What tv show ruled the world during its peak?

  1. I studied abroad in the Middle East during the early years of the Simpson's popularity, and I found at a tourist t-shirt shop a bootleg Simpsons shirt depicting Bart holding a basketball and soaring toward a basket, wearing a Michael Jordan style Bulls jersey and Nikes. He was saying, "It is the shoes!"

  2. Who shot Mr Burns, the best cliffhanger of all time lasting the entire offseason. I think I even remember a full half hour show on Fox documenting theories and whatnot just before the reveal episode aired.

  3. Honestly, it's hard to think of anything that has left as big a cultural impact as the simpsons, at least outside of historical events

  4. And it was popular with a much wider demographic (especially by age) as compared to Seinfeld, at least in my region.

  5. I definitely grew up on The Simpsons, as did a lot of us. Kind of ridiculous how much a culture-defining comedy it was. Simpsons references were just a part of the language (And now I feel so fucking weird when friends of coworkers not even ten years younger than me don't get them.)

  6. NBC offered Jerry Seinfeld $5M per episode for another season and he declined. The show was #1 on television when it concluded and the series finale played in Times Square.

  7. Gotta love the cajones on Seinfeld for saying no to that. I know, the guy was the co-creator and so knew he would get money from syndication rights, etc. (he continues to make many millions to this day from it), but most Seinfeld seasons had 24 episodes. So Jerry literally said, "Nah, I'm good," to a cool $120 million for a tenth season.

  8. The Seinfeld finale was so big that the sitcom Dharma and Greg based an episode around it! Dharma and Greg wanted to have sex in public and decided to try it during the Seinfeld finale because there would be no one around. It's crazy that the finale of a popular sitcom was such a cultural event that a different sitcom used it as a plot point.

  9. What's always been weird (to me) is that I was more or less the age demographic for Seinfeld but I had zero knowledge it even existed.

  10. Isn’t there a story about the finale happening on the day Sinatra died? And his ambulance had no trouble cruising through the streets because they were empty, everyone was at home watching Seinfeld.

  11. "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Holy shit, when this came out it was all anyone talked about. Regis was everywhere. It became ingrained in popular culture so fast. It spawned so many lines people said in everyday conversations:

  12. And when John Carpenter won that first million dollars, with a badass phone-a-friend finishing move just to brag to his dad... Oof. That was the coolest moment I'd seen on TV.

  13. I am so mad at that show. I made the contestant pool. Then they started doing celebrity shows. Then the ratings crashed and they canceled the show. I never got to be on the show because of that.

  14. Apparently it's still on but now they have time limits to answer questions where as before, sometimes a person would spend an entire episode on one question.

  15. The UK version’s host used to write the cheque out when they got to a certain point, and physically hold it in front of them when talking about how much money they’d got to so far, then theatrically yank it back and yell “BUUUT WE DON’T WANT TO GIVE YOU THAT!” That was 20 years ago and would still be something people would recognise now.

  16. If I can believe what I've heard, crime rates dropped when it was on, Desi came up with a way to have it air on both coasts at the same time, and their studio green lit Star Trek.

  17. I Love Lucy was so dominant with its 71.7% screen dominance that you could even see its affect on the reservoirs as its commercial breaks led to millions of Americans flushing their toilets in sync.

  18. I think this is the most literal answer so far. The show wasn't just popular, Lucille Ball actually had a lot of power in the industry.

  19. I can't believe it took so long for Lucy to appear. The birth of little Ricky set a record for viewership and outscored Eisenhower's inauguration. (People watched those back then)

  20. Lost. I read a story about how during one season the white house had to release a statement saying that the state of the union and the new episode wouldnt overlap.

  21. The amount of fan theory, conspiracy, spoilers, etc was phenomenal. People were picking apart each episode and promo looking for some groundbreaking insight of the show.

  22. I didn’t watch lost until after it ended (honestly not sure I had even heard of it when it was on) and am glad I was able to watch it with the whole thing out binge style, idk if I could have handled having to wait each week and between seasons with all those cliffhangers. What a great show that was.

  23. Not the whole world, but a friend once told me after visiting Ireland around the turn of the century that when Father Ted came on, basically the whole country shut down and everyone watched Father Ted.

  24. I can remember where I was when I heard that Dermot Morgan (Ted himself) had died, because the supermarket I was shopping in announced it over the tannoy and then had a minute's silence for him. Eveyrone stopped shopping and went along with it. And that was in the north.

  25. Lived in Ireland during this time. I was very young, but remembering it was a national phenomena when it was on. Everyone and their granny watched it.

  26. They mentioned my hometown of Quapaw, Oklahoma on one episode. Quapaw is small. Being mentioned on Mash was huge to us.

