The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (2024)

Table of Contents
100. Happy Days 99. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 98. The Dick Van Dyke Show 97. NYPD Blue 96. I May Destroy You 95. Living Single 94. The Prisoner 93. Pushing Daisies 92. Mystery Science Theater 3000 91. Alfred Hitchco*ck Presents 90. Dexter 89. Ted Lasso 88. Justified 87. Roseanne 86. Frasier 85. The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 84. The Larry Sanders Show 83. My So-Called Life 82. The Wonder Years 81. Survivor 80. Batman (1966) 79. Oz 78. Bob's Burgers 77. 24 76. Six Feet Under 75. Boardwalk Empire 74. In Living Color 73. Roots 72. Law & Order 71. Schitt's Creek 70. Sex and the City 69. ER 68. Adventure Time 67. Firefly 66. Mindhunter 65. King of the Hill 64. All in the Family 63. The Haunting of Hill House 62. Atlanta 61. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 60. Chernobyl 59. South Park 58. The Jeffersons 57. Futurama 56. Friends 55. Rick and Morty 54. Band of Brothers 53. Barry 52. 30 Rock 51. The Shield 50. Columbo 49. Key & Peele 48. The Good Place 47. Monty Python's Flying Circus 46. Doctor Who (2005) 45. The West Wing 44. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood 43. BoJack Horseman 42. The Americans 41. Deadwood 40. Friday Night Lights 39. The Leftovers 38. Hannibal 37. Curb Your Enthusiasm 36. Battlestar Galactica 35. Sesame Street 34. Saturday Night Live 33. Better Call Saul 32. Community 31. The Mary Tyler Moore Show 30. M*A*S*H 29. The Golden Girls 28. Veep 27. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia 26. The Muppet Show 25. Succession 24. Freaks and Geeks 23. The Office (US) 22. Arrested Development 21. Avatar: The Last Airbender 20. Batman: The Animated Series 19. I Love Lucy 18. Star Trek: The Original Series 17. Cheers 16. Buffy the Vampire Slayer 15. Seinfeld 14. Watchmen 13. Star Trek: The Next Generation 12. Fleabag 11. Lost 10. Parks and Recreation 9. Game of Thrones 8. The Twilight Zone 7. Mad Men 6. The Sopranos 5. Twin Peaks 4. The X-Files 3. Breaking Bad 2. The Simpsons 1. The Wire

How do you break down what makes the ideal television show? It’s not easy, given the fact that each person has their own individual taste, but IGN did our best when it came to outlining our criteria for our 2023 revamp of our top TV shows of all time.

The show must have finished its run or been on the air for at least 10 years and had a significant impact on television as a whole — because how many shows make it to 10 seasons these days? While this does exclude some of our currently running faves like The Last of Us, The Boys, Squid Game and more, those shows haven’t completed their stories yet. Don’t worry — we’ll likely see them eligible by the next time we refresh this list!

Voters were asked to consider the following: How influential was the show? How well has it aged? Did the show have ongoing cultural significance? And, obviously, we considered best vs. favorite. (Just because you love Love Is Blind, that doesn’t mean it’s one of the greatest TV shows ever made. Sorry, those are just the rules!)

And, obviously, the voters all must have spent a considerable hunk of their lives watching what some would describe as “too much TV.” Our voting pool was made up of entertainment-centric staffers as well as critics from across the industry. You can check out our full list of voters and learn more about our criteria, too!

You can flip through our slideshow below to see our choices or scroll down the page to read why each entry is worthy of its spot on our list. If you want to jump to a certain section, feel free to do so by clicking the index below. Once you've finished, all that's left to do is let us know how we did and how it compares to your list...

Oh, and be sure to vote in our Top 100 TV Shows of All Time Face-Off, so you can help decide what the best shows are!

100. Happy Days

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After making box office magic with George Lucas in the similarly themed classic American Graffiti, Ron Howard was cast as Richie in Happy Days. Taking a jump into a highly idealized version of 1950s Milwaukee, Happy Days sold audiences by being pretty much just what the title says it is. Along with Potsie, Ralph, and cool guy Fonzie, Richie and his friends have mostly low-stakes teenage hijinks. The nostalgic vibe of the show hit a chord with TV fans, and the series ultimately ran for eleven seasons, spawning multiple spin-offs including the great Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy. Yet, the most important thing about Happy Days was always the incredible cast that brought it to life. Gifting the world with now-major Hollywood players like Ron Howard and Henry Winkler, Happy Days is still an undefeated champion of the wholesome sitcom gag.

99. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

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Jon Stewart was a comedian and MTV show host for years before striking gold with The Daily Show after prior host Craig Kilborn moved on. It’s safe to say that this is the work for which Stewart is best known today, considering that his political involvement has only continued with his 2015 departure. Though proceeding host Trevor Noah has now had his own iconic run, Stewart was in the chair through many of the current century’s most infamous historical events. Finding a way to make the audience laugh at the U.S.’s convoluted political system while wresting with regularly shocking news items, The Daily Show became a major source for topical discussions. Creating political humor that holds up years down the line is no small feat, but Stewart’s run on The Daily Show makes it look effortless.

98. The Dick Van Dyke Show

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Carl Reiner’s much-loved family sitcom may not have had the most realistic marriage on TV (its central couple was one inspiration behind Wandavision’s black-and-white meta-series, twin beds and all), but it certainly had one of the funniest. Comedy legends Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke starred as snazzy metropolitan couple Rob and Laura Petrie, who raised their young son Ritchie (Larry Matthews) while juggling the duties of their home and work lives – hers and his, respectively. While the show’s polished veneer and mostly traditional gender roles make it feel like the antithesis of shaggier sitcoms that would debut just a few years later, The Dick Van Dyke Show is often surprisingly modern – and downright uproarious – in its comedy. Van Dyke is a master of physical comedy, but Moore is the show’s secret weapon, performing her role as an often-overwrought wife and mom with charisma and perfectly honed silliness.

