The 20 Best Comfort TV Shows of All Time

These sitcoms and reality shows are like brain balm in the form of a binge-watch.

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(Image credit: Netflix/Warner Bros. Television)

The so-called “Golden Age of Television” began in the early 2000s and continues today, with Hollywood churning out some of the best TV shows of all time in the last two decades. And yet, even with every streaming service packed to the gills with more prestige dramas, cerebral thrillers, and highbrow comedies than you could ever even watch, all too often, some of us need to fill our binge-watches with as many throwback sitcoms and reality TV shows as award-winning hits.

Enter: the comfort show. Essentially a break for your brain, comfort shows are the feel-good, old reliables that you put on as background noise when you’re falling asleep, that you revisit when you’re sick and laid up on the couch, or that you turn to when you’ve got decision fatigue from scrolling through all the shiny new options available on every streamer. The best comfort shows have dozens upon dozens of episodes—so you never have to dive back into the endless scroll, of course—and enough quirky characters and low-stakes drama to hold your interest, without stressing you out too much.

Here, we’ve rounded up 20 of the best comfort TV shows of all time, all of which are available to stream in their entirety.

'Abbott Elementary' (2021– )

the cast of abbott elementary

(Image credit: ABC)

Abbott Elementary may be a newer entry on this list, but it has already firmly cemented its spot among the feel-good TV greats. The show helmed by Quinta Bruson (who also stars as Janine Teagues) follows the lives of a kooky group of teachers and staffers at a public Philadelphia elementary school, and its equal parts of hilarity and heart have already earned it more than a dozen Emmy noms for its first two seasons alone.

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'Bob's Burgers' (2011– )

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For those who grew up racing to the TV every Saturday morning to watch cartoons, few things are more comforting than a sweetly silly animated show. Though decidedly more family-friendly than the Adult Swim brand of primetime cartoons, Bob’s Burgers still puts a grown-up spin on those childhood memories with its distinctly bizarre sense of humor and sneakily smart writing.

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'Broad City' (2014–2019)

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Not only will Broad City have you cracking up laughing every other minute, but it’s also responsible for one of the best representations of female friendship that has ever hit TV screens. Yas, queen, indeed.

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'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' (2013–2021)

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Add this to the canon of workplace shows where the coworkers genuinely care about each other. Set in the 99th Precinct of the NYPD, this sitcom is heavy on the com—as you'd expect, with Saturday Night live alum Andy Samberg in the lead role—but also has plenty of heart, as the precinct’s detectives are quick to look out for and support each other both in and outside of work.

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'Friends' (1994–2004)

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There’s a reason Friends reruns are still on air two decades after its series finale. While some storylines no longer hold up, the friendships and will-they-won’t-they relationships between the six main characters—and many of their silly shenanigans—transcend time. Plus, whether you know which Friends episodes are the all-time best or not, you can throw on most of its 200+ episodes without much context and still enjoy its various bits, making it the perfect low-stress background noise option.

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'Gilmore Girls' (2000–2007)

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Gilmore Girls is the ultimate comfort show. The series created by Amy Sherman-Palladino is set in a small town where it’s seemingly always autumn and wacky townspeople abound, there are endlessly relatable coming-of-age storylines and a powerful mother-daughter relationship at the core—need we say more?

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'Grace and Frankie' (2015–2022)

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(Image credit: Netflix)

A take on the classic odd-couple trope, this Netflix original stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the titular roles, as a pair of septuagenarian frenemies whose husbands fall in love, leaving their wives to also (reluctantly) start a new life together. Though it qualifies as a laugh-out-loud comedy, Grace and Frankie is also subtly packed with warm-and-fuzzy moments as the two leading ladies come to love and accept each other despite their many (many!) differences.

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'The Great British Baking Show' (2010– )

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(Image credit: Channel 4)

Easily the sweetest (in more ways than one!) reality show to ever hit TV screens, The Great British Baking Show is a classic competition series with a not-so-classic attitude. Rather than actively sabotaging one another, as is the norm in most American reality TV, contestants in the iconic tent in the English countryside are much more likely to abandon their tasks to give their competitors a hand, making for very heartwarming viewing.

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'Gossip Girl' (2007–2012)

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While most comfort shows earn that title for being cozy and relatable, Gossip Girl is comforting for the opposite reason. It’s full of twisty storylines so outlandish and high school experiences so unbelievably unrelatable to the general public that the show makes for a perfect escape from the real world.

