12 TV Shows From the 1960s That You Will Never Forget

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Remember when a television set was expensive furniture designed just for the living room? The way we consume media continues to change through the decades. However, there’s something warm and inviting about getting the family together to watch a new episode of a wholesome TV show!

While crowding around a 19” set with your siblings may bring back fond memories, it’s what everyone was watching back then that can affirm your nostalgia.

It’s time we look at the unforgettable classic television series from the 1960s that still enter our minds and take us back to simpler times!


Ken Curtis (left) in the role of Festus Haggen and James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon in a scene from the television western series Gunsmoke.
Encyclopædia Britannica

Gunsmoke was one of the longest-running television series of all time from 1955 to 1975. The show followed the adventures of Marshal Matt Dillon, his deputies, and the citizens of Dodge City.

Many people remember the show fondly as an entertaining show when Hollywood was ripe with westerns featuring strong characters and compelling stories. Who can argue with 20 years of success?

The Ed Sullivan Show

The Ed Sullivan Show intro graphic
Barbara Archives

While much can be said about Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, and David Letterman, no one could hold a candle to the power wielded by Ed Sullivan and his talk show.

Hundreds of actors, actresses, and musical acts appeared on the show through its 24-year run, but Sullivan’s show also brought us The Doors and The Beatles. The Beatles’ appearance on the show alone catapulted them into American music history.

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In

The comedy show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, starring Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, debuted on NBC on January 22, 1968
Smithsonian Magazine

Who else could get a sitting U.S. president to appear on their show and say, “Sock it to me”? Richard Nixon showed the electorate that he had a sense of humor when he appeared on the ground-breaking sketch comedy show “Laugh-In.”

The program also made stars out of Lily Tomlin, who still acts today, and Goldie Hawn.

Green Acres

Actors Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor of the television series Green Acres

Green Acres was the place to be in the 1960s. CBS’s slate of rural-themed shows like Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, and The Andy Griffith Show struck a nerve with a public starved for down-home solutions to simple problems.

Featuring a fancy New York City man looking to get away from it all with his high-class wife, Green Acres hit right out of the gate with a fun premise and a catchy theme song.

The Brady Bunch

The Brady Bunch TV show intro
New York Post

At a time when the nuclear family was two parents, two children, and a pet, The Brady Bunch crushed cultural norms and showed America a blended family.

Featuring two widows, six kids (and a cousin we’d like to forget), and everyone’s favorite housekeeper, The Brady Bunch became appointment television in the sitcom world.

The Flintstones

Fred, Pebbles, Wilma, and Dino of the Flintstones
USA Today/Hanna Barbera

The Flintstones may be seen as nothing more than a cartoon series these days, but it was built as a series both children and adults could enjoy. Fred Flintstone and his clan were the first animated series to appear on primetime television, marking a shift from live audience-driven shows like I Love Lucy.

Still, the series enjoyed massive success and became culturally relevant because of its humor, ability to tackle issues, and Paleolithic setting. Who knew we’d still remember how fast Fred’s car would go from the courtesy of his two feet?

Star Trek

Star Trek television series intro graphic

Television went boldly where it never went before with Gene Roddenberry’s epic – a serialized science fiction television show that showed us the possibilities of the future. Written as a nod to a post-civil rights future where humans moved past race and cultural identity and into the stars, Star Trek made more prominent stars out of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

Captain James T. Kirk and Lt. Spock became cultural icons as both men existed on two sides of the same coin – one a leader that moves on instinct and another on logic. Despite lasting three seasons, Trek’s impact is still felt.

Gilligan’s Island

The cast of the show Gilligan's Island
Gladysya Productions/History101

Another out-there idea for a television series ends up being a runaway hit. A group of tourists, an unruly skipper, and his first mate become shipwrecked on an island for years, leading to endless hi-jinks and belly laughs.

Gilligan’s Island sounds something like a reality television series these days, but the CBS series gained a following quickly. Despite airing for three seasons, Gilligan’s Island remained in the pop culture zeitgeist, even receiving a few made-for-TV movies that finally saw the group get off the Island. So much for a three-hour tour, right?


Bewitched color title card

The 1960s had a monopoly on out-of-the-box ideas for television series. Bewitched was one of those shows. Wealthy ad executive Darrin falls in love with beautiful Samantha, but his blond bombshell has a big secret: she’s a witch.

For 254 episodes, Darrin learns every nuance and subtlety surrounding Samantha’s powers. Finally, forty years later, the show gets the big screen treatment with Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. But, while the magic wasn’t there for the movie, people remain enchanted by the original series.


Actors Burt Ward and Adam West are seen here using a Batphone inside of the Batmobile in the 1966 film
20th Century Fox Licensing/Courtesy Everett Collection

Colorful, bombastic, and full of action, Batman may have been the second run of a comic book hero on television – Superman gets the nod here, obviously – but this 1960s pulp action series is still iconic.

Batman, starring the legendary Adam West as the titular hero and his alter-ego Bruce Wayne, managed to be the right show at the right time, displaying the wonders and beauty of color television with its comic book-inspired aesthetic.

The Andy Griffith Show

Knotts and Griffith as their characters in a still taken from the October 7, 1965 one-hour variety special The Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Jim Nabors Show
CBS Television

What can be said about The Andy Griffith Show that hasn’t already been said hundreds of times before? Ol’ Andy might be gone, but the powerful lessons and wholesome values portrayed by the southern actor and the town of Mayberry make us all wish for a bygone era. 

Starting in 1960 and lasting for eight seasons, Griffith’s small-town Sheriff Andy Taylor shows us what life was like in the sleepy southern towns back before the march of technology changed everything. Despite the show’s black-and-white aesthetic, Griffith’s performance painted a rich, colorful portrait of small-town southern life.

The Beverly Hillbillies

Title screen from The Beverly Hillbillies

Another CBS smash that idealized rural values, The Beverly Hillbillies is a classic American television sitcom. The show follows the adventures of the Clampett family, a poor family from Arkansas who suddenly become millionaires after striking oil on their land. They move to Beverly Hills and must learn to adjust to their new life.

The show is known for its humor and witty dialogue. In addition, it has been praised for its lighthearted approach to social issues, and its popularity has endured over the years.

While America was beginning to learn the power and reach of television, these shows remain some of the most potent examples of nostalgia. While dozens of television series aired in the 60s, these timeless classics continue to make waves over 60 years later!

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