A descendant of {{Vaudeville}}: an anthology of unrelated performances (be they musical, comedic, dramatic, etc.) by different performers. The first breakout television hits were variety shows, most notably the ''Texaco Star Theatre'' (hosted by Milton Berle) and ''Series/TheEdSullivanShow''; other important examples from the [[TheFifties '50s]] and [[TheSixties '60s]] included ''The Red Skelton Show'', ''The Jackie Gleason Show'', ''Series/TheCarolBurnettShow,'' and ''Series/TheSmothersBrothersComedyHour.'' As you might notice, many such shows were [[TheEponymousShow named for the host(s)]].

This format fell out of favor in America in the early [[Main/TheEighties 1980s]] (although in Australia, ''Series/HeyHeyItsSaturday'' lasted until 1999). Cable (particularly [=MTV=] and [=HBO=]) provided alternate outlets for the music, stand-up comedy, and miscellaneous acts that were the bread-and-butter of these shows, and viewers no longer had to sit through three acts they weren't interested in for the sake of one that they wanted to see. Also, tastes were becoming more polarized; whereas formerly people could endure musical styles they didn't care for much, more and more people actually HATED styles they disfavored.

Moreover, fatigue with the genre had sprung up in the [[TheSeventies '70s]] -- ''Donny and Marie'' and ''Sonny and Cher'' were only the best-known examples in a decade that also brought us increasingly corny shows toplined by such acts as Series/TheBradyBunch and the Bay City Rollers. One-shot and annual specials such as ''Circus of the Stars'' persisted into the early 1990s, but even those are now relatively rare.

Occasional attempts to revive the genre (on networks or cable) have been doomed to failure, though some might argue that SketchComedy shows such as ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'', the late-night TalkShow format, and reality competitions such as ''Series/AmericanIdol'' and ''America's Got Talent'' keep the form on life support. NBC is giving it one more shot for the 2015-16 season with Creator/NeilPatrickHarris hosting ''Best Time Ever''.

Producers of the British SitCom ''Series/TheYoungOnes'' booked a band for a guest appearance in every episode; musical performances qualified the series as a variety show, and it was therefore permitted a larger budget than usual for a BBC sitcom.
* Many an American ChristmasSpecial is this, including the notorious ''Film/TheStarWarsHolidaySpecial''.
* ''Series/AdamHillsInGordonStreetTonight''
* ''The Brady Bunch Hour''
* ''Series/TheCarolBurnettShow''
* ''Donny and Marie''
* ''Series/TheEdSullivanShow''
* ''Series/HeeHaw'' sort of counts as one, albeit with a distinct rural appeal.
* ''Series/TheMuppetShow'' -- Somewhere between a straight example and a spoof of this genre.
* ''Series/PinkLadyAndJeff'' -- This 1980 [=NBC=] flop was the arguable GenreKiller.
* ''Series/TheSmothersBrothersComedyHour''
* ''The Music/{{Sonny|Bono}} and Music/{{Cher}} Comedy Hour''
* ''Solstrom'' -- A 2003 WidgetSeries produced by Creator/CirqueDuSoleil had whimsical fantasy storylines brought to life via a selection of circus/variety acts from both within and without Cirque's live shows.
* ''This Is Music/TomJones''
* 1987's ''Dolly'', starring Music/DollyParton -- it lasted one season and was considered a huge gamble even then.
* [[Series/NewlywedsNickAndJessica Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson]] did a variety show special on Creator/{{ABC}} in 2004 that flopped ''badly''.
* A radio example would be ''Radio/APrairieHomeCompanion''.
* Technically, by having bands on, ''Series/TheYoungOnes'' was considered a variety show. (This was because variety got a higher budget than light entertainment at the BBC.)
* ''Series/TheSlammer'' -- A variety show with a weird framing device.
* ''VivaVariety'' -- Creator/ComedyCentral's parody of these kinds of programs
* ''Random Acts of Variety'', an attempt at a revival
* ''Film/TheHollywoodRevueOf1929'' is an unusual example of a filmed variety show. MGM, which was transitioning to talking films, simply put all of its stars into a variety show movie filled with unrelated sketches and songs.
* ''Series/TheTonightShow''
* In-universe in ''Podcast/TheOrbitingHumanCircusOfTheAir,'' the eponymous radio show's format includes musical numbers by bizarre animals and inanimate objects, novelty acts, and prerecorded spoken "true story" segments as closing "feature presentations."
* Series/BillNyeSavesTheWorld -- In a sense. Each episode has a particular CentralTheme that ties all the elements together, but within a single episode are contained any combination of live demonstrations in front of the audience, [[SketchComedy comedy sketches]], "man on the street" style interviews, correspondent field pieces, panel discussions, and monologues from Bill himself.
* ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' originally had more of a variety show-style format, with multiple musical guests appearing in some early episodes and stand-up comedy mixed in with the sketch comedy.
* ''Series/HeyHeyItsSaturday''