90% of People Can't Figure out These '80s and '90s Sitcoms? Can You Get the Last Laugh?
About This Quiz
Sure, they made you laugh, but the sitcoms of the ‘80s and ’90s also made you think. You can see the growth in complexity from the ‘70s sitcoms (“Green Acres”) to the '90s sitcoms (“Frasier”). The growth stemmed from our need to find humor in the complicated, fast-paced world we lived in. From “News Radio” to “Barney Miller” to “Night Court,” sitcoms tackled the heavier issues while keeping humor at the forefront. How well can you remember the sitcoms of the ‘80s and ’90s? Will you be the 1 in 10 people who can pass this quiz? Find out now by clicking below.
The growth of sitcoms changed with the times. For instance, the definition of “family” had changed over the years. It no longer meant a nuclear family with a traditional mom, dad and kids. That change was reflected in television shows such as “Punky Brewster”, “One Day at a Time” and “Full House." Which show spoke to you? What were your favorites that you tuned into each night, “Doogie Howser, M.D.”, “Friends”, or “Taxi”? Or were you into teen angst, like “Growing Pains," “Head of the Class” and “Saved by the Bell”? Recall them all by taking the quiz now. You’re sure to do better than the 90% who can’t guess the correct answers.
Mork and Mindy hit American television screens in 1978 but ran for four seasons and 94 episodes before it came to an end in 1982. It starred Robin Williams as the alien Mork and Pam Dawber as Mindy. Many people remember Mork's Nanu Nanu greeting from the show. It is said that Williams was inspired by the Dr. Spock Live Long and Prosper greeting from Star Trek.
The popular Designing Woman ran for a full seven seasons from 1986 to 1993 for 163 episodes. Starring Delta Burke, Dixie Carter and Anna Potts, it tells the story of a group of women who run a design firm. The popularity of the show can be seen in the fact that by the time it hit its last season in 1993, it was the only show still running of the 24 that debuted the same year as it did.
Future Friends star Lisa Kudrow originally won the role of Frasier’s producer, Roz Doyle. But during the third day of rehearsals prior to filming the pilot, the producers realized that while Kudrow was certainly funny enough, she just wasn’t forceful enough to match Grammer when he went all out.
The original idea for Home Improvement came from Tim Allen and was titled Hammer Time. Frances Fisher, who is better known for her dramatic work on the stage and in films like Unforgiven and Titanic, was originally cast as Tim's wife, Jill.
Punky Brewster tells the story of a small girl and her dog, abandoned in a supermarket and eventually adopted by a good samaritan, Henry Warnimont. The show starred Soleil Moon Frye as Punky and George Gaynes as Henry. This sitcom ran for four seasons and 88 episodes.
Head of the Class tells the story of a group of gifted students and their teacher in an 'enrichment' class given at the high school that they attend. It starred Howard Hesseman as teacher Charlie Moore. He left the show after the fourth season and was replaced by Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly. Head of the Class ran from 1986 to 1990.
Small Wonder follows the lives of the Lawson family and their inventor father, Ted. Things change in their household when Ted creates a girl robot, Vicki who the family passes off as one of their own children. Small Wonder ran for 96 episodes and four seasons.
The budget in the early days of Married with Children was so small that when Buck the dog went on a credit card shopping spree, the big items he purchased were brought in from the homes of the show's cast and crew. It wasn’t until season three that Katey Sagal got to wear a wig.
Though it wasn’t an immediate ratings bonanza, The Wonder Years was a critical smash from the get-go. On August 28th—with only six episodes screened—Marlens and Black took home the 1988 Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.
With Craig T Nelson in the lead role, Coach proved to be a massively succesful sitcom. It ran for 199 episodes over 9 seasons and told the story of college coach Hayden Fox who must balance his love for the game with his family life. Interestingly, the role was originally written for Dabney Coleman.
Hal Linden stars as Captain Barney Miller in this police sitcom that aired for eight seasons and 171 episodes. Interestingly, pretty much every bit of action in this series takes place in the police station itself with Miller having to deal with a whole lot of problems, not only from the streets outside but from his own men.
In Mad About You, the Buchmans' dog, Murray, was actually Maui, a collie mix. He was originally found in a Castaic, California, animal shelter by a Hollywood animal trainer. Maui got his start in TV commercials and as the understudy for the titular circus dog in Bingo (1991).
Full House was one of the most popular sitcoms of the late '80s, early '90s. Starring Bob Saget, John Stamos, and Dave Coulier, it tells the story of a dad (Saget) bringing up his children with the help of his brother-in-law and best friend. Interestingly, the show was almost canceled after the first season. Luckily, it went on to air for 193 episodes over 8 seasons.
