1988 in American television

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For the American TV schedule, see: 1988-89 United States network television schedule.

The year 1988 in television involved some significant events. This is a list of notable events in the United States.


Date Event
January 4 Nick Jr. begins as a block of Nickelodeon programming for younger children.
Blackout, hosted by Bob Goen, premieres on CBS. The game show runs for only thirteen weeks, after which The $25,000 Pyramid, the show it replaced, returns to the air on April 4 while CBS develops a revival of Family Feud.
February 2 Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, involved with a sex scandal, admits to being with prostitutes and temporarily ends his television ministry.
February 5 Wrestlers Hulk Hogan and André the Giant compete on The Main Event on NBC, marking the return of professional wrestling to network prime-time for the first time since 1955.
February 23 Future Grammy Award-winning recording artist Lauryn Hill (The Fugees frontwoman) makes her television debut on Showtime at the Apollo as a contestant of Amateur Night, where the 13-year-old Hill performed "Who's Lovin' You" by Motown Records singer Smokey Robinson, and gets booed by the audience.
February 26 Tom Hardy marries Simone Ravelle on the ABC soap opera General Hospital, the first interracial wedding on American daytime television.
March 1 Nickelodeon debuts the first Kids Choice Awards ceremony.
March 19 "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" experiences a surge of popularity caused by television commercials featuring claymation raisin figures. The California Raisins' version of the song peaks at #84 on the Billboard Hot 100.
April 3 In Jacksonville, Florida, NBC affiliate WJKS (now CW affiliate WCWJ) and ABC affiliate WTLV swap affiliations, reversing a swap that took place in 1980. NBC will later dub this swap one of its most successful affiliation switches ever.
April 8 Ana Alicia's character, Melissa Agretti, dies in a house fire on the CBS drama Falcon Crest.
April 13 Geraldo Rivera's live special Murder: Live from Death Row is broadcast in syndication; a highlight is Rivera's pre-taped interview with Charles Manson.
May 1 Magnum, P.I. broadcasts its 2-hour series finale on CBS.
May 13 In the season finale of the CBS drama Dallas, character J.R. Ewing pushes over the railing of his high-rise office building the character Nicholas Pierce, and Sue Ellen is so enraged that she fires three shots at Ewing.
May 30 After rejecting an offer to join CBS News, Peter Mansbridge replaces Knowlton Nash as anchorman of CBC Television's series The National.
June 14 The CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless tops the daytime ratings (deposing longtime winner General Hospital), starting an unsurpassed series of #1 victories that still continues as of 2016.[1]
July 4 Three years after its cancellation by ABC, CBS resurrects Family Feud for its daytime lineup, featuring new host Ray Combs. A syndicated nighttime version would premiere later in the autumn.
August 27 Fox affiliate WWPC-TV in Altoona, Pennsylvania (a satellite of WWCP-TV in Johnstown) breaks from its simulcast with WWCP-TV to become an ABC affiliate, returning ABC to the Altoona/State College market after its previous ABC affiliate WOPC-TV went dark in 1982.
September 10 In Knoxville, Tennessee, CBS affiliate WBIR-TV swaps affiliations with NBC affiliate WTVK. Shortly after the switch, WTVK moves to channel 8, one of the last remaining VHF channel allocations in the U.S., and becomes WKXT-TV (now WVLT-TV).[2]
September 19 Square One TV returns for its second season on PBS.
October 3 TNT, the fourth cable network owned by Turner Broadcasting, commences programming with a broadcast of the movie Gone with the Wind.
October 4 As did Cher, actress Shirley MacLaine calls David Letterman an "asshole" during a taping of the NBC talk show Late Night.
October 8 A young Countess Vaughn (winner of Star Search) joins the cast of the NBC comedy 227 as Alexandria DeWitt, a young 11-year-old talented college student, whom the Jenkins' have as a houseguest for a year.
October 27 The last of Harding Lemay's "comeback" episodes are broadcast on the NBC soap opera Another World. In the final minutes of the episode, Australian actress Carmen Duncan assumed the role of the legendary bitch Iris Cory Wheeler, after the role had been vacated for many years by Beverlee McKinsey.
November 3 Talk show host Geraldo Rivera's nose is broken during a taping of his show when a fight begins on the set between guests. The theme of the episode was "Young Hate Mongers," and the fight originated between white supremacist Tom Metzger and liberal activist Roy Innis.
November 21 CBS broadcasts Inside the Sexes, a documentary produced by The Body Human's Alfred R. Kelman that features explicit content about human sexuality (including detailed visuals inside human reproductive organs), which prompts several CBS affiliates to broadcast the program with a parental warning at the beginning of the program, at a later time of the day. Some affiliates canceled their broadcast of the program.
December 8 Tichina Arnold (later of Martin and Everybody Hates Chris fame) joins the cast of the ABC soap opera Ryan's Hope for what will prove to be its final season.
December 26 The Young and the Restless becomes the number 1 daytime drama on television, a title it holds to this very day.[3]


Debuting this year[edit]

The following is a list of shows that premiered in 1988.

