The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

71k votes 6.9k voters 135k 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.
Collection Photo:  via hbo
  • 68 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 2,196
    - 1,446

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

    ;
  2. 2
    + 1,676
    - 1,173

    most listed
    Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington

    ;
  3. 3
    + 1,622
    - 785

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

    ;
  4. 4
    + 1,353
    - 809


    Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn

    ;
  5. 5
    + 829
    - 734


    Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

    ;
  6. 6
    + 1,094
    - 952


    Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco

    ;
  7. 7
    + 645
    - 521

    added by gschwayze
    Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright

    ;
  8. 8
    + 752
    - 681


    Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard

    ;
  9. 9
    + 777
    - 863

    often listed
    Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser

    ;
  10. 10
    + 1,024
    - 1,086


    Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies

    ;
  11. 11
    + 836
    - 963

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

    ;
  12. 12
    + 716
    - 542

    ranked low on reranks
    Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston

    ;
  13. 13
    + 772
    - 655


    Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts

    ;
  14. 14
    + 709
    - 825

    often listed
    David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

    ;
  15. 15
    + 865
    - 758


    Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia

    ;
  16. 16
    + 574
    - 455

    added by gschwayze
    Matthew McConnahey, Woody Harrelson

    ;
  17. 17
    + 538
    - 601


    Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy

    ;
  18. 18
    + 553
    - 571


    Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Matt Smith

    ;
  19. 19
    + 459
    - 470


    Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney

    ;
  20. 20
    + 466
    - 461


    Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker

    ;
  21. 21
    + 247
    - 147

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

    ;
  22. 22
    + 556
    - 565


    Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior

    ;
  23. 23
    + 443
    - 498


    Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza

    ;
  24. 24
    + 427
    - 526


    Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern

    ;
  25. 25
    + 435
    - 456


    Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen

    ;
  26. 26
    + 519
    - 557


    Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

    ;
  27. 27
    + 257
    - 193

    ranked low on reranks
    Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swi

    ;
  28. 28
    + 437
    - 439


    Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick

    ;
  29. 29
    + 386
    - 373


    William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley

    ;
  30. 30
    + 410
    - 527


    Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Julianna Margulies

    ;
  31. 31
    + 408
    - 506


    Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber

    ;
  32. 32
    + 373
    - 449


    Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker

    ;
  33. 33
    + 469
    - 567


    Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Jim Beave

    ;
  34. 34
    + 347
    - 401


    Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina

    ;
  35. 35
    + 159
    - 125

    ranked low on reranks & added by RondaBandy
    Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes

    ;
  36. 36
    + 342
    - 407


    Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Walton Goggins

    ;
  37. 37
    + 410
    - 624

    often listed
    Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard

    ;
  38. 38
    + 294
    - 466

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads

    ;
  39. 39
    + 290
    - 432

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

    ;
  40. 40
    + 193
    - 177

    ranked low on reranks & added by lilyclaire
    Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning

    ;
  41. 41
    + 316
    - 369

    ranked low on reranks
    Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette

    ;
  42. 42
    + 362
    - 369

    added by bojanthebest
    Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Thomas Gibson

    ;
  43. 43
    + 314
    - 383


    Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter

    ;
  44. 44
    + 300
    - 418


    Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Amaury Nolasco

    ;
  45. 45
    + 253
    - 430

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

    ;
  46. 46
    + 305
    - 275

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

    ;
  47. 47
    + 90
    - 82

    added by Greer Baudreau
    Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T

    ;
  48. 48
    + 96
    - 70

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

    ;
  49. 49
    + 302
    - 548

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

    ;
  50. 50
    + 238
    - 349


    Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren, Bruce Weitz

    ;
187 +

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