Entertainment

The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century  

Ranker TV
1.8k votes 250 voters 3.8k views 49 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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26
Bates Motel is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot
Bates Motel is an American drama thriller television series developed for television by Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin and Anthony Cipriano, and produced by Universal Television for the cable network ...more
27
Grey's Anatomy is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson
Grey's Anatomy is an American medical soap opera television series that premiered on American Broadcasting Company as a mid-season replacement on March 27, 2005. The series has aired eleven ...more
28
Black Sails is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Jessica Parker Kennedy, Toby Stephens, Hannah New
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
29
True Blood is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell
True Blood is an American television drama series produced and created by Alan Ball. It is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the ...more
30
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza
Boardwalk Empire is an American period drama television series created by Terence Winter. Airing on premium cable channel HBO, the series is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the ...more
31
Suits is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Gabriel Macht, Patrick J. Adams, Meghan Markle
Suits is a USA Network legal drama created by Aaron Korsh that stars Patrick J. Adams as Michael "Mike" Ross and Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter. The first episode debuted on June 23, ...more
32
Luther is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Dermot Crowley
Luther is a British drama series starring Idris Elba as the eponymous character DCI John Luther. Written by Neil Cross, the first series, comprising six one-hour long episodes, premiered on 4 ...more
33
The Good Wife is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Josh Charles
The Good Wife is an American television legal and political drama that premiered on CBS on September 22, 2009. The series was created by Robert King and Michelle King. It stars Julianna ...more
34
Alias is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Jennifer Garner, Ron Rifkin, Carl Lumbly
Alias is an American spy-action television series created by J. J. Abrams, which was broadcast on ABC for five seasons, from September 30, 2001, to May 22, 2006. It stars Jennifer Garner as ...more
35
American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters
American Horror Story (FX, 2011) is an American anthology horror television series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. An anthology series centering on different characters and locations, ...more
36
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Kyle MacLachlan, Russ Tamblyn, Sherilyn Fenn
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.
37
Arrow is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Colin Donnell
Arrow is an American superhero television series developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg, based on the DC Comics character. Five years after being stranded on a hostile ...more
38
Gotham is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz
Gotham (Fox, 2014) is an American drama television series developed by Bruno Heller, based on the DC Comics characters from the Batman franchise. The story behind Detective James Gordon's (Ben ...more
39
Angel is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, Alexis Denisof
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
40
Killing Eve is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw
Killing Eve (BBC America, 2018) is a British drama television series developed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, based on the novels by Luke Jennings. Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a desk-bound MI5 Officer, ...more
41
24 is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard
24 is an American television series produced for the Fox network created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, and starring Kiefer Sutherland as Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer. Each ...more
42
Empire is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray
Empire (Fox, 2015) is an American musical drama television series created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. The life of hip hop mogul, and CEO of Empire Entertainment Lucious Lyon (Terrence ...more
43
Parenthood is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepard
Parenthood is an American television drama series developed by Jason Katims and produced by Imagine Television and Universal Television for NBC. The show tells of the Braverman clan which ...more
44
Scandal is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Kerry Washington, Henry Ian Cusick, Columbus Short
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
45
The Riches is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Eddie Izzard, Minnie Driver, Shannon Woodward
The Riches is an American television series which was originally broadcast from March 15, 2007, to April 30, 2008, on FX. The series starred Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver.
46
Brothers & Sisters is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Sally Field, Emily VanCamp, Rob Lowe
Brothers & Sisters is an American television drama series that centers on the Walker family and their lives in Los Angeles and Pasadena, California. The series premiered on ABC on September ...more
47
A Million Little Things is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
David Giuntoli, Ron Livingston, Romany Malco
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
48
Mistresses is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Alyssa Milano, Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes
Mistresses is an American mystery drama television series based on the 2008–10 U.K. series of the same name, about the lives of four female friends and their involvement in an array of illicit ...more
49
Kings is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Ian McShane, Christopher Egan, Susanna Thompson
Kings is an American television drama series which aired on NBC. The series' narrative is loosely based on the Biblical story of King David, but set in a kingdom that culturally and ...more