TV Drama The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century  

Ranker TV
613 votes 95 voters 1.2k views 41 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.

list ordered by

1
46 5
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn Breaking Bad is an American crime drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. The show originally aired on the AMC network for five seasons, from January 20, 2008, to ...more

2
26 8
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 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

3
13 3
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco The Sopranos is an American crime drama television series created by David Chase. Revolving around the fictional New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano, the show portrays the ...more

4
14 5
Six Feet Under is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy Six Feet Under is an American drama television series created and produced by Alan Ball. It premiered on the premium cable network HBO in the United States on June 3, 2001, and ended on August ...more

5
16 7
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas Dexter is an American television drama series. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter pattern analyst for Miami Metro Police Department who also leads a secret life ...more

6
16 7
The Americans is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Maximiliano Hernández 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

7
16 7
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern Downton Abbey is a British period drama television series created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. It first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom and Ireland on ...more

8
12 4
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior Sons of Anarchy is an American crime drama television series created by Kurt Sutter, about the lives of a close-knit outlaw motorcycle club operating in Charming, a fictional town in ...more

9
13 5
Bates Motel is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
17 9
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn The Wire is an American crime drama television series set and produced in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Created and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the ...more

11
11 4
The Killing is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Billy Campbell The Killing is an American crime drama television series that premiered on April 3, 2011, on AMC, based on the Danish television series Forbrydelsen. The American version was developed by Veena ...more

12
9 3
True Detective is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan True Detective (HBO, 2014) is an American anthology crime drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto. Each season focuses on detectives investigating violent crimes.

13
11 5
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza Boardwalk Empire is an American period crime 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

14
14 8
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend Homeland is an American political thriller television series developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa based on the Israeli series Hatufim, which was created by Gideon Raff. The series stars ...more

15
15 10
Lost is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia 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

16
13 8
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright 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

17
10 5
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks Fargo (FX, 2014) is an American black comedy–crime drama anthology television series created by Noah Hawley, and inspired by the 1996 film. Various chronicles of deception, intrigue and murder ...more

18
14 9
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies 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

19
8 4
The Blacklist is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff The Blacklist is an American crime drama television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013. Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former U.S Navy officer turned high-profile ...more

20
8 4
Alias is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
7 3
House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright House of Cards is an American political drama television series developed and produced by Beau Willimon. It is an adaptation of the BBC's mini-series of the same name and is based on the novel ...more

22
7 3
Luther is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Dermot Crowley Luther is a British crime 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 ...more

23
6 2
The Good Wife is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
11 8
True Blood is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
9 6
The Leftovers is listed (or ranked) 25 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

26
9 6
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas Hannibal is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed by Bryan Fuller for NBC. The series is based on characters and elements appearing in the novel Red Dragon by ...more

27
7 4
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker Deadwood is an American western television series created, produced, and largely written by David Milch and aired on the premium cable network HBO from March 21, 2004, to August 27, 2006, ...more

28
5 2
Suits is listed (or ranked) 28 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

29
5 2
Gotham is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz Gotham (Fox, 2014) is an American crime drama television series developed by Bruno Heller, based on the DC Comics characters from the Batman franchise. The story behind Detective James Gordon's ...more

30
4 1
The Shield is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Walton Goggins The Shield is an American drama television series starring Michael Chiklis that premiered on March 12, 2002, on FX, in the United States, and concluded on November 25, 2008, after seven seasons. ...more

31
8 6
Grey's Anatomy is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
7 6
Parenthood is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
5 4
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen 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

34
5 4
24 is listed (or ranked) 34 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

35
3 2
Brothers & Sisters is listed (or ranked) 35 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

36
4 4
Scandal is listed (or ranked) 36 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

37
1 1
The Riches is listed (or ranked) 37 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.

38
5 6
American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 38 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

39
3 4
Elementary is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, Aidan Quinn Elementary is an American crime drama series that presents a contemporary update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes. The series was created by Robert Doherty and stars Jonny ...more

40
2 3
Mistresses is listed (or ranked) 40 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

41
0 1
Kings is listed (or ranked) 41 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