Funniest Shows of All Time, Ranked — Best Comedies on TV


From “Cheers” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Display” to “Neighborhood” and “Martin,” those scripted TV comedies have confirmed to be magnificent cultural mainstays.

[Editor’s Note: The below piece was originally published on March 27, 2020. It has been expanded from the 50 greatest TV comedies of all time to the 56 greatest as of May 12, 2021.]

Comedy regulations are made to be damaged. If all laughter comes from some large mental misdirect, then it follows that the funniest collection are those that proceed to take the surprising routes. 

However on occasion a comedy is memorable on account of the principles that it inadvertently places in position. Some foundational TV collection have continued no longer as a result of they have been scores or cultural juggernauts of their time, however as a result of their non secular descendants dotted programming lineups years — possibly even many years — after their cameras stopped rolling. 

As in different nation-states of leisure, the TV comedies that bear and which might be price revisiting arrange to talk to one thing brewing of their day and the audiences staring at generations after. Once in a while it’s an issue of seeing how a lot the speculation of excellent governance has modified since some starry-eyed optimists in Indiana closed up store only a few years in the past. Different instances, it’s spotting how a quartet of grateful pals in Miami are nonetheless offering convenience for audience the similar age as their great-grandchildren. 

In fact, the platonic superb of a TV comedy has modified over that point, too. The 3-jokes-per-page maxim changed into gospel…after which was once summarily tossed out the window as presentations discovered extra techniques to be cathartic than a parade of guffaws. There are the suave presentations, the witty and the dry, the outrageous and the provocative, those that lean to your wisdom of all the ones others whilst handing over references with a wink and a nod.

So, so as to collect that unpredictable cross-section of over a half-century of TV comedies, we’ve attempted to shape our alternatives for the 50 largest. We’ve attempted our easiest to fight recency bias, whilst acknowledging that the explosion in high quality TV of overdue has made it not possible to forget about that some all-time paintings continues to be unfolding in entrance of our eyes. The ones trends additionally prolong into the sector past the fictitious ones, the place once-vaunted collection have develop into irreparably tainted by means of the behavior in their stars and creators. (You’ll be able to bet which of them the ones are by means of their omission within the assortment beneath.)

Even with the ones long gone, there’s nonetheless a surprising selection of probabilities to choose between. (The IndieWire staff of writers started with a listing of smartly over 100 and made up our minds finalists thru a sequence of votes.) At this level in TV historical past, 50 could be a consultant sum, nevertheless it’s a ways from complete. Nonetheless, it’s price saluting the next presentations, that vary from the spectacular to the magnificent.

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost

“Spaced”

Paramount Comedy Channel

55. “Spaced” (ABC, 1999-2001)

Prior to Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost battled zombies, cults, and the literal finish of the sector they have been telling the tale of 2 pals studying to develop up. “Spaced” sees all of Wright’s alumni introduced in combination for 2 seasons of natural fried gold. Tim and Daisy (Pegg and Jessica Hynes, respectively) are easiest pals of their 20somethings on the lookout for an rental. The one one they may be able to find the money for, regardless that, is for {couples} which reasons the 2 to fake they’re courting. Alongside the way in which, they and their hodgepodge workforce of pals find out about duty whilst nonetheless having wacky adventures. Just about each and every episode of “Spaced” is absurdist a laugh with a middle, from Tim and Daisy have mock gun battles to studying a few good friend’s hatred of “Come On, Eileen.” Hynes is particularly hilarious, in particular for her courting with a canine named Colin. For those who’re on the lookout for a heartwarming story of friendship interspersed with Wright’s patented mix of comedy, you’ll be able to’t do any higher than “Spaced.”

BOY MEETS WORLD, Will Friedle, Ben Savage, Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong, Matthew Lawrence (1997-2000). 1993-2000. (c) Buena Vista Television/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

“Boy Meets International”

©Buena Vista Photos/Courtesy Everett Assortment

55. “Boy Meets International” (ABC, 1993-2000)

“Boy Meets International” changed into one of the crucial staples of the mythical ABC Friday evening lineup referred to as TGIF. The collection adopted Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) as he handled heart faculty, highschool, and faculty with the assistance of his subsequent door neighbor and trainer Mr. Feeney (William Daniels), in addition to his easiest good friend and his female friend Topanga (Danielle Fishel). “Boy Meets International” was once an ideal encapsulation of tv aimed toward teenagers within the mid-’90s. It nonetheless subscribed to a laugh and humor, but additionally had a number of well known “very particular episodes.” When the collection transitioned into syndication, airing at the Disney Channel and the Disney-owned ABC Circle of relatives, a number of episodes have been minimize from the rotation because of their frank discussions of intercourse. However they have been additionally ready to convey the humorous in quite a few distinctive scenarios, together with their well-liked Halloween episodes which incorporated visitor appearances from the likes of Candice Cameron and Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Stream on Disney+; purchase on Amazon.

DARIA, (from left): Brittany Taylor, Daria Morgendorffer, Jane Lane, (Season 5), 1997-2002. © MTV / Courtesy: Everett Collection

“Daria”

©MTV/Courtesy Everett Assortment

54. “Daria” (MTV, 1997-2002)

Certainly one of MTV’s maximum iconic collection, animated or differently, “Daria” was once the display for any individual who felt disaffected or got rid of from society (or who simply wish to be on best of what the cool children have been staring at). The collection adopted Daria Morgendorffer (voiced by means of Tracy Grandstaff) who offers along with her well-liked sister Quinn (voiced by means of Wendy Hoopes), cool children, and the overall global of being a young person with a heavy dose of sarcasm and acerbic wit. The collection was once a groundbreaking, on the time, satirical take a look at highschool lifestyles when being a young person was once a shopper corporate’s dream. The display to begin with began off as a spin-off of Mike Pass judgement on’s “Beavis and Butthead,” with Daria as a one-off personality. However as soon as the collection took root on MTV, on the top of its powers, it changed into must-watch TV. There are present plans to do any other spin-off of the collection, involving the nature of Jodie and to be voiced by means of Tracee Ellis Ross.
Stream on Hulu; purchase on Amazon.

THE NANNY, from left: Nicholle Tom, Madeline Zima, Charles Shaughnessy, Benjamin Salisbury, Fran Drescher, 1993-1999. ph: Cliff Lipson /© CBS/ Courtesy Everett Collection

“The Nanny”

©CBS/Courtesy Everett Assortment

53. “The Nanny” (CBS, 1993-1999)

Actress Fran Drescher ruled the 1990s. Whether or not you observed her sitcom “The Nanny” or no longer, there was once no escaping her distinctive voice and its litany of imitations. “The Nanny” was once loosely impressed by means of Drescher’s personal lifestyles and other people in her circle of relatives. It adopted her personality of Fran Effective who finally ends up taking at the titular position for 3 snooty kids. The collection was once closely influenced by means of earlier nanny presentations like “Nanny and the Professor” and the Clifton Webb personality of Mr. Belvedere. Drescher herself would pass directly to be nominated for each a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her position as Fran Effective. The solid reunited for a different in 2004. In 2018 Drescher hinted at a imaginable reboot for the display, which has long gone directly to spawn a lot of international imitations, with an emphasis on how Fran Effective can be extra keyed in to political and social problems with the day. There’s been no replace on it, however the global may surely use some extra Fran Effective.
Purchase on Amazon.

ADDAMS FAMILY, [standing] John Astin, Jackie Coogan, Ted Cassidy, Blossom Rock, (aka Marie Blake), [sitting] Lisa Loring, Carolyn Jones, Ken Weatherwax, 1964-1966

“The Addams Circle of relatives”

Courtesy Everett Assortment

52. “The Addams Circle of relatives” (ABC, 1964-1966)

In response to the cartoons of Charles Addams, “The Addams Circle of relatives” was once one in all two horror-themed circle of relatives sitcoms to debut within the late-1960s, the opposite being “The Munsters.” The Addams extended family consisted of Gomez and Morticia (John Astin and Carolyn Jones, respectively), their kids Wednesday and Pugsley (Lisa Loring and Ken Weatherwax), Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), and Grandmama (Blossom Rock). The circle of relatives will have been mysterious and spooky, however their issues have been relatable. Wednesday needed to discover ways to have interaction with different kids, and Frankenstein-esque butler Lurch (Ted Cassidy) sought love. However not anything trumped the sheer romantic entanglement between Gomez and Morticia. The 2 nonetheless include courting targets many years after the collection went off the air. The place different onscreen folks may have lacked sexual chemistry, there was once surely that Gomez and Morticia have been into every different. Unfortunately, the sitcom by no means were given the popularity it deserved, and ended up being canceled after simply two seasons. It’s competitor “The Munsters” can be canceled the similar yr.
Stream or purchase on Amazon.

THE FACTS OF LIFE, Mindy Cohn, Lisa Whelchel, Charlotte Rae, Nancy McKeon, Kim Fields, 1979-88.

Mindy Cohn, Lisa Whelchel, Charlotte Rae, Nancy McKeon, Kim Fields.

Courtesy Everett Assortment

51. “The Information of Lifestyles” (NBC, 1979-1988)

It was once all within the theme track: “You’re taking the great, you are taking the unhealthy. You’re taking them each after which you could have ‘The Information of Lifestyles.’” “The Information of Lifestyles” began off as a spin-off to the preferred collection “Diff’hire Strokes.” Charlotte Rae, who was once the housekeeper at the earlier collection, would take her personality of Edna Garrett to New York the place she changed into the housemother of the Eastland Faculty. The non-public all-girls faculty noticed Edna take below her wing 4 women: spoiled Blair (Lisa Whelchel), gossipy Tootie (Kim Fields), tomboy Jo (Nancy McKeon), and the impressionable Natalie (Mindy Cohn). The ladies navigated the sector of juvenile girldom, from courting to parental problems, with Mrs. Garrett all the time by means of their aspect. The collection was once groundbreaking in its day, in particular for the 12 episodes that starred stand-up comedian and disabled performer Geri Jewell. As Cousin Geri, Jewell offered a a laugh younger lady who was once no other than any individual else, despite how her cousin, Blair, handled her.
Stream on Amazon via IMDbTV; buy on Amazon.

50. “Arrested Construction” (Fox, 2003-2006; Netflix, 2013-2019)

"Arrested Development"

“Arrested Construction”

20th Century Fox TV

“Arrested Construction” is without doubt one of the quintessential examples of unhealthy TV timing. Its first 3 seasons, which every rank the most effective number of episodes any comedy display has ever aired, got here too quickly to capitalize on a global the place streaming and intense fandom can have stored the display afloat. Up till not too long ago, it wouldn’t be all that debatable to mention that Season four can be an issue of discussion for future years, however with the tepid, nearly silent reaction to the display’s 5th (and let’s face it, most probably ultimate) season, we could be overestimating its endurance. Nonetheless, in no matter venue the display exists, there’s such a lot that’s irreproachable in the ones first 3 seasons the collection nonetheless deserves placement on a listing like this. With its sheer shaggy dog story density and looping, concentric storylines, it will simply be as shut as we’ll ever get to a live-action caricature. — SG
Buy on Amazon.

49. “Roseanne” (ABC, 1988-1997; 2018)

“Roseanne”

ABC

As a number of presentations in this record can attest, keeping up a comedic legacy may also be tough. Once in a while a display overstays its welcome or its megastar seems to be a racist gasbag. And on occasion it’s each. Constructed at the again of Roseanne Barr’s stand-up profession, the primary 5 seasons of “Roseanne” are unimpeachable comedy, a show off for heart The us’s heart elegance. The Conner circle of relatives changed into an avatar for individuals who steadily felt misplaced in a rustic that had left them at the back of. In “Roseanne,” audience may see their very own monetary considerations, circle of relatives struggles, and process instability reflected at the TV display; this time, infused with a depraved humor that may be so tough to search out in our personal reports. Buoyed by means of a stacked solid of comedic gamers, particularly John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, the Conners are a TV circle of relatives for the ages. Even after its too-long authentic run and notorious 2018 go back, the sitcom stays essential to the TV comedy dialog for offering an unflinching take a look at a circle of relatives which you could no longer all the time like, however you’ll be able to’t assist however love. — LH
Stream on Sling TV; stream on Amazon; buy on Amazon.

48. “Neighborhood” (NBC, 2009-2014; Yahoo! Display screen, 2015)

Community

“Neighborhood”

Sony

Some of the malleable comedies in broadcast historical past, it nonetheless turns out borderline not possible that Dan Harmon’s display was once ready to break out with up to it did. With episodes that adopted extra standard single-cam sitcom codecs and ones that chucked all that out the window: chronicles of paintball demise fits, a Ken Burns riff delivered by means of a pillow/blanket feud, and a rooster finger heist parody of “Goodfellas.” The volatility at the back of the scenes resulted in a couple of dips in high quality at more than a few issues, however there’s a reason the display’s faithful fan base fought so onerous to assist save the display and stay it alive on more than a few websites within the half-decade because it went off the air. Any display that may broaden its personal lexicon and improbable background gags — like the Beetlejuice one or the episode that has Abed helping someone give birth over the process a 30 minutes — is worthy of reward. — SG
Stream on Hulu; buy on Amazon.

47. “One Day at a Time” (Netflix, 2017-2019)

"One Day at a Time"

“One Day at a Time”

Netflix

We come right here to bury the 2017 revival of the Norman Lear vintage sitcom, to not reward it. That mentioned, it’s any such particular display, its personal streaming carrier bemoaned its cancelation — even if it was once the only shedding the ax. Reimagined for contemporary audiences, “One Day at a Time” offered the Alvarez circle of relatives, whose Cuban roots supposed they seemed other from every other circle of relatives sitcom. Nevertheless it’s no longer the circle of relatives’s heritage that made them a minimize above; it was once the super empathy infused at each and every flip. Tackling problems with racism and psychological sickness, immigration and homophobia, the collection embraced an unsightly and imperfect global with open hands and a curious spirit. Netflix cited low viewership numbers for why it ended the display’s run. I like to assume that the collection was once simply too natural, too stunning for this brutish life. — LH

46. “Pushing Daisies” (ABC, 2007-2009)

"Pushing Daisies"

“Pushing Daisies”

ABC-TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Oh, to have Ned’s candy contact of resurrection. “Pushing Daisies” most effective lasted two seasons, however Bryan Fuller’s self-styled forensic fairy story is as marvelously morbid as that made-up style sounds. Starring Lee Tempo as Ned — a easy pie guy with an ordinary talent to resurrect the lifeless with one contact (however then ship them to everlasting relaxation with a 2d) — the collection created a atypical however inventive instrument to unravel murders. Kristin Chenoweth, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Swoosie Kurtz, and Ellen Greene sign up for Tempo on this madcap land recognized for its shocking visuals, unusual units, and deliciously grotesque puns. Director Barry Sonnenfeld helped set the way for the collection and would later convey that eye to Netflix’s “A Sequence of Unlucky Occasions.” This was once the 3rd collection that Fuller, the grasp of macabre, created that flirted with the supernatural and it demonstrated in probably the most technicolor means what broadcast TV was once able to (and 4 years later, he’d do it once more with “Hannibal”). Regardless of how one slices it, the display might be candy or savory, nevertheless it was once all the time enjoyable. — HN
Buy on Amazon.

45. “Grasp of None” (Netflix, 2015 – provide)

Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe, "Master of None"

Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe, “Grasp of None”

Netflix

In response to the comedic viewpoints of Aziz Ansari, the collection follows the non-public {and professional} lifetime of Dev, a 30-year-old actor in New York who has hassle deciding between lifestyles’s mundanities, to not point out its larger demanding situations. Bold, fun and cinematic, exploring more than a few on a regular basis issues, the collection is concurrently vast in scope and very private. With oodles of middle and beauty, it’s a refreshingly idiosyncratic tackle an differently acquainted premise that manages to outdo itself in its 2d of 2 seasons so far, handing over an increasingly more bold collection of episodes. Boasting a various solid of eclectic characters, and wonderfully shot on location in New York and Italy, it’s a exceptional enterprise in storytelling and demonstrates what a contemporary TV collection may also be. — TO
Buy on Amazon.

44. “Night time Court docket” (NBC, 1984-1992)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nbc-Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5882810j) Charlie Robinson, John Larroquette, Harry Anderson Night Court - 1984-1992 NBC-TV TV Portrait

“Night time Court docket”

Nbc-Television/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

From the thoughts of “Barney Miller” and “M*A*S*H” creator Reinhold Wedge, “Night time Court docket” presides over a gaggle of misfits who paintings the evening shift at a municipal courtroom in Ny. Led by means of formative years pass judgement on Harry T. Stone (Harry Anderson), whose penchant for beginner magic methods are most effective exceeded by means of his love for Mel Torme, the ensemble workforce is as colourful because the miscreants hauled in on the overdue hour. The standout was once sex-obsessed, narcissistic prosecutor Dan Fielding, performed with such smarmy gusto by means of John Larroquette that he earned 4 Emmys 4 years in a row and will have endured that streak had he no longer withdrawn his identify in 1989. Markie Put up, Richard Moll, Marsha Warfield, and Charles Robinson joined within the hilarious courthouse shenanigans that helped convey NBC’s Thursday evening comedy block acclaim prior to “Should See TV” was once even a glint within the peacock’s eye. — HN
Buy on Amazon.

43. “Maude” (CBS, 1972–1978)

After which there’s Maude. Like such a lot of of Norman Lear’s presentations, “Maude” gave voice to a brand new roughly protagonist, this time a loud-mouthed, unapologetic feminist, who had no drawback voicing her political views and going toe-to-toe along with her adversaries. Maude Findlay, portrayed by means of a completely iconic Bea Arthur, served as an ideal girls’s liberation counterpoint to community stablemate Mary Richards (“The Mary Tyler Moore Display”). If Mary had spunk, then Maude had snark, and between the 2, CBS coated the breadth of the 1970s Ladies’s Motion. Past that, “Maude” was once leading edge, enjoying with shape and assemble even inside the inflexible barriers of sitcoms, staging a number of episodes as conversations between Maude and husband Walter, and a landmark episode that includes the eponymous lead visiting an analyst and showcasing most effective Arthur. The collection embraced untouchable subjects; suicide, alcoholism, home violence and, famously, abortion, simply any other display that made its mark by means of delving into the ones ideas we’re too apprehensive to speak about on our personal. — LH
Buy on Amazon.

42. “Martin” (Fox, 1992-1997)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kassa Zakadi/Fox-Tv/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5871192c)Martin LawrenceMartin - 1992Fox-TVTelevision

“Martin”

Kassa Zakadi/Fox-Television/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

The African American comedy vintage targeted round Martin Payne (performed by means of an animated Martin Lawrence, co-creator of the collection), a brash radio character who by no means met a disagreement he didn’t like, steadily to the disappointment of his spunky spouse Gina (Tisha Campbell). His easiest friends, the straight-laced Tommy (Thomas Mikal Ford) and the bumbling Cole (Carl Anthony Payne II), are all the time readily available to lend toughen, particularly when Martin locks horns with Gina’s similarly confrontational good friend and co-worker, Pam, performed by means of Tichina Arnold. In fact, to not be omitted of the ruckus, there’s Martin’s overprotective mom, Mama Payne, his sassy next-door neighbor, Sheneneh Jenkins, and the overbearing womanizer, Jerome — all carried out by means of Lawrence himself, on occasion in the similar scene. It was once the type of comedic vary that Eddie Murphy was once praised for in “Coming to The us” years previous. Dwelling on in re-runs, in addition to references from nowadays’s hip-hop artists and in collection like HBO’s “Insecure,” new audiences proceed to find what was once a cultural benchmark on the time, and a spotlight of what is regarded as the golden age of black sitcoms. — TO
Stream on Amazon via BET+; purchase on Amazon.

41. “Murphy Brown” (CBS, 1988-1998; 2018)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1601096a) Murphy Brown , Charles Kimbrough, Robert Pastorelli, Candice Bergen, Joe Regalbuto, Pat Corlry, Faith Ford, Grant Shaud Film and Television

“Murphy Brown”

Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

That includes one in all TV’s maximum iconic feminine characters, “Murphy Brown” got here again for a 2018 revival that just about captures what makes the unique run of this collection so particular. Because of author Diane English’s sharp scripts and Candice Bergen’s decision, the sitcom let its fearless protagonist tackle necessary problems with uncompromising relish, making her part of the nationwide dialog on a level few other shows will ever achieve. That, and it was once all the time extremely humorous, due to the “FYI” workforce’s eclectic power. Balancing politics, humor, or even the occasional second of middle is the conflict such a lot of presentations struggle and lose; at its easiest, “Murphy Brown” all the time triumphed. — LSM
Stream via CBS All Access; buy on Amazon.

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