Best TV Shows of All Time – Ranked

I collected over 17 lists of the Best TV Shows of All Time by critics and experts and combined them into one list. Here are the results – every show on three or more of the original source lists, arranged by rank (that is, with the most-listed shows at the top). Unlike the lists of Best Films, which tend to avoid recent movies, those making lists of the Top TV Shows seem to have short memories and have rated many recent shows highly. The list is exclusively US and UK productions.

For the same list organized chronologically, go here.

On 17 “Best TV Shows” Lists
The Simpsons (1989- ) Creator: Matt Groening

The Sopranos (1999-2007) Creator: David Chase

The Wire (2002-2008) Creator: David Simon

On 16 Lists
Seinfeld (1989-1998) Creators: Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld

On 15 Lists
Twin Peaks (1990-1991) Creators: Mark Frost & David Lynch

Breaking Bad (2008-2013) Creator: Vince Gilligan

On 14 lists
Monty Python’s Flying Circus (UK) (1969-1974) Creators: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones & Michael Palin

Friends (1994-2004) Creators: David Crane & Marta Kauffman

Six Feet Under (2001-2005) Creator: Alan Ball

Arrested Development (2003-2006, 2013) Creator: Mitchell Hurwitz

On 13 Lists
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) Creator: Rod Serling

William Shatner in the 1963 episode, ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.’

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) Creator: Joss Whedon

The Office (UK) (2001-2003) Creators: Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant

Lost  (2004-2010) Creators: Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams & Damon Lindelof

On 12 lists
Deadwood (2004-2006) Creator: David Milch

Mad Men (2007-2015) Creator: Matthew Weiner


Game of Thrones (2011- ) Creators: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss

On 11 lists
The X-Files (1993-2002) Creator: Chris Carter

Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) Creator: Paul Feig

The West Wing (1999-2006) Creator: Aaron Sorkin

Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-2011, 2017- ) Creator: Larry David

On 10 Lists
I Love Lucy
(1951-1957) Creators: Desi Arnaz & Jess Oppenheimer

Doctor Who (UK) (1963-1989; 2005- ) Creators: Sydney Newman, C.E. Webber, Donald Wilson

Star Trek (1966-1969) Creator: Gene Roddenberry

M*A*S*H (1972-1983) Creator: Larry Gelbart

Saturday Night Live (1975- ) Creator: Lorne Michaels

South Park (1997- ) Creators: Trey Parker & Matt Stone

Sex and the City (1998-2004) Creator: Darren Star

24 (2001-2010, 2014) Creators: Joel Surnow & Robert Cochran

The Shield (2002-2008) Creator: Shawn Ryan

Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) Creator: Ronald D. Moore

On 9 Lists
ER (1994-2009) Creator: Michael Crichton

30 Rock (2006-2013) Creator: Tina Fey

On 8 lists
The Honeymooners (1955-1956) Creator: Jackie Gleason

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) Creator: James L. Brooks & Allan Burns

All in the Family (1971-1979) Creator: Norman Lear

Fawlty Towers (UK) (1975-1979) Creators: John Cleese & Connie Booth

Hill Street Blues (1981-1987) Creators: Steven Bochco & Michael Kozoll

Cheers (1982-1993) Creators: James Burrows, Glen Charles & Les Charles

Roseanne (1988-1997) Creator: Matt Williams

The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998) Creators: Garry Shandling & Dennis Klein

The Daily Show with John Stewart (1999-2015 ) Creators: Madeleine Smithberg & Liz Winstead

The Office (US) (2005-2013) Creators: Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant

Friday Night Lights (2006-2011) Creator: Peter Berg

On 7 Lists
The Golden Girls (1985-1992) Creator: Susan Harris

Frasier (1993-2004) Creators: David Angell, Peter Casey & David Lee

Oz (1997-2003) Creator: Tom Fontana

On 6 Lists
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962) Creator: Alfred Hitchcock

The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966) Creator: Carl Reiner

The Prisoner (UK) (1967-1968) Creators: Patrick McGoohan & George Markstein

The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978) Creator: Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman in “Went with the Wind.”

Sesame Street (1968- ) Creators: Joan Ganz Cooney & Lloyd Morrisett

The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978) Creators: David Davis & Lorenzo Music

The Muppet Show (1976-1981) Creator: Jim Henson

Taxi (1978-1983) Creators: James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis & Ed Weinberger

The Cosby Show (1984-1992) Creators: Ed Weinberger, Michael Leeson & Bill Cosby

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) Creator: Gene Roddenberry

Law & Order (1990-2010) Creator: Dick Wolf

My So-Called Life (1994-1995) Creator: Winnie Holzman

Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) Creator: Amy Sherman-Palladino

Firefly (2002) Creator: Joss Whedon

Dexter (2006-2013) Developer: James Manos, Jr.

