America's most popular TV shows of all time, ranked
What's the most popular TV show ever? According to a YouGov poll, the answer is not "The Office," "Game of Thrones" or "The Sopranos."
What follows is a countdown of U.S. viewers' Top 50 all-time favorite TV shows. The rankings are based on YouGov data compiled in 2020. Results have been edited to eliminate redundancies.
The list is heavy on broadcast TV shows — and devoid of streaming and cable series. Let the countdown begin.
50. "Criminal Minds"
This crime procedural is one of only two series on this list to debut after the year 2000. It ran from 2005-2020.
49. "The Brady Bunch"
Arguably the quintessential sitcom of Generation X's youth, this 1969-1974 comedy was the 35th-most popular show of all time among Gen Xers, per YouGov polling. By comparison, "The Brady Bunch" did not rate in the Top 100 for either millennials or baby boomers.
Peter Falk's rumpled police detective was on the crime beat for parts of five decades. The first "Columbo" pilot aired in 1968; the franchise's final TV-movie debuted in 2003.
47. "All in the Family"
A landmark comedy about the generation gap, "All in the Family" inspired its own generation gap in YouGov polling.
Baby boomers rated the 1971-1979 series as their 15th-most popular TV show ever, while millennials logged it as their 499th-most popular.
46. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
Who doesn't like "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"? Hardly anyone, per YouGov data: The 1970-1977 comedy was disliked by just 7% of total respondents.
But while "Mary Tyler Moore" was the fourth-most popular program among polled baby boomers, it ranked 509th among millennials.
From 1994-2004, "Friends" reigned as one of the most talked-about and watched shows of its time. But in YouGov polling, the sitcom had relatively high unfavorable ratings; 19% of respondents said they held a negative opinion of it.
44. "Three's Company"
This boundary-pushing sex comedy was one of the most popular TV shows of the 1970s. It ran for eight seasons from 1976-1984.
43. "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson"
From 1962-1992, Johnny Carson paced the national conversation with his opening monologue. Carson's version of the "Tonight" franchise is the only late-night comedy show in this rundown.
"House" is the second — and last — show on this list that was born of the 21st century. The medical drama ran for eight seasons from 2004-2012.
41. "The Dick Van Dyke Show"
A mid-century modern classic, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" produced five acclaimed seasons from 1961-1966.
It is the second show on this list to feature Mary Tyler Moore.
Like "Friends," this is another massively popular, and purportedly iconic show of the 1990s that arguably ranks a little low here.
But while YouGov polling found that "Seinfeld" was one of the most famous shows of all time (with 95% of respondents saying they'd heard of it), the data also showed that the 1989-1998 comedy was divisive. Fully 18% of people said they held a negative opinion of it.
39. "Sanford and Son"
This 1972-1977 sitcom, starring comic Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson, was about a family-owned junk business.
38. "Laverne & Shirley"
During its 1976-1983 run, this "Happy Days" spinoff was immensely popular. According to YouGov data, however, the show hasn't captured millennials; "Laverne & Shirley" was ranked as that demographic group's 299th-most popular TV show of all time.
37. "The Jeffersons"
According to YouGov data, this 1975-1985 spinoff of "All in the Family" is a bigger favorite than its parent show. "The Jeffersons" starred Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford.
36. "60 Minutes"
The clock on the CBS newsmagazine has been ticking since 1968. "60 Minutes" is the only news program to make the list, and it is the first currently-running show in this rundown.
35. "Little House on the Prairie"
This family favorite, starring Melissa Gilbert, and based on the Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House" books, produced nine seasons from 1974-1983.
34. "Home Improvement"
This sitcom was a top-rated TV show of the 1990s. The tool-centric family comedy was a showcase for Tim Allen, then best known as a stand-up comic.
33. "Law & Order"
This crime procedural produced 20 seasons from 1990-2010. It is tied with "Gunsmoke" as one of TV's longest-running prime-time drama.
