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The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century 

Ranker TV
Updated April 14, 2020 2.2k votes 315 voters 4.8k views 50 items

List Rules Vote up the greatest serial drama series that have premiered in the new millennium.

As opposed to most sitcoms, and even action TV shows, there's something about serial dramas that's so much more captivating. Oh that's right, it's the fact each episode plays off the last, stringing you along for an entire season—in a good way. In essence, it's a lot like watching a 20+ hour movie in periodic segments. That is, unless you're binge watching an entire series, which really isn't unheard of in the 21st century. In fact, it's actually more heard of. We all love binge watching our favorite shows, and the same goes for the best serial dramas since the new millennium. 

Since the year 2000, television has seen an array of fantastic dramas come and go, and even come back again. These top serial dramas of the 21st century are enthralling to say the least, spanning across a broad range of plots and settings. From top serial dramas like Game of Thrones to Dexter and everything in between, these shows are always intriguing to say the least. 

Take a look at the best serial dramas of recent memory below and be sure to up vote your favorites. You can also add any serial dramas after the year 2000 that aren't on the list. If you're a movie buff, check out the best movies of the 2000s.

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list ordered by
1
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
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

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2
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
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

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3
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn

Premiered: 2002

The Wire (HBO, 2002) is an American crime drama television series created and written by David Simon. The series features the Baltimore drug scene, as seen through the eyes of drug dealers and ...more

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4
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

Premiered: 1999

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

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5
The Americans is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Maximiliano Hernández

Premiered: 2013

The Americans (FX, 2013) is an American period drama television series created by Joe Weisberg. Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) are two Soviet KGB officers posing as ...more

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6
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

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

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7
True Detective is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan

Premiered: 2013

True Detective (HBO, 2014) is an American anthology drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto. Each season focuses on detectives investigating violent offences.

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8
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks

Premiered: 2014

Fargo (FX, 2014) is an American black comedy drama anthology television series created by Noah Hawley, and inspired by the 1996 film. Various chronicles of deception, intrigue and wrong doings ...more

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9
Lost is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia

Premiered: 2004

Lost is an American television drama series that originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company from September 22, 2004, to May 23, 2010, over six seasons, comprising a total of 121 ...more

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10
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
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

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11
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend

Premiered: 2011

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

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12
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright

Premiered: 2016

Westworld (HBO, 2016) is an American science fiction western thriller television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and based on the 1973 film. In a technologically advanced Wild ...more

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13
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies

Premiered: 2010

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

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14
The Blacklist is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff

Premiered: 2013

The Blacklist (NBC, 2013) is an American crime thriller television series created by Jon Bokenkamp. In exchange for immunity from prosecution, a high-profile criminal (James Spader) volunteers ...more

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15
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern

Premiered: 2010

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

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16
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior

Premiered: 2008

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

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17
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas

Premiered: 2013

Hannibal (NBC, 2013) is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed by Bryan Fuller, based on the characters created by novelist Thomas Harris. A gifted FBI profiler ...more

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18
House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly

Premiered: 2013

House of Cards (Netflix, 2013) is an American political drama television series developed by Beau Willimon, and an adaptation of the BBC mini-series based on the novel by Michael Dobbs. ...more

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19
Six Feet Under is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy

Premiered: 2001

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

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20
Bates Motel is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot

Premiered: 2013

Bates Motel (A&E, 2013) is an American psychological horror drama television series based on characters from the 1959 novel Psycho by Robert Bloch. After his father's sudden death, teenager ...more

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21
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker

Premiered: 2004

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.

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22
The Leftovers is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston
The Leftovers is an American television drama series created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta airing on HBO. It is based on Perrotta's novel of the same name. The pilot was written by Lindelof ...more

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23
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza

Premiered: 2010

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

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24
The Killing is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Billy Campbell

Premiered: 2011

The Killing (AMC, 2011) is an American drama television series created by Veena Sud, based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen. Seattle homicide detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen ...more

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25
Condor is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Condor Max Irons, Brendan Fraser, William Hurt
Condor (Audience, 2018) is an American television series created by Todd Katzburg and Jason Smilovic, based on the novel by James Grady. Young CIA analyst Joe Turner (Max Irons) has his idealism ...more