Downton Abbey (UK) (2010-2015) Creator: Julian Fellowes

On 5 lists
Your Show of Shows/Caesar’s Hour (1950-1954; 1954-1957) Creator: Sylvester L. Weaver, Jr.

The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) Creator: Arthur Stander

Columbo (1971-1978, 1989-2003) Creators: Richard Levinson & William Link

I, Claudius (UK) (1976) Creator: Robert Graves

Roots (1977) Creator: Alex Haley

Late Night (1982-1993)/Late Show with David Letterman (1993-2015) Creator: David Letterman


Blackadder
(UK) (1983-1989) Creators: Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis & Ben Elton

The Wonder Years (1988-1993) Creators: Neal Marlens & Carol Black

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999) Creator: Joel Hodgson

Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-1999) Creator: Paul Attanasio

NYPD Blue (1993-2005) Creators: Steven Bochco & David Milch

Will & Grace (1998-2005, 2017) Creators: David Kohan & Max Mutchnick

Futurama (1999-2013) Creator: Matt Groening

Spaced (UK) (1999-2001) Creators: Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson & Edgar Wright

Band of Brothers (2001) Creators: Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks & Stephen E. Ambrose

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005- ) Creator: Rob McElhenney

Parks and Recreation (2009-2015) Creators: Greg Daniels & Michael Schur

Modern Family (2009- ) Creators: Christopher Lloyd & Steven Levitan

Louie (2010-2015 ) Creator: Louis C.K.

Sherlock (UK) (2010- ) Creators: Mark Gatiss & Steven Moffat

Homeland (2011- ) Creators: Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa

House of Cards (2013- ) Creator: Beau Willimon

The Americans (2013- ) Creators: Joe Weisberg

Fargo (2014- ) Creator: Noah Hawley

On 4 Lists
Gunsmoke (1955-1975) Creators: Norman Macdonnell & John Meston

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962-1992) Creators: Steve Allen, William O. Harbach, Dwight Hemion & Sylvester Weaver, Jr.


The Odd Couple
(1970-1975) Developers: Garry Marshall & Jerry Belson

The Rockford Files (1974-1980) Creators: Roy Huggins & Stephen J. Cannell

Happy Days (1974-1984) Creator: Garry Marshall

Soap (1977-1981) Creator: Susan Harris

Dallas (1978-1991) Creator: David Jacobs

Only Fools and Horses (UK) (1981-2003) Creator: John Sullivan

St. Elsewhere (1982-1988) Creators: Joshua Brand & John Falsey

The Singing Detective (UK) (1986) Creator: Dennis Potter

The Real World/Real World (1992- ) Creators: Mary-Elis Bunim & Jonathan Murray

Beavis and Butt-head (1993-1997) Creator: Mike Judge

Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005) Creator: Philip Rosenthal

Survivor (2000- ) Creator: Charlie Parsons

Alias (2001-2006) Creator: J.J. Abrams

American Idol (2002- ) Creator: Simon Fuller

Chappelle’s Show (2003-2006) Creators: Dave Chappelle & Neal Brennan


House, M.D. 
(2004-2012) Creator: David Shore

Planet Earth (UK) (2006) Creator: Alastair Fothergill

Party Down (2009-2010) Creators:  John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge & Paul Rudd

The Good Wife (2009-2016) Creators: Robert King & Michelle King

Veep (2012- ) Creator: Armando Iannucci

On 3 Lists
The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971) Creators: Marlo Lewis & Ed Sullivan


The Fugitive (1963-1967) Creator: Roy Huggins

Sanford and Son (1972-1977) Creator: Bud Yorkin

Good Times (1974-1979) Creators:  Eric Monte, Mike Evans & Norman Lear

Family Ties (1982-1989) Creator: Gary David Goldberg

Moonlighting (1985-1989) Creator: Glenn Gordon Caron

thirtysomething (1987-1991) Creators: Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz

In Living Color (1990-1994) Creator: Keenen Ivory Wayans

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996) Creators: Andy & Susan Borowitz

Prime Suspect (UK) (1991-2006) Creator: Lynda La Plante

Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995) Creators: Bruce Timm & Eric Radomski

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) Creator: Rick Berman & Michael Pillar

Scrubs (2001-2010) Creator: Bill Lawrence

The Colbert Report (2005-2014) Creators: Stephen Colbert, Ben Karlin & Jon Stewart

Eastbound and Down (2009-2013) Creators: Ben Best, Jody Hill & Danny McBride

Justified (2010-2015) Creators: Graham Yost & Elmore Leonard

Community (2009-2015) Creator: Dan Harmon

The Walking Dead (2010- ) Creators: Frank Darabont, Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore & Charlie Adlard

Orange Is the New Black (2013- ) Creator: Jenji Kohan

2 thoughts on “Best TV Shows of All Time – Ranked

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