Entertainment

The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years 

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Originally by Ranker Community
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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. 

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 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
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
The Office is listed (or ranked) 3 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
4
Friends is listed (or ranked) 4 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): 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
5
The Simpsons is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner

Premiered: 1989

Number of Seasons: 24

Number of Episodes: 528

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
6
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 6 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): 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
7
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 80

Network: Showtime

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

Dexter 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 leads a secret life ...more
8
Lost is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia

Premiered: 2004

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 121

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Supernatural drama, Action/Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Thriller, + more

Lost is an American television drama series that originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company from September 22, 2004, to May 23, 2010, over six seasons, comprising a total of 121 ...more
9
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

Premiered: 1993

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 202

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
10
South Park is listed (or ranked) 10 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
11
House is listed (or ranked) 11 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 is an American television medical drama that originally ran on the Fox network for eight seasons, from November 16, 2004 to May 21, 2012. The show's main character is Dr. Gregory House, a ...more
12
Family Guy is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green

Premiered: 1999

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 210

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
13
Buffy the Vampire Slayer... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, James Marsters

Premiered: 1997

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 144

Network: UPN, The WB Television Network

Genres (Tv): Paranormal romance, Supernatural drama, Supernatural, Action/Adventure, Drama, + more

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series which aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. The series was created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production ...more
14
The Big Bang Theory is listed (or ranked) 14 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
15
Firefly is listed (or ranked) 15 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
16
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 3

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
17
Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser

Premiered: 2007

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 78

Network: AMC

Genres (Tv): Drama, Period piece, Costume drama

Mad Men is an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner. The series premiered on July 19, 2007 on the cable network AMC and is produced by Lionsgate Television. The ...more
18
Scrubs is listed (or ranked) 18 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
19
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn

Premiered: 2002

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 60

Network: BBC Four, HBO

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

The Wire is an American drama television series set and produced in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Created and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series was ...more
20
That '70s Show is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 21 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: 8

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
22
Stranger Things is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
Arrested Development is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi

Premiered: 2003

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 68

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Arrested Development is an American television sitcom created by Mitchell Hurwitz, which originally aired on Fox for three seasons from November 2, 2003 to February 10, 2006. A fourth season of ...more
24
Modern Family is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years
Ed O'Neill, SofĂ­a Vergara, Julie Bowen

Premiered: 2009

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 234

Network: ABC

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

Modern Family is an American television sitcom that premiered on ABC on September 23, 2009, which follows the lives of Jay Pritchett and his family, all of whom live in suburban Los Angeles. ...more
25
How I Met Your Mother is listed (or ranked) 25 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