Television Championship Belt

by Grant

The championship belt; in boxing a belt was first given as a prize as early as 1810.  Belts are also given in Pro Wrestling and MMA fighting.  The reigning champ is often referred to as the “belt holder.”  In another blatant attempt to start arguments with my coworkers and blog readers, I have decided to declare the belt holders for Television starting in 1985 to the present. Ground rules first;

  1. A show can hold the title for multiple years, and can regain the title after losing it.
  2. The title is for the year of TV starting in Fall ending the following year.  So 1984 is for the 1984-1985 season
  3. Comedies and Drama are both eligible.
  4. Belt is determined by quality of output, public consciousnesses of the show, and mostly my own opinion
  5. This is not an new idea, the defunct site Grantland (RIP) had a few articles on championship belts in other sports and entertainment.


1985Miami Vice -Miami Vice first season was the previous year, but it didn’t catch on with audiences until 1985. Crockett and Tubbs are cooler and will be cooler than anything on TV ever before and ever again.

1986-1987Cheers – Cheers pulled in 20 million views an episode for this two year block, which included Shelley Long’s last season, and Kirstie Alley’s first.

1988The Golden Girls – Alright, so this probably doesn’t meet the criteria, but it was the 6th rated show in the county in 1988, and it had both Quentin Tarantino and Bob Hope as guest stars in this season.  No way this show gets made today, or sees the popularity it had.

1989 – Roseanne – A rating hit, and eventually a critical success.

1990Twin Peaks – Still perhaps the oddest thing ever to appear on network TV.

1991The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – I still know all the words to the theme song.index-1

1992-1993 The Simpsons – The Simpsons has been on for almost 30 years now, which makes me feel real old.  The fourth and fifth season have some of the most classic episodes.

1994Homicide, life on the street – This is not the last time that creator David Simon will make my list.

1995– Seinfeld – Should have probably made the list earlier, but it will have to settle for a spot here.

1996The X-Files – Not as odd as Twin Peaks, but much creepier. I am still disturbed by the episode “Home” during this season

1997South Park – The first season was a such a surprising voice.

1998Friends – Who doesn’t love 20 something living in much too large New York apartments?

1999Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Never a rating success, but the show rules, so here it is.index-4

2000The West Wing – How I long for President Bartlett.

200124 – A great concept for a show, 24 hours, 24 episodes, the first season was by far the best.

2002Sopranos – So apparently, 2002 was the year network TV fell off a cliff.  Four of the top shows that year were reality/game shows including … gulp Joe Millionaire.  Sopranos brought film style (and content) to television.

2003Arrested Development – Not including this in the list would be making a huge mistake.

2004Lost – The first season was simpler times, when the smoke monster was a thing that people cared about.index-2

2005The Office – Much kinder than the British version, but just as cringe inducing.

2006Friday Night Lights – Texas high school football drama, scored by Explosions in the Sky? Sign me up.

2007The Wire – The greatest television show of all time (my opinion) and the fourth season is the best (also, my opinion.)

2008Mad Men – The story of everyone’s favorite anti-hero Don Draper.

2009Modern Family – I am pretty sure this show has won 947 Emmys, so I guess it must be good.

2010Walking Dead – I much prefer the gentler zombies of the past, not for the faint of heart.index-3

2011Parks and Recreation – Very much for the faint of heart.  Leslie Knope, is the greatest boss and public servant in all of fiction.

2012Breaking Bad – It is fun to imagine this show as a prequel to Malcolm in the Middle

2013Game of Thrones – The show based on George RR Martin’s novels, is loosely based on The War of the Roses, but with dragons.

2014True Detective – This show might mark the point where movie stars appear on TV shows because they want to, not because they have to.

2015Fargo – We are now in Peak TV, which means there are hundreds of shows to choose from, and 25 amazing ones.  But lets go with a crime story in Minnesota in the 80s.

Thoughts, concerns, comments?




8 responses to “Television Championship Belt”

  1. Stacey McKinley says:

    The X-Files – episode “Home” one of my top 10 X-Files . I still can’t listen to “Wonderful!Wonderful” without a shiver.

  2. It’s like I WANT to argue with you, but I haven’t had enough time to prepare. But you also included some of my favorites, so… I hate The Office?

  3. Liz K says:

    So much greatness on this list! Only show missing, in my opinion: Law & Order. The original, not the spin offs. I’d have a hard time picking a favorite season though!

  4. Grant Perrigo says:

    I think the Law & Order Universe has over 1000 hours of content. Picking one year was too hard. “Home” is up there as the most disturbing hour of TV ever. The Office is great and wonderful :).

  5. Mike H. says:

    I still haven’t watched “Friday Night Lights” but it can’t be better than the first half of “Battlestar Galactica” so swap those two. Also: leaving out “Mystery Science Theater 3000” is ridiculous so, as good as the Carlton is, cut “Fresh Prince.” Then your list approaches acceptability.

    What’s your tentative pick for 2016? I just started “Mr. Robot” and it’s fantastic.

  6. Grant Perrigo says:

    Stranger Things is the best thing I have watched this year. As for Battlestar Galactica, and MST3K, I think you need to read the 3rd clause of the 4th rule in the preface.

  7. Mike H. says:

    Oh, good call. As good as “Mr. Robot” is so far, “Stranger Things” is likely to remain my favorite as well.

  8. […] Now, I’m sure there are many stories out there that incorporate lists into the plot. However, I seem to have found most of mine in young adult fiction (plus a nonfiction book written by a young adult). I’ve (mostly) limited my list of books with lists to bucket-type lists and playlists. Featured as part of the story. Because I’ve read a few books where the author will list the music they used as inspiration. Or what they think the characters would have been listening to at certain points of the story. But, as you will see from my complete list I do also use my rights as listmaker to have exceptions to my own rule. Which I’ve learned is acceptable from other members of the Readers’ Services Team. […]

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