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The 50 Best TV Shows of All Time

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What are the best TV Shows of all time?

Fan of The Sopranos? Enjoy Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, and the Game of Thrones?

Then you’re going to want to stick around, as we’ve put together a list of the 50 best TV shows of all time, including everything from iconic British sitcoms to epic American sagas; you’ll find it all below!

So, without further ado, here’s a list of the 50 best TV shows of all time. 

 

The 50 Best TV Shows of All Time

The list of TV shows and figures mentioned below have been compiled from various sources around the web, such as IGN, IMDB & Empire

These are the 50 best TV shows of all time:

 

50. House

Best TV Shows - House

American television medical drama, House, follows Dr. Gregory House, a medical genius who leads a team of diagnosticians at a fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey. 

His team helps several patients while House guides the deliberations and diagnosis. 

The series was first aired on the Fox network in November 2004 and ran for eight seasons until it came to an end in May 2012. 

 

49. Oz

Oz is an American television drama series that was released in July 1997. 

It follows the story of the daily activities of a rather unusual prison facility called “Emerald City,” and it’s carefully managed, criminal inhabitants. 

Oz was produced by the premium cable network HBO and ran for six seasons, with the finale aired in February 2003. 

 

48. Fargo

Fargo is an American black comedy-crime drama television series.

It follows Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thorton), who, on passing through Bemidji, Minnesota, influences the community with his malice, violence, and deception. 

The series premiered on April 15, 2014, and ran for three seasons. Another season is in the pipeline but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

47. Only Fools And Horses

Next on our list of the best TV shows of all time is Only Fools And Horses. 

This British television sitcom debuted in 1981, on BBC One, and ran for ten years, with a further sixteen sporadic Christmas episodes.

In a nutshell, the series follows the “Trotters,” a south-east London family of market traders and wheeler-dealers, as they do what they can to make their fortune.  

 

46. Fleabag

Fleabag is a British comedy-drama television series that follows the daily activities of a free-spirited, confused and angry young woman in London. 

The show was released in July 2016 and ran for two series until it concluded in April 2019. 

 

45. Stranger Things

Stranger Things is an American science fiction drama-horror web series that premiered on Netflix on July 15, 2016. 

The shows first season focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy and the strange goings-on in and around the town in which it’s set: Hawkins, Indiana. 

Also, a young girl appears out of nowhere that has some unusual psychokinetic abilities. 

Stranger Things ran for three seasons, with a total of twenty-five episodes. 

 

44. Roots (2016)

Roots is a 2016 remake of the 1977 miniseries of the same name.

It first aired on May 30, 2016, and chronicles the life and events of an African man that was sold as a slave in the United States of America. 

Roots ran for a single season with a total of four episodes. 

 

43. Sons of Anarchy 

Best TV Shows - Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy is a 2008 American crime television series that follows the day-to-day lives of an outlaw motorcycle club operating in the fictional Californian Central Valley town of Charming.

The series premiered on September 3, 2008, and ran for seven seasons totaling 92 episodes. 

 

42. 24 

24 is an American action drama television series that follows the operations of Jack Bauer, Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los Angeles. 

To save his nation from the ultimate threat, Bauer must race against the clock to figure out terrorist plots and end them once and for all. 

24 premiered on November 6, 2001, and spanned 192 episodes across eight seasons. 

 

41. Frasier

Next on the list is the American sitcom television series, Frasier.

The series follows the life and shenanigans of psychiatrist Fraiser Crane after he returns to his hometown of Seattle, Washington, to build a new life as a radio personality. 

The TV show premiered on September 16, 1993, and ran for 11 seasons. 

 

40. Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under premiered on HBO in the United States on June 3, 2001. 

The American drama television series follows the lives and daily activities of the Fisher family, who own and operate a funeral home in Los Angeles. 

The series spanned sixty-three episodes across five seasons. 

 

39. ER

ER is an American medical drama television series that premiered on NBC on September 19, 1994. 

The show follows the physicians and staff members of the emergency room (ER) of the fictional County General Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. 

ER ran for 331 episodes across 15 seasons. 

 

38. Blackadder

Best TV Shows - Black Adder

Blackadder is a pseudo-historical British sitcom series that ran from 1983-1989. 

Each series was in its own historical period and followed the shenanigans of Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) and his partner in crime, Baldrick (Tony Robinson). 

Blackadder ran for 24 episodes across four series. 

 

37. The Shield

American crime drama, The Shield, follows the activities of a new division of the Los Angeles Police Department, that’s been set up to control and maintain peace in the fictional district of Farmington, which has a particularly bad history of drug trafficking, prostitution and gang activity. 

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The Shield premiered on March 12, 2002, and ran for 88 episodes across seven seasons. 

