The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (2024)

Sitcoms

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (1)

By Jeremy Urquhart

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Sitcoms have been a television staple for essentially as long as there have been television sets in most households. Everyone likes a laugh or two, and some would argue that humans may well need a laugh or two every now and then, given that old cliché of laughter being the best medicine and whatnot. And with sitcoms being a reliable and popular source of humorous entertainment (especially for viewers in need of a chuckle in the times before the internet), there have been plenty of great ones made over the decades.

The word sitcom is an abbreviation of situation comedy, essentially meaning a show where the same group of characters are continually shown being involved in amusing situations. For the purposes of ranking the best sitcoms of all time below, the term is applied loosely, as indeed, some of the shows below - while funny - do branch out into other genres, including drama (sitcoms don't mind getting sad sometimes, after all). But the following comedic shows can all be labeled as sitcoms, representing this type of TV at its best, and are shown below from great to greatest.

50 'Everybody Loves Raymond' (1996 - 2005)

Created by Phil Rosenthal

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (2)

The potentially ironically titled Everybody Loves Raymond was a quintessential late 1990s/early 2000s sitcom, having nine seasons that aired over the course of almost a decade, with just over 200 episodes in total. Premise-wise, it wasn’t the most original show in the world, revolving around the comedic misadventures of a dysfunctional family, but like always, enjoyable characters and solid writing made it all work.

Clashing with parents and siblings is something just about anyone can relate to, with Everybody Loves Raymond mining much of its comedy out of the frustrations one can have with family members, usually in a good-hearted and not too cynical manner. It was an approachable sitcom and an impressively successful one as a result, and though it feels quaint today, it can still be appreciated for what it was during the time it was on the air.

Everybody Loves Raymond

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Release Date
September 13, 1996
Cast
Ray Romano , Patricia Heaton , Doris Roberts , Peter Boyle , Brad Garrett

Seasons
9

49 'Roseanne' (1988 - 2018)

Created by Roseanne Barr and Matt Williams

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (5)

There’s a certain level of controversy surrounding Roseanne, given the series was divisive because of its initial finale, then became topical again after it was revived in the 2010s (for a very short time) before the titular character’s actress, Roseanne Barr, got fired. Roseanne then effectively became The Conners, a sitcom without Roseanne that ran for 100+ episodes and was also moderately successful.

All the drama aside, Roseanne was still critically acclaimed and culturally significant for its time, showcasing the tumultuous life of a working-class American family, mostly focusing on comedy with some dramatic elements from time to time. Maybe some would find it harder to watch nowadays, in light of all the things that have happened surrounding Roseanne’s production, but if it was a big deal and popular for most of its initial run, that still has to count for something (and it does).

Roseanne

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Release Date
October 18, 1988
Cast
Roseanne Barr , John Goodman , Laurie Metcalf , Sara Gilbert , Alicia Goranson

Seasons
10

48 'Family Guy' (1999 - )

Created by Seth MacFarlane and David Zuckerman

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (8)

You might love it, you might hate it, or you might do a bit of both, but in any event, it’s hard to deny that Family Guy is one of the most popular and seemingly unstoppable animated sitcoms of all time. It began as a somewhat cruder and more chaotic take on The Simpsons, having a dysfunctional family filled with members who sometimes took on similar roles to the main characters in that show, all the while taking place in a strange town filled with wacky side characters.

It’s a show with its ups and downs, and generally, the earlier seasons fared better (and hold up better, too) than some of the later seasons, which all have their fair share of less-than-stellar episodes. Still, for the stuff that does work, Family Guy does deserve praise, and having any number of good seasons is always something, even if that consistency isn’t kept up forever.

Family Guy

TV-MA

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Release Date
January 31, 1999

Creator
Seth MacFarlane, David Zuckerman
Cast
Seth MacFarlane , Alex Borstein , Mila Kunis , Seth Green

Seasons
23

47 'Maude' (1972 - 1978)

Created by Norman Lear

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (12)

All in the Family was a groundbreaking sitcom that had a surprisingly high number of spin-offs, one of them being Maude. This show ran for six seasons and followed a character who only appeared a couple of times on All in the Family early in the show’s run, Maude Findlay (Bea Arthur), who was a unique protagonist for a sitcom series back in the 1970s, in many ways.

