Entertainment

The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s  

Ranker TV
350 votes 44 voters 1.5k views 62 items

List Rules Vote up the best shows set in the 1940s. If you're adding an item to the list, be sure it's a period piece set in the '40s, not a series released during that decade.

The world hadn't had long to enjoy being out of the Great Depression when World War II came along. Most TV shows set in the 1940s, even comedies, don't ignore how WWII affected daily life. The best television shows set in the '40s do an impressive job balancing entertainment with drama and giving us a glimpse of what the Greatest Generation lived through. In that way they're a lot like the television shows of the 1940s themselves, even though they're made much later.

Hogan's Heroes might be one of the most fondly remembered older TV shows set during WWII. A lot of television set in the '40s is also based on books - both memoirs and fiction. There are 1940s shows based on canon novels All Creatures Great and Small and The Diaries of Ann Frank to shows adapting the Miss Marple mystery novels. The bustle of the '40s is also a popular era to set alternate universe stories or to take a little liberty with real events. The time traveler in Goodnight Sweetheart, the dramatization of Manhattan and the superhero-adjacent antics of Agent Carter all play with the tropes of the decade.

Which of these top TV shows set the 1940s are your favorites? Check out the list below and vote up your choices for the best shows set in the '40s, while voting down others the shows that aren't enjoyable.

list ordered by
1
Hogan's Heroes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer, John Banner
Hogan's Heroes is an American television sitcom set in a German prisoner during WWII. It ran for 168 episodes from September 17, 1965, to April 4, 1971, on the CBS network. Bob Crane starred as ...more
2
The Terror is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Derek Mio, George Takei, Jared Harris
The Terror (AMC, 2018) is an anthology television series created by David Kajganich and Soo Hugh, based on the novel by Dan Simmons. The first season follows a crew of a Royal Naval expedition ...more
3
Jokehnen is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Jokehnen
Jokehnen is a German television series.
4
Das Boot is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Vicky Krieps, Tom Wlaschiha, Thierry Frémont
Das Boot (Sky plc, 2018) is a German historical drama television series based on the Lothar-Günther Buchheim's 1973 book of the same name and as a sequel to the 1981 German film of the same ...more
5
Close to the Enemy is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Close to the Enemy Lucy Ward, August Diehl, Jim Sturgess
Close to the Enemy (BBC Two, 2016) is a British period drama miniseries. Set in the late 1940s in London, Dieter Koehler (August Diehl), a German engineer who specialized in jet airplane ...more
6
Umechan Sensei is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Umechan Sensei Maki Horikita, Keisuke Koide, Mitsuko Baisho
Umechan Sensei is a Japanese television drama series. It debuted on April 2, 2012. It is about a girl named Umeko Shimomura who, despite being overshadowed by her talented older brother and ...more
7
Tenko is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Louise Jameson, Stephanie Beacham, Burt Kwouk
Tenko is a television drama, co-produced by the BBC and the ABC. A total of thirty episodes were produced over three series between 1981 and 1984, followed by a one-off special, Tenko Reunion, ...more
8
Shine on Harvey Moon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Colin Salmon, Linda Robson, Nigel Planer
Shine on, Harvey Moon! is a British television series made by Witzend Productions and Central Television for ITV from 8 January 1982 to 23 August 1985 and briefly revived in 1995 by Meridian. ...more
9
'Allo 'Allo! is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Gorden Kaye, Carmen Silvera, Vicki Michelle
'Allo 'Allo! is a BBC television sitcom broadcast on BBC1 from 1982 to 1992, comprising eighty-five episodes. A repeat is aired in the 'Afternoon Classics' on BBC2 since 27 March 2015. The story ...more
10
To Live to Love is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
To Live to Love Maggie Cheung Ho-yee, Huang Yi, Tse Kwan-ho
11
The Jewel in the Crown is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Charles Dance, Om Puri, Saeed Jaffrey
The Jewel in the Crown is a British television serial about the final days of the British Raj in India during World War II, based upon the Raj Quartet novels by British author Paul Scott. ...more
12
The Sullivans is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Sam Neill, Gary Sweet, Damon Herriman
The Sullivans is an Australian drama television series produced by Crawford Productions which ran on the Nine Network on 15 November 1976 until 10 March 1983. The series told the story of an ...more
13
Die Manns – Ein Jahrhundertrom... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Die Manns – Ein Jahrhundertroman Armin Mueller-Stahl, Monica Bleibtreu, Jürgen Hentsch
14
Love Is Payable is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Love Is Payable Steve Ma, Carina Lau, Leanne Liu
15
Goodtime Girls is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Annie Potts, Peter Scolari, Adrian Zmed
Goodtime Girls is an American situation comedy which ran on ABC from January 22, 1980 until August 29, 1980. It was created by Leonora Thuna, and produced by Thomas L. Miller, Edward K. Milkis ...more
16
JFK: Reckless Youth is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
JFK: Reckless Youth
JFK: Reckless Youth (ABC, 1993) is an American TV drama miniseries portraying the early life of American president John F. Kennedy, adapted from the biography of the same name by Nigel
17
Klemperer – Ein Leben in Deuts... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Klemperer – Ein Leben in Deutschland
Klemperer – Ein Leben in Deutschland is a German television series.
18
Tannbach is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Tannbach Johanna Bittenbinder, Jonathan Berlin, Henriette Confuriu
19
Doctor Finlay is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Jason Flemyng, Annette Crosbie, Ian Bannen
Doctor Finlay is a British television series based on A. J. Cronin's stories about the fictional hero, Dr. Finlay. It is a follow-up to Dr. Finlay's Casebook, the successful BBC series and takes ...more
20
The Battle Among the Clans is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
The Battle Among the Clans Chow Yun-fat Sean Lau Eddie Kwan
21
Traitors is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Emma Appleton, Michael Stuhlbarg, Keeley Hawes
Traitors (Channel 4 and Netflix, 2019), originally titled "Jerusalem," is a joint British and American thriller period drama television series. Set in 1945 London, the show follows the ...more
22
No Regrets is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
No Regrets Elliot Ngok, Raymond Wong, Nancy Wu
No Regrets is a 2010 TVB Hong Kong television drama created and produced by Lee Tim-shing. It originally aired on the Jade and HD Jade networks from 18 October to 28 November 2010, consisting of ...more
23
Hombres de honor is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Hombres de honor
Hombres de honor was a 2005 Argentine telenovela, produced by Pol-Ka and aired by El Trece. It was starred by Laura Novoa and Gabriel Corrado.
24
Agent Carter is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Hayley Atwell, James D'Arcy, Enver Gjokaj
Marvel's Agent Carter, or simply Agent Carter, is an American television series created for ABC. The series features the Marvel Comics character Peggy Carter, with Hayley Atwell reprising her ...more
25
Die Wölfe is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Die Wölfe Axel Prahl, Barbara Auer, Matthias Brandt