97. NYPD Blue

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Gritty police procedurals are old hat by now, but NYPD Blue helped establish a formula that many have followed but few have surpassed. Delving into the frustrating bureaucracy of the American judicial system and moral failings of the police entrusted with finding justice for victims of violent crime, NYPD Blue went several steps over the preestablished line when it came to depictions of an unethical system. Zooming in on the severely bigoted detective Sipowicz and his conflicted partner John Kelly, this was a masterclass in taking unlikeable protagonists and dissecting their characters, much the same as dramas like The Sopranos would perfect years down the line. Striving for realism, NYPD Blue never balked at the sheer unpleasantness of its subject matter, instilling a morally ambiguous tone that its still effective today.

96. I May Destroy You

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I May Destroy You is a staggering example of turning pain into something beautiful. It may not have started as the focus for creator and star Michaela Coel’s next project, but it became a clear choice while processing her own personal experience of being drugged and sexually assaulted while writing her prior series, Chewing Gum. As a rising millennial writer actively denying her assault, Coel’s Arabella is also juggling deadlines, promoting her profile, cultivating her own friendships, and maintaining a long-distance relationship. It’s a tough subject to write comedy around, but Coel captures the complex process of processing and rebuilding one’s life with harsh truths and denial but with total grace. The show emphasizes that the conversation around rape is complicated and should be ever-constant.

95. Living Single

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Khadijah is a magazine editor living with her comparatively naive cousin Synclaire and friends Regine and Max, while on the other side of the brownstone apartments, we have bachelors Kyle and Obie. These twenty-something singles navigate their career and social lives, but of course, it’s the glorious hilarity of their dating misadventures that makes the show work. Living Single provided a take on life in the city that merged real world problems with over-the-top sit-com antics. With an unforgettable theme song by series mainstay Queen Latifah, it’s defined today not just by its now-iconic humor and characters, but also by a killer soundtrack. Airing throughout the middle '90s, Living Single can easily be viewed as a precursor to similarly formatted sitcoms like Friends. Yet, it’s best viewed on its own merits as an vastly underrated comedy gem featuring some of the most beloved characters to ever grace the small screen.

94. The Prisoner

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The term “prestige television” didn’t exist back in 1968, but if it did, it certainly would have been used to describe The Prisoner. The series served as star Patrick McGoohan’s follow-up to Danger Man. But far from being another straightforward espionage drama, The Prisoner is a surrealist and heavily allegorical look at one ex-spy’s ill-fated attempt at retiring. Trapped in a bizarre coastal village and slapped with the moniker Number Six, McGoohan’s character struggles to make sense of his surroundings and his strange plight. The series may have only lasted 17 episodes, but it was and still is hugely influential in the TV realm. It paved the way for everything from Twin Peaks to Lost.

93. Pushing Daisies

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Forensic detective shows and fairy tale homages are both well-tread ground, but only one show springs to mind that was able to combine the best of these two seemingly unrelated genres. Pushing Daisies follows the story of Ned, a baker that can reanimate the dead through physical contact. Naturally, this isn’t without its drawbacks, and nothing he brings back can live without causing deaths nearby. Also unsurprisingly, this dubious gift is quickly enlisted by a detective seeking to solve murder cases by interrogating the recently deceased. When Ned sees that his lost love Chuck has been murdered, he’s unable to let her rest, which provides the set-up for one of TV’s most delightfully strange offerings. Drenched in purposefully over-saturated colors, hopeful but haunted, funny but bleak, it’s no wonder that we continue to see this at the top of lists mourning shows that were “gone too soon.”

92. Mystery Science Theater 3000

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This quirky, low-budget riff-fest rustled up an entire story about a janitor being sent into space with two robots so that mad scientists could force them to watch old B-movies as, more or less, a complicated excuse to sit around and make fun of silly sci-fi. MST3K fans know, however, that this series changed how we interact with movies. Not just “bad” movies. Not just “so bad they’re good” movies. But ALL movies. What began as a humble Minneapolis broadcast grew, thanks to fans sharing via VHS tapes, into a cult cable classic featuring a group of inventive comedians who figured out a way to create a shared viewing experience at home long before social media. Whether it was host/creator Joel Hodgson or head writer/successor Mike Nelson as the Mads' unfortunate lab rat, it was always quality laughs, and even today the format still thrives.

91. Alfred Hitchco*ck Presents

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Predating The Twilight Zone by four years, the Master of Suspense brought this nightmarish anthology show to terrified viewers in 1955. While Hitchco*ck only directed 18 episodes of the series which would run for a decade, he was heavily involved in its production, including his famously dry introductions for the spooky stories. HItchco*ck wasn't the only famous filmmaker to work on the atmospheric anthology as names as eclectic and impressive as Robert Altman, Ida Lupino, and William Friedkin also directed episodes. This is a true joy for fans of crime cinema and genre television as each of the noir-hued episodes play with our expectations and deliver shocking twists that are still entertaining and engaging to this day.

