The sitcom has long been a staple of American television, so today, we’re looking back at the best series that fall into this genre. To do this, we’ll be turning to the fans at IMDb. The popular entertainment website has assigned every comedy a star rating based on the votes of registered members on a scale of 1 to 10. We’ll be using these scores to count down to the highest user-rated sitcom of all time.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that there is often debate over what is formally considered a sitcom. While some argue that comedy-dramas and animations don’t count, others stick to a looser definition, such as the one in the Merriam-Webster dictionary; It defines sitcoms as, “a television series that involves a continuing cast of characters in a succession of comedic circumstances.” This is the definition we’ll be sticking to for simplicity sake. Because of this, expect some non-traditional sitcoms to be making the list.
Finally, it’s worth noting that we will only be including American comedies in this lineup. With the logistics out of the way, it’s time to take a trip through comedic TV history; Here are the greatest sitcoms of all time, according to IMDb.
Updated by Nicole Mello on June 14, 2020: With such an incredible lineup of series to chose from, we thought it would be a good idea to update our list of IMDb’s best sitcoms. If you’ve already made your way through the best, we’ve included a few additional entries to round out your watchlist!
15 Parks and Recreation (8.6)
Coming in at a low (for this list) 8.6, Parks and Recreation blazes into the list of the best sitcoms of all time (according to IMDb) despite having ended only five years ago. When Parks and Recreation first began airing in April of 2009, many considered it a knock-off of The Office, which had been on the air for four years at that point.
However, after a so-so first season, Parks and Recreation really hit its stride in season two, and from there worked its way into the hearts of fans everywhere to become an instant classic.
14 The Simpsons (8.7)
Though some might fight to say The Simpsons doesn’t count as a sitcom, it absolutely fits the definition as we’ve already given it. We told you to expect unconventional additions, and here’s a classic! The Simpsons is even considered to be the longest-running American sitcom ever, as well as the longest-running American scripted primetime television series.
Many fans say the golden age of The Simpsons has long passed, but countless awards and nostalgic favorites keep The Simpsons high on the list of best sitcoms of all time.
13 South Park (8.7)
Another unconventional addition to this list of sitcoms, South Park has had an undeniable influence on American culture. Even those who don’t watch the show know catchphrases like, “You killed Kenny!”
Like The Simpsons, South Park had its golden age that fans consider as having already passed, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not just as cool or important to audiences that enjoy this program as it’s always been. With an IMDb rating of 8.7, South Park’s longevity and overall quality is undeniable.
12 Curb Your Enthusiasm (8.7)
In 1999, Larry David released a one-hour special entitled Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm, intended to be a one-off mockumentary-style program. That one hour of content became the series Curb Your Enthusiasm, an iconic HBO series that first aired in 2000 and has since become a cult classic.
Though the series is not done in the mockumentary style so much as the special was, this dark comedy uses improvisational work from some of the best comedians of our time, including (of course) Larry David, Jeff Garlin, and Cheryl Hines.
11 Bojack Horseman (8.7)
Talk about an unexpected addition to this list: Bojack Horseman was the little engine that could from the get-go. In a world where most audiences consider animated programming to be “kids’ TV,” Bojack defied the odds and introduced viewers to a world where humans and animals interact interchangeably, visual puns are plentiful, and dark topics can still be explored.
Bojack Horseman stunned audiences with both a compelling first season and consistent quality through its Netflix run. With the end of Bojack comes the end of an era of good, solid, high-quality original Netflix programming, sadly enough.
10 Seinfeld (8.8)
Kicking things off is perhaps the most influential sitcom of all time, Seinfeld. Often referred to as a show about nothing, this series follows a group of friends, including a fictionalized version of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who live life together in New York City.
The show received 180 episodes over nine seasons between 1989 and 1998 and a legacy that’s just as large. Breaking the conventional rules of sitcoms that came before it, Seinfeld paved the way for the genre’s future.
