20 of the best shows and movies from the '80s you can binge right now

Universal Pictures‘Back to the Future’ premiered in 1985.
  • There’s plenty of movies and TV shows from the 1980s that you can watch right now.
  • Franchises like “Back to the Future” and “Poltergeist” got their start in the ’80s, and they are now available on streaming services.
  • Beloved TV series like “Murder, She Wrote,” “Cheers,” and “The Golden Girls” also premiered in the ’80s.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Streaming services are filled with new content that’s breaking barriers, but sometimes it’s just as entertaining to look back at the movies and TV shows that premiered decades ago.

The 1980s, for example, marked the start of several franchises like “Back to the Future” and “Poltergeist” while also seeing the start of famous TV series like “Murder, She Wrote” and “Miami Vice.”

Keep reading to see what other movies and TV shows from the ’80s are worth a watch right now.

Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda made headlines with their comedy “9 to 5” in 1980.

Fox‘9 to 5.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “Frank Hart is a pig. He takes advantage of the women who work with him in the grossest manner. When his three assistants manage to trap him in his own house, they assume control of his department and productivity leaps, but just how long can they keep Hart tied up?”

Why it’s worth the watch: This workplace comedy is decades ahead of its time. With an all-star cast, “9 to 5” is a true women’s empowerment movie that is still relevant during today’s #MeToo movement. Watch as Parton, Tomlin, and Fonda get revenge on their crude boss in this timely movie that will have you cackling.

“The Shining” frightened audiences when it came out in 1980, and it will still give you goosebumps today.

Warner Bros.‘The Shining.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “All work and no play makes Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson, the caretaker of an isolated resort, go way off the deep end, terrorizing his young son and wife Shelley Duvall.”

Why it’s worth the watch: In “The Shining,” audiences jump into the minds of two master auteurs: Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King. The combination of talent created a masterpiece. In fact, Rolling Stone and The Guardian both rank the film among the best horror movies in history. Jack Nicholson also brings a haunting reality to the supernatural flick. This movie will leave you wary of hotels for the rest of your life. Guaranteed.

The first film in the “Poltergeist” franchise premiered in 1982.


Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “Steve Freeling moves his family into a new house in development and it looks like things are going well. But as his wife and his children begin to unpack strange things start happening.”

Why it’s worth the watch: Much like “The Shining,” “Poltergeist” frightened audiences in the ’80s. In fact, the movie was such a success that it spawned several sequels and even a remake. The supernatural flick is sure to leave you with goosebumps and rethinking the phrase, “They’re here.”

The beloved Steven Spielberg film “E.T.” was released in 1982.

Universal Pictures‘E.T.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “A stranded alien needs to phone home – he meets the suburban kids who help him get there. Winner of four Oscars.”

Why it’s worth the watch: Think: “Casper the Friendly Ghost” but aliens. “E.T.” is one of the best children’s movies of the past few decades and it can still resonate with kids today. If children’s movies or extraterrestrial beings aren’t your jam, then check it out for Drew Barrymore’s role alone.

In 1983, “Flashdance” made waves in pop culture.

Paramount Pictures‘Flashdance.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “The visual and musical box-office smash Flashdance is the exhilarating story of Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals), a fiercely determined and beautiful 18-year-old woman, who works as a welder by day and a dancer at a local bar at night.”

Why it’s worth the watch: If you’ve ever dreamed of a better life or worked hard towards a goal, then “Flashdance” is for you. The film is a perfect mix of great music, great dancing, and great storytelling.

Prince introduced the world to “Purple Rain” in 1984.

Warner Bros.‘Purple Rain.’

Where to watch:
mazon Prime

Description: “Set against the subculture of the thriving Minneapolis music scene, a struggling musician dealing with his hatred for his abusive father and his love for a beautiful singer/dancer.”

Why it’s worth the watch: Prince was one of the world’s most influential musical artists. Although he passed in 2016, his music still lives on, and luckily, we have his musical “Purple Rain” to look back on, which showcases the icon at his best.

