Can You Name the Professions of These 1980s TV Characters?

Olivia Cantor

Grace van Owen and her fellow associates like Michael Kuzak, Victor Sifuentes and Arnie Becker all had one profession. What was it?

TV producer Steven Bochco created one of the most memorable legal dramas on television in the '80s in the form of "L.A. Law." The pivotal legal drama, which also featured some comedic storylines from time to time, featured the lives of different kinds of lawyer characters like Grace van Owen.

Sam Malone held which enviable job?

Everybody in the '80s said "Bottoms up!" as they cheered on "Cheers," one of the most popular sitcoms during that decade. It starred Ted Danson in the role of Sam Malone, the owner of the bar named Cheers, who also served as its womanizing bartender.

The by-the-book guy Frank Furillo worked as what?

Television had a lot of good police drama shows, and "Hill Street Blues" was one of the better ones to come out of this landscape in the '80s. Created by Steven Bochco, the show featured police captain Frank Furillo and his men. Daniel J. Travanti portrayed the role of the captain.

When not busy being a dad, Cliff Huxtable was busy practicing which profession?

Daddy Cliff of the Huxtable family was an obstetrician by profession as portrayed in "The Cosby Show," a sitcom that featured an affluent African-American family in New York City. Bill Cosby headlined the show with this role, which ran from 1984 up to 1992.

Maddie Hayes and David Addison both worked as what?

Rom-com in the 1980s came alive on TV with the success of "Moonlighting," starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis as private detectives Maddie Hayes and David Addison. Aside from the romance and comedy angles, the show also introduced dramatic angles, making it into a comedy-drama show later on.

The deadpan Alex Reiger served New York City under what capacity?

"Taxi" actually started airing back in 1978, but it ran until 1982. It was a good sitcom that featured the lives of New York City cabbies, featuring driver Alex Reiger, played by Judd Hirsch. Danny DeVito, Tony Danza, Andy Kaufman and Christopher Lloyd also co-starred.

Harry Stone was an amateur magician on the side, but what was his full-time job?

"Night Court" featured the lives of a night shift court staff in Manhattan, led by their judge Harry Stone. The series ran from 1984 until 1992, proving that a legal sitcom can just be as popular as a legal drama on TV.

Vicki's "dad," Ted Lawson, works as what?

"Small Wonder" featured the suburban Lawson family, headed by dad Ted, a robotics engineer. He created an android in the form of a young girl, and the laughs evolved from this creation as she tried to become more human.

Colleen McMurphy served in the Vietnam War in what capacity?

Many TV shows have shown the lives of men during the Vietnam War, but "China Beach" departed from this mold when it highlighted the lives of women who served in the war. It starred Dana Delaney in the role of nurse Colleen McMurphy.

The dapper Thomas Magnum worked in Hawaii as what?

Tom Selleck garnered TV fans when he essayed the role of Thomas Magnum in the '80s crime drama show "Magnum, P.I." Set in Hawaii, the show ran from 1980 to 1988, and it was picked up again in 2018, with Jay Hernandez playing the titular role.

The Seaver family's patriarch, Jason, held what kind of job?

In the "Growing Pains" sitcom, Alan Thicke portrayed the role of dad Jason Seaver, a psychiatrist who works from home. In an unconventional role reversal, mom Maggie was the one who worked outside the house as a reporter.

Jean-Luc Picard held what position at the USS Enterprise?

Before Patrick Stewart made the "X-Men" movies as Charles Xavier, he also appeared as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." He was the commanding officer of the show, in charge of the USS Enterprise.

Single dad Tony Micelli accepted a job doing what?

"Who's The Boss" played up the gender reversal storyline by having single dad Tony Micelli work as a live-in housekeeper under single mom Angela Bower, who works as an advertising executive. They both have one child each, and the unconventional household ran into some drama and some laughs as well.

Johnny Depp catapulted to fame playing Tom Hanson. What did this character do?

Officer Tom Hanson is one of the babyfaced young policemen tapped to work undercover in the '80s hit TV show called "21 Jump Street." Their cases mainly involved going undercover in schools where they could still easily blend in.

