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The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s 

Ranker TV
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Updated April 19, 2020 3.7k votes 421 voters 26.3k views 48 items

List Rules Any 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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1
Columbo is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Peter Falk, Mike Lally, John Finnegan

Premiered: 1968

Columbo is an American television series starring Peter Falk as a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. The character and show, created by William Link and Richard Levinson, ...more

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2
Little House on the Prai... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Little House on the Prairie (NBC, 1974) is an American western historical drama developed by Blanche Hanalis, and an adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder's book series Little House. The series ...more

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The Final Season Of 'Little House On The Prairie' Was A Descent Into Total Weirdness #60 of 214 The Most Important TV Sitcomslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

3
Hawaii Five-O is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Kam Fong

Premiered: 1968

Hawaii Five-O is an American police procedural drama series produced by CBS Productions and Leonard Freeman. Set in Hawaii, the show originally aired for 12 seasons from 1968 to 1980, and ...more

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#183 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #12 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

4
Dallas is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Larry Hagman, Ken Kercheval, Patrick Duffy

Premiered: 1978

Dallas is a long-running American prime time television soap opera that aired from April 2, 1978, to May 3, 1991, on CBS. The series revolves around a wealthy and feuding Texan family, the ...more

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#561 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #78 of 289 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

5
The Six Million Dollar M... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Lee Majors, Richard Anderson, Martin E. Brooks

Premiered: 1974

The Six Million Dollar Man is an American television series about a former astronaut with bionic implants working for a fictional government office known as OSI. The series is based on the ...more

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6
Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith

Premiered: 1976

Charlie's Angels is an American drama television series that aired on ABC from September 22, 1976 to June 24, 1981, producing five seasons and 110 episodes. The series was created by Ivan Goff ...more

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#168 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #42 of 291 The Best Female-Led TV Shows #62 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows

7
Quincy, M.E. is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Jack Klugman, John S. Ragin, Robert Ito

Premiered: 1976

Quincy, M.E. is an American television series from Universal Studios that aired from October 3, 1976, to September 5, 1983, on NBC. It stars Jack Klugman in the title role, a Los Angeles County ...more

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8
Bonanza is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker

Premiered: 1959

Bonanza is an NBC television western series that ran from September 12, 1959, to January 16, 1973. Lasting 14 seasons and 430 episodes, it ranks as the second longest running western series, and ...more

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9
Starsky and Hutch is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser, Antonio Fargas

Premiered: 1975

Starsky & Hutch is a 1970s American cop thriller television series, which consisted of a 70-minute pilot movie and 92 episodes of 50 minutes each. The show was created by William Blinn, ...more

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#317 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #88 of 457 The Best Duos of All Time #327 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

10
The Streets of San Franc... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Karl Malden, Michael Douglas, Reuben Collins

Premiered: 1972

The Streets of San Francisco is a 1970s television police drama filmed on location in San Francisco, California, and produced by Quinn Martin Productions, with the first season produced in ...more

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#23 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time #62 of 271 The Best '70s TV Shows #51 of 143 The Best TV Crime Dramas

11
The Waltons is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Jon Walmsley, Mary Beth McDonough, Eric Scott

Premiered: 1972

The Waltons is an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr., based on his book Spencer's Mountain, and a 1963 film of the same name. The show is centered on a family in a rural ...more

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12
Kojak is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Telly Savalas, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson

Premiered: 1973

Kojak is an American television series starring Telly Savalas as the title character, New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojak. Taking the time slot of the popular Cannon ...more

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#31 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time #50 of 271 The Best '70s TV Shows #36 of 107 The Best TV Shows Set In New York City

13
Eight Is Enough is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Dick Van Patten, Lani O'Grady, Connie Needham

Premiered: 1977

Eight Is Enough is an American television comedy-drama series that ran on ABC from March 15, 1977, until August 29, 1981. The show was modeled after syndicated newspaper columnist Thomas Braden, ...more

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14
Roots is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
LeVar Burton, Olivia Cole, Robert Reed

Premiered: 1977

This award-winning six-part historical epic was one of the first examples of the miniseries format and one of the highest-rated television programs in broadcasting history. Based on the ...more

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15
Emergency! is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Emergency! Randolph Mantooth, Kevin Tighe, Julie London

Premiered: 1972

Emergency! is an American television series that combines the medical drama and action-adventure genres. It was produced by Mark VII Limited and distributed by Universal Studios. It debuted as a ...more

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16
The Incredible Hulk is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin

Premiered: 1977

The Incredible Hulk is an American television series based on the Marvel Comics character The Hulk. The series aired on the CBS television network and starred Bill Bixby as Dr. David Bruce ...more

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17
The Mod Squad is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Michael Cole, Clarence Williams III, Peggy Lipton

Premiered: 1968

The Mod Squad is an American drama series that ran on ABC from September 24, 1968 to August 23, 1973. It stars Michael Cole as Peter "Pete" Cochran, Peggy Lipton as Julie Barnes, ...more

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#316 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #81 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time #88 of 271 The Best '70s TV Shows

18
Hart to Hart is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers, Lionel Stander

Premiered: 1979

Hart to Hart is an American television series, starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, a wealthy couple who moonlight as amateur detectives, much in the style ...more

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19
Wonder Woman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner, Tom Kratochvil

Premiered: 1975

Wonder Woman is an American television series based on the DC Comics comic book superheroine of the same name. Starring Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and Lyle Waggoner as Steve ...more

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20
Barnaby Jones is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Lee Meriwether, Buddy Ebsen, John Carter

Premiered: 1973

Barnaby Jones is a television detective series starring Buddy Ebsen and Lee Meriwether as a father and daughter-in-law who run a private detective firm in Los Angeles, California. The show ran ...more

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21
Kolchak: The Night Stalk... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Jack Grinnage

Premiered: 1974

Kolchak: The Night Stalker is an American television series that aired on ABC during the 1974–1975 season. It featured a fictional Chicago newspaper reporter—Carl Kolchak, played by Darren ...more

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22
Dragnet is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, Don Ross

Premiered: 1952

Dragnet is an American radio, television and motion picture series, enacting the cases of a dedicated Los Angeles police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, and his partners. The show takes its name ...more

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23
The Rockford Files is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
James Garner, Noah Beery Jr., Joe Santos

Premiered: 1974

The Rockford Files is an American television drama series starring James Garner that aired on the NBC network between September 13, 1974, and January 10, 1980, and has remained in syndication to ...more

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24
All in the Family is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner

Premiered: 1971

All in the Family is an American sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS television network from January 12, 1971, to April 8, 1979. In September 1979, a new show, Archie Bunker's Place, ...more

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25
Gunsmoke is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
James Arness, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake

Premiered: 1955

Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during ...more

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