Entertainment

The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
156.1k votes 15.2k voters 262.4k views 247 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.

 

list ordered by
1
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn
Breaking Bad is an American 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 September 29, ...more
2
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
3
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco
The Sopranos is an American drama television series created by David Chase. Revolving around the fictional New Jersey-based Italian-American Tony Soprano, the show portrays the difficulties he ...more
4
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn
The Wire is an American drama television series set and produced in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Created and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series was ...more
5
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts
The Twilight Zone is a 1959 American television anthology series created by Rod Serling. It is a series of unrelated stories containing drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, ...more
8
House is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
gschwayze added Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright
House of Cards is a 2013 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 ...more
10
M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
11
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies
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
12
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks
Fargo (FX, 2014) is an American black comedy drama anthology television series created by Noah Hawley, and inspired by the 1996 film. Various chronicles of deception, intrigue and wrong doings ...more
13
Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston
Band of Brothers is a 2001 American WWII 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
14
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
15
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
16
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, James Marsters
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
17
The West Wing is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
18
Lost is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
19
Star Trek: The Original Series is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
20
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
21
Firefly is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
22
Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
The Americans is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added Keri Russell
The Americans (FX, 2013) is an American period drama television series created by Joe Weisberg. Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) are two Soviet KGB officers posing as ...more
24
Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
25
Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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