What’s the Best Sitcom in History? You Said…

FriendsWe’ve now completed our sitcom tournament and you, our readers, have come up with a winner.

The voting started with a selection of more than 200 beloved comedies. From there, we paired the candidates down to 58 choices. Even then, things were starting to get difficult.

In round three, things got really tough though as we pitted legendary shows against one another — I Love Lucy vs. The Honeymooners; The Dick Van Dyke Show vs The Andy Griffith Show; M*A*S*H vs All in the Family; The Cosby Show vs Cheers; Seinfeld vs Friends; and Everybody Loves Raymond vs The Big Bang Theory. Any of them could easily have come out as the big winner.

In round four, the victors of round three were paired off. In the end, I Love Lucy won over The Andy Griffith Show and Seinfeld beat Everybody Loves Raymond. Cheers and M*A*S*H were so close that we moved them both to the final round. We also introduced a wildcard category in which shows that had been eliminated in round three were given a second chance. Friends was the easy victor.

And then, in the final round, it came down to just five challengers — Cheers, Friends, I Love Lucy, M*A*S*H, and Seinfeld. After more than 27,000 tournament votes, we now have our winners.

Despite being beaten by Seinfeld in round three, Friends has won the title. You, our readers, believe that the gang at Central Perk have the best sitcom in history. Not too far behind them is all-time classic I Love Lucy, a show that many would have thought would have won. And then, right behind Lucy, is the little show from the 1990s, Seinfeld.

Thanks to everyone who voted and left their feedback! We’re planning on doing another tournament soon!

What do you think of the winners? Are you surprised? Any suggestions for future tournaments?

Canceled and renewed TV show

54 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Alijah says

    Are you planning to do a tournament of the Best Drama Series in history??? I really hope you do! there are so many great Drama Series we have had.

    If you do please dont forget The Closer, L+O :SVU, and Saving Grace

  2. says

    It seems like most of the voters are young and probably never even watched anything before 1990. Friends is a great show but not the number one show of all time. I Love Lucy, All in the Family, MASH, Seinfeld, Cheers, Frasier, The Honeymooners, Soap, and Everybody Loves Raymond are all better choices. The next group would include Friends, Roseanne, Taxi, The Simpsons, WKRP in Cincinnati, Batman, Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, and I Dream of Jeannie.

  3. Craig says

    Some people just can’t take a fun website poll with the grain of salt it needs. Ranting just because the people on the website did not vote the way you wanted is a sure sign you need some help. I didn’t happen to think Friends was the best sitcom, but I can understand how others could vote for it. Its success in syndication just shows us that people still really like it.

  4. Luke Curtis says

    Friends as best ever sitcom? never in a million years, for me it will always be Fawlty Towers, 12 perfect crafted works of genius.

    Even if you had to limit it to USA comedies for me it would probably be Cheers, just because you has such a range of real quality characters – when an at best peripheral character like Frazier Crane can be spun off to a massively successful show then you know the characters are really well drawn, compare that Friends` spin off show “Joey”…

    • Jack Carney says

      I dont agree as number 1, but definitely in my top 5. John Cleese is a comedic genius. The British sitcoms are hilarious. My other favorite is Yes, Minister. The writing was fantastic.

  5. Deej says

    I have to agree with Steve somewhat.

    How can you simply judge what the best sitcom ever is if you don’t target certain age groups. You talk to my great uncle and he’ll point out I Love Lucy and M*A*S*H and others as the best. Maybe the same with my mother adding in All in the Family and classics like the Bob Newhart show. And myself watching those as well as Seinfeld and Friends.

    Do I think Friends was a great sitcom? Yes. But it never transcended it’s boundaries. That and Seinfeld were great at the comedy. But who can forget the tears brought to your eyes when Henry Blake’s plane was shot down when he was heading home or Hawkeye’s breakdown when the woman had to smother her own baby to keep the bus alive. Or the diffusing of the bomb with the reversed directions. Or when Sammy Davis Jr kissed Archie Bunker. Or when the car bomb went off at the end of the episode and there was no closing music for the only time in All in the Family. Even the classic chocolate wrapper assembly line in I Love Lucy was absolutely memorable.