“Back to the Future” became a cultural juggernaut in 1985.

Universal Pictures‘Back to the Future.’

Where to watch:

Description: “Eccentric inventor Doc Brown turns a DeLorean into a time machine that inadvertently sends his young friend, Marty McFly, 30 years into the past.”

Why it’s worth the watch: There’s a reason why “Back to the Future” remains one of the most popular franchises several decades later. It may be for its endearing comedy, its awkward romance, or its relatable protagonist played by Michael J. Fox. Whatever the reason, this trilogy is worth a rewatch.

Released in 1985, “The Breakfast Club” became a cult classic.

Universal Pictures via YouTube‘The Breakfast Club.’

Where to watch:

Description: “John Hughes’ 1985 high-school classic about five disparate teens tossed together for an eight-hour Saturday detention.”

Why it’s worth the watch: This quintessential teenage angst film still holds up today. If you can’t identify with one of the characters, then you probably will relate to one of the problems they are facing. This cathartic and feel-good movie will inspire even Generation Z. Plus, any film with Molly Ringwald from the 1980s is worth a watch.

Tom Cruise starred in the 1986 action film “Top Gun.”

Paramount Pictures‘Top Gun.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “Tom Cruise is superb as Maverick Mitchell, a young flyer who’s out to become the best. And Kelly McGillis plays the instructor who teaches Maverick a few things you can’t learn in a classroom.”

Why it’s worth the watch: If you’re a fan of Tom Cruise’s action movies (see: “Mission: Impossible”), then you’ll love Cruise in “Top Gun.” This fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping film will satisfy any action lover. The romance at the centre of the film will also appeal to a wider audience. Additionally, the sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” is slated to premiere later this year, so now is the perfect time to watch the original.

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” which premiered in 1986, is another classic teenage film from the ’80s.

Paramount Pictures‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.’

Where to watch:

Description: “Ferris convinces his entire school he’s at death’s door, then hits the streets of Chicago with his girlfriend and best friend for a day of fun.”

Why it’s worth the watch: As many of us are currently stuck inside, this is the perfect escapism content. While watching it, you’ll wish you can play hooky and have adventures all around your home town. Additionally, this John Hughes film is a classic, so you have to watch it at least once in your lifetime.

In 1987, audiences were seduced by “Dirty Dancing.”

Vestron Pictures‘Dirty Dancing.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey star in this spirit-lifting story about a summer love affair between a na├»ve 17-year-old girl and a charismatic dance instructor at a Catskills hotel.”

Why it’s worth the watch: The last scene of “Dirty Dancing” when Swayze’s character lifts Grey into the air in the middle of a dance routine has become one of the most referenced cultural moments from the ’80s. If you haven’t seen the iconic scene for yourself, now is the time.

“Beetlejuice” was a fun mix of horror, comedy, and fantasy that premiered in 1988.

Beetlejuice / Warner Bros.‘Beetlejuice.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominee Michael Keaton brings the title character of Beetlejuice – the “Ghost With the Most” – to life, so to speak.”

Why it’s worth the watch: If you’re a big Tim Burton fan, then this film is a must-watch. It brings all of Burton’s best techniques and writing to life. Not to mention, the all-star cast – which includes Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, and Winona Ryder – is well worth the watch alone. Plus, a new musical based on the movie opened in 2019. Since Broadway is closed for the foreseeable future, you can watch the movie instead.

In 1988, Eddie Murphy starred in the comedy “Coming to America.”

Paramount‘Eddie Murphy.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “Eddie Murphy plays a very wealthy and pampered African prince who comes to America in search of a bride. Accompanied by his closest companion (Arsenio Hall), Murphy quickly finds a job, new friends, new digs, new enemies – and lots of trouble.”

Why it’s worth the watch: In the ’80s, Eddie Murphy was at the height of his career, and “Coming to America” is Murphy as his best. His portrayal of a prince has surely gone down as one of the funniest characters in film history.

