We live in an era when the TV shows are bigger than ever. Some of them have larger budgets than blockbuster movies, while even Hollywood stars stopped looking at the TV shows as a step down in their career. People are beginning to recognize the appeal of the TV shows and their ability to tell the story better than any movie.
Through the years we had an opportunity to witness some phenomenal TV shows and series, which will continue to appeal to generations to come. This is why picking just 30 best TV shows of all time was a tough task. Still, we decided to invest the time and work, seeking recommendations all over the internet, including the ones from the critics and the audience. After getting all the recommendations in one place, we decided to give an advantage to the average viewers, since the TV shows are made for them. We ranked all the recommended TV shows according to their IMDb rating and ended up with our list of 30 best TV shows of all time.
30. The X Files
For 11 seasons we are following two FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully working in the special bureau responsible for investigating paranormal cases. They have two different personalities, Mulder is a believer and Scully is a skeptic, but they join the forces to investigate strange cases of alien abductions, UFO sightings, and other paranormal factors. “The truth is out there” and they are seeking for it.
29. This is Us
Lately, we can’t watch an award show without seeing nominations and wins for the amazing cast of this show. This is an emotional, heartwarming story about Pearson family. The lives of Rebecca, Jack, and their three children are presented in different phases. Their stories are full of moments of joy, triumph, love, and heartbreak, and they demonstrate the emotional ties that only family can give.
28. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
What happens when you open an Irish pub in Philadelphia? Well, we can ask “The Gang”, a group of five egocentric friends, with slightly arrogant attitudes. They try to find their way in the adult world of work and relationships. But every time they think it will get better, it gets worse. This is a black comedy sitcom which was three times nominated for Emmy Awards, and won a People’s Choice Award in 2016.
27. Freaks and Geeks
Two siblings, Lindsay Weir and her younger brother, Sam, are part of two different social groups in their high school. Lindsay is a part of “freaks” and her change from a proficient student to the rebellious teenage girl is in the central strand of the show. On the other side, Sam and his friends are part of the “geeks” and they are navigating different part of the social universe to try to find one to fit in.
26. The Office
This mockumentary follows everyday life of the workers at the paper company. There’s Michael Scott, the boss who takes his job seriously; Jim Halpert, who is the office cool guy and prankster, but he’s also a bit of all of us; Pam Beesly, the receptionist, but also Jim’s crush. This TV show is actually US adaptation of the Ricky Gervais-led British original and it features characters based on roles in British show, but probably people from your office too.
25. House M.D.
This show about everyone’s TV doctor originally ran on the Fox network for eight seasons and had won two Golden Globes, five Emmy awards and many others. The series follows an antisocial, painkiller addict, arrogant and witty doctor Gregory House and his team. Every episode they solve bizarre cases. While they diagnose and cure diseases, House is often using unorthodox methods, based on his personal experience or patients’ and their families.
24. Twin Peaks
When the body of a teen girl Laura Palmer is found on the bank of a river outside the town of Twin Peaks, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called to investigate. While he investigates her death, he finds out that he wasn’t as innocent as everybody thought: she was prostituting herself, cheating on her boyfriend and also using cocaine. But it wasn’t only Laura who was keeping secrets, Cooper will find out that whole city was much more mysterious and dark than he thought.
23. The Simpsons
29 seasons, 629 episodes, countless co-stars and one family – The Simpsons. This fictional yellow family lives in Springfield, fictional “Middle America” town and parodies American culture, society, and television. It’s a satirical depiction of working-class life and their everyday adventures. The Simpsons are funny, witty, semi-dysfunctional and politically incorrect. “D’oh!”
22. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
British comedy shows were enormously successful and popular during the 20th century and this one is no different. Created by comedy group Monty Python, series is full of surreal humor, gags, and sketches designed to make one literally roll on the floor laughing. If you are into British humor, this one you simply cannot miss.
This series chronicles the real-life stories of a Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar and American DEA agents. While DEA agents try to find, capture and ultimately kill him, Escobar is ruling the drug empire he had built. Despite his crime, we see him in a different light, as a human who loves his family. The series features many conflicting forces, such as, legal, political, police and civilian that often end up in a brutal, bloody way.
20. Arrested Development
This show won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globes and many others. It follows the story of wildly dysfunctional Bluth family. Once, they were at the height of real-estate development in Orange County, California, but once the father is arrested for the shifty accounting practices, they lose everything. The son Michael Bluth takes over family affairs, even if he doesn’t want anything to do with his family, but one bizarre circumstance after another keeps Michael from leaving the family.
19. House of Cards
If you are looking for a political career this show is perfect for you because it shows how the climbing that stairs are not only school and good work, but a lot of scheming, drama and finding an unorthodox way to succeed. After being denied the Secretary of State position as promised, Congressman Frank Underwood starts ruthless and corrupt fights against his own cabinet members, including the President of the USA himself.
Can we imagine the 90s without this show? A comedy series is based in Manhattan and follows the lives of six young people who are looking for the success and happiness in life. They fall in love, they fight and laugh, fight and most importantly they learn what it really means to be a friend.
Even if the series was often described as “a show about nothing”, it was one of the most watched TV shows of the 90s. It’s a true-to-life comedy series that follows the events of Jerry Seinfeld and his friends. He is a successful stand-up comedian thanks to the people around him who offer him an endless supply of great funny material. The episodes have a light plot, describing everyday life and situations in New York.
