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The Best Historical Drama TV Shows 

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Updated May 22, 2020 68.3k votes 11.7k voters 363k views 125 items

List Rules Vote up the best true historical dramas. No fantasy series that feature overly imaginative elements like space travel or dragons.

Learn about real-world history while you binge watch the best historical drama shows on television. Some of the greatest TV dramas feature realistic settings from history and characters who actually existed. This list of the greatest historical drama shows is ranked best to worst, and it also includes information about the cast. Popular historical drama TV shows have been a staple of television for years, so there's often debate about what the most entertaining historical drama show of all time is.

Including Rome and Vikings, the list of good historical series features period dramas and medieval epics. These shows usually have colorful costumes, beautiful set pieces, and even ancient languages. They can be set at the turn of the 20th century or at the end of it.

This list answers the questions, "What is the best historical drama show of all time?" and "What are the greatest historical drama shows?" Want a little between-wars England with your Downton Abbey? Some Henry VIII with your The Tudors? Don't let your favorite historical drama television programs in history get to the bottom of the list - be sure to vote them up so they have the chance to reach the top spot. The list of historical drama television shows below includes information like the program's cast, creator and premiere date when available and also include some of the best historical dramas of the decade.

 

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list ordered by
1
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
MarkWilliams added Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen

Premiered: 2013

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
2
Outlander is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Megan Monaco Lanier added Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies

Premiered: 2014

Outlander (Starz, 2014) is a historical drama television series developed by Ronald D. Moore, based on the novel series by Diana Gabaldon. A married former WWII nurse (Caitriona Balfe) is ...more
3
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern

Premiered: 2010

Downton Abbey (PBS, 2010) is a British historical drama television series created by Julian Fellowes. A chronicle of the lives of the British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in ...more
4
The Tudors is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
RazvanPop added Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, Anthony Brophy

Premiered: 2007

The Tudors (Showtime, 2007) is a historical fiction television series created by Michael Hirst. In 16th-century England, King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) protects his throne from enemies ...more
5
The Crown is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Lauren Alysse Lake added Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby

Premiered: 2016

The Crown (Netflix, 2016) is an American-British biographical drama series created by Peter Morgan. A young Queen Elizabeth II's (Claire Foy) political rivalries and romances guide the events ...more
6
The Last Kingdom is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
TAZA177 added Alexander Dreymon, David Dawson, Tobias Santelmann

Premiered: 2015

The Last Kingdom (BBC America, 2015) is a British historical fiction television series based on Bernard Cornwell's The Saxon Stories series of novels. In 872 England, an unlikely hero (Alexander ...more
7
Rome is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker

Premiered: 2005

Rome (HBO, 2005) is a British-American-Italian historical drama television series created by John Milius, William J. MacDonald, and Bruno Heller. A down-to-earth account of the lives of both ...more
8
Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
sebbzor added Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston

Premiered: 2001

Band of Brothers is a 2001 American WWII drama miniseries based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 non-fiction book of the same name. The executive producers were Steven Spielberg and Tom ...more
9
Poldark is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Denise Schult added Aidan Turner

Premiered: 2015 - 2nd Adaptation of

The 2nd adaptation of Poldark premiered in 2015

Poldark is the original version of the BBC television series adaptation of the novels of the same title written by Winston Graham. The adaption was first transmitted in the UK between 1975 and
10
Peaky Blinders is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
TAZA177 added Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson

Premiered: 2013

Peaky Blinders (BBC Two, 2013) is a British television action drama created by Steven Knight, based upon the exploits of the historical gang. In 1919 Birmingham, England, leader Tommy Shelby ...more
11
The White Queen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Chris Abraham added Rebecca Ferguson, Amanda Hale, Faye Marsay

Premiered: 2013

The White Queen (BBC One, 2013) is a British historical drama television miniseries based on the novel series by Philippa Gregory. In 1460s England, three women - Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca ...more
12
Spartacus: Blood and San... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Eric McIntire, Daniel Spink, Matthew Felker

Premiered: 2010

Spartacus: Blood and Sand is the title of the first and most critically acclaimed season of Spartacus, a television series that premiered on Starz on January 22, 2010. The series was inspired by ...more
13
The Borgias is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Victoria Smith added Jeremy Irons, Fran├žois Arnaud, Holliday Grainger

Premiered: 2011

The Borgias is a historical-fiction drama television series, created by Neil Jordan.  This series follows the life of the Borgia family in Rome.
 
14
Pride and Prejudice is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Greer Baudreau added Colin Firth, Lucy Davis, Alison Steadman

Premiered: 1995

Pride and Prejudice is a six-episode 1995 British television drama, adapted by Andrew Davies from Jane Austen's 1813 novel of the same name. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth starred as Elizabeth ...more
15
Reign is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
brianansellers added Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows, Torrance Coombs

Premiered: 2013

Reign (The CW, 2013) is an American historical romantic drama television series created by Stephanie SenGupta and Laurie McCarthy. Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, (Adelaide Kane) faces political ...more
16
Black Sails is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Robert Berryman added Jessica Parker Kennedy, Toby Stephens, Hannah New

Premiered: 2014

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
17
Versailles is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Rachele Digrazia added Versailles George Blagden, Alexander Vlahos, Tygh Runyan

Premiered: 2015

Versailles (Canal+, 2015) is a television series created by Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft. In 1667, 28-year-old all-powerful king of France, Louis XIV (George Blagden), decides to build ...more
18
Medici is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Kindra Haystacks Markham added Dustin Hoffman, Richard Madden, Stuart Martin
Medici (RAI 1, 2016) is a television drama series about the Medici dynasty set in 15th century Florence. Cosimo the Elder (Richard Madden) was elected head of the Florentine Republic in 1434; ...more
19
Call The Midwife is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Bruce Wheeler added Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, Laura Main

Premiered: 2012

Call the Midwife (BBC, 2012) is a British period drama series created by Heidi Thomas. The lives of a group of midwives living in East London are documented in the late-1950s to mid-1960s.
20
Marco Polo is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Amy Boal added Benedict Wong, Olivia Cheng, Joan Chen

Premiered: 2013

Marco Polo is an American drama series about Marco Polo's early years in the court of Kublai Khan, the Khagan of the Mongolian Empire and the founder of the Yuan dynasty, which lasted from ...more
21
Spartacus: Vengeance is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Brett Tucker, Craig Parker, Viva Bianca

Premiered: 2012

Spartacus: Vengeance is the title of the second season of Spartacus, a New Zealand produced, Starz television series, which follows Spartacus: Blood and Sand. It premiered on January 27, and ...more
22
Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Greer Baudreau added Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser

Premiered: 2007

Mad Men (AMC, 2007) is an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner. Womanizing advertising executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm) balances work and pleasure, while harboring ...more
23
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, John Dossett

Premiered: 2008

John Adams is a 2008 American television miniseries chronicling most of U.S. President John Adams' political life and his role in the founding of the United States. Paul Giamatti portrays John ...more
24
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Chris Abraham added Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker

Premiered: 2004

Deadwood (HBO, 2004) is an American Western television series created by David Milch. In 1870s South Dakota, residents of Deadwood are involved in all sorts of corruption, crime, and secrets.
25
Hell on Wheels is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
AlissonKolling added Anson Mount, Colm Meaney, Robin McLeavy

Premiered: 2011

Hell on Wheels (AMC, 2011) is an American/Canadian Western television series created by Joe and Tony Gayton. Hell-bent on revenge, a former Confederate soldier (Anson Mount) joins the Union ...more