1986 in American television

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For the American network television schedule, please see 1986-87 American network television schedule.

The year 1986 in television involved some significant events. This is a list of notable events in the United States.


Date Event
January 1 ABC affiliate KOMU-TV in Columbia, Missouri, owned by the University of Missouri, swaps affiliations with NBC affiliate KCBJ-TV, reversing a swap that took place in 1982. KCBJ-TV subsequently changes its call letters to KMIZ to reflect the change.
January 6 A Vicks Formula 44 cough medicine advertisement premieres, featuring Peter Bergman from All My Children, in which he told the viewing audience "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV". This phrase, first used during the early 1970s by actor Robert Young of the series Marcus Welby, M.D. fame, was subsequently parodied by many popular culture references.
A revival of Card Sharks premieres on CBS. In order to make room for the show (which aired at 10:30 AM), CBS moves Press Your Luck to the 4:00 PM timeslot.
January 25 HBO begins scrambling its signal.
January 28 NASA's Space Shuttle Challenger spacecraft disintegrates. CNN is the only news service to broadcast the disaster nationally.
February 9 Helen Martin joins the cast of the NBC comedy 227, after appearing on every episode in the 1985–86 season. Martin replaces Kia Goodwin (who was dismissed from the cast after the first season), who portrayed Rose's (Alaina Reed) daughter, Tiffany, before written off the show initially during 1988.
February 11 Culture Club's main singer Boy George appears on an episode of the NBC drama The A-Team.
February 14 Frank Zappa appears on an episode of the popular NBC drama Miami Vice. Zappa plays a crime boss named "Mr. Frankie" in the episode "Florence Italy".
February 22 In honor of the 20th anniversary of the first episode of the television series The Monkees, MTV broadcasts "Pleasant Valley Sunday", a 22-hour marathon of Monkees episodes.
March 9 On the NBC soap opera Search for Tomorrow, the entire town of Henderson is washed away in a flood. Main character Joanne Tourneur's motel is the only structure in town left standing.
March 20 After four seasons, NBC cancels Remington Steele. This announcement results in Pierce Brosnan being named the newest portrayer of James Bond. As a result of the media frenzy concerning Brosnan's appointment, as well as the corresponding increase of Steele's ratings, NBC reverses its decision and announces Steele will return midway through the 1986–87 season. This results in Bond movie producers withdrawing their offer to Brosnan, though he would take on the role of Bond in 1995.
April 3 Merv Griffin sells his company, Merv Griffin Enterprises, to The Coca-Cola Company for $250,000,000.
ABC affiliate KDEB-TV in Springfield, Missouri disaffiliates from the network and becomes an independent station as a result of an agreement between ABC and Telepictures, owners of independent station KSPR. KDEB-TV will eventually become a charter affiliate of the Fox Broadcasting Company a few months later.
April 21 Geraldo Rivera hosts a live two-hour syndicated special The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault, famously coming up empty-handed.
April 27 A man calling himself Captain Midnight jams HBO's signal to protest its monthly fee of $12.95.
May 10 Tommy Lee of rock group Mötley Crüe marries actress Heather Locklear.
May 12 NBC unveils its new Peacock logo during its 60th anniversary special.
May 16 Bobby Ewing is revealed to be alive and showering in his ex-wife Pam's bathroom in the season finale of the CBS drama Dallas; in the September 26 season premiere, it was shown that the entire 1985–86 season was a dream of hers the night after they agreed to remarry.
May 22 Cher calls David Letterman an "asshole" during a taping of NBC's Late Night with David Letterman.
June 1 CBS affiliate WCHS-TV in Charleston, West Virginia swaps affiliations with ABC affiliate WOWK-TV, reversing a swap that took place in 1962.
June 29 CBS affiliate WOWT and NBC affiliate KMTV-TV, both in Omaha, Nebraska, agree to swap affiliations, thus reversing a swap that took place in 1956.
July 18 A tornado is broadcast live by NBC affiliate KARE in Minneapolis when the station's helicopter pilot makes a chance encounter.
August 15 Rod Roddy becomes the permanent announcer of the long-running CBS daytime game series The Price Is Right, replacing the deceased Johnny Olsen.
September 1 For one week, CBS Evening News anchorman Dan Rather attempts to initiate the use of the word "Courage" as a slogan. The attempt is a failure, and is noticed by other members of the press.
Disney Channel, at the time a premium cable network, begins broadcasting a 24-hour-a-day schedule.
September 8 Oprah Winfrey's Chicago-based talk show goes national.
September 17 ABC becomes the second American network to discontinue use of chime intonations at the beginning of telecasts, switching to satellite feed activation.
September 27 On the NBC comedy The Facts of Life, Charlotte Rae quits the role of Mrs. Garrett (who marries her old friend Bruce Gaines, played by Robert Mandan), and is replaced by Cloris Leachman, who played Beverly Ann Stickle, Mrs. Garrett's sister.
September 28 CBS returns the 4:00 PM timeslot to its affiliates following the cancellation of Press Your Luck a month earlier.
October 9 The Fox Broadcasting Company (then abbreviated as FBC; now Fox) launches as the United States' fourth commercial broadcast television network, the first such attempt since 1967.
October 12 Fox signs its first affiliate outside of its charter group, when WTUV in Utica, New York signs-on.
November 8 Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman and Kevin Nealon join NBC's Saturday Night Live.
November 30 The Disney Channel signs off for the last time. From 7 a.m. on December 1, 1986, the channel broadcasts 24 hours a day.



