Best TV Shows The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time  

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Originally by Ranker Community
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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
3,934 2,391
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 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

2
3,277 2,111
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
2,771 1,392
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 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
2,239 1,379
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 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
1,519 1,404
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
1,386 1,470
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
1,517 1,592
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
1,343 1,271
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
1,680 1,849
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
1,137 1,276
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
1,155 991
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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

12
1,132 1,160
House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
gschwayze added 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

13
1,499 1,491
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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
1,261 913
Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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

15
1,483 1,229
Lost is listed (or ranked) 15 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

16
894 933
Six Feet Under is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
973 813
True Detective is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
gschwayze added 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.

18
765 846
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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

19
1,005 910
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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

20
855 761
The West Wing is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
846 932
Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
589 437
M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
661 663
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
646 395
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 24 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–crime drama anthology television series created by Noah Hawley, and inspired by the 1996 film. Various chronicles of deception, intrigue and murder ...more

25
816 836
Firefly is listed (or ranked) 25 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

26
650 758
ER is listed (or ranked) 26 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

27
709 739
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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

28
867 923
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 28 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

29
627 677
Oz is listed (or ranked) 29 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

30
599 741
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 30 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

31
653 891
24 is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
648 703
Rome is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
586 601
Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 33 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

34
665 673
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 34 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.

35
604 582
Star Trek: The Original Series is listed (or ranked) 35 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

36
531 617
The Shield is listed (or ranked) 36 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

37
391 337
Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 37 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

38
559 564
Justified is listed (or ranked) 38 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 "Fire in the Hole". Timothy Olyphant portrays Raylan Givens, a ...more

39
380 242
The Americans is listed (or ranked) 39 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

40
441 197
Better Call Saul is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn Better Call Saul (A&E, 2015) is an American television crime drama series created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, and a spinoff prequel of Breaking Bad. The trials and tribulations of ...more

41
472 634
Fringe is listed (or ranked) 41 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

42
473 438
Orange Is the New Black is listed (or ranked) 42 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

43
343 257
Law & Order: Special Victims U... is listed (or ranked) 43 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

44
425 679
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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

45
230 68
Stranger Things is listed (or ranked) 45 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

46
463 374
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
351 215
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 47 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

48
565 632
Prison Break is listed (or ranked) 48 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

49
407 615
The Tudors is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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

50
532 551
NCIS is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
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