90. Dexter

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Putting aside the later, weaker seasons — and how it originally all ended before Dexter: New Blood (which wasn’t fully the writers’ fault) — Showtime’s Dexter was crazed pulpy awesomeness when it was firing on all cylinders. Told through the blood-craving eyes of a serial killer who’d been trained to eliminate other serial killers, Dexter is on the Mount Rushmore of white male anti-hero TV. Not a mobster or a drug kingpin, Michael C. Hall’s Dexter Morgan was an honest-to-badness murderer hiding within the Miami police department, using his forensics expertise to evade his colleagues so that he could fulfill the desires of his “Dark Passenger.” With amazing guest stars as “Big Bads” and an unrivaled gallows humor, Dexter was a cosplay-ready phenomenon that allowed us to safely root for a (TV safe) demon walking among us. A vividly macabre must-watch.

89. Ted Lasso

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Ted Lasso was a series that came into our lives exactly when we needed it. Premiering in August of 2020 — before the world had vaccines for the global pandemic we had found ourselves trapped in — the show served as a balm for viewers seeking one single ounce of serotonin. It was a beacon of hope for the hopeless, centered around Jason Sudeikis’ endlessly positive Ted and his delightful fish-out-of-water story as an American football coach who made his way to the UK to coach, well, the other football. Every cast member shines in this layered, complicated, beautiful story of joy, loss, biscuits, and an understanding of just how awful tea is.

88. Justified

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Elmore Leonard’s special brand of character-driven crime stories have been Hollywood fuel for six decades now - from Mr. Majestyk to Jackie Brown to Out of Sight - but Justified delivered Leonard’s dialogue-focused “smart dumb people” tone to TV for an impeccable, incredible modern Western that crackled with wit and wickedness. Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens, a Deputy Marshall filled with both rage and wisdom, was the perfect amount of righteous and reckless and his cat-and-mouse arc with charming crook Boyd Crowder (a divine Walton Goggins) made for an exceptional dramatic dance. EP/Showrunner Graham Yost was dead set on getting the “Leonard”-ness of the series right, having initially adapted a short story, “Fire in the Hole,” as the series set up. What followed — even in Dave Andron and Michael Dinner’s new season, Justified: City Primeval — was a shaggy, cool, authentic Neo-Noir that rebelled against cliches and archetypes.

87. Roseanne

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The sitcom was a well-worn format by the time Roseanne rolled around, but there was something different about the Conner family when the show debuted. Most network TV families were so polite and polished and, basically, well-off, but not on Roseanne. This was a family of working-class stiffs who were barely scraping by (even Archie Bunker didn’t seem to have money problems), they were often dealing with heavy topics, and Roseanne was abrasive and rude. But also, funny as hell? The family and their friends, despite all their problems, very quickly became beloved fixtures of the TV landscape. The show would go wackadoodle when Roseanne won the lottery in its final season, and it would be revived 21 years later, only for its star to get herself fired (and her character killed off) due to racist Twitter comments. But the Conner family lived on, just as they would’ve in real life, in a sequel/spinoff series that is still going as of this writing.

86. Frasier

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One of the best examples of a spin-off that is so different from the original show you'd never guess that it was actually connected at all, Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) began life as a recurring character on Cheers (another of our Top 100) before getting his own show in 1993. This delightfully droll and funny series centers around the titular radio host and psychotherapist as he navigates his life in Seattle. Though the central character is far from likable, the writing is hilarious and the supporting cast -- including his brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce), father Martin (John Mahoney), housekeeper Daphne (Jane Leeves), and legendary dog Eddie (Moose) -- make this an unendingly charming watch. When it comes to '90s sitcoms you need to rewatch or try for the first time, the searing heroes of Frasier should absolutely be on your list.

85. The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

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The talk show as a format is as necessary to the fabric of TV as anything else, and nobody elevated it quite like Johnny Carson. It was as likely for him to be aloof and cool playing along with a bit, as it was losing his mind to something funny. He was serious when he needed to be and just as happy to wear an enormous, shiny turban to get laughs and the move from New York to LA brought an insanely casual dynamic with Hollywood's biggest stars. He also represents one of the last times everybody in America watched the same thing. The Late Night Wars that raged in the wake of Carson’s retirement sent everybody to one side or the other, leaving Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show a truly special place in television history.

84. The Larry Sanders Show

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Long before Garry Shandling was a Hydra sleeper agent, he was a sitcom writer turned stand-up turned sitcom creator and one of the funniest people ever to walk the earth. With The Larry Sanders Show he created a ruthless satire, taking down the world of TV from behind the scenes. Shandling led the hilarious cast as the host of a late night talk show featuring a non-stop stream of celebrity guests who couldn’t wait to be in on the joke. (Right up to the final episode when Tom Petty and Clint Back got into a fight that Greg Kinnear had to break up.) It also aired on HBO in the early '90s and undoubtedly influenced the comedy wing of the prestige TV era. Other shows on this list owe Larry Sanders a debt of gratitude for blazing a truly original trail during the beginnings of the Prestige TV era.

83. My So-Called Life

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If it’s the 90s and you’re a teenager, guess what, you’re watching My So-Called Life. Though it ran only for a nineteen-episode season, this is a show that lived on in the re-runs. Taking the teenage Angela as its main character, this is widely considered to be the first dramatic TV series aimed at teens that worked to meet them on their level. Angela’s “teen crush” on the aloof Jordan is never minimized, nor are her concerns about her parents’ marriage. Major arcs introduced the world to primetime’s first queer character through Angela’s friend Ricky, as well as exploring the complexities of friendship between teen girls with problematic bestie Rayanne. Coming-out stories, teen love, troubles at home, drug use, and homelessness are all tackled in this short series. While many bemoan its short run, this is a show with a lengthy so-called shelf life, still impactful when watched nearly three decades later.

