30 best FOX shows ever, ranked – Gold Derby

For nearly four decades, the Big Three networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) dominated television, with any attempts at a fourth competitor quickly trounced. However, on October 9, 1986, a fourth network launched and steadily gained affiliates by offering innovative programming, often appealing to a younger demographic.

Fox has been the most successful network beyond the Big Three, despite a somewhat shaky beginning. The network launched with a short-lived late night talk show initially hosted by Joan Rivers, “The Late Show.” Then, beginning in April 1987, Fox gradually rolled out original primetime programming, starting with Sunday night premieres of two shows whose concepts were new to regular network programming. “Married. . .with Children” brought raunch to the family sitcom genre, raising the ire of conservative watchdog groups to the point that demands were made for a boycott; ironically, this actually brought attention to the series, and it achieved a whole new level of success. “The Tracey Ullman Show” delivered a unique sketch comedy series that earned the network its first Emmy, and introduced another sitcom family to audiences – one that would eventually make the network a contender with the Big Three.

“The Simpsons” began as a series of animated shorts on “The Tracey Ullman Show,” and debuted as its own series on December 17, 1989. It became the first Fox series to rank in the top 30, and has gone on to become the longest-running animated series, sitcom and scripted primetime series in American TV history. During this time, Fox also found a niche with reality TV that included the long-running “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted.”  Fox steadily grew during this time by offering programming slightly below the number of hours defined by the FCC to legally be considered a network, thus it didn’t have to adhere to many of the regulations that were in effect – a practice which other fledgling networks have copied.

Throughout the 1990s, Fox produced shows with edgier content that likely would have never made it on a Big Three network. Shows like “Martin,” “In Living Color,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Melrose Place” developed loyal followings that took the network to a new level of success.

By 1993, Fox offered original programming all seven nights, including its first late-night success, “MADtv.” Fox ended the 1997-1998 season with three shows in the top 20, including the animated series “The Simpsons” and “The King of the Hill.” “The X-Files” barely missed the top ten, landing at number 11.

Animated sitcoms became a staple of the network’s programming going into the 2000s. Besides “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill,” “Family Guy” and “Futurama” were hits with audiences and critics. Fox produced a number of controversial reality shows during this time, including the ill-advised “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” and “Joe Millionaire,” the latter of which became Fox’s first top ten program, rising to number three.  In 2002, Fox finally hit the big time with the hugely popular “American Idol,” which consistently maintained two spots in the top ten for 11 years. For six consecutive years, either the competition night or the results night ranked number one, a feat unmatched.  With several contestants going on to successful careers and the unparalleled popularity of the show, “American Idol” is one of the most (if not the most) influential shows to air since the beginning of the 2000s.

Besides “American Idol,” Fox has continued to build its foundation by delivering new and fresh programming. “24” redefined TV espionage thrillers, “Bones” offered a fresh take on police procedurals, “Glee” brought back comedy musicals and shows like “Fringe” and the short-lived “Firefly” developed cult followings.

Although Fox hasn’t been around as long as the Big Three, the network has provided excellent programming throughout its nearly four-decade history. We’ve attempted to find the 30 best.  The impact of “American Idol” on television cannot be ignored; however, we have not included include daytime, reality, news or sports programs on our lists; we have based choices on longevity, popularity, innovativeness and awards. Tour our photo gallery of the 30 best FOX shows, ranked.

You can also visit our galleries ranking the history of best shows for ABC, CBS and NBC.


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