Inventory: “From the home office…”: 10 David Letterman Top Ten Lists

When David Letterman left NBC for CBS, he engaged in some public bickering with his old bosses over what would remain the “intellectual property” of the network, which left some wondering whether he was going to be allowed to bring some of his most popular Late Night bits to his new Late Show. The kerfuffle proved to be no big deal, as Letterman and his writers just renamed the segments and proceeded as normal. Because, what… They weren’t going to keep doing a nightly Top Ten List?

The Top Ten List debuted on Late Night With David Letterman on September 18, 1985, and quickly became a staple, because the format was so flexible, repeatable, and sharable. The list could be completely absurd, or ripped from the day’s headlines. It could be read by Letterman or by a series of guests, accompanied by pictures and video or just by …

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