Entertainment

The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century 

Ranker TV
Updated February 1, 2019 2k votes 277 voters 4.2k 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.

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
Breaking Bad is an American 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 September 29, ...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
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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#2 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #9 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Timefeaturing Who Would Star In An Americanized 'Game Of Thrones'?

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
The Wire is an American drama television series set and produced in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Created and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series was ...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
The Sopranos is an American drama television series created by David Chase. Revolving around the fictional New Jersey-based Italian-American Tony Soprano, the show portrays the difficulties he ...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
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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#52 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #50 of 396 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciatefeaturing Ranking the Best Seasons of 'The Americans'

6
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 6 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

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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
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
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 8 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

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9
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 9 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 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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10
Lost is listed (or ranked) 10 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

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11
The Handmaid's Tale is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski
The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu, 2017) is an American web television series created by Bruce Miller, based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. In a dystopian future where women are brutally ...more

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12
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 12 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

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#37 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #70 of 217 The TV Shows with the Best Writingfeaturing The Best Homeland Characters of All Time

13
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 13 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

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#48 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #128 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time

14
The Killing is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Billy Campbell
This show is an American 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 Sud and ...more

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#124 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #318 of 578 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Timefeaturing The Best Seasons of The Killing

15
The Blacklist is listed (or ranked) 15 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

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16
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 16 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

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17
Orange Is the New Black ... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning
Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama series created by Jenji Kohan and first released on Netflix on July 11, 2013. The series, produced by Tilted Productions in association with ...more

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18
The Shield is listed (or ranked) 18 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

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19
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 19 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

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#89 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #164 of 396 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciatefeaturing The Best Seasons of Boardwalk Empire

20
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 20 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

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21
The Leftovers is listed (or ranked) 21 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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#165 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #60 of 396 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciatefeaturing The Best Characters on The Leftovers, Ranked

22
House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright
House of Cards is a 2013 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 ...more

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23
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 23 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

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24
Black Sails is listed (or ranked) 24 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

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25
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior
Sons of Anarchy is an American drama television series created by Kurt Sutter, about the lives of a close-knit outlaw motorcycle club operating in Charming, a fictional town in California's ...more

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