Date Show Channel
January 2 High Mountain Rangers CBS
January 4 Blackout
January 17 The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Disney Channel
January 19 48 Hours CBS
January 31 The Wonder Years ABC
February 7 America's Most Wanted Fox
February 29 Day by Day NBC
March 6 In the Heat of the Night
Supercarrier ABC
March 7 Probe
March 9 Aaron's Way NBC
March 14 Eisenhower and Lutz CBS
March 15 Coming of Age
Trial and Error
April 1 Denver, the Last Dinosaur Syndication
April 6 Just in Time ABC
April 26 China Beach
Just the Ten of Us
August 6 Yo! MTV Raps MTV
September 5 Fun House Syndication
Relatively Speaking
September 10 A Pup Named Scooby-Doo ABC
Alf Tales NBC
Baby Boom
The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley
Police Academy Syndication
September 12 Sweethearts
USA Today: The Television Series
September 17 Garfield and Friends CBS
Hey Vern, It's Ernest!
September 19 C.O.P.S. Syndication
October 1 Monsters
October 2 Marvel Action Universe
October 4 The American Experience PBS
High Risk CBS
October 6 Dear John NBC
October 8 Empty Nest
The Adventures of Superboy Syndication
Freddy's Nightmares
The Munsters Today
Triple Threat
October 10 War of the Worlds
October 18 Roseanne ABC
October 21 Something Is Out There NBC
October 23 Mission: Impossible ABC
October 25 Midnight Caller NBC
October 26 Tattingers
Annie McGuire CBS
The Van Dyke Show
October 27 Paradise
October 29 Dirty Dancing
November 2 Murphy's Law ABC
November 11 Knightwatch
November 14 Murphy Brown CBS
November 23 Raising Miranda
November 24 Mystery Science Theater 3000 KTMA-TV
November 27 Almost Grown CBS
November 29 TV 101
November 30 Good Morning, Miss Bliss Disney Channel

Returning this year[edit]

Show Last aired Previous network New/Same network Return date
Family Feud 1985 ABC CBS July 4
The Gong Show 1980 Syndication Same September 12

Ending this year[edit]

Date Show Debut
January 2 Sable 1987
January 8 I Married Dora
January 15 Rags to Riches
February 10 The Law & Harry McGraw
February 11 The Charmings
February 12 Sledge Hammer! 1986
February 13 Mr. President 1987
February 20 Women in Prison
March 8 I'm Telling!
March 22 Frank's Place
March 26 What's Happening Now!! 1985
March 28 Yogi's Treasure Hunt
March 29 Trial and Error 1988
April 1 Blackout
April 9 High Mountain Rangers
April 12 My Sister Sam 1986
April 14 Probe 1988
April 22 Beverly Hills Buntz 1987
May 1 Magnum, P.I. 1980
Truth or Consequences 1950
May 2 Jem 1985
May 3 Hotel 1986
May 7 The Facts of Life 1979
Spenser: For Hire 1985
Ohara 1987
May 6 The Highwayman
May 8 Our House 1986
May 10 Crime Story
Dolly 1987
May 12 Max Headroom
May 14 Second Chance (aka Boys Will Be Boys)
May 16 Cagney and Lacey 1982
May 25 St. Elsewhere
Aaron's Way 1988
May 27 Punky Brewster 1984
May 28 Marblehead Manor 1987
June 8 The Slap Maxwell Story
June 10 Houston Knights
June 20 Eisenhower and Lutz 1988
June 28 J.J. Starbuck 1987
June 29 The Bronx Zoo
July 23 Solid Gold 1980
Tales from the Darkside 1984
August 1 CBN Cable Network 1981
August 21 Werewolf 1987
September 3 We Got It Made 1983
Dennis the Menace 1986
The Flintstone Kids
October 22 Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures 1987
October 28 The Late Show 1986
November 22 Denver, the Last Dinosaur 1988
December 3 The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley
December 7 The Van Dyke Show
December 9 Something Is Out There
December 17 Superman
December 24 Hey Vern, It's Ernest!
December 25 The Care Bears 1985
December 28 Annie McGuire 1988

