The cast of the US TV series 'The Waltons' in a promotional portrait, circa 1975

The world's favorite TV families

Written by:
July 8, 2021
Silver Screen Collection // Getty Images

The world's favorite TV families

Television families date back to the beginning of TV. In the earliest days of television, these idealized families represented the traditional nuclear family—mother, father, children, and usually a dog or cat thrown in for good measure. As decades passed and television grew and evolved with families watching it, the small screen began to more accurately represent what real families looked like and how they were structured. While the families changed, the love for them has remained.

Using Play Like Mum research released in April 2021, Stacker presents the world's top 25 TV families, ranked by search traffic over the past year from Google's Keyword Planner. Click here for the full methodology.

The list includes the dysfunctional to the picture-perfect. These television families come from every decade and represent every type of family: the single-parenting one, the blended family, the Black American family, the animated family, the organized crime family, the extended family, the middle-class family, and the vampire family. Some families spark envy with their stable relationships and enviable cohesion, while others make us thankful that our own families do not have the same level of kooky dysfunction.

#25. The Bateses

- TV Show: "Bates Motel"
- Annual searches: 82,200

Possessive mother Norma runs the Bates Motel with her son Norman, whom she both coddles and vilifies. She is also the mother to Dylan Massett, the son who was the result of an incestuous nonconsensual relationship with her brother, making him both Norman's half-brother and cousin. The show is a prequel to the Alfred Hitchcock film "Psycho" that first hit the big screen in 1960.

#24. The Bradys

- TV Show: "The Brady Bunch"
- Annual searches: 87,550

The picture-perfect family is actually a blended one headed by architect Mike and his stay-at-home wife Carol. With his three boys and her three girls, a live-in maid named Alice, and a dog named Tiger, they live in the suburbs where they have family meetings, fix their bikes, and solve all their problems in 22 minutes. The family has come to symbolize a puritanical wholesomeness that borders on farce and was often parodied.

#23. The Mikaelsons

- TV Show: "The Originals"
- Annual searches: 101,600

The Mikaelsons have a deep and dark history, and they are the original family of white vampires. Five of the seven Mikaelson children became vampires when they were turned by their mother Esther who believed she was protecting them from werewolves. The family first showed up on "The Vampire Diaries," the series from which "The Originals" originated.

#22. The Andersons

- TV Show: "Father Knows Best"
- Annual searches: 101,910

"Father Knows Best" harkens back to a time when fathers were the wise heads of the traditional nuclear family. The series started out as a radio show that eventually became a television sitcom featuring Jim Anderson and his wife Margaret, and children Betty, Bud, and Kathy. TV Guide ranked Jim Anderson #6 on its list of the 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.

#21. The Shelbys

- TV Show: "Peaky Blinders"
- Annual searches: 113,580

This wealthy family from Birmingham, England, is of Romani-Gypsy descent. The influential brood runs both the Peaky Blinders and Shelby Company Limited. Thomas Shelby, the family patriarch, also leads the Peaky Blinders, a Birmingham criminal gang, and was shaped by his experiences during World War I.

#20. The Winchesters

- TV Show: "Supernatural"
- Annual searches: 116,470

Brothers Dean, Sam, and Adam are part of the Winchester line, which is long and complicated. All three men are the sons of John, but only Dean and Sam share a mother; Adam is their half brother. The Winchester men are hunters and Men of Letters, and their bloodline runs back to biblical figures Cain and Abel, the first two sons of Adam and Eve.

#19. The Griffins

- TV Show: "Family Guy"
- Annual searches: 157,610

This animated family resides in Quahog, Rhode Island, with their diabolic baby son Stewie. Parents Peter and Lois raise him along with daughter, Meg; son, Chris; and the drunk, talking dog Brian. Seth MacFarlane is both the creator of the pop culture-laden show and the voice of family patriarch Peter Griffin.