82. The Wonder Years

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According to Kevin Arnold, “When you’re a little kid, you’re a bit of everything. Scientist, Philosopher, Artist.” Bittersweet, then, that so much of The Wonder Years is about leaving those days behind in exchange for the responsibilities of adulthood. With each episode ostensibly taking place exactly twenty years before the date on which it aired, The Wonder Years is both an upbeat coming-of-age comedy and a heartrending exploration of getting older. With best friend Paul and love interest Winnie along for the ride, Kevin guides us through the historical events and day-to-day life of an adolescent boy, ages 12-17, growing up in the 1960s. Told to us by the 1980s adult version of Kevin, The Wonder Years struck a perfect note between reminiscence and modernity. By the end of the show, Kevin has left childhood behind, but the narrator’s nostalgic musings assure us that he hasn’t forgotten any of it.

81. Survivor

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The U.S. version of this international reality competition series franchise sees two “tribes” of competitors taken to an exotic, remote location where each player must fend for themselves, live off the land, and navigate the internal politics and schemes of their competitors. Since debuting on CBS in 2000, viewers have remained engaged in watching its “heroes” and “villains” connive against each other, forging and breaking alliances in beautiful far-flung locations like Brazil, Australia, Kenya, or Fiji all to be the sole survivor to win the grand prize.

80. Batman (1966)

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While it has for decades been the campy butt of many-a DC joke, it's hard to overstate just how influential the '60s Batman series has been on the superhero landscape. Not only was the show a hit that spawned the first feature length western superhero movie, but it also spawned the creation of Barbara Gordon's Batgirl. The brightly hued comic book show introduced the Caped Crusaders to generations of viewers and shaped the perception of the artform for decades, for better or for worse. It also shaped the future of superhero blockbusters too as one young viewer, Michael Uslan, hated the representation of his Dark Knight so much he dedicated his life to making a dark and gritty Batman movie, and in 1989 he achieved that with Tim Burton's legendary film. So, if you've never revisited this joyful love letter to Silver Age DC, it's time to rectify that.

79. Oz

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In the fictional maximum security prison Oswald State Correctional Facility, “Oz” for short, rehabilitation is the goal of unit manager Tim McManus. Heading up a heavily monitored sector of the prison, McManus and Warden Leo Glynn work to strike a balance between the many warring factions under their watch. PoV character Tobias Beecher should be an ideal candidate for rehabilitation, considering that his crime was accidental. Yet, in the land of Oz, survival means having to make moral concessessions. Oz is considered to be the forebearer of shows like The Sopranos and The Wire, engaging head-on with social issues with no shortage of gallows humor. Taking a moral but corruptable character like Beecher as its center and fleshing out his own Emerald City, grounded in brutal realism rather than magic and wishful thinking, Oz remains the punch to the gut we didn’t know we needed.

78. Bob's Burgers

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Creator Loren Bouchard was already animation royalty well before Bob’s Burgers, having brought cult classic series like Home Movies and Lucy: The Daughter of the Devil to the small screen. Taking the working-class Belcher family as its focus, Bob’s Burgers is ostensibly about their shared attempts to keep their struggling diner afloat. Yet, it’s the heartfelt comedy of a slightly odd family that loves each other dearly that makes the series click. Embracing the wholesome, Bob’s Burgers introduces us not just to the Belchers, but to the community around them, providing a loving look at the realities of life as blue collar business owners. Brilliant comedic performances from some of the best voice actors in the biz and offbeat conflicts made this one of the most endearing comedies in recent memory, while the animation has such a unmistakable visual style that it has helped cement the series in animation history.

77. 24

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The relentless story of the longest day of Counter Terrorism Unit badass Jack Bauer’s life took everybody by surprise. Kiefer Sutherland, starring in an action drama series about a covert government agency foiling assassination attempts, didn't reinvent any wheels on paper. Doing it all in real time with split-screen, multi-camera coverage and an iconic digital clock ticking in and out of every commercial break, however, made this show something else entirely. 24 is a prime example of why good shows become great. Layering a unique production device on a proven format can be all the innovation a show needs. That and opening season 2 with Jack murdering and decapitating a witness in an effort to prevent a nuclear attack on Los Angeles doesn’t hurt either. The show was salty as hell at its peak, even if it did make it seem like you could drive from Downtown LA to Reseda in the span of one commercial break.

76. Six Feet Under

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While it may have spent its five-season life living in the shadow of juggernauts like The Sopranos, Alan Ball’s Six Feet Under remains one of the finest shows to emerge from HBO’s golden age. The series revolves around the Fisher family, undertakers struggling to balance their myriad personal problems with the struggles of running a very unorthodox business. Fittingly, Six Feet Under is a series preoccupied with death, to the point where most episodes feature characters conversing with the imagined ghosts of the departed. The resulting combination of deep psychological drama and macabre humor makes Six Feet Under a show unlike any other.

75. Boardwalk Empire

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Created by Sopranos veteran Terence Winter and exec produced by Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg, this aesthetically opulent yet gritty crime drama was set (largely) in Atlantic City during Prohibition. Like Deadwood before it, this HBO show mixed history with fiction in the saga of a boomtown marked by rampant greed, corruption, and violence. Steve Buscemi gave what is arguably his finest dramatic performance in the lead role of racketeer and political boss Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, whose quest to hold power and influence events propels the (mostly tragic) fates of those people in his orbit.

74. In Living Color

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With Keenan Ivory Wayans’s satirical film hits Hollywood Shuffle and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka in the bag, he turned his eye for parody to primetime TV. Envisioning a boundary-pushing sketch comedy series with a mostly PoC cast, In Living Color was born. Hoping to capture an array of comedic perspectives, Wayans casually introduced the world to what are today some of its biggest stars, including Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, and Jennifer Lopez. Featuring musical performances from all-timers like Queen Latifah, Public Enemy, Mary J. Blige, and Tupac Shakur just to name a few, In Living Color took a cue from variety shows of old to create the perfect combination of humor, music, star power, and aesthetic. Though behind-the-scenes creative differences eventually led to Wayans’s departure from the series, its five seasons remain a hilarious deep dive into 1990s pop culture.