Made-for-TV movies and miniseries[edit]

Title Network Premiere date Notes
The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank CBS April 17
Case Closed CBS April 9
David ABC October 28
Inherit the Wind NBC March 20 Emmy Award winner
Jack the Ripper CBS October 21
Lincoln NBC March 27 Miniseries, based on Gore Vidal’s novel
The Murder of Mary Phagan NBC January 24 Emmy Award winner
The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story NBC May 2
War and Remembrance ABC November 13 Miniseries; sequel to The Winds of War

Television stations[edit]

Station launches[edit]

Date Market Station Channel Affiliation
January 15 Fort Smith, Arkansas K46BZ 46 Fox
February 1 Cedar Rapids, Iowa KOCR-TV 28
April 11 Raleigh, North Carolina WYED 17 Independent
December 1 Denver, Colorado KTVD 20
December 30 Williamsport, Pennsylvania WILF 53 Fox

Stations changing network affiliation[edit]

Market Date Station Channel Prior affiliation New affiliation
Columbia, South Carolina June 11 WACH 57 Independent Fox
Concord, New Hampshire February 1 WNHT 21 Independent CBS
Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina
(Anderson, South Carolina)
August 29 WHNS 21 Independent Fox
WAXA 40 Fox Independent
Jacksonville, Florida April 3 WTLV 12 ABC NBC
Johnstown/Altoona, Pennsylvania August 27 WATM-TV 23 Fox ABC
Knoxville, Tennessee September 10 WBIR-TV 10 CBS NBC
Laredo, Texas October 31 KLDO-TV 27 ABC Univision
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota August 29 KMSP-TV 9 Fox Independent
KITN-TV 29 Independent Fox
Portland, Oregon
(Vancouver, Washington)
KPTV 12 Fox Independent
KPDX 49 Independent Fox
Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida WFTS-TV 28 Independent Fox
WTOG 44 Fox Independent


