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The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated July 25, 2019 1.5M votes 69.7k voters 671k views 383 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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list ordered by
1
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
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 (AMC, 2008) is an American drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to ...more
2
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
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
3
House is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
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
4
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
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
5
The Office is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
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
6
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 6

Network: AMC

Genres (Tv): Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Suspense, Drama, Horror Film, Thriller, + more

The Walking Dead (A&E, 2010) is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series developed by Frank Darabont, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie ...more
7
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

Premiered: 1999

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 86

Network: HBO

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
8
That '70s Show is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Topher Grace, Laura Prepon, Mila Kunis

Premiered: 1998

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 200

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Romance Film, Sitcom, Comedy

That '70s Show is an American television period sitcom that originally aired on Fox from August 23, 1998, to May 18, 2006. The series focused on the lives of a group of teenage friends living in ...more
9
Futurama is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal

Premiered: 1999

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 140

Network: Comedy Central, Fox Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Animation, Sitcom, Comedy, Science Fiction

Futurama is an American adult animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the ...more
10
Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston

Premiered: 2001

Number of Episodes: 10

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation, HBO

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
11
The Big Bang Theory is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco

Premiered: 2007

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 135

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Television comedy, Sitcom, Comedy

The Big Bang Theory is an American sitcom created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, both of whom serve as executive producers on the show along with Steven Molaro. All three also serve as head ...more
12
South Park is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
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
13
Family Guy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green

Premiered: 1999

Number of Seasons: 18

Network: Fox

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Animation, Sitcom, Animated cartoon, Comedy, + more

Family Guy is an American adult animated sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series centers on the Griffins, a family consisting of parents Peter and Lois; ...more
14
How I Met Your Mother is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 184

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Romance Film, Sitcom, Comedy-drama, Comedy

How I Met Your Mother is an American sitcom that originally ran on CBS from September 19, 2005, to March 31, 2014. The series follows the main character, Ted Mosby, and his group of friends in ...more
15
Home Improvement is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
voting closed at #48 Tim Allen, Patricia Richardson, Earl Hindman

Premiered: 1991

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 204

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Home Improvement is an American television sitcom starring Tim Allen, that aired from September 17, 1991 to May 25, 1999. The show was created by Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra and David ...more
16
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 96

Network: Showtime

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
17
Friends is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow

Premiered: 1994

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 236

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom

Friends (NBC, 1994) is an American sitcom television series created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman. The personal and professional lives of six friends (Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa ...more
18
Parks and Recreation is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Amy Poehler, Jim O'Heir, Nick Offerman

Premiered: 2009

Number of Seasons: 7

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Mockumentary, Satire, Romance TV, Comedy-drama, + more

Parks and Recreation (NBC, 2009) is an American television sitcom created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur. The series stars Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, a perky, mid-level bureaucrat in the ...more
19
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 15

Number of Episodes: 318

Network: The WB Television Network, The CW Television Network

Genres (Tv): Supernatural drama, Black comedy, Drama, Horror Film, Mystery, + more

Supernatural (The CW, 2005) is an American fantasy horror television series created by Eric Kripke. Two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), follow their father's ...more
20
Scrubs is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke

Premiered: 2001

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 181

Network: American Broadcasting Company, NBC

Genres (Tv): Medical drama, Sitcom, Drama, Comedy-drama, Comedy, + more

Scrubs is an American medical comedy television series created by Bill Lawrence that aired from October 2, 2001 to March 17, 2010 on NBC and later ABC. The series follows the lives of employees ...more
21
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

Premiered: 1993

Number of Seasons: 11

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

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
22
Firefly is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

Premiered: 2002

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 14

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Space Western, Space opera, Drama, Comedy-drama, Science Fiction

Firefly is an American space western science fiction drama television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. Whedon served as an executive ...more
23
Stranger Things is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard

Premiered: 2016

Number of Seasons: 3

Network: Netflix

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
24
Whose Line Is It Anyway?... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady

Premiered: 1988

Number of Seasons: 9

Network: Channel 4, American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Improvisational theatre, Television comedy

Whose Line Is It Anyway? (The CW, 1998) is an American improvisational comedy show adapted from the British show. Hosted by Aisha Tyler, the show features Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, Wayne ...more
25
The Simpsons is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner

Premiered: 1989

Number of Seasons: 31

Network: Fox

Genres (Tv): Animation, Television comedy, Comedy, Family Film

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by the ...more