The lineups on ABC’s TGIF (which stands for Thank Goodness It’s Friday) are remembered with great nostalgia and fondness. When thinking about these shows, most remember the ones that aired in the 1980s and 1990s. But in truth, this ABC comedy block aired off and on from 1985 to 2018, officially naming it TGIF in 1989. Audiences were delighted by the family and teen-based sitcoms that provided light-hearted and comforting entertainment after a long week. Over that time period, TGIF aired over 40 shows. Here are the 14 greatest ones.
1. Full House (1987-1995)
Full House is one the most iconic and beloved family sitcoms ever produced. The premise was unlike any seen before as we see TV personality and recent widower Danny Tanner, aspiring rock star Jesse, and comedian Joey all live under one roof to help raise Danny’s three young daughters, DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle.
The characters evolved, and more came into the picture with each season as we see this large family go through daily struggles with laughter, love, and many hugs. The hilarious and heartwarming show ran for eight seasons, and a delightful spin-off, Fuller House, was produced by Netflix from 2016-2020.
2. Boy Meets World (1993-2000)
Boy Meets World follows a group of friends as they navigate the trials and tribulations of growing up. At the center is Cory Matthews, his best friend Shawn, his best girl Topanga, older brother Eric, younger sister Morgan, his support parents Alan and Amy, and strict but caring teacher Mr. Feeny.
Boy Meets World charmed audiences with its blend of goofy comedy and profound life lessons, eliciting laughs and tears. We saw these kids grow up before our eyes over seven seasons.
3. Step by Step (1991-1998)
Step by Strep is the 90s version of The Brady Bunch. Carol and Frank have a whirlwind romance and quickly elope, much to the surprise and annoyance of their respective children. Each has three kids, and this blended family becomes one with lots of humorous bickering, hijinks, and love. Step by Step was steady, comforting, and always funny.
4. Last Man Standing (2011-2021)
Last Man Standing is Tim Allen’s second successful sitcom after Home Improvement. It follows the co-owner of the store Outdoor Man, Mike Baxter. The ultra-conservative man who prefers camping and fishing constantly clashes with his wife and three daughters, making for plenty of funny situations and observations on life. Its final two seasons aired on Fox, but for seven seasons delighted audiences on the ABC TGIF lineup.
5. Life With Bonnie (2002-2004)
Life With Bonnie only ran for two seasons but is one of the network’s funniest and most underrated shows ever produced. The series follows Bonnie Malloy, a working mom who shares stories about her husband and kids between interviews on her talk show. It was a sweet show with genuinely side-splitting humor when the actors employed their improvisational skills. Look up guest star David Duchovny’s episodes, and you’ll understand why.
6. 8 Simples Rules (2002-2005)
This family sitcom essentially had two eras in its short three-season run. First, the series was titled 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter and centered on loving but overprotective dad Paul Hennessy, played by John Ritter. More strict than his wife, Cate, they navigated the ups and downs of raising two daughters and one smart-mouthed son with varying personalities but similar feelings teenagers experience. It was hilarious and tugged at the heart.
After the untimely death of Ritter, his passing was written into the series and showcased how they dealt with their grief. They brought in Cate’s father and brother for support, which helped the show run for another year. It may be a unique situation, but it was handled with sensitivity and respect for Ritter. The episode that deals with his passing is one the most moving episodes from any comedy series I’ve ever seen.
7. Just the Ten of Us (1987-1990)
Just the Ten of Us is a spin-off of Growing Pains and follows football coach and gym teacher Graham Lubbock who takes a job at an all-boys Catholic school in California, uprooting his wife and eight kids. His oldest six kids attend the school, with his four teenage girls given special permission to attend. The premise made for plenty of hilarious moments. Still, like most sitcoms of the era, it always ended with a lesson learned. This one stood out for its large cast of characters.
Just the Ten of Us enjoyed high ratings for three seasons. Despite this, it was unceremoniously canceled as part of a deal with producers Miller and Boyett to create a new show (which would suffer horrible ratings). This backfired, and ABC later publicly admitted its mistake in canceling this charming show.
8. Family Matters (1989-1998)
A spin-off of Perfect Strangers, Family Matters centers on the middle-class Winslow family in a suburb of Chicago. Father Carl is a police officer who takes pride in his job and loves his family, even when his nerves are tested. It’s a family sitcom in the traditional sense as we see various problems with the kids, occasionally tackling serious issues.
The difference with Family Matters is that the Winslows must constantly fend off their well-meaning but annoying teenage neighbor Steve Urkel. The character with the catchphrase “Did I do that?” is somewhat divisive but undeniably a memorable and iconic part of 90s pop culture.
9. Sister, Sister (1994-1999)
With clear influences from The Parent Trap, Sister, Sister is a series that blends the teen and family sitcom genres to delightfully amusing results. The series follows two identical twins sisters who were adopted at birth by different parents. When they meet and instantly bond, an unconventional living situation is born. Tia and her mother, Lisa, move in with Tamara and her father, Ray, resulting in all the expected shenanigans, love, and humor. Sister, Sister was endlessly charming thanks to its cast.
10. Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003)
Following a made-for-TV movie, Sabrina the Teenage Witch follows the misadventures of a teenage witch coming into her powers and learning about life and magic with the guidance of her aunts. She studies spells as much as her schoolwork and must always figure out how to keep her powers a secret from her classmates and suspicious principal. In an era where teen shows were characterized by drama and behavior akin to adults, this goofy and enchanting show had a charming and refreshing sweetness.
11. The Neighbors (2012-2014)
The Neighbors was a hilarious and far too short-lived series. It follows a New Jersey family who moves into a gated community and becomes fast friends with their oddball neighbors. But there’s a reason for their eccentricities. The entire community is aliens who have taken on human form. They’ve also humorously given themselves names of famous athletes such as Larry Bird, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Reggie Jackson. It made for uproarious fun.
12. Dinosaurs (1991-1994)
Dinosaur is a one-of-a-kind sitcom featuring performers and animatronics of dinosaurs portraying a typical family and their day-to-day lives. But they live in a modern world where they have evolved, and humans have not. It’s so outlandish that it could have easily failed. But they somehow captured lightning in a bottle with this uniquely funny series. As the baby says, “Gotta love me,” and audiences did love its modest 65-episode, four-season run.
13. Speechless (2016-2019)
Speechless follows a family with three kids, one with cerebral palsy. Instead of an overly sappy comedy, we were treated to a realistic, funny, but still heartwarming look at their lives. Speechless had a terrific cast and was an excellent depiction of what families of this sort go through without being patronizing.
14. Perfect Strangers (1986-1993)
Perfect Strangers is a sweet and silly show that follows uptight and neurotic Larry and his innocent and optimistic cousin Balki who travels from Greece to America looking for family and opportunities. The situations were zany, and the series had a signature catchphrase and dance. While not discussed as much today, Perfect Strangers was well-liked at the time and ran for an impressive eight seasons.
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