Lynette Rice
September 29, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

There was a day, not so long ago, when sitcoms roamed the ratings plains like the mighty buffalo. Doubt it? Just look at our timeline of top TV comedies to see how they were hunted to near-extinction for their laugh-track hides.

6 Sitcoms in Top 30
America is all like, ”I Think I Love You” to The Partridge Family, but is not-so-secretly seeing variety shows on the side.

16 Sitcoms in Top 30
Laverne & Shirley makes us long for Milwaukee, beer, and hairy-chested Italians who share a nickname with spaghetti sauce.

11 Sitcoms in Top 30
And five of ’em, like The Jeffersons, are spin-offs. The start of a fallow period that won’t end until ’84 with The Cosby Show.

13 Sitcoms in Top 30
The year when Cosby and Family Ties rule and Celebrity Fit Club isn’t even a glint in Tempestt Bledsoe’s or Tina Yothers’ eyes.

20 Sitcoms in Top 30
One of the funniest seasons ever, with Cheers and Roseanne atop the charts. But a bad one for drama: just three in the top 30.

14 Sitcoms in Top 30
Almost every new comedy tries to be the next Seinfeld. Most end up becoming the next Newman.

9 Sitcoms in Top 30
After an embarrassment of riches in ’97 (emphasis on ”embarrassment”), the drought begins as hits like Friends start to age.

2 Sitcoms in Top 30
The only shows to crack the top echelon are on CBS: The New Adventures of Old Christine and Two and a Half Men.

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