Over the years, we have been blessed with some great television programming. With the rise of streaming sites, there seems to be even more great programming to choose from. Every year fans and rating systems show us which shows are the most-watched, and these hit shows are so popular they are remembered and adored for years to come. Here is a historical snapshot of some of the most popular hit TV shows fans refuse to forget over the years. Whether you are looking for something to binge-watch or looking back at the TV greats, these are some of the highest-rated TV shows in history.
While this show is still pretty popular today, when it was released in 1989, Seinfeld was easily the most-watched and highest-rated show in the US. When Jerry Seinfeld was allowed to excel in his comedy career by creating his own show, he jumped at the opportunity and went all in.
With his friend Larry David, Seinfeld produced an American sitcom that ran for nine seasons and quickly caught the attention of the American public, establishing itself easily in the market.
Game of Thrones
Despite the disappointing 8th and final season, Game of Thrones had an incredible fan following. Not only were the books extremely popular, but the show brought in millions of viewers each week. The show was so popular that it has become an important part of popular culture, inspiring memes other shows and even other books.
The show followed the lives of 9 noble families as they waged war and fought for control of the kingdoms. From Hodor’s heroic death to the time Arya shocked everyone and killed the Night King, the shows shocking twists were some of the most talked-about events.
Breaking Bad is just one of those shows you have to see. It’s perfect for binge-watching, and the fantastic storyline will keep you glued to your screen for hours on end. The show follows the adventures of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who turns drug kingpin to pay for his cancer treatment.
As straight-laced Walter wonders perilously into the world of drugs, gangs, and illegality, he is accompanied by a former student who gave up his future for a life of crime. Together, Walter and his sidekick battle the law and some of the largest cartels to sell their product. The show had a dramatic ending, and since its conclusion has led to the creation of multiple spin-off shows.
When producers were thinking up a name for their new hit show, they just couldn’t agree. After weeks of arguing, Producers finally decided to take the name of the bar where the show took place and name the show after it. And so, Cheers was born.
The famous catchphrase “where everyone knows your name” originated from the show, epitomizing the brilliant combination of great humor, mood, and the fun atmosphere that the show entailed. During the 10 years that it ran for, the show was nominated for roughly 117 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning 28 of them.
Stranger Things transported viewers back into the 80s, and the shows paranormal mystery captivated audiences around the globe. The show is so popular it has prompted many 80s inspired product ranges, including the relaunch of New Coke.
The series follows the story of the people of a small town as they quickly come to terms with the fact that their village has been disturbed by the supernatural experiments conducted at a nearby government facility. When a young boy is kidnapped by a creature from another dimension, his young friends team up with a psychokinetic girl who escaped the facility to help. With an all-star cast, the show is set to make history.
Debuting in the 90s, Friends has become one of the most iconic TV shows in the world. The show is just as popular today as it was when it was first on-air, and today it is one of Netflix’s most popular shows.
Before it officially became “Friends,” the show’s creators, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, pitched it to NBC while considering different names such as “Friends Like Us” and “Six To One.” When it was finally aired, the show took no time in gaining the public’s ratings as one of the best shows in American television.
American Horror Story
American Horror Story is one of the highest-rated anthology series in the world. The show follows different storylines in each season but casts the same actors in different roles. Each season follows a moment in American history and various urban legends to make up the scary storylines. From haunted houses to ancient covens, the show has it all.
The show has a world-renowned cast, including Jessica Lange, Angella Bassett, Lady Gaga, and Evan Peters. Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, the show has gone on to 10 seasons so far and shows little sign of slowing. With some of the highest ratings and plenty of favorable reviews, it seems that American Horror Story has become a TV legend, and for those looking to binge-watch something interesting, this is just the show for you.
In 1999 viewers got their first look at a new show called The Sopranos, and it didnt takes long for the show to become a massive hit with fans all over the world. The show pretty much put HBO on the map and earned the company a strong audience base.
The show followed the life of Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mafia boss who battled to balance his criminal life with his family life and ends up confessing everything to his therapist. The show ran for 6 glorious and sometimes gorry seasons, and more than 12 million people tuned in to watch the dramatic and heartwrenching final episode. This is an excellent show to binge too.
For over 31 years, The Simpsons have been part of our lives. While the character drawing have evolved over the years, the show hasn’t changed much. After all these years, The Simpsons and their goofy shenanigans and on-point cultural references are still making audiences laugh.
The show follows the lives of working-class Homer, his wife Marge, and their children. With the shows keeping up with current events and trends, the show continually evolves to fit into modern culture. Where would we be today without the hilarity of the Simpson’s family
NCIS follows the life and work of naval criminal investigators and special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who leads the entire team. The police procedural show gained popularity in 2012, when it became one of the most-watched shows on TV, with the now-famous agents Gibbs, Caitlin Todd, and Anthony DiNozzo leading the many cases they investigate.
The series takes several topics that are based on the real-life arm of the US Department of the Navy, but it does dramatize and creatively change much of the storyline for entertainment purposes.
Another show that had people talking was West World. The futuristic show followed the lives of various characters, and the shows amazing plot twists had people in absolute awe. Fans couldn’t believe it when the truth of the show was revealed, and with a fantastic cast and captivating storyline, it’s hard to tear yourself away from the screen.
