The Funniest Shows Ever From NBC’s Vanishing Thursday Night Comedy Block

Friends - Season 1
NBCU Photo Bank

If you’re accustomed to tuning into NBC for some Thursday night laughs, you’ll have to look elsewhere this spring. On April 1, NBC premieres its drama Manifest (8/7c), which takes over the time slot from the comedies Mr. Mayor and Superstore. With that schedule shuffle, NBC introduces a rare all-drama Thursday night lineup.

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Kenan Thompson stars as a widowed father with two daughters and a whole lot of opinionated help.

The network’s well-known hit Thursday night comedies have ranged from Family Ties to 30 Rock. In the gallery below, we pay tribute to those shows from a comedic programming block that had earned its “Must See TV” tagline.

Family Ties

‘Family Ties’ (1982–1989)

Michael J. Fox won back-to-back Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy Awards for his performance in this show as Alex Keaton, a budding Republican raised by ex-hippies. Indeed, the generational clash between the liberalism of the 1960s and the conservatism of the 1980s provided much of Family Ties, humor, and the show was even former President Ronald Reagan’s favorite show (which is either a selling point or a red flag, depending on your political views).

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‘Cheers’ (1982–1993)

From its first round in 1982 to its last call in 1993, Cheers had millions of viewers returning every week to the titular bar “where everybody knows your name.” The sitcom launched the careers of Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, Kirstie Alley, Kelsey Grammar, and more, and it spun-off another Thursday night comedy that aired for 11 seasons: the hit comedy Frasier.

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‘The Cosby Show’ (1984–1992)

With the dozens of sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, the legacy of this show is painful to consider. But it would be a disservice to the sitcom’s other actors to discount what was TV’s most-watched program for much of the 1980s. Across eight seasons, viewers followed the affluent Huxtable family as Cliff and Clair (Phylicia Rashad) raised their kids and watched as their kids have kids of their own.

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‘Seinfeld’ (1989–1998)

A “show about nothing” became everything to its legions of fans, as Seinfeld gained steam in the ratings, with 76 million viewers watching the series finale. It amazing roster of stars included Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards playing his character’s close buddies. The program was created by Seinfeld and Larry David, who would go on to create and star in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Frasier Peacock Programming Pricing
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‘Frasier’ (1993–2004)

After Cheers closed up shop, Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier Crane moved home to Seattle, started a self-help radio program, reconnected with brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce), and moved in with father Martin (John Mahoney). It was the rare example of a spinoff that lived up to its predecessor. In fact, Frasier won 37 Emmys in its 11-year run, a record it held for more than a decade until a little show called Game of Thrones came along.

Warner Bros. Television

‘Friends’ (1994–2004)

If there was a Friends episode about Friends, it might be called “The One With the $1 Million-Per-Episode Paychecks.” But Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, and Matt LeBlanc earned their keep on NBC, keeping millions of viewers invested in the lives of young NYC roommates (and occasional bedmates). More than a decade and a half later, the show is still so popular that there was fan uproar when Friends moved from Netflix to Peacock last year.

Will & Grace
Heidi Gutman/NBCUniversal

‘Will & Grace’ (1998–2006, 2017–2020)

Television took a giant leap for diversity in 1998 when NBC debuted this sitcom about the friendship between the gay Will (Eric McCormack) and the straight Grace (Debra Messing). They were the title stars, but this sitcom might as well have been called Jack & Karen for the number of times Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally stole the show, playing the happy-go-lucky Jack and the boozy Karen, respectively. Will & Grace is also the only show on this list to have aired a revival, returning for three additional seasons between 2017 and 2020.

Scott Humbert ©2004 Universal Network Television, LLC. All rights reserved. NBC

‘The Office’ (2005–2013)

Steve Carell might be the best-known player on this workplace mockumentary, starring as dunderhead Dunder Mifflin manager Michael Scott, the American counterpart to Ricky Gervais’ buffoonish David Brent in the British version of The Office. But the other Office drones are were equally engaging, including the conniving Dwight (Rainn Wilson), the cat-obsessed Angela (Angela Kinsey), and the perpetually unimpressed Stanley (Leslie David Baker). Plus, some actors were also writers of the show, including Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak.

30 ROCK - Tina Fey
Ali Goldstein/NBC

‘30 Rock’ (2006–2013)

For the 2006–2007 season, NBC introduced two series about the inner workings of an SNL-type sketch comedy show. The Aaron Sorkin drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip got all the hype, but it was 30 Rock that lasted longer than one season — seven seasons, in fact — thanks to creator and star Tina Fey. Her long-suffering character Liz Lemon, the show’s zany supporting cast, and all the celebrity guest stars who said they wanted “to go to there” made up the secret sauce.

Leslie Knope Parks and Rec Advice

‘Parks & Recreation’ (2009–2015)

After TV writer Greg Daniels developed the American version of The Office, he and colleague Michael Schur created Parks & Recreation, another workplace mockumentary that, frankly, seemed like a pale imitation of The Office at first. But the show found its voice, with Amy Poehler at the lead as the idealistic civil servant Leslie Knope, and an office full of lovable misfits working alongside her in the local government of Pawnee, Indiana. In a precursor to today’s trend of feel-good television, Parks and Recreation showed that sometimes the good guys finish first.

Community cast Season 1
Mitchell Haaseth / ©NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

‘Community’ (2009–2015)

Though it didn’t quite last for “six seasons and a movie” — a popular catchphrase on the show —Community did last for five seasons (and a bonus season on the now-defunct Yahoo! Screen streaming platform). Joel McHale led the cast, but he was often overshadowed by the other characters in his community college study group, played by the likes of Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, and a pre-Atlanta Donald Glover. If you can only watch one episode, check out the alternate timelines in Season 3’s “Remedial Chaos Theory.”

The Good Place - Season 4
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‘The Good Place’ (2016–2020)

This comedy from the mind of the aforementioned Michael Schur focuses on a woman (Kristen Bell) mistakenly let into a heaven-like community instead of the “Bad Place” where she arguably should spend her afterlife. But with the help of the series’ Architect, played by Ted Danson of Cheers fame, it also dove into philosophy and ethics.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season 7
John P. Fleenor/NBC

‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ (2018–present on NBC)

Cop dramas are a dime a dozen on broadcast TV, but cop comedies are far less common — and far trickier to pull off. So imagine NBC’s regret when Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a show it had passed on, became a critical darling for Fox. And then imagine the network’s delight when it was able to save the Golden Globe-winning show from cancellation in 2018, so that New York’s not-so-finest —played by the likes of Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, and Andre Bruagher — got to ride another day on NBC.