  27. All of my friends and I would have watch parties together every Sunday night. The last ever instance of “appointment television”!

  28. I can't compare GoT to other series like Friends because I was born in the 90s but GoT definitely ruled the internet for almost a decade. Everyone was watching it and then everyone forgot about it.

  29. Until season 8. I can’t imagine the millions HBO lost on merchandise from that finale. It was like overnight every single piece of merch at hot topic and boxlunch was on discount or non existent. The cons stopped having cast there and generally having a franchise hated that quickly.

  30. Recently a cable channel showed all episodes starting from Season 1. I had forgotten how awesome the early seasons were.

  31. I work in a pharmacy. A lady a little older than my mom came in and I greeted her by name (because she’s in fairly often and I’ve worked there for over a decade). She thought it was awesome that we know her name and are always friendly with her. I started singing the Cheers song and she laughed and started singing along too.

  32. I remember during Christmas dinner a few years ago (3rd or 4th season was airing at the time) someone started talking about Breaking Bad and more than half the table instantly started saying "No!no!no!no!no!no!no!no!", stopping that person from saying anything that might have been a spoiler.

  33. I've literally never seen an episode of the show, but I can absolutely recognize many key characters from it due to their presence in memes alone.

  34. I am seen quite a few shows in my life but Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are probably the only ones that got consistently better and better with each season. I still can't wrap my head around the consistent improvement of each season in both shows.

  35. I’ve wondered a lot why BCS didn’t catch on as much as BB. I personally prefer the former, though ofc highly enjoyed Breaking Bad too.

  36. The fact that it was so popular even though it was on "cable" and you had to pay to watch it, still is incredible to me. Game of Thrones doesn't exist without Sopranos.

  37. I don't think people realise just how popular Dallas actually was. I watched it in South Africa where I grew up.

  38. Fun fact about Dallas: it was the first western TV show that was broadcast in Romania under the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. They didn’t ban Dallas because this show portrayed US/western countries as a bunch of immoral drunks. The show became the most popular TV show in Romania. People would often only talk about the latest episode of Dallas and were waiting in anticipation of what the next episode will contain.

  39. It was huge, absolutely huge in Ireland in the 80s. To this day you can see houses dotted around the country that were modeled on South Fork.

  40. I barely remember this happening as a child, but I remember my father had to run a generator to run the TV so my mother and her friends could watch. A storm had knocked out the power the whole day.

  41. MTV was huge for a while. I stopped late 90's. TRL was never something I experienced. We had Headbangers Ball, Beavis & Butthead, etc..

  42. Contestants from the first few seasons were household names. There was even an increase in babies names Colby because of Colby from season two.

  43. It's weird to think that reality shows, at least early on, were actually pretty interesting. Not just because of the novelty, but because they hadn't become a formula yet. It was pretty new territory, so there was clearly a lot less producer involvement. Pushing people into arguing, creating "characters" or drama with editing, and sometimes outright telling people what to say weren't really a thing back then.

  44. Sandra is a household name and forever will be. I just wish I could hang in the sub but it has so many spoilers.

  45. Everyone from season 1 became celebrities. Colleen was even cast in that terrible Rob Schneider movie because she was America’s sweetheart for a while.

  46. I used to have a standing appointment with my mother, who's a now retired nurse, to watch this show every week. Nearly every episode, during the big dramatic scene where the docs are frantically working to save some poor schmuck's life she always would shout "INTUBATE HIM!!" at the docs and nurses.

  47. I recently started a rewatch when I realized I'd never seen the last few seasons. For its time, the medicine was fairly accurate. There were so many good storylines involving Greene and dealing with PTSD. And the scene when Carter gets stabbed is forever etched in my mind. And when Romano and Weaver try to resuscitate Lucy is probably the most vulnerable we'd seen him (this was pre helicopter incident). It showed that he was hard ass towards he because he knew she could be better than she was. I was initially bummed when Kellie Martin left the show because I had a huge crush on her. Reading now about her experience, it was the best thing for her mental health.

  48. Surprised I had to scroll this far to find TWD. I remember there was one point in the series where the most viewed shows on television were TWD, Talking Dead, and the rerun on the same night of the new episode

  49. Dr. Who. Another story of utilities is immediately after the episodes aired in Britain, electricity usage increased tremendously. This is because everyone turned on their kettles at the same time to boil water for tea.

  50. That period until about 2014 was so special as a Doctor Who fan. There were years where it felt like everyone in the UK was either watching it or at least viewed it positively. I don't think it was ever truly appreciated at the time how incredible it was that the 50th Anniversary in 2013 was such a big event. The way the popularity dropped off from 2015 onwards was startling given it's a massive point of contention whether the quality declined at all in the Capaldi years.