Donald Westphall worked at St. Eligius. What was his position?

Dr. Donald Westphall led the team of doctors and medical staff in the show called "St. Elsewhere." He was played by Ed Flanders. Other notable cast members of the show include Denzel Washington, David Morse, Howie Mandel and Ed Begley Jr.

Laura Holt wanted to work as this, so she opened her own agency. What was this job?

"Remington Steele" starred Pierce Brosnan in the titular role, which became his breakout role as an actor. Stephanie Zimbalist co-stars as Laura Holt, the private investigator who had to create the Remington Steele persona because her clients believed more in a man for this job.

Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs worked at the Metro-Dade Police Department under what capacity?

The highly successful and highly stylish "Miami Vice" was a different police procedural show during the '80s, since it showed undercover police detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs in stylish designer outfits and fancy cars. Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas made these roles iconic.

The appropriately named Stringfellow Hawke was good at his job. What was it?

Jan-Michael Vincent played the role of Stringfellow Hawke, a trained pilot qualified enough to fly the military chopper called "Airwolf." Ernest Borgnine co-starred as Dom Santini, who also piloted Airwolf from time to time.

Julie McCoy worked on a cruise ship doing what job?

"The Love Boat" is about what goes on aboard a luxury cruise liner, and it features the life of the ship's staff as well as their passengers. Lauren Tewes essayed the role of Julie McCoy, the ship's cruise director.

The Keaton family mom, Elyse, pursued which profession?

"Family Ties" featured mom Elyse Keaton as an architect, but she and hubby Steven are depicted as former hippies and liberals. That's in huge contrast to their money-obsessed Republican son named Alex Keaton, played by Michael J. Fox in his breakout role.

Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey met while working similar jobs. What job was that?

"Cagney & Lacey" is a show about female police detectives working the crime scene in New York City, in particular within the Manhattan borough. Sharon Gless was Cagney and Tyne Daly was Lacey, who both showed that women can also become a force within the police force.

Dr. Johnny Fever didn't really cure patients, but did this for a living. What's his real job?

"WKRP in Cincinnati" is a sitcom that features the lives of a radio station staff in Ohio. Dr. Johnny Fever is one of the colorful characters in this show, who is a longtime radio DJ. He was portrayed by Howard Hesseman.

J.R. Ewing held many ranking positions in Ewing Oil, but what was his highest position there?

The famous longtime TV drama "Dallas" revolved around the lives of a rich oil family in Texas called the Ewings. Oil tycoon J.R. Ewing is the president of the Ewing oil company, portrayed by Larry Hagman.

Both Julia Sugarbaker and Mary Jo Shively worked in one industry. What was their job?

Interior design as an industry got the limelight in the sitcom called "Designing Women," which aired from 1986 up to 1993. Julia Sugarbaker and Mary Jo Shively are two of the designing women in the show, played by Delta Burke and Annie Potts, respectively.

Colt Seavers was secretly a bounty hunter, but what was his Hollywood day job?

Lee Majors was "The Fall Guy," a Hollywood stunt man who also doubled as a bounty hunter from time to time. The show started airing in 1981 and concluded in 1986. Prior to this show, Majors was in another successful show during the '70s called "The Six Million Dollar Man."

When she wasn't being an amateur detective, Jessica Fletcher worked as what?

The adorable Angela Lansbury portrayed the inquisitive novelist Jessica Fletcher in the show called "Murder, She Wrote." In between books, Jessica's character also tried to investigate crimes that happened nearby.

Hannibal, Faceman, B.A., and Howlin' Mad all worked as what?

"The A-Team" is actually about a group of mercenaries, also known as soldiers of fortune, who all had military background or training, and were also veterans of the Vietnam War. Mr. T became one of the most popular actors in the show, thanks to his B.A. Baracus character.

Aside from being an author, Dick Loudon also worked as what?

"Newhart" is an example of those TV shows where the title of the series carried the name of its main star, in this case it's Bob Newhart. But in the actual story of the show, he played a character named Dick Loudon, an author and a small inn owner in rural Vermont.

Former police detective Jack Killian went to another industry to work. What was his post-police job?

