10 Shows That Changed TV Forever

Image Gallery: TV Shows "The Simpsons" paved the way for many adult cartoons to come. Here, the characters celebrate at a 20th-anniversary party. See more pictures of TV shows.
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After work, Americans watch TV. It's part of a routine, and -- like it or not -- it's both a mirror and a driver of American culture. Do you still chuckle about the Soup Nazi? Can you still sing "Conjunction Junction"? How do you feel about Carrie Bradshaw's choice of Mr. Big?

But the airwaves are just that -- space, the final frontier -- and could bring anything into your home. They carry sports, sitcoms, dramas, news and reality shows. And they do it in half-hour or hour-long chunks, with predictable commercial interruptions and -- for the most part -- characters and storylines we're comfortable with.

Darwin would be proud of the way we got here. Rather than springing fully formed from the ether, today's TV shows built on earlier models and provide new models for tomorrow's entertainment. Good TV pushes and stretches the genre in which it sits. But the best shows punch through these genres to create -- well, something new. These influential shows redefine television, and (not to overstate it or anything) redefine culture and the very ways we see ourselves.

Which shows are to blame? Certainly more than fit on this list. It's a vicious game of musical chairs for these top 10 spots, and even some heavy hitters found themselves without seats.

So what did make the list? Keep reading to find out.