Entertainment

The Best '90s TV Dramas  

Ranker TV
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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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26
Oz is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
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
27
Hercules: The Legendary Journe... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
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
28
JAG is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
dee123 added 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
29
Baywatch is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
1989
Baywatch is an American action drama series about the Los Angeles County Lifeguards who patrol the beaches of Los Angeles County, California, starring David Hasselhoff. The show was canceled ...more
30
Felicity is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
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
31
Homicide: Life on the Street is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
1993
This series 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 seasons on NBC ...more
32
Roswell is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
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
33
Diagnosis: Murder is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
1993
This series is a mystery/medical drama television series starring Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves incidents with the help of his son, a detective played by his ...more
34
Life Goes On is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
1989
Life Goes On is an American television series that aired on ABC from September 12, 1989, to May 23, 1993. The show centers on the Thatcher family living in suburban Chicago: Drew, his wife ...more
35
Picket Fences is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
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
36
Highlander: The Series is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
teddybear1029 added 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
37
Nash Bridges is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
1996
Nash Bridges is an American television police drama created by Carlton Cuse. The show starred Don Johnson and Cheech Marin as two Inspectors with the San Francisco Police Department's Special ...more
38
E/R is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Blanche2 added 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
39
Highlander: The Raven is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Dimos Dicoudis added 1998
Highlander: The Raven was a short-lived spin-off from the television series Highlander, continuing the saga of a female Immortal. The series followed the character of Amanda, an Immortal who had ...more
40
The Practice is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
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
41
Chicago Hope is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
1994
Chicago Hope is an American medical drama television series, created by David E. Kelley. It ran on CBS from September 18, 1994, to May 4, 2000. The series is set in a fictional private charity ...more
42
Highlander: The Animated Serie... is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
Dimos Dicoudis added 1994
Highlander: The Animated Series is a Canadian-French/American animated television series which premiered on September 18, 1994. It is a loose spinoff of the cult classic 1986 film of the same ...more
43
Sisters is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
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
44
New York Undercover is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best '90s TV Dramas
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