Historical Entertainment The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s  

Ranker TV
277 votes 24 voters 61 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
8 1
Agent Carter is listed (or ranked) 1 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
2
10 3
Hogan's Heroes is listed (or ranked) 2 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
3
8 2
Bomb Girls is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Meg Tilly, Jodi Balfour, Charlotte Hegele
Bomb Girls is a Canadian television drama that debuted on January 4, 2012 on Global. The plot profiles the stories of four women working in a Canadian munitions factory during World War II, ...more
4
7 2
Manhattan is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Rachel Brosnahan, Michael Chernus, Christopher Denham
Manhattan is an American television series that premiered on July 27, 2014, on WGN America. It is the second original series, after Salem, for the network. While some historical figures are ...more
5
7 2
The Time in Between is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
The Time in Between Adriana Ugarte, Hannah New, Mari Carmen Sánchez
6
6 2
The Making of the Mob is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Ray Liotta
The Making of the Mob (AMC, 2015) is a television docu-series detailing the emergence of organized crime in 20th century America. Narrated by actor Ray Liotta, the series also features intercuts ...more
7
5 1
Ike is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Ike (miniseries)
Ike is a 1979 television miniseries about the life of Dwight D. Eisenhower, with heavy concentration on the time he went to Europe during World War II to serve as Supreme Commander. The ...more
8
5 2
X Company is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Livia Matthes, Evelyne Brochu, Jack Laskey
9
5 2
Brideshead Revisited is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Jeremy Irons, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud
Brideshead Revisited is a 1981 British television serial produced by Granada Television for broadcast by the ITV network. The serial is an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead ...more
10
5 2
Homefront is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
John Slattery, Kyle Chandler, Kelly Rutherford
Homefront is an American television drama series created and produced by Lynn Marie Latham and Bernard Lechowick in association with Warner Bros. Television for ABC. The show was set in the ...more
11
5 2
Foyle's War is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell
This series is a British detective drama television series set during and shortly after WWII, created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz and commissioned by ITV after the long-running ...more
12
4 1
Small Island is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Small Island Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, David Oyelowo
Small Island is a 2010 International Emmy Awards winning tv program aired on December 6, 2009 in United Kingdom.
13
4 1
War and Remembrance is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Sharon Stone, Jane Seymour, Robert Mitchum
War and Remembrance is a 1988 film.
14
4 1
Mob City is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Jon Bernthal, Milo Ventimiglia, Neal McDonough
Mob City is an American neo-noir crime drama television series created by Frank Darabont, based on real-life accounts of the L.A.P.D. and gangsters in 1940s Los Angeles as chronicled in John ...more
15
4 1
Home Fires is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Home Fires  Wendy Crewson, Gerard Parkes, Booth Savage
Home Fires was a Canadian television drama series, which aired on CBC Television from 1980 to 1983. It was a family saga set in Toronto during World War II, and took its name from the expression ...more
16
5 3
The Diary of Anne Frank is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Felicity Jones, Iain Glen, Tamsin Greig
The Diary of Anne Frank is a BBC adaptation, in association with France 2, of The Diary of a Young Girl originally written by Anne Frank and adapted for television by Deborah Moggach. It was ...more
17
5 3
Get Well Soon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Get Well Soon Hugh Bonneville, Eddie Marsan, Patsy Rowlands
Get Well Soon was a short-lived 1997 BBC television comedy series starring Matthew Cottle and Eddie Marsan. Lasting only 6 episodes, it was about the everyday lives of a group of patients, ...more
18
4 2
The Camomile Lawn is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Rebecca Hall, Claire Bloom, Felicity Kendal
The Camomile Lawn (ABC, 1992) is a television adaptation of the book of the same name by Mary Wesley, produced by Glenn Wilhide and Sophie Belhetchet and directed by Peter Hall. In 1939, young ...more
19
4 2
Ellery Queen is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Jim Hutton, David Wayne, Tom Reese
Ellery Queen is an American television detective mystery series based on the fictional character Ellery Queen. It aired on NBC during the 1975–76 television season and stars Jim Hutton as Ellery ...more
20
4 2
Goodnight Sweetheart is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Michelle Holmes, Nicholas Lyndhurst, David Ryall
Goodnight Sweetheart is a British sitcom that ran for six series on BBC1 from 1993 to 1999. It stars Nicholas Lyndhurst as Gary Sparrow, an accidental time traveller who leads a double life ...more
21
4 2
Roots: The Next Generations is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Marlon Brando, James Earl Jones, Henry Fonda
Roots: The Next Generations is a television miniseries, introduced in 1979, continuing, from 1882 to the 1960s, the fictionalized story of the family of Alex Haley and their life in Henning, ...more
22
3 1
The Thorn Birds is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Christopher Plummer, Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Simmons
The Thorn Birds is a television mini-series broadcast on ABC between 27 and 30 March 1983. It starred Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, Barbara Stanwyck, Christopher Plummer, Jean Simmons, ...more
23
3 1
A Touch of Green is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
A Touch of Green Tien-Hsin, Cheryl Yang, Chun-Tian Lan
24
3 1
Demob is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Demob
Demob was a short-lived British comedy-drama television series, which screened for one six-episode series in 1993 on ITV. The series was set in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and starred Martin ...more
25
2 0
Catch-22 is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie
Catch-22 (Hulu, 2019) is an American-Italian drama miniseries, based on the novel of the same name by Joseph Heller. Following the story of Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a US Air Force ...more