The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

70k votes 6.7k voters 133k views 186 items tags f p @

List Criteria: American/British shows only; fantasy/sci-fi's included; live action only; mini-series included

The greatest TV dramas of all time are the ones that make you feel connected to characters you will never meet in real life to the point where you obsess about their exploits as much as your own. These top TV dramas rank high among the best TV shows of recent memory with many touting characters on the list of best TV characters ever.

Many of these greatest TV drama series, like Lost and the Sopranos, have already come to a close (earning them places on the list of the best TV series finales), while others like Mad Men and Breaking Bad are on the verge of closing up TV shop and leaving us to inevitably wonder about the lives of the surviving characters and what could have happened with the characters that get killed off (I've got even odds on Walter White buying a ticket to the meth lab in the sky in the Breaking Bad finale).

What is the best drama series in TV history? Tough question to answer considering many of the best TV series are dramas (and a lot of them are good!) Use this list of the greatest TV dramas ever to cast your vote for the top drama series and, if your favorite drama series isn't on the list, make sure to add it so other real people can get caught up in the fictional lives of your favorite TV drama characters.
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  1. 1
    + 2,159
    - 1,415
    Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    the people's #1
    Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

  2. 2
    + 1,644
    - 1,150
    Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    most listed
    Game of Thrones Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington

  3. 3
    + 1,590
    - 774
    The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    The Sopranos James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

  4. 4
    + 1,320
    - 802
    The Wire is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    The Wire Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn

  5. 5
    + 817
    - 720
    Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

  6. 6
    + 632
    - 501
    House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    added by gschwayze
    House of Cards Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright

  7. 7
    + 1,069
    - 939
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco

  8. 8
    + 765
    - 852
    Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    often listed
    Mad Men Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser

  9. 9
    + 738
    - 673
    House is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    House Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard

  10. 10
    + 1,015
    - 1,063
    The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    The Walking Dead Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies

  11. 11
    + 829
    - 945
    Dexter is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    often listed
    Dexter Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

  12. 12
    + 701
    - 539
    Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    Band of Brothers Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston

  13. 13
    + 703
    - 809
    The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    often listed
    The X-Files David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

  14. 14
    + 758
    - 649
    The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    The Twilight Zone Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts

  15. 15
    + 849
    - 752
    Lost is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Lost Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia

  16. 16
    + 569
    - 452
    True Detective is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    added by gschwayze
    True Detective Matthew McConnahey, Woody Harrelson

  17. 17
    + 535
    - 597
    Six Feet Under is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Six Feet Under Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy

  18. 18
    + 545
    - 566
    Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Doctor Who Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Matt Smith

  19. 19
    + 455
    - 465
    The West Wing is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    The West Wing Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney

  20. 20
    + 460
    - 457
    Rome is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Rome Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker

  21. 21
    + 551
    - 561
    Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Sons of Anarchy Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior

  22. 22
    + 438
    - 495
    Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Boardwalk Empire Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza

  23. 23
    + 239
    - 145
    Fargo is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    ranked low on reranks & added by LanaYoshii
    Fargo Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks

  24. 24
    + 421
    - 521
    Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Downton Abbey Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern

  25. 25
    + 431
    - 454
    Oz is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Oz Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen

  26. 26
    + 512
    - 556
    Firefly is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Firefly Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

  27. 27
    + 253
    - 191
    M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    M*A*S*H Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swi

  28. 28
    + 435
    - 437
    Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick

  29. 29
    + 382
    - 371
    Star Trek: The Original Series is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Star Trek: The Original Series William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley

  30. 30
    + 407
    - 503
    Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Battlestar Galactica Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber

  31. 31
    + 407
    - 524
    ER is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    ER Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Julianna Margulies

  32. 32
    + 372
    - 447
    Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Deadwood Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker

  33. 33
    + 468
    - 564
    Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Supernatural Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Jim Beave

  34. 34
    + 345
    - 399
    Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Law & Order Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina

  35. 35
    + 339
    - 405
    The Shield is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    The Shield Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Walton Goggins

  36. 36
    + 154
    - 123
    Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    added by RondaBandy
    Star Trek: The Next Generation Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes

  37. 37
    + 404
    - 621
    24 is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    24 Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard

  38. 38
    + 294
    - 463
    CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads

  39. 39
    + 289
    - 429
    Fringe is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Fringe Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole

  40. 40
    + 191
    - 174
    Orange Is the New Black is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    ranked low on reranks & added by lilyclaire
    Orange Is the New Black Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning

  41. 41
    + 361
    - 366
    Criminal Minds is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    ranked low on reranks & added by bojanthebest
    Criminal Minds Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Thomas Gibson

  42. 42
    + 314
    - 366
    NCIS is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    NCIS Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette

  43. 43
    + 310
    - 382
    Justified is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Justified Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter

  44. 44
    + 251
    - 428
    The Tudors is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Tudors Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, Anthony Brophy

  45. 45
    + 295
    - 415
    Prison Break is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Prison Break Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Amaury Nolasco

  46. 46
    + 304
    - 273
    House of Anubis is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    ranked low on reranks & added by SibunASeason34
    House of Anubis Alex Sawyer, Eugene Simon, Brad Kavanagh

  47. 47
    + 86
    - 80
    Law & Order: Special Victims U... is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    added by Greer Baudreau
    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T

  48. 48
    + 93
    - 68
    Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    Hannibal Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas

  49. 49
    + 300
    - 546
    True Blood is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    True Blood Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell

  50. 50
    + 236
    - 347
    Hill Street Blues is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time


    Hill Street Blues Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren, Bruce Weitz

187 +

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