The titular Maude was opinionated, outspoken, and independent, and had also notably been married a total of four times; all things that might’ve alarmed some viewers back when the show was on TV. Maude addressed some serious topics and had its characters go through some relatively traumatic things throughout its six seasons, but it did firmly remain a sitcom despite those more serious moments, being generally funny and also feeling ahead of its time in various ways.

Maude (1972)

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Release Date
September 12, 1972

Cast
Bea Arthur , Bill Macy , Rue McClanahan , Conrad Bain

Seasons
6

46 'Mad About You' (1992 - 2019)

Created by Danny Jacobson, Paul Reiser, and Peter Tolan

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (15)

Though its 2019 revival wasn’t super successful, Mad About You’s original run during the 1990s (comprising seven seasons and more than 150 episodes) was good enough to make it qualify as a classic sitcom. It was centered on a married couple living in New York City, just getting by and dealing with life in a very sitcom-y way, particularly in regards to the pair starting a family.

Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt starred as the married couple, with the sitcom being one of the most prominent things in either actor’s body of work to date, with the latter being nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series seven times in a row, winning four of those times. Mad About You is simple but satisfying television, and was understandably popular and well-regarded throughout the 1990s.

Mad About You

TV-PG

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Release Date
September 23, 1992

Creator
Danny Jacobson, Paul Reiser, Peter Tolan
Cast
Paul Reiser , Helen Hunt , Leila Kenzle , John Pankow , Anne Ramsay

Seasons
8

45 'King of the Hill' (1997 - 2010)

Created by Greg Daniels and Mike Judge

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (18)

Apparently, 250 episodes across more than 13 years isn’t enough, because King of the Hill is another older show that’s joined the ranks of old shows getting rebooted in the 2020s. The animated sitcom has, admittedly, continued to hold onto some level of fame in the years since King of the Hill went off the air, having a dedicated fanbase and getting many of its moments recontextualized/reborn as internet memes.

On paper, King of the Hill is one of many animated sitcoms revolving around a dysfunctional family and largely centered on the patriarch, but it makes it work – and stands out – thanks to its unique style of humor. The animation is simple and things are generally grounded, but the style and humor of Mike Judge – who co-created the show and voices its main character (among others) – shine through and make King of the Hill feel distinctive.

King of the Hill

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Release Date
January 12, 1997
Cast
Stephen Root , Brittany Murphy , Pamela Adlon , Kathy Najimy , Mike Judge , Toby Huss , Dennis Burkley , David Herman

Seasons
13

44 'Louie' (2010 - 2015)

Created by Louis C.K.

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (20)

Any mention of Louis C.K. in a post-2017 world does have to acknowledge the controversies around the man, and the fact that his public image was forever altered by such events. The actor/comedian has had a lower profile since, never really achieving the level of fame he had before, with the entire story being explored in a 2023 documentary called Sorry/Not Sorry.

While it might be harder to watch some of C.K.’s material nowadays, it is still worth pointing out how his 2010-2015 sitcom, Louie, was often brilliant, subversive, and unique. He plays a fictionalized version of himself dealing with, initially, everyday struggles that seem to become more absurd and surreal as the show goes on. Dark, occasionally funny, and often uncomfortable, it is one of the most distinctive sitcoms of the 2010s.

Louie

Where to Watch

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Release Date
June 29, 2010
Cast
Louis C.K. , Pamela Adlon

Seasons
5

43 'NewsRadio' (1995 - 1999)

Created by Paul Simms

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (22)

Often regarded as one of the most underrated sitcoms of the 1990s, NewsRadio accumulated nearly 100 episodes, which is impressive for a show that never quite had the ratings success or audiences that other ‘90s shows like Seinfeld and Friends built. NewsRadio nevertheless was charming and always entertaining for those willing to give it a shot, and is one of the better workplace comedies out there.

