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The Best of Premium Cable TV Series

Updated November 9, 2020 143.3k votes 23.5k voters 1.2m views146 items

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

The 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 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!

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  • Game of Thrones1
    6,587
    1,594

    Game of Thrones

    Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey

    Premiered2011-04-17

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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  • The Sopranos2
    3,755
    1,357

    The Sopranos

    James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco

    Premiered1999

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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    16 Small Details That Make 'The Sopranos' That Much Better#10 of 43 The Best '90s TV Dramas

  • Band of Brothers3
    2,430
    936

    Band of Brothers

    Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis

    Premiered2001

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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    12 Behind The Scenes Stories From The Making Of 'Band Of Brothers'#2 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

  • Vikings4
    1,970
    703

    Vikings

    Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick

    Premiered2013

    NetworkHistory

    Amazon buy button

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    Turns Out The Real Inspiration For 'Vikings' Lagertha Is Even Tougher Than The TV Version#33 of 253 The Best TV Shows Streaming On Hulu

  • Ray Donovan5
    1,859
    705

    Ray Donovan

    Liev Schreiber, Paula Malcomson

    Premiered2013

    NetworkShowtime

    Amazon buy button

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  • Shameless6
    2,321
    928

    Shameless

    Emmy Rossum, William H. Macy

    Premiered2011

    NetworkShowtime

    Amazon buy button

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  • True Detective7
    2,320
    925

    True Detective

    Mahershala Ali, Matthew McConaughey

    Premiered2013

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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  • The Wire8
    2,988
    1,327

    The Wire

    Dominic West, Lance Reddick

    Premiered2002

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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    The Best of The WIRE Characters#3 of 95 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time

  • Homeland9
    2,615
    1,120

    Homeland

    Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin

    Premiered2011

    NetworkShowtime

    Amazon buy button

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  • Boardwalk Empire10
    2,273
    1,169

    Boardwalk Empire

    Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham

    Premiered2010

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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    The Best Seasons of 'Boardwalk Empire'#237 of 266 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time

  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand11
    1,860
    962

    Spartacus: Blood and Sand

    Eric McIntire, Daniel Spink

    Premiered2010

    NetworkStarz!

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    #80 of 160 Shows With The Best Freakin' Series Finales Of All Time#21 of 124 TV Shows with the Hottest Casts

  • Deadwood12
    2,057
    1,260

    Deadwood

    Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane

    Premiered2004

    NetworkHBO

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    #65 of 70 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series#213 of 399 The Best Western Movies Ever Made

  • Dexter13
    3,668
    2,321

    Dexter

    Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter

    Premiered2006

    NetworkShowtime

    Amazon buy button

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  • Black Sails14
    1,270
    522

    Black Sails

    Jessica Parker Kennedy, Toby Stephens

    Premiered2014

    NetworkStarz

    Amazon buy button

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    #210 of 640 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch#58 of 160 The Best TV Shows Based on Books

  • Westworld15
    1,245
    456

    Westworld

    Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton

    Premiered2016

    NetworkHBO

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  • Outlander16
    1,614
    756

    Outlander

    Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan

    Premiered2014

    NetworkStarz

    Amazon buy button

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    #56 of 69 Sci-Fi Shows You Should Be Watching Now#3 of 129 The Best Shows Currently On The Air

  • Rome17
    1,859
    1,203

    Rome

    Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson

    Premiered2005

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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    #8 of 114 The Best Dramas On HBO Max#8 of 300 The Best TV Shows You Can Watch On HBO Max

  • The Tudors18
    1,231
    759

    The Tudors

    Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill

    Premiered2007

    NetworkBritish Broadcasting Corporation, Showtime, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC Television, TV3

    Amazon buy button

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    #156 of 397 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch#79 of 402 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

  • Oz19
    1,251
    905

    Oz

    Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons

    Premiered1997

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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  • Six Feet Under20
    1,347
    912

    Six Feet Under

    Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall

    Premiered2001

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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    #36 of 97 The Best Dramedy TV Series#92 of 220 The Greatest TV Shows for Women

  • Penny Dreadful21
    1,001
    560

    Penny Dreadful

    Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton

    Premiered2014

    NetworkShowtime

    Amazon buy button

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  • True Blood22
    2,002
    1,654

    True Blood

    Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer

    Premiered2008

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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  • Billions23
    874
    312

    Billions

    Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti

    Premiered2016

    NetworkShowtime

    Amazon buy button

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    The Best Seasons of 'Billions'#24 of 33 The Best Current TV Shows No One Is Watching

  • Weeds24
    1,549
    1,249

    Weeds

    Mary-Louise Parker, Hunter Parrish

    Premiered2005

    NetworkShowtime

    Amazon buy button

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    The Best Seasons of Weeds#123 of 339 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

  • Silicon Valley25
    663
    449

    Silicon Valley

    Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller

    Premiered2014

    NetworkHBO

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