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5 Hit TV Shows That Premiered After the Super Bowl

ABC / NBC / Fox

The Super Bowl is usually the highest-rated single television broadcast of the year — so the program that airs right afterwards typically follows suit and rides the game’s coattails to big ratings.

With an audience that substantial, premiering the pilot of a new series would seem like a no-brainer, but as the networks have learned in decades past, that strategy isn’t always so foolproof. These days, pretty much all of the programs shown after the big game are special episodes of an established series.

But which freshman shows got that coveted timeslot — and proved their mettle? Check out five hit shows that debuted after the Super Bowl below.

‘The A-Team’ (1983)

Technically this wasn’t the series pilot, but it was the first regular episode of the iconic action show that ran for five seasons on NBC. We pity the fool who turned off their TV after the big game.
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‘Airwolf’ (1984)

Few shows featured as much awesome helicopter action as ‘Airwolf.’ (Scratch that — no show has more bang for your buck in the helicopter department.) After its post-Super Bowl debut, ‘Airwolf’ ran for three seasons on CBS before moving to the USA Network for a fourth and final season that ditched the original cast and relied heavily on stock copter footage.
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‘The Wonder Years’ (1988)

This poignant coming-of-age drama was beloved by both audiences and critics, winning dozens of awards during its six-season run. Just hearing the theme song (which you can watch below) makes us a little misty-eyed.
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‘Homicide: Life on the Street’ (1993)

This Baltimore-set police procedural ran seven years, racked up three Peabody Awards, and spawned the spinoff, ‘Homicide: Second Shift,’ which was one of the first Web series.
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‘Family Guy’ (1999)

Animated but decidedly adult, the Emmy-winning show was canceled in 2002 before big DVD sales and high ratings for syndicated reruns prompted Fox to renew the program in 2005 — and it’s still running today.
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