9 Freaks And Geeks (8.8)
Though this one falls into comedy-drama territory, we thought it was worth a shout-out. After all, though it aired for a single 18-episode season on NBC, it received universal acclaim. Freaks and Geeks tells of a smart high school student who becomes friends with a group of slackers in Detroit during the early ’80s.
The 1999-2000 series was canceled quickly because it failed to gain a sizeable audience, likely due to its inconsistent scheduling. Despite this, Freaks and Geeks was a notable entry in the early careers of actors including James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jason Segel, and Busy Phillips.
8 Arrested Development (8.8)
If you think your family is dysfunctional, you clearly haven’t met the Bluths. Arrested Development follows Michael Bluth, who tries to manage the family business after his father gets put in prison for illegal activities. As it turns out, however, the wealthy Californian family has more than one major issue to deal with.
Though the series’ Fox viewership was low between 2003 and 2006, the first three seasons received critical acclaim for featuring dense humor, a talented cast, and outlandish situations. A fourth season was added to Netflix in 2013 and a fifth season was released in 2018 and ’19.
7 The Office (8.8)
It’s time to drive over to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where we’re celebrating this mockumentary about a paper company called Dunder Mifflin. Adapted from the BBC series of the same name, The Office follows the lives of the employees at the Scranton Branch, who are managed by their eccentric boss, Michael Scott.
With a compelling cast, hilarious situations, memorable characters, and a touch of romance, this sitcom had something for everyone. It aired for nine seasons on NBC from 2005 to 2013, ending with one heck of a finale.
6 It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (8.8)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia began airing in 2005, and 14 seasons later, it’s still going strong. The show follows an egocentric friend group that keeps up a neighborhood Irish Bar in South Philly.
Always Sunny has tied The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as the longest-running live-action American sitcom of all time. With clever writing and offbeat humor, fans continue to come back for more.
5 The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (8.8)
This web series about a 1950s Jewish American housewife who sets out to become a standup comedian in New York received much acclaim after its release on Amazon Prime Video.
With fresh dialogue, a charming lead, and a female-centric story, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has a lot going for it. The show’s third season became available in December 2019, and a fourth is on the way.
4 Cobra Kai (8.8)
Cobra Kai is another one of those shows that falls a little more toward the drama side than the comedy one. Nevertheless, we thought it deserved a place on the list. Cobra Kai continues the story of the Karate Kid films, taking place 34 years after the events of the original. In it, Johnny Lawrence decides to open the Cobra Kai dojo back up, which causes his former rivalry with Daniel LaRusso to reignite.
The YouTube Premium show was praised by viewers for featuring fleshed-out characters and reviving the excitement of the original series. Two seasons have been aired, and a third is in the works.
3 Friends (8.9)
The highest-rated live-action sitcom of all time is none other than Friends. If you’re surprised by that, you shouldn’t be; The show ran for ten seasons between 1994 and 2004 and continues to gain attention from nostalgic fans.
The series displayed the everyday lives of six young adults who attempt to navigate the ups and downs of Manhattan city life. Though early critics found the humor to be average, the reviews picked up as the chemistry and charm of the cast stole the show. It remains a pop-culture staple.
2 Gravity Falls (8.9)
This highly acclaimed mystery-comedy series aired on Disney Channel and Disney XD for two seasons between 2012 and 2016. Though it was aimed at older kids, it was definitely not just a kid’s show.
The series focuses on Dipper and his twin sister Mabel, who enjoy their summer vacation in Gravity Falls, Oregon, with their great uncle. Here, they run a local tourist trap while uncovering the secrets behind the paranormal activity in town. Mixing warmth, wit, pop culture, and charm, the show received many positive reviews. The show ended not because there wasn’t interest but because the series’ creator wanted to give the characters a well-crafted ending.
1 Rick And Morty (9.3)
Topping things off as the highest-rated sitcom of all time is Rick and Morty. This animated adult sci-fi comedy follows the journeys of mad scientist Rick and his 14-year-old grandson Morty as they travel through various dimensions and realities.
The show first began airing in 2013 on Adult Swim, and the comedy is now midway-through its fourth season. With offbeat humor and original writing, fans’ love for the show continues to grow.
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