 

36. The Walking Dead

The next best TV show of all time is The Walking Dead

This American post-apocalyptic horror television series was based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. 

It’s about a group of survivors that are trying to stay alive while being consistently hunted by flesh-eating zombies, known as “walkers.” 

The Walking Dead premiered on October 31, 2010, and ran for 146 episodes across ten seasons. 

 

35. NYPD Blue 

NYPD Blue is an American police procedural drama television series that reflects the struggles of the fictional 15th Precinct detective squad in Manhattan. 

The series was initially broadcast on the ABC network and ran from September 1993 to March 2005. 

NYPD Blue received critical acclaim with praise directed toward its realistic portrayal of the cast’s professional and personal lives. 

 

34. Orange Is the New Black

Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama web television series. 

It’s based on Piper Kerman’s memoir; Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison (2010), which documents her experiences in a minimum-security federal prison.

The TV show debuted on Netflix on July 11, 2013, and went on to become Netflix’s most-watched original series. 

 

33. Better Call Saul 

Best TV Shows - Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul is an American television crime drama series and a prequel and spin-off of Breaking Bad.

The show follows the life of Jimmy McGill, a con-man turned lawyer who transforms himself into a criminal for hire under the persona of “Saul Goodman.”

The show premiered on AMC on February 8, 2015, and ran for five seasons to date, with the sixth season scheduled to be released in 2021. 

 

32. 30 Rock

The next best TV show is the American satirical sitcom television series, 30 Rock.

The show follows the behind the scenes events of a fictional live sketch comedy show and derives its name from 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. 

30 Rock was released on October 11, 2006, and ran for a total of 138 episodes across seven seasons. 

 

31. Sherlock 

Sherlock is a British crime television series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. 

It’s based on the Sherlock Holmes detective stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and ran from 2010 to 2017, across four three-part series. 

Sherlock won numerous industry awards and was praised for its writing, acting, and direction. 

 

30. Parks and Recreation

The thirtieth best TV show of all time is Parks and Recreation. 

The American political satire sitcom is about the antics of Indiana town’s public officials as they endeavor to clean up the city and make it a better place for all. 

The show premiered on NBC on April 9, 2009, and ran for 125 episodes, across seven seasons, finishing up in February 2015. 

 

29. Curb Your Enthusiasm 

Curb Your Enthusiasm is an American comedy television series that premiered on HBO on October 15, 2000. 

It follows semi-retired television writer and producer, Larry David,  as he gets himself into all sorts of trouble with his friends and total strangers throughout Los Angeles. 

The show ran for 100 episodes across ten seasons and won several industry awards, including the 2002 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series. 

 

28. The Tonight Show Starring Johny Carson

The Tonight Show Starring Johny Carson was an American late-night talk show hosted by Johny Carson that premiered on NBC from October 1, 1962, until May 22, 1992. 

The show was ranked No. 12 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. 

 

27. Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Buffy The Vampire Slayer is an American supernatural drama television series that was based on the 1992 film of the same name. 

The show follows a young female vampire slayer called “Buffy Summers” as she’s chosen to battle against all different kinds of vampires, monsters, and demonic forces. 

The series received critical acclaim and, when the show was aired, used to reach between four and six million viewers per episode. 

 

26. Peaky Blinders

Best TV Shows - The Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is the twenty-sixth best TV show of all time. 

The British period crime drama is set in Birmingham, England, and follows the shenanigans of the fictional Shelby crime family after the First World War. 

The series premiered on September 12, 2013, and ran for 30 episodes across five seasons. 

 

25. The X Files

The X Files is an American science fiction drama television series that revolves around FBI special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as they work their way through a series of unsolved paranormal cases, known as X-Files. 

The show aired from September 10, 1993, to May 19, 2002, spawning 202 episodes across nine seasons. 

 

24. Arrested Development

Next up is Arrested Development.

This American television sitcom follows a formerly wealthy dysfunctional family, the Bluths. It documents their day-to-day lives by handheld camera work, voice-over narration, historical footage, and archival photos. 

The show received critical acclaim upon release and won six primetime Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe Award. 

 

23. Deadwood

Deadwood is an American Western television series that’s set in Deadwood, South Dakota, in the 1870s and depicts the towns rise from a camp to a town.

The show premiered on March 21, 2004, and spanned three seasons and 36 episodes. 

Deadwood received widespread critical acclaim and is regarded as one of the greatest TV shows of all time. 

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22. Friends

American sitcom television series Friends follows the lives of six friends in their 20s and 30s as they go about their lives in Manhattan, New York City. 

The show premiered on NBC on Septemeber 22, 1994, and spanned ten highly successful seasons. 

