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The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows

Updated October 16, 2020 43.6k votes 12.2k voters 233.4k views87 items

While some of the best drama TV shows are long gone (we'll never forget you, Breaking Bad), others like Vikings and even American Horror Story keep us interested, toy with our emotions, and certainly keep our DVRs busy as we follow along with the dramatic story lines.

Many of the best, most acclaimed series come from networks like CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX while others were only available from basic cable stations like AMC and FX. Even others were limited to those with the pay channels like HBO and Showtime or streaming providers like Netflix and Hulu - which make it easy to decide which shows to marathon. Regardless of network, these series get us interested and keep us hooked to all the action throughout the year.

The best drama shows of all time provided a bit of something for everyone. Sci-fi and horror lovers had plenty of options like Stranger Things and American Horror Story while those looking for courtroom dramas could choose from the likes of Killing Eve and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Old favorites like NCIS continue to hold strong on network TV, but the best dramatic television shows also include Netflix series such as Ozark, along with cable favorites including Outlander and True Detective.

So whether you're a fan of the warm and fuzzy dramas or the hard-hitting crime shows or any in between, one or another of the best current dramatic series is sure to keep you crying, cheering, or simply entertained.

Check out more lists like the most loved tv shows of all time, the top premium cable series, and the best sci-fi shows. Or, check out the best new and returning drama TV shows in 2020.

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    Vikings is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
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    Vikings

    Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick

    Premiered2013

    Genres (Tv)Historical drama, Action-adventure

    Vikings (History, 2013) is a historical drama television series created by Michael Hirst. A... more

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  • 2
    Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    1,524
    1,454

    Supernatural

    Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles

    Premiered2005

    Genres (Tv)Supernatural drama, Black comedy, Drama, Horror Film, Mystery

    Supernatural (The CW, 2005) is an American fantasy horror television series created by Eric... more

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  • 3
    Stranger Things is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    487
    346

    Stranger Things

    Winona Ryder, David Harbour

    Premiered2016

    Genres (Tv)Sci-fi, Horror, Supernatural, Period drama

    Stranger Things (Netflix, 2016) is an American science fiction-horror web television series... more

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  • 4
    Jack Ryan is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
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    138

    Jack Ryan

    John Krasinski, Abbie Cornish

    Premiered2018

    Genres (Tv)Action, Thriller, Drama

    Jack Ryan (Amazon Video, 2018) is an American television series created by Carlton Cuse and... more

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  • 5
    The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    2,207
    2,233

    The Walking Dead

    Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal

    Premiered2010

    Genres (Tv)Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Suspense, Drama

    The Walking Dead (A&E, 2010) is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series... more

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  • 6
    The Good Doctor is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
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    412

    The Good Doctor

    Freddie Highmore, Antonia Thomas

    Premiered2017

    Genres (Tv)Medical, Drama

    The Good Doctor (ABC, 2017) is an American medical-drama television series based on the 2013... more

    More 

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  • 7
    The Blacklist is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    905
    930

    The Blacklist

    James Spader, Megan Boone

    Premiered2013

    Genres (Tv)Crime drama, Action, Thriller, Mystery

    The Blacklist (NBC, 2013) is an American crime thriller television series created by Jon... more

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  • 8
    Ozark is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
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    Ozark

    Jason Bateman, Laura Linney

    Premiered2017

    Genres (Tv)Crime drama, Thriller

    Ozark (Netflix, 2017) is an American crime drama series created by Bill Dubuque. Financial... more

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  • 9
    Peaky Blinders is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    212
    192

    Peaky Blinders

    Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory

    Premiered2013

    Genres (Tv)Action, Drama, Period Drama

    Peaky Blinders (BBC Two, 2013) is a British television action drama created by Steven Knight,... more

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  • 10
    The Handmaid's Tale is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
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    184

    The Handmaid's Tale

    Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes

    Premiered2017

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Dystopian fiction

    The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu, 2017) is an American web television series created by Bruce Miller,... more

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  • 11
    Mindhunter is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    294
    243

    Mindhunter

    Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany

    Premiered2017

    Genres (Tv)Crime drama, Psychological thriller

    Mindhunter (Netflix, 2017) is an American crime thriller television series created by Joe... more

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  • 12
    Better Call Saul is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    498
    590

    Better Call Saul

    Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks

    Premiered2015

    Genres (Tv)Crime Fiction, Drama, Comedy

    Better Call Saul (AMC, 2015) is an American television drama series created by Vince Gilligan... more

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  • 13
    Manifest is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
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    Manifest

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  • 14
    Black Mirror is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    210
    243

    Black Mirror

    Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell

    Premiered2011

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Thriller, Science Fiction, Fantasy

    Black Mirror (Netflix, 2011) is a British television anthology series created by Charlie... more

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  • 15
    The Crown is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    147
    134

    The Crown

    Claire Foy, Matt Smith

    Premiered2016

    Genres (Tv)Historical drama

    The Crown (Netflix, 2016) is an American-British biographical drama series created by Peter... more

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    The Flash is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
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    705

    The Flash

    Grant Gustin, Candice Patton

    Premiered2014

    Genres (Tv)Superhero, Action, Sci-fi, Drama

    The Flash (The CW, 2014) is an American superhero television series developed by Greg... more

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  • 17
    American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    1,176
    1,424

    American Horror Story

    Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott

    Premiered2011

    Genres (Tv)Anthology, Horror, Supernatural

    American Horror Story (FX, 2011) is an American anthology horror television series created by... more

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    NCIS is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    1,409
    1,935

    NCIS

    Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly

    Premiered2003

    Genres (Tv)Crime Fiction, Action/Adventure, Police procedural, Drama, Thriller

    NCIS is an American police procedural drama television series, revolving around a fictional... more

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  • 19
    SEAL Team is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
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    344

    SEAL Team

    David Boreanaz, Max Thieriot

    Premiered2017

    Genres (Tv)Drama

    SEAL Team (CBS, 2017) is an American drama series created by Ben Cavell. The drama follows the... more

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    True Detective is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
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    700

    True Detective

    Mahershala Ali, Matthew McConaughey

    Premiered2013

    Genres (Tv)Crime Fiction, Drama

    True Detective (HBO, 2014) is an American anthology drama television series created by Nic... more

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  • 21
    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
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    820

    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen

    Premiered2013

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Action, Adventure Film, Science Fiction, Fantasy

    Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or simply Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is an American television... more

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  • 22
    Outlander is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    639
    868

    Outlander

    Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan

    Premiered2014

    Genres (Tv)Historical drama, Adventure, Romance, Fantasy

    Outlander (Starz, 2014) is a historical drama television series developed by Ronald D. Moore,... more
  • 0
  • 23
    9-1-1 is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    101
    129

    9-1-1

    Angela Bassett, Connie Britton

    Genres (Tv)Drama

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  • 0
  • 24
    New Amsterdam is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    102
    126

    New Amsterdam

    Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Zuleikha Robinson

    Premiered2008

    Genres (Tv)Police procedural, Drama, Fantasy

    New Amsterdam (Fox, 2008) is an American television drama. The series stars Nikolaj... more
  • 0
  • 25
    The Resident is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
    109
    116

    The Resident

    Matt Czuchry, Manish Dayal

    Premiered2017

    Genres (Tv)Medical drama

    The Resident (Fox, 2017) is an American medical drama television series created by Amy Holden... more
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