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The Best Historical Drama TV Shows 

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Updated April 1, 2020 63.8k votes 11.1k voters 346.9k views 118 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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26
North and South is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
VidakovićMarija added North and South Elizabeth Taylor, Kirstie Alley, Johnny Cash

Premiered: 1985

Network: American Broadcasting Company

North and South is the title of three American television miniseries broadcast on the ABC network in 1985, 1986, and 1994.The 1985 first installment, North and South, remains the seventh-highest ...more
27
Hatfields & McCoys ... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Matt Barr

Premiered: 2012

Number of Seasons: 1

Network: The History Channel

It’s the true American story of a legendary family feud—one that spanned decades and nearly launched a war between Kentucky and West Virginia. Hatfields & McCoys, a three-part miniseries, ...more
28
Da Vinci's Demons is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Tom Riley, Gregg Chillin, Eros Vlahos

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 8

Da Vinci's Demons is an historical fantasy drama series that presents a fictional account of Leonardo da Vinci's early life. The series was conceived by David S. Goyer and stars Tom Riley in the ...more
29
Wolf Hall is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
DavidBlauch added Wolf Hall Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy

Number of Episodes: 6

Network: BBC Two

Wolf Hall is a British television serial first broadcast on BBC Two in January 2015. It is a six-part adaptation of two of Hilary Mantel's novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.
30
Merlin is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
EvEline added John Hurt, Colin Morgan, Bradley James

Premiered: 2008

Number of Episodes: 65

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC One, BBC HD

Merlin is a British fantasy-adventure television programme, created by Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps and starring Colin Morgan in the title role. It was broadcast on ...more
31
North & South is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Stephanie Garcia added Richard Armitage, Sinéad Cusack, Daniela Denby-Ashe

Premiered: 2004

Number of Episodes: 4

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation

North & South is a British television drama serial, produced by the BBC and originally broadcast in four episodes on BBC One in November and December 2004. It follows the story of Margaret ...more
32
Turn: Washington's Spies... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Lisa Talamantes added Jamie Bell, Angus Macfadyen, Kevin McNally

Premiered: 2014

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 10

Network: AMC

TURN: Washington's Spies is a period drama based on Alexander Rose’s book Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring, a history of the Culper Ring. The series debuted on AMC on ...more
33
Roots is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
LeVar Burton, Olivia Cole, Robert Reed

Premiered: 1977

Network: American Broadcasting Company

This award-winning six-part historical epic was one of the first examples of the miniseries format and one of the highest-rated television programs in broadcasting history. Based on the ...more
34
The Paradise is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
zoe-krainik added Joanna Vanderham, Emun Elliott, Stephen Wight

Premiered: 2012

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 16

Network: BBC One

The Paradise (BBC, 2012) is a British television costume drama series and adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Au Bonheur des Dames and co-produced by BBC Worldwide America and Masterpiece. ...more
35
Victoria is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Jenna Coleman, Tom Hughes, Peter Bowles

Premiered: 2016

Network: ITV

Victoria (ITV, 2016) is a drama television series created by Daisy Goodwin. The show depicts first few years of the reign of Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman), from her accession to the throne at ...more
36
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37
Penny Dreadful is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Erin Froehlich added Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green

Premiered: 2014

Number of Seasons: 3

Network: Showtime

Penny Dreadful (Showtime, 2014) is a British-American horror drama television series created by John Logan. Explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), American gunslinger Ethan Chandler (Josh ...more
38
The Americans is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Maximiliano Hernández

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 13

Network: FX

The Americans (FX, 2013) is an American period drama television series created by Joe Weisberg. Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) are two Soviet KGB officers posing as ...more
39
Elizabeth I is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Daniel Martínez Arg added Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Hugh Dancy

Network: Channel 4

Elizabeth I is a two-part 2005 British historical drama television miniseries directed by Tom Hooper, written by Nigel Williams, and starring Helen Mirren as Elizabeth I of England. The ...more
40
Poldark is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Poldark Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ruby Bentall
Poldark (BBC One, 2015) is a British-American drama television series created by Debbie Horsfield, based on the novels by Winston Graham. Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) returns home after American ...more
41
The Marvelous Mrs. Maise... is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Rachel Brosnahan, Michael Zegen, Alex Borstein

Premiered: 2017

Number of Seasons: 3

Network: Amazon Video

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon, 2017) is an American period comedy-drama television series, created by Amy Sherman-Palladino and starring Rachel Brosnahan as a housewife in the 1950s who ...more
42
Anne of Green Gables is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Farnsworth

Premiered: 1985

Network: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Anne of Green Gables is a 1985 Canadian television drama film based on the novel of the same name by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery. The film starred Megan Follows and was produced and ...more
43
Little House on the Prai... is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Little House on the Prairie is an American Western drama television series, starring Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, and Karen Grassle, about a family living on a farm in Walnut Grove, ...more
44
Borgia is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Bethanie Grace Frith added Mark Ryder, Isolda Dychauk, Diarmuid Noyes

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 24

Network: ZDF, Sky Italia, Canal+

Borgia is a French-German-Czech-Italian historical drama television series created by Tom Fontana. The show recounts the Borgia family's rise to power and subsequent domination of the Papal ...more
45
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Erin Froehlich added Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 36

Network: HBO

Boardwalk Empire is an American period drama television series created by Terence Winter. Airing on premium cable channel HBO, the series is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the ...more
46
War and Peace is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Paul Dano, Lily James, James Norton
War & Peace is a 2016 British-American historical period drama television serial, based on Leo Tolstoy's classic novel.
47
The White Princess is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Jodie Comer, Rebecca Benson, Jacob Collins-Levy

Premiered: 2017

Network: Starz

The White Princess (Starz, 2017) is a British-American historical fiction television miniseries based on Philippa Gregory's 2013 novel of the same name and is a sequel to The White Queen. In the ...more
48
Anne of Avonlea is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Colleen Dewhurst, Megan Follows, Charmion King

Premiered: 1987

Network: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Anne of Avonlea is a 1987 Canadian television miniseries. It is a sequel to the 1985 Anne of Green Gables miniseries. The miniseries dramatizes material from several books in the eight-novel ...more
49
The Wonder Years is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Fred Savage, Dan Lauria, Daniel Stern

Premiered: 1988

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 115

Network: American Broadcasting Company

The Wonder Years is an American television comedy-drama created by Neal Marlens and Carol Black. It ran on ABC from 1988 through 1993. The pilot aired on January 31, 1988, following ABC's ...more
50
Mr Selfridge is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Erin Froehlich added Ron Cook, Jeremy Piven, Tom Goodman-Hill

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 10

Network: ITV

Mr Selfridge is a British period television drama series about Harry Gordon Selfridge and his department store, Selfridge & Co, in London, set in the 1910s. It is co-produced by ITV Studios ...more