watchworthy presents

The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History 

Reference
Originally by
Updated March 24, 2020 34.7k votes 6.1k voters 274.5k views 142 items

These are the best nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat thriller shows on television, ranked from best to worst. This list of the greatest thriller shows also includes information about the series stars. Popular thriller TV shows have been a staple of television for years, so there's often debate about what the most entertaining thriller show of all time is. Don't let your favorite thriller 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 thriller television shows below includes information like the program's cast, creator, and premiere date when available.

The list you're viewing is made up of many different newer and older shows, like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and even Lost. These are the top rated thriller shows so if you're trying to remember some names of thriller shows this is a great place to start.

This list answers the questions, "What is the greatest thriller show of all time?" and "What are the best thriller shows?"
Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

Premiered: 2008

Breaking Bad is an American drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. The show originally aired on the AMC network for five seasons, from January 20, 2008, to September 29, ...more

More Breaking Bad 

#1 of 158 Shows with the Best Freakin' Series Finales of All Time #222 of 529 Things That Are Not As Cool As People Think They Are The Best Breaking Bad Characters of All Time

2
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

Dexter (Showtime, 2006) is an American television drama series. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter pattern analyst for Miami Metro Police Department who also ...more

More Dexter 

#133 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #17 of 147 The Greatest TV Title Sequences Ever Dexter Morgan’s Infamous ‘Work’ Rooms, Ranked By Practicality

3
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

Premiered: 2010

Sherlock is a British television crime drama that presents a contemporary adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes detective stories. Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, it ...more

More Sherlock 

#4 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #1 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate Ranking the Best Seasons of 'Sherlock'

4
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas

Premiered: 2013

Hannibal is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed by Bryan Fuller for NBC. The series is based on characters and elements appearing in the novel Red Dragon by ...more

More Hannibal 

#176 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #154 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years The Most Appetizing Meals From ‘Hannibal’ You Might Actually Try

5
Prison Break is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Amaury Nolasco

Premiered: 2005

Prison Break is an American television serial drama created by Paul Scheuring, that was broadcast on Fox for four seasons, from 2005 until 2009. The series revolves around two brothers; one has ...more

More Prison Break 

#39 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #171 of 2,296 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time The Best Seasons of Prison Break

6
24 is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard

Premiered: 2001

24 (Fox, 2001) is an American drama television series created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los ...more

More 24 

#48 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch Ranking The Best Seasons of '24'listed on Longest Running US Drama Shows

7
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy

Premiered: 2005

Supernatural (The CW, 2005) is an American fantasy horror television series created by Eric Kripke. Two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), follow their father's ...more

More Supernatural 

#7 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch The Greatest Sheriffs In TV Historylisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

8
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
VivekRaghunathan added Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies

Premiered: 2010

The Walking Dead (A&E, 2010) is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series developed by Frank Darabont, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie ...more

More The Walking Dead 

#21 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #12 of 52 Which Nerd Favorite Has The Most Annoying Fans? The Most Brutal Kills on The Walking Dead

9
Person of Interest is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Chapman

Premiered: 2011

Person of Interest is an American science fiction drama television series created by Jonathan Nolan that premiered on September 22, 2011, on CBS. The series revolves around John Reese, a former ...more

More Person of Interest 

#148 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #57 of 158 Shows with the Best Freakin' Series Finales of All Time The Best Seasons of Person of Interest

10
The Blacklist is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
MajaKadic added James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff

Premiered: 2013

The Blacklist is an American crime drama television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013. Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former U.S Navy officer turned high-profile ...more

More The Blacklist 

#47 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #7 of 131 The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows Ranking the Best Seasons of 'The Blacklist'

11
Lost is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia

Premiered: 2004

Lost is an American television drama series that originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company from September 22, 2004, to May 23, 2010, over six seasons, comprising a total of 121 ...more

More Lost 

#33 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #358 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time The Best LOST Characters

12
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

Premiered: 1993

The X-Files is an American science fiction horror drama television series created by Chris Carter. The program originally aired from September 10, 1993 to May 19, 2002 on Fox, spanning nine ...more

More The X-Files 

#24 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time Things About 'The X-Files' Casual Fans Find Super Weirdlisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

13
True Detective is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
goelv2003 added Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan

Premiered: 2013

True Detective (HBO, 2014) is an American anthology drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto. Each season focuses on detectives investigating violent offences.