Date Name Notability
January 7 Haley Bennett Actress and singer
January 12 Andrew Lawrence Actor (Brotherly Love)
January 22 Nick Palatas Actor
January 28 Alexandra Krosney Actress (Last Man Standing)
January 30 Rob Pinkston Actor (Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide)
February 6 Bailey Hanks Actress and singer
February 8 Ryan Pinkston Actor (Quintuplets, Tower Prep)
February 10 Jade Ramsey English actress (House of Anubis)
February 15 Jessica De Gouw Australian actress (Dracula)
February 18 Maiara Walsh Actress (Cory in the House)
Sarah Sutherland Actress (Veep)
February 20 Rihanna Singer and actress
March 1 Katija Pevec Actress (Just for Kicks)
March 22 Tania Raymonde Actress (Lost, Death Valley)
March 24 Finn Jones English actor (Game of Thrones)
March 27 Brenda Song Actress (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The Suite Life on Deck)
Holliday Grainger English actress (Where the Heart Is, The Borgias)
April 2 Francesca Catalano Actress (Just for Kicks)
April 10 Haley Joel Osment Actor (The Jeff Foxworthy Show)
April 13 Allison Williams Actress (Girls) and singer
April 14 Chris Wood Actor (The Vampire Diaries, Containment)
April 21 Christoph Sanders Actor (Ghost Whisperer, Last Man Standing)
Robbie Amell Actor (True Jackson, VP)
April 23 Carla Quevedo Argentine actress (Show Me a Hero)
April 25 Sara Paxton Actress (Darcy's Wild Life) and singer
April 30 Ana de Armas Cuban actress (The Boarding School)
May 1 Nicholas Braun Actor (10 Things I Hate About You)
May 5 Brooke Hogan Actress (Hogan Knows Best)
May 17 Nikki Reed Actress
May 24 Kimberley Crossman New Zealand-born actress
June 2 Amber Marshall Canadian actress
June 9 Mae Whitman Actress (Arrested Development, Parenthood)
June 11 Claire Holt Actress (H2O: Just Add Water, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Aquarius)
June 12 Cody Horn Actress
June 20 Shefali Chowdhury Actress (Harry Potter)
June 22 Portia Doubleday Actress (Mr. Sunshine, Mr. Robot)
June 27 Alanna Masterson Actress (The Young and the Restless, First Day, The Walking Dead)
June 30 Sean Marquette Voice actor (Mac on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends)
July 1 Evan Ellingson Actor (Complete Savages CSI: Miami)
July 6 Brittany Underwood Actress (One Life to Live, Hollywood Heights) and singer
July 13 Colton Haynes Actor (Teen Wolf, Arrow)
Steven R. McQueen Actor (The Vampire Diaries, Chicago Fire)
July 15 Aimee Carrero Dominican actress (Level Up, Young & Hungry)
July 20 Julianne Hough Singer and actress (Dancing with the Stars)
July 26 Francia Raisa Actress (The Secret Life of the American Teenager)
July 30 Nico Tortorella Actor (Make It or Break It, Younger)
August 1 Sasha Jackson British actress
August 12 Leah Pipes Actress (Life is Wild, The Deep End, The Originals) and singer
August 16 Kevin G. Schmidt Actor (Unnatural History)
Rumer Willis Actress and daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore
August 23 Kim Matula Actress (The Bold and the Beautiful)
August 24 Rupert Grint English actor
August 26 Danielle Savre Actress (Kaya)
Evan Ross Actor
August 27 Alexa Vega Actress (Life's Work, Ladies Man, Ruby & the Rockits) and singer
September 1 Vaneza Pitynski Actress (The Brothers Garcia)
September 6 Max George British actor (The Wanted) and singer
September 15 Chloe Dykstra Actress
Chelsea Kane Actress (Jonas, Fish Hooks, Baby Daddy) and singer
September 19 Katrina Bowden Actress (30 Rock, Public Morals)
September 24 Kyle Sullivan Actor (The War at Home)
October 1 Cariba Heine Actress (H2O: Just Add Water)
October 3 Alicia Vikander Actress (Second Avenue)
October 4 Melissa Benoist Actress (Glee, Supergirl) and singer
October 5 Bobby Edner Actor
October 14 MacKenzie Mauzy Actress (Guiding Light, The Bold and the Beautiful, Forever)
October 20 Rose McIver Actress (Power Rangers RPM, iZombie)
October 21 Glen Powell Actor (Scream Queens)
October 28 Devon Murray Actor (Harry Potter)
October 29 Cherilyn Wilson Actress (I Heart Vampires, Greetings from Home)
October 30 Janel Parrish Actress (Pretty Little Liars)
November 6 Emma Stone Actress (Drive)
November 7 Reid Ewing Actor (Modern Family)
November 8 Jessica Lowndes Actress (90210) and singer
November 9 Nikki Blonsky Actress (Huge) and singer
November 11 Alexandra Kyle Actress
November 26 Tamsin Egerton English actress (Camelot)
November 28 Scarlett Pomers Actress (Reba)
November 30 Rebecca Rittenhouse Actress (Red Band Society, Blood & Oil)
December 2 Alfred Enoch Actor (Harry Potter, How to Get Away With Murder)
December 11 Ashley Hinshaw Actress and model
December 14 Vanessa Hudgens Actress (High School Musical) and singer
December 15 Emily Head English actress (The Inbetweeners)
December 16 Anna Popplewell English actress (Reign)


Date Name Age Notability
January 3 William Cagney 82 Actor
February 1 Heather O'Rourke 12 Actress (Poltergeist, Happy Days)
March 10 Andy Gibb 30 Singer (Solid Gold)
April 5 Alf Kjellin 68 Actor and director
May 15 Andrew Duggan 64 Character actor (Lancer)
May 18 Daws Butler 71 Voice actor (The Jetsons, several animated commercials)
May 27 Florida Friebus 78 Actress (The Bob Newhart Show, Dobie Gillis)
July 21 Jack Clark 62 Game show announcer (Wheel of Fortune)
July 25 Judith Barsi 10 Child actress
July 31 Trinidad Silva 38 Actor (Jesus Martinez on Hill Street Blues), in a car accident
September 11 John Sylvester White 68 Actor (Welcome Back, Kotter)
September 29 Charles Addams 76 Cartoonist whose drawings inspired (The Addams Family)
October 11 Wayland Flowers 48 Puppeteer (Madame's Place)
October 31 John Houseman 86 Actor (The Paper Chase, Silver Spoons)
December 6 Timothy Patrick Murphy 29 Actor (Dallas)
December 12 Dick Clair 57 Comedy writer (The Carol Burnett Show, The Facts of Life)
December 20 Max Robinson 49 ABC World News correspondent
December 27 Jess Oppenheimer 75 Comedy writer who created (I Love Lucy)

See also[edit]