This Prime Time News series on ABC began in 1978. Longtime anchors Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters previously worked together on NBC's Today. Reporters on 20/20 have included John Stossel, Geraldo Rivera, Lynn Sherr, David Muir, Bob Brown and the ever-popular Sylvia Chase. Began as a hard-news program, but slowly devolved until it is now mainly a purveyor of Missing White Woman Syndrome stories and fawning celebrity profiles (though it still does solid investigative pieces from time to time).
In 2018, the show transitioned to a hostless format which spotlights a single True Crime story each week.
20/20 provides examples of:
- Author Tract: Many of John Stossel's segments were accused of being biased in favor of his well-known libertarian views.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The very first edition was incredibly bizarre — featuring two magazine personalities as hosts (Harold Hayes of Esquire and Robert Hughes of Time), and a strange mix of hard news and fluff, capped off with a satiric Claymation short featuring then-President Carter and Walter Cronkite(!). The intention was to be for news what Wide World of Sports was for sports; Roone Arledge, the creator of WWOS and head of ABC Sports, had just taken command of ABC News as well. It was savaged by critics and the public, and the next edition saw Hugh Downs as host and the standard serious tone and format in place.
- Hollywood Exorcism: A much-hyped 1991 episode featured video of Catholic priest James LeBar performing an exorcism on a teenage girl named Gina, with the approval of church leaders (on the grounds that it exposed how Satan works in the modern world). Despite no levitation or similar fantastic elements, the unusual nature of the ritual and the histrionics of the girl made it oddly compelling television. But it became a big center of controversy, particularly when it was revealed that Gina was a psychiatric patient, leading to accusations that the show was exploiting mental illness for ratings.
- Long-Runners: 20/20 began its 40th season in September 2017, placing it second behind CBS' 60 Minutes, which began in 1968.
- Signing-Off Catchphrase: "We're in touch, so you be in touch."
- Start My Own: When John Stossel left 20/20 for Fox Business he started his own show, Stossel.
- Title Sequence: Has had quite a few, two described here:
- 1985-89: Starts on a blurry close-up view of the former globe logo of ABC News, as a magnifying glass rises up from the bottom left of the screen. This glass expands to take in the whole of that globe, before stamping the axis on the globe (the NCI captioning logo of the time is seen on some broadcasts of that time as well in the bottom-right corner of the screen). The glass then folds up and becomes the slash mark between the 20s in the title; the slash mark then opens up as the 20s separate, giving way to shots of Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters as Bob Cruz bills them. This effect occurs once more when the opening concludes and the title track ends, and this one gives way to a live-action shot of either Downs or Walters, or (at least once) both at once.
- 1989-90: The ABC News logo of the time, this one without a globe (it was like this until 1982 or '83), passes diagonally across the screen, while a piece of reflective material enters. This reflective material is then revealed to make up the bottom of one of the 20s in the title (the right-hand one); we pass along that bottom as it is built up. We then zoom out from that 20, and move to the left, where the other 20 enters, as four more pieces of reflective mirror material come in behind the two 20s to make a background for the title. The slash mark between the 20s then comes in as the title is completed and the mirror background shines and becomes transparent. This opening, however, has only auditory billing of Downs and Walters before the title is announced; it's also the first one with the iconic opening line, "From ABC News...around the world and into your home, the stories that touch your life...with Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters, this is 20/20." This opening is also the first to have the dateline read aloud by Bob Cruz, where he says, "Those stories tonight: (date of broadcast)."
- Verbed Title: For "Saved", the episode about the Katie Beers kidnapping.
- The World Is Just Awesome: Those shows that are all celebrity profiles, and the People of the Year episodes.
- Yet Another Baby Panda: The real specialty of latter-day 20/20.