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The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated August 6, 2020 1.6M votes 77.3k voters 730.2k views 334 items

List Rules Only series that have aired new episodes since 1998.

This best TV show list represents the combined opinions of thousands of TV fans. Anyone can vote on this list of the best TV shows of recent memory, making this list a truly trustworthy way to find the best TV show. You can even add your own list to these TV show rankings.

Including shows like Friends and The X-Files, the best TV shows ever in the past 20 years features the latest television series as well as classics such as Seinfeld and Frasier. From sitcoms to dramas and animations to miniseries, this list has got them all. If your favorite recent shows are missing, go ahead and add them!

What are the best TV shows of recent memory? Whether you're looking for the best TV shows to add to your Netflix queue or you just want to share your picks for the best TV series of the last few decades, this is the place to tune in to the tastes of TV fans around the world. Figure out what much see TV you have to catch up on below and cast your votes for the best television in recent history. 

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26
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
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
27
Buffy the Vampire Slayer... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
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
28
Criminal Minds is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Thomas Gibson

Premiered: 2005

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Crime, Suspense, Drama, + more

Criminal Minds (CBS, 2005) is an American police-procedural television program. The series follows a team of profilers from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia. The ...more
29
Modern Family is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Ed O'Neill, SofĂ­a Vergara, Julie Bowen

Premiered: 2009

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

Modern Family (ABC, 2009) is an American comedy television sitcom created by Francisco Bobadilla. Three different but related families face trials and tribulations in their own unique way from ...more
30
Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith

Premiered: 1963

Genres (Tv): Sci-fi, Adventure, Drama

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
31
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Historical drama, Action-adventure

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
32
American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Anthology, Horror, Supernatural

American Horror Story (FX, 2011) is an American anthology horror television series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. An anthology series centering on different characters and locations, ...more
33
It's Always Sunny in Phi... is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney

Premiered: 2005

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Black comedy

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX, 2005) is an American television sitcom created by Rob McElhenney. A group of five depraved underachievers: twins Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton) and ...more
34
MythBusters is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Jon Lung, Brian Louden

Premiered: 2003

Genres (Tv): Non-fiction, Special Interest, Educational television, Science, Documentary, + more

MythBusters is a science entertainment television program created by Peter Rees and produced by Australia's Beyond Television Productions for the Discovery Channel. The series is transmitted by ...more
35
Law & Order: Special... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T

Premiered: 1999

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Drama, Live action, Legal drama, + more

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC, 1999) is an American police procedural, legal, crime drama television series set in New York City. In the style of the original Law & Order, ...more
36
Frasier is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Kym Parks added Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce

Premiered: 1993

Genres (Tv): Sitcom

Frasier (NBC, 1993) is an American sitcom television series created by David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee, and a spinoff of Cheers. After his divorce, psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane ...more
37
Malcolm in the Middle is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Frankie Muniz, Jane Kaczmarek, Bryan Cranston

Premiered: 2000

Genres (Tv): Sitcom

Malcolm in the Middle (Fox, 2000) is an American television sitcom created by Linwood Boomer. A gifted young teen (Frankie Muniz) tries to survive life with his dimwitted, dysfunctional family.
38
Arrested Development is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi

Premiered: 2003

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Arrested Development (Fox, 2003) is an American television sitcom created by Mitchell Hurwitz. Level-headed son Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) takes over family affairs after his father is ...more
39
Chappelle's Show is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Dave Chappelle, Donnell Rawlings, Neal Brennan

Premiered: 2003

Genres (Tv): Sketch comedy, Satire, Variety show, Sketch, Comedy

Chappelle's Show (Comedy Central, 2003) is an American sketch comedy television series created by Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan. Comedian Dave Chappelle hosts this sketch-comedy show that ...more
40
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
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
41
Jeopardy! is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Alex Trebek, Johnny Gilbert, Jimmy McGuire

Premiered: 1964

Genres (Tv): Game show

Jeopardy! is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin. The show features a quiz competition in which contestants are presented with general knowledge clues in the form of ...more
42
Pinky and the Brain is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Tova added Maurice LaMarche, Rob Paulsen, Tress MacNeille

Premiered: 1995

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

  Pinky and the Brain is an American animated television series. It was the first animated television series to be presented in Dolby Surround and the fourth collaboration of Steven Spielberg with ...more
43
NCIS is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette

Premiered: 2003

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

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 investigations ...more
44
Better Call Saul is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn

Premiered: 2015

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama, Comedy

Better Call Saul (AMC, 2015) is an American television drama series created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, and a spinoff prequel of Breaking Bad. The trials and tribulations of lawyer, Jimmy ...more
45
Sesame Street is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Caroll Spinney

Premiered: 1969

Genres (Tv): Sketch comedy, Education, Animation, Children's television series, Live action, + more

Sesame Street is a long-running American children's television series created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. The program is known for its educational content, and images communicated ...more
46
Everybody Loves Raymond ... is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett

Premiered: 1996

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Everybody Loves Raymond is an American television sitcom starring Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Doris Roberts, Peter Boyle, Brad Garrett, and Monica Horan. It originally ran on CBS from September ...more
47
Bones is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin

Premiered: 2005

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Comedy-drama, Police procedural

Bones (Fox, 2005) is an American procedural comedy-drama television series created by Hart Hanson. Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and cocky ...more
48
Daredevil is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson

Premiered: 2015

Genres (Tv): Science Fiction, Action

Daredevil (Netflix, 2015) is an American web television series created for Netflix by Drew Goddard, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) ...more
49
Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina

Premiered: 1990

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

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
50
Batman: The Animated Ser... is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Kevin Conroy, Loren Lester, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Premiered: 1992

Genres (Tv): Crime, Children's television series, Superhero fiction, Adventure film, Action, + more

Batman: The Animated Series is an American animated television series based on the DC Comics superhero Batman. It was produced by Warner Bros. Animation and originally aired on the Fox Network ...more