The theme songs for sitcoms of the '90s are almost as iconic and memorable as the shows themselves. The catchy theme song of Step by Step, called Second Time Around, was written by Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay. These legendary composers also wrote music for Full House and Family Matters.
Another school-based sitcom, Saved By The Bell follows the daily shenanigans of six students from Bayside High School. It starred Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, and Dennis Haskins and ran for 86 episodes over four seasons. The series became extremely popular and saw a number of TV movie spin-offs.
Created by Bill Cosby, A Different World was a spin-off of the Cosby Show following Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) as she attends college. Bonet left the show after just a season when she fell pregnant. Marisa Tomei was also in the show for a season as a roommate of Denise. In real life, Tomei and Bonet were also roomies during the filming of the first season of the show.
It’s no coincidence that Wings is the airport version of Cheers, as its co-creators, David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee spent several years working together on the beloved series about the bar where everybody knows your name. Though it’s not a spin-off, Wings featured several tie-ins with both Cheers and Frasier (another Angell-Casey-Lee creation).
A winner of three Golden Globes, One Day At A Time First aired in 1975 and ran for an incredible nine seasons and 209 episodes. It tells the story of a recently divorced mother and her two children as they rebuild their lives in a new city. It starred Bonnie Franklin, Valerie Bertinelli and Pat Harrington Jr. amongst others.
Almost six months before Sabrina, the Teenage Witch premiered, the show's "unofficial pilot" premiered as a TV movie on Showtime. In the movie, Sabrina's last name was Sawyer, not Spellman. Ryan Reynolds portrayed Seth, Sabrina's (short-lived) love interest.
Doogie Howser, M.D., was brought to ABC by Steven Bochco, a producer with an impressive track record. Despite his reputation, the network wasn’t pleased with his choice of Neil Patrick Harris in the title role.
Silver Spoons, starring Ricky Schroder tells the story of an extremely wealthy father (played by Joel Higgins) who must bring up his young son (Schroder) who he has never met. Unfortunately, he has never really grown up himself! The show also starred Erin Gray and Alfonso Ribeiro (later of Fresh Prince of Bel Air) in later seasons. It was extremely popular, running for 116 episodes and five seasons.
While there isn’t an actual Central Perk in New York City, the fictional café from Friends has inspired some real ones. In 2010, Friends fan Du Xin opened a Central Perk replica in downtown Beijing, which became extremely popular.
The Facts of Life tells the story of a group of young girls who attend a boarding school together. It follows their day to day lives as they deal with the problems all teenage girls experience. Luckily, there is always Mrs. Garrett (played by Charlotte Rae) to provide guidance. In later seasons, the girls leave school and help Mrs. Garrett open her own business. This popular sitcom ran for 203 episodes over 9 seasons.
ALF is an alien visiting Earth from the planet Melmec. Except he announces himself to the Tanner family by crashing his spaceship into their garage. ALF and his new family live in harmony (sort of) as long as he doesn't eat their cat! This sitcom had a great run of 104 episodes and 4 seasons.
Oops! On a season 9 episode of the King of Queens, when Doug is driving and eating Chinese takeout, he slams on the brakes and the food covers his jacket. The scene shows him open his truck door still covered in rice, yet when he steps out, his jacket is spotless.
Eight days after the airing of the season three finale of 3rd Rock from the Sun, Phil Hartman was tragically murdered. When the episode re-aired a week before the following season’s premiere, Hartman’s scenes were re-shot with a different actor as a different character, so the resolution to the cliffhanger involving Hartman's character wouldn’t seem awkwardly re-cast or possibly considered disrespectful.
Created by Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon, Mama's Family ran from 1984 till 1990 (130 episodes). It starred Vicky Lawrence and Ken Barry and tells the story of Thelma Crowley Harper, who together with her sister, moves in and lives with her divorced son and his young family. This concept/idea first aired on the Carol Burnett Show.
Starring Helen Martin, Marla Gibbs and Hal Williams, 227 is set in an apartment building in Chicago. This sitcom follows the daily coming and going of the residents of this apartment, their stories and the highs and lows in their lives. It was based on a play by playwright, Christine Houston and ran for 116 episodes over 5 seasons.
Just Shoot Me! was never given a definitive time slot during its series run. The show ended up being moved around on the NBC schedule. It still retained good ratings. In the fourth season, it was the top-rated show for NBC Tuesday nights.
