A Definitive Ranking of the 18 Best Comedy Series of All Time

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NBC Universal

When you need something that will make your heart feel good and your cheeks hurt from smiling so much, there's nothing like a great comedy TV show. Sure, movies are great, but there's something special about a television series. You really get to know the characters, you feel like you can truly escape into their world—and, most importantly, you can binge them for hours (or days) of continuous good vibes. Here are our picks for the best comedy series of all time.

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18 'The Simpsons'

Original run: 1989-present.

Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer.

Why it makes the list: This animated series is the longest-running in sitcom in history, which has to count for something. Recently, fans have started to challenge some of the more dated jokes and characters on the series, and how the producers respond will likely determine the series' ultimate place in TV history.

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17 'Sex and the City'

Original run: 1998-2001

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon.

Why it makes the list: Saying which of the show's characters you identify with most is still shorthand for explaining what kind of a person you are.

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16 'Fresh Off the Boat'

Original run: 2015-present.

Starring: Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen, Lucille Soong, Chelsey Crisp, and Ray Wise.

Why it makes the list: The show follows an Asian-American family and it's the first show to do so since 1994 (which is just bonkers on its own). Jessica Huang is amazing. She's the TV character we need, not the one we deserve.

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15 'Veep'

Original run: 2012-present.

Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh, Sufe Bradshaw, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole, and Sam Richardson.

Why it makes the list: Because Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a comic genius and a national treasure.

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14 'The Golden Girls'

Original run: 1985-1992

Starring: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty.

Why it makes the list: These woman are still who we want to be when we grow up.

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13 'Black-ish'

Original run: 2014-present.

Starring: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Jeff Meacham, Jenifer Lewis, Deon Cole, and Peter Mackenzie.

Why it makes the list: The show features an incredible ensemble cast and manages to balance all-out hilarity with tackling important social and cultural issues.

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12 'Cheers'

Original run: 1982-1993

Starring: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Nicholas Colasanto, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson, Bebe Neuwirth, and Kirstie Alley.

Why it makes the list: Who doesn't want to go where everybody knows your name? It's a classic.

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11 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'

Original run: 2000-present.

Starring: Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, Susie Essman, and J. B. Smoove.

Why it makes the list: The show's plots are outlined, but the actors improvise much of the dialogue. The result is a totally unique comedy series.

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10 '30 Rock'

Original run: 2006-2013

Starring: Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, and Alec Baldwin.

Why it makes the list: The cast is incredible. They made even the weirdest, most off-the-wall plots work, and pushed the envelope with jokes aimed at entertainment industry insiders.

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9 'The Office'

Original run: 2005-2013

Starring: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B. J. Novak, Ed Helms, James Spader, Melora Hardin, David Denman, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Kate Flannery, Angela Kinsey, Oscar Nunez, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, Creed Bratton, Craig Robinson, Ellie Kemper, Zach Woods, Amy Ryan, Catherine Tate, Clark Duke, and Jake Lacy.

Why it makes the list: Mostly for the pranks between Jim and Dwight. And the one-liners. And the funny-because-it's-true commentary on soul-sucking work.

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8 'Modern Family'

Original run: 2009-present.

Starring: Ed O'Neill, SofĂ­a Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, and Jeremy Maguire.

Why it makes the list: The ensemble is strong. The jokes are smart and laugh-out-loud funny. It's won a mountain of Emmys and it deserves them.

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7 'Arrested Development'

Original run: 2003-2006

Revival run: 2013-present.

Starring: Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jessica Walter.

Why it makes the list: The show redefined the idea of a dysfunctional family comedy and is, to this day, one of the best ensemble shows out there.

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6 'Friends'

Original run: 1994-2004

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer.

Why it makes the list: It shaped a generation of viewers and perfectly captured that weird time in your twenties when your friends are your family. It's also required viewing for millennials who want to understand weird references made by the rest of their generation.

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5 'Seinfeld'

Original run: 1989-1998

Starring: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, and Jason Alexander.

Why it makes the list: Seinfeld regularly places high on lists of the best TV shows of all time. The "show about nothing" changed the game for sitcoms and paved the way for character-driven (rather than premise-driven) series.

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4 'The Good Place'

Original run: 2016-present.

Starring: Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D'Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, and Ted Danson.

Why it makes the list: First of all, no show will make you think more about ethics, morality, and mortality. None. Watching it is like taking a college-level philosophy class that's actually fun. Second, the completely serialized show manages to blow up its own premise time and again and keep going (and, more impressively, getting better).

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3 'Parks and Recreation'

Original run: 2009-2015

Starring: Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Paul Schneider, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Jim O'Heir, Retta, and Billy Eichner.

Why it makes the list: It's smart. It's hilarious. It's satirical. It's ridiculous. It's heart-warming. It's everything you could want from a series and then some. Plus, Leslie Knope is a feminist icon in her own right.

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2 'Saturday Night Live'

Original run: 1975-present.

Starring: So. So. SO many people over the years.

Why it makes the list: SNL has good years and less good years. Sometimes the cast and the writers just click and the result is comedy gold. Over the years, SNL has produced some of the most biting political satire around and launched the careers of some of the biggest comedians in the world.

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1 'I Love Lucy'

Original run: 1951-1957

Starring: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley.

Why it makes the list: Without I Love Lucy, we wouldn't have the sitcom as we know it today. The show has also aged incredibly well—it is just as hilarious today as it was in the 1950s, which is really saying something.

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