Date Show Network
January 5 Blacke's Magic NBC
January 6 Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak ABC
January 18 The Redd Foxx Show
January 22 Planet Earth PBS
February 16 Sidekicks ABC
February 24 You Again? NBC
March 1 The Hogan Family
March 3 Matlock
March 5 Fast Times CBS
March 25 Perfect Strangers ABC
March 28 Mr. Sunshine
May 28 The Canned Film Festival Syndication
September 6 WWF Superstars of Wrestling
The Flintstone Kids ABC
September 8 Ghostbusters Syndication
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Superior Court
September 9 The Wizard CBS
September 10 It's Garry Shandling's Show Showtime
September 11 Our House NBC
September 13 Easy Street
The Real Ghostbusters ABC
Pound Puppies
Pee-wee's Playhouse CBS
Teen Wolf
At the Movies Syndication
September 14 The New Adventures of Jonny Quest
September 15 Rambo: The Force of Freedom
September 17 Head of the Class ABC
September 18 Crime Story NBC
L.A. Law
September 19 Starman ABC
September 20 The Ellen Burstyn Show
Heart of the City
Life With Lucy
September 22 Dennis the Menace Syndication
Zoobilee Zoo
Together We Stand CBS
September 23 Sledge Hammer! ABC
September 25 Our World
September 26 Kay O'Brien CBS
September 27 The New Mike Hammer
Amen NBC
September 28 WWF Wrestling Challenge Syndication
September 29 Designing Women CBS
October 1 Better Days
October 6 My Sister Sam
Double Dare Nickelodeon
October 9 The Late Show with Joan Rivers Fox
December 1 The Cavanaughs CBS
December 5 Gung Ho ABC

Returning this year[edit]

Show Last Aired Previous Network Retitled as/Same New/Returning/Same Network Returning
Card Sharks 1981 NBC Same CBS January 6
Too Close for Comfort 1985 Syndication The Ted Knight Show Same April 21
9 to 5 1983 ABC Same Syndication September 13
Hollywood Squares 1984 NBC September 15
Mama's Family September 26

Ending this year[edit]

Date Show Debut
January 7 Stir Crazy 1985
February 1 Inspector Gadget (returned in 2015) 1983
February 21 Misfits of Science 1985
March 5 Planet Earth 1986
March 7 Diff'rent Strokes 1978
April 4 Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak 1986
April 8 Foley Square 1985
April 19 Benson 1979
The Redd Foxx Show 1986
April 23 Fast Times
April 27 Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors 1985
May 2 The Fall Guy 1981
May 7 Blacke's Magic 1986
May 16 Charlie & Co. 1985
May 23 The Joker's Wild (returned in 1990) 1972
The All-New Let's Make a Deal 1963
Tic Tac Dough (returned in 1990) 1956
May 24 The Love Boat 1977
Mr. Sunshine 1986
May 28 T. J. Hooker 1982
June 6 The Merv Griffin Show 1972
June 7 Star Wars: Droids 1985
June 18 Bertha
August 8 Knight Rider 1982
August 9 The Paper Chase 1978
August 22 Riptide 1983
September 4 Trapper John, M.D. 1979
September 26 Press Your Luck 1983
October 22 Better Days 1986
November 15 Life with Lucy
November 20 Kay O'Brien
December 5 Ghostbusters
December 6 It's Punky Brewster 1985
December 13 Star Wars: Ewoks
Wildfire 1986
December 26 The Canned Film Festival
Rambo: The Force of Freedom
Search for Tomorrow 1951

Changes of network affiliation[edit]

Show Moved from Moved to
Card Sharks NBC CBS
Hollywood Squares Syndication
Mama's Family
Silver Spoons
9 to 5 ABC
National Geographic Explorer Nickelodeon TBS
The New Leave It to Beaver The Disney Channel
The Wonderful World of Disney CBS ABC

Made-for-TV movies and miniseries[edit]