  51. Same story for soaps, the power companies actually have to give an extra amount of electricity at the breaks, which (if I remember correctly) is predicted by experts

  52. Back in the early-mid 1970s, CBS had the Saturday night lineup to end all lineups, and they 100% ruled the world:

  53. Showing my age, but watching Carol Burnett with my parents AND grandparents, and we're all busting a gut at Conway & Korman, some of the best times.

  54. 76 million viewed the series finale compared to 10 million for Breaking Bad. I get it's a different time and cable vs network, but that's insane. People just aren't that in to scripted TV like they were.

  55. Lost is the answer for a couple different reasons. Season one was so great at the cliff hangers. It was also one of the few shows (like x files) that wasn’t just a monster of the week.

  56. Lost just had so much going on but in a way that captivated you. The story and characters were, IMO, so well-written. I know the ending was controversial but I honestly didn't mind it.

  57. I was in college during its peak and I reffed intramural sports. Thursday nights you could always get shifts because nobody wanted to work, and half the games were defaults because people didn't show up. That was powerful TV.

  58. When I was backpacking I met some random girl from some country I can’t remember and she had excellent English. I asked her where she learned to speak English and she “Ross and Rachel.”

  59. I can’t believe I had to scroll this far down to see Friends and it’s below shows that I doubt ruled the world, as in, outside the US. Like, we had Bewitched and Jennie in a Bottle in France, but not I love Lucy which we would never have heard of without Pretty Woman. And I don’t even know what M * A * S * H is.

  60. This is the only sitcom that I have a ‘I remember where I was when I watched-‘ moment. My whole family sat around and watched the series finale, and when Ross said Rachel at the altar everyone just lost their shit lol. Such a weird memory to have!

  61. I went to Europe for the first time in 1999. Most astonishing thing to me, FRIENDS. Friends was freakin' EVERYWHERE! Giant posters and display boxes in stores all over. Like 100 times what it was in the US!

  62. This is one that seems to fit better with "ruled the world" than a lot of the other shows listed here. We hosted a Danish exchange student and someone else hosted a German exchange student, and I remember both of them said Friends was one of their favorite TV shows of all time. Not even just their favorite English shows. Could have been a total coincidence though. But also, when I worked in a retail store in NYC and we sold Friends merchandise, a lot of it was bought up by foreign tourists!

  63. I was looking for this one. I just had a couch delivered a couple of weeks ago, and I live in an apartment building (any fan knows where I am going with this). Well it happened, they couldn't get it down the one flight of stairs, it was stuck. The only helpful solution I could think was, 'Pivot!'

  64. I think I remember reading an uber fact on twitter fact on twitter that STILL now at least million people watch an episode of Friends every day.

  65. History would seemingly like to forget this (and most of Reddit is obviously too young to remember) but it was a juggernaut at the time (late ‘80’s.)

  66. Right?! Bill Cosby was America's Dad back in the 80's, his show drew ratings comparable to the Super Bowl (like Dave Chappelle said), EVERYONE across the country from every demographic knew him, liked him, and could do an impression, Thursday @8:00pm was the slot-of-death for the other networks... there is just no equivalent today!

  67. I’m seeing a lot of Us centric answers here but the first season of Big Brother was phenomenal. The idea of being able to watch people like that was staggering and viewership was insane. The second season was still captivating and as a social experiment held the public’s interest like you’d never seen. After that it was dreadful, but those first two were amazing.

  68. I don't know if this is quite what you are looking for but when I was in high school and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" came out, it seemed to burn white hot for a minute.

  69. You want to go back s few years, Roots is the answer. I was in college and worked as a bartender. The nights Roots was on no one, and I mean no one, was in the bar for those two hours.

  70. I can't believe this isn't higher up. It was a show that could afford to air a second hour of absolutely nothing and people would still tune in.

  71. American Idol was only in one country but enough of that one country’s people watched it that it was one of the most watched shows on the planet at the time. Over 37million viewers at its peak? on a show that came on twice a week and wasn’t a special occasion or major sports event? That’s insane.

  72. In the early nineties Beverly Hills 90210 was all over the place. I remember my cousin had posters of every single character on her bedroom walls.

  73. How about show(S) - the TGIF 90's lineup was epic! Family Matters, Step By Step, Dinosaurs, Full House, Boy Meets World, Hanging with Mr. Cooper, Sister Sister... classics!!

  74. I think what propelled it was BBC America playing it non-stop. I was in college during it's peak and there was probably one entire school year where we regularly put on Top Gear in the afternoon and just burned through episodes.

  75. Finally an answer that is verifiably huge beyond America, unlike most of the answers here. This genuinely was big in countries beyond the UK.

  76. "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" sure sent out a lot of kids with Atlases, Encyclopedias, and a sweet watch!

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