Dealing with impossible coworkers can be hell, but watching others struggle to get along in the workplace is oftentimes comedy gold.
Welcome to TVLine’s inaugural ranking of the best workplace comedies of all time. We’ve cherry-picked our absolute favorites starting from the ’70s on up through this past TV season — and it was not easy. Our top picks come from a wide variety of networks (Comedy Central, The WB, HBO, Adult Swim and more), and cover fictional newsrooms, schools, bars, government departments and, of course, a certain paper company that holds a special place in our hearts.
Here, we’ve included old school fare like Taxi and Cheers, and ranked them accordingly alongside newer selections like Parks and Recreation, Abbott Elementary and Scrubs, to name a few.
But before you start scrolling, a couple of notes: For this particular list, we only considered U.S. productions (apologies to the OG Office and The IT Crowd). In addition, we’ve excluded a couple heavy-hitters like Veep and Ted Lasso, which don’t quite stick to one core setting, or follow the typical workplace comedy formula. (Again, difficult decisions had to be made!)
So which series topped our list? Scroll down to see how everything shook out, and be sure to drop some comments to let us know which shows would make your personal list!
CHILDRENS HOSPITAL (2010-2016, Adult Swim)
Centered around the kooky staff of a hospital in Brazil, this black comedy pushed absurdity to the limits. Rob Corddry, Erinn Hayes, Ken Marino, Megan Mullally and Rob Huebel were just a few of the dynamite comedians whose fearless performances bolstered the zany and oftentimes surreal antics that occurred throughout Childrens Hospital. Created by Corddry, Jonathan Stern and David Wain, the show works as both a satire and parody, lampooning both workplace comedies and medical procedurals, and pushing as many boundaries as possible to get laughs.
CORPORATE (2018-2020, Comedy Central)
A pitch-black satire that played like The Office with a death wish, this underrated gem followed the miserable employees of the soul-crushing multinational conglomerate Hampton DeVille. The office was a desperate wasteland of lost hope and unflattering fluorescent lights, and if you’ve ever worked in a cubicle, you’d appreciate the spot-on jabs at workplace staples like corporate retreats and Casual Fridays. For those of us who take our comedy as black as our coffee, this was a wickedly funny way to spend a precious half-hour away from the office.
THE STEVE HARVEY SHOW (1996-2002, The WB)
Say what you will about Steve Harvey’s suits, but there’s no denying the legacy of this memorable sitcom which lasted six seasons on The WB. With a charismatic core cast that also included Cedric the Entertainer, Wendy Raquel Robinson and Terri J. Vaughn, and phenomenal supporting players such Merlin Thompson and Nickelodeon vets Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, the show brought plenty of laughs and even a few heartfelt lessons.
WINGS (1990-1997, NBC)
If Sandpiper Air had a frequent-flyer program, we would’ve been platinum members — that’s how much we enjoyed the long-running NBC comedy about life at a tiny Nantucket airport. Lovingly bickering brothers Joe (played by Tim Daly) and Brian Hackett (Steven Weber) meshed well with lovelorn lunch-counter proprietor Helen (Crystal Bernard) and the island’s quirky townies (among them Tony Shalhoub and Thomas Hayden Church, both in their first series-regular TV roles.)
COACH (1989-1997, ABC)
What’s great about this classic sitcom is that you don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate it. The show follows head football coach Hayden Fox (played by Craig T. Nelson) at the fictional Minnesota State University, serving up knee-slapping physical comedy alongside poignant life lessons. And with a killer cast that also includes Jerry Van Dyke, Shelley Fabares and Bill Fagerbakke (SpongeBob Square Pants), this hilarious workplace comedy is an all-time great.
ALLY MCBEAL (1997-2002, Fox)
The law offices of Cage and Fish played host to the zany antics on Fox’s groundbreaking legal dramedy — and it was a unique workplace, to be sure, with partner Richard Fish subjecting his attorneys to his clever “Fishisms” and many other things that would never pass muster with HR these days. The courtroom scenes were wild, too, with Ally and company contending with bizarre clients and kooky judges. But mostly, we remember the unisex bathroom: the awkward setting for many a non-work-related conversation. It’s a wonder that idea never caught on, huh?
GREAT NEWS (2017-2018, NBC)
Before she was Evil’s Sister Andrea, Andrea Martin played sexagenarian newsroom intern (and mom to the equally sublime Briga Heelan) in NBC’s criminally underrated, razor-sharp satire. Created by 30 Rock vet Tracey Wigfield and executive-produced by Tina Fey (who would eventually recur), the two-season comedy had a joke-per-minute ratio that rivaled, well, 30 Rock!