Friends received critical acclaim across each season, won countless industry awards, and became one of the most popular television shows of all time.

 

21. Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers is about the history of 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division, the “Easy” Company.

It follows their progression in struggles from jump training in the United States to significant action in Europe, until the end of World War II. 

The series premiere on HBO on September 9, 2001, and won an Emmy and Golden Globe award in the same year for “Best Miniseries.”

 

20. Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers is a British television sitcom that premiered on BBC2 in 1975. 

It’s set in a fictional hotel called Fawlty Towers, in the seaside town of Torquay on the “English Riviera.” It centers around Basil Fawlty, the proprietor of the hotel, and his wife Sybil as they attempt to run their hotel amidst several farcical situation s and demanding guests. 

Two series of six episodes were produced, and the show was named the greatest ever British TV sitcom by a panel of comedy experts compiled by the Radio Times.

 

19. South Park 

Best TV Shows - South Park

South Park is the nineteenth best TV show of all time. 

This American animated sitcom follows the lives of four fictional boys – Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick, as they get up to no good in their home town in Colorado. 

The show debuted on August 13, 1997, and ran 307 episodes across 23 seasons. 

South Park won numerous industry awards and was ranked as the tenth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time by TV Guide. 

 

18. Battlestar Galactica

The 2004 American military science fiction television series, Battlestar Galactica premiered in October 2004.

The series is set on a group of planets, known as the Twelve Colonies, in a far-flung star system. After the colony comes under attack, a crew formed to protect the last of humanity. 

Battlestar Galactica spanned 76 episodes across four seasons and earned critical acclaim from several of the most significant industry publications.

 

17. All in the Family

The seventeenth best TV show of all time is American sitcom, All in the Family. 

The series follows the life of a working-class father in his efforts to support his family and documents the squabbles of their day-to-day life. 

All in the Family debuted on January 12, 1971, and ran for 205 episodes across nine seasons. 

 

16. Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire is an American period crime drama series set in Atlantic City, New Jersey. 

It follows the life of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson as he tries to control and run. Atlantic City during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and 1930s. 

The show received widespread critical acclaim, with praise directed toward its visual style and basis on historical figures. 

Boardwalk Empire received several industry awards, including a Golden Globe Award for “Best Television Series-Drama” in 2011. 

 

15. Twin Peaks

Best TV Shows - Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is an American mystery horror drama series that first premiered on April 8, 1990, on ABC. 

It follows the investigation into the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer in the fictional town of Twin Peaks. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper heads up the investigation and is met with exciting twists along the way. 

The show spanned 48 episodes across three seasons and received fourteen nominations at the 42nd Primetime Emmy Awards for a number of different categories. 

 

14. The West Wing

The West Wing is a 1999 American serial political drama series that is primarily set in the West Wing of the White House during the Democratic administration of Josiah Bartlet. 

It’s regarded as one of the greatest and most influential television series of all time. It’s won a multitude of awards, including three Golden Globe Awards and 26 Primetime Emmy Awards. 

 

13. Doctor Who

Coming in at number thirteen on our list of the best TV shows of all time is the British science fiction television program, Doctor Who

The series is about the escapades of a Time Lord called “the Doctor” as he explores the entire universe in a time-traveling machine called the TARDIS.

The show is recognized as one of Britain’s most exceptional television programs, and won countless industry awards, like the 2006 British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series. 

 

12. Star Trek: The Original Series

Star Trek: The Original Series is an American Science-fiction television series that follows the adventures of the Starship USS Enterprise and all its crew. 

The purpose of the Enterprise is to seek out and explore strange new worlds, life, and civilizations, and to “boldly go where no man has gone before.”

The series ran for a total of 79 episodes across three seasons. 

 

11. The Office

Best TV Shows - The Office

The Office is a British television mockumentary sitcom, created, written, and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

The show explores the day-to-day lives of several office employees that work for a fictional paper company, Wernham Hogg. 

The Office ran for a total of 14 episodes split across two series, and became one of the most successful British comedy exports ever! 

 

10. Saturday Night Live

The tenth best TV show of all time is Saturday Night Live. 

The American TV show sees a famous guest host perform several sketches and parodies created by the cast to a live audience. 

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Saturday Night Live premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, and ran for 889 episodes across 45 seasons, making it one of the longest-running TV shows in history. 

 

9. Lost

Lost is a 2004 American drama television series, comprising of 121 episodes over six seasons. 

The show follows a group of survivors that are stranded on a mysterious South Pacific island after their plane crashes. It contains elements of science fiction and the supernatural. 

Lost is regularly praised by critics as being one of the greatest television series of all time and has won countless industry awards, including a Golden Globe and a British Academy Award. 

