1. 'Seinfeld' (1989-1998)
Though often characterized as "a show about nothing," Jerry Seinfeld's groundbreaking, side-splitting, "double-dipping" masterpiece on modern life was really a show about everything. Observational humor had long been the meat and potatoes of the star's stand-up routines, and he and co-creator Larry David made a veritable banquet out of it on the show, wherein practically any topic — parking garages, punching Mickey Mantle, lecherous dentists, the shaky-limb syndrome known as "Jimmy legs" — was fair game for hilarity. Seinfeld's intellectual stand-up persona set the tone for the show (quite literally, in the case of the early episodes book-ended by actual performances), and so many of its riffs and jokes entered the parlance of everyday American life that it's become hard to keep track of them all.
But what was really radical about Seinfeld was its attitude: There were no "very special" episodes, no tear-jerking interludes or teachable moments regarding social issues of the day — just four characters who were amoral, self-absorbed and constantly making a mess of their own lives. And if you weren't down with that, well, no soup for you! Of all the "standcoms" out there, this one remains the one that towers above them all — the master of its domain.