Said workplace is a news radio station known as WNYX NewsRadio (remember, this was a time before everyone got their news from the internet), and the characters there are all colorful and entertaining. With plenty of great banter and a little by way of exploring the characters’ love lives for good measure, NewsRadio found a great cast and a good formula and stuck with it, being an all-around winning sitcom as a result.

NewsRadio (1995)

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Release Date
March 21, 1995
Cast
Dave Foley , Stephen Root , Andy Dick , Maura Tierney , Vicki Lewis , Joe Rogan , jon lovitz

Seasons
5

42 'The Larry Sanders Show' (1992 - 1998)

Created by Dennis Klein and Garry Shandling

In the pantheon of underrated TV drama shows, HBO is quite well-represented, especially given the network helped redefine what TV could be, both in terms of adult content and in scale. However, it’s not just the dramatic shows that are worth talking about when it comes to HBO’s legacy in television history, as the network also produced/aired plenty of great comedy shows, with The Larry Sanders Show being one of the very best.

Garry Shandling plays the titular Larry Sanders, with the show being about all the behind-the-scenes chaos at a fictional late-night talk show. Predating the likes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Veep by many years, The Larry Sanders Show was groundbreaking in showing what could be done on a cable station when it came to comedy, feeling like a breath of fresh air when compared to other more formulaic and safe (but still often fun) sitcoms that were shown on free-to-air TV.

Watch on Max

41 'Bob's Burgers' (2011 - )

Created by Loren Bouchard and Jim Dauterive

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (25)

It may have started as a fairly small and unassuming show back in the early 2010s, but Bob’s Burgers has just grown in popularity more and more as the years have gone along. The series had a film in 2022 appropriately called The Bob's Burgers Movie, and has been renewed for a 14th and 15th season, which will ultimately take the episode count close to 300.

It’s done all this while being very simple and good-hearted as a show, serving as a less stressful version of Beef by being about a father dealing with the ups and downs of running a burger shop while also trying to raise his family. Bob’s Burgers has a charming and distinct style of animation and is overall easy to recommend for anyone who’s after a feel-good/easy-to-watch sort of sitcom.

Bob's Burgers

TV-14

Where to Watch

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Release Date
January 9, 2011

Creator
Loren Bouchard and Jim Dauterive
Cast
H. Jon Benjamin , Kristen Schaal , Eugene Mirman , Dan Mintz , John Roberts , Larry Murphy , Andy Kindler , Jenny Slate

Seasons
11

40 'Black Books' (2001 - 2004)

Created by Dylan Moran and Graham Linehan

An unfortunate tradition when it comes to British sitcoms is the fact that most don’t seem to last very long, so ranking the best episodes of Black Books ultimately leads to ranking a sizable number of the series' episodes. It’s a show that revolves around a cranky, hard-drinking man who runs a bookstore, all the while treating his sole employee terribly, and complaining about things to his solitary friend.

Black Books is a mean-spirited but very funny show, revolving around an unapologetic misanthrope who gets treated terribly by the world around him, but always deserves it. It’s a downbeat sitcom that has an unusual tone, standing out even among other British comedy shows for how bleak it’s willing to get; appropriately enough, black comedy is the order of the day when it comes to Black Books.

Watch on Tubi

39 'Spaced' (1999 - 2001)

Created by Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (29)

Nowadays, Spaced is best known as the show made before Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright became legends within the world of film for the excellent Cornetto trilogy, directed by Wright and starring Pegg and Frost. Those movies – Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End – all served as excellent parodies while also being good examples of the genres they parodied, and there are certainly hints of the excellence to come found throughout Spaced’s two seasons.

The show follows two young people trying to get by in London while not having the most rewarding of lives (not in the traditional sense at least). Together – and with some other supporting characters – they frequently get into misadventures that sometimes border on surreal, or at least feel like they take place in a heightened reality. The energy level is always high, the jokes come frequently, and even if it’s not as good as the aforementioned trio’s later trilogy of movies, Spaced is still very good when judged as a sitcom.

