Entertainment
18.9k voters

The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

Updated May 21, 2021 180.8k votes 18.9k voters 321.1k views344 items

List RulesVote up the best American and British dramas, whether they're straight dramatic series or a subgenre like fantasy, period pieces, or horror.

The best 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. Thanks to their gripping storylines the best 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 drama TV shows ever to cast your vote for the top drama series so other real people can get caught up in the fictional lives of your favorite TV drama characters.

 

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    1,981

    The Sopranos

    James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco

    PremieredJanuary 10, 1999

    NetworkHBO

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    The Best Characters on The Sopranos#10 of 43 The Best '90s TV Dramas

  • 2
    5,090
    2,799

    Breaking Bad

    Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul

    PremieredJanuary 20, 2008

    NetworkAMC

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  • 3
    2,825
    1,762

    The Wire

    Dominic West, John Doman

    PremieredJune 2, 2002

    NetworkHBO

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    The Best of The WIRE Characters#101 of 145 The TV Shows Most Loved by Hipsters

  • 4
    3,962
    2,934

    Game of Thrones

    Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

    PremieredApril 17, 2011

    NetworkHBO

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    All Of The Real Historical Parallels To 'Game Of Thrones'The Most Epic Insults From Game of Thrones

  • 5
    1,930
    1,677

    Mad Men

    Jon Hamm, John Slattery

    PremieredJuly 19, 2007

    NetworkAMC

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    The Best Mad Men Characters of All Time#55 of 320 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

  • 6
    1,049
    877

    Deadwood

    Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane

    PremieredMarch 21, 2004

    NetworkHBO

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    #5 of 109 The Best HBO Original Series#13 of 118 The Best Dramas On HBO Max

  • 7
    865
    738

    The Americans

    Keri Russell

    Premiered2013

    NetworkFX

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    Ranking the Best Seasons of 'The Americans'#98 of 235 The Greatest TV Shows for Women

  • 8
    1,706
    1,109

    Band of Brothers

    Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston

    PremieredSeptember 9, 2001

    NetworkHBO

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    12 Behind The Scenes Stories From The Making Of 'Band Of Brothers'#111 of 271 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time

  • 9
    1,729
    1,544

    House

    Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard

    PremieredNovember 16, 2004

    NetworkFOX Broadcasting Co.

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    The Best Seasons of 'House'#1 of 113 The Best Dramedy TV Series

  • 10
    1,402
    1,253

    The Twilight Zone

    Rod Serling, Robert McCord

    PremieredOctober 2, 1959

    NetworkCBS Corporation

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    Creepy Parallels Between 'American Horror Story' And 'The Twilight Zone' You Never Even Knew Existed#15 of 79 The Best CBS Shows of All Time

  • 11
    698
    582

    Homeland

    Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin

    PremieredOctober 2, 2011

    NetworkShowtime

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    The Best Characters On 'Homeland'#52 of 309 The Best Female-Led TV Shows

  • 12
    1,171
    1,058

    The West Wing

    Martin Sheen, John Spencer

    PremieredSeptember 22, 1999

    NetworkNational Broadcasting Company

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    Ranking the Best Seasons of 'The West Wing'#20 of 56 The Best NBC Dramas of All Time

  • 13
    1,068
    692

    Fargo

    Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton

    Premiered2014

    NetworkFX

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    All of the Clever Easter Eggs Hiding in Fargo the TV Series#8 of 45 New TV Shows of the Last Few Years with the Best Overall Acting

  • 14
    1,287
    1,113

    Sons of Anarchy

    Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal

    PremieredSeptember 3, 2008

    NetworkFX

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  • 15
    958
    865

    M*A*S*H

    Alan Alda, McLean Stevenson

    PremieredSeptember 17, 1972

    NetworkCBS Corporation

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    #44 of 471 The Funniest TV Shows of All Time#1 of 184 The Most Important TV Sitcoms

  • 16
    445
    353

    Black Mirror

    Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell

    PremieredDecember 4, 2011

    NetworkC4

    More Black Mirror 

    All The Technology From 'Black Mirror,' Ranked From Terrifying To Useful#3 of 71 Sci-Fi Shows You Should Be Watching Now

  • 17
    645
    396

    Peaky Blinders

    Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory

    PremieredSeptember 12, 2013

    NetworkBBC2

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    The Fascinating True Story That Inspired BBC's 'Peaky Blinders'#1 of 32 The Best Current TV Shows No One Is Watching

  • 18
    839
    719

    Justified

    Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins

    PremieredMarch 16, 2010

    NetworkFX

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    The Best Seasons of 'Justified'#6 of 98 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time

  • 19
    752
    527

    Vikings

    Katheryn Winnick, Moe Dunford

    PremieredMarch 3, 2013

    NetworkHistory

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    Turns Out The Real Inspiration For 'Vikings' Lagertha Is Even Tougher Than The TV Version#17 of 389 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate

  • 20
    808
    735

    Star Trek: The Original Series

    William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy

    PremieredSeptember 8, 1966

    NetworkNational Broadcasting Company

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    #33 of 72 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series#8 of 538 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time

  • 21
    829
    698

    Stranger Things

    Winona Ryder, David Harbour

    PremieredJuly 15, 2016

    NetworkNetflix (U.S.)

    More Stranger Things 

    The Best Characters on 'Stranger Things,' RankedThe Objectively Worst Decisions In ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3

  • 22
    1,776
    1,618

    Lost

    Naveen Andrews, Nestor Carbonell

    PremieredSeptember 22, 2004

    NetworkAmerican Broadcasting Company

    More Lost 

    The Best LOST Characters#1 of 83 The Best ABC Shows of All Time

  • 23
    1,168
    468

    Better Call Saul

    Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks

    PremieredFebruary 8, 2015

    NetworkAMC

    More Better Call Saul 

    All of the Breaking Bad Easter Eggs in Better Call Saul#19 of 24 Current TV Shows You Totally Lie About Watching To Sound Smart

  • 24
    680
    626

    Star Trek: The Next Generation

    Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes

    PremieredSeptember 28, 1987

    NetworkSyndicated

    More Star Trek: The Next Generation 

    Every Time Picard Said 'Make It So,' Ranked By How Well They Made It So#2 of 22 All 22 Star Trek Series & Movies, Ranked by Trekkies

  • 25
    994
    927

    Downton Abbey

    Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan

    Premiered2010

    NetworkITV, PBS

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    The Best Downton Abbey Actors#47 of 121 The Best Shows About Families