watchworthy presents

The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated March 25, 2020 1.5M votes 66.4k voters 824.6k views 2,297 items

List Rules Vote up all your favorite TV shows of any genre, and add any that are missing from the list.

Choosing the best TV shows of all time means taking into account the best TV dramas, the best TV comedies, the best cartoons, and even the best TV miniseries to try and come up with a list that answers the question of "what are the best TV shows ever?" If you're a fan of reality television - spoiler alert - it's not one of those shows. However, if you're looking for the top TV comedy series and the top TV dramas to fill the top slots on the list, you won't be disappointed. In addition to new favorites like Lost, classic TV sitcoms like Friends and Seinfeld also fare well in the quest to answer the burning question of what are the top rated TV shows ever.

The greatest TV shows of all time also include the most popular TV shows with loyal fan bases like Sherlock and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even though some programs are not considered the most watched TV shows of all time, they later become cult classics and remain fan favorites. This list also includes critically acclaimed TV shows such as House of Cards and Breaking Bad, both outstanding programs that have won many Emmy awards. But could they be considered the best TV series of all time? That's up to the fans to decide.

Newer shows are currently dominating the top television shows list, but classic television shows like M*A*S*H and Star Trek are hot as well, and it's up to you to vote for your favorite TV show of all time to get it closer to the top of the list of the greatest television shows of all time. If your choice for the best TV series ever isn't on this list yet, make sure to add it so others can share in the bright glow of what you consider to be the best television show ever.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

Premiered: 2008

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 54

Network: AMC

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Crime Fiction, Crime, Suspense, Drama, + more

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

More Breaking Bad 

#1 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #1 of 158 Shows with the Best Freakin' Series Finales of All Time The Best Breaking Bad Characters of All Time

2
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 73

Network: HBO

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

More Game of Thrones 

#2 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #2 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years The Best 'Game Of Thrones' Characters

3
The Office is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 201

Network: Global Television Network, NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Mockumentary, Satire, Romance TV, Romantic comedy, + more

The Office is an American television comedy series that aired on NBC from March 24, 2005 to May 16, 2013. It is an adaptation of the BBC series of the same name. The Office was adapted for ...more

More The Office 

#3 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #77 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time Jim Halpert Is A Scumbag, And It's Obvious If You Just Pay Attention

4
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

Premiered: 1999

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 86

Network: HBO

Genres (Tv): Drama

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

More The Sopranos 

#13 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #339 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time 12 Gangster Movie Homages On The Sopranos Most People Totally Missed

5
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts

Premiered: 1959

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 156

Network: UPN, CBS

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

More The Twilight Zone 

#57 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch Creepy Parallels Between 'American Horror Story' And 'The Twilight Zone' You Never Even Knew Existedlisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

6
Friends is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow

Premiered: 1994

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 236

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Television comedy, Sitcom, Comedy, Romance

Friends is an American television sitcom, created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which originally aired on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004. It lasted ten seasons and is now in ...more

More Friends 

#6 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch 47 Things You Didn't Know About Friendslisted on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

7
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 13

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Action/Adventure, Police procedural, Crime, Drama, + more

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

More Sherlock 

#4 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #1 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate Ranking the Best Seasons of 'Sherlock'

8
Looney Tunes is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Mel Blanc, June Foray, Arthur Q. Bryan
Looney Tunes is an American animated series of comedy short films produced by Warner Bros. from 1930 to 1969 during the golden age of American animation, alongside its sister series Merrie ...more

More Looney Tunes 

#1 of 477 The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made #108 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time These Dark Bugs Bunny Fan Theories Will Blow Your Mind

9
Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards

Premiered: 1989

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 180

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally ran for nine seasons on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as ...more

More Seinfeld 

#24 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch The Most Plausible And Sponge-Worthy 'Seinfeld' Fan Theorieslisted on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

10
The Bugs Bunny Show is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Mel Blanc, June Foray, Jim Backus

Premiered: 1960

Number of Seasons: 40

Number of Episodes: 1040

Network: Nicktoons, CBS, American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Animation, Anthology series, Comedy

The Bugs Bunny Show is an animated television anthology series hosted by Bugs Bunny, that was mainly composed of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons released by Warner Bros. between August ...more

More The Bugs Bunny Show 

#219 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #20 of 196 The Best Adult Cartoon Shows in TV History

11
The Flintstones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Alan Reed, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl

Premiered: 1960

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 166

Network: Cartoon Network, Boomerang, American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Animation, Sitcom, Animated cartoon, Children's television series, Comedy, + more

The Flintstones is an animated, prime-time American television sitcom that was broadcast from September 30, 1960, to April 1, 1966, on ABC. The show was produced by Hanna-Barbera. The ...more

More The Flintstones 

#7 of 717 The Best Cartoons of All Time Brilliant Flintstones Comics from DClisted on Longest Running Animated Series

12
South Park is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman

Premiered: 1997

Number of Seasons: 16

Network: Comedy Central

Genres (Tv): Animation, Television comedy, Sitcom, Satire, Animated cartoon, + more

South Park (Comedy Central, 1997) is an American adult animated sitcom created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In the small town of South Park, four boys get caught up in all sorts of bizarre ...more

