1987 in American television

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For American TV schedule, see: 1987–88 United States network television schedule.

The year 1987 in television involved some significant events. This is a list of notable events in the United States.


Date Event
January 5 Remington Steele is resumed by NBC after a six-month hiatus during which series main actor Pierce Brosnan won the movie role of James Bond, only to lose it when NBC unexpectedly renewed the television series. Remington Steele adopts a TV-movie length format but only runs for a few installments before being canceled permanently.
January 22 R. Budd Dwyer shoots and kills himself at a televised press conference. The decision by some companies to broadcast the footage results in a debate concerning journalistic ethics.
February 2 PBS broadcasts the critically acclaimed series Eyes on the Prize.
February 8 Amerika, the science-fiction drama miniseries, showing life ten years after the United States is defeated and occupied by the USSR, was broadcast on ABC.
March 19 Televangelist Jim Bakker resigns as the host of The PTL Club after involvement in a sex scandal.
March 27 The Price Is Right surpasses Concentration as the longest-running daytime game show in history.
April 5 The Fox TV network make its prime-time debut, marking the first time since 1955 that there were four U.S. networks with prime-time programming. The network debuted two shows, Married... with Children and The Tracey Ullman Show, which are broadcast three times each during the night so that viewers watching other networks can switch over and sample the shows.
April 19 Matt Groening's The Simpsons debuts as a series of short animated segments as part of The Tracey Ullman Show.
May 6 Mr. Belvedere is canceled after three seasons. Criticism caused ABC executives to rethink the decision and resumed the series. (Since the fall programming schedules were already devised, Mr. Belvedere does not premiere until late October.)
May 15 Pamela Ewing's car speeds out of control, crashes into a tanker, and explodes on the season finale of Dallas.
June 4 CBS becomes the last American network to cease a chime intonation at the beginning of telecasts; satellite feeds have made the tones obsolete (their function was to signal to the affiliates to start broadcasting the network feed in synchronization with the others).
June 30 U.S. daytime television was interrupted for the Iran-Contra hearings.
July 15 Genie Francis, of General Hospital fame, starts a new soap opera role as Diana Colville for the series Days of Our Lives, which she will play until 1989.
July 31 Movietime, forerunner to E!, goes on the air.
September 5 Dick Clark's American Bandstand was broadcast for the 2,751st and last time by ABC, after 30 years on the network. (It continued in syndication for 2 more years.)
September 11 Dan Rather of the CBS Evening News leaves the newscast when a televised tennis match runs two minutes over. He is missing for six minutes.
October 12 Valerie Harper files a lawsuit against NBC and Lorimar for breach of contract after being dismissed from her sitcom Valerie.
October 15 Bob Barker stopped dyeing his hair brown and appears on The Price is Right for the first time with white hair. He is given a minute-long standing ovation by the audience.
November 13 Sonny & Cher reunite for a performance on the program Late Night with David Letterman.
November 22 During a showing of the Doctor Who story "Horror of Fang Rock", Chicago PBS station WTTW-TV Channel 11 is interrupted for 88 seconds by a pirate television transmitter overriding the station's transmission signal to broadcast a video of himself in a Max Headroom mask being spanked.