73. Roots

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Based on Alex Haley’s best-selling, Pulitzer-winning novel, ABC’s landmark 1977 miniseries tells the saga of Kunta Kinte, a Mandinka youth who is captured and sold into slavery to a Virginia plantation, chronicling his life and later his descendants who finally become free in the years following the US Civil War. Roots featured an epic cast, including James Earl Jones as Alex Haley and, in his breakthrough role, LeVar Burton as young Kunta; beloved TV dads such as The Brady Bunch’s Robert Reed and Bonanza’s Lorne Greene were cast against type as slave owners. Roots was a cultural phenomenon and a massive ratings success, particularly its final episode, spawning two sequels and a 2016 remake miniseries.

72. Law & Order

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DUN-DUN! An institution of American television, this procedural from creator Dick Wolf has retained its simple formula for over three decades, from its original 1990-2010 run on NBC to its revival in 2021. The first half of each episode focused on the NYPD detectives investigating the crime and the second half followed the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office prosecuting the (usually ripped from the headlines) case. Although they were often faced with moral dilemmas, the personal lives of the protagonists were more hinted at than deeply explored (that would change with the spin-off Law & Order: SVU, which has now been on the air longer than the original), making the case the primary focus of each episode. There have been many characters and lead actors shuffled in and out over 20-plus seasons, but several of the cast – most notably Jerry Orbach, Sam Waterston, S. Epatha Merkerson, Jesse L. Martin, and Steven Hill – spent upwards of a decade or more on the show. The Law & Order franchise has so far generated six spin-off series and a UK remake.

71. Schitt's Creek

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As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The rich are different from you and me,” but what if they lost all of their money? So begins Schitt’s Creek, as wealthy businessman Johnny, wife and former soap opera queen Moira, and adult children David and Alexis lose their home to a shady manager’s illegal financial practices. Forced to take refuge in a town named Schitt’s Creek that Johnny once bought as a joke, the family struggles to make the most of things, and hilarity ensues. Reuniting SCTV and Christopher Guest collaborators Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, Eugene and son Dan developed a series that never exactly absolves the rich of their bad behavior, but which works to uncover the humanity within through humor and understanding. By the end of the series, each character has undergone hard-earned change and learned to appreciate the little things in life while maybe helping us do the same.

70. Sex and the City

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Inspired by the work of columnist Candace Bushnell, this hugely popular series ran on HBO from 1998 to 2004. It followed four very different female friends – Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) – living in New York City and their different approaches to relationships, sex, and social life. While ostensibly a romantic comedy, the show could veer into drama at times as its characters faced loss, heartbreak, and even cancer. After the release of two big-screen movies, the sequel series And Just Like That… debuted on HBO in 2021, but infamously without the participation of Cattrall, who would eventually cameo in Season 2.

69. ER

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The term “all-star cast” was never quite the same after ER ran its monumental fifteen season course. Sporting names like George Clooney, Angela Bassett, Juliana Margulies, Laura Innes, and Anthony Edwards in the credits, any given scene plays out like a masterclass on the art of creating a TV drama. Created by real-life M.D. Michael Crichton, the series was directly based on his time attending Harvard Medical School. To its benefit, the sense of realism this grants the show is grounded not in cynicism, but in a profound respect for the tireless work of medical professionals that save lives every day. Over hundreds of episodes, ER remained a clear mirror of its times, regularly tackling taboo social issues from the standpoint of medical practioneers and the people they treat. Other medical dramas have followed suit to great results, but there is no overstating the importance of ER to the evolving TV climate of the '90s and 2000s.

68. Adventure Time

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In the annals of animation history you can define much of modern animation as Before Adventure Time and After Adventure Time. Shows like Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants and Cartoon Network's Flapjack bridged the gap between the '90s animation boom and the first episode of Pendelton Ward's game-changing Adventure Time. The technicolor adventure series began as a seemingly simple kids cartoon about two unlikely brothers before revealing itself to be an existential journey of friendship and identity with influences as eclectic as Alejandro Jodorowsky and Ingmar Bergman. This is one of the singularly most satisfying animated shows to watch to completion — with one of the best finales ever — but still works as a classic kids cartoon AKA watching what you can when you can. It also introduced the world to Rebecca Sugar, who wrote many of the show's incredible songs and went on to create Steven Universe.

67. Firefly

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Firefly always faced a perpetually tumultuous flight path as both in the show’s plot and the series’ tenure. But that rocky path only made its fans love Firefly and its crew all the more. Following Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew of misfits, the series showcased the weekly misadventures of our (mostly) begrudging heroes as they did their best to help folks on the outer rim and stay as far away from Alliance — the governing body that wanted to basically rule all of space — control as possible. Part of the series’ sticking power is its universal tale that showcases the power of found family and sticking it to the man whenever you can.

66. Mindhunter

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Inspired by the career of pioneering profiler John Douglas (who the character of Jack Crawford was based on in the Hannibal Lecter books/movies), Mindhunter probed the depths of the broken minds that commit atrocities. As the second marquee series David Fincher delivered to Netflix, while also directing a few episodes, Mindhunter was dark, gruesome, and disturbing in all the ways Hollywood usually avoids when creating pulpy serial killer fare. While the protagonists — played by Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv — were amalgams of real people, the killers presented were real. Infamous murderers like Jerry Brudos, Richard Speck, and Wayne Williams were at the heart of this series. Specifically, the creation, through harrowing interviews, of a database for traits and behaviors that could be put into practice as a tool to help catch future maniacs. Sadly, a third season seems impossible but what we got was riveting and raw.

