90s The Best '90s TV Dramas  

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List Rules The greatest drama TV series that aired during the 1990s

The best ‘90s drama shows weighed heavily toward sci-fi premises, but gave equal time to angsty teen dramas and crime procedurals. In fact, we have the 1990s to thank for the exponential growth of the Law and Order franchise. Though some of the greatest TV dramas of the ‘90s might be comedy-drama hybrids rather than straight-up drama, the hour-long format allowed those shows to tackle more serious subjects than a sitcom.

Some of the ‘90s greatest dramas dominated what came to be known as water-cooler viewing, like The X-files, Twin Peaks, and The West Wing. Other shows didn’t quite dominate in the ratings, like Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and The Sopranos, yet they secured a spot in TV history as some of the best ever in the genre.

As the Internet grew in access and popularity, we saw some of the greatest ‘90s dramas draw from the new phenomenon. (Recall Ally McBeal’s use of the dancing baby meme.) Though DVR wasn’t introduced until 1999, VHS recording allowed for delayed viewing, necessitating the rise of the SPOILER ALERT.

Finally, we have to thank a few of the best ‘90s drama shows for launching the careers of Jessica Biel (7th Heaven), Claire Danes (My So-Called Life), and James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek), reviving the careers of James Spader (The Practice), Rob Lowe (The West Wing), and Robert Downey, Jr. (Ally McBeal). And, really, we have to thank Dick Wolf for filling the airwaves end to end with witty banter and weeping victims.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1997 Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series which aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. The series was created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production ...more

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223 122
Charmed is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Charmed 1998 Charmed is an American television series created by Constance M. Burge and produced by Aaron Spelling and his production company Spelling Television, with Brad Kern serving as showrunner. The ...more

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174 118
Law & Order: Special Victims U... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 1999 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is an American police procedural, legal, crime drama television series set in New York City, where it is also primarily produced. In the style of the ...more

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ER is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
dee123 added ER 1994 ER is an American medical drama television series created by novelist Michael Crichton that aired on NBC from September 19, 1994, to April 2, 2009. It was produced by Constant c Productions and ...more

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215 157
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
The X-Files 1993 The X-Files is an American science fiction horror drama television series created by Chris Carter. The program originally aired from September 10, 1993 to May 19, 2002 on Fox, spanning nine ...more

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Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Law & Order 1990 Law & Order is an American police procedural and legal drama television series, created by Dick Wolf and part of the Law & Order franchise. It originally aired on NBC and, in ...more

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141 119
Beverly Hills, 90210 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Beverly Hills, 90210 1990 Beverly Hills, 90210 is an American drama series that originally aired from October 4, 1990 to May 17, 2000 on Fox and was produced by Spelling Television in the United States, and subsequently ...more

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125 135
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
The Sopranos 1999 The Sopranos is an American crime drama television series created by David Chase. Revolving around the fictional New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano, the show portrays the ...more

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7th Heaven is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
7th Heaven 1996 7th Heaven is an American family drama television series, created and produced by Brenda Hampton. The series premiered on August 26, 1996, on The WB, the first time that the network aired Monday ...more

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Angel is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Angel 1999 Angel is an American television series, a spin-off from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series was created by Buffy's creator, Joss Whedon, in collaboration with David ...more

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Xena: Warrior Princess is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Xena: Warrior Princess 1995 Xena: Warrior Princess is an American/New Zealand television series filmed in New Zealand. The series aired in syndication from September 4, 1995, until June 18, 2001. The series was created in ...more

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Dawson's Creek is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Dawson's Creek 1998 Dawson's Creek is an American teen drama television series about the fictional lives of a close-knit group of friends beginning in high school and continuing in college. The series stars James ...more

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My So-Called Life is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
My So-Called Life 1994 My So-Called Life is an American teen drama television series created by Winnie Holzman and produced by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz. It originally aired on ABC from August 25, 1994, to ...more

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Walker, Texas Ranger is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Walker, Texas Ranger 1993 Walker, Texas Ranger is an American television series created by Leslie Greif and Paul Haggis. It was inspired by the film Lone Wolf McQuade, with both this series and that film starring Chuck ...more