Spaced

Release Date
September 1, 1999
Cast
Simon Pegg , Jessica Hynes , Nick Frost , Mark Heap

Seasons
2

Watch on Tubi

38 'Vice Principals' (2016 - 2017)

Created by Danny McBride and Jody Hill

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (30)

Feeling like a two-part miniseries, Vice Principals only ran for two seasons, but they were both consistent and each played a part in telling a complete story that was over before it could be unnecessarily milked. Broadly speaking, that story involves two high-ranking officials at a high school both competing to become the principal of said school, and then forming an uneasy alliance when someone else is selected to be principal.

Picture a very small-scale Game of Thrones, set in a high school, and involving characters who want to run the school instead of being a kingdom’s ruler, and you’ve got Vice Principals. It’s compelling and rather easy to binge through, and the fact that one of its main characters is played by the always scene-stealing Walton Goggins definitely helps things overall.

Vice Principals

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Release Date
June 17, 2016
Cast
Walton Goggins , Danny McBride , Georgia King , Busy Philipps

Seasons
2

37 'Extras' (2005 - 2007)

Created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (33)

Just as Vice Principals revolves around vice principals, Extras revolves around extras; the actors who take on very small roles and often appear in the backgrounds of movies or TV shows. Another British sitcom that has a small number of episodes, Extras feels funny and satirical, but also has something of a dramatic throughline when it comes to its main characters, all of whom have aspirations of acting beyond the realm of background work.

It's not just a TV show that relies on its cameos, by any means, but the guest stars are a big selling point of Extras, with each episode having at least one noteworthy celebrity playing themselves and having the episode they appear in bear their name. It’s a show that feels like it’s been a little forgotten, first airing close to 20 years ago now, but it holds up well and is a high-quality British sitcom.

Extras

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Release Date
July 21, 2005
Cast
ricky gervais , Ashley Jensen , Stephen Merchant , Andrew Buckley

Main Genre
Comedy

Seasons
2

36 'The Inbetweeners' (2008 - 2010)

Created by Damon Beesley and Iain Morris

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (35)

Plenty of movies and TV shows have revolved around the struggles of growing up and coming of age, but few push things as far into uncomfortable territory as The Inbetweeners was willing to go. Airing three seasons between 2008 and 2010, as well as having two movies released after (in 2011 and 2014), The Inbetweeners is about four British teenagers who live miserable and awkward lives, but viewed from the outside, it’s all quite funny.

The Inbetweeners never feels like a drama necessarily, but there’s an authenticity to it where it feels like you’re watching real people trying - and pretty much always failing - to be cool. The realism may make the cringe comedy too cringe-inducing for some viewers, but the audacity and commitment to awkwardness is also strangely admirable, and leads to countless iconic scenes that are impossible to forget (even though you might want to).

The Inbetweeners UK

Release Date
May 1, 2008

Cast
Simon Bird , Emily Head , Greg Davies , Henry Lloyd-Hughes , Martin Trenaman , Robin Weaver

Main Genre
Comedy

Seasons
3

Watch on Tubi

35 'Peep Show' (2003 - 2015)

Created by Andrew O'Connor, Jesse Armstrong, and Sam Bain

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (36)

Co-created by Jesse Armstrong, who’s now best known for creating Succession, Peep Show was a long-running British sitcom that was presented in a fascinating and unique manner. Almost every single shot in the show’s run was from the point of view of a character within – or sometimes just outside – every scene, with frequently heard inner monologs from the two main characters also furthering this sense of getting inside people’s heads.

Peep Show is also legendary (and perhaps infamous) for the cringe comedy it contains, with such uncomfortable moments of humor being all the more squirm-inducing because of the way the show is presented. Those who don’t want to be witnesses to/borderline participants in a variety of awkward scenarios might want to sit this show out or get through it gradually, but those who enjoy dark and unsettling comedy ought to make watching this singular sitcom a priority.

