as a fairly typical mirror of The Office, but in its third season, the student became the master. As it’s fleshed out with oddballs and unusual city quirks, Pawnee has become the greatest television town since Springfield. Parks flourished over the years with some of the most unique and interesting characters in modern comedy. And the beloved comedy accomplished the near-impossible and went out on top in 2015 when the series came to an end. Comedies, in particular, have a difficult time knowing when it’s time to take a bow. But Leslie Knope and her merry band of friends kept us laughing (and crying) right up until the series finale, which offered a powerfully good farewell to one of the most creative and beloved network series in a long time.—Ross Bonaime and Amy Amatangelo

best-sitcoms-jeffersons.jpg 10. The Jeffersons
Years: 1975-1985
Norman Lear created a run of hit shows in the 1970s, beginning with All in the Family, Sanford and Son (and its British predecessor Steptoe and Son), The Jeffersons, Maude, One Day at a Time and Good Times. It could be argued that no one had a bigger audience for interracial dialogue than Lear. The Jeffersons was his longest running series, lasting well into the ’80s, and in it, he gave America an affluent African American family dealing with new surroundings. George Jefferson might not have been a model for race relations (referring to Louise’s interracial couple friends as “zebras”), but as with Archie Bunker, bigotry in the show was revealed for what it was.—Josh Jackson

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best-sitcoms-office-us.jpg 9. The Office US
Years: 2005-2013
Remakes are not easy. But the U.S. version of The Office taught a master class in staying true to the spirit of the original British The Office, while creating its own distinctive show. The employees of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company were led by their oblivious leader Michael (Steve Carell). He was the best boss in the world, and had the mug to prove it. Now a bit de rigueur, when it premiere in 2005, the show’s mockumentary style, wherein characters spoke directly to the camera, was innovative. Carrell brilliantly walked the fine line of being absolutely clueless about interpersonal relationships, but fairly competent as a salesman. Amid all the irony, the series brought viewers the sweet romance of Jim and Pam, the not-so-sweet romance of Dwight and Angela and some terrific office shenanigans. The show was often preposterous, but always had heart. There was a little bit of our co-workers in every Office character.—Amy Amatangelo

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best-sitcoms-lucy.jpg 8. I Love Lucy
Years: 1951-1957
I Love Lucy is one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time. It’s a show so well-structured, and so beloved, it continues to air in 2016, even though the last new episode premiered in 1957. It was the first show inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, and multiple publications, including TV Guide and TIME, have named it one of the best television shows of all-time. Many series have clearly been (and still are) influenced by the wacky adventures of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, but I Love Lucy also played a major role in what would become a staple of the sitcom genre—reruns and syndication, born out of necessity after Ball became pregnant while filming. Ball and Arnaz were consistently determined to bring their unique vision to television, which ultimately resulted in a reinvention of the modern sitcom. Even if the generations to come don’t get to experience the magic in the same way that some of us have, the legacy of Ball and Arnaz, and how they made and re-made television, will always be apparent.—Chris Morgan

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best-sitcoms-theofficeuk.jpg 7. The Office UK
Years: 2001-2003
I consider Ricky Gervais’ version of The Office to be a perfect sitcom for the way it balances cynicism and sentimentality. The comedy is heartbreaking, dark, brutal and oppressive—it stares into the deadening abyss of modern capitalism, which for so many people takes the form of dreary office jobs that eat up our time and slowly kill our souls, and it viciously attacks the entire structure. At its heart is David Brent, the incompetent, pompous narcissist who is one of the least lovable, most insecure leads in sitcom history. He fancies himself a kind of guru, but is in fact a moron, and his interactions with his deadly serious underling Gareth are beyond delightful. And even in this bleak setting, Gervais manages to reach our heartstrings with the awkward, slowly budding romance between Tim and Dawn, which stops short of the soap operatic smaltz of the American version (for one thing, Gervais has the balls to cast average-looking leads in his show, which would never happen over here) and has the capacity to actually make you ache. This seminal comedy gives up nothing too easily—its default setting is disappointment and ennui, always striving to undercut its principles—and that fact makes each move toward something brighter feel truly beautiful and truly earned.—Shane Ryan

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best-sitcoms-30-rock.jpg 6. 30 Rock
Years: 2006-2013
The spiritual successor to Arrested Development, 30 Rock succeeded where its competition failed by largely ignoring the actual process of creating a TV show and instead focusing on the life of one individual in charge of the process, played by show creator Tina Fey. 30 Rock never loses track of its focus and creates a surprisingly deep character for the its circus to spin around. But Fey’s not the only one that makes the series. Consistently spot-on performances by Tracy Morgan—whether frequenting strip clubs or a werewolf bar mitzvah—and Alec Baldwin’s evil plans for microwave-television programming create a perfect level of chaos for the show’s writers to unravel every week. 30 Rock doesn’t have complex themes or a deep message, but that stuff would get in the way of its goal: having one of the most consistently funny shows on TV. Suffice to say, it succeeded.—Sean Gandert