32. "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"
This mystery-horror anthology series was hosted by the titular filmmaker of "The Birds," "Psycho" and more. It originally ran from 1955-1962.
31. "Everybody Loves Raymond"
"Everybody Loves Raymond" produced nine seasons from 1996-2005. The family comedy was built around the stand-up act of star Ray Romano.
30. "The Simpsons"
TV's longest-running scripted prime-time show, "The Simpsons" dropped its first season in 1989. Along the way, per YouGov data, it became a Top 10 all-time favorite among both Generation Xers and millennials.
29. "Married… With Children"
This 1987-1997 series subverted the family sitcom. In YouGov polling, it was significantly more beloved among Generation Xers (71% positive opinion) than millennials (51%).
From 1954-1974, the titular collie of "Lassie" repeatedly saved the day, and provided companionship to a series of families.
27. Three Stooges shorts
Classic Three Stooges film shorts were ubiquitous on TV of the 1960s and 1970s; there was even a program devoted to them, "The Three Stooges Show."
In YouGov polling, baby boomers and Gen Xers both had high positive opinions of Larry, Moe, Curly, etc.; millennials were more reserved — with only 45% reporting positive opinions.
In YouGov polling, the Boston-set bar comedy boasted a 78% positive opinion among baby boomers, but only a 41% positive rating among millennials.
Back in the day, "Cheers" was a broadly popular hit: an estimated 93 million Americans watched its 1993 finale.
25. "America's Funniest Home Videos"
A showcase for viral videos before viral videos were called that, "America's Funniest Home Videos" has been a weekly show for ABC since 1990. Alfonso Ribeiro, the current host, joined the series in 2015.
24. "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
According to YouGov polling, Will Smith's 1990-1996 breakthrough sitcom is a top favorite among both millennials and Generation Xers. Only a relatively modest 54% of baby boomers, however, reported a positive opinion of the series; overall, that demo group rated "Fresh Prince" as its 140th-most favorite show.
"Fresh Prince" is the second show in this rundown to feature Alfonso Ribeiro.
23. "The Beverly Hillbillies"
"The Beverly Hillbillies" was a comedy about the journey of the Clampett clan from the Ozarks to the West Coast. Critically panned in its day, the show was nonetheless TV's ratings champ in back-to-back seasons, from 1962-1964.
22. "Family Feud"
Hosted by Steve Harvey since 2010, the still-running "Family Feud" has had a string of iterations and emcees since premiering in 1976.
21. "I Dream of Jeannie"
This 1965-1970 sitcom about a genie and her astronaut "master" is a Top 10 favorite among baby boomers, per YouGov data.
20. "The Munsters"
Though not immortalized in a blockbuster movie franchise and a Broadway musical like "The Addams Family," "The Munsters" is the more beloved ghoulish sitcom. In YouGov polling on all-time TV favorites, "The Addams Family" didn't even crack the Top 100.
"The Munsters" and "The Addams Family" both ran from 1964-1966.
19. "Happy Days"
The TV ratings champ of the 1976-1977 season, "Happy Days" is a Top 20 favorite of both Generation Xers and baby boomers, per YouGov data.
18. "Gilligan's Island"
Ubiquitous in the era of the classic-TV rerun, "Gilligan's Island" is less appealing to millennials. In YouGov polling, the 1964-1967 castaway sitcom was the 107th-most popular show among those in that demo. The series performed better among Generation Xers and baby boomers.
17. "The Andy Griffith Show"
The comedy about the small-town denizens of Mayberry was the No. 1 TV show in the 1967-1968 Nielsen rankings. In YouGov polling, "The Andy Griffith Show" was the third-favorite show of baby boomers, but only the 44th-most favorite show of Generation Xers.
It is the second show on this list, after "Happy Days," to feature Ron Howard, who played Andy Griffith's TV son.
16. "The Price Is Right"
In YouGov polling, 96% of respondents said they'd heard of "The Price Is Right." Though the game-show property dates back to the 1950s, the current version was launched in 1972 with Bob Barker. Drew Carey succeeded Barker as host in 2007.
