Skip to main content

The 10 most popular TV shows of all time, ranked

Great TV isn’t exactly hard to find these days. Living in an era filled with interesting shows like Wednesday to watch, it can be easy to wonder which of the shows that are currently airing will ultimately stand the test of time. Some may only be remembered by die-hard fans or critics, but there are others that may remain the most popular shows ever even if they’ve been off the air for years.

This list features the 10 most popular shows of all time, according to regular polling conducted by YouGov. YouGov polls its respondents first on whether they’ve heard of a particular show, and then on whether they like it. The higher those two scores are, the higher the show wound up on this list. Naturally, this list features plenty of agreed-upon classics, as well as a few animated series that plenty of people of all ages grew up with.

10. The Price Is Right (1972)
10. The Price Is Right
tv-g 30 Seasons
Genre Reality
Cast Drew Carey, George Gray, Rachel Reynolds
Created by Mark Goodson, Bill Todman, Bob Stewart

A great game show that has infected the culture, The Price Is Right is beloved because it takes the difficult decisions involved in balancing a budget and turns them into a game.

Everyone at home knows how to guess how much something costs, and so it becomes easy to play along without studying all day to get great at trivia. The Price Is Right has also endured because it feels so much like a party. Even if you don’t get chosen to potentially win something, there’s joy in just being allowed to sit in.

The Price Is Right at Night
9. The Jetsons (1962)
9. The Jetsons
tv-g 3 Seasons
Genre Animation, Comedy
Cast George O'Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Daws Butler
Created by Joseph Barbera, William Hanna

One of two animated family sitcoms to grace this list, The Jetsons is beloved by multiple generations who grew up watching this futuristic family.

Looking back on the show today, its vision of the future seems a little antiquated, but that’s ultimately part of the show’s charm. The future we’re actually living in is not nearly as nice as the one imagined by The Jetsons, so it’s only natural that many viewers prefer to slip into the warm embrace of this utopian future.

Open HD | The Jetsons | Warner Archive
8. Gilligan's Island (1964)
8. Gilligan's Island
tv-g 3 Seasons
Genre Comedy, Family
Cast Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Russell Johnson
Created by Sherwood Schwartz

If you ask people to name an “old” show, Gilligan’s Island may be the first name they utter. The series, which is a comedy about a group of survivors stranded on an island, is deeply absurd, which is part of what makes it so funny.

Fifty years before Lost took the conceit seriously, we had a professor who knew how to make radios out of coconuts, and a motley crew of survivors who brushed off of each other in a variety of often hilarious ways.

7. The Twilight Zone (1959)
7. The Twilight Zone
tv-pg 5 Seasons
Genre Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Mystery, Drama
Cast Rod Serling
Created by Rod Serling

One of the great sci-fi series ever aired, The Twilight Zone is a show that is both distinctly of its moment and timeless. Each episode tells the story of a bizarre, otherworldly scenario, and the episodes play out like twisted, deeply ironic short stories.

The best installments of the show still rank with the greatest TV episodes ever produced, and the show could also be surprisingly political, tackling topics like race and Americans’ fears of communism during an era when those topics were often taboo.

The Twilight Zone Classic | Scariest Episodes | Paramount+
6. The Bugs Bunny Show (1960)
6. The Bugs Bunny Show
tv-g 3 Seasons
Genre Animation, Comedy
Cast Hal Smith, June Foray, Stan Freberg

While you may not know about The Bugs Bunny Show, you undoubtedly know about the Looney Tunes that came out of it. This anthology series is another great example of a show that generation after generation grew up with.

The series was hosted by Bugs, but it featured short animated segments with a whole roster of different characters who all interact with one another in ways that are both delightful and surprising. The Bugs Bunny Show is responsible for some of the most iconic characters in TV history, so it’s not a shock it made it onto this list.

The Looney Tunes Show | Season 1, Volume 3: Official Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment
5. The Golden Girls (1985)
5. The Golden Girls
tv-pg 7 Seasons
Genre Comedy
Cast Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan
Created by Susan Harris

One of the great enduring sitcoms, The Golden Girls is designed for every generation to enjoy. The series follows four not-quite elderly women living together in Miami as they enjoy their golden years together.

As the series theme song suggests, the show’s core value is friendship, and while it was typically pretty light on its fight, Golden Girls did spend plenty of time establishing the relationships between all four of its core characters. Known by all, and fiercely beloved by almost as many.

The Entire Series Now Streaming • The Golden Girls On Hulu
4. I Love Lucy (1951)
4. I Love Lucy
tv-g 6 Seasons
Genre Comedy
Cast Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance
Created by Bob Carroll Jr., Madelyn Pugh, Jess Oppenheimer

Perhaps the most iconic live-action sitcom ever created, I Love Lucy follows the trials and tribulations of Lucille Ball, who played a version of herself on the show. Because the series was based so closely on the actual lives of Lucy and her husband Desi Arnaz, it was somewhat unusual at the time.