Dharma and Greg was a successful show, but not error-free. Oops! When Dharma and Kitty are out driving in a season 1 episode, Dharma turns the steering wheel for a hard left turn but the car appears to turn right. Additionally, Dharma and Kitty look to be affected by forces indicating a left turn despite the image of the car turning right.
Another extremely long-running sitcom that first aired in 1976 and ran into the mid-1980s, Alice starred Linda Lavin in the lead role as Alice, a recently widowed mother of a teenage boy who moves to Phoenix. Here she gets a job as a waitress at Mel's Diner. It also starred Beth Howland and Victayback. Alice ran for 202 episodes.
Comedian Roseanne Bar stars in star in this sitcom from the late '80s that prove so popular that it ran for an incredible 221 episodes and 9 full seasons. Roseanne's husband was played by John Goodman and the series told the story of a regular families trials and tribulations in the '80s and '90s America. Interestingly, the show was originally going to be called Life and Stuff.
In Spin City, Barry Bostwick portrayed New York City Mayor Randall Winston, which was also the name of the show's associate producer. The real-life Winston asked Bostwick to make the character very popular so that he could get great tables at restaurants in New York.
Perfect Strangers tells the story of Larry Appleton, an uptight resident of Chicago, who just after moving to his first apartment meets his cousin Balki who comes from the Mediterranean Island of Mypos. Balki has come to America to meet his family that lives there. Interestingly, Bronson Pinchot turned down the role of Balki but eventually changed his mind before shooting commenced.
A 1980s sitcom with Tom Hanks who spends a lot of time disguised as a woman? Yes...it really did happen. It may have only lasted for two seasons and 37 episodes but this scenario played out in the early '80s sitcom, Bosom Buddies. It also starred Peter Scolari.
The "second-half" of The Wayans Bros. theme song was changed twice throughout its four-year run. In the first two seasons, the show's theme song was A Tribe Called Quest's Electric Relaxation. In the third season, the theme song changed to a 4-second hip-hop beat. In the final two seasons, the show's theme song was changed again to a regular hip-hop instrumental beat
Taxi had a spectacular cast for a sitcom with Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza, Andy Kaufman and even Danny DeVito starring. As the name implies, Taxi followed the daily lives of the crew working for a taxi company in New York. Interestingly Kaufman's contract specified he only needed to be on set for two days a week as he wanted to focus on his stand-up career.
The inside of Herman Brooks' head was presented as an attic with four characters who represented the conflicting forces which drove his personality and his life: Angel (his Sensitivity), Animal (his Lust), Wimp (his Anxiety), and Genius (his Intellect).
Starring Robert Guillaume, this sitcom follows the lives of Governor Eugene Xavier Gatling , his family, staff and of course Benson, a former butler who quickly becomes indispensable to him in his daily tasks. Interestingly, the show was a spin-off of another sitcom, Soap, where Guillaume also played Benson.
The series, Unhappily Ever After, was initially intended to be a starring vehicle for Stephanie Hodge, whose character of Jennie was the focus of the first few episodes. However, the series concept was soon re-worked.
A soap-sitcom, Soap tells the story of two families, the Tates and the Campbells. It starred Katherine Helmond, Rod Roddy, Richard Mulligan and Robert Guillaume, eventually leading to a spin-off series with Guillaume, Benson. Soap ran for four seasons and 88 episodes. Interestingly, this sitcom was one of the first TV shows to have an openly gay character, played by Billy Crystal.
Caroline's success as a cartoonist is displayed throughout the first season of Caroline in the City. Her cartoon character gets a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, she has a park dedicated to her in her native Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and she even has an offer for a cereal brand.
Growing Pains was a very successful sitcom that ran for seven seasons and 167 episodes. It centered on the Seaver family, father Jason, mother Maggie and their children Mike, Carol and Ben. The show helped launch Kirk Cameron as one of the '80s biggest teen stars. Interestingly, Alan Thicke who played Jason Seaver is the father or RnB singer, Robin Thicke.
Dinosaurs was originally designed by Jim Henson, who is best remembered as the creator of the famous Muppets. Jim spent several years planning the series. He wanted something familiar and fun, but with a small change. So he made the protagonists dinosaurs who could use technology and were socially advanced, facing everyday problems like work, school and education.
Judge Harold T. Stone (Harry Anderson) presides over a 'pretty crime' court in Manhattan that runs in the evening. He is aided by Dan Fielding and Christine Sullivan (played by John Larroquette and Marki Post), It ran for nine seasons and 193 episodes with Larroquette winning 4 Emmies for his portrayal of Fielding.