 

8. Seinfeld

American sitcom television series, Seinfeld, debuted on NBC on July 5, 1989, and ran for 180 episodes across nine seasons, coming to an end in May 1998. 

The show is about a fictional version of Jerry Seinfeld, one of the creators of the show, and follows his personal life as he lives in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. 

Seinfeld is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms of all time. 

 

7. The Simpsons

Best TV Shows - The Simpsons

The next best TV show is The Simpsons

The animated American sitcom depicts working-class life in the fictional town of Springfield and follows the Simpson family and mimics typical American culture and society. 

The Simpsons debuted on December 17, 1989, and have since broadcast 684 episodes, making it the longest-running American sitcom of all time! 

 

6. The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone is an American anthology television series, which ran from 1959 to 1964 on CBS. 

In each episode, characters find themselves dealing with disturbing events, which is described as entering “the Twilight Zone.” Each episode often had a surprise ending and a moral, and the phrase “twilight zone” was inspired by the series. 

The series ran for 156 episodes across five seasons and won a Golden Globe in 1963 and a Primetime Emmy Award in 1960 and 1961. 

 

5. Mad Men

The fifth-best TV show of all time is Mad Men. 

The American period drama series follows Don Draper, a creative director at Sterling Cooper, an advertising agency on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, and tracks his friends and professional colleagues lives throughout the 1960s. 

Upon release, Mad Men received widespread critical acclaim and was praised for its writing, directing, visual style, acting, and historical authenticity. 

 

4. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is one of the most successful American fantasy drama series of all time. 

The show is an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin’s series of fantasy novels and has several plots and story arcs. 

Critics praised the series for its complex characters, story, acting, scope, and production values, and it received the most Primetime Emmy Awards by any drama series, with a total of 58 to its name. 

 

3. Breaking Bad

The third best TV show of all time is Breaking Bad. 

The American neo-Western crime drama series consists of 62 episodes across five seasons, and follows the life of Walter White, a depressed high school chemistry teacher – turned methamphetamine drug dealer, in hopes of securing financial future for his family after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. 

Breaking Bad won numerous industry awards and is often regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time. 

 

2. The Wire

American crime drama television series, The Wire, comprises of 60 episodes over five seasons and follows the Baltimore drug scene through the eyes of both the law enforcement and drug dealers. 

The Wire has won a variety of industry awards, including the Directors Guild of America Award, a TCA Heritage Award, a Writers Guild of America Award for Television: Dramatic series, and many, many more. 

 

1. The Sopranos

Best TV Shows - The Sopranos

The best TV show of all time is The Sopranos. 

The American crime drama television series focuses on the life of New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano, as he tries to lead his criminal organization while maintaining his family life.

The Sopranos premiered on HBO on January 10, 1999, and ran for six seasons totaling 86 episodes. 

The multi-award-winning series is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time, having 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globes to its name!

 

Summary

We hope you enjoyed our list of the 50 best TV shows of all time. 

Who doesn’t love a good TV show, right?! We certainly do. 

The Sopranos is our absolute favorite, followed by Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and Game of Thrones. We binge-watch them all! 

Here’s a quick recap of the 50 best TV shows of all time:

  1. The Sopranos
  2. The Wire
  3. Breaking Bad
  4. Game of Thrones
  5. Mad Men
  6. The Twilight Zone
  7. The Simpsons
  8. Seinfeld
  9. Lost
  10. Saturday Night Live
  11. The Office
  12. Star Trek: The Original Series
  13. Doctor Who
  14. The West Wing
  15. Twin Peaks
  16. Boardwalk Empire
  17. All in the Family
  18. Battlestar Galactica
  19. South Park 
  20. Fawlty Towers
  21. Band of Brothers
  22. Friends
  23. Deadwood
  24. Arrested Development
  25. The X Files 
  26. Peaky Blinders
  27. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
  28. The Tonight Show Starring Johny Carson
  29. Curb Your Enthusiasm
  30. Parks and Recreation
  31. Sherlock
  32. 30 Rock 
  33. Better Call Saul 
  34. Orange Is the New Black
  35. NYPD Blue
  36. The Walking Dead
  37. The Shield
  38. Blackadder
  39. ER
  40. Six Feet Under
  41. Fraiser
  42. 24
  43. Sons of Anarchy
  44. Roots
  45. Stranger Things
  46. Fleabag
  47. Only Fools And Horses
  48. Fargo
  49. Oz
  50. House

What’s your favorite TV show? Leave a comment below.

Matt McIntyre is a digital marketing consultant and certified marketing strategist. When he's not talking about business or marketing, you'll find him in the gym.

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