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The Best of Premium Cable TV Series 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated February 14, 2020 191.3k votes 22.6k voters 1.1M views 135 items

List Rules Premium cable refers to subscription-based channels including HBO, Showtime, Epix, Cinemax, Encore, Starz and PPV

Best cable series on premium cable includes some of the greatest TV shows in history. This list of premium cable original programming is ranked by TV fans around the world. What are the best original shows on premium cable? These are all the best cable series, past and present, that ever aired. The best premium cable series are often good enough to persuade consumers to pay extra money to watch them. Shows like Game of Thrones, The Wire, and The Newsroom have such loyal followings that single episodes can affect entertainment news cycles. For television lovers, many of these top cable series are must-see.

This list of original programs on premium cable feature the best dramas and comedies according to ratings, awards, and fan bases. Even though Showtime's crime drama series Dexter ended with a poorly received season, the overall response was mostly positive, making it high on this list. Even shows that were canceled like Penny Dreadful and Dead Like Me are found on list of the best premium cable TV series of all time.       

What are the best premium cable TV series? Vote for your favorites - comedy, sports, or drama - and for real impact on the list order, rank your own list of series or just nominate a show you think should be represented. Networks like HBO and Showtime have been churning out some of the highest rated programming in recent history, so much so that these channels have begun to sweep many of Hollywood's most prestigious award. But the only metric that really matters is your opinion. Which of the most popular premium cable shows are you willing to pay big bucks for? Vote for your favorite below!

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 73

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
2
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

Premiered: 1999

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 86

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
3
Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston

Premiered: 2001

Number of Episodes: 10

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
4
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 3

Genres (Tv): Suspense, Drama, Psychological thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Homeland (Showtime, 2011) is an American political drama thriller series developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa based on the Israeli series Hatufim, which was created by Gideon Raff. The ...more
5
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn

Premiered: 2002

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 60

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
6
True Detective is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Elise Hennigan added Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 8

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama

True Detective (HBO, 2014) is an American anthology drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto. Each season focuses on detectives investigating violent offences.
7
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
JennySobonski added Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 9

Genres (Tv): War film, Drama, Historical fiction, Action

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
8
Shameless is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Emmy Rossum, William H. Macy, Ethan Cutkosky

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 36

Genres (Tv): Drama, Comedy

Shameless is an American television comedy-drama which airs on Showtime. This remake of the award-winning British series is set in Chicago's Canaryville neighborhood on the South Side, although ...more
9
Ray Donovan is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Liev Schreiber, Paula Malcomson, Eddie Marsan

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 12

Genres (Tv): Crime, Drama, Action

Ray Donovan (Showtime, 2013) is an American drama television series created by Ann Biderman. Ray Donovan, a professional "fixer" for the rich and famous in Los Angeles, can make ...more
10
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 36

Genres (Tv): Crime Fiction, Drama, Costume drama

Boardwalk Empire is an American period drama television series created by Terence Winter. Airing on premium cable channel HBO, the series is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the ...more
11
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 96

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
12
Spartacus: Blood and San... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Eric McIntire, Daniel Spink, Matthew Felker

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 1

Genres (Tv): Drama, Action/Adventure, Historical drama

Spartacus: Blood and Sand is the title of the first and most critically acclaimed season of Spartacus, a television series that premiered on Starz on January 22, 2010. The series was inspired by ...more
13
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker

Premiered: 2004

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 36

Genres (Tv): Western, Drama, Historical fiction

Deadwood is an American western television series created, produced, and largely written by David Milch and aired on the premium cable network HBO from March 21, 2004, to August 27, 2006, ...more
14
Rome is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 22

Genres (Tv): Action/Adventure, Drama, Adventure film, Historical drama, Action

Rome is a British-American-Italian historical drama television series created by Bruno Heller, John Milius and William J. MacDonald. The show's two seasons were broadcast on HBO, BBC Two, and ...more
15
Black Sails is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
kattron added Jessica Parker Kennedy, Toby Stephens, Hannah New

Premiered: 2014

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 8

Genres (Tv): Drama, Adventure film, Action

Black Sails is an American dramatic adventure television series set on New Providence Island and a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island. The series was created by Jonathan ...more
16
Outlander is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
lemonhead added Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies

Premiered: 2014

Genres (Tv): Romance Film, Drama, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Outlander (Starz, 2014) is a British-American television drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon and created by Ronald D. Moore and produced ...more
17
Oz is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen

Premiered: 1997

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 56

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

Oz is an American television drama series created by Tom Fontana, who also wrote or co-wrote all of the series' 56 episodes. It was the first one-hour dramatic television series to be produced ...more
18
The Tudors is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, Anthony Brophy

Premiered: 2007

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 38

Genres (Tv): Action/Adventure, Drama, Historical fiction, Adventure film, Action

The Tudors (Showtime, 2007) is a British-Irish-Canadian historical fiction television series created by Michael Hirst and produced for the American premium cable television channel Showtime. The ...more
19
Six Feet Under is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy

Premiered: 2001

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 63

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Drama, Comedy-drama

Six Feet Under is an American drama television series created and produced by Alan Ball. It premiered on the premium cable network HBO in the United States on June 3, 2001, and ended on August ...more
20
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Mike Berry added Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright

Premiered: 2016

Number of Seasons: 3

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

Westworld (HBO, 2016) is an American science fiction western thriller television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and based on the 1973 film. In a technologically advanced Wild ...more
21
True Blood is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell

Premiered: 2008

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 63

Genres (Tv): Fantasy, Horror, Drama

True Blood (HBO, 2008) is an American fantasy horror drama television series created by Alan Ball, based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries, a series of novels by Charlaine Harris. Telepathic ...more
22
Weeds is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Mary-Louise Parker, Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 102

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Comedy-drama, Satire

Weeds (Showtime, 2005) is an American dark comedy-drama television series created by Jenji Kohan. A suburban widow (Mary-Louise Parker) starts selling marijuana to support her family, but soon ...more
23
Californication is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Evan Handler

Premiered: 2007

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 84

Genres (Tv): Black comedy, Comedy-drama

Californication (Showtime, 2007) is an American comedy-drama television series created by Tom Kapinos. A writer (David Duchovny) tries to juggle his career, his relationship with his daughter ...more
24
Curb Your Enthusiasm is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin

Premiered: 2000

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 70

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Comedy

Curb Your Enthusiasm is an American improvised comedy television series produced and broadcast by HBO, which premiered on October 15, 2000. It has aired 80 episodes over eight seasons, the last ...more
25
Entourage is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon

Premiered: 2004

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 96

Genres (Tv): Sitcom, Drama, Comedy-drama, Comedy

Entourage is an American comedy-drama television series that premiered on HBO on July 18, 2004 and concluded on September 11, 2011, after eight seasons. The series was created and largely ...more