BETTER OFF TED (2009-2010, ABC)
S.W.A.T.’s Jay Harrington played the titular head of research and development in this dry comedy about the inner workings of a not-so-secretly sinister tech conglomerate. Hot off Fox’s Arrested Development, Portia de Rossi shined as Ted’s cold-and-calculating supervisor Veronica, while Jonathan Slavin and a pre-Timeless Malcolm Barrett made for one of TV’s funniest duos in lab scientists Phil and Lem.
ABBOTT ELEMENTARY (2021-Present, ABC)
Quinta Brunson’s ABC mockumentary was one of our favorite shows of the 2021-2022 season, winning us over with its lovable characters and quotable jokes. Set in a predominantly Black elementary school in Philadelphia, Brunson stars as Janine Teagues, an overly ambitious and optimistic teacher dead set on bettering her students’ lives, despite a plummeting school budget and other impeding hurdles. There’s only 13 episodes so far, hence its placement here, but after a few more classes with this stellar ensemble, Abbott might start inching its way up our list.
RENO 911! (2003-2009, Comedy Central; 2020-Present, Quibi/Roku Channel)
Police work is usually serious business on TV, but this Comedy Central staple lightened the mood by making it look like any other boring office job, with a squad of oddball cops trying to stay busy while fighting the occasional petty crime. The cops’ chaotic staff meetings were always a source of big laughs, but their real workplace was the streets, with Cops-style documentary cameras riding along on their ill-fated investigations of local hookers, druggies and roller-skating weirdos. (Sometimes all three, right, Terry?)
GETTING ON (2013-2015, HBO)
The very first line of dialogue uttered in HBO’s dark comedy encapsulates its brilliance well: “There’s a turd on a chair in the lounge.” Across its three tragically underrated seasons, Getting On — adapted from a U.K. sitcom — followed the staff at Mount Palms Memorial’s extended care unit, offering a pitch-perfect representation of the mundane, bizarre and downright gross encounters that nurses face daily. With a cast as comedically stacked as this one — Laurie Metcalf! Alex Borstein! Niecy Nash! — Getting On might just make this list even if it weren’t funny. Fortunately for us, the series was a hysterical glimpse into the world of health care, lounge poop cleanups and all.
PARTY DOWN (2009-2010, Starz)
Co-created by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars), this wildly outrageous series follows a catering crew of Hollywood wannabes as they work events and attempt to slack off as much as possible. Its roster — which includes Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr, Lizzy Caplan, and in Season 2, Megan Mullally — is an all-star batch of performers whose constant zingers and physical comedy was a nonstop riot. While its cancellation was nothing short of a travesty, we’re thankful that a third course is about to be served.
SCRUBS (2001-2010, NBC/ABC)
For eight seasons — and yes, as far as we’re concerned, there were only eight seasons — we were endlessly entertained by J.D.’s bromance with Turk, his will-they/won’t-they with Elliot, his combative relationship with the Janitor and his constant need for approval from Dr. Cox. Though the humor was heightened, the series had a huge heart that was on full display whenever it got serious about patient care.
SUPERSTORE (2015–2021, NBC)
This ensemble gem, which almost never existed beyond the confines of its big-box chain store setting, had all the makings of a perfect workplace comedy: a will they/won’t they couple worth rooting for in Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman), a wacky menagerie of side characters, and consistently sharp writing that made each episode go down like water. The NBC comedy also organically incorporated relevant real-world issues like immigration and the COVID-19 pandemic into its storytelling without shifting its signature tone.
SPORTS NIGHT (1998-2000, ABC)
Aaron Sorkin’s take on life behind the scenes at a Sports Center-like show was an underappreciated gem that introduced TV audiences to some of the writer/producer’s signature moves. The walk-and-talk! The rapid-fire dialogue! The endless pop culture references! The high caliber cast (featuring Josh Charles, Peter Krause, Felicity Huffman and Robert Guillaume)! ABC’s cancelling of the comedy after just two seasons? To use a sports-related term: foul.
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (2013-2021, Fox/NBC)
Odd couples don’t get much funnier than Jake Peralta and Raymond Holt. And sitcom relationships don’t come much purer than Jake and Amy. Though it evolved into more of a character-driven comedy over time, the Andy Samberg vehicle never gave the short shrift to police work, a decision that made it easier for the series to pivot in its eighth and final season and address real-life crises involving racial injustice and police brutality.
NIGHT COURT (1984-1992, NBC)
Manhattan’s hottest night club wasn’t some trendy bar — it was Criminal Court Part 2, the Honorable Judge Harold T. Stone presiding. The parade of lawbreakers that marched through Harry’s courtroom during the wee hours was nothing compared to the camaraderie among the goofballs who defended, prosecuted and remanded them during the NBC series’ nine-season run.
