Sitcoms, or situational comedies, are an American mainstay when it comes to television. Short, funny, witty, and bingeable. Once you start one episode it’s easy to get lost in 10, spending hours on the couch. These shows tend to focus on a group of characters getting into funny situations. The best sitcoms of all-time have been running and re-runing for decades and will continue to flourish in the TV space.
Those binge sessions in front of the tube are pretty common as people, on average, spend a large portion of the day watching television. In fact, a recent survey of 2,000 British adults finds that the average TV viewer will watch an astounding 78,705 hours of programming (movies, sports, news, etc.) in their lifetime.
These classic sitcoms sometimes feel like revisiting old friends for us. A recent poll of 2,000 adults reveals that 55 percent watch TV as a self-soothing technique for relieving anxiety or stress. That’s more than the number of respondents who relax by taking a bath (42%) or by doing yoga (33%). What better way to wind down for the night than by giggling along with Jerry and Kramer?
We’ve been treated to no shortage of spectacular shows in the modern television era, so we set out to find the consensus best sitcoms of all-time. For our list, we consulted 10 expert reviews to find the five most frequently recommended shows among them. If you’ve got your own top five suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!
The List: Best Sitcoms of All-Time, Most Recommended By Experts
1. “Seinfeld” (1989-1998)
A show that proves why sitcoms are so popular. Jerry Seinfeld and company revealed that a show about everyday people, in everyday situations, would lead to some of the best TV comedies.
Simply put, “Seinfeld is arguably the most influential TV comedy of the modern era,” says Stacker.
“The show is famous for its unsympathetic characters, and the producers made the phrase ‘No hugging, no learning’ a rule when crafting storylines, wanting to differentiate themselves from previous TV shows,” says Business Insider.
“SIMPLY THE BEST = Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld were pure genius at work, George Costanza has to be one of the best created and embodied sitcom characters ever,” says The Top Tens.
2. “The Office” (2005-2013)
Devised from a UK show of the same name, this hilarious show helmed by the masterful Steve Carrell is about an everyday office full of incredible characters. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love and you’ll do it all again when you watch for the second…or hundredth time.
“The remake’s enduring popularity is a measure of how human and universal it all felt,” says Rolling Stone.
According to Paste Magazine, Steve Carell was the highlight of the show. “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.”
“There’s definitely no need to do an official introduction to The Office, a show that’s so iconic that even your grandma has probably heard about it,” claims Bored Panda.
3. “Cheers” (1982-1993)
This all-time classic sitcom about a cozy bar in Boston ran for over 10 years and will go down in history as one of the best-hit television sets across the world.
“A sitcom in all of its essence, Cheers follows a group of friends that meets and spends their time together at a bar called, you guessed it, Cheers. Filmed in front of a live audience, it has that signature sitcom laugh track and is often set in the same location,” says Bored Panda.
Like most sit-coms, it was about the characters, “It showed that anybody can come into this bar and be your family…and Danson’s Sam Malone character is this perfect everyman. There’s nobody who can’t relate to him,” adds Parade.
Paste Magazine references our top pick, “Seinfeld might have recast the sitcom in its image, but Cheers perfected the form, running through 11 seasons without ever running out of charm or laughs.”
4. “Friends” (1994-2004)
It’s hard to talk about sitcoms and not bring up the group of friends from arguably the most famous apartment in all of TV. Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courtney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, and Lisa Kudrow… icons of the genre.
“NBC’s ‘Friends’—about the exploits of six BFFs living in New York City—is about as close to perfect as a modern, traditionally formulated sitcom can get,” says Stacker.
Reader’s Digest agrees and writes, “There is no denying the effect that Friends had on Hollywood, with countless shows that sought to copy its formula, the raging success of its stars, and the indelible mark of so many of its jokes, from ‘Pivot!’ to ‘We were on a break.'”
The cast is rock-solid, even today. “But in the 17 years since it went off the air, the show has not only attracted new legions of fans who weren’t even born during its first run, it somehow seems to have aged like a fine Bordeaux. Why? Well, there isn’t a weak link in the show’s cast,” adds AARP.
