Watchworthy

The Best Serial Drama TV Shows 

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Updated May 1, 2020 1.6k votes 401 voters 15.8k views 63 items

List Rules Shows near the top must be only the best Serial Drama TV series.

It's no secret America loves drama. Which shows that include over-the-top scenarios and intense characters are the best of the best? Popular serial drama TV shows have been a staple of television for years, so there's often debate about what the most entertaining serial drama show of all time is. Don't let your favorite serial drama television programs in history get to the bottom of the list - be sure to vote them up so they have the chance to reach the top spot. 

Featuring shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter, The West Wing, and more, this list will provide some great recommendations for drama programs! 

This list answers the questions, "What is the best serial drama show of all time?" and "What are the greatest serial drama shows?"

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Lucifer is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Tom Ellis, Lauren German & Kevin Alejandro (Netflix)
Lucifer (Fox, 2016) is an American fantasy police procedural comedy-drama television series developed by Tom Kapinos. The series revolves around Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), the Devil, who ...more
2
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
jackcompton88 added Starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul & Anna Gunn (AMC)
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
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter & David Zayas (Showtime)
Dexter (Showtime, 2006) is an American crime drama mystery series developed by James Manos Jr., based on the 2004 novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. When he's not doing forensic work ...more
4
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell & Jamie Bamber (Syfy)
Battlestar Galactica is an American military science fiction television series, and part of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The show was developed by Ronald D. Moore and executive produced ...more
5
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey & Emilia Clarke (HBO)
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
6
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco & Edie Falco (HBO)
The Sopranos (HBO, 1999) is an American crime drama television series created by David Chase. New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) deals with personal and professional issues in ...more
7
Gypsy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
lloydc added Starring Naomi Watts, Billy Crudup & Sophie Cookson (Netflix)
Gypsy (Netflix, 2017) is an American psychological thriller web television series created by Lisa Rubin. A NYC clinical psychologist (Naomi Watts) oversteps personal and professional boundaries ...more
8
Better Call Saul is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks & Rhea Seehorn (AMC)
Better Call Saul (AMC, 2015) is an American television drama series created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, and a spinoff prequel of Breaking Bad. The trials and tribulations of lawyer, Jimmy ...more
9
24 is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub & Carlos Bernard (Fox Broadcasting Company)
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
10
Prison Break is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller & Amaury Nolasco (Fox Broadcasting Company)
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
11
The West Wing is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe & Allison Janney (NBC)
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
12
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham & Vincent Piazza (HBO)
Boardwalk Empire (HBO, 2010) is an American period crime drama television series created by Terence Winter, based on the non-fiction book by Nelson Johnson. During the 1920s Prohibition era, a ...more
13
The Shield is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent & Walton Goggins (FX)
The Shield (FX, 2002) is an American crime drama television series created by Shawn Ryan. Led by Detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), a corrupt LAPD team does anything to stop crime, ...more
14
Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss & Vincent Kartheiser (AMC)
Mad Men (AMC, 2007) is an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner. Womanizing advertising executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm) balances work and pleasure, while harboring ...more
15
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal & Mark Boone Junior (FX)
Sons of Anarchy (FX, 2008) is an American crime neo-Western television series created by Kurt Sutter. As vice president of an outlaw motorcycle club involved with all sorts of illegal activity, ...more
16
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin & Rupert Friend (Showtime)
Homeland (Showtime, 2011) is an American political drama thriller series developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa based on the Israeli series Hatufim, which was created by Gideon Raff. The ...more
17
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane & Molly Parker (HBO)
Deadwood (HBO, 2004) is an American Western television series created by David Milch. In 1870s South Dakota, residents of Deadwood are involved in all sorts of corruption, crime, and secrets.
18
The OA is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
The OA
The OA (Netflix, 2016) is an American mystery drama web television series, with science fiction, supernatural and fantasy elements. Creator Brit Marling stars as a young woman named Prairie ...more
19
A Million Little Things ... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring David Giuntoli, Ron Livingston & Romany Malco (ABC)
A Million Little Things (ABC, 2018) is an American family drama television series created by D. J. Nash. A group of friends intertwined in each other's lives all realize they need to start ...more
20
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal & Sarah Wayne Callies (AMC)
The Walking Dead (A&E, 2010) is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series developed by Frank Darabont, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie ...more
21
Scandal is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Kerry Washington, Henry Ian Cusick & Columbus Short (ABC)
Scandal (ABC, 2012) is an American political thriller television series created by Shonda Rhimes. A former White House Communications Director (Kerry Washington) starts her own crisis management ...more
22
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan & Elizabeth McGovern (ITV)
Downton Abbey (PBS, 2010) is a British historical drama television series created by Julian Fellowes. A chronicle of the lives of the British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in ...more
23
Friday Night Lights is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton & Aimee Teegarden (Audience Network)
Friday Night Lights (NBC, 2006) is an American sports drama television series developed by Peter Berg, inspired by the 1990 nonfiction book by H. G. Bissinger. A drama that follows the lives of ...more
24
Six Feet Under is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall & Frances Conroy (HBO)
Six Feet Under (HBO, 2001) is an American drama television series created and produced by Alan Ball. A dysfunctional family attempts to run an independent funeral home in Los Angeles who has a ...more
25
The Good Wife is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Serial Drama TV Shows
Starring Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth & Josh Charles (CBS)
The Good Wife (CBS, 2009) is an American television legal and political drama created by Robert King and Michelle King. Alicia has been a good wife to her husband, a former state's attorney. ...more