65. King of the Hill

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King of the Hill might not have stayed on the air as long as fellow Fox animated mainstays like The Simpsons or Family Guy, but one could argue the series maintained a far more consistent level of quality over the course of its still impressive 13 seasons. The series is set in the fictional small town of Arlen, Texas and focuses on everyman propane salesman Hank Hill, his family, and a truly memorable lineup of eccentric supporting characters. King of the Hill distinguishes itself from other animated sitcoms with its more low-key sense of humor. While infinitely quotable (“Pocket sand! Sh-sh-shah!”) and often hilarious, the series takes pains to treat its kooky cast of Southern-fried characters as three-dimensional people, not caricatures.

64. All in the Family

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This American remake of the British TV series Till Death Us Do Part was developed by the legendary Norman Lear and followed the Bunkers, a white, working-class family in Queens, New York. Played to perfection by Carroll O'Connor, patriarch Archie Bunker’s mouth is big and his worldview narrow. He’s an aging bigot at odds with the changing times and counterculture embraced by the younger generation. Through humor and sharp writing, All in the Family pushed the boundaries of what was deemed acceptable on TV for that time, exploring a host of controversial topics and social issues. All in the Family remains one of the most influential TV comedies of all time, and begat a handful of notable spin-offs, including The Jeffersons.

63. The Haunting of Hill House

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Home to what may have been the best jump scare in history, The Haunting of Hill house showcases creator Mike Flanagan’s impeccable understanding that to create the deepest of horrors, you have to make the audience care about your characters. The series is a perfect marriage of heart-wrenching and beautiful as we follow the Crain family along two timelines while they navigate the horrors of a house that was simply meant to be a pit stop on the way to their dream home. Don’t forget to count the ghosts when you dive into the series.

62. Atlanta

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Atlanta is the perfect harmony between creator/star Donald Glover’s comedic sensibilities and his Childish Gambino rap persona. With a standout cast featuring Brian Tyree Henry, LaKeith Stanfield, and Zazie Beetz, and a constant collaboration with director Hiro Murai, Atlanta is a thoroughly focused chaos machine with a clear vision of the commentary it wants to make on race, class, relationships, and the music industry. A satire through and through, the one-off, standalone episodes that don’t feature the main cast more than hold their own and that reflect the absurdities of the world we actually live in. Every episode is a wildly unpredictable experience that will make you laugh, cringe, and ponder deeply about America’s state of affairs.

61. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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Today, Will Smith is easily one of the most famous performers in the world, making it hard to believe that there was ever a time when he wasn't a household name. Still, looking back at Smith’s first acting gig on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the star power is clear. Featuring easily one of the greatest theme songs of all time at the top of each episode, the series took Smith’s talent as a comedic rapper and made sit-com gold with it. Playing an exagerated version of himself, West Philly teen Smith is sent to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle, and their son, Carlton. The culture shock between these two worlds is the main theme of the show, allowing plenty of space for both comedy and commentary. The heartwarming love and loyalty Will feels for his family despite their differences is the backbone of the series.

60. Chernobyl

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“What is the cost of lies?” That’s a question Jared Harris’ Valery Legasov poses to viewers as Chernobyl opens, and it speaks to the true power of this utterly gripping miniseries. Chernobyl dramatizes the events surrounding the infamous 1986 nuclear power plant disaster. And if that’s all the series did, it would still be a taut, utterly suspenseful and lavishly produced thriller. It’s nothing if not a testament to the many selfless heroes who staved off a far worse crisis. But the real genius of the series is how directly it speaks to our modern climate of misinformation and alternative facts. Chernobyl offers a sobering look at what happens when truth is treated like an inconvenience, not a necessity.

59. South Park

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South Park is second only to The Simpsons when it comes to the sheer length of time this animated sitcom has remained on the air. Yet even after hundreds of episodes and several spinoffs and specials, the series remains as fresh and witty as it did in 1997. Much of that lasting appeal rests with the show’s willingness and ability to parody current events as they happen. The series’ breakneck production process allows the writers and animators to lampoon the news days, or even hours, after it unfolds in the real world. Fortunately, the series is also just as funny when it focuses on the day-to-day lives of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and the rest of the kooky inhabitants of this small Colorado town.

58. The Jeffersons

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One of the longest running sitcoms in history, The Jeffersons is also one of the best. Though many people forget, the show began life as an All in the Family spin-off created by the legendary Norman Lear. As the unforgettable theme song "Movin' On Up" explains, the show follows the wealthy Jeffersons who have moved from Queens into a fancy high-rise condo in Manhattan. Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley lead the wonderfully funny series as Weezy and George Jefferson, and the show still feels vibrantly relevant today. Though it's a gold-standard sitcom, it also delivers on exploring the realities of being Black in America, as well as tackling topics like gun control, mental health, and suicide. Through all of that it still manages to be one of the funniest shows on TV.

57. Futurama

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Futurama was born in the shadow of The Simpsons, with its Matt Groening imprimatur and Brave New Springfield design style. But while the humor and outlandish hijinks of Fry, Bender, Leela, and the rest of the Planet Express crew certainly match those of the Simpson family, it’s the clever sci-fi concepts at the heart of Futurama, and how they are interpreted through that Groening (and co-developer David X. Cohen) comedy lens, that truly elevate it. Whether it’s the man(child) out of time, Fry, travelling to the past just long enough to become his own grandfather, Bender the drunken robot becoming a god, or Leela the mutant cyclops getting to live her teen years all over again, Futurama has a way of simultaneously being smart and dumb. And despite its zaniness, the animated series can also sometimes be just plain lovely. Just don’t ask about Fry’s dog Seymour! We don’t need to cry.

