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The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s

Updated April 19, 2020 4.1k votes 435 voters 27.4k 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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  • 1
    Little House on the Prairie is listed (or ranked) 1 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... more on Wikipedia

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  • 2
    Columbo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    120
    47

    Columbo

    Peter Falk, Mike Lally

    Premiered1968

    Columbo is an American television series starring Peter Falk as a detective with the Los... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Hawaii Five-O is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    92
    32

    Hawaii Five-O

    Jack Lord, James MacArthur

    Premiered1968

    Hawaii Five-O is an American police procedural drama series produced by CBS Productions and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 4
    Quincy, M.E. is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    92
    31

    Quincy, M.E.

    Jack Klugman, John S. Ragin

    Premiered1976

    Quincy, M.E. is an American television series from Universal Studios that aired from October... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    The Waltons is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    90
    33

    The Waltons

    Jon Walmsley, Mary Beth McDonough

    Premiered1972

    The Waltons is an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr., based on his book... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Starsky and Hutch is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    83
    30

    Starsky and Hutch

    David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser

    Premiered1975

    Starsky & Hutch is a 1970s American cop thriller television series, which consisted of a... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    The Streets of San Francisco is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    84
    26

    The Streets of San Francisco

    Karl Malden, Michael Douglas

    Premiered1972

    The Streets of San Francisco is a 1970s television police drama filmed on location in San... more on Wikipedia

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  • 8
    The Six Million Dollar Man is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    88
    37

    The Six Million Dollar Man

    Lee Majors, Richard Anderson

    Premiered1974

    The Six Million Dollar Man is an American television series about a former astronaut with... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    96
    42

    Charlie's Angels

    Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett

    Premiered1976

    Charlie's Angels is an American drama television series that aired on ABC from September 22,... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Bonanza is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    87
    36

    Bonanza

    Lorne Greene, Michael Landon

    Premiered1959

    Bonanza is an NBC television western series that ran from September 12, 1959, to January 16,... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Kojak is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    73
    28

    Kojak

    Telly Savalas, Dan Frazer

    Premiered1973

    Kojak is an American television series starring Telly Savalas as the title character, New York... more on Wikipedia

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  • 12
    The Rockford Files is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    53
    5

    The Rockford Files

    James Garner, Noah Beery Jr.

    Premiered1974

    The Rockford Files is an American television drama series starring James Garner that aired on... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Dallas is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    96
    48

    Dallas

    Larry Hagman, Ken Kercheval

    Premiered1978

    Dallas is a long-running American prime time television soap opera that aired from April 2,... more on Wikipedia

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  • 14
    Eight Is Enough is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    68
    27

    Eight Is Enough

    Dick Van Patten, Lani O'Grady

    Premiered1977

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

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  • 15
    Roots is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    66
    34

    Roots

    LeVar Burton, Olivia Cole

    Premiered1977

    This award-winning six-part historical epic was one of the first examples of the miniseries... more on Wikipedia

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  • 16
    Emergency! is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    76
    35

    Emergency!

    Randolph Mantooth, Kevin Tighe

    Premiered1972

    Emergency! is an American television series that combines the medical drama and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 17
    Barnaby Jones is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    61
    26

    Barnaby Jones

    Lee Meriwether, Buddy Ebsen

    Premiered1973

    Barnaby Jones is a television detective series starring Buddy Ebsen and Lee Meriwether as a... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    The Mod Squad is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    59
    33

    The Mod Squad

    Michael Cole, Clarence Williams III

    Premiered1968

    The Mod Squad is an American drama series that ran on ABC from September 24, 1968 to August... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    The Incredible Hulk is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    65
    40

    The Incredible Hulk

    Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno

    Premiered1977

    The Incredible Hulk is an American television series based on the Marvel Comics character The... more on Wikipedia

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  • 20
    All in the Family is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    45
    8

    All in the Family

    Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton

    Premiered1971

    All in the Family is an American sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS television... more on Wikipedia

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  • 21
    Dragnet is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    53
    29

    Dragnet

    Jack Webb, Harry Morgan

    Premiered1952

    Dragnet is an American radio, television and motion picture series, enacting the cases of a... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    McMillan & Wife is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    58
    26

    McMillan & Wife

    Rock Hudson, Julie Newmar

    Premiered1971

    McMillan & Wife was a lighthearted American police procedural that aired on NBC from September... more on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    Kung Fu is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    56
    38

    Kung Fu

    David Carradine, Keye Luke

    Premiered1972

    Kung Fu is an American action-adventure martial arts western drama television series starring... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Wonder Woman is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    61
    45

    Wonder Woman

    Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner

    Premiered1975

    Wonder Woman is an American television series based on the DC Comics comic book superheroine... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Kolchak: The Night Stalker is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best TV Drama Shows of the 1970s
    57
    35

    Kolchak: The Night Stalker

    Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland

    Premiered1974

    Kolchak: The Night Stalker is an American television series that aired on ABC during the... more on Wikipedia

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TV ProgramsTVEntertainmentDrama1970s70s TV