Can You Identify These '70s and '80s TV Shows?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo
Image: CBS

About This Quiz

In the 70s and 80s there were several widely successful shows including “House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons” as well as "Alf" and “Mork and Mindy." Certain TV shows had an outsider perspective so as to be able to question the mores of the time. Meanwhile, shows also reflected more of the diversity of the times, from divorced women (“One Day at a Time”) Hispanic policemen (“CHiPs) and Asian characters (Kung Fu). Plus, there were also TV shows with African Americans leads such as “Sanford and Sons,” “The Jeffersons”, and “Good Times.” 

Of course, you can’t forget the classics during the 70s and 80s like the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” or the “Bob Newhart Show” that ran for years. Then there was "M*A*S*H" with the theme song, "Suicide Is Painless." The song was co-written by then 14-year-old Mike, son of the movie’s director, Robert Altman. There are so many more wonderful shows and interesting tidbits to learn along the way.

Do you recall this era of TV? What were your favorite shows? See if you can identify them with just one image as your clue by taking this quiz! 

Although this sitcom ran from January 1974 to September 1984, it was actually set in the 1950s and 60s. It has been one of the most popular and successful TV shows having been syndicated by a large number of networks.

This sitcom about two single, working class best friends who also happen to be roommates premiered in January ​1976. For its first four seasons, the show aired on Tuesday evenings at 8:30 to 9:00 and remained in the top three in the ratings. In its fifth season, however, it failed to make the top 30.

"The Six Million Dollar Man" starred Lee Majors as Colonel Steve Austin – an astronaut given bionic powers after a near-death crash. The five-season series had a spin-off called "The Bionic Woman," which starred Lindsay Wagner and ran for three seasons.

"The Love Boat" lasted for nine seasons with a total of 250 episodes. One of its stars, Ted Lange, who portrayed Isaac, went on to become a prolific playwright and director. Among his credits is the role of director for several episodes of '90s shows "Dharma and Greg," and "Moesha."

Although "Kung Fu" ran for just three seasons, its sequel "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues," had a four-season run. Star David Carradine was a skilled dancer with no martial arts training prior to the show.

This popular sitcom is a spin-off of "Maude" (which starred the Golden Girls’ Beatrice Arthur). "Maude" was also a spin-off of the hit comedy, "All in the Family" which starred Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker.

Only Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt), Jack Tripper (John Ritter) and Larry Dallas (Richard Kline) appear in all eight seasons of "Three’s Company." Furthermore, only Ritter and Kline from the "Three’s Company" cast also appear in both "The Ropers" and "Three's a Crowd," spin-offs of the series.

"Barnaby Jones" starred Buddy Ebsen in the title role and Lee Merriweather as his widowed daughter-in-law, Betty Jones. Prior to his eight seasons on the series, Ebsen had played the role of Jed Clampett in "The Beverly Hillbillies" for nine seasons.

"Welcome Back, Kotter" was John Travolta’s first TV role. He played Vincent "Vinnie" Barbarino, a handsome Italian-American student in Mr. Kotter’s remedial class.

Within the TV series, Gordon Shumway (aka ALF), is a Melmacian from the planet Melmac. Whenever we see a head-to-toe shot of ALF, it is Mihaly "Michu" Meszaros in the costume. Michu measured 2 feet, 8 and three-quarter inches as an adult.

"Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" ran for just two seasons, between 1979 and 1981, with a total of 37 episodes. In 2003, Warner Bros. Animation released the animated TV series "Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century," starring Daffy Duck.

MTM Enterprises (co-owned by Moore) was the production company behind "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Since the initials were similar to MGM, they used a kitten in their logo to mimic the MGM lion.

After eight seasons, the final episode of "Diff'rent Strokes" aired in May 1985. Gary Coleman and Conrad Bain, who portrayed Arnold Jackson and Phillip Drummond respectively, both later appeared on the series finale of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in 1996.

"Sanford and Son" premiered in January 1972 and ran for a total of six seasons. The series starred Redd Foxx as junk dealer Fred Sanford and Demond Wilson as his son, Lamont.

"The Jeffersons" was a spin-off of the hit sitcom, "All in the Family." It lasted for 11 seasons and has become one of the longest-running sitcoms of all time. "All in the Family" also had a long run with a total of nine seasons.

"Hart to Hart" premiered in August 1979 and its last episode aired in May 1984. It wasn’t until 1993, however, that its stars, Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers, began appearing in TV movies based on the series. Between 1993 and 1996, they made a total of eight of these films.

"Maude" premiered in September 1972 as a spin-off of "All in the Family." In several episodes, the only two characters featured are Maude and her husband, Walter, played by Beatrice Arthur and Bill Macy, respectively.

"Mork & Mindy" was a spin-off of the hugely popular sitcom, "Happy Days." Mork, played by Robin Williams, was meant to be featured in just one "Happy Days" episode titled "My Favorite Orkan." He was such a big hit, however, that Mork ended up with his own show.

"Benson," a spin-off of "Soap," aired from September 1979 to April 1986. It starred Robert Guillaume in the title role. Guillaume is also known to fans as the voice of Rafiki, the mandrill, in "The Lion King."

For six seasons and a total of 142 episode, Bob Newhart portrayed Robert Hartley, a Chicago psychologist. Newhart was already a well-known comedian before the show. He had a best-selling album of his monologue, "The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart."

The "M*A*S*H" theme song, "Suicide Is Painless," was also used in the "M*A*S*H" movie a couple of years earlier. The song was co-written by then 14-year-old Mike, son of the movie’s director, Robert Altman.

"The Ropers" was a short-lived spin-off of "Three’s Company." While "Three’s Company" lasted for eight seasons, "The Ropers" ran only for two.