Above all, though, I Love Lucy had to be funny. In spite of the sheer volume of episodes the show put out, no sitcom has ever been equaled in the history of TV. It was great, it was important, and it was all thanks to Lucy.

I Love Lucy trailer
3. The Tom and Jerry Show (1975)
3. The Tom and Jerry Show
1 Season
Genre Animation, Comedy, Kids, Family
Cast John Stephenson, Don Messick, Joe E. Ross
Created by Joseph Barbera, William Hanna

The story of a cat chasing a mouse is foundational to every person’s understanding of nature, so it’s fitting that Tom and Jerry would wind up so high on this list. The show is that cat/mouse dynamic made comedic, and follows a mouse who spends his days torturing a cat, even as the mouse always manages to remain just out of reach.

Neither Tom nor Jerry talks, but it hasn’t hurt the show’s legacy in the slightest. The silent comedy between the two of them, which was heavily influenced by figures like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, has endured.

The Tom and Jerry Show | Tom The Gym Cat | Boomerang UK ??
2. Jeopardy! (1984)
2. Jeopardy!
tv-g 39 Seasons
Genre Reality
Cast Alex Trebek
Created by Merv Griffin

The most enduring game show of all time was almost guaranteed to earn a spot near the top of this list. Although it had a rocky few years following the death of widely beloved host Alex Trebek, the show now seems to have found a renewed course, and has reminded people why they loved it in the first place.

It helps that, even decades into its run, Jeopardy! still finds ways to astound and surprise. Several champions have gone on remarkable runs in recent years, and those runs have only underscored what an interesting format the show remains all these years later.

1. The Flintstones (1960)
1. The Flintstones
tv-g 6 Seasons
Genre Family, Animation, Comedy, Kids
Cast Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl, Mel Blanc
Created by Joseph Barbera, William Hanna

Taking a family sitcom and setting it in the stone age may not have seemed like an obvious set up for the most popular show ever conceived, but The Flintstones turned out to be exactly that.

The series, which tells the story of a regular family living their lives against the backdrop of the stone age, is both silly and wonderful. It became one of the most popular shows on TV while it was airing, and although it hasn’t run nearly as long as something like The SimpsonsThe Flintstones has etched itself into the hearts of many Americans.

“The Flintstones” (Season 1) promo trailer (DVD capture)

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
Where to watch Magic Mike’s Last Dance
Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek stand in a theatre lobby together in Magic Mike's Last Dance.

In 2012, the world of male stripping took center stage in Magic Mike. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Magic Mike stars Channing Tatum as Mike Lane, an aspiring entrepreneur who works odd jobs as a handyman during the day. At night, Mike comes alive as a male stripper, wowing the club with his innate charm and attractive dance moves. With a budget of $7 million, Magic Mike became an instant hit, grossing over $167 million worldwide. The film spawned a 2015 sequel, Magic Mike XXL, which also became a box-office success, grossing $122 million against a $12 million budget.

To complete the trilogy, Tatum graced the stage as Mike Lane one final time in Magic Mike's Last Dance. Originally supposed to be released exclusively to streaming, Warner Bros. opted to give the third film a theatrical release in February 2023. While the film struggled in theaters (it only grossed $57 million), Magic Mike's Last Dance will now get the chance to find another audience on streaming.
Where to watch Magic Mike’s Last Dance

Read more
The Digital Trends guide to FAST streaming services
Amazon Freevee.

When you talk about the best streaming services, you typically talk about video-on-demand (VOD) services like Netflix. Or Disney+. Or Amazon Prime Video. Or Hulu. And for good reason — they have a ton of paying subscribers. Netflix alone is closing in on a quarter-billion. Disney+ is about halfway there.

And while the numbers drop off a good bit from there, another flavor of streaming should constitute a good bit of the discussion. FAST services — that's the industry acronym for free advertising-based streaming television — continue to grow both in numbers and in popularity. Think of FAST like the streaming version of broadcast TV, or your cable box. Shows are on at the same time for everyone, and everyone is watching the same thing, with ads. Only unlike YouTube TV or Hulu With Live TV, you don't have to pay anything upfront. It's all supported by advertising — you just don't get the "good" channels like you will on the paid services.

Read more
The best shows on Amazon Prime right now (June 2023)
Three people stand in a crowd, looking at something shocked in a scene from With Love on Amazon Prime Video.

Amazon Prime Video is quickly solidifying its position in the streaming TV race with plenty of great TV shows. Some have already ended their long runs, like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which wrapped up recently after five seasons. Others continue to run with new seasons, including With Love, which returns this week for season 2, and shows like Jack Ryan, which is returning for season 4.

There are always new shows coming to Amazon, too, but with so many great ones still available to stream and others returning with new seasons, it's the perfect time to look through what's available and check out a show you haven't watched yet. There's plenty that could be on your radar, including those on our list of the best shows on Amazon Prime right now.

Read more