The 10 Best Midseason Premiere Shows Ever

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ALL IN THE FAMILY -  Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, Carroll O'Connor, Sally Struthers, 1971-
EVERETT COLLECTION

All in the Family (Jan. 12, 1971)

Norman Lear’s CBS series changed sitcoms forever by taking on such topics as rape, abortion and, of course, racism. Fun fact: It was originally made for ABC, which shot two pilots before dropping the controversial comedy.

Dallas - Larry Hagman
CBS/Landov

Dallas (April 2, 1978)

CBS intended the drama about big oil and bad manners in Texas to be a miniseries. But viewers liked the soap opera intrigue, and the net gave it a full Season 2 and 3 and 4…and 14.

HILL STREET BLUES -Daniel J. Travanti, Rene Enriquez
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Hill Street Blues (Jan. 15, 1981)

Steven Bochco’s behind-the-crime-scenes NBC drama earned 21 Emmy nods off the bat—a record at the time for a freshman series.

Moonlighting -Bruce Willis, Cybill Shepherd
ABC Photo Archives

Moonlighting (March 3, 1985)

Ratings cooled after private eyes Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) and David (Bruce Willis) hooked up and things got, uh, weird. Before that, the ABC series was hot—and it still holds up as an example of a dramedy that works.

THE WONDER YEARS - Jason Hervey, Dan Lauria, Olivia d'Abo, Alley Mills, Fred Savage
ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

The Wonder Years (Jan. 31, 1988)

This coming-of-age tale, set during the Vietnam War, debuted on ABC after Super Bowl XXII, which helped. But no one watches a frizzy-haired boy in bad clothes moon over his neighbor for six seasons unless it’s good.

THE SIMPSONS, (from left): Bart Simpson, Homer Simpson, 'Bart's New Friend', (Season 26, ep. 2611,
20th Century Fox Film Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection

The Simpsons (December 17, 1989)

Twenty-nine seasons on Fox, need we say more?

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER - Sarah Michelle Gellar, 1997-03. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film
Everett Collection

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (March 10, 1997)

The WB drama about a high school heroine became exactly what alienated teens wanted (and still want).

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE - Christopher Kennedy Masterson, Jane Kaczmarek, Frankie Muniz, Bryan Cranston, Justin Berfield and Erik Per Sullivan
Larry Watson/FOX

Malcolm in the Middle (Jan. 9, 2000)

Few comedies have mined real-world comedy like ABC’s Malcolm and, well, stayed comedies. Plus, it gave us Bryan Cranston.

THE OFFICE - Steve Carell
Chris Haston/NBC

The Office (March 24, 2005)

NBC’s take on the U.K. hit that mixed documentary style with cubicle hijinks made Steve Carell a star.

ELLEN POMPEO
ABC/Richard Cartwright

Grey’s Anatomy (March 27, 2005)

The show that eventually launched Shondaland and TGIT also gifted us with McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey)…and McSteamy (Eric Dane).

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We all have to start somewhere or, in this case, sometime. And for most network shows, that means in the fall, amid all the pomp and circumstance of a new TV season. Others have quieter births—usually to replace another series and nearly always without fanfare. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have the last laugh, as proven by these big winners.

Click through the gallery to see the best 10 shows to premiere midseason.

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