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).

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
2,762 1,778
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

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2
2,251 1,496
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Game of Thrones Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington

3
2,016 1,003
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

4
1,665 1,018
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

5
1,097 982
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

6
1,002 1,098
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

7
870 751
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

8
974 904
House is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
House Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard

9
1,064 1,190
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Dexter Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

10
911 695
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

11
1,279 1,352
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

12
916 779
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The Twilight Zone Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts

13
1,246 1,163
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

14
847 997
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The X-Files David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

15
1,087 927
Lost is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Lost Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia

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16
731 593
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

17
664 723
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

18
408 242
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

19
392 297
M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
M*A*S*H Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swi

20
728 700
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Sons of Anarchy Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior

21
671 705
Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Doctor Who Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Matt Smith

22
596 585
The West Wing is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The West Wing Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney

23
550 632
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Downton Abbey Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern

24
651 670
Firefly is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Firefly Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

25
536 601
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Boardwalk Empire Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza

26
478 530
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Deadwood Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker

27
626 683
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Supernatural Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Jim Beave

28
484 453
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

29
535 556
Rome is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Rome Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker

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30
505 541
Oz is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Oz Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen

31
254 202
Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
RondaBandy added Star Trek: The Next Generation Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes

32
489 612
ER is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
ER Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Julianna Margulies

33
525 535
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, M├Ądchen Amick

34
479 597
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Battlestar Galactica Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber

35
501 726
24 is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
24 Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard

36
433 476
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

37
409 490
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

38
418 449
Justified is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Justified Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter

39
307 275
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

40
351 549
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads

41
358 511
Fringe is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Fringe Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole

42
193 144
Law & Order: Special Victims U... is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Greer Baudreau added Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T

43
408 503
Prison Break is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
Prison Break Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Amaury Nolasco

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44
159 91
Better Call Saul is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added Better Call Saul Bob Odenkirk, Michael Mando, Jonathan Banks

45
394 439
NCIS is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
NCIS Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette

46
158 121
The Americans is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
LanaYoshii added The Americans Keri Russell

47
450 443
Criminal Minds is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
bojanthebest added Criminal Minds Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Thomas Gibson

48
313 504
The Tudors is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
The Tudors Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, Anthony Brophy

49
168 112
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
StevenKershaw added Homeland Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend

50
159 130
Daredevil is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time
BenHawkes113 added Daredevil Charlie Cox, Vincent D'Onofrio, Deborah Ann Woll