56. Friends

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Friends is one of the most successful and popular sitcoms of all time. Putting out more than 200 episodes over the course of 10 years, the sitcom has some of the most iconic moments on television. With a catchy theme song, a will-they-won’t-they relationship, some truly special guest stars, a mysteriously large apartment, and memorable catchphrases, the show set the standard for shows about roommates and pals dealing with dating, work woes, and shenanigans for years to come.

55. Rick and Morty

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Metatextual humor has long been the ally of genre fiction, but it’s safe to say that Rick & Morty has taken the joke to heretofore unimagined heights. The series odd couples Rick, a stereotypical self-absorbed, seriously dangerous scientific genius, with his comparatively naive grandson, Morty. Hopping through extradimensional portals and defeating world-devourers is all in a day’s work for Rick, while Morty has to learn to keep up or die. A wild romp through sci-fi tropes while dealing with closer-to-home feelings of PTSD, difficult familial relationships, absent parents, and the fear of becoming obsolete, the series has now birthed its very own plethora of in-universe references. Though the terrain may seem familiar at times, Rick and Morty combines rapid-fire deep cut one-liners with an unexpected level of emotional depth to create something all its own.

54. Band of Brothers

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Following the incredible success of the WWII period drama Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks opted to continue their collaborations via a ten-episode mini-series. Inspired by the historical account of the same name written by Stephen E. Ambrose, Band of Brothers follows the harrowing tale of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during the war. The series takes Major Richard Winters as its PoV character, kicking off with jump training at Camp Toccoa and winding through some of the most infamous battles and historical moments to occur during America’s involvement in WWII. Each episode zooms in on a different “brother,” showing us more about these everday people that fought against the Axis powers. In the end, the star of the show is the deep sense of comraderie between these men as they quite literally leap into battle.

53. Barry

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Bill Hader upended any expectations that people had when his darkly humorous half-hour series hit HBO. While the setup, a hit-man who attends acting classes, seemed like it had potential for broad comedy, Hader and co-creator Alec Berg instead delivered one of the most heartbreaking series in HBO history. This brutally violent and often scathingly bleak show took on toxic masculinity, Hollywood, domestic abuse, and PTSD while presenting a genre-bending satire that could make you weep and fall over laughing within the same 30 minutes. Not only is Barry brilliant as an entire season but it also includes one of the best episodes of TV ever made in the Season 2 episode "ronny/lily" which blew many minds when it debuted in 2019.

52. 30 Rock

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30 Rockerfeller Plaza in New York has an indisputable role in TV history due to the many shows filmed there, from Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show to Saturday Night Live and Marvel’s Hawkeye. Oh, right, and a little show called 30 Rock, a self-referential riff on the struggles of working in weekly TV production. This is told through the eyes of Liz Lemon, a bedraggled showrunner trying to keep her show on track. The over-the-top Tracy Jordan and the equally zany Jenna Maroney regularly derail any hope of harmony while Liz trades quips with network exec Jack Donaghy. Created by Tina Fey following her departure from SNL, 30 Rock tapped a cast of SNL faves alongside fresh faces and endless cameos. Known for making its single-camera set-up a part of the gag, this loving send-up of behind-the-scenes TV will ring a bell with anyone who knows what it’s like to love a job that runs you through the wringer.

51. The Shield

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Years before every primetime series attempted to address police brutality, Shawn Ryan’s The Shield was making a prestige drama meal out of the everyday violence and corruption of the LAPD. With the real-life Rampart scandal in mind, The Shield imagined a gritty, volatile world run by guys like Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), the spitting mad, hypermasculine leader of a particularly murderous police strike team. Mackey’s villain arc is the show’s most recognizable piece, but The Shield rewards steadfast viewers with plenty of treasures, like impeccably crafted interrogation scenes featuring Detectives Wyms (CCH Pounder) and Wagenbach (Jay Karnes), and fantastic performances from supporting players like Walton Goggins, Glenn Close, and Benito Martinez. The Shield isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – it has an ugly view of humankind, and shaky-cam, cinema verite-style filmmaking matches its frenetic energy – but in the end, it’s a damning, potent antidote to decades of TV copaganda.

50. Columbo

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Many viewers rediscovered the joys of Columbo during the pandemic thanks to its appearance first on IMDBtv (soon to be renamed Freevee) and later on Peaco*ck and it's easy to see why. Peter Falk shines as the bumbling and ruffled detective who is underestimated by both colleagues and criminals as he solves murders throughout Los Angeles. Filled with incredible guest stars including Leonard Nemoy, William Shatner, Faye Dunaway, and Dick Van Dyke, the series also features one of Steven Spielberg's earliest directorial efforts in the series' inaugural episode "Murder by the Book" that established much of the tone of the show. Despite the fact that Columbo debuted in the late '60s, it still stands as one of the best examples of the police procedural. Plus, how many of your favorite shows have over 100 feature-length episodes?

49. Key & Peele

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Following their individual runs on Mad TV, Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele were not yet ready to leave the wild world of sketch comedy behind. Instead, they launched one of the most influential comedy series of the century so far. The format of the series, introducing scenarios and spinning off of them, allowed for ever-escalating absurdist returns. By the end, this comedy duo created something that bridged sincere social commentary, self-aware satire, and the over-the-top slapstick gags of old. With a veritable who’s who list of cameos over its brief but hilarious run, the star power of the leads is often met in equal measure by its guest stars. While Peele is today best known for turning out some of the best horror films in recent years from behind the camera, the celebrated nuance of those works is easily traced back to Key & Peele.

