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13 Shows That Changed Television For The Better

TV may rot your brain, but it also warms your heart.

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1. Saturday Night Live

Broadway Video / NBC / Via

If you've laughed at all in the last 40 years, there's a good chance you have Saturday Night Live to thank for that. The iconic sketch-comedy juggernaut has served as a starting point for more comedic talent and spin-offs than any single comedy program in television history, and it's not slowing down anytime soon.

2. Modern Family

20th Century Fox Television / ABC / Via

Aside from being the most popular and critically acclaimed sitcom on television, Modern Family reminds us that families come in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, genders, and intelligence levels, but there's one thing they all have in common: unconditional love...and snappy dialogue.

3. Doctor Who

BBC America / Via

Nothing makes you feel special like a 1,000-year-old time-traveling alien genius who thinks human beings are the most unique and remarkable creatures in the universe. Plus, he has a British accent, so you know you can trust him. Geronimo!

4. The Simpsons

20th Century Fox Television/Fox Network / Via

When it premiered in 1989, The Simpsons introduced the world to an entirely new generation of primetime animated sitcoms. Since then, it's reminded us that the familial quirks we often view as dysfunctional are the very same traits that make us all special.

5. Sesame Street

Children's Television Workshop/Public Broadcasting Service / Via

Sesame Street has been helping us raise our children since 1969. The colorful characters and "learning is fun" teaching style have become iconic cultural mascots, and the show's ability to adapt to a changing world ensures its relevance for many generations to come.

6. Cheers

Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions / NBC / Via

You might expect a show set entirely in a bar to be smothered in crude jokes and drunken humor, but Cheers managed to defy expectations by introducing some of the most lovable characters, memorable scenes, and one of the most riveting "will-they-won't-they" love stories in television history. Sam and Diane forever!

7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

20th Century Fox Television/Season 1-5 The WB Television Network, Seasons 6-7 UPN Network / Via

Buffy the Vampire Slayer introduced America to a host of strong, assertive female heroes to cheer for. It also put Joss Whedon and Sarah Michelle Gellar on the map and single-handedly ushered in a new era of vampire-centric television that's still reminding us how lucky we are to be humans, rather than immortal, blood-sucking hellspawns.

8. Parks & Recreation

Deedle-Dee Productions / NBC / Via

Amy Poehler. Adam Scott. Aubrey Plaza. Aziz Ansari. Nick Offerman. Chris Pratt. Without Parks & Recreation, these people wouldn't be where they are today. For that, we owe Parks & Rec about a billion thanks. Treat yo self, Parks. You've earned it.

9. Once Upon a Time

Kitsis/Horowitz / ABC / Via

After nearly a century of Disney films and cartoons, Once Upon a Time finally figured out a way to bring the massive collection of beloved characters to primetime television in a new and exciting way, reinventing the fairy tales we grew up with and reminding us that we don't have to grow up just because we're grown-ups now.

10. Fresh Off the Boat

20th Century Fox Television / ABC / Via

Fresh Off the Boat is the first show in the history of network television to feature an all-Asian primary cast, offering viewers a glimpse into an upbringing that they may have never been exposed to otherwise. Hooray for empathy and a deeper appreciation of cultural identities!

11. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

Mad Cow Productions / Comedy Central / Via

Since becoming the host of The Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has transformed the nightly news satire program into something unthinkable: an actual news source! Stewart and team have discovered a magical balance between information and entertainment, ushering in a new era of news for a younger generation.

12. The Office

BBC America / Via

Before the TV airwaves were flooded with mockumentary-style television programs, The Office was pointing out the absurdity of modern British office life. Since then, it's inspired successful spin-offs in eight different countries, reminding us that, although we may seem different, we're all annoyed by the same obnoxious bosses.

13. The X-Files

The X-Files gave us David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, for which we are all eternally grateful. It also reminded us to trust nobody (except for your FBI partner, of course) and to follow our hearts, even when everyone thinks you're crazy, because the truth is out there.