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The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made 

Ranker TV
Updated July 27, 2020 1.1k votes 147 voters 4.5k views 72 items

List Rules Vote up the best action dramas that have aired on television.

The best action drama shows are a rush, perfectly pairing the excitement of an action series with the emotion of a drama. The best action drama series ever shown on television breaks up the intrigue and interpersonal tension with moments of physical conflict. If you’ve been looking for the best action dramas to add some excitement to your TV nights, this list of the best action drama series of all time will help you figure out what needs to go into your queue.

The really good action dramas keep you watching through either emotional manipulation or awesome action scenes. Will they or won't they? Who cares because one thing they will do is throw some punches or chase after the bad guys. Action dramas are also particularly good at removing main characters from the lineup in dramatic and heartbreaking ways. Mind-bending dramas like Legion and Orphan Black deliver the action as well as shows with a little more emphasis on the fight scenes, such as Xena: Warrior Princess or Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Which shows balance being dramas and action series the best? Vote up the best action drama shows, vote down the shows that don't deliver the drama with their adrenaline rush, and add any dramatic action series that are missing.

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list ordered by
1
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke

Premiered: 2011

Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011) is an American fantasy drama television series created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, based on the series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin. Nine noble ...more
2
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Jon DeSpirito added Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

Premiered: 2008

Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008) is an American neo-Western crime drama television series created by Vince Gilligan. After being diagnosed with cancer, a depressed high school chemistry teacher (Bryan ...more
3
The Punisher is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Jon Bernthal, Ben Barnes, Ebon Moss-Bachrach

Premiered: 2017

Marvel's The Punisher (Netflix, 2017) is an American web television series created for Netflix by Steve Lightfoot. Former Force Recon officer Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), known throughout New ...more
4
Prison Break is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Amaury Nolasco

Premiered: 2005

Prison Break (Fox, 2005) is an American television serial drama created by Paul Scheuring.The series revolves around two brothers; one has been sentenced for a something he did not commit, and ...more
5
Person of Interest is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Chapman

Premiered: 2011

Person of Interest (CBS, 2011) is an American science fiction drama television series created by Jonathan Nolan. An ex-CIA agent (Jim Caviezel) and a wealthy programmer (Michael Emerson) save ...more
6
24 is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard

Premiered: 2001

24 (Fox, 2001) is an American drama television series created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los ...more
7
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen

Premiered: 2013

Vikings (History, 2013) is a historical drama television series created by Michael Hirst. A farmer (Travis Fimmel) rises to fame by successful raids into England, and eventually becomes a ...more
8
Stargate SG-1 is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping

Premiered: 1997

Stargate SG-1 is an adventure and military science fiction television series and part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Stargate franchise. The show, created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner, is ...more
9
Justified is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter

Premiered: 2010

Justified (FX, 2010) is an American crime drama television series developed by Graham Yost, based on the short story "Fire in the Hole" by Elmore Leonard. US Marshal Raylan Givens ...more
10
Daredevil is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson

Premiered: 2015

Daredevil (Netflix, 2015) is an American web television series created for Netflix by Drew Goddard, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) ...more
11
Banshee is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Antony Starr, Ivana Milicevic, Ulrich Thomsen
Banshee (Cinemax, 2013) is an American action television series created by Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler. After serving 15 years in prison, an ex-convict (Antony Starr) assumes the ...more
12
Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Spartacus Lucy Lawless, Jaime Murray, Katrina Law

Premiered: 2010

Spartacus (Starz, 2010) is a British television series produced in New Zealand, inspired by the historical figure of Spartacus, a Thracian gladiator who from 73 to 71 BCE led a major slave ...more
13
24: Live Another Day is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Yvonne Strahovski, Kiefer Sutherland, Michelle Fairley
24: Live Another Day, also known as Day 9, is a 24 limited event television series consisting of twelve episodes that premiered on May 5, 2014, and concluded on July 14, 2014, airing on Fox. Sky ...more
14
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber

Premiered: 2004

Battlestar Galactica (Sc-Fi, 2004) is an American military science fiction television series developed by Ronald D Moore, and a re-imagining of the 1978 series of the same name. After a ...more
15
The Last Kingdom is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Alexander Dreymon, David Dawson, Tobias Santelmann

Premiered: 2015

The Last Kingdom (BBC America, 2015) is a British historical fiction television series based on Bernard Cornwell's The Saxon Stories series of novels. In 872 England, an unlikely hero (Alexander ...more
16
Iris is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
TySeb added Iris Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-hee, Jung Joon-ho

Premiered: 2009

Iris (KBS2, 2009) is a South Korean romance action thriller television series. Blood brothers Hyun-jun and Sa-woo are security agents who fall in love with the same woman.
17
Fullmetal Alchemist: Bro... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Kent Williams, Iemasa Kayumi, Vic Mignogna

Premiered: 2010

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an anime adaptation of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga by Hiromu Arakawa. Developed by Bones, the series is directed by Yasuhiro Irie and written by Hiroshi ...more
18
Orphan Black is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris

Premiered: 2013

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction television series created by screenwriter Graeme Manson and director John Fawcett, starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical people who are, in ...more
19
Treadstone is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Treadstone Omar Metwally, Tracy Ifeachor, Hyo Joo Han

Premiered: 2019

Treadstone (USA, 2019) is an American action drama television series, based on the Bourne Film series, created by Tim Kring. The show explores the origin story and present-day actions of CIA ...more
20
City Hunter is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
TySeb added Lee Min-ho, Park Min-young, Lee Joon-hyuk

Premiered: 2011

City Hunter (SBS, 2011) is a South Korean romance action thriller television drama series, based on the 1985 Japanese manga by Tsukasa Hojo. Lee Yun-seong is trained by his father's best friend ...more
21
Black Sails is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Jon DeSpirito added Jessica Parker Kennedy, Toby Stephens, Hannah New

Premiered: 2014

Black Sails is an American dramatic adventure television series set on New Providence Island and a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island. The series was created by Jonathan ...more
22
Rome is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker

Premiered: 2005

Rome (HBO, 2005) is a British-American-Italian historical drama television series created by John Milius, William J. MacDonald, and Bruno Heller. A down-to-earth account of the lives of both ...more
23
The Umbrella Academy is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman

Premiered: 2019

The Umbrella Academy (Netflix, 2019) is an American television series developed by Steve Blackman, based on the comic book series by Gerard Way. A disbanded group of superheroes reunite after ...more
24
Fullmetal Alchemist is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Vic Mignogna, Aaron Dismuke, Romi Pak

Premiered: 2003

Fullmetal Alchemist is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. It was serialized in Square Enix's Monthly Shōnen Gangan magazine between August 2001 and June 2010; the ...more
25
The Legend of Korra is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Action Drama Series Ever Made
Janet Varney, P.J. Byrne, David Faustino

Premiered: 2012

The Legend of Korra (Nickelodeon, 2012) is an American animated television series created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, and a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Avatar Korra ...more