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The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s

Updated September 18, 2020 854 votes 125 voters 5.1k views62 items

List RulesVote 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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    0
  • 1
    Agent Carter is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    59
    9

    Agent Carter

    Hayley Atwell, James D'Arcy

    Premiered2016

    Marvel's Agent Carter, or simply Agent Carter, is an American television series created for... more
  • 0
  • 2
    Hogan's Heroes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    47
    11

    Hogan's Heroes

    Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer

    Premiered1965

    Hogan's Heroes is an American television sitcom set in a German prisoner during WWII. It ran... more
  • 0
  • 3
    Manhattan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    21
    8

    Manhattan

    Rachel Brosnahan, Michael Chernus

    Premiered2014

    Manhattan is an American television series that premiered on July 27, 2014, on WGN America. It... more
  • 0
  • 4
    The Time in Between is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    24
    12

    The Time in Between

    Adriana Ugarte, Hannah New

    Premiered2013

  • 0
  • 5
    Roots: The Next Generations is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    19
    6

    Roots: The Next Generations

    Marlon Brando, James Earl Jones

    Premiered1979

    Roots: The Next Generations is a television miniseries, introduced in 1979, continuing, from... more
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  • 6
    The Making of the Mob: Chicago is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    The Making of the Mob (AMC, 2015) is a television docu-series detailing the emergence of... more
  • 0
  • 7
    Foyle's War is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    17
    6

    Foyle's War

    Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks

    Premiered2002

    This series is a British detective drama television series set during and shortly after WWII,... more
  • 0
  • 8
    Ike (miniseries) is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    16
    5

    Ike (miniseries)

    Ike is a 1979 television miniseries about the life of Dwight D. Eisenhower, with heavy... more
  • 0
  • 9
    Bomb Girls is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    17
    8

    Bomb Girls

    Meg Tilly, Jodi Balfour

    Premiered2012

    Bomb Girls is a Canadian television drama that debuted on January 4, 2012 on Global. The plot... more
  • 0
  • 10
    The Thorn Birds is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    13
    4

    The Thorn Birds

    Christopher Plummer, Barbara Stanwyck

    Premiered1983

    The Thorn Birds is a television mini-series broadcast on ABC between 27 and 30 March 1983. It... more
  • 0
  • 11
    Ellery Queen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    13
    4

    Ellery Queen

    Jim Hutton, David Wayne

    Premiered1975

    Ellery Queen is an American television detective mystery series based on the fictional... more
  • 0
  • 12
    The Diary of Anne Frank is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    16
    8

    The Diary of Anne Frank

    Felicity Jones, Iain Glen

    Premiered2009

    The Diary of Anne Frank is a BBC adaptation, in association with France 2, of The Diary of a... more
  • 0
  • 13
    The Waltons is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    15
    8

    The Waltons

    Jon Walmsley, Mary Beth McDonough

    Premiered1972

    The Waltons is an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr., based on his book... more
  • 0
  • 14
    Homefront is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    14
    6

    Homefront

    John Slattery, Kyle Chandler

    Premiered1991

    Homefront is an American television drama series created and produced by Lynn Marie Latham and... more
  • 0
  • 15
    Hollywood is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    8
    0

    Hollywood

    Patti LuPone, Elizabeth Smidth

    Premiered2020

    Hollywood (Netflix, 2020) is an American drama television series created by Ryan Murphy and... more
  • 0
  • 16
    Get Well Soon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    13
    6

    Get Well Soon

    Hugh Bonneville, Eddie Marsan

    Premiered1997

    Get Well Soon was a short-lived 1997 BBC television comedy series starring Matthew Cottle and... more
  • 0
  • 17
    All Creatures Great and Small is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    14
    8

    All Creatures Great and Small

    Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy

    Premiered1978

    All Creatures Great and Small is a British television series, based on the books of the... more
  • 0
  • 18
    Mob City is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    10
    4

    Mob City

    Jon Bernthal, Milo Ventimiglia

    Premiered2013

    Mob City is an American neo-noir crime drama television series created by Frank Darabont,... more
  • 0
  • 19
    The Camomile Lawn is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    10
    5

    The Camomile Lawn

    Rebecca Hall, Claire Bloom

    Premiered1992

    The Camomile Lawn (ABC, 1992) is a television adaptation of the book of the same name by Mary... more
  • 0
  • 20
    Catch-22 is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    10
    5

    Catch-22

    Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler

    Premiered2019

    Catch-22 (Hulu, 2019) is an American-Italian drama miniseries, based on the novel of the same... more
  • 0
  • 21
    Das Boot is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    8
    2

    Das Boot

    Vicky Krieps, Tom Wlaschiha

    Premiered2018

    Das Boot (Sky plc, 2018) is a German historical drama television series based on the... more
  • 0
  • 22
    War and Remembrance is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    9
    4

    War and Remembrance

    Sharon Stone, Jane Seymour

    Premiered1988

    War and Remembrance is a 1988 film.
  • 0
  • 23
    Shine on Harvey Moon is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    8
    2

    Shine on Harvey Moon

    Colin Salmon, Linda Robson

    Premiered1982

    Shine on, Harvey Moon! is a British television series made by Witzend Productions and Central... more
  • 0
  • 24
    My Mother and Other Strangers is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    10
    6

    My Mother and Other Strangers

    Ciarán Hinds, Michael Nevin

    Premiered2016

  • 0
  • 25
    X Company is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Shows Set in the '40s
    9
    5

    X Company

    Livia Matthes, Evelyne Brochu

    Premiered2015

    X Company is a Canadian/Hungarian spy thriller television series created by Flashpoint's Mark... more
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