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The Best Historical Drama TV Shows 

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Updated April 1, 2020 63.4k votes 11k voters 345.4k 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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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

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 9

Network: History

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

Network: Starz

Outlander (Starz, 2014) is a British-American television drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon and created by Ronald D. Moore and produced ...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

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 52

Network: ITV

Downton Abbey is a British period drama television series created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. It first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom and Ireland on ...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

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 38

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation, Showtime, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC Television, TV3

The Tudors (Showtime, 2007) is a British-Irish-Canadian historical fiction television series created by Michael Hirst and produced for the American premium cable television channel Showtime. The ...more
5
Rome is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 22

Network: Rai 2, British Broadcasting Corporation, HBO

Rome is a British-American-Italian historical drama television series created by Bruno Heller, John Milius and William J. MacDonald. The show's two seasons were broadcast on HBO, BBC Two, and ...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
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
The Crown is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Lauren Alysse Lake added Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby

Premiered: 2016

Network: Netflix

The Crown (Netflix, 2016) is an American-British biographical drama series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The series begins with the 1947 wedding of young Elizabeth ...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

Number of Episodes: 10

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation, HBO

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

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 29

Network: BBC One

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
The White Queen is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Chris Abraham added Janet McTeer, Rebecca Ferguson

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 10

Network: BBC One

The White Queen is a British television drama series in ten parts, based on Philippa Gregory's historical novel series The Cousins' War. The first episode was premiered on BBC One on 16 June ...more
11
Peaky Blinders is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
TAZA177 added Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson

Premiered: 2013

Number of Episodes: 6

Network: BBC Two

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
12
The Borgias is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Victoria Smith added Jeremy Irons, Fran├žois Arnaud, Holliday Grainger

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 29

Network: Showtime

The Borgias is a historical-fiction drama television series, created by Neil Jordan.  This series follows the life of the Borgia family in Rome.
 
13
Spartacus: Blood and San... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Eric McIntire, Daniel Spink, Matthew Felker

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 1

Network: Starz!

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
14
Reign is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
brianansellers added Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows, Torrance Coombs

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Reign is an American historical fantasy television series following the early years of Mary, Queen of Scots living in France. The series, created by Stephanie SenGupta and Laurie McCarthy, airs ...more
15
Pride and Prejudice is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Greer Baudreau added Colin Firth, Lucy Davis, Alison Steadman

Premiered: 1995

Number of Episodes: 6

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation

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
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

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 8

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
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 Masters of Floren... 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: Masters of Florence 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 ...more
19
Marco Polo is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Amy Boal added Benedict Wong, Olivia Cheng, Joan Chen

Premiered: 2013

Network: Starz

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
20
Call The Midwife is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Bruce Wheeler added Vanessa Redgrave, Helen George, Laura Main

Premiered: 2012

Number of Episodes: 15

Network: BBC One

Call the Midwife is a BBC period drama series about a group of nurse midwives working in the East End of London in the 1950s and 1960s. It stars Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, Helen George, Bryony ...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

Number of Episodes: 3

Network: Starz!

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

Number of Seasons: 7

Network: AMC

Mad Men is an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner. The series premiered on July 19, 2007 on the cable network AMC and is produced by Lionsgate Television. The ...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

Number of Episodes: 7

Network: HBO

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

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 36

Network: HBO

Deadwood is an American western television series created, produced, and largely written by David Milch and aired on the premium cable network HBO from March 21, 2004, to August 27, 2006, ...more
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

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 20

Network: AMC

Hell on Wheels is a 2011 TV film directed by David Von Ancken.