It didn’t matter whether they filled the role of hero and villain, brains and brawn, good cop or bad cop, because everyone loves a good TV partnership. Growing up during the 80s and 90s, we were lucky enough to have some of the greatest small screen duos of all time, appearing in truly classic shows that whisked us away on many exciting adventures.
So grab a partner, take a seat and get ready to enjoy a few minutes of delightful nostalgia, as we recall 13 terrific TV partnerships that are guaranteed to transport you back to your childhood.
13. Francis Poncherello and Jonathan Baker – CHiPs
Larry Wilcox’s Officer Jonathan Andrew Baker and Erik Estrada’s Officer Francis “Ponch” Poncherello were the two motorcycle cops at the centre of CHiPs. The much-loved action drama series ran from 1979 to 1983, but lived on a whole lot longer in re-runs.
Sadly, while the two of them may have been the best of parters and friends on screen, it was reported that the two actors didn’t actually get along that well in real life, which prompted Wilcox to quit the series before the last season.
12. Benton Fraser and Raymond Vecchio – Due South
It could be argued that Benton Fraser’s main Due South partner was the gorgeous half-dog, half-wolf Diefenbaker, but Detective Raymond Vecchio was the Canadian Mountie’s true crime fighting assistant.
Due South was a big hit on the small screen, running from 1994 to 1999.
11. Rod Hull and Emu
We could have chosen Keith Harris and Orville the Duck or Bob Carolgees and Spit the Dog, but surely the greatest TV puppet-puppeteer partnership from our childhood was Rod Hull and his cheeky, pouting pet bird Emu.
The duo were a TV staple from the early 1970s until the early 90s (who can forget Emu attacking Snoop Dogg on The Word?), but the partnership came to a sad end with Hull’s death in 1999.
10. Samuel ‘Sam’ Beckett and Albert ‘Al’ Calavicci – Quantum Leap
Scott Bakula’s Dr Sam Beckett may have been Quantum Leap’s main character, but the time-jumping protagonist was absolutely nothing without his cigar-smoking best friend, Admiral Albert ‘Al’ Calavicci. Their time-travelling, body-hopping adventures thrilled us from 1989 to 1993.
Fans held out hope for years that Sam and Al might return to screens one day, but this was ruled out for good when Dean Stockwell died in 2021. Quantum Leap has since been revived on TV with a new cast.
9. Danger Mouse and Ernest Penfold
Despite being the world’s greatest secret agent, Danger Mouse regularly required assistance from his bespectacled best friend Ernest Penfold, a heroic hamster who regularly helped his partner save the world.
Danger Mouse was rebooted for CBBC in 2015 with Alexander Armstrong and Kevin Eldon as DM and Penfold, but naturally we prefer the original 80s incarnation with David Jason and Terry Scott.
8. Bo and Luke Duke – The Dukes of Hazzard
Nothing thrilled the children of the 80s like the adventures of the Duke Boys and their legendary ‘General Lee’ Dodge Charger. While Bo and Luke’s cousins Coy and Vance (Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer) were reasonable replacements in season five, nothing could beat the original good ol’ boys played by John Schneider and Tom Wopat.
And yes, of course, we also had a fondness for Catherine Bach’s Daisy Duke, but that’s a whole different story.
7. Michael Knight and K.I.T.T. – Knight Rider
It may seem strange for our list to include a partnership between a man and his car, but such was the intimacy between Michael Knight and his Knight Industries Two Thousand car in Knight Rider that we simply couldn’t leave them out.
TV icon David Hasselhoff was of course Michael Knight, whilst KITT was voiced by the uncredited William Daniels. While the show hinged on their chemistry, Hasselhoff and Williams reportedly didn’t meet until the first Knight Rider cast and crew Christmas party, by which time the show had been in production six months.
6. James ‘Sonny’ Crockett and Ricardo ‘Rico’ Tubbs – Miami Vice
You won’t find a cooler TV duo than Don Johnson’s James ‘Sonny’ Crockett and Philip Michael Thomas’ Ricardo ‘Rico’ Tubbs. It didn’t hurt that they played killer tunes, drove awe-inspiring sports cars and were dressed in what at the time were the coolest duds imaginable.
Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx later played Crocket and Tubbs in creator Michael Mann’s 2006 Miami Vice movie – but could they really hold a candle to their predecessors? You be the judge.
5. Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey – Cagney & Lacey
Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly’s performances as New York City police detectives Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey over seven seasons of their hit show saw the pair earn six Best Lead Actress Emmy awards between them.
To this day, the legacy of Cagney and Lacey lives on: Terry Crews’ Sgt. Jeffords names his daughters Cagney and Lacey in sitcom Brooklyn Nine Nine.
4. SuperTed and Spotty
Long before superheroes completely took over popular culture (even for grown-ups), every kid’s favourite superhero was SuperTed, the teddy bear given otherworldly powers by Mother Nature.
But as great as SuperTed was, he’d have been nothing without his alien sidekick Spotty, who kept up with the flying bear thanks to his rocket pack.
3. Dave Starsky and Ken ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson – Starsky & Hutch
Cop buddy movies became a staple of action cinema in the 80s, but the coolest law-enforcing BFFs hit screens all the way back in 1975, when Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul first took to screens as David Starsky and Kenneth ‘Hutch’ Hutchison.
Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson later took the roles in the tongue-in-cheek 2004 Starsky & Hutch movie, but – once again – there’s just no beating the originals.
2. Morph and Chas – Hartbeat
We first got to know them in Tony Hart’s brilliantly artistic shows Take Hart and Hartbeat, but Morph and his mischievous best friend Chas went on to take centre stage in The Amazing Adventures of Morph and The Morph Files.
These claymation shorts were early works from Aardman Animation, the team that later conquered the world with another amazing duo, Wallace and Gromit.
1. Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin – Cheers
Regularly sharing snippets of wisdom over a pint of beer in the Cheers bar were Norm Peterson and his buddy Cliff Clavin, two regular Joes who were played to perfection by George Wendt and John Ratzenberger.
Wendt has largely faded from the limelight since Cheers ended, but Ratzenberger’s career enjoyed a second wind as he became a regular voice actor in the Pixar movies.