Back to the 80s: Favorite Female TV Characters from the 80’s

One of my more popular Top 10 lists is My Top TV Characters from the 80’s. If you have never read that one before, please click on the link and do so. One thing I noticed on that list is that women are not very well represented on it. The only woman to make the list was “Maddie Hayes” from Moonlighting and she made it only as a combination with “David Addison” because of how they complimented each other so well on one of my favorite shows from that decade. You have to remember that I was just 7 years old in 1980, so the shows that were my favorite did not often feature female characters in the main roles.

I thought it would be interesting to look back more specifically at female TV characters from the 80’s. I am going to do this through a 2 part issue. Part 1 will include my favorite female characters from 80’s television. Part 2 will list the “hottest” female characters from 80’s television. I thought both were worthwhile efforts.

Regarding my favorite female TV characters list, you must keep in mind that these characters had to come from shows that I actually watched. I will admit there are some excellent women characters that will not make this list simply because I did not watch them. Some of these will include Candice Bergen’s character on Murphy Brown (1988-98) as well as Sharon Gless & Tyne Daly’s female cops on Cagney & Lacey (1982-88). I am sure there will be more which I look forward to hearing about in the comments section. One other thing I decided was to not include Sybill Shepherd’s “Maddie Hayes” from Moonlighting (1985-89) since she was on the original list and that she made it more as a combo with Bruce Willis.

With all of those points made, let’s get on to OLD SCHOOL’S TOP 10 FEMALE TV CHARACTERS FROM THE 80’s (+ Bonus 3):

Honorable Mention. “Miss Piggy”Miss Piggy from The Muppet Show (1976-1981) & “Smurfette”Smurfette from The Smurfs (1981-90) – One was a muppet and the other a cartoon character, but both were females, so I thought they deserved at least an honorable mention here.

13. “Grace Van Owen” Susan Deyfrom L.A. Law (1986-94) played by Susan Dey – Probably better known for her role on The Partridge Family in the 70’s, she was one of the stars of one of the best dramas of the 80’s

Gimme a Break12. “Nell Harper” from Gimme a Break (1981-87) played by Nell Carter – She agrees to be the housekeeper for the white family of her late best friend becoming the female role model for 3 young girls and later to an orphan boy played by Joey Lawrence

11. “Julie McCoy” Julie McCoyfrom The Love Boat (1977-86) played by Lauren Tewes – She played the boat’s cruise director through the 1984 season

Punky Brewster10. “Punky Brewster” from Punky Brewster (1984-86) played by Soleil Moon Frye – She is the youngest character on this list as the adorable Frye was just 8 years old when the series began

9. “Edna Garrett” Mrs. Garrettfrom Facts of Life (1979-88) played by Charlotte Rae – The Wisconsin native played the housemother at the Eastland all-girls school in this spin off of Diff’rent Strokes where she played the housekeeper for the Drummonds

Alice8. “Alice Hyatt” from Alice (1976-85) played by Linda Levin – She plays a widow with a young son who ends up working at a diner in Phoenix when her car breaks down there on her way to L.A. to pursue a singing career

7. “Sophia Petrillo” Sophiafrom The Golden Girls (1985-92) played by Estelle Getty – Though the other three women were thought to be the stars of the show, I always thought that “Sophia” stole every scene she was in. An interesting fact is that Estelle Getty was actually a year younger than Bea Arthur, yet she played her mother in the show.

Markie Post6. “Christine Sullivan” from Night Court (1984-92) played by Markie Post – She started playing the public defender in the 3rd season of this sitcom and was a key reason why I always enjoyed this show.

5. “Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan” hot lipsfrom M*A*S*H (1972-83) played by Loretta Swit – I have watched this show more in syndication than I did when it was actually on and I have to admit that I am not as much of a fan as so many others are, but I have to give credit to this character who played a vital role in this iconic series.

Three's Company4. “Janet Wood,” “Chrissy Snow” & “Terri Alden” from Three’s Company (1977-84) played by Joyce Dewitt, Suzanne Somers & Priscilla Barnes respectively – One of my favorite shows of all time, these girls combined with the amazing John Ritter to make it happen. Dewitt was on the show the entire run while, Somers was on the show until 1981 when Barnes took her place as the new blonde roommate.

