Watchworthy

The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated July 8, 2020 176.5k votes 16.9k voters 288.6k views 293 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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list ordered by
1
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

Premiered: 1999

Genres (Tv): Crime drama

The Sopranos (HBO, 1999) is an American crime drama television series created by David Chase. New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) deals with personal and professional issues in ...more
2
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

Premiered: 2008

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Thriller, Neo-western, Tragedy

Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008) is an American neo-Western crime drama television series created by Vince Gilligan. After being diagnosed with cancer, a depressed high school chemistry teacher (Bryan ...more
3
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Medieval fantasy, Drama, Adventure film, Epic, Action, + more

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
4
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn

Premiered: 2002

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Drama

The Wire (HBO, 2002) is an American crime drama television series created and written by David Simon. The series features the Baltimore drug scene, as seen through the eyes of drug dealers and ...more
5
The Americans is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added Keri Russell

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Drama

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
6
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts

Premiered: 1959

Genres (Tv): Anthology, Drama, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, + more

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
7
Lost is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Naveen Andrews, Emilie de Ravin, Matthew Fox Jorge Garcia

Premiered: 2004

Genres (Tv): Supernatural drama, Science fiction, Mystery

Lost (ABC, 2004) is an American drama television series created by Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams, and Damon Lindelof. After a horrific plane crash, a group of strangers are forced to work ...more
8
Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston

Premiered: 2001

Genres (Tv): Miniseries, Action/Adventure, Drama, Military, Adventure film, + more

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
9
House is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard

Premiered: 2004

Genres (Tv): Medical drama

House, M.D. (Fox, 2004) is an American television medical drama created by David Shore. An antisocial maverick doctor (Hugh Laurie) who specializes in diagnostic medicine does whatever it takes ...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

Premiered: 1972

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Medical drama, Sitcom, Satire, Military, + more

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 West Wing is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney

Premiered: 1999

Genres (Tv): Political drama, Drama, Serial drama

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
12
Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser

Premiered: 2007

Genres (Tv): Period drama, Serial drama

Mad Men (AMC, 2007) is an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner. Womanizing advertising executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm) balances work and pleasure, while harboring ...more
13
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior

Premiered: 2008

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Neo-western

Sons of Anarchy (FX, 2008) is an American crime neo-Western television series created by Kurt Sutter. As vice president of an outlaw motorcycle club involved with all sorts of illegal activity, ...more
14
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks

Premiered: 2014

Genres (Tv): Drama

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
15
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

Premiered: 2010

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Mystery

Sherlock (BBC One, 2010) is a British crime television series created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, based on stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The brilliant yet insensitive detective ...more
16
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
StevenKershaw added Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Suspense, Drama, Thriller

Homeland (Showtime, 2011) is an American political drama thriller series developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa based on the Israeli series Hatufim, which was created by Gideon Raff. A CIA ...more
17
Stranger Things is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Luke Albright added Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard

Premiered: 2016

Genres (Tv): Sci-fi, Horror, Supernatural, Period drama

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
18
Star Trek: The Original ... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley

Premiered: 1966

Genres (Tv): Action/Adventure, Drama, Adventure film, Action, Science Fiction

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
19
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker

Premiered: 2004

Genres (Tv): Western, Period drama

Deadwood (HBO, 2004) is an American Western television series created by David Milch. In 1870s South Dakota, residents of Deadwood are involved in all sorts of corruption, crime, and secrets.
20
Star Trek: The Next Gene... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
RondaBandy added Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes

Premiered: 1987

Genres (Tv): Action/Adventure, Drama, Adventure film, Action, Science Fiction

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
21
Buffy the Vampire Slayer... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, James Marsters

Premiered: 1997

Genres (Tv): Supernatural, Horror, Comedy-drama, Teen drama, Action, + more

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The WB, 1997) is an American supernatural drama television series created by Joss Whedon, based on the 1992 film. Destined to slay vampires, a young woman (Sarah ...more
22
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Psychological thriller, Mystery, Dark comedy, Police procedural

Dexter (Showtime, 2006) is an American crime drama mystery series developed by James Manos Jr., based on the 2004 novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. When he's not doing forensic work ...more
23
Justified is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter

Premiered: 2010

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Neo-Western

Justified (FX, 2010) is an American crime drama television series developed by Graham Yost, based on the short story "Fire in the Hole" by Elmore Leonard. US Marshal Raylan Givens ...more
24
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

Premiered: 1993

Genres (Tv): Cryptozoology, Supernatural, Crime Fiction, Drama, Live action, + more

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
25
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern

Premiered: 2010

Genres (Tv): Period drama

Downton Abbey (PBS, 2010) is a British historical drama television series created by Julian Fellowes. A chronicle of the lives of the British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in ...more