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The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated July 14, 2020 152.6k votes 12.1k voters 231.6k views 88 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.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
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1
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies

Premiered: 2010

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

The Walking Dead (A&E, 2010) is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series developed by Frank Darabont, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie ...more

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'Walking Dead' TV Characters Who Are Most Different From Their Comic Book Counterparts #23 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #59 of 393 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch

2
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy

Premiered: 2005

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

Supernatural (The CW, 2005) is an American fantasy horror television series created by Eric Kripke. Two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), follow their father's ...more

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The Best Supernatural Characters #7 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watchlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

3
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
draga added Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Historical drama, Action-adventure

Vikings (History, 2013) is a historical drama television series created by Michael Hirst. A farmer (Travis Fimmel) rises to fame by successful raids into England, and eventually becomes a ...more

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Turns Out The Real Inspiration For 'Vikings' Lagertha Is Even Tougher Than The TV Version #169 of 393 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch #31 of 388 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

4
The Blacklist is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
LanaYoshii added James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff

Premiered: 2013

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

The Blacklist (NBC, 2013) is an American crime thriller television series created by Jon Bokenkamp. In exchange for immunity from prosecution, a high-profile criminal (James Spader) volunteers ...more

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Ranking the Best Seasons of 'The Blacklist' #27 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #72 of 388 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

5
Stranger Things is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard

Premiered: 2016

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

Stranger Things (Netflix, 2016) is an American science fiction-horror web television series created by The Duffer Brothers. When a young boy (Noah Schnapp) disappears, his mother (Winona Ryder), ...more

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Easter Eggs And References That Totally Went Over Your Head In Stranger Things 2 #3 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #22 of 342 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

6
NCIS is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette

Premiered: 2003

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

NCIS is an American police procedural drama television series, revolving around a fictional team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which conducts investigations ...more

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The Greatest Guest Stars on NCIS, Ranked #101 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #42 of 393 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch

7
The 100 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Thomas McDonell

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Drama, Dystopian, Sci-fi, Action

The 100 (The CW, 2014) is an American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama television series developed by Jason Rothenberg, loosely based on the book by Kass Morgan. 97 years after a nuclear ...more

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Ranking the Best Seasons of 'The 100' #21 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #42 of 342 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

8
American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Anthology, Horror, Supernatural

American Horror Story (FX, 2011) is an American anthology horror television series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. An anthology series centering on different characters and locations, ...more

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All Of Evan Peters's Roles In 'American Horror Story,' Ranked By Fans #14 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #127 of 393 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch

9
The Good Doctor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
The Good Doctor Freddie Highmore, Antonia Thomas, Nicholas Gonzalez

Premiered: 2017

Genres (Tv): Medical, Drama

The Good Doctor (ABC, 2017) is an American medical-drama television series based on the 2013 South Korean series of the same name. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) is a young pediatric surgeon ...more

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The Best Episodes of 'The Good Doctor' #372 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #24 of 42 Foreign Shows That Were Remade in the US

10
The Flash is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker

Premiered: 2014

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

The Flash (The CW, 2014) is an American superhero television series developed by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Geoff Johns, based on the DC Comics character. CSI Barry Allen (Grant ...more

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The Best Characters On 'The Flash' #44 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #41 of 342 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

11
Better Call Saul is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
LanaYoshii added Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn

Premiered: 2015

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama, Comedy

Better Call Saul (AMC, 2015) is an American television drama series created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, and a spinoff prequel of Breaking Bad. The trials and tribulations of lawyer, Jimmy ...more

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Fan Theories For The Final Season Of 'Better Call Saul' That Just Might Be True #16 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #44 of 388 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

12
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton

Premiered: 2013

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 series created for ABC by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen, based on the Marvel ...more

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The Best 'Agents OF S.H.I.E.L.D.' Storylines #95 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #23 of 342 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

13
Jack Ryan is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
John Krasinski, Abbie Cornish, Mena Massoud

Premiered: 2018

Genres (Tv): Action, Thriller, Drama

Jack Ryan (Amazon Video, 2018) is an American television series created by Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland, based on the character created by Tom Clancy. When CIA analyst Jack Ryan (John ...more

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The Best Episodes of 'Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan' #229 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #5 of 160 The Best New Shows That Premiered in 2018

14
True Detective is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
LanaYoshii added Mahershala Ali, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama

True Detective (HBO, 2014) is an American anthology drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto. Each season focuses on detectives investigating violent offences.