16. Only Fools and Horses
This is a highly successful British comedy which follows two streetwise London brothers, Del and Rodney Trotter. They are two harmless and funny black market traders who search for the easiest way to become millionaires. The humor in this series is well thought and devilishly engineered, that it only gets funnier every time you watch it.
15. Black Mirror
How many times did we say that technology is the humanity’s greatest innovation? Well, this twisted series shows the darker aspects of it in the hands of the society. Each episode focuses on a different story with different protagonists and deals with modern phenomena such as talent shows, social media, and smartphones. This suspenseful, satirical series will make you turn off your computer and enjoy real life (after you binge-watch both seasons).
Starring big names such as Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, and many others, this futuristic science-fiction TV show is set in Westworld, a technologically advanced Wild West-themed party populated by androids recreating the life of original Wild West. The park is a playground for high-paying clients who seek to indulge in whatever they like, without fear of retaliation or any judgment.
13. Stranger Things
Stranger Things is one of the most acclaimed TV shows in the world. It is based on works from Stephen King, among many others as well, and follows a group of kids trying to save their friend who went missing. The small town is amid supernatural events and the appearance of a girl with psychokinetic abilities complicates things even more. It is a popular show but has a long way to go to reach the very top. It is still very young though, so there is hope.
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The American black comedy-crime drama TV show is inspired by Argo movie directed by Coen brothers. It follows three different stories throughout three seasons, with the first one receiving the most awards and Billy Bob Thornton winning the Best Actor awards. Other two seasons were also a success and we recommend watching them all, as they will not disappoint.
11. True Detective
American anthology crime drama, it follows different characters through different seasons. The first season was set in Louisiana and followed a pair of homicide detectives, played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, as they pursued a serial killer. Season two, which is set in California, follows three detectives from three police departments this time, as they investigate series of crimes linked to a murder of a politician. The series is a hit and a definite must-much if you are into this genre.
10. The Twilight Zone
Perhaps one of the weirder picks on this list, but rating speaks for itself. Rod Serling finds himself as a narrator of the series, following ordinary people who get caught up in extraordinary situations. These people try to solve problems each in their own remarkable manners. An older, but interesting TV show nonetheless. If you have spare time, grab your popcorn and take a seat.
Nathan Fillion has not always been Rick Castle. Huh, who would’ve known?! And it is more popular as well? Deceptions! Jokes aside set some five hundred years in the future, series follows Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft, trying to utilize their skills in order to survive and evade factions and agents trying to get them in unknown parts of the galaxy.
Sherlock is probably one of the most popular, if not the most popular detective in the world. Hence why so many remakes are made, though this one is by far the most popular it seems. This series is a modern version and follows Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, with his trusted partner and doctor, Watson, as they solve crimes in 21st century London. You may not know how to pronounce his name, but his role of Sherlock is well known! (And also much easier to spell).
7. Avatar: The Last Airbender
The mythical world of elemental magic is struck by war. Only a young boy can bring peace to it if he fulfils his destiny as the Avatar. A great animated series which is popular for a reason. If you haven’t, now is your chance to catch up.
6. The Sopranos
The original crime family Sopranos with everyone’s all-time favorite mob boss Tony Soprano. We know it is wrong to glorify the bad guys, but this just tells you the depth and masterfulness of this show. You watch bad guys do bad things, and you love it! If you haven’t already, be sure to catch up on a New Jersey mob boss who has to deal and balance his personal life with the professional one, all the while seeking professional psychiatric counseling.
5. Rick and Morty
Don’t get fooled by this animated science-fiction show, as it is surely meant for adults. It has been a success since its premiere and announcement of new seasons created one of the biggest mayhems on the internet. It follows an unconventional pair, a crazed and cynical scientist Rick and his grandson, trusty, yet not-so-bright sidekick Morty, who try to balance their domestic lives with numerous interdimensional adventures. Don’t get fooled by the word „animated“, as it is one of the must-see TV Shows.
4. The Wire
This is one of the shows that set precedents on shows to come. The Wire focuses on Baltimore drug scene and tells the story from two viewpoints. One is through the eyes of drug dealers and one is from the viewpoint of law enforcement. Despite being one of the original prime TV Shows, it never won any major awards, which is a shame as it is a definite must-watch. If you have spare time, The Wire is your go-to show. You won’t be disappointed!
3. Band of Brothers
It is one of the most iconic World War II series based on the book of the same name by Stephen E. Ambrose. It follows Easy Company, 2nd Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division in their mission across war-torn Europe. This war drama series received numerous awards and nominations, namely seven out of twenty nominated Primetime Emmy Awards.
2. Breaking Bad
One of AMC masterpieces, this show took the highest rewards and people’s attention by storm. This crime drama follows Walter White, a high-school teacher gone into methamphetamine business after being diagnosed with an inoperable lung cancer. He is helped by Jesse Pinkman, as they work their way through the underground crime mobs in order to secure Walter’s family after his death. The problem isn’t being a drug dealer or a crime boss. The problem is liking it!
1. Game of Thrones
What can we say about our number one? It seems like no other TV show won the hearts of so many people like Game of Thrones. And for a good reason as well. This fantasy drama follows nine families in the lands of Westeros, as they plot, scheme, murder and betray in their path to glory and conquest of the mythical lands. Little do they know, an ancient enemy has awoken in the far North, one that has been dormant for thousands of years.
Final thoughts on "Thirty Best TV Shows Of All Time"
Tell us in the comment section whether we managed to do a good job and also share your own recommendations.