Entertainment

The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
152k votes 14.8k voters 258.2k views 236 items

List Rules 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). Medical TV shows, crime shows, and more grace this list of excellent TV dramas. 

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.

 

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26
Six Feet Under is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy
Six Feet Under is an American drama television series created and produced by Alan Ball. It premiered on the premium cable network HBO in the United States on June 3, 2001, and ended on August ...more
27
Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
RondaBandy added Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes
Star Trek: The Next Generation is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry twenty-one years after the original Star Trek series debuted in 1966. Roddenberry, ...more
28
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior
Sons of Anarchy is an American drama television series created by Kurt Sutter, about the lives of a close-knit outlaw motorcycle club operating in Charming, a fictional town in California's ...more
29
24 is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard
24 is an American television series produced for the Fox network created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, and starring Kiefer Sutherland as Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer. Each ...more
30
Oz is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen
Oz is an American television drama series created by Tom Fontana, who also wrote or co-wrote all of the series' 56 episodes. It was the first one-hour dramatic television series to be produced ...more
31
Better Call Saul is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn
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
32
True Detective is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
gschwayze added Matthew McConnahey, Woody Harrelson
True Detective (HBO, 2014) is an American anthology drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto. Each season focuses on detectives investigating violent offences.
33
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber
Battlestar Galactica is an American military science fiction television series, and part of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The show was developed by Ronald D. Moore and executive produced ...more
34
Justified is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter
Justified is an American television drama series developed by Graham Yost. It is based on Elmore Leonard's short story. Timothy Olyphant portrays Raylan Givens, a tough U.S. Marshal enforcing ...more
35
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza
Boardwalk Empire is an American period drama television series created by Terence Winter. Airing on premium cable channel HBO, the series is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the ...more
36
Law & Order: Special Victims U... is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Greer Baudreau added Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is an American police procedural, legal, crime drama television series set in New York City, where it is also primarily produced. In the style of the ...more
37
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Kyle MacLachlan, Russ Tamblyn, Sherilyn Fenn
Twin Peaks (Showtime, 2017) is a miniseries that follows FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in a continuation of the original 1990 series, created by David Lynch.
38
Orange Is the New Black is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
lilyclaire added Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning
Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama series created by Jenji Kohan and first released on Netflix on July 11, 2013. The series, produced by Tilted Productions in association with ...more
39
Stranger Things is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Luke Albright added Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard
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
40
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
StevenKershaw added Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend
Homeland is an American political thriller television series developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa based on the Israeli series Hatufim, which was created by Gideon Raff. The series stars ...more
41
ER is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Julianna Margulies
ER is an American medical drama television series created by novelist Michael Crichton that aired on NBC from September 19, 1994, to April 2, 2009. It was produced by Constant c Productions and ...more
42
Friday Night Lights is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Aimee Teegarden
Friday Night Lights is an American drama television series about a high school football team in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas. It was developed by Peter Berg, and executive produced by ...more
43
Hill Street Blues is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren, Bruce Weitz
Hill Street Blues is an American serial police drama that was first aired on NBC in 1981 and ran for 146 episodes on primetime into 1987. Chronicling the lives of the staff of a single police ...more
44
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy
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
45
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
onry49 added Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen
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
46
Fringe is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole
Fringe is an American science fiction television series created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. It premiered on the Fox Broadcasting network on September 9, 2008, and concluded ...more
47
The Shield is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Walton Goggins
The Shield is an American drama television series starring Michael Chiklis that premiered on March 12, 2002, on FX, in the United States, and concluded on November 25, 2008, after seven seasons. ...more
48
Daredevil is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
BenHawkes113 added Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson
Daredevil (Netflix, 2015) is an American web television series created for Netflix by Drew Goddard, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) ...more
49
Prison Break is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Amaury Nolasco
Prison Break is an American television serial drama created by Paul Scheuring, that was broadcast on Fox for four seasons, from 2005 until 2009. The series revolves around two brothers; one has ...more
50
Rome is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker
Rome is a British-American-Italian historical drama television series created by Bruno Heller, John Milius and William J. MacDonald. The show's two seasons were broadcast on HBO, BBC Two, and ...more