"This Diff'rent Strokes" spin-off began in 1979, less than a year after "Diff'rent Strokes" had its own premiere. "The Facts of Life" managed to outlast "Diff'rent Strokes," running for nine seasons, compared to eight for "Diff'rent Strokes."

The "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" animated TV series was created, produced, and hosted by actor and comedian Bill Cosby. It is Cosby’s voice we hear as Fat Albert, James "Mushmouth" Mush, and the eponymous William "Bill" Cosby.

“Sit, Ubu, sit. Good dog,” can be heard at the end of each episode of "Family Ties." It is featured along with a picture of Ubu Roi, a black Labrador retriever and pet of the production company's founder, Gary David Goldberg.

On "Fantasy Island," Hervé Villechaize played the role of Tattoo, assistant to the island’s overseer, Mr. Roarke. Villechaize was a French actor of English and Filipino descent who stood 3 feet 10 inches tall as an adult.

Mr. T, whose real name is Lawrence Tureaud, played Bosco Baracus for all of "The A-Team’s" five seasons. Called "B.A." for "Bad Attitude," he is often credited with saying the catchphrase “I pity the fool." B.A. never actually says that in the series, however, but was very likely to call people “suckers” every now and then.

The "Charlie's Angels" TV series originally starred Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith as the Angels. Over time, both Farrah Fawcett and Kate Jackson left the show and Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack and Tanya Roberts were the chosen replacements. Only Jaclyn Smith remained through all of the show’s five seasons.

Jack Klugman played the role of Medical Examiner Quincy in the series. For seven years, Robert Ito starred alongside Klugman as his lab assistant, Sam Fujiyama. Ito was a dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and after Quincy, M.E, he went on to a very prolific voice acting career.

The crime fighting organization for which the Knight Rider works also developed KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand). Apart from the fact that KITT was a talking car, it could also reach speeds of 300 miles per hour and was both bulletproof and fireproof.

While Loni Anderson has a long list of TV appearances to her credit, she is best remembered for her role as Jennifer Marlowe, the sophisticated and intelligent receptionist at WKRP. Anderson appeared in 89 of the show’s 90 episodes.

Fourteen seasons and 357 episodes make "Dallas" one of American TV’s longest running full-hour primetime dramas. The show had several spin-offs and sequels of which "Knots Landing" was one of the most successful. Just like "Dallas," "Knots Landing" had a 14-season run.

Many people are surprised to learn that John Hillerman, who played the role of Jonathan Higgins in "Magnum P.I.," is not a British actor - his accent is that believable. Hillerman is actually an American actor from Texas.

The "Little House on the Prairie" TV series is based on a set of children’s novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder about her childhood. The show lasted nine seasons after premiering in September 1974.

"The Waltons" was not only adored by fans during its nine-season run, but also received top recognition from the TV industry. The series won the 1973 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. In addition, several of its actors were Emmy Award winners, some on multiple occasions.

A “young” Bruce Willis came to prominence as an actor when he starred in the 1985-89 TV series, "Moonlighting." His first "Die Hard" movie, which set him on his way to superstardom, was released in 1988.

James Best playing Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane is one of the more memorable characters from "The Dukes of Hazzard" TV series. Best’s long career as a Western actor began in 1949.

Only two actors, Michele Lee (as Karen Fairgate MacKenzie) and Ted Shackelford (as Gary Ewing), appeared in all 14 seasons of "Knots Landing." Joan Van Ark (as Valene "Val" Ewing) was in every season except the last, although she was in the two-part series finale.

"Hill Street Blues" premiered in January 1981 and held the record for the most Emmy Awards won by a series in its debut season – eight in total. The record stood until it was broken in 2000 by "The West Wing."

From 1978 to 1983 Danny DeVito was taxi dispatcher Louie De Palma in the series "Taxi." His efforts earned him both a Golden Globe and an Emmy.

James Garner, who portrayed private investigator Jim Rockford in "The Rockford Files," was nominated for three Golden Globes and five Emmy Awards. From his eight nominations, he won an Emmy in 1977 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

"Cagney & Lacey" ran for seven seasons from March 1982 to May 1988. For six straight years, Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly were both nominated for the Primetime Emmy for Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In an amazing feat, one of them won the award every year.

Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox portrayed Officers Francis "Ponch” Poncherello and Jonathan "Jon" Baker, respectively. Throughout the show’s six-season run of 139 episodes, neither Estrada nor Wilcox ever drew their weapons.

"One Day at a Time" starred Bonnie Franklin as a divorced mother with Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli playing her two teenage daughters. In 2017, Netflix launched a reboot of the series which focuses on a Cuban-American family.

Lee Majors became stuntman Colt Seavers in the "The Fall Guy" (1981 – 1986) after being Colonel Steve Austin in "The Six Million Dollar Man" (1973 – 1978). Before both of these roles, however, he was Heath Barkley in the "The Big Valley" (1965 – 1969).

Premiering in August, 1976, "Alice" was based on a movie ("Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore") which was released two years earlier. The show’s highest ranking during its nine-season run was 4th place during its 4th season.

Two well-known characters from "The Muppet Show" (although few people actually know their names) are Statler and Waldorf. They are the two older gentlemen who sit in the balcony and heckle everyone on stage.

"Eight is Enough" starred Dick Van Patten as Tom Bradford, a father of eight children. While Bradford’s first wife appears in a few of the episodes in the first season, the actress who played her (Diana Hyland) died five days after the second episode aired. Bradford remarried in the second season.

The cast members of "The Partridge Family" weren’t the only stars to be featured on the show. The show’s long list of guest stars included Richard Pryor, Farrah Fawcett, Johnny Cash and Jodie Foster.

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