48. The Good Place

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If you took the time to explain everything that happens on The Good Place, from Parks and Rec’s Michael Schur, to someone else it would truly sound insane. Like a fantastical, hilarious modern version of Dante’s Inferno, The Good Place follows four recently-deceased people as they navigate the afterlife after they’re told they’ve landed in heaven and been assigned a forever soulmate. Kristen Bell and Ted Danson headline this addictively offbeat, often touching look at the hereafter, filled to the brim with actual existential crises and major questions of ethical philosophy. Now, you may wonder how a story about people in heaven could last four seasons? Well, it’s because of the Season 1 twist. One that Schur even ran past Lost’s Damon Lindelof to make sure it landed the right way. And boy howdy, it sure did, creating a madcap metaphysical puzzle for our flawed heroes to solve.

47. Monty Python's Flying Circus

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The main influence and crucial blueprint for most modern sketch comedy, to this day, didn’t come from an obscure, niche offering. Monty Python was huge. They were rock stars in their own right, The Beatles of comedy as they were often labeled. Brits John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and lone American Terry Gilliam made a huge splash in '60s TV with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, creating instantly memorable bits of intelligent idiocy that’s directly inspired everything from Saturday Night Live to The Kids in the Hall to Key & Peele. The Ministry of Silly Walks. Wink Wink Nudge Nudge. The Dead Parrot. The list goes on and on for this tremendous troupe of insanely-educated silly men who skewered repressed English society. Then, in the '80s and '90s, reruns of Flying Circus on PBS and MTV birthed an entire new Gen X fandom that's kept Python thriving.

46. Doctor Who (2005)

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The original run of Doctor Who premiered in 1963 and lasted 26 seasons before going on a very long hiatus. Jump to 2005 and the series, just like its main character, The Doctor, regenerated back onto TV screens with a fresh coat of paint on the TARDIS. And much like how The Doctor is a big ol’ softie at their (two) hearts, Doctor Who is still about a humanoid alien who travels with friends in a blue, '60s-era British police phone box throughout time and space, learning important lessons about humanity while meeting historical figures or fighting off hokey robots. As a show that originated as children’s programming, keeping that youthful spirit at the forefront has been a strength of the series. NuWho approaches more mature ideas, tells emotionally complex stories, and weaves some truly timey-wimey plot twists that are accessible to audiences of any age.

45. The West Wing

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1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. might be one of the most famous addresses in the world, but chances are you don’t know much about what happens there when the doors are closed. Inviting the audience to be a fly on the wall in the White House, creator Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing showed us the day-to-day life of fictional president Jed Bartlet. The inner workings of the Oval Office coincide with thoughtful character development from the president, his family, and his advisors. Featuring career-defining performances from the likes of Martin Sheen, Stockard Channing, and Rob Lowe, the series practically invented its own unique style of TV storytelling with its famed “walk and talk” scenes. Notably subtle in its commentary on then-current issues, The West Wing rarely came out swinging on politics, rather existing as a thoughtful study of the complexities of power.

44. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

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For many American kids, Fred Rogers was a staple of children's television growing up. Mr. Rogers was genuine and loving and wholeheartedly cared about people, but he also respected how difficult it can be to be a child. The educational portion of his show was less about how crayons are made, although field trips often covered that sort of thing. Instead, he taught us how to love and appreciate each other. He was never performing, never admonishing, just earnestly interested in the well-being of children.

43. BoJack Horseman

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Bojack Horseman can be a tough sell. “No, really,” your friends may have told you, “I promise this animated show about a washed-up talking horse actor is actually one of the best stories about depression, addiction, Hollywood, and our obsession with redeeming bad men ever made.” In case you need a second opinion: your friends are right this time. Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s unforgettable series is about as thoughtful as TV gets, using its show business satire and talking animals schtick as a jumping-off point for sincere conversations about growth and stagnation, accountability and denial, and a thousand other messy and complicated topics that typically resist artists’ attempts to boil them down into a tidy narrative. Bojack Horseman works in part because it’s beautifully untidy; the show allows its characters to regress, get confused, disappoint one another, and make mistakes we can forgive – as well as some we ultimately can’t.

42. The Americans

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Eighties Cold War espionage epic The Americans kicks off with a rather hook-y premise. What if an FBI agent moves right across the street from Soviet agents who’ve spent years in the States assimilating to American life? Or…let’s flip that. What if Soviet Agents — the characters the show wants us to invest in - have spent all this time building a family life in the U.S., even having kids who are unaware their parents are spies, find out their new neighbor is with the FBI? This is how The Americans became one of the best, most intense TV dramas of all time. We touch down in the lives of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings — Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell — the embedded Russians. And we watch them struggle to complete their missions, protect their cover, raise a family, and even question their own government. A perfect series that nails the ending.

41. Deadwood

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David Milch mixed historical fact with fiction in his gritty saga about opportunists and cutthroats in search of fortune in Deadwood, South Dakota as it evolved from a mining camp into a Wild West boomtown during the 1870s. The show’s near-Shakespearean dialogue and rich character work were as much hallmarks as its debauchery and violence. Deadwood boasted a stellar ensemble cast, particularly Ian McShane as the hilariously profane and vicious saloonkeeper Al Swearengen and Timothy Olyphant as tough-as-nails sheriff Seth Bullock. In 2006, HBO infamously canceled the show after three seasons without a proper conclusion but later produced a feature-length film in 2019 that picked up the story of the surviving characters in 1889.

40. