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The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s

Updated April 19, 2020 4.2k votes 461 voters 29.2k views48 items

List RulesAny drama series that aired during the 1970s.

List of the best dramas on television in the 70s, as ranked by television critics and fans. The 1970s was not just about Farrah Fawcett haircuts and skinny jean fashion. The culture was also defined by the groundbreaking dramas that were popping up on television in both the UnitedStates and United Kingdom. Trends that were once popular in the 60s were beginning to die off, such as the televised western. Bonanza and Gunsmoke were the only two westerns that survived into the 70s.

Two genres steadily rose in the 70s: crime shows and science fiction dramas. The stars of crime dramas quickly became icons, with their feathered hair and serious dispositions. Many of the detectives from these shows became legends of the genre, from Kojak’s lollipop sucking detective skills to Columbo and his cunning ways of tricking a criminal into slipping up.Science fiction shows like Wonder Woman and Battlestar Galactica worked as a foundation for a drama genre that would continue to grow over the years.

This list answers the question, “What are the best TV dramas of the 70s?” The shows on this list range from family friendly period pieces like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie to medical dramas like Quincy,M.E. These dramas truly capture the feel of the 70s.

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    Columbo

    John Finnegan, Mike Lally
    Columbo is an American television series starring Peter Falk as a detective with the Los...  more

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    121
    50

    Little House on the Prairie

    Dabbs Greer, Steve Tracy
    Little House on the Prairie (NBC, 1974) is an American western historical drama developed by...  more

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    98
    41

    Charlie's Angels

    Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett
    Charlie's Angels is an American drama television series that aired on ABC from September 22,...  more

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    85
    28

    The Streets of San Francisco

    Darleen Carr, Karl Malden
    The Streets of San Francisco is a 1970s television police drama filmed on location in San...  more

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    #6 of 40 The Best 1970s Crime Drama TV Shows#46 of 122 The Best TV Crime Dramas

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    84
    30

    Starsky and Hutch

    David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser
    Starsky & Hutch is a 1970s American cop thriller television series, which consisted of a...  more

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    88
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    Hawaii Five-O

    James MacArthur, Jack Lord
    Hawaii Five-O is an American police procedural drama series produced by CBS Productions and...  more

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  • 7
    89
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    The Six Million Dollar Man

    Richard Anderson, Lee Majors
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  • 8
    90
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    Quincy, M.E.

    Garry Walberg, Joseph Roman
    Quincy, M.E. is an American television series from Universal Studios that aired from October...  more

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  • 9
    87
    35

    The Waltons

    Jon Walmsley, Mary Beth McDonough
    The Waltons is an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr., based on his book...  more

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    58
    9

    The Rockford Files

    Rita Moreno, James Luisi
    The Rockford Files is an American television drama series starring James Garner that aired on...  more

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    86
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    Bonanza

    Lou Frizzell, Mitch Vogel
    Bonanza is an NBC television western series that ran from September 12, 1959, to January 16,...  more

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    97
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    Dallas

    Charlene Tilton, Victoria Principal
    Dallas is a long-running American prime time television soap opera that aired from April 2,...  more

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  • 13
    72
    29

    Kojak

    Dan Frazer, Vince Conti
    Kojak is an American television series starring Telly Savalas as the title character, New York...  more

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    Emergency!

    Randolph Mantooth, Kevin Tighe
    Emergency! is an American television series that combines the medical drama and...  more
  • 15
    67
    30

    Eight Is Enough

    Jennifer Darling, Adam Rich
    Eight Is Enough is an American television comedy-drama series that ran on ABC from March 15,...  more

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    67
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    Roots

    Lynda Day George, Georg Stanford Brown
    This award-winning six-part historical epic was one of the first examples of the miniseries...  more

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    60
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    Barnaby Jones

    John Carter, Lee Meriwether
    Barnaby Jones is a television detective series starring Buddy Ebsen and Lee Meriwether as a...  more

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    33

    The Mod Squad

    Michael Cole, Clarence Williams III
    The Mod Squad is an American drama series that ran on ABC from September 24, 1968 to August...  more

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    10

    All in the Family

    Sally Struthers, Carroll O'Connor
    All in the Family is an American sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS television...  more

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    64
    40

    The Incredible Hulk

    Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin
    The Incredible Hulk is an American television series based on the Marvel Comics character The...  more

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    55
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    Dragnet

    Jack Webb, Harry Morgan
    Dragnet is an American radio, television and motion picture series, enacting the cases of a...  more

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    42
    11

    The Brady Bunch

    Florence Henderson, Christopher Knight
    The Brady Bunch is an American sitcom created by Sherwood Schwartz that originally aired from...  more

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    65
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    Wonder Woman

    Lynda Carter, Richard Eastham
    Wonder Woman is an American television series based on the DC Comics comic book superheroine...  more

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    60
    35

    Kolchak: The Night Stalker

    Jack Grinnage, Ruth McDevitt
    Kolchak: The Night Stalker is an American television series that aired on ABC during the...  more

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    56
    30

    McMillan & Wife

    Rock Hudson, Julie Newmar
    McMillan & Wife was a lighthearted American police procedural that aired on NBC from September...  more

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