Top 10 (and Bottom 5) Shows from NBC’s Thursday Night “Must-See TV” Lineup 1982-2004

Last Updated on: October 15th, 2023

Top 10 (and Bottom 5) Shows from NBC’s Thursday Night “Must-See TV” Lineup 1982-2004

For Generation Xers and older Millennials like myself, TV on Thursday nights was once appointment-viewing. Starting in 1982 with a lineup of hits like Cheers, Fame, Taxi and Hill Street Blues and ending in 2004 (unofficially; it was officially renamed in 2006, but 2004-2006 was pretty bad except for The Office)  with the retirement of Friends, NBC created a lineup of evergreen hits that kept delivering for two decades.

Appropriately-termed “Must-See TV,” the NBC Thursday night lineup actually went through a number of waves, but the formula always stayed the same: hit comedies from 8-10pm and an hour-long drama to cap off the night at 10pm. Just as one major anchor hit ended a fruitful run, another equally popular show was ready to jump off the bench and keep the momentum going.

The “Must-See” days may be over, but thanks to our old friend YouTube, we are able to relive just a little of its magic. Here are my top 10 Must-See TV lineup members, in order, along with a special little bonus bottom 5.

There is absolutely nothing scientific about this list and is completely based on my opinion. My only criteria for inclusion was that the show had to appear on NBC on Thursday night for at least a full season between 1982-2004 (Which is why Taxi is not on the best list and Mamma’s Family isn’t on the worst).

Disagree? Leave a comment and let me know what I missed.


Top 10 Shows of Must-See TV


#10) A Different World (1987-1992)

#9) Family Ties (1984-1987)

#8) Frasier (1993-1994, 1998-2000)

#7) LA Law (1987-1994)

#6) Will & Grace (1999-2006)

#5) Friends (1994-2004)

#4) ER (1994-2008)

#3) Cheers (1982-1993)


#2) Seinfeld (1991, 1993-1998)

#1) The Cosby Show (1984-1992)

5 Worst Shows of Must-See TV

Cursed/The Weber Show (2000-2001)

Video not available

Gimmie a Break (1982-1984)

Wings (1990-1994)

Dear John (1988-1989)

Good Morning Miami (2002-2003)

Please note that some of these numbers are easier to find than others. Most of these fun facts come from internet reports and may not be official tallies. No information contained on DMR should be relied upon to make investment decisions. Basically, this is the best I can find and I don’t guarantee anything to be 100%.