20 Classic TV Guide Magazine Covers From the 1980s (PHOTOS)

TV Insider Staff

Magnum, P.I.: December 27, 1980

1980-1988, CBS

The crime drama series starred Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator in Oahu, Hawaii. Selleck, sporting his character's signature ‘stache and one (of many) boxy Hawaiian shirts, was featured in a story with the tongue-in-cheek title, “I Don’t Want to Look Macho.”

The Golden Girls: January 31, 1987

1985-1992, NBC

Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty graced an illustrated cover by artist Richard Amsel, who drew many TV Guide covers for over a decade. The series even made TV Guide’s list of 60 Best Series of All Time in 2013.

Miami Vice: July 27, 1985

1985-1990, NBC

Illustrator Richard Amsel channeled Miami Vice's Floridian location (and pastel colored costumes) in this cover with leads Don Johnson, as Detective James Crockett, and Philip Michael Thomas, as Detective Ricardo Tubbs.

Dynasty: October 23, 1982

1981-1989, ABC

Linda Evans and Joan Collins, stars from ABC’s successful soap opera, both dazzled in red fiery red in a profile about the show's wickedest women. The sinful series even had Aaron Spelling (who would later helm Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place) as an executive producer.

M*A*S*H: February 12, 1983

1972-1983, CBS

A farewell salute issue, with a special fold-out cover, depicted the actors who brought to life a team of fictional army surgeons and doctors on duty during the Korean War. The cover was released right before the show’s finale, which was the most-watched ending in television history.

Family Ties: April 27, 1985

1982-1989, NBC

Michael J. Fox (who took time off from the series to film Back to the Future) and the cast came together for a picture that revealed just how strong their "family ties" were on and off the set.

Growing Pains

Tony Costa

Growing Pains: August 9, 1986

1985-1992, ABC

As long as we got each other...! The original Seaver family (with Alan Thicke as the patriarch and Kirk Cameron as the charming oldest son) graced the cover to show that growing pains didn't have to be so, well, painful. Another daughter later joined the family, and Oscar winner Leo DiCaprio even got his start on the show as a troubled teen.

Dallas: March 27, 1982

1978-1991, CBS

Larry Hagman may have appeared as an angel here, but his role as crooked oil tycoon J.R. Ewing was anything but. One of the biggest cliffhangers in TV history led to the nail biting question, "Who shot J.R.?" In 2012, Hagman reprised his role in the Dallas reboot that followed his character's descendants.

Knot's Landing, Lisa Hartman, Alec Baldwin

Tony Costa

Knots Landing: August 24, 1986

1979-1993, CBS

Lisa Hartman and a young Alec Baldwin met success in a Dallas spinoff series. The soap opera followed the marriages of four couples living in a fictitious Los Angeles suburb.

The Muppet Show: August 1, 1981

1976-1981, ABC

Miss Piggy quickly became a fan favorite out of Jim Henson’s many Muppets. Her popularity led to her book, Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life, which landed on The New York Time’s bestselling list from June 1981 to January 1982. Naturally, she deserved her own solo up close and personal solo cover.

Tony Costa

21 Jump Street: August 20, 1988

1987-1991, Fox

Before he was Capt. Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp got his start as young officer Tom Hanson. The popular police drama featured a young group of investigators (including Holly Robinson Peete, pictured) whose fresh faces allowed them to go undercover to bust teenage criminals. The series inspired the 2012 movie of the same name, starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.

Websterm Emmanuel Lewis

Bonnie Schiffman

Webster: June 14, 1986

1983-1987, ABC

Emmanuel Lewis met instant fame as Webster, the charming and precocious orphan adopted by a wealthy white family.

Different Strokes, Conrad Bain, Todd Bridges, Gary Coleman

Gene Trindl

Diff’rent Strokes: February 2, 1980

1978-1986, NBC

What'chu talkin’ bout Willis? The series centered around two boys from Harlem adopted a rich businessman living on Park Avenue. Conrad Bain, who was the surrogate on-screen dad to Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman, appeared as the mixed-race family that tackled difficult topics of the time, such as racism, drugs, and abuse.

Three’s Company

Illustration by Robert Amsel

Three’s Company: September 24, 1983

1977-1984, ABC

Two girls and one guy managed to be single, and platonic, roommates in this sitcom—of course, misunderstandings and innuendos still ensued. The late John Ritter, Joyce Dewitt and Suzanne Somers were the original cast members, with Jenilee Harrison later replacing Somers. This particular cover was also illustrated by Richard Amsel.


Mario Casilli

The A-Team: March 10, 1984

1983-1987, NBC

George Peppard (Hannibal), Dwight Schultz (Murdock), Dirk Benedict (Face), and Mr. T (Baracus) bought their "A" game as the A-Team, four Vietnam vets trying to help others while on the run after being framed for a crime. A 2010 movie was later made, with recognizable actors Liam Neeson as Hannibal and Bradley Cooper as Face.

The Dukes of Hazzard

 Illustration by John Thompson

The Dukes of Hazzard: July 12, 1980

1975-1985, CBS

Daisy dukes and Dodge chargers were all art of Hazzard County. John Thompson illustrated the Duke boys (played by Tom Wopat and John Schneider), their bright orange “General Lee” and their infamous cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach), who always found themselves getting into trouble.

Knight Rider, David Hasselhoff

Robert Phillips

Knight Rider: June 25, 1983

1982-1986, NBC

Before he was on Baywatch, David Hasselhoff ruled the peacock network as Michael Knight, a tech-savvy crime fighter assisted by K.I.T.T., his artificially intelligent and self-aware '82 Pontiac Trans Am.

Moonlighting, Bruce Willis, Cybill Shepherd

Mario Casilli

Moonlighting: October 24, 1987

1985-1989, ABC

Known as the first successful “comedy-drama”, the series starred Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd as private detectives with undeniable chemistry. The on-screen couple made fans swoon with their quirky jokes and romance.

Happy Days, Linda Purl, Henry Winkler

Jim Britt

Happy Days: April 23, 1983

1974-1984, ABC

Viewers rocked around the clock waiting for Richie, Potsie, Ralph Malph, Fonzie and the rest of their friends to appear at Arnold's/Al's Drive-In. Here, Henry Winkle ("The Fonz") appeared with Linda Purl, who played his steady girlfriend, Ashley. Perfectomundo!

 Who’s The Boss

Tony Costa

Who’s The Boss?: November 23, 1985

1984-1992, ABC

Tony Danza charmed his way onto everyone's hearts as Tony Micelli, a widower, father and retired baseball player who became a housekeeper for Angela Robinson Bower (Judith Light) and her feisty mom, Mona (Katherine Helmond).

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Flash back to the '80s: a decade when bigger was better, from bright neons to boxy blazers to bold dramas on TV. And through each season of your favorite '80s show, TV Guide Magazine was there to "cover" your favorite stars. We recently asked fans to vote for their favorite magazine cover from that decade, and the clear winner was December 27, 1980 issue, featuring Magnum, P.I. star Tom Selleck. See the cover above, plus other ones of classic shows from the era.