Watchworthy

The Best of Premium Cable TV Series 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated May 15, 2020 192.8k votes 22.8k voters 1.1M views 138 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

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

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

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
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
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
5
Shameless is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Emmy Rossum, William H. Macy, Ethan Cutkosky

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Comedy, Drama

Shameless (Showtime, 2011) is an American comedy-drama television series developed by John Wells, based on the 2004 British series. Led by drunk patriarch Frank (William H. Macy), the poor 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

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

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
8
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend

Premiered: 2011

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
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

Genres (Tv): Crime drama, Family drama

Ray Donovan (Showtime, 2013) is an American drama television series created by Ann Biderman. Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber), a professional "fixer" for the rich and famous in Los ...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

Genres (Tv): Period drama, Crime drama

Boardwalk Empire (HBO, 2010) is an American period crime drama television series created by Terence Winter, based on the non-fiction book by Nelson Johnson. During the 1920s Prohibition era, a ...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

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

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

Genres (Tv): Western, Period drama

Deadwood (HBO, 2004) is an American Western television series created by David Milch. In 1870s South Dakota, residents of Deadwood are involved in all sorts of corruption, crime, and secrets.
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

Genres (Tv): Historical drama

Rome (HBO, 2005) is a British-American-Italian historical drama television series created by John Milius, William J. MacDonald, and Bruno Heller. A down-to-earth account of the lives of both ...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

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): Historical drama, Adventure, Romance, Fantasy

Outlander (Starz, 2014) is a historical drama television series developed by Ronald D. Moore, based on the novel series by Diana Gabaldon. A married former WWII nurse (Caitriona Balfe) is ...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

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

Genres (Tv): Historical drama

The Tudors (Showtime, 2007) is a historical fiction television series created by Michael Hirst. In 16th-century England, King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) protects his throne from enemies ...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

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
True Blood is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell

Premiered: 2008

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
21
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
Mike Berry added Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright

Premiered: 2016

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
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

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

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

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
Penny Dreadful is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best of Premium Cable TV Series
kattron added Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green

Premiered: 2014

Genres (Tv): Horror, Supernatural, Mystery

Penny Dreadful (Showtime, 2014) is a British-American horror drama television series created by John Logan. Explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), American gunslinger Ethan Chandler (Josh ...more