    Those were moments when those series transcended and grew to be more that a “sitcom”. While I can remember moments in Seinfeld that I’ll always remember, I can’t say that about Friends. Funny and enjoyable. But not really as memorable as the others.

  6. Steve says

    The best show was either I Love Lucy or Seinfeld. Shows have to be judged by the time in which they aired, not by 30 somethings, 20 – 50 years later. It is simply impossible for someone who did not live during that era, to appreciate what I Love Lucy achieved in its time. it changed television, when television was collassal. People today cannot imagine what it was like to have a Black and White TV with Fuzzy Reception, that picked up maybe 6 -7 stations, and of which good shows aired on only three – NBC, CBS and ABC. There were no VCR’s DVR’s, Cable, X Box, Computers, Cell Phones, or even calculators. In the 50’s, TV was a brand new and amazing medium, and everyone across the country, stopped whatever they were doing to watch the I Love Lucy Show.

    The reason I think Seinfeld was perhaps slightly better than I Love Lucy, is because in the 1990’s we HAD VCR’s, and yet, Thursday nights at 9:00 PM, we all stopped what we were doing the country over, to watch that show. Why, because everyone was talking about the show with each other, as soon as it was over.

    Seinfeld did something no show had EVER done before – make note of the regular, mundane things in life, and make THEM the story. It was sheeer genious, and came about as a result of Jerry Seinfelds aproach to comedy, in the form of: “Have you ever noticed that…fill in the blank.” “YES” we would all shout to ourselves, “YES…I HAVE NOTICED THAT!” No comedian or TV show had ever seemed to state the obvious, that most of us outside of the TV world face every day of our lives! But seinfeld did! That was what made the show so relatable, and why no one EVER wanted to miss a single episode!

    Catching it the next day via VCR? Well, that was too late! Everyone would say the next day at work: “So did you see when Kramer did… whatever…last night?, or when Geroge did …fill in the blank fo that episode.” And there it was, the episode was ruined for you. It was simply too late. Nope, you just had to watch it live, whcih was why NBC was sucessfully able to coin the phrase, “Must See TV,” and why the phrase struck. (It took two decades of hard work for NBC to destroy Must See TV night on NBC, but they finally managed to do it).

    Friends…Friends was on at 8:00 PM – not the premium 9:00 PM TV show slot that Seinfeld enjoyed. NBC knew that Seinfeld was the better program, and so did the public. The next day and for weeks afterward, people everywhere would be talking around the water cooler about what happened on Seinfeld the night before. People would use Seinfeldisms, employ mannerisms or catch phrases they had heard for the first time on the show, just the night before.

    Nothing like that EVER happened in response to Friends. Yes, Friends was a good show, and I watched it if I could – as most people tried to. But while Friends was a good watch if you could catch it, Seinfeld was a MUST WATCH event! And the ratings proved it as well. Seinfeld got much higher ratings that Friends, through all the years they aired together.

    Even twenty years later, people are still using Seinfeldisms like, “No Soup for You!,” “Volva,” or “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” And don’t forget, “Yada yada yada”, “Shrinkage”, “These pretzels are makin’ me thirsty”, “Master of your domain”, “Anti dentite”, “Double dip”, “No soup for you!”, “Can you spare a square,” etc, etc, etc.

    Yeah, we all remember when Rachel and Ross got together all those times, the monkey, Crazy Chandler, Stupid Joey, High Maintenance Monica and Phoebes dysfunctional guitar playing and funny “off timing.” But seriously, is that in any way comparable to all the unforgettable and timeless genious of Kramer, George, Jerry and Elaine, and a whole host of other characters? If you got a guest shot on Friends, that was good. If you got a guest shot on Seinfeld, it made your career! More actors springboarded into fame, from as little as ONE guest shot on a Seinfeld show, than any other show, EVER!