More South Park 

#8 of 717 The Best Cartoons of All Time Reasons South Park Is More Relevant Than The Simpsonslisted on Longest Running Animated Series

13
The Muppet Show is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Richard Hunt

Premiered: 1976

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 120

Network: Associated Television, ITV, CBS

Genres (Tv): Sketch comedy, Variety show, Children's television series, Live action, Comedy, + more

The Muppet Show is a family-oriented comedy-variety television series that was produced by puppeteer Jim Henson and features The Muppets. After two pilot episodes produced in 1974 and 1975 ...more

More The Muppet Show 

#11 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #22 of 147 The Greatest TV Title Sequences Ever The Most Interesting Muppet Show Characters

14
Happy Days is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Marion Ross

Premiered: 1974

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 255

Network: Channel 4, American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Musical, Comedy, Family Film

Happy Days is an American television sitcom that aired first-run from January 15, 1974, to September 24, 1984, on ABC. Created by Garry Marshall, the series presents an idealized vision of life ...more

More Happy Days 

#367 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #5 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Timelisted on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

15
Tom and Jerry is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Tom Kenny, Rick Zieff, Gary Cole

Premiered: 1940

Number of Episodes: 163

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Animation, Comedy, Family Film

Tom and Jerry is an American animated series of short films created in 1940, by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It centers on a rivalry between its two main characters, Tom Cat and Jerry ...more

More Tom and Jerry 

#2 of 385 The Best Kids Cartoons of All Time #404 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

16
I Love Lucy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance

Premiered: 1951

Number of Seasons: 6

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, ...more

More I Love Lucy 

#47 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time The Complicated And Dark History Of Lucille Ball And Desi Arnaz's Marriagelisted on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

17
Gilligan's Island is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus

Premiered: 1964

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 98

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy, Family Film

Gilligan's Island is an American sitcom created and produced by Sherwood Schwartz via United Artists Television. The show had an ensemble cast that featured Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Jr., Jim ...more

More Gilligan's Island 

#178 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #4 of 147 The Greatest TV Title Sequences Ever Behind-The-Scenes Secrets From The Set Of 'Gilligan's Island'

18
The Andy Griffith Show ... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, Don Knotts

Premiered: 1960

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 249

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

The Andy Griffith Show is an American sitcom, which originally ran on CBS from October 3, 1960 to April 1, 1968. The show, a semi-spin-off from an episode of The Danny Thomas Show, starred Andy ...more

More The Andy Griffith Show 

#19 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time The Greatest Sheriffs In TV Historylisted on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

19
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 96

Network: Showtime

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Crime Fiction, Action/Adventure, Police procedural, Suspense, + more

Dexter (Showtime, 2006) 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 ...more

More Dexter 

#7 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #133 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time Dexter Morgan’s Infamous ‘Work’ Rooms, Ranked By Practicality

20
The Fresh Prince of Bel-... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Will Smith, James Avery, Alfonso Ribeiro

Premiered: 1990

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 148

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990, to May 20, 1996. The show stars Will Smith as a fictionalized version of ...more

More The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 

#17 of 158 Shows with the Best Freakin' Series Finales of All Time #11 of 147 The Greatest TV Title Sequences Ever Behind The Scenes History Of 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' Most People Don't Know

21
The Addams Family is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
John Astin, Carolyn Jones, Ted Cassidy

Premiered: 1964

Number of Seasons: 2

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Sitcom, Comedy, Fantasy

The Addams Family is an American television series based on the characters in Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons. The 30-minute series was shot in black-and-white and aired for two seasons on ...more

More The Addams Family 

#210 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #24 of 204 The Most Important TV Sitcoms Charming And Intriguing Behind-The-Scenes Stories From ‘The Addams Family’ TV Show

22
Cheers is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger

Premiered: 1982

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 273

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Cheers is an American sitcom that ran for eleven seasons between 1982 and 1993. The show was produced by Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions in association with Paramount Network Television for ...more

More Cheers 

#54 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch Behind The Scenes Secrets From The Set Of 'Cheers'listed on The Longest Running US Sitcoms

23
Alfred Hitchcock Present... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Alfred Hitchcock, Harry Tyler, John Williams

Premiered: 1955

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 361

Network: CBS, NBC

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Anthology, Anthology series, Drama, Horror Film, + more

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock. The series featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the time the show premiered on October ...more

More Alfred Hitchcock Presents 

#7 of 70 The Creepiest Shows In TV History #78 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

24
The Jetsons is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
George O'Hanlon, Janet Waldo, Mel Blanc

Premiered: 1962

Number of Episodes: 75

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Animation, Sitcom, Animated cartoon, Children's television series, Science Fiction, + more

The Jetsons is an American animated sitcom produced by Hanna-Barbera, originally airing in primetime from September 23, 1962 to March 17, 1963, then later in syndication, with new episodes in ...more

More The Jetsons 

#24 of 477 The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made #9 of 236 The Greatest Cartoon Theme Songs of All Time

25
House is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time
Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard

Premiered: 2004

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 177

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Medical drama, Procedural drama, Drama, Mystery, + more

House (Fox, 2004) is an American television medical drama created by David Shore. The show's main character is Dr. Gregory House, a pain medication-dependent, unconventional, misanthropic ...more

More House 

#14 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #3 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years The Best New Tech House Songs of 2020