best TV The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time  

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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.

 

list ordered by

1
2,446 1,604
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011) is an American fantasy drama television series created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, based on the series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin. Nine noble ...more

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2
2,965 1,889
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn Breaking Bad is an American crime drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. The show originally aired on the AMC network for five seasons, from January 20, 2008, to ...more

3
2,158 1,062
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The Sopranos James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco The Sopranos is an American crime drama television series created by David Chase. Revolving around the fictional New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano, the show portrays the ...more

4
1,769 1,080
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The Wire Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn The Wire is an American crime drama television series set and produced in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Created and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the ...more

5
1,181 1,038
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs Sherlock is a British television crime drama that presents a contemporary adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes detective stories. Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, it ...more

6
1,067 1,160
Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Mad Men Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser Mad Men is an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner. The series premiered on July 19, 2007 on the cable network AMC and is produced by Lionsgate Television. The ...more

7
932 827
House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
gschwayze added House of Cards Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright House of Cards is an American political drama television series developed and produced by Beau Willimon. It is an adaptation of the BBC's mini-series of the same name and is based on the novel ...more

8
1,048 964
House is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
House Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard House is an American television medical drama that originally ran on the Fox network for eight seasons, from November 16, 2004 to May 21, 2012. The show's main character is Dr. Gregory House, a ...more

9
1,140 1,249
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Dexter Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas Dexter is an American television drama series. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter pattern analyst for Miami Metro Police Department who also leads a secret life ...more

10
976 731
Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Band of Brothers Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston Band of Brothers is a 2001 American war drama miniseries based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 non-fiction book of the same name. The executive producers were Steven Spielberg and Tom ...more

11
1,363 1,421
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The Walking Dead Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies The Walking Dead is an American horror drama television series developed by Frank Darabont. It is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie ...more

12
892 1,039
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The X-Files David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi The X-Files is an American science fiction horror drama television series created by Chris Carter. The program originally aired from September 10, 1993 to May 19, 2002 on Fox, spanning nine ...more

13
1,300 1,212
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series which aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. The series was created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production ...more

14
947 822
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The Twilight Zone Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts The Twilight Zone is an American television anthology series created by Rod Serling. It is a series of unrelated stories containing drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, ...more

15
1,167 967
Lost is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Lost Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia Lost is an American television drama series that originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company from September 22, 2004, to May 23, 2010, over six seasons, comprising a total of 121 ...more

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16
780 619
True Detective is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
gschwayze added True Detective Matthew McConnahey, Woody Harrelson True Detective (HBO, 2014) is an American anthology crime drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto. Each season focuses on detectives investigating violent crimes.

17
707 751
Six Feet Under is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Six Feet Under 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

18
446 272
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added Fargo Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks Fargo is an American black comedy–crime drama television series created and written by Noah Hawley. The show is inspired by the 1996 film of the same name written and directed by the Coen ...more

19
718 736
Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith 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

20
645 608
The West Wing is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The West Wing Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney The West Wing is an American serial political drama television series created by Aaron Sorkin that was originally broadcast on NBC from September 22, 1999, to May 14, 2006. The series is set ...more

21
594 656
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Downton Abbey Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern Downton Abbey is a British period drama television series created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. It first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom and Ireland on ...more

22
776 733
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Sons of Anarchy Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior Sons of Anarchy is an American crime drama television series created by Kurt Sutter, about the lives of a close-knit outlaw motorcycle club operating in Charming, a fictional town in ...more

23
424 320
M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
M*A*S*H Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swi M*A*S*H is an American television series developed by Larry Gelbart, adapted from the 1970 feature film MASH. The series, which was produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television for ...more

24
686 692
Firefly is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Firefly Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk Firefly is an American space western science fiction drama television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. Whedon served as an executive ...more

25
687 708
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Supernatural Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Jim Beave Supernatural is an American fantasy horror television series created by Eric Kripke. It was first broadcast on September 13, 2005, on The WB and subsequently became part of successor The CW's ...more

26
555 617
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Boardwalk Empire Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza Boardwalk Empire is an American period crime 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

27
505 544
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Deadwood Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker Deadwood is an American western television series created, produced, and largely written by David Milch and aired on the premium cable network HBO from March 21, 2004, to August 27, 2006, ...more

28
504 469
Star Trek: The Original Series is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Star Trek: The Original Series William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry that follows the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise and its crew. It later acquired the retronym of ...more

29
525 552
Oz is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Oz 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

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552 572
Rome is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Rome 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

31
509 626
ER is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
ER 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

32
543 545
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Twin Peaks 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.

33
267 221
Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
RondaBandy added Star Trek: The Next Generation 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

34
520 746
24 is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
24 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

35
504 610
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Battlestar Galactica 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

36
464 487
Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Law & Order Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina Law & Order is an American police procedural and legal drama television series, created by Dick Wolf and part of the Law & Order franchise. It originally aired on NBC and, in ...more

37
430 502
The Shield is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The Shield 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

38
442 458
Justified is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Justified 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 "Fire in the Hole". Timothy Olyphant portrays Raylan Givens, a ...more

39
338 297
Orange Is the New Black is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
lilyclaire added Orange Is the New Black 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

40
218 155
Law & Order: Special Victims U... is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Greer Baudreau added Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 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

41
378 523
Fringe is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Fringe 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

42
361 561
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is an American crime drama television series that premiered on CBS on October 6, 2000. The show was created by Anthony E. Zuiker and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. ...more

43
198 104
Better Call Saul is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added Better Call Saul Bob Odenkirk, Michael Mando, Jonathan Banks Better Call Saul is an American television drama series created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. It is a spin-off of Breaking Bad, which was also created by Gilligan. Set in 2002, Better Call ...more

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44
443 516
Prison Break is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Prison Break 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

45
180 128
The Americans is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added The Americans Keri Russell The Americans is an American television period drama series created and produced by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg. The series premiered in the United States on January 30, 2013, on the cable ...more

46
411 448
NCIS is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
NCIS Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette 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 criminal ...more

47
192 123
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
StevenKershaw added Homeland 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

48
486 450
Criminal Minds is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
bojanthebest added Criminal Minds Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Thomas Gibson Criminal Minds is an American police-procedural television program that premiered September 22, 2005, on CBS. The series follows a team of profilers from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit based ...more

49
319 281
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
onry49 added Vikings Travis Fimmel, Clive Standen, Gustaf Skarsgård Vikings is an Irish-Canadian historical drama television series written and created by Michael Hirst for the television channel History. It premiered on 3 March 2013 in the United States and ...more

50
329 514
The Tudors is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The Tudors Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, Anthony Brophy The Tudors is a British-Irish-Canadian historical fiction television series set primarily in sixteenth-century England, created by Michael Hirst and produced for the American premium cable ...more