Date Show Network
January 3 Unsolved Mysteries (as a special hosted by Raymond Burr) NBC
January 17 Ohara ABC
January 21 The Tortellis NBC
January 26 Square One TV, Mathnet, and Mathman PBS
February 9 Rescue 911 CBS
March 11 Houston Knights
March 13 Rags to Riches NBC
March 18 The Bronx Zoo
March 19 Roomies
March 20 The Charmings ABC
March 23 The Bold and the Beautiful CBS
March 31 Max Headroom ABC
April 2 Nothing in Common NBC
April 5 Married... with Children Fox
The Tracey Ullman Show
April 12 21 Jump Street
April 18 Sweet Surrender NBC
April 19 Bionic Six Syndication
Duet Fox
April 26 Down and Out in Beverly Hills
May 3 Mr. President
May 21 The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd NBC
June 15 Home Shopping Game Syndication
July 11 Werewolf Fox
July 18 Karen's Song
The New Adventures of Beans Baxter
August 8 Animal Crack-Ups ABC
September 7 Geraldo Syndication
September 12 My Pet Monster ABC
I'm Telling! NBC
The New Archies
Popeye and Son CBS
September 14 Dinosaucers Syndication
Frank's Place CBS
September 16 Wiseguy
September 17 Out of This World NBC
September 18 DuckTales Syndication
September 19 Once a Hero ABC
Marblehead Manor NBC
She's the Sheriff
September 20 The Highwayman
My Two Dads
September 22 Full House ABC
I Married Dora
September 23 Hooperman
The Slap Maxwell Story
September 24 A Different World NBC
Tour of Duty CBS
September 25 Beauty and the Beast
September 26 Jake and the Fatman
ALF: The Animated Series NBC
J.J. Starbuck
Second Chance (aka Boys Will Be Boys) Fox
September 27 Dolly ABC
The Law & Harry McGraw CBS
September 28 Star Trek: The Next Generation Syndication
September 29 thirtysomething ABC
October 3 Everything's Relative CBS
Leg Work
October 11 Women in Prison Fox
November 2 Finders Keepers Nickelodeon
November 5 Beverly Hills Buntz NBC
November 7 Sable ABC
November 30 CBS This Morning CBS
December 7 Remote Control MTV
December 10 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Syndication
December 11 The Wilton North Report Fox

Returning this year[edit]

Show Last aired Previous network Retitled as/Same New/Same network Return date
Charles in Charge 1985 CBS Same Syndication January 3
Blockbusters 1982 NBC Same January 5
Concentration 1978 Syndication Classic Concentration NBC May 4
We Got it Made 1984 NBC Same Same September 11
High Rollers 1980 Syndication September 14

Ending this year[edit]

Date Show Debut
February 27 The Love Boat 1977
March 3 Silver Spoons 1982
March 8 The A-Team 1983
March 20 Capitol 1982
March 30 Fraggle Rock 1983
April 17 Remington Steele 1982
May 1 Blockbusters 1980
May 12 Gimme a Break! 1981
May 18 Fame 1982
May 19 Hill Street Blues 1981
May 28 Scarecrow and Mrs. King 1983
August 7 Airwolf 1984
November 11 The Transformers
November 12 The Jetsons 1962
November 28 The New Adventures of Beans Baxter 1987
December 11 Dinosaucers
December 12 Popeye and Son
The P.T.L. Club 1976

Changes of network affiliation[edit]

Show Moved from Moved to
Punky Brewster NBC Syndication
Webster ABC

Made-for-TV movies and miniseries[edit]

Title Network Premiere date
LBJ: The Early Years NBC February 1
Amerika ABC February 8
The Facts of Life Down Under NBC February 15
Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story November 16
Roman Holiday December 28


Date Name Notability
January 7 Lyndsy Fonseca Actresses (Nikita)
February 5 Darren Criss Actor (Glee, A Very Potter Musical)
February 21 Ellen Page Actress (hosted Saturday Night Live, 2008)
March 9 Bow Wow Rapper (host of 106 & Park)
April 15 Samira Wiley Actress (Orange is the New Black)
September 28 Hilary Duff Actress (Lizzie McGuire) and singer
October 18 Zac Efron Actor (Summerland)
December 4 Orlando Brown Actor (That's So Raven)


Date Name Age Notability
February 22 David Susskind 66 Commentator and producer (The David Susskind Show)
February 25 James Coco 56 Actor
March 3 Danny Kaye 76 Actor and comedian (The Danny Kaye Show)
March 21 Dean Paul Martin 35 Actor (Misfits of Science)
March 28 Patrick Troughton 67 Actor (the Second Doctor on Doctor Who from 1966 to 1969)
April 17 Dick Shawn 63 Actor
May 4 Cathryn Damon 56 Actress (Mary on Soap)
May 31 Roy Winsor 75 Soap opera writer (Search for Tomorrow)
June 24 Jackie Gleason 71 Actor (The Honeymooners, The Jackie Gleason Show)
August 11 Clara Peller 85 Wendy's spokesperson (Where's the Beef? ad campaign)
August 19 Hayden Rorke 76 Actor (Dr. Bellows on I Dream of Jeannie)
September 5 Quinn Martin 65 Executive producer (The Fugitive and many others)
September 11 Lorne Greene 72 Actor (Ben Cartwright on Bonanza)
September 22 Dan Rowan 65 Comedian (co-host of Laugh-In)