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The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s 

Ranker TV
Updated August 12, 2019 499 votes 78 voters 2.5k 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.

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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

Premiered: 1965

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 168

Network: CBS

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
Agent Carter is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Hayley Atwell, James D'Arcy, Enver Gjokaj

Network: American Broadcasting Company

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
3
Ellery Queen is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Ellery Queen Jim Hutton, David Wayne, Tom Reese

Premiered: 1975

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 22

Network: NBC

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
4
The Diary of Anne Frank ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Felicity Jones, Iain Glen, Tamsin Greig

Premiered: 2009

Number of Episodes: 5

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC One

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
5
Bomb Girls is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Meg Tilly, Jodi Balfour, Charlotte Hegele

Premiered: 2012

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 6

Network: Global Television Network

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
6
The Waltons is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Jon Walmsley, Mary Beth McDonough, Eric Scott

Premiered: 1972

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 210

Network: CBS

The Waltons is an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr., based on his book Spencer's Mountain, and a 1963 film of the same name. The show is centered on a family in a rural ...more
7
Catch-22 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie

Premiered: 2019

Network: Hulu

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
8
The Thorn Birds is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Christopher Plummer, Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Simmons

Premiered: 1983

Network: American Broadcasting Company

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
9
Foyle's War is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell

Premiered: 2002

Number of Episodes: 25

Network: ITV

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
10
All Creatures Great and ... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy, Peter Davison

Premiered: 1978

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 91

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC One

All Creatures Great and Small is a British television series, based on the books of the British veterinary surgeon Alf Wight, who wrote under the pseudonym James Herriot. In 1977, the BBC tasked ...more
11
The Time in Between is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
The Time in Between Adriana Ugarte, Hannah New, Mari Carmen Sánchez

Premiered: 2013

12
Das Boot is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Vicky Krieps, Tom Wlaschiha, Thierry Frémont

Premiered: 2018

Network: Sky plc, Hulu

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
13
Fleming: The Man Who Wou... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond

Premiered: 2014

Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond is an upcoming miniseries, to be broadcast on 29 January 2014 in four instalments. Actor Dominic Cooper stars as Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, while ...more
14
War and Remembrance is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Sharon Stone, Jane Seymour, Robert Mitchum

Premiered: 1988

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 12

Network: American Broadcasting Company

War and Remembrance is a 1988 film.
15
Ike is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Ike (miniseries)

Premiered: 1979

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
16
Homefront is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
John Slattery, Kyle Chandler, Kelly Rutherford

Premiered: 1991

Network: American Broadcasting Company

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
17
The Making of the Mob is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
Manhattan is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Rachel Brosnahan, Michael Chernus, Christopher Denham

Premiered: 2014

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 12

Network: WGN America

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
19
The Sullivans is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Sam Neill, Gary Sweet, Damon Herriman

Premiered: 1976

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 1114

Network: Nine Network

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
20
'Allo 'Allo! is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Gorden Kaye, Carmen Silvera, Vicki Michelle

Premiered: 1982

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 85

Network: BBC One

'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
21
Home Fires is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Home Fires  Wendy Crewson, Gerard Parkes, Booth Savage

Premiered: 1980

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 31

Network: CBC Television

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
22
Small Island is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Small Island Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, David Oyelowo

Premiered: 2009

Number of Episodes: 2

Network: BBC HD

Small Island is a 2010 International Emmy Awards winning tv program aired on December 6, 2009 in United Kingdom.
23
X Company is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Livia Matthes, Evelyne Brochu, Jack Laskey

Premiered: 2015

X Company is a Canadian/Hungarian spy thriller television series created by Flashpoint's Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern which premiered on February 18, 2015, on CBC Television. The series ...more
24
Goodnight Sweetheart is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Michelle Holmes, Nicholas Lyndhurst, David Ryall

Premiered: 1993

Number of Episodes: 58

Network: BBC One

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
25
Brideshead Revisited is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
Jeremy Irons, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud

Premiered: 1981

Network: ITV

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