3. “Peggy Bundy” Peg Bundyfrom Married…With Children (1987-97) played by Katey Sagal – While this underrated show really hit its stride in the 90’s, the older episodes are some of my favorites of this series which was one of the very first sitcoms on the FOX network

2. (tie) “Mom” from several shows over the 80’s including:
Clair Huxtable“Clair Huxtable” from The Cosby Show (1984-92) played by Phylicia Rashad,
“Marion Cunningham” from Happy Days (1974-84) played by Marion Ross,
“Angela Bower”Judith Light from Who’s The Boss (1984-92) played by Judith Light,
“Maggie Malone Seaver” from Growing Pains (1985-92) played by Joanna Kerns,
“Elyse Keaton” from Family Ties (1982-89) played by Meredith Baxter-Birney,
“Roseanne Conner” from Roseanne (1988-97) played by Roseanne Barr,
“Ann Romano” from One Day At a Time (1975-84) played by Bonnie Franklin,
and all the other Moms from our favorite 80’s sitcoms (if you have more, leave them in the comments section)

Laverne & Shirley1. “Laverne De Fazio & Shirley Feeney” from Laverne & Shirley (1976-83) played by Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams – “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight! Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” This show (a spin-off of Happy Days, so also set in Milwaukee) has the two girls work at the fictitious Shotz Brewery and live in a basement apartment where much of the comedy ensues. Though there were some other characters on the show (like “Lenny” & “Squiggy”) this was one of the few shows where the female characters were the primary focus and stars of the show. That is why I rank them #1 on my list, though I do also have very fond memories of the show.

There’s my list, but I definitely want to hear about your favorites as well. I wanted to give credit to the many great female characters from 80’s television, but my next list will be much more shallow than that. Part 2 of this issue will list what I feel were some of the hottest babes to play TV characters in the 80’s.  I will tell you now that there will not be much overlap between the two lists.  Here is a link directly to part 2 and my list of the Hottest Female TV Characters of the 80’s.

That will wrap up part one of this two-part issue of Kickin’ it Old School dedicated to the women of 80’s TV shows. If you like this one and my first list (linked to at the top), then you might also like my Top TV Theme Songs list as well. It is not all 80’s theme songs, but as you would expect, many of them are from my favorite decade. If you are interested in reading more of my 80’s related issues, please click there for a summary. If you are interested in reading more of my Top 10 lists, please click there for a summary of those. You can also click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the blogbar Search Box in the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. Peace and much love.

Check this out: Since this issue is about women, I thought this reminder was appropriate. The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on ‘donating a mammogram’ for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn’t cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors /advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammograms in exchange for advertising. Here’s the web site! Pass it along to people you know. www.thebreastcancersite.com I try to do it once a day or at least as often as possible and now have the link on my desktop!! Please tell ten friends to tell ten today!

Quote of the day: “A little more matriarchy is what the world needs, and I know it. Period. Paragraph.” -Dorothy Thompson (an American journalist, who was noted by Time magazine in 1939 as one of the two most influential women in America, the other being Eleanor Roosevelt)
“Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels.” -Faith Whittlesey

Download this: “Love” by Matt White – Heard this song on a McDonald’s McRib commercial and really liked, so I went and downloaded it for myself

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  1. dallas.wkrp in cincinnati.dynasty.three is company
    little house on the praire
    used to watch this

  2. I loved miss piggy and laverne & shirley … bringing back memories..hahah

  3. Love Miss Piggy (oink1) and also Punky B… my fave ones… brings back memories of Sesame Street…

  4. Reply to: bawdy
    Thought about the Cheers characters. Probably should have included “Carla” looking back. But I was never a big fan of the “Diane” or “Rebecca” characters from that superb show. I loved the show Cheers.
    As for Loni Anderson, she will be appearing in part 2 of this issue.

  5. Great post OS – have missed Miss Piggy and her pork chops all these years. Wow, L&S were a very long time ago… Pity you’re not including Cybill Shepherd on Moonlighting. I liked that show…

  6. I thought Lauren Tewes of Love Boat was quite attractive. The show seems very silly now, as do many of the shows that seemed good at the time. Tewes seems to have disappeared, although I’ll bet there is a Wikipedia entry of her! After Love Boat, she did a sitcom for a season or two that I watched simply because of her- not her acting ability, but simply her appearance. I know- rather shallow of me.

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