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The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever — We Dare You Not to Laugh at Our Slideshow

'Seinfeld' is on the list; 'I Love Lucy' is too. Is your favorite here?

  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever

    'The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show'

    1950-1958, 291 episodes After years on radio, Burns and Allen seamlessly moved to TV and laid the foundation for nearly every sitcom to come. Burns played down his status as a pioneer: "(TV) was so new that if an actor burped," he once said, "everyone agreed it was an innovative concept."

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    'I Love Lucy'

    1951-1957, 179 episodes Lucille Ball was the First Lady of Television as well-intentioned Manhattan housewife Lucy Ricardo, whose frequent foibles agitate her bandleader husband Ricky, played by Ball's real-life hubby, Desi Arnaz. In 1953, I Love Lucy won the first-ever best situation comedy series Emmy.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    'The Honeymooners'

    1955-56, 39 episodes It ran for just one season but left an indelible impact. As constantly frustrated NYC bus driver Ralph Kramden, Jackie Gleason created one of the sitcom genre's great archetypes — the blue-collar galoot who can't catch a break.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

    'The Andy Griffith Show'

    1960-1968, 249 episodes As inviting as a porch swing on a warm summer evening, Andy Griffith — along with costars such as Don Knotts as Barney Fife — made Mayberry seem like the funniest, cheeriest place on Earth.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Walt Disney Co./courtesy Everett Collection

    'The Dick Van Dyke Show'

    1961-1966, 158 episodes The instantly iconic pairing of Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore as Rob and Laura Petrie — a TV comedy writer and his pretty wife raising their young family in New Rochelle, N.Y. — made it the perfect sitcom for the JFK Camelot era. It won three Emmys as best comedy series.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever

    'All in the Family'

    1968-1979, 212 episodes Archie Bunker, America's most beloved bigot, was as caustic as Andy Griffith was conversational. The phenomenal success of All in the Family — it was TV's top show for five straight seasons — marked a new, coarser sitcom sensibility, capturing the generational and societal conflict of its time.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever

    'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'

    1970-1977, 168 episodes She was a TV star from her Dick Van Dyke days, but her own sitcom, on which she played a single Minneapolis woman trying to "make it after all" alongside an oddball assortment of friends and coworkers in a local TV newsroom, made Moore a small-screen icon.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    'Sanford and Son'

    1972-1977, 135 episodes The first sitcom to feature black lead characters since Amos 'n' AndySanford and Son made a star of Redd Foxx and was the first of several hugely successful African American sitcoms of the decade.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    CBS /Landov

    'The Bob Newhart Show'

    1972-1978, 142 episodes As Chicago psychologist Dr. Bob Hartley, Newhart's deadpan style played perfectly against a cast of wacky coworkers and friends. The comic duplicated his success a decade later with another long-running hit, Newhart, notable for what is widely considered the best sitcom finale ever.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    'The Jeffersons'

    1975-1985, 253 episodes
    They started out as Archie Bunker's neighbors, but George and Weezie Jefferson soon moved on up to their own show. As a nouveau-riche couple living in Manhattan's lily-white Upper East Side, The Jeffersons continued the decade's evolution of the black sitcom. Go ahead — just try not to start singing the theme song.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Everett Collection


    1977-1981, 93 episodes The spoof on daytime soap operas sparked controversy from its outset. Storylines and characters, including Billy Crystal as one of the first openly gay characters to appear on network TV, were considered salacious for the time, and some ABC affiliates refused to air it during prime time.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Paramount Television/Courtesy Everett Collection


    1978-1983, 115 episodes The show was more popular with critics than viewers — it battled low ratings over its five-year run on two networks. Still, it won four Emmys for best comedy series and gave the world Louie DePalma, Danny DeVito's dyspeptic dispatcher, once named by TV Guide as the greatest character in TV history.  

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Kim Gottlieb-Walker/NBCU Photo B


    1982-1993, 271 episodes Sam and Diane. Norm and Cliff. Carla, Coach, Woody. Twenty years after the Boston bar's final last call, everyone still knows their names. Frasier, a spin-off based on Kelsey Grammer's stuffy psychiatrist Frasier Crane, was a huge hit, as well, running for 11 seasons and winning five straight Emmys for best comedy series.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    'The Cosby Show'

    1984-1992, 201 episodes Critics were writing obituaries for the sitcom format before Bill Cosby nearly single-handedly revived the genre. The Cosby Show, rooted in the comedian's family life and drawing heavily from his stand-up act, was the top-rated show on TV for five straight seasons.  

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever

    The Golden Girls

    1985-1992, 180 episodes Its lineup — Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McLanahan and Estelle Getty — is now the stuff of sitcom legend. The foursome won hearts as Florida retirees and roommates laughing their way through their sunset years — not to mention a mantel-full of Emmys (all four were honored during the show's run).  

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Carsey-Werner Company/Courtesy Everett Collection


    1988-1997, 222 episodes Foul-mouthed, defiantly slovenly Roseanne Barr redefined the female sitcom lead. Getting by with the Connor clan (including husband Dan, played by John Goodman) in the flyover suburbs of Illinois, she wasn't so much trying to "make it after all" as she was just trying to make it to the next day.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever

    'The Simpsons'

    1989-present, 510 episodes (and counting) D'oh! The ageless animated clan is the Energizer bunny sitcom — it just keeps going and going. Now in its 24th season, The Simpsons is the longest-running prime-time, scripted show in TV history — and it's still hilarious.  

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    NBCU Photo Bank


    1990-1998, 180 episodes Cocreators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David focused on four single friends in Manhattan befuddled by the minutiae of modern life. The "show about nothing" was the quintessential sitcom for the relatively breezy decade it encapsulated.  

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  • Arrested Development cast members. For the Best Comedy Shows slide show.

    'Arrested Development'

    2003-2006, 54 episodes (new season starts in 2013) Has any other sitcom family ever been as dysfunctional as the Bluths? The jokes are fast and furious, twisting around and over each other so quickly it's hard to keep up. Repeat viewings offer fresh laughs, and a keen appreciation for Jason Bateman, whose deadpan delivery anchors the absurdity. After a seven-year hiatus, it returns next year with new episodes on Netflix.

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  • The 20 Funniest Sitcoms Ever
    Mitchell Haaseth/NBCU Photo Bank

    '30 Rock'

    2006-present, 130 episodes (ongoing) The overbearing blowhard boss is a sitcom staple, from The Dick Van Dyke Show's Alan Brady to The Flintstones' Mr. Slate. Alec Baldwin, as impossibly blustery network exec Jack Donaghy, tops them all. 30 Rock may be Tina Fey's wondrous creation, but it's Baldwin who nearly always steals the show.

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