Peep Show (2003)

TV-MA

Release Date
September 19, 2003

Creator
Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Andrew O'Connor
Cast
David Mitchell , Robert Webb , Matt King , Olivia Colman , Paterson Joseph , Rachel Blanchard

Seasons
9

Watch on Roku

34 'Scrubs' (2001 - 2010)

Created by Bill Lawrence

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (37)

Having a consistently good run throughout the 2000s (with a less-than-great final season that was also a spin-off – kind of – that aired in 2010), Scrubs was quirky, silly, and heartfelt in all the right ways. It followed a group of young doctors starting out as interns at Sacred Heart Hospital, gradually learning about the profession and themselves, and slowly growing and maturing as people as the seasons went along.

Not many sitcoms that last eight seasons (again, ignoring that “season 9”) stay as steadily good as Scrubs, with it generally holding up well and remaining entertaining when watched today. It feels distinctly of its era, in some ways, but it’s now old enough for at least the earlier season to feel nostalgic. Despite its age, however, few sitcoms in its wake have managed to mix such a zany sense of humor with genuinely sad and effectively dramatic moments, because Scrubs can get quite heavy when it wants to.

Scrubs

Where to Watch

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Release Date
October 2, 2001
Cast
Zach Braff , Donald Faison , John C. McGinley , Eliza Coupe , Kerry Bishé , Michael Mosley , Dave Franco

Seasons
9

33 'The Office' (2001 - 2003)

Created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (42)

Though the American spin-off might be more well-known and have more fans nowadays, there’s an argument to be made that the original British version of The Office is superior (or at least more consistent and cutting-edge). Its tone is darker overall, and the characters are generally less pleasant to be around, which means that while it can be very funny, it’s also bleaker and more cynical.

Parts of The Office can be hard to watch, but it’s still easy to admire the then-groundbreaking way it was presented and the fact that it centered on people who worked remarkably mundane jobs. With just two short seasons and a Christmas special to tie everything up, the UK version of The Office is quite easy to recommend and proves undoubtedly interesting to compare and contrast to the better-known U.S. version.

The Office (U.K.)

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Release Date
July 9, 2001
Cast
ricky gervais , Martin Freeman , Lucy Davis , Mackenzie Crook , Patrick Baladi , Sally Bretton

Seasons
2

32 'Flight of the Conchords' (2007 - 2009)

Created by James Bobin, Jemaine Clement, and Bret McKenzie

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (44)

A sitcom that was short-lived, silly, and wholly distinct, Flight of the Conchords might well be one of the most underrated shows of the 21st century so far. Perhaps that comes from its style of humor being an acquired taste, but it wouldn't be nearly as memorable if it wasn't so weird. The show revolves around a comedic duo of musicians known as Flight of the Conchords, and their continually unsuccessful attempts to find fame in New York City.

Continually out of their depths and sinking further into obscurity with every passing episode, there's an odd sadness inherent to Flight of the Conchords that would probably be depressing if the show wasn't so funny and the music so catchy. The songs are genuinely good while also being expert parodies of certain artists and genres, being the best of both worlds and adding so much to what's already a funny and quotable TV show.

Flight of the Conchords

Release Date
June 17, 2007
Cast
Bret McKenzie , Jemaine Clement , Rhys Darby , Kristen Schaal

Seasons
2

Watch on Max

31 'Fawlty Towers' (1975 - 1979)

Created by John Cleese and Connie Booth

The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (45)

Perhaps the most famous project John Cleese is known for outside the groundbreaking and satirical works of Monty Python, Fawlty Towers was another short-lived British sitcom that prioritized quality over quantity. With just two seasons made up of six episodes each, the show was never in danger of outstaying its welcome and managed to be a near-perfect example of farcical comedy for its entire run.

The series is primarily set in the titular Fawlty Towers, which is a hotel run by the incompetent Basil Fawlty that falls into further disarray and chaos as the show goes along. It’s got a simple premise and a fairly confined location, but manages to mine a surprising amount of comedic gold out of it all, and is one of those rare older shows that feels just as funny now as it would’ve been back in the 1970s.

Fawlty Towers

Release Date
September 19, 1975
Cast
John Cleese , Prunella Scales , Connie Booth , Andrew Sachs , Ballard Berkeley

Seasons
2
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The 50 Best Sitcoms of All Time, Ranked (2024)

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