    Think about it. Putty – went on to star in several shows. Neuman, went on to star in 3rd Rock, Frank Costanza – The King of Queens, Mr Peterman – Family Feud and other shows. Dafney (of Frasier) got her break as “The Virgin” on an unforgettable episode of Seinfeld, and that brunette chick on Desperate Housewives. There are a ton of other one-episode actors, that were catapulted from relative obscurity into timeless fame on that show. That rarely happened on Friends.

    Ther eis simply no question, that unless you lived during the time the shows aired, yoiu cannot objectively and properly evaluate the impact, popularity and importance of a show. For these polls to be meaningful, ages need to be assigned to the votes…

    • Idolfanatic says

      I agree whole heartedly with what you said. Just 2 things though, it was “Mulva” not “Volva” and you mentioned “No soup for you” twice. Otherwise, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I still hope that Jerry will return with the gang one day……one can only dream….

  7. Ush says

    Tis a shame that only includes American comedies.

    Would have been good to see things such as Bottom, Blackadder and Red Dwarf on there. All amazing sitcoms but with a twist.
    Or just keep things standard and have shows like One Foot in the Grave or Keeping up Appearances, Porridge or of course the amazing Only Fools and Horses.

  8. rebecca says

    The best comedy is a show that no matter what, can make you laugh just as hard the first time as it does the thousandth time you see it. It’s timeless, reaches all people, regardless of age, gender, or background. I Love Lucy, Mash, and Friends all fit into that category. Funny should be funny, and no matter which episode of these shows you watch, you will laugh, and for 22 minutes, shut the world out and be entertained. Too bad there aren’t quality shows like these anymore.

  9. Tamara says

    I can’t disagree more. While Friends was good, MASH and I Love Lucy were better and ground-breaking. I’m still in shock that All in the Family didn’t make the cut. I’m guessing the voting population has a younger demographic–however, I have a 14 year old niece that LOVES I Love Lucy and watches it a lot. Her grandma would be proud–my mom got ME hooked on I Love Lucy.

    I’m your vita-vita-vegimin girl…

  10. JJ says

    Friends? You’ve GOT to be kidding! Great comedy is something you can watch in the presence of your mother or your kids, without feeling uncomfortable because of an endless procession of sex jokes or getting the kind of message you don’t want your kids to have.

  11. zytgiest says

    this is pretty much a travisty, friends can never hope to have the impact social/emotional that MASH had, it was like seinfield… it was basically about nothing!
    MASH dealt with hard subjects and issues while Friends dealt with indolent 20 something losers not getting on with their lives.
    There is nothing redemptive in Friends ,while there is a world of redemption in MASH.

    • jason h says

      maybe if the survey had been about world redemption then MASH would have won… It was a simple internet survey on popular sitcoms.

  12. mike ihrig says

    who was your respondents,30-something clowns that have no clue on life.how you can say the honeymooners or cheers could be even compared to that drivel called friends.6 people who have no other friends or regular pay checks.wkrp in cincinnati,barney miller,sanford and son and odd couple are far more funny and relevant.and that’s just off the top of my head.typical of any greatest of all time,no one can think 2 years ago

    • jason h says

      you’ve never watched the show clearly since your argument was false. “no other friends or regular pay checks”….

      but you must be right, 30-something clowns do run the internet now

    • Carolyn says

      i find it funny that you are anti friends and yet your icon is from it….
      you actually need to watch friends in order to be so anti friends because other wise you are just making a fool of yourself for not knowing what its about

  13. Nancy Campanelli says

    I agree that FRIENDS would be the best comedy ever, with the 6 main characters making many different story lines possible. I still watch all reruns and still get hysterical to the point of laughing ’til the tears started flowing. I also loved watching REBA and STILL STANDING with 2 fantastic acting families that also made me always laugh ’til I cried. I actually cried when their reruns stopped several months ago. Another one, though still running, would be TWO AND A HALF MEN. Love this show!! At some point and time, I want to own the DVD sets of all the seasons for these 4 outstanding comedies. When reruns to all these shows cease, I will be TOTALLY DEVASTATED!! I am not, by any means, pushing I LOVE LUCY aside, but she was back in another era, though thoroughly hysterical.

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