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cosby-show.jpg 5. The Cosby Show
Years: 1984-1992
George Jefferson may have been moving on up, but The Cosby Show gave the nation a more relatable glimpse of the growing middle-class among African Americans, dealing with race, but much more often, dealing with the trials that we all faced. Inspired by Cosby’s own family experiences which had been a staple of his stand-up routine, the show dominated the second half of the ’80s, topping the Neilsen ratings from 1985-90 and averaging more than 30 million viewers in the ’86-87 season. Cosby’s legacy might currently be in shambles, but the show was bigger than the man.—Josh Jackson

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arrested_development.jpg 4. Arrested Development
Years: 2003-present
Mitch Hurwitz’ sitcom about a “wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together” debuted six weeks after Two and a Half Men, but never gathered the audience to keep the show alive. Still, Hurwitz packed a whole lot of awesome into three short seasons. How much awesome? Well, there was the chicken dance, for starters. And Franklin’s “It’s Not Easy Being White.” There was Ron Howard’s spot-on narration, and Tobias Funke’s Blue Man ambitions. There was Mrs. Featherbottom and Charlize Theron as Rita, Michael Bluth’s mentally challenged love interest. Not since Seinfeld has a comic storyline been so perfectly constructed, with every loose thread tying so perfectly into the next act: The Oedipal Buster spiting his mother Lucille by dating her friend Lucille, and eventually losing his hand to a hungry loose seal; George Michael crushing on his cousin only to have the house cave in when they finally kiss; the “Save Our Bluths” campaign trying to simultaneously rescue the family and rescue the show from cancellation. Arrested Development took self-referencing postmodernism to an absurdist extreme, jumping shark after shark, but that was the point. They even brought on the original shark-jumper—Henry Winkler—as the family lawyer. And when he was replaced, naturally, it was by Scott Baio. Each of the Bluth family members was among the best characters on television, and Jason Bateman played a brilliant straight man to them all.—Josh Jackson

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2-90-of-the-90s-Seinfeld.jpg 3. Seinfeld
Years: 1989-1998
On any given weekday, the likelihood is high that I watch a Seinfeld rerun that I’ve seen at least 20 times before, and I’m not alone in that habit. The fact that the show has been in continual reruns and syndication since its 76-million viewer finale proves how beloved it remains to this day: Seinfeld is still making money for networks 16 years after it ended. Its grasp on pop culture minutia was on another level entirely, as was its distaste for typical sitcom conventions. Long-term relationships and love triangles were practically non-existent on Seinfeld. Never did characters offer sappy apologies to each other. Never did they even learn from their mistakes! Larry David and company were instead committed to telling stories of everyday, casual misanthropy from people who viewed themselves as “generally decent” or average, but were in reality pretty terrible individuals. Without even going into depth about the show’s transformative effect on the cultural lexicon, known as “Seinlanguage,” it’s easy to see how Seinfeld uniquely stood out from every one of its peers.—Jim Vorel

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20-90-of-the-90s-Cheers.jpg 2. Cheers
Years: 1982-1992
Like many long-running sitcoms, the Cheers of the 90s was really a fundamentally different show than it was in the 80s, less about the dating life of Ted Danson’s Sam and much more of an ensemble device, full of characters who were by this point beloved by all. The final years of Cheers were when all these characters got to shine, especially Rhea Perlman as Carla and Kelsey Grammer, who joined the cast full-time before spinning off into Frasier. The finale episode received mixed reactions at the time, but nostalgia has pushed it into favorable territory, especially given the happy endings that most characters receive. The fact that Sam decides not to get married and stays with the bar is the right decision—it is of course his “one true love.”—Jim Vorel

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1-90-of-the-90s-The-Simpsons.jpg 1. The Simpsons
Years: 1989-present
At its creative peak in the mid-’90s, there was no better-written show on TV—the joke density alone is absolutely incredible. Go back and watch an episode like part one of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” from 1995 and the thing one can’t help but notice is how insanely fast everything moves—there’s literally a joke every few seconds, most of them brilliant. Every type of humor is present, from the ubiquitous pop culture references to self-referential parody, slapstick, wordplay and simply silly, iconic characters. Really, what TV character has been quoted more times since the early ’90s than Homer Simpson? How many of us can recite entire passages or episodes?—Jim Vorel

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