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The Best Seasons of True Detective #30 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #4 of 13 TV Shows That Would Have Been Better As Movies

15
Mindhunter is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv

Premiered: 2017

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Psychological thriller

Mindhunter (Netflix, 2017) is an American crime thriller television series created by Joe Penhall, based on the true crime book by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. FBI agents Holden Ford ...more

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'Mindhunter' Doesn't Just Portray Real Serial Killers In The Show - The Agents Are Real, Too #185 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #83 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

16
Ozark is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz

Premiered: 2017

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Thriller

Ozark (Netflix, 2017) is an American crime drama series created by Bill Dubuque. Financial planner Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) must suddenly relocate his family (Laura Linney) from Chicago to a ...more

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The Best Characters on Ozark, Ranked #126 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #117 of 388 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

17
Outlander is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
RondaBandy added Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies

Premiered: 2014

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

Outlander (Starz, 2014) is a historical drama television series developed by Ronald D. Moore, based on the novel series by Diana Gabaldon. A married former WWII nurse (Caitriona Balfe) is ...more

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#46 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #118 of 342 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time #181 of 393 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch

18
The Handmaid's Tale is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski

Premiered: 2017

Genres (Tv): Drama, Dystopian fiction

The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu, 2017) is an American web television series created by Bruce Miller, based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. In a dystopian future where women are brutally ...more

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The Best Characters On 'The Handmaid's Tale' #158 of 342 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time #121 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

19
Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith

Premiered: 1963

Genres (Tv): Sci-fi, Adventure, Drama

Doctor Who (BBC, 2005) is a British science-fiction television show created by Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber, and Donald Wilson. The further adventures in time and space of the alien adventurer ...more

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The Most Messed Up Things the Doctor Has Done on Doctor Who #49 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watchlisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

20
Peaky Blinders is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Action, Drama, Period Drama

Peaky Blinders (BBC Two, 2013) is a British television action drama created by Steven Knight, based upon the exploits of the historical gang. In 1919 Birmingham, England, leader Tommy Shelby ...more

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The Best Characters On 'Peaky Blinders' The Fascinating True Story That Inspired BBC's 'Peaky Blinders' #84 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch

21
Black Mirror is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Luke Albright added Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell, Rory Kinnear

Premiered: 2011

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

Black Mirror (Netflix, 2011) is a British television anthology series created by Charlie Brooker. The show features speculative fiction with dark and sometimes satirical themes that examine ...more

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Black Mirror Easter Eggs And References You Totally Missed #74 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #74 of 342 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

22
SEAL Team is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
David Boreanaz, Max Thieriot, Jessica Paré

Genres (Tv): Drama

SEAL Team (CBS, 2017) is an American drama series created by Ben Cavell. The drama follows the lives of elite Navy SEALs Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz) and Clay Spenser (Max Thieriot) as they ...more

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23
Fear the Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Elizabeth Rodriguez

Premiered: 2015

Genres (Tv): drama, horror

Fear of the Walking Dead (AMC, 2015) is an American post-apocalyptic horror drama television series created by Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson, and prequel series to The Walking Dead, which is ...more

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The Best Characters On 'Fear the Walking Dead' #173 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #150 of 388 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

24
Law & Order: Special... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T

Premiered: 1999

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Drama, Live action, Legal drama, + more

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC, 1999) is an American police procedural, legal, crime drama television series set in New York City. In the style of the original Law & Order, ...more

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The Most Infuriating 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' Tropes #64 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watchlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

25
Manifest is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows
Manifest