The ’80s may have been all about feathered bangs and neon socks, but it was also a great time for TV! Whether you were a Care Bear kid or a Punky peep, now’s the time to get your brood on board with all your childhood favorites. Read on for our roundup of great ’80s shows to watch with your kids.

Full House

Common Sense Media

Besides tuning in to see the Olsen Twins spring into the spotlight, watching an episode or two of this corny but lovable show is still a great choice for family TV night. After all, the Seaver family is a wholesome lot, and the show often wraps up with a Dad-to-kid talk about kindness, honesty, and the importance of family.

Recommended age: 7 & up

Where to watch: Nick at Night

She-Ra Princess of Power

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This girl power-infused 1985 classic originated as a spinoff of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and features a heroine named Adora (she's He-Man's twin sister!) who turns into a powerful and magical princess when she raises her sword up to the sky. Featuring elements of magic and fantasy—and with a tad less violence than the He-Man series—Wonder Woman-loving kiddos will love it. 

Recommended age: 7 & up

Where to watch: Amazon and Netflix

The Jetsons

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Why not give the kids of today a chance to "Meet George Jetson!"? While it's a tad disappointing to know that more than 50 years after the show was created we're still not flying around in space cars, at least your littles will get a chance to live the dream, too. 

Pssst: Rumor has it ABC is working on a live-action version of the show.  

Recommended age: 5 & up

Where to watch: Stream on Amazon (included in $4.99 Boomerang for Amazon subscription) or buy individual episodes for $1.99. 

Care Bears

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Why wouldn't you want to let your kids watch a show about adorable rainbow-colored bears who travel the world in the name of kindness? And don't forget to enter to win a year's worth of bears delivered to your front door! 

Recommended age: 3 & up

Where to watch: Some episodes are on Youtube, or buy the complete series on Amazon

Reading Rainbow

Common Sense Media

This show debuted in 1983 and features LeVar Burton as he journeys through classic children's books. Books and bigger concepts are told through vignettes, book reviews and talks with real kids about various social issues. It's basically a 30-minute storytime for your kids that, hopefully, will inspire them to be better readers and better people.

Recommended ages: 4 & up

Where to watch: Amazon Prime 

Mister Roger's Neighborhood

Common Sense Media

Sure, today's kids have Daniel Tiger (which is, FYI, inspired by Mister Roger's Neighborhood) but anyone who hopes to teach their kids Fred Rogers' timeless lessons of caring and kindness should sit their kids in front of the original good neighbor himself. The classic show's slow pace and gentle tone is a reminder that little kids don't need (and probably shouldn't have) a lot of stimulation to learn important things. 

Recommended age: 2 & up

Where to watch:

Fraggle Rock

Common Sense Media

First, there were muppets. Then there were Fraggles. Fraggle Rock was created in 1983 by Jim Henson and is, basically, another romp with charming puppets who seek to entertain via silly jokes and musical numbers. 

Recommended age: 6 & up

Where to watch: HBO Go (subscription required); or buy single episodes on Google Play

Punky Brewster


This show about a tough little orphan with a positive attitude (and a funky fashion sense) will inspire kids to stay true and stand up for themselves. 

Recommended age: 7 & up

Where to watch: Available as a DVD rental from Netfli,or buy on Amazon.

Mr. Wizard's World

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Between 1983 and 1991, a grandfatherly genius named Mr. Wizard performed all sorts of cool science experiments in this fave that was all about STEM before STEM was even a thing. Whether he was teaching us how to make homemade record players (remember those?) or showing how we can condense steam back into water, Mr. Wizard made science fun for everyone. 

Recommended age: 6 & up

Where to watch: This dedicated Mr. Wizard’s World Youtube Channel

Double Dare

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What kid didn't wish they could run in the giant hamster wheel featured at the end of this Nickelodeon game show? The show put real teams of two kids against each other to answer trivia questions and, ultimately, compete in a messy, whipped-cream and feathers-filled obstacle course that earned them all sorts of prizes. It's like a smart kid's American Ninja Warrior ... and today's little ninjas will love it

Recommended age: 7 & up

Where to watch: Single episodes are available for purchase Amazon; or find various clips on Youtube

Small Wonder


Move over, Alexa! Today's tiny techies will still get a kick out of this show about a family who adopts a 10-year-old girl named "Vicky" who's actually a robot. Silly antics follow as the family tries to hide Vicky's true nature from prying neighbors. 

