22 Family Shows From The '80s That Desperately Need A Comeback
Maybe it’s all of those ultra '80s Stranger Things trailers that have come out recently, but I have been itching for some '80s nostalgia in the form of TV shows. Or, more specifically, family sitcoms that were kind of everything back in the day. Some of them stayed in the decade while others melted into the '90s, but in both cases, they sort of paved the way for some of the great TV we have today. And there are a ton of family shows from the '80s that need a comeback like right now. They could get a total revival like Fuller House or even a one-off episode to show fans where all of their favorite characters from shows like Family Matters would be now.
But I think we are all in need of some '80s family sitcom revivals. They were the ultimate after school TV and, in some cases later on down the line, made up our Friday nights thanks to T.G.I.F. Even if you were a toddler for the better part of the '80s, chances are, you can still totally appreciate the value in seeing Who’s the Boss? or Family Ties in present day form. There’s nothing wrong with today’s family shows and I’m guilty of eating those up too. But sometimes you just can't beat the nostalgia of these classic '80s family shows.
Growing Pains aired from 1985-1992 and starred Robin Thicke as a work-at-home dad and his misadventures with his family. The show also later co-starred Leonardo DiCaprio, so a reboot could totally feature a DiCaprio cameo.
Who’s The Boss?
Tony Danza starred in this primetime sitcom about a widower who moves into a single mom’s house with his own daughter to work as her housekeeper. There is a lot of will they/won’t they throughout the series, so it would be kind of great to see where Tony and Angela are today.
Family Ties relies heavily on the '80s culture thanks to the parents in the show being former '60s hippies turned suburbanites. The show is most well known for helping to jump starting Michael J. Fox’s career and it is easily an '80s classic.
The Wonder Years
I would love to see where Kevin, Winnie, and Paul are today, especially since the premise of The Wonder Years was that adult Kevin tells the story of the series in his adult voice overs. But I could honestly re-watch The Wonder Years even if a comeback never happens.
Family Matters premiered in 1989, so technically it just made the cut as one of the best family shows from the '80s. The beginning of the series is mostly about the Winslows dealing with their annoying next door neighbor Steve Urkel. The later seasons, however, are more about Steve and Carl Winslow's misadventures. Since Urkel is pretty much timeless, a Family Matters reboot would be perfect to see how Urkel turned out.
Charles In Charge
Scott Baio played the title character in a show that wasn't too different from Who’s the Boss? Only in this case, he was a college student who moves into a family’s house to work as their nanny with zero nanny experience. Obviously, hilarity ensues.
Unlike other more common family TV shows of the '80s, Punky Brewster follows a young girl and her foster father and their adventures in the apartment building she squats in until she is officially fostered by him. It doesn't sound like the makings for a sitcom, but Punky’s quirky charm makes for some adorable episodes.
A Different World
It honestly wouldn't be too difficult to reboot A Different World, which was a spin-off of The Cosby Show and follows students at a historically black college. black-ish already kind of did the same thing with its own college spin-off, Grown-ish.
My Two Dads
A 13-year-old whose mother dies is left to be raised by the two men who each thought they were her father years ago. Instead of figuring out who is the birth father, though, they decide to raise her together. The show could totally get a reboot today with either a continuation or a modern take on the story.
Married... With Children
Married… with Children might not be as family friendly as some of the other popular '80s sitcoms, but imagine what they could get away with today if there was a reboot of the original series.
ALF is about yet another '80s suburban family, but in this case, they also have an alien life force, or ALF, as an honorary member of their family. If ALF made a comeback today, I feel like he could make some seriously funny borderline adult jokes.
The title character of Thelma "Mama" Harper originated on The Carol Burnett Show and the sassy blue-haired grandma is known for her quick comebacks on the show while housing her son, his wife who she can't stand, and her delinquent grandson, Bubba. A revival could see the rest of the family in present day or just another take on Mama, although it might be hard for another actress to live up to the character.
When Ricky shows up on the front steps of his father’s mansion, the two take some time to get to know each other. But it’s a funny and adorable story that could easily be recreated with some modern day twists.
Doogie Howser, M.D.
The best way I can think of to give Doogie Howser, M.D. a comeback would be to have Neil Patrick Harris play the adult version of his iconic character but with the personality of his character Barney from How I Met Your Mother.
A show about an orphan losing his parents in a car accident might not sound like the makings for a sitcom, but Webster is easily an '80s classic that could be the next '80s family sitcom to get a comeback.
No one will ever get out the iconic phrase "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?" quite like Gary Coleman, but Diff’rent Strokes could totally use a reboot. Maybe it’s asking too much for another young actor to attempt the line, but the story of young orphans being taken in by their housekeeper mother’s wealthy boss could easily be redone.
If an '80s family show wasn't about orphans or alien family members, then apparently a robotic child was the next best thing. In Small Wonder, Vicki, a robot who looks like a little girl, joins a family who tries to pass her off as one of their own.
Mr. Belvedere is about a suburban family and their English housekeeper, Lynn Belvedere, who uses his proper upbringing and style to keep the home in shape, despite some rambunctious kids. Honestly, I would kind of love Michael Caine as a modern day Belvedere, but that might be stretching whatever TV budget this imaginary comeback would have.
It might be because Perfect Strangers was one of the shows that came on network TV when I was growing up in a cable-less household, but the story about an odd couple consisting of a Chicago bachelor and his Greek cousin was legitimately funny.
Happy Days ran from 1974-1984 and while it takes place in the '50s, it is remembered as one of the more family friendly comedies of the '80s. It also introduced the iconic Fonz and I wouldn't say no to a reboot featuring some of the original actors just for fun.
The Facts Of Life
The Facts of Life was a spin-off of Diff’rent Strokes and follows a group of girls' boarding school students and their house mother, Edna Garrett. I could see a modern re-imaging of The Facts of Life with more of a Pretty Little Liars twist.
Head Of The Class
Head of the Class might already have a roundabout reboot in the form of NBC's A.P. Bio which is also about a slacker teacher and his class of overachieving students. But a more wholesome revival of Head of the Class still isn't a bad idea.
There is obviously a market for reviving TV shows from the '80s. Netflix did it with not only Fuller House, but also She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and One Day at a Time. Roseanne was also recently revived with a new version of the original series and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the TV shows here were eventually given the reboot treatment. There’s nothing wrong with discovering brand new content, but there is something so comforting about seeing some of your favorite characters from back in the day alive and well on your TV screen again.