In 1989, “When Harry Met Sally” became a classic romcom.

Columbia Pictures‘When Harry Met Sally.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.”

Why it’s worth the watch: Nora Ephron wrote some of the most iconic romcoms, and “When Harry Met Sally” may be one of her best. And of course, it’s worth a watch simply for the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in Katz’s Deli.

Disney released its instant classic “The Little Mermaid” in 1989.

Walt Disney Animation‘The Little Mermaid.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “Ariel, the fun-loving and mischievous mermaid, is enchanted with all things human. Disregarding her father’s order to stay away from the world above the sea, she strikes a bargain with a devious sea witch to trade her beautiful voice for legs. But can she also win a prince’s heart?”

Why it’s worth the watch: When “The Little Mermaid” was released, Disney was a struggling studio, but the animated film was such a success that it brought the studio back to life. This film ushered in the successful films from Disney animation throughout the ’90s and 2000s.

When it comes to TV shows, check out “Cheers,” which premiered in 1982.

Paramount Domestic Television/CBS Paramount Domestic Television/CBS Television Distribution‘Cheers’ stars Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, Shelley Long, and others.

Where to watch:

Description: “Sam Malone, an ex-baseball player turned bar owner, operates a saloon that’s always filled with quirky customers and even more eccentric staff.”

Why it’s worth the watch: “Cheers” became popular because it’s comfort TV. The characters feel like friends or even family. Literally, it’s the place “where everybody knows your name.” It’s also a chance to see a young Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson.

“Dynasty” made its mark in 1981 until it was cancelled in 1989.

CBS Television Distribution‘Dynasty.’

Where to watch:

Description: “The first season begins with oil tycoon Blake Carrington marrying his former secretary, Krystle. Krystle’s former lover, Matthew, returns to town and causes more problems when he tells Krystle that he’s still in love with her. Blake’s daughter Fallon does not support his marriage, and chooses to marry childhood friend Jeff Colby just for her father’s benefit.”

Why it’s worth the watch: “Dynasty” is home to some of the best catfights you will see on TV. These fights involved clothes ripping, pillow throwing, floor wrestling, and name-calling. You’ll be so entertained watching this series that you’ll start to wonder why TV is so civilized these days.

In 1984, the hit series “Miami Vice” premiered.

NBC/YouTube‘Miami Vice.’

Where to watch:

Description: “Detectives Crockett and Tubbs clean up the underworld of Miami.”

Why it’s worth the watch: Some say “Miami Vice” defined the ’80s. The show’s blend of music and visual effects made the show a critical success. Although the series may look dated today, it was ahead of its time back in the ’80s and until it was cancelled in 1990.

“Murder, She Wrote” also got its start in 1984.

CBS‘Murder, She Wrote.’

Where to watch:
Amazon Prime

Description: “Angela Lansbury stars as Jessica Fletcher, a celebrated mystery writer whose penchant for solving crimes leads her into bizarre and colourful adventures.”

Why it’s worth the watch: If you love true-crime series, you’ll probably love “Murder, She wrote.” The series has mystery, suspense, and quick wit that will sure to keep you entertained through all 12 seasons.

In 1985, another heartwarming comedy series premiered: “The Golden Girls.”

NBC‘The Golden Girls.’

Where to watch:

Description: “The Golden Girls is the story of four older women who share a house in Miami Beach, Florida. Bea Arthur plays Dorothy, a divorced school teacher, with a sardonic wit. Rue McClanahan plays Blanche, a man-hunting Southern Belle. Betty White plays Rose, a very sweet woman who is somewhat spacey. Rounding out the trio is Estelle Getty, playing Dorothy’s outspoken mother, Sophia.”

Why it’s worth the watch: “The Golden Girls” truly has something for everyone. It has crass comedy, romance, and heartfelt friendships. Not to mention, Betty White steals every scene she is in and it’s worth the watch for her alone.

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