Title Channel Premiere date
Andersonville (miniseries) TNT March 3
Gotti HBO August 17
Gulliver's Travels (miniseries) NBC February 4
If These Walls Could Talk HBO October 13
The Late Shift (miniseries) HBO November 24
The Last Frontier (miniseries) CBS November 3
Gulliver's Travels NBC February 24
North and South: Book II (miniseries) ABC May 4


Date Name Notability
January 1 Anna Brewster English actress (Versailles)
January 5 Jesse Draper Actress (The Naked Brothers Band)
January 15 Jessy Schram Actress (Last Resort, Falling Skies, Nashville) and singer
January 18 Devin Kelley Actress (The Chicago Code, Resurrection, Frequency)
Becca Tobin Actress (Glee) and singer
January 21 Julianna Strickland YouTube personality and actress
January 22 Daniel Wayne Smith Actor (d. 2006)
January 24 Mischa Barton Actress (Once and Again, The O.C.)
Raviv Ullman Actor (Phil of the Future, Rita Rocks)
January 29 Drew Tyler Bell Actor (The Bold and the Beautiful)
January 30 Ashley Buccille Voice actress (Lila Sawyer from Hey Arnold!)
February 1 Lauren Conrad Actress (Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, The Hills)
February 2 Gemma Arterton English actress
February 6 Alice Greczyn Actress (Quintuplets, The Lying Game)
February 7 Stephen Colletti Actor (Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, One Tree Hill)
February 8 Anna Hutchison New Zealand actress (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
February 12 Gary LeRoi Gray Actor (The Cosby Show)
February 14 Tiffany Thornton Actress (Sonny with a Chance, So Random!) and singer
February 15 Amber Riley Actress (Glee)
February 19 Ophelia Lovibond English actress (Holby City, Titanic: Blood and Steel, Elementary)
February 25 Justin Berfield Actor (Unhappily Ever After, Malcolm in the Middle)
February 26 Teresa Palmer Australian actress
March 4 Margo Harshman Actress (Even Stevens, Run of the House)
March 9 Brittany Snow Actress (American Dreams, Harry's Law)
March 14 Jamie Bell English actor (Turn: Washington's Spies)
March 16 Alexandra Daddario Actress (All My Children)
March 17 Olesya Rulin Russian-born actress (High School Musical)
March 20 Ruby Rose Australian actress (Orange is the New Black)
March 21 Scott Eastwood Actor and son of Clint Eastwood
March 22 Matt Bush Actor (Glory Daze, The Goldbergs)
March 28 Lady Gaga Singer, songwriter, and actress (American Horror Story)
Meagan Smith Voice actress (All Grown Up!, Ben 10)
April 2 Drew Van Acker Actor (Tower Prep, Pretty Little Liars)
April 3 Amanda Bynes Actress (All That, The Amanda Show, Rugrats, What I Like About You)
April 9 Leighton Meester Actress (Gossip Girl) and singer
Jordan Masterson Actor (Greek, Last Man Standing)
April 22 Amber Heard Actress (Hidden Palms)
April 25 John DeLuca Actor (General Hospital)
Daniel Sharman English actor (Teen Wolf, The Originals)
April 27 Jenna Coleman English actress (Emmerdale, Doctor Who, Victoria)
April 28 Jenna Ushkowitz Actress (Glee) and singer
April 30 Dianna Agron
May 2 Emily Hart Actress
Thomas McDonell Actor (The 100)
May 3 Poppy Delevingne English model
May 8 Laura Spencer Actress (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, The Big Bang Theory)
May 9 Grace Gummer Actress (Gigantic, American Horror Story, Extant) and daughter of Meryl Streep
May 12 Emily VanCamp Actress (Everwood, Brothers & Sisters, Revenge)
May 13 Lena Dunham Actress (Girls)
May 16 Drew Roy Actor (Falling Skies)
Jacob Zachar Actor (Greek)
Megan Fox Actress (Ocean Ave., Hope & Faith, New Girl)
May 17 Amy Gumenick Actress (Turn: Washington's Spies)
Tahj Mowry Actor (Full House, Smart Guy, Kim Possible, Baby Daddy)
May 20 Louisa Krause Actress
May 22 Molly Ephraim Actress (Last Man Standing)
May 24 Mark Ballas Dancer and choreographer (Dancing with the Stars)
May 30 Will Peltz Actor
June 4 Leslie Carter Actress (House of Carters) (d. 2012)
June 5 Amanda Crew Canadian actress (Silicon Valley)
June 10 Joey Zimmerman Actor (Earth 2, Halloweentown)
June 11 Shia LaBeouf Actor (Even Stevens)
June 13 Kat Dennings Actress (Raising Dad, 2 Broke Girls)
Mary-Kate Olsen Actresses (Full House, Two of a Kind, So Little Time)
Ashley Olsen
June 17 Marie Avgeropoulos Actress (The 100)
June 18 Richard Madden English actor (Game of Thrones)
June 19 Erin Mackey Actress (The Parent Trap)
June 20 Dreama Walker Actress (Gossip Girl, Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23)