More True Detective 

#82 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #21 of 131 The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows 5 Writers to Read to Better Understand 'True Detective'

14
Criminal Minds is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Thomas Gibson

Premiered: 2005

Criminal Minds (CBS, 2005) is an American police-procedural television program. The series follows a team of profilers from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia. The ...more

More Criminal Minds 

#160 of 2,296 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #256 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time How Accurate Is The Depiction of Behavioral Analysts In 'Criminal Minds?'

15
Fringe is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole

Premiered: 2008

Fringe is an American science fiction television series created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. It premiered on the Fox Broadcasting network on September 9, 2008, and concluded ...more

More Fringe 

#115 of 2,296 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #272 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time The Best Seasons of Fringe

16
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
MarioArley added Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend

Premiered: 2011

Homeland is an American political thriller television series developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa based on the Israeli series Hatufim, which was created by Gideon Raff. The series stars ...more

More Homeland 

#37 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #51 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate The Best Homeland Characters of All Time

17
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior

Premiered: 2008

Sons of Anarchy is an American drama television series created by Kurt Sutter, about the lives of a close-knit outlaw motorcycle club operating in Charming, a fictional town in California's ...more

More Sons of Anarchy 

#8 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #351 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time Here Are All The Things That Sons Of Anarchy Got Totally Wrong About California Motorcycle Gangs

18
The Mentalist is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Tim Kang

Premiered: 2008

The Mentalist is an American police procedural television series that ran from September 23, 2008 until February 18, 2015, broadcasting 151 episodes over seven seasons, on CBS. The show was ...more

More The Mentalist 

#90 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #48 of 67 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series

19
Bates Motel is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
MajaKadic added Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot

Premiered: 2013

Bates Motel is an American drama thriller television series developed for television by Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin and Anthony Cipriano, and produced by Universal Television for the cable network ...more

More Bates Motel 

#216 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #210 of 262 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

20
American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
aria2000 added Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters

Premiered: 2011

American Horror Story (FX, 2011) is an American anthology horror television series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. An anthology series centering on different characters and locations, ...more

More American Horror Story 

#16 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #26 of 78 The Best Teen Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Series Here's How All Of The American Horror Story Seasons Are Connected

21
Suits is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Gabriel Macht, Patrick J. Adams, Meghan Markle

Premiered: 2011

Suits is a USA Network legal drama created by Aaron Korsh that stars Patrick J. Adams as Michael "Mike" Ross and Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter. The first episode debuted on June 23, ...more

More Suits 

#34 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #325 of 2,296 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time All the Top Suits Characters, Ranked by Fans

22
Orphan Black is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
MajaKadic added Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris

Premiered: 2013

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction television series created by screenwriter Graeme Manson and director John Fawcett, starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical people who are, in ...more

More Orphan Black 

#926 of 2,296 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #442 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time Ranking the Best Seasons of 'Orphan Black'

23
The Killing is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Billy Campbell

Premiered: 2011

This show is an American drama television series that premiered on April 3, 2011, on AMC, based on the Danish television series Forbrydelsen. The American version was developed by Veena Sud and ...more

More The Killing 

#318 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #255 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years The Best Seasons of The Killing

24
The Following is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
dalal.karima added Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore

Premiered: 2013

The Following is an American television drama series created by Kevin Williamson and jointly produced by Outerbanks Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television. The first season follows former FBI ...more

More The Following 

#522 of 2,296 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #32 of 70 The Creepiest Shows In TV History

25
Firefly is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History
Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

Premiered: 2002

Firefly is an American space western science fiction drama television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. Whedon served as an executive ...more

More Firefly 

#53 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #19 of 92 The Best Dramedy TV Series 13 Crazy Yet Plausible Fan Theories About Firefly