#18. The Johnsons

- TV Show: "Black-ish"
- Annual searches: 302,600

Rainbow and Dre raise their five children in Los Angeles, where Dre works in advertising and Rainbow is a doctor. Their extended family, which includes Dre and Rainbow's siblings and Dre's parents, are a big part of their lives. The show generated three spin-offs: First, eldest daughter Zoe's leaving the house for college was shown in "Grown-ish." Then  Rainbow's childhood as the daughter of a white father and Black mother became the premise of  "Mixed-ish," which takes place in the 1980s. The upcoming "Old-ish" will star Laurence Fishburne and Jenifer Lewis, who play Dre's parents.

#17. The Royles

- TV Show: "The Royle Family"
- Annual searches: 382,800

This British family is the typical working-class family with father Jim, mother Barbara, and their two grown kids Denise and Antony. Along with Denise's fiance, who eventually becomes her husband, the family spends a good portion of their time in the family home around the television. The show does not feature a laugh track, lending to the real-time style of the series.

#16. The Partridges

- TV Show: "The Partridge Family"
- Annual searches: 417,940

This musical family is led by widowed matriarch Shirley Partridge, who manages the career of her five children along with the help of Reuben Kincaid, who serves as a sort of surrogate father. They travel around to gigs in a big painted bus. The children include heartthrob Keith, beauty Laurie, younger sister Tracy, wisecracking brother Danny, and baby brother Chris.

#15. The Bridgertons

- TV Show: "Bridgerton"
- Annual searches: 496,510

The Bridgertons are an aristocratic family living in Regency-era London led by the widow Lady Violet Bridgerton. She is the mother to the close-knit Bridgerton clan, which is made up of her four sons and four daughters. The series, which is based on Julia Quinn's bestselling novels, follows the loves and lives of the powerful brood and has already been renewed right up through season four by Netflix.

#14. The Dukes

- TV Show: "The Dukes of Hazzard"
- Annual searches: 501,420

Bo and Luke Duke cruise around in the General Lee, a 1969 Dodge Charger with a confederate flag painted on it, and try to avoid trouble with crooked county commissioner Boss Hogg and his right-hand man Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in Hazzard County, Georgia. The Duke boys get support from their cousin Daisy and Uncle Jesse.

#13. The Jeffersons

- TV Show: "The Jeffersons"
- Annual searches: 891,660

A spinoff from the Norman Lear sitcom "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons" features patriarch George moving his family into a luxury high-rise apartment building while running a successful dry cleaning business. He brings his wife Louise, son Lionel, and wisecracking maid Florence, and the show focuses on their adjustments to their new life and relationships with their neighbors—an interracial couple they befriend, and a well-mannered Englishman next door.

#12. The Popes

- TV Show: "Scandal"
- Annual searches: 921,070

Olivia Pope, who runs the crisis management firm, Olivia Pope & Associates, has some serious dysfunction in her family. Olivia spent decades believing her mother Maya died in a plane crash, when in reality she was still alive and being held by Olivia's father Eli, who is a former CIA commanding officer. Both of Olivia's parents have secrets, much like their daughter who not only has her own, but does her best to manage the fallout from other people's secrets.

#11. The Jetsons

- TV Show: "The Jetsons"
- Annual searches: 1,206,910

This futuristic family features bubbly wife Jane; grumpy, but lovable husband George; and their children, teenage Judy, and younger brother Elroy. The family is rounded out by loyal companion and family dog Astro, and Rosie, the robot maid with a Brooklyn accent. Many of the show's plotlines center on George's jobs and easily avoidable misunderstandings.

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#10. The Parkers

- TV Show: "Sanditon"
- Annual searches: 1,323,590

Tom Parker is the eldest Parker brother, and he dreams of turning the fishing village Sanditon into a seaside resort. He has two brothers and two sisters, all whom have their own quirks, including feigned invalidism that keep things interesting in Sanditon, which was based on Jane Austen's unfinished novel.

