10 Best 80s TV Characters

The 10 best 80s TV characters are characters that people still recognize today, and are likely recognized by people who have never even seen the shows. Of course, the best '80s TV characters are always up for debate. However, these characters have helped to define today's television, and their legacy will live on.

  1. The Fonz. The Fonz from "Happy Days" is a cultural icon that still lives on in pop culture today. Shows like "Family Guy" have featured the cool greaser, and his distinctive "Heeyyy" lives on in our language.
  2. John Ross "J.R." Ewing, Jr. The star of the "Dallas" late night soap opera, J.R. was an immoral oil tycoon who people loved to hate. With the "Who Shot J.R.?" phenomeon, his character rose to national attention and this attention secured his enduring legacy among other 80s TV characters.
  3. Roseanne Conner. Roseanne is a character who at once is warm, irritating, intelligent, and down-to-earth. Whether you can stand the character or not, she raised many issues on "Roseanne" involving important feminist and civil rights issues, and her character lives on in American culture.
  4. Hawkeye Pierce. In "M*A*S*H," Hawkeye is the complicated doctor who amuses audiences while dealing with horrifying situations. The 80s TV character is somewhat of a cad with a moral side, and continues to endear audiences today.
  5. Sam Malone. From "Cheers," Sam is the likable womanizer who has a biting, sarcastic side. As a bartender he has the opportunity to comment on a diverse array of characters and their problems, and his lines still make audiences laugh today.
  6. Frasier Crane. While his character enjoyed eleven seasons on the series "Frasier," Dr. Crane got his start on Cheers. The pretentious doctor proved good fodder for some cracks at the upper class on the show, and paved the way for decades of laughter.
  7. Dick Loudon. Just about every character Bob Newhart plays is classic, but this 80s TV character is especially classic thanks to the "Newhart" series finale. Arguably the most shocking finale of all time, the mild-mannered man wakes up to find that the entire TV show was a dream.
  8. Rose Nylund. Played by the so-hot-right-now Betty White, Rose made audiences laugh on "The Golden Girls." Her kind yet bumbling personality endeared her to audiences, and her 80s TV character is still very likable today.
  9. Thomas Sullivan Magnum. The star of "Magnum P.I.," Magnum was both cool and endearing to audiences. His Hawaiian shirt and sports car are cultural icons that people still recognize today. He is the epitome of the cool, laid back 80s TV character.
  10. George Jefferson. Originally portrayed on "All in the Family," George Jefferson was a man who was opinionated, rude, and clever. While early seasons of "The Jeffersons" focused on his dishonesty and failed schemes, eventually he softened and became a more likable character. Either way, he remains a cultural icon.

 

 

What Others Are Reading Right Now.

  • 13 Things to Look Forward to in Your 30s

    You’ve probably been told that your 20s will be the best years of your life. As someone in their 30s, I can tell you honestly that nothing could be further from the truth. Here are ...

  • Speakeasy

    Acting, comedy and strong spirits converge in Speakeasy. When host Paul F. Tompkins interviews entertainers—Key and Peele, Alison Brie, Rob Delaney, Zach Galifianakis—about all sor ...

  • Follow Channel

    Remember when Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman made all that noise—and news—before the Super Bowl? We had the story long before the season even started, trailing him all over Se ...