5. “Parks & Recreation” (2009-2015)
This NBC new classic ends our list with its lovable cast of good people trying to do good things. Starring Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman, and even a pre-Star Lord Chris Pratt!
It was a show that brought in some big awards, “These characters, and others, developed into a hilarious band of comedians, and they were helped by excellent writing and direction. Notably, the show received nominations for 14 Primetime Emmy Awards. In 2013, the show received a Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy,” says Reel Rundown.
It was full of great and hilarious characters, as Indie Wire mentions, “Whether it was the crazy guy at the town hall meeting or the insane amount of binder-based preparation for each new Pawnee policy proposal, this NBC series knew how to carve out the best jokes from props, puns, and people alike.”
Or as simply as The Top Tens puts it, “Cast is brilliant and provides a fresh new adventure to each episode.”
You might also be interested in:
- Best TV Shows of All Time
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- Best Smart Televisions
- Best Surround Sound Systems
- Reel Rundown
- Indie Wire
- The Top Tens
- Reader’s Digest
- Bored Panda
- Paste Magazine
- Rolling Stone
- Business Insider
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.
Lmao what a racist list from someone who knows nothing about television
Ugh. Enough with the racism. With so many subjective things, especially art, music, comedy, it all comes down to taste and preference.
I despise rap with every fiber of my being. Doesn’t make me racist. I love Smoky, Stevie, Gladys Knight, The 4 Tops.
Liked the Jeffersons, hated Sanford and Son. I really liked Family Matters in the first season, until Urkel became the focal point; he ruined a great show (my opinion).
Stop pushing racism. There’s already enough of that to go around without promoting it and creating more.
This list only contains NBC shows. Here’s a much better list, even if still simply subjective:
2. The Good Place
3. I Love Lucy
4. The Cosby Show
5. The Boondocks
6. Malcolm in the Middle
9. Sanford & Son
11. Everybody Hates Chris
12. The IT Crowd
13. The Honeymooners
14. A Different World
15. Arrested Development
I love that Boondocks is on your list and in the Top 5. Top tier satire and best cartoon in my opinion. But I would like to add Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia
If the geniuses at Fox had given ‘Arrested Development’ a proper chance, it would be on this list instead of ‘Friends.’
It’s better than all these shows.
Any list that doesn’t have The Andy Griffith Show is a bogus list.
Totally ridiculous! Ever hear of MASH, All in the Family, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, the Lucy Show.
How can you leave out the brilliant 30 Rock?
Arrested Development (seasons 1-3)
WKRP in Cincinnati
I Love Lucy
My Name is Earl
Solid list, I’d have IT Crowd and Arrested Development higher
2. All in the Family
5. Mary Tyler Moore Show
6. The Lucy Show
7. The Cosby Show
8. The Honeymooners
9. Fawlty Towers
10. The Beverly Hillbillies
All in the Family. Everything else is at best runner-up
I noticed all top comedies were all on NBC. Interesting. I would have thought TBBT might have made it. But opinions are like noses. Most everyone has one.
Parks and Rec? I’ll accept the first 4 IF this a list of sitcoms POST 1990 (ignoring Mash, All in the Family, etc PRE 1990). But Fraser, Thirty Rock, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, ALL so much better than Parks & Rec.
You only left out the best sitcom of all time: I Love Lucy!!!
Yes, I Love Lucy was AWESOME!!!
All in the family
Games of thrones
Sons of anarchy
I agree and would like add 30 Rock should be at least 2.
My bet is Mr. McDaniel is under 45 and very white. “Sanford & Son,””The Jeffersons,””The Cosby Show?” And on the other side, “All In The Family,””Taxi,””Mash?”
I mean Pa-Leeeeese. And the criteria used to make the list is?
Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show? Come on man (smh).
Seinfeld=funniest, HANDS DOWN. From earlier eras, The Honeymooners, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, All in the Family, Sanford and Son, MASH*, Taxi, and Cheers.
What about “Frasier”?? GREAT show. I recently watched the movie “BATMAN” with Adam West. I was fascinated to notice that Frasier and Niles trying to figure almost anything out sounds A LOT like BATMAN and ROBIN doing the same, applying their bizarre twisted logic to convince themselves they’ve solved yet another puzzle.