15. "The Muppet Show"
From 1976-1983, "The Muppet Show" paired Muppets with human guest stars for a zany variety series.
YouGov polling also saw people name "The Muppets" as one of their all-time favorite shows. In addition to being a catchall phrase for Jim Henson's creations, "The Muppets" was the title of a 2015-2016 Muppets reboot for ABC.
This critically acclaimed Vietnam War-era ensemble comedy about the Korean War produced 251 episodes over 11 seasons. Its 1983 finale was watched by an estimated 106 million U.S. viewers.
13. "The Carol Burnett Show"
Carol Burnett's self-titled variety show ran from 1967-1978.
12. "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood"
Millennials and Generation Xers agree, according to YouGov polling: Fred Rogers' gentle children's show, produced nationally from 1968-2001, is a Top 20 favorite.
Baby boomers are less enthusiastic, however. Among that demo group, the program rated as the 65th-most popular show.
"Bewitched" starred Elizabeth Montgomery as a suburban spell-caster. The 1964-1972 sitcom was responsible for a sizable generation gap in YouGov polling: "Bewitched" was the fifth-most popular show among members of Generation X, but just the 84th-most popular show among millennials.
10. "Wheel of Fortune"
The second-highest-ranked game show in this rundown, "Wheel of Fortune" debuted as a daytime TV program in 1975. Pat Sajak and Vanna White launched the still-running nighttime version in 1983.
9. "The Golden Girls"
In YouGov polling, this 1985-1992 sitcom about four Miami roommates of a certain age found more boosters among women (71% positive opinion rating) than men (58% positive opinion rating).
8. "The Twilight Zone"
The twisty, otherworldly tales of "The Twilight Zone" were originally framed by Rod Serling through five seasons from 1959-1964. A Jordan Peele-fronted revival produced two seasons from 2019-2020.
7. "The Jetsons"
The future's answer to "The Flintstones," "The Jetsons" originally produced only a single season of 24 episodes from 1963-1964 en route to becoming a perennial of the rerun era.
In YouGov polling, "The Jetsons" was equally popular (77% positive opinion rating) among Generation Xers and baby boomers.
6. "I Love Lucy"
Lucille Ball's signature sitcom, which ran from 1951-1957, was one of TV's earliest hits — and is the highest-ranked scripted show on this list.
5. "Sesame Street"
The first of four straight children's shows in the Top 5, "Sesame Street" premiered in 1969 when the eldest members of Generation X were becoming television-watchers. Perhaps not surprisingly, in YouGov polling, the Muppet-populated show received its highest positive opinion rating (78%) from members of the Gen X cohort.
4. "The Bugs Bunny Show"
In the 1960s, Warner Bros. packaged its classic animated film shorts starring Bugs Bunny and other wisecracking characters into a TV series called "The Bugs Bunny Show." The series, featuring the theme song, "This is It," became a fixture of Saturday morning TV.
YouGov polling also saw people name "Looney Tunes" as one of their all-time favorite shows; "Looney Tunes" was one of the banners under which the Bugs Bunny shorts were released theatrically.
3. "The Flintstones"
This comedy about Fred and Wilma Flintstone and the other modern Stone Age families of Bedrock debuted in 1960. It was TV's first animated series, and produced six seasons.
2. Tom and Jerry cartoons
In this archival photo, two children watch a Tom and Jerry adventure on TV in the 1990s. The animated antics of a cat and mouse were originally produced for the big screen. But they long ago became a staple of the small screen, too, under a variety of titles.
The answer is "Jeopardy!" The question is, "What is America's favorite TV show of all time?"
In YouGov polling, the game show was the unanimous No. 1 pick of millennials, Generation Xers and baby boomers. The generation-spanning franchise premiered in the 1960s, got new life in the 1980s and has continued to produce new episodes following the passing of longtime host Alex Trebek.