20 Hit TV Shows That Shook Up the Summer Season

Vicki Hyman

For decades, summer was the province of reruns, failed pilots, and an avalanche of promotions for all the hot new shows that awaited viewers come fall. But every so often, a promising experiment that perhaps wouldn't fly in the crowded fall season got its break in summer and broke out, such as CBS's delightfully quirky Northern Exposure and NBC's Seinfeld. Later, the empty summer schedule beckoned for producers of low-cost, high-drama reality shows, while HBO and other prestige cable networks used the summer to launch some of their finest programming.

Here are 20 TV classics and cult favorites that launched in summer and sizzled. (Click through the gallery above to see the full list.)

American Gladiators: A Look This Summer's Physical Competition Shows

American Gladiators: A Look This Summer's Physical Competition Shows

Summer is filled with new shows in which people test their strengths before millions of viewers