"Midnight Caller" aired in 1988, and it featured the then-burgeoning industry of talk radio, something that's very much commonplace today. The show featured Gary Cole in the role of radio talk show host Jack Killian, a former policeman who shifted gears after some major negative events in his life.

What was Charles in charge of?

"Charles in Charge" was about a college student who had to take care of a household's children in exchange for free board and lodging arrangements. Scott Baio starred in this sitcom as the titular character of Charles.

In a boarding school, Edna Garrett held which position?

Edna Garrett acted as the housemother of a private boarding school in "The Facts of Life." Charlotte Rae essayed this role, and some of the young women who co-starred with her are Nancy McKeon, Mindy Cohn, Lisa Whelchel and Kim Fields.

Doralee Rhodes worked in an office under what capacity?

Doralee Rhodes was the role Dolly Parton made famous in the film version of "9 to 5." In the TV series version, Doralee was played by Rachel Dennison, who is actually Dolly Parton's real-life sister. The series ran from 1982 to 1983 while the original film was shown in 1980.

FBI agent Vinnie Terranova worked for the agency doing what specific job?

Ken Wahl was the original star of "Wiseguy" where he played the FBI deep cover operative agent named Vinnie Terranova. The series was produced by Stephen J. Cannell, who also created "21 Jump Street" and "The A-Team."

It's his show all right, but what did Garry Shandling do for a living?

"It's Garry Shandling's Show" was a rather meta show since it starred Garry Shandling the stand-up comedian portraying a stand-up comedian. Shandling loved to break the fourth wall in his portrayals here, often addressing audience members from time to time.

At the New York City High School for the Performing Arts, Lydia Grant worked as what?

Debbie Allen appeared in the 1980 film version of "Fame" playing dance faculty member Lydia Grant. She continued on with the role in the TV series adaptation of the film, which ran from 1982 up to 1987. Also a choreographer in real life, she also took care of the show's choreography needs.

Prior to arriving in America, what did cousin Balki Bartokomous do for a living in Mypos?

The immigrant-focused sitcom called "Perfect Strangers" highlighted the mismatched characters of American Larry Appleton and Mypos immigrant Balki Bartokomous. Balki often regaled his cousin Larry with tales of his experiences as a shepherd back in his homeland.

In his own show, Benson DuBois worked for the governor under what capacity?

Originally, the character of Benson was a butler in the TV series "Soap," but his character shifted careers when he got his own sitcom. In "Benson," he now held the job title head of household affairs. Both roles were played by Robert Guillaume.

What kind of lawyer was Ben Matlock?

Andy Griffith gave an unforgettable portrayal of Ben Matlock, the criminal defense attorney featured in the legal drama series called "Matlock." The successful show ran for nine seasons, and stayed on the air from 1986 up to 1995.

For majority of the show, what did Kevin Arnold's mom do?

"The Wonder Years" featured the life of a suburban family named the Arnolds, wherein the mom was a housewife. Kevin Arnold's dad had a defense contractor management job.

Titular character T.J. Hooker performed the duties of which position?

"T.J. Hooker" revolved around the professional and personal life of police sergeant T.J. Hooker, accompanied by fellow police officers Vince Romano and Stacy Sheridan. William Shatner played the titular role, while Adrian Zmed played Vince and Heather Locklear played Stacy.

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About This Quiz

Ever since television broadcast its very first commercial image, we have been bombarded with many kinds of characters and situations throughout the decades. We've had many great television programs since the 1950s up to today, and some that were far less memorable. Sometimes, though, some of these old TV programs get rediscovered by newer audiences, while some are adapted by modern producers for modern audiences.

What's undeniable in the TV landscape is the proliferation of very memorable characters who may be from the wrong side of life or the perfect side of it. Wherever they emerge from, we love and embrace them just the same, especially if we as audiences find ourselves relating to these characters' concerns and thoughts. And of course, one of the things we can relate to are their professions.

Do you remember a memorable TV character solely because they had such a unique job? Did you wish you also worked like them? Some of their stories prompt this natural reaction. That's why we're sure that you could still remember the jobs that some of these unforgettable characters held. Care to test that knowledge? Open this quiz up and see. Have fun!

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