Historical Dramas The Best Historical Drama TV Shows  

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List Rules Only true historical dramas - no fantasy, including dragons or time / space travel.

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. 

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.

list ordered by

1
2,101 732
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
MarkWilliams added Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen 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
1,271 636
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern 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

3
1,378 724
Rome is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker 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

4
1,406 721
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 The Tudors is a British-Irish-Canadian historical fiction television series set primarily in sixteenth-century England, created by Michael Hirst and produced for the American premium cable ...more

5
988 531
Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
sebbzor added Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston 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

6
959 712
The Borgias is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Victoria Smith added Jeremy Irons, François Arnaud, Holliday Grainger The Borgias is a historical-fiction drama television series, created by Neil Jordan.  This series follows the life of the Borgia family in Rome.
 
The Borgias is an historical-fiction drama television series created by Neil Jordan; it debuted in 2011 and was canceled in 2013. The series is set around the turn of the 16th century and ...more

7
1,117 480
Outlander is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Megan Monaco Lanier added Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies Outlander is a British-American television drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon. Created by Ronald D. Moore and produced by Left Bank ...more

8
306 48
Poldark is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Denise Schult added Poldark Aidan Turner

The 2nd adaptation of Poldark premiered in 2015

9
570 574
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Chris Abraham added Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker 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

10
893 363
The Last Kingdom is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
1478207789575 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

11
825 662
Spartacus: Blood and Sand is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Eric McIntire, Daniel Spink, Matthew Felker 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

12
523 279
Poldark is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Emma Kate Thompson added Judy Geeson, Ralph Bates, Angharad Rees 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

13
849 484
The White Queen is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Chris Abraham added Janet McTeer, Rebecca Ferguson 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

14
510 372
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 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
984 718
Reign is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
brianansellers added Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows, Torrance Coombs 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

16
320 384
Roots is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
LeVar Burton, Olivia Cole, Robert Reed 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

17
471 399
Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Greer Baudreau added Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser 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

18
478 399
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, John Dossett 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

19
799 287
The Crown is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Lauren Alysse Lake added Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby 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

20
521 264
Peaky Blinders is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
1478207789575 added Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson 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

21
580 364
Versailles is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Rachele Digrazia added 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

22
595 427
Marco Polo is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Amy Boal added Benedict Wong, Olivia Cheng, Joan Chen 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

23
316 331
North and South is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
VidakovićMarija added Elizabeth Taylor, Kirstie Alley, Johnny Cash North and South is the title of three American television miniseries broadcast on the ABC network in 1985, 1986, and 1994. Set before, during, and immediately after the American Civil War, they ...more

24
475 234
Medici: Masters of Florence is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Kindra Haystacks Markham added Medici: Masters of Florence

25
457 387
Spartacus: Vengeance is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Brett Tucker, Craig Parker, Viva Bianca 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

26
566 256
Black Sails is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Robert Berryman added Jessica Parker Kennedy, Toby Stephens, Hannah New 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

27
284 261
Hatfields & McCoys is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Matt Barr 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
318 206
Call The Midwife is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Bruce Wheeler added Vanessa Redgrave, Helen George, Laura Main 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

29
367 333
Da Vinci's Demons is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Tom Riley, Gregg Chillin, Eros Vlahos 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

30
295 197
Hell on Wheels is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
AlissonKolling added Anson Mount, Colm Meaney, Robin McLeavy Hell on Wheels is a 2011 TV film directed by David Von Ancken.

31
202 227
The Paradise is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
zoe-krainik added Joanna Vanderham, Emun Elliott, Stephen Wight The Paradise is a British television costume drama series co-produced by BBC Worldwide America and Masterpiece. The Paradise premiered in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 25 September 2012 and ...more

32
289 258
Wolf Hall is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
DavidBlauch added Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy 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.

33
218 211
Turn: Washington's Spies is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Lisa Talamantes added Jamie Bell, Angus Macfadyen, Kevin McNally 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

34
130 247
Upstairs, Downstairs is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Greer Baudreau added Gordon Jackson, David Langton, Jean Marsh Upstairs, Downstairs is a British television drama series originally produced by London Weekend Television and revived by the BBC. It ran on ITV in 68 episodes divided into five series from 1971 ...more

35
250 212
Merlin is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
EvEline added John Hurt, Colin Morgan, Bradley James 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

36
125 212
Foyle's War is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Edom added Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell Foyle's War is a British detective drama television series set during and shortly after the Second World War, created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz and commissioned by ITV after ...more

37
138 224
Borgia is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Bethanie Grace Frith added Mark Ryder, Isolda Dychauk, Diarmuid Noyes 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

38
170 285
Camelot is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Joseph Fiennes, Jamie Campbell Bower, Tamsin Egerton Camelot is a historical-fantasy-drama television series which premiered on 1 April 2011. It was co-produced by the Starz cable network and GK-TV which began production during the summer of 2010. ...more

39
144 184
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 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
151 163
Ranker Video
Jay Betsworth added

41
77 124
Penny Dreadful is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Erin Froehlich added Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green Penny Dreadful is a British-American horror TV series created for Showtime and Sky by John Logan, who also acts as executive producer alongside Sam Mendes. The show was originally pitched to ...more

42
196 162
North & South is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Stephanie Garcia added Richard Armitage, Sinéad Cusack, Daniela Denby-Ashe 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

43
97 151
I, Claudius is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
1491971760840 added Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Siân Phillips I, Claudius is a 1976 BBC Television adaptation of Robert Graves's I, Claudius and Claudius the God. Written by Jack Pulman, it starred Derek Jacobi as Claudius, with Siân Phillips, Brian ...more

44
64 235
Kung Fu is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Greer Baudreau added David Carradine, Keye Luke, Radames Pera Kung Fu is an American action-adventure martial arts western drama television series starring David Carradine. The series aired on ABC from October 1972 to April 1975 for a total of 63 episodes. ...more

45
77 177
Little Dorrit is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Andy Serkis, Freema Agyeman, Matthew Macfadyen Little Dorrit is a 2008 British miniseries based on the serial novel of the same title by Charles Dickens, originally published between 1855 and 1857. The screenplay is by Andrew Davies and the ...more

46
73 167
War and Peace is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Lauren Alysse Lake added Anthony Hopkins, Alan Dobie, Morag Hood War and Peace is a television dramatization of the Leo Tolstoy novel of War and Peace. This 20 episode series began on 28 September 1972. The BBC dramatisation of Tolstoy's epic story of love ...more

47
73 182
Bleak House is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Gillian Anderson, Carey Mulligan, Charles Dance A trio of orphans becomes embroiled in a mysterious and long-running lawsuit in this sprawling BBC adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel. A legend in the legal circles of Victorian London, the ...more

48
78 110
Boardwalk Empire is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Erin Froehlich added Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza 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

49
46 121
Mr Selfridge is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Erin Froehlich added Ron Cook, Jeremy Piven, Tom Goodman-Hill 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

50
88 169
Magnificent Century is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Historical Drama TV Shows
Hamza Qayyum added Mehmet Günsür, Cansu Dere, Meryem Uzerli Muhteşem Yüzyıl is a prime time historical Turkish soap opera television series. It was originally broadcast on Show TV and then transferred to Star TV. It is based on the life of Ottoman ...more