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NYPD Blue is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
NYPD Blue 1993 NYPD Blue is an American television police drama set in New York City, exploring the internal and external struggles of the fictional 15th precinct of Manhattan. Each episode typically ...more

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The West Wing is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
The West Wing 1999 The West Wing is an American serial political drama television series created by Aaron Sorkin that was originally broadcast on NBC from September 22, 1999, to May 14, 2006. The series is set ...more

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Melrose Place is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Melrose Place 1992 Melrose Place is an American primetime soap opera that aired on Fox from July 8, 1992 to May 24, 1999, for seven seasons. The show follows the lives of a group of young adults living in an ...more

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Northern Exposure is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Northern Exposure 1990 Northern Exposure is an American television series that ran on CBS from 1990 to 1995, with a total of 110 episodes. It dealt with a New York City physician, Dr. Joel Fleischman, who is sent to ...more

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Touched by an Angel is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Touched by an Angel 1994 Touched by an Angel is an American supernatural drama series that premiered on CBS on September 21, 1994, and ran for 211 episodes and nine seasons until its conclusion on April 27, 2003. ...more

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Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Twin Peaks Twin Peaks (Showtime, 2017) is a miniseries that follows FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in a continuation of the original 1990 series, created by David Lynch.

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Party of Five is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Party of Five 1994 Party of Five is an American teen drama television series that aired on Fox for six seasons, from September 12, 1994, until May 3, 2000. Critically acclaimed, the show suffered from low ratings ...more

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Oz is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Oz 1997 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

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Ally McBeal is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Ally McBeal 1997 Ally McBeal is an American legal comedy-drama television series, originally aired on Fox from September 8, 1997 to May 20, 2002. Created by David E. Kelley, the series stars Calista Flockhart in ...more

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Hercules: The Legendary Journe... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys 1995 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is an American/New Zealander television series filmed in New Zealand. It was produced from January 16, 1995 to November 22, 1999, and was very loosely based on ...more

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JAG is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
dee123 added JAG 1995 JAG is an American legal drama television show with a distinct U.S. Navy theme, created by Donald P. Bellisario, and produced by Belisarius Productions in association with Paramount Network ...more

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Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman 1993 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is an American Western drama series created by Beth Sullivan and starring Jane Seymour who plays Dr. Michaela "Mike" Quinn, a physician who leaves Boston in ...more

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Homicide: Life on the Street is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Homicide: Life on the Street 1993 Homicide: Life on the Street is an American police procedural television series chronicling the work of a fictional version of the Baltimore Police Department's Homicide Unit. It ran for seven ...more

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E/R is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Blanche2 added E/R 1984 E/R is an American television sitcom that aired in 1984 and 1985. Developed from the long running play of the same name created and produced by the Organic Theater Company under the direction of ...more

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Felicity is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Felicity 1998 Felicity is an American prime time television drama series that was created by J. J. Abrams and Matt Reeves and produced by Touchstone Television and Imagine Television for The WB Television ...more

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Picket Fences is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Picket Fences 1992 Picket Fences is an American television drama about the residents of the town of Rome, Wisconsin, created and produced by David E. Kelley. The show initially ran from September 18, 1992, to June ...more

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The Practice is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
The Practice 1997 The Practice is an American legal drama and comedy-drama created by David E. Kelley centering on the partners and associates at a Boston law firm. Running for eight seasons on ABC from 1997 to ...more

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Roswell is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Roswell 1999 Roswell is an American science fiction television series developed, produced, and co-written by Jason Katims. The series debuted on October 6, 1999 on The WB and moved to UPN for the third ...more

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Highlander: The Series is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
teddybear1029 added Highlander: The Series 1992 Highlander: The Series is a fantasy science fiction action-adventure television series featuring Duncan MacLeod of the Scottish Clan MacLeod, as the eponymous "Highlander". A slight ...more

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Sisters is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Sisters 1991 Sisters is a television drama which aired on NBC for six seasons, from 1991 to 1996. The series was created by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, who were also the executive producers and showrunners. ...more

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New York Undercover is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
New York Undercover 1994 New York Undercover is an American police drama that aired on the Fox television network from 1994 to 1998. The series stars Malik Yoba as Detective J.C. Williams and Michael DeLorenzo as ...more