Recommended age: 6 & up

Where to watch: Watch single (random) episodes on Youtube or buy from Amazon


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What happens when a furry and wise-cracking alien crash lands in your garage? He becomes a beloved part of the family, of course! ALF (an acronym for Alien Life Form) debuted in 1986 and ran for four years, during which it won both a People's Choice award and a Kid's Choice award.  

Recommended age: 8 & up

Where to watch: Stream the first three episodes for free on Tubi; or buy individual episodes for $.99 on iTunes

The Muppet Show

Common Sense Media

This show may have started in 1976, but we can bet that almost every kid of the '80s knew (and probably loved) Kermit and his charmingly bossy girlfriend, Miss Piggy. The Muppet Show features cute puppets performing with a slew of celebrity guests. Jim Henson originally created the prime-time series to entertain kids and their parents, and we bet today's parents will be just as happy to share the Emmy-award winning show with their littles.

Recommended age: 4 & up

Where to watch: Buy a special edition DVD set on Amazon; or rent DVDs of the show from Netflix

The Great Space Coaster

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This show was co-created by Muppets designer Kermit Love and featured a cast of shaggy puppets alongside actors who performed a variety of songs and skits as well as animated vignettes. The (trippy!) premise: Francine, Danny, and Roy, are singers who live on an asteroid called Coasterville with a clown named Baxter who pilots a "space coaster" through space.  It'd be creepy if it weren't so cute.

Recommended age: 4 & up.

Where to watch: Find random episodes on YouTube

Family Ties


The theme song alone will bring you back! This classic showed debuted in 1982 and ran for seven seasons. It most notably launched the career of actor Michael J. Fox (Admit it: You collected posters of him from Teen Beat!), and chronicled the trials and tribulations of an upper middle-class American family. Watching the Keaton kids wrestle over (wired!) telephone time or fight over who gets to watch the house's one TV will make you realize how simple those times really were. On a more serious note: The show does hold important lessons for tweens and teens, touching on topics including dating, teen pregnancy, sexual harassment, alcoholism, and death. 

Recommended age: 8 & up

Where to watch: (subscription required) or Amazon Prime Video

Kids Incorporated

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Long before American Idol whet the appetites of aspiring rock stars everywhere, Kids Incorporated made us all want to tease our hair and get on stage to the beat of Belinda Carlisle or Debbie Gibson. The show featured a gaggle of musically-talented kids who had their own band and a huge following of fans. The hair, fashion and music is reason enough to watch. If you're lucky, your kids will like the tunes as much as you do. 

Recommended age: 6 & up

Where to watch: Watch clips on this dedicated Youtube channel

Diff’Rent Strokes

TV Guide

C'mon, you know you want your kids to be able to properly quip, "What you talkin' bout, Willis?" This groundbreaking show (1978-1985) is about a white man who adopts the two black children (Willis and Arnold) of his housekeeper after she dies. Lessons of racial acceptance, bi-racial adoption, and family bonds make it a worthwhile addition to your kids' screen time. Note: While it is a comedy, some shows tackle tough issues including pedophilia, sexual assault, drugs and bulimia.  

Recommended age: 11 & up

Where to watch: Available as DVD rental from Netflix

He-Man and The Masters of the Universe

redondoself via flickr

This short-lived series enchanted any kid who loved watching the mighty He-Man defeat the evil Skeletor, again and again. Sure, it was basically a ploy to sell Mattel action figures (you can find these relics today on eBay), but kids who love a classic good-versus-evil romp will be thoroughly entertained.   

Recommended age: 6 & up

Where to watch: Netflix (subscription required); or buy single episodes on Google Play 

What’s your favorite 80s TV show? Tell us in the comments below!

Melissa Heckscher


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