Watchworthy
12.2k voters

The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows

Updated November 20, 2020 40.8k votes 12.2k voters 233.9k views83 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.

Photo:
...more
  • 1
    Vikings
    995
    892

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Vikings 

    Turns Out The Real Inspiration For 'Vikings' Lagertha Is Even Tougher Than The TV Version11 Historically Inaccurate Details From History Channel's 'Vikings'

  • 2
    Stranger Things
    492
    349

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Stranger Things 

    The Best Characters on 'Stranger Things,' Ranked16 Behind The Scenes Secrets From The Set Of 'Stranger Things'

  • 3
    Jack Ryan
    173
    141

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Jack Ryan 

    The Best Episodes of 'Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan'#3 of 162 The Best New Shows That Premiered in 2018

  • 4
    The Blacklist
    907
    933

    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 on Wikipedia

    More The Blacklist 

    Ranking the Best Seasons of 'The Blacklist'#23 of 639 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch

  • 5
    The Walking Dead
    2,208
    2,237

    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 on Wikipedia

    More The Walking Dead 

    The Strongest Survivors On 'The Walking Dead,' Ranked'The Walking Dead' Is As Big A Nightmare Behind The Scenes As It Is On-Screen

  • 6
    The Good Doctor
    474
    413

    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 on Wikipedia

    More 

    The Best Episodes of 'The Good Doctor'Ranking the Best Seasons of 'The Good Doctor'

  • 7
    Ozark
    207
    216

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Ozark 

    The Best Characters on Ozark, RankedRanking the Best Seasons of 'Ozark'

  • 8
    Peaky Blinders
    213
    195

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Peaky Blinders 

    The Fascinating True Story That Inspired BBC's 'Peaky Blinders'The Best Characters On 'Peaky Blinders'

  • 9
    The Handmaid's Tale
    199
    185

    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 on Wikipedia

    More The Handmaid's Tale 

    The Best Characters On 'The Handmaid's Tale'Ranking the Best Seasons of 'The Handmaid's Tale'

  • 10
    Better Call Saul
    504
    591

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Better Call Saul 

    The Best Characters On 'Better Call Saul,' RankedAll of the Breaking Bad Easter Eggs in Better Call Saul

  • 11
    Mindhunter
    297
    245

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Black Mirror
    210
    245

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Black Mirror 

    'Black Mirror' Easter Eggs And References You Totally MissedWildly Convincing Black Mirror Fan Theories That Somehow Make The Show Even Crazier

  • 13
    The Crown
    147
    135

    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 on Wikipedia

    More The Crown 

    How A Divorce Scandal Led To Queen Elizabeth II Giving Her Husband A Royal TitleDid Queen Elizabeth II Cheat On Prince Philip Like 'The Crown' Says She Did?

  • 14
    Manifest
    134
    143

    Manifest

  • 15
    American Horror Story
    1,177
    1,427

    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 on Wikipedia

    More American Horror Story 

    All Of Evan Peters's Roles In 'American Horror Story,' Ranked By Fans'American Horror Story' Is Actually The Funniest Show You're Too Afraid To Watch

  • 16
    The Flash
    600
    707

    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 on Wikipedia

    More The Flash 

    CW's The Flash Is Really Losing Its Way Lately20 Ways CW's The Flash Is Different from Comics

  • 17
    NCIS
    1,409
    1,938

    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 on Wikipedia

    More NCIS 

    The Best Actors On NCISThe Greatest Guest Stars on NCIS, Ranked

  • 18
    True Detective
    608
    701

    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 on Wikipedia

    More True Detective 

    5 Writers to Read to Better Understand 'True Detective'The Best Seasons of True Detective

  • 19
    SEAL Team
    314
    345

    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 on Wikipedia

    More SEAL Team 

    #44 of 51 What to Watch If You Love 'Band of Brothers'#58 of 94 The Best TV Shows Returning Fall 2018

  • 20
    Outlander
    640
    870

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 21
    Doctor Who
    693
    1,037

    Doctor Who

    Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant

    Premiered1963

    Genres (Tv)Sci-fi, Adventure, Drama

    Doctor Who (BBC, 2005) is a British science-fiction television show created by Sydney Newman,... more on Wikipedia

    More Doctor Who 

    The Most Messed Up Things the Doctor Has Done on Doctor WhoThe Greatest Doctor Who Companions of All Time

  • 22
    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    681
    823

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

    Small But Covert S.H.I.E.L.D. Details That MCU Fans NoticedAll The Times 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Actually Crossed Over With The MCU

  • 23
    The Resident
    110
    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 on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Killing Eve
    99
    147

    Killing Eve

    Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer

    Premiered2018

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Spy thriller

    Killing Eve (BBC America, 2018) is a British drama television series developed by Phoebe... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Fear the Walking Dead
    407
    614

    Fear the Walking Dead

    Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis

    Premiered2015

    Genres (Tv)drama, horror

    Fear of the Walking Dead (AMC, 2015) is an American post-apocalyptic horror drama television... more on Wikipedia

    More Fear the Walking Dead 

    The Best Characters On 'Fear the Walking Dead'The Best Seasons of 'Fear the Walking Dead'