PARKS AND RECREATION (2009-2015, NBC)
Greg Daniels was tasked by NBC with drumming up a spinoff of The Office; he quickly abandoned the idea of surveying another Dunder-Mifflin office and instead served up this incisive look at the public sector, starring Amy Poehler as an idealistic wannabe politico and Nick Offerman as her cynical, libertarian boss at the titular Pawnee, Ind. department. Poehler’s Leslie Knope became a symbol for the “Yep!” power of the little guy, while the supporting cast delivered a variety of memorable and distinctly quippy characters.
NEWSRADIO (1995-1999, NBC)
With a cast led by Dave Foley, Maura Tierney and Stephen Root, and elevated by the late Phil Hartman (in what would be his final role), Khandi Alexander (as Hartman’s foil) and brassy scene stealer Vicki Lewis, this NBC sitcom winningly took us behind the scenes of an all-news radio station, where Foley’s baby-faced news director labored to teach some old dogs new tricks. Created by Paul Simms, fresh off stints writing for Letterman and The Larry Sanders Show, NewsRadio boasted rapid-fire jokes and comedic situations that were just the right level of zany.
TAXI (1978-1982, NBC)
We don’t know if this late 1970s/early ’80s sitcom was an accurate look at the workings of a New York taxi company, but it sure had a palpably dingy veneer and was populated by the sort of sad sacks one might imagine find themselves toiling behind the wheel of a cab — or barking putdowns from the dispatcher’s cage, as Danny DeVito’s iconic Louie De Palma did on the regular. The late Andy Kaufman’s Latka Gravas and Christopher Lloyd’s “Reverend Jim” (“Whaaaaaat… doesss… a yellowwww….”) also emerged as breakout characters.
THE OFFICE (2005-2013, NBC)
Based on the British comedy of the same name — a game-changing series in its own right — NBC’s take on The Office gave us a painfully relatable portrayal of office culture, finding the humor in tasks as boring as expense reports and safety training. Expertly filmed in the style of a documentary, The Office managed to walk a difficult tightrope between Michael Scott’s over-the-top antics and the disbelieving, am-I-the-only-normal-person-here approach of Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s other employees. Plus, as the endlessly approval-seeking Michael, star Steve Carell delivered one of television’s most nuanced and compelling performances of all time.
CHEERS (1982-1993, NBC)
Most people go to bars to unwind after work, but for the likes of Sam, Diane, Carla and Rebecca, the Boston watering hole at the center of NBC’s classic sitcom was their place of work, serving up suds to regulars Norm and Cliff — who were there so often, they might as well have pulled a paycheck. The vast majority of the action took place between the bar’s four walls, with the staff forced to deal with birdbrained coworkers (R.I.P., Coach), annoying upstairs neighbors at Melville’s and a fierce rivalry with the hated Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern. It’s just like your office, only drunker.
30 ROCK (2006-2013, NBC)
Led by Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock followed the ludicrous goings-on behind the scenes of a show-within-the-show, TGS With Tracy Jordan. The writing and comedic timing was impeccable, and the rest of the cast (Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer, to name a few) brought its A-game each and every week. (Plus, what TV fan didn’t feel at least a little bit seen in NBC page Kenneth Parcel, whose one true love was television?) And who hasn’t worked a job where putting up with impossible coworkers was more or less in the job description? Full of surreal laughs, clever cutaways and heaps of parody, Fey’s creation was top notch.
THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW (1992-1998, HBO)
A favorite among comedians and critics alike and a true genre gem, The Larry Sanders Show (along with our pick for No. 1) helped write the blueprint for all of the workplace comedies that followed it. The series followed the making of a late-night talk show, including all of the backstage drama and Hollywood narcissism that went on behind the scenes. Garry Shandling’s performance was pure genius, and its supporting cast — which included Jeffrey Tambor, Rip Torn and Penny Johnson Jerald — more than held its own. Most importantly, Larry’s wild egomania and indifference to the world around him was deeply (and sometimes darkly) funny.
THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW (1970-1977, CBS)
Who can turn the world on with her smile? The spunky Mary Richards sure can, even in the course of locking horns with Lou Grant, the boss man at her Minneapolis TV station, and dealing with the likes of daft anchorman Ted, Bohemian gal pal Rhoda and snobbish neighbor Phyllis. It speaks to the sitcom’s quality and brilliantly cast ensemble — the great Betty White’s saucy Sue Ann Nivens included! — that it spawned no fewer than three spin-offs, after delighting with a look at the wild world of WJM-TV.