I also was amazed at Robin’s ability to solve one of “the Riddler’s” riddles;
Commissioner Gordon read it, “What weighs less than 6 ounces and is extremely deadly?” Robin’s quick answer was “a sparrow with a machine gun!” The Commissioner’s immediate response was, “Yes, of course!” Holy moley!!!
1. The Honeymooners
2. All in the Family
5. I Love Lucy
In the future when doing these surveys try asking people over the age of 40
In no particular order:
Everybody Loves Raymond
The Andy Griffith Show
WKRP in Cincinnati
Nowhere on my list would you ever find the horribly obnoxious Seinfeld.
Forgot I Love Lucy
Fox News AKA Faux News
Mary Tyler Moore show #1
Big Bang Theory
There are sooo many top favorites of mine but.. Modern Family is one of them.
P.S. I’m just going to be real here- if we’re all entitled to our own opinion, why does one have to criticize someone else’s post.. I don’t get it!! It’s shameful! Focus on the subject, comment, and then move on with your life. Maybe there’d me more authentic thinking present without intimidation to even bother.
If it would have stopped after season 4 or 5 I would have to agree. They so damaged their legacy with what the show became, which was unwatchable the last 2 or 3 seasons, that for me anyway I’d put them way down the list
..those first two, three seasons though, they were brilliant writing .
Mary Tyler Moore show #1
What about MASH? Dick Van Dyke show? Mary Tyler Moore show? I could go on and on and on…..
What about MASH? Dick Van Dyke show? Mary Tyler Moore show? Laverre and Shirley??? I could go on and on and on…..and the one that started it all???? I Love Lucy!
M*A*S*H made TV history several times and can compete with all of them. With “Scrubs” there even was a successful successor in tone and idea.
Parks and Rec started as a copy of The Office but reeled from it after it found it’s own tone and more hopeful and elevating storylines. It might even be better than the original.
Curb Your Enthusiasm is like Seinfeld operating in real life. But better and not standard material in any way. The impro part of the show is groundbreaking.
No way this is a “all time” list. Maybe it is a decent “best sitcoms from 1990’s forward” list. A all time list without I Love Lucy and All In The Family is in a word ridiculous. Also what about Mary Tyler Moor, MASH, Taxi, and my personal favorite and possibly the funniest show ever Soap.
Best of all times. Not at all correct
Larry Sanders Show
Curb your enthusiasm
You forgot Two and a Half Men…. 1st place, in my opinion. Then the rest.
Married with children???
1)All In The Family
2) Always Sunny In Philadelphia
4) Sanford & Son
5) My Name Is Earl
6) Curb Your Enthusiasm
7) 30 Rock
8) Eastbound And Down
10) Raising Hope
Strictly a personal opinion list and is fun to have and to enjoy with others……nobody is “right”!
No surprise all white. Fresh Prince? Martin? Even Golden Girls .
Just shows if you were well rounded or not.
It’s a good last 20 years list (where’s Modern Family?) but is not even close to representative of “all time”.
1. I Love Lucy
2. All in the Family
3. Mary Tyler Moore Show
You must separate popular from good or quality. Best means best, not highest rated. Friends may be top 30, maybe, of you’re being kind. Wouldn’t be in my top 50. Watch it now. Doesn’t hold up at all. The other four in your list, still in habitual reruns. Those four are arguably in the top 5. Friends? No, big no.
This list is in fact a bit of a comedy of errors. It’s unbelievable that any list of top sitcoms ignores any of the Lucille Ball sitcoms. Lucy graced television for almost 23 years straight starting in the 50’s with I Love Lucy. Her numerous Emmy nominations and wins and show ratings during that period are proof positive your list is hardly representative of “all time”.
Cosby…duh. It was the biggest thing on all of television for almost a decade.
Rickerman–I forgot Frasier after I posted my comment! It is easily one of my go-tos when I can’t find anything I want to watch.
Parks and Rec?! Really?? Total BS. How about MASH and How I met your mother, and Frazier. Even The office isn’t that good! Go back and try again.
Yes totally agree MASH
Parks & Rec????
Mash, The Honeymooners, All in the family and The Jeffersons blow away friends and parks and recreation.