#9. The Waltons

- TV Show: "The Waltons"
- Annual searches: 1,581,300

This rural Virginia family was as wholesome as they come and was based on a real family. The show follows John Walton, aka John-Boy, and his family, which consists of six siblings and his parents and grandparents, as they live on Walton Mountain throughout the Great Depression and World War II. Each show ended with a goodnight routine.

#8. The Flintstones

- TV Show: "The Flintstones"
- Annual searches: 1,586,020

Fred and Wilma Flintstone live next door to their best friends Barney and Betty Rubble, with each couple raising their children, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. This animated homage to "The Honeymooners," features the modern Stone Age family living in prehistoric times while navigating parenthood, thankless jobs, and life in the stone suburbs.

#7. The Munsters

- TV Show: "The Munsters"
- Annual searches: 1,592,940

In 1965, "The Munsters" received a Golden Globe nomination for best television series. Herman, his wife Lily, their son Eddie, and Grandpa all look the part and fit into their monster stereotypes, though cousin Marilyn does not fit the Munster mold and is an attractive young woman. The Munsters lived among all the other traditional families at 1313 Mockingbird Lane in the burbs and endeared themselves to audiences for the two seasons they graced the small screen and the years following, where they were enjoyed in syndication.

#6. The Conners

- TV Show: "Roseanne"
- Annual searches: 1,597,710

One of the most realistic families ever to grace the small screen, the Conners mirrored many middle-class American families. Roseanne and Dan proved that parents aren't always perfect, and their offspring Becky, Darlene, and D.J. proved that neither are children. Audiences loved seeing a family that struggled with money, marriage, and life each week.

#5. The Greys

- TV Show: "Grey's Anatomy"
- Annual searches: 1,798,330

The titular character in the series, Meredith Grey, is the daughter of Ellis, an emotionally and verbally abusive surgeon who leaves Meredith's father Thatcher. He eventually goes on to get remarried and have two more daughters, Molly and Lexie. It is revealed that Thatcher is an alcoholic and Meredith has her share of issues with him and with her sister Lexie, whom she grows close to until Lexie dies in a plane crash. Meredith also has a half-sister Maggie who was a product of Ellis and Richard Webber's affair and who was raised by another family after being put up for adoption.

#4. The Roses

- TV Show: "Schitt's Creek"
- Annual searches: 1,979,290

The once-wealthy Roses fall on hard times and live in the one asset they can't sell, the town of Schitt's Creek. Parents Johnny and Moira live at the Schitt's Creek Motel with their grown children David and Alexis. The family's antics to restore their former wealth and gradual acceptance and embrace of their new small-town lives won over audiences, with "Schitt's Creek" becoming a wildly popular sleeper hit over its six-season run. 

#3. The Goldbergs

- TV Show: "Goldbergs"
- Annual searches: 4,252,550

The ultimate "smother," Bev Goldberg loves her family so much it hurts, all while wearing bedazzled sweaters and getting advice from her girlfriends, the Yentas. With her husband Murray (who dislikes pants), and their eldest Erica, the middle child Barry, and youngest Adam, she lives in the suburbs outside of Pennsylvania in 1980-something. Based on the real-life, nostalgic antics of the real Adam Goldberg, this family is hysterically dysfunctional.

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#2. The Sopranos

- TV Show: "The Sopranos"
- Annual searches: 5,599,900

Tony Soprano, the product of an overbearing mother and a gangster father, now leads his own family, both his biological one—including son A.J. and daughter Meadow, along with wife Carmela—and his mafia one. The mafioso confesses all to his shrink, Dr. Melfi, all while he commits various atrocities as a made man.

#1. The Simpsons

- TV Show: "The Simpsons"
- Annual searches: 10,205,300

The number one longest-running primetime television series features doofy donut-loving dad Homer, blue-haired matriarch Marge, supersmart eldest daughter Lisa, baby with a binky Maggie, and eldest troublemaking son Bart. This funny animated family lives in Springfield, where they hang with an eccentric cast of characters who are equally as loveable and dysfunctional. "The Simpsons" has had a significant impact on American pop culture and even has its own ride at Universal Studios in both Florida and California.

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