June 24 Kaitlin Cullum Actress (Grace Under Fire)
Solange Knowles Singer, actress
June 27 Drake Bell Actor (The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ben 10)
June 28 Shadia Simmons Canadian actress
July 1 Casey Reinhardt Actress (Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County)
July 2 Lindsay Lohan Actress (4-time host of Saturday Night Live, Lindsay) and daughter of Dina Lohan
July 6 Leon Frierson Actor (All That)
July 8 Jake McDorman Actor (Quintuplets, Greek, Limitless)
July 9 Kiely Williams Actress (The Cheetah Girls), singer
July 16 Taryn Southern Actress (Sorority Forever), singer and YouTube personality
July 17 Brando Eaton Actor (Dexter, The Secret Life of the American Teenager)
July 24 Megan Park Actress (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The Neighbors)
July 28 Alexandra Chando Actress (As the World Turns, The Lying Game)
July 29 Brandon Gilberstadt Actor (100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd)
August 3 Andrew McFarlane Actor (My Wife and Kids)
August 8 Peyton List Actress (As the World Turns, The Tomorrow People)
August 16 Shawn Pyfrom Actor (Desperate Housewives)
August 17 Bryton James Actor (Family Matters, The Young and the Restless)
August 21 Kiami Davael Actress
August 29 Lea Michele Actress (Glee, Scream Queens)
August 31 Ryan Kelley Actor (Teen Wolf)
Spencer Klein Voice actor (Arnold on Hey Arnold!)
September 12 Alfie Allen English actor (Game of Thrones)
Emmy Rossum Actress (Shameless)
September 14 A.J. Trauth Actor (Even Stevens)
September 15 Heidi Montag Actress (Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, The Hills)
September 16 Ian Harding Actor (Pretty Little Liars)
Kyla Pratt Actress (One on One, The Proud Family)
September 19 Mandy Musgrave Actress (Days of Our Lives, South of Nowhere)
September 23 Kaylee DeFer Actress (The War at Home, Gossip Girl)
September 24 Eloise Mumford Actress (The River)
September 26 Ashley Leggat Canadian actress
September 29 Lisa Foiles Actress (All That)
Lo Bosworth Actress (Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, The Hills)
October 2 Camilla Belle Actress
October 7 Amber Stevens West Actress (Greek)
Holland Roden Actress (Teen Wolf)
October 10 Lucy Griffiths English actress (Robin Hood, True Blood, Preacher)
October 12 Tyler Blackburn Actor (Pretty Little Liars, Ravenswood)
October 13 Raquel Lee Actress (The Amanda Show)
October 23 Briana Evigan Actress and daughter of Greg Evigan
Emilia Clarke English actress (Game of Thrones)
Jessica Stroup Actress (90210)
October 24 Drake Canadian actor (Degrassi: The Next Generation) and singer
October 29 Italia Ricci Canadian actress (Unnatural History)
November 1 Penn Badgley Actor (The Young and the Restless, The Mountain, The Bedford Diaries, Gossip Girl)
November 4 Alexz Johnson Actress (So Weird)
November 6 Katie Leclerc Actress (Switched at Birth)
November 10 Josh Peck Actor (The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Grandfathered)
November 18 Joseph Ashton Voice actor (Otto Rocket on Rocket Power)
November 25 Katie Cassidy Actress (Harper's Island, Melrose Place, Arrow), singer and daughter of David Cassidy
December 11 Condola Rashād Actress (Steel Magnolias)
December 17 Emma Bell Actress (Dallas)
Vanessa Zima Actress
December 23 Noël Wells Actress (CollegeHumor Originals, Saturday Night Live) and singer
December 26 Kit Harington English actor (Game of Thrones)
December 30 Caity Lotz Actress (Arrow)


Date Name Age Notability
January 14 Donna Reed 64 Actress (The Donna Reed Show, Dallas)
January 24 Gordon MacRae 64 Actor and singer
January 29 Leif Erickson 74 Actor (The High Chaparral)
March 30 James Cagney 86 Actor and dancer
May 28 Don MacLaughlin 79 Actor (Chris Hughes on As the World Turns)
June 14 Marlin Perkins 81 Zoologist, host of (Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom)
July 15 Florence Halop 63 Actress (Florence on Night Court)
August 26 Ted Knight 62 Actor (Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show)
October 25 Forrest Tucker 67 Actor (F Troop)
November 2 Paul Frees 66 Voice actor (Boris Badenov on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, 1st voice for the Pillsbury Doughboy)
December 2 Desi Arnaz 69 Actor and musician (Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy)

See also[edit]