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The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows

Updated January 22, 2021 37.7k votes 12.2k voters 234.9k views87 items

While some of the best drama TV shows are long gone (we'll never forget you, Breaking Bad), others like Outlander 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 Better Call Saul.

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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  • Stranger Things1
    502
    356

    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

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  • Jack Ryan2
    181
    144

    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

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  • The Walking Dead3
    2,211
    2,247

    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

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  • The Good Doctor4
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    414

    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

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  • The Blacklist5
    913
    934

    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

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  • Ozark6
    216
    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

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  • Peaky Blinders7
    219
    197

    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

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  • The Handmaid's Tale8
    203
    188

    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

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  • Better Call Saul9
    514
    593

    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

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  • Mindhunter10
    304
    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
  • The Crown11
    157
    137

    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

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  • Black Mirror12
    211
    248

    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

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  • NCIS13
    1,411
    1,939

    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

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  • American Horror Story14
    1,178
    1,431

    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

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  • The Flash15
    601
    711

    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

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  • Manifest16
    135
    144

    Manifest

  • True Detective17
    609
    703

    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

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  • SEAL Team18
    314
    347

    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

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  • Outlander19
    646
    871

    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
  • Doctor Who20
    694
    1,040

    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

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  • The Resident21
    113
    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
  • Killing Eve22
    102
    150

    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

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  • New Amsterdam23
    107
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    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 on Wikipedia
  • This Is Us24
    259
    367

    This Is Us

    Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore

    Premiered2016

    Genres (Tv)Comedy, Family drama

    This Is Us (NBC, 2016) is an American television series created by Dan Fogelman. Follows a... more on Wikipedia

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  • Fear the Walking Dead25
    406
    618

    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

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