Popular television shows in the 1980s included the sitcoms "Cheers," "The Cosby Show," "Newhart," "Night Court" and "Murphy Brown." Popular dramas included "Hill Street Blues," "Moonlighting," "St. Elsewhere," "Murder, She Wrote" and "L.A. Law."
During the 1980s, evening soap operas such as "Dallas" and "Dynasty" were popular. Ninety million people watched the "Dallas" episode that revealed who shot the character J.R. Ewing.
Other well-known shows in the 1980s included "Cagney and Lacey," "Miami Vice," "The Love Boat" and "MacGyver." Widely watched children's programs during this period included "Sesame Street," "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and "Reading Rainbow." Oprah Winfrey's talk show debuted in the 1980s, and "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and "Late Night with David Letterman" were popular late-night programs.
Television was undergoing an evolution during the 1980s. More households had cable television, and stations such as CNN, MTV and ESPN became popular among viewers. They gave viewers a wider array of choices and created competition for the broadcast networks. These cable stations offered 24-hour programming and focused on specific subjects such as news, music or sports.
At the end of the decade, several television shows that would remain popular into the 1990s debuted. These shows included "The Simpsons," "Roseanne" and "Married...with Children."