The show scored 8.7 on IMDB, and the actors won various awards for their contributions. If you are looking for a futuristic show with plot twists that will have you yelling at the TV, West World is the perfect show to watch. But be warned, it is addictive to watch, and once you start, it will be hard to stop.
The Big Bang Theory
Another show with a record number of years running, The Big Bang Theory is one of the most loved and watched shows in the history of American television. The nerdy show ran for 12 seasons, with 279 episodes in the bag.
The show’s ratings continued increasing with the years and peaked between 2016 and 2018. The show not only received incredibly high ratings, but it also received several nominations and awards, including a recurring Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series.
When the final episode of the series finally aired fans were distraught, but that didnt stop the show from being famous. With streaming available on some sites and the show being picked up globally, audiences continue to binge-watch Modern Family.
The show follows the exploits of a truly modern family as they laugh their way through their many misadventures. The show’s characters deal with some very modern family problems, but in the end, their love always keeps them together. With an all-star cast, this show is a must-see.
While the shows British version was incredibly successful, the American remake had an even more significant impact on fans. The show takes place in an ordinary workplace and follows the lives and interactions of the employees.
With a motley crew of awkward employees and their over-enthusiastic supervisor, hilarity is sure to ensue. The character’s hilarious misadventures have become iconic, with shows like The Simpsons and SNL doing skits related to the show. With a huge fan base and excellent rating, the show has become an essential part of television history.
I Love Lucy
I Love Lucy had a tremendous impact and influence on American television to this date, and so obviously, it had to be a part of our list. The show made history when it became the first television show ever to implement an ensemble cast, meaning that it included several well-known actors, including a real-life married couple, Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnaz.
For many years in a row, I Love Lucy remained the number one hit in Nielsen’s rating chart (between 1952 and 1955), making history once again. Every year, the show would play to an audience as large as 40 million people.
Before medical drams were a thing, Michael Crichton created one of the greatest medical dramas ever. Before Clooney went grey and Julianna Margulies was a household name, the show featured unknown actors with a fantastic storyline.
The show focuses mainly on the lives of a small group of doctors and nurses that work in a fictional version of the General County Hospital located in Chicago, Illinois. Fans fell in love with George Clooney as he played the role of a caring doctor.
The original run of Dynasty offered viewers intrigue, drama, and over the top 80s wardrobe. Dynasty aired between 1982 and 1989 on ABC, revolving the lives of a wealthy family named the Carringtons. The show came out as competition towards CBS’s series Dallas, which was also about the Carringtons. When Dynasty came out, its ratings were actually pretty unimpressive throughout the first season.
But at the beginning of the second season, Dynasty’s creators began seeing their investment paying off as the show became the number one rated show in 1985, surpassing Dallas. After a long and successful run, the show was canceled in 1989 and was later rebooted in 2017.
HBO’s fantasy horror classic True Blood had an incredible viewership, and the show has since garnered a tremendous following. The show tells the story of Sookie Stackhouse, a young and beautiful waitress who gets tangled up in a world of vampires, magic, and mystery.
The show ran for 8 incredible seasons, and today is one of the most binge-worthy shows out there. With seductive storylines, True Blood promises to keep viewers on the edge of their seats for years to come.
15 million people watched the first season of Survivor when it aired back in 2000. The show entailed several brave contestants that would do whatever it took to outlast their fellow contestants while living in a difficult location.
When season two aired, the show had nearly 50 million viewers, quickly rating it the most popular and most-watched show in 2000. Survivor was also the first-ever reality show to become really profitable while being broadcasted on TV.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
One of American television shows to run for the longest time, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation aired between 2000 to 2015. The show was also known as just CSI and also CSI: Las Vegas.
The show was the first production to focus on forensic cases while getting such a high number of viewers. The series inspired other spin-offs that included TV series, video games, novels, and it even inspired an entire exhibition shown at the Chicago Museum of Science and industry.
American Idol came out based on Simon Fuller’s British version of the production, Pop Idol. When American Idol was released, it won over the American public as quickly as Pop Idol had won the British audience.
For eight years, the show ended up the top-rated show on American TV, juggling between its Tuesday and Wednesday night shows. The performances would run on Tuesdays, while the results would be shared with everyone on Wednesdays. The show’s popularity has been described as an actual phenomenon in American TV history.
The Cosby Show
Before The Cosby Show had its legacy wholly destroyed, the show was an absolute groundbreaking sitcom back in 1984 when it was released. For the first time in history, Nielsen rated a show that featured a whole African American family as part of the main cast as the top-rated show in America in 1985.
The show’s main character, Cliff Huxtable, was even named “television’s number one dad” at the time, making history in many other ways. For instance, the show was called by critics, one of the most crucial TV shows of the 20th century, since it “revived the sitcom genre” in several ways.
60 Minutes is arguably the oldest and also most-watched TV newsmagazine that focuses on several issues related to American life and culture. The variety of topics around politics, pop culture, lifestyle, science, and more, catered to a range of people from different parts of America.
In the 1990s, when the First Gulf War and The Cold War ended, Americans were wholly fixated on watching the news regularly. So for three years, 60 minutes remained the top-rated TV show in American history, taking the “throne” between 1991 and 1994.