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'Murder, She Wrote' (1984–1996)

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Murder may not be the first thing you think of when you think “comfort,” but procedural shows like Law & Order, CSI, Criminal Minds, and more are go-to rewatches for so many people simply because of the reassuring knowledge that each case, no matter how grisly, will be solved by the end of the episode. Murder, She Wrote is the quainter cousin of those standbys: It stars Angela Lansbury as an amateur detective and professional busybody Jessica Fletcher, who somehow stumbles upon enough murder cases in her sleepy Maine town to fill more than 260 episodes.

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'Never Have I Ever' (2020–2023)

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(Image credit: Netflix)

Another Netflix production, Never Have I Ever focuses on a much younger cast of characters, following main character Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) in her final years of high school, as she navigates grief, romance, ambition, and all the other ups and downs that come with being a teenager—all narrated, obviously, by John McEnroe.

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'New Girl' (2011–2018)

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With its addition to various streaming services in recent years, New Girl has seen something of a renaissance among a new and broader audience than it got while on air for seven seasons throughout the 2010s. There’s just something so endlessly watchable (and re-watchable) about the hijinks that Jess (Zoey Deschanel) and the gang get up to every episode, and how they always come through for each other, no matter what.

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'The Office' (2005–2013)

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It may be a basic choice, but The Office is a classic for a reason. Like Friends, this is one where you can jump in anywhere along its 201-episode trajectory and easily slip right back into the rhythms of Dunder-Mifflin’s Scranton branch.

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'Parks and Recreation' (2009–2015)

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In the same vein as The Office, Parks and Rec—which was co-created by Michael Schur and The Office showrunner Greg Daniels—is yet another workplace sitcom that’s full of delightfully unique characters whose relationships with one another range from the obsessive to the openly antagonistic (looking at you, April!). You know, just like a real office.

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'Pen15' (2019–2021)

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(Image credit: Alamy)

In this hilarious series, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, who are both 31-years-old at the start of season 1, play their 13-year-old selves among a cast of actual tweens, revisiting all the thrills and horrors of being a middle-schooler in the early 2000s. It might sound cringey to reminisce on those tricky years—and, at times, it is—but it's also surprisingly comforting how the show revisits those simpler times.

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'Psych' (2006–2014)

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Another option for procedural lovers, Psych centers around Shawn Spencer, a crime consultant who uses his photographic memory and fine-tuned observation skills to solve cases—while pretending it’s all thanks to otherworldly abilities. This is another one ripe for endless rewatches, if only to bask in the perfect duo that is Shawn James Roday Rodriguez) and his best friend Gus (Dulé Hill) putting on over-the-top performances to convince clients of Shawn’s “psychic” skills.

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'RuPaul’s Drag Race' (2009– )

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(Image credit: MTV)

RuPaul’s Drag Race is still on the air and churning out new seasons every year, but that doesn’t stop fans from religiously rewatching past seasons between new installments. And it’s clear why: The show perfectly balances the excitement of a competition series with regular detours into very emotional territory, as the queens share their inspiring journeys of overcoming often-traumatic pasts throughout each season, leaving viewers extremely invested in their success.

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'Schitt’s Creek' (2015–2020)

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Family sitcoms are a dime a dozen, but this just might be the best of the best. It follows the Rose family—mom Moira (Catherine O'Hara), dad Johnny (Eugene Levy), and their adult children David (Dan Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy)—as they lose their once-vast fortune and are forced to retreat to the one property they still have left: a rundown motel in the small town of Schitt’s Creek. It’s a classic fish-out-of-water story, and there’s nothing more heartwarming than seeing the uppity, out-of-touch family grow and adapt to their quirky new home and neighbors.

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'Sex and the City' (1998–2004)

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(Image credit: HBO)

Like other turn-of-the-millennium series on this list, not every storyline on Sex and the City still holds up for a 2024 audience, and the show is now nowhere near as groundbreaking as it was when it first aired. But its depictions of women owning their sexuality, embracing singledom in their 30s, and female friendship were once groundbreaking. It's always fun to debate over whether you're a Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), or Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and revisit this comedy for its familiar characters, plotlines, and funky fashions, so it's always a solid choice for a lazy weekend rewatch.

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'Ted Lasso' (2020–2023)

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Perhaps the most feel-good show in recent memory, Ted Lasso stars Jason Sudeikis in the titular role as an American football coach who’s recruited to head up a British soccer team. He may not know much about soccer, but he does know plenty about teamwork and kindness, meaning that virtually every episode is guaranteed to tug on your heartstrings.

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Andrea Park

Andrea Park is a Chicago-based writer and reporter with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the extended Kardashian-Jenner kingdom, early 2000s rom-coms and celebrity book club selections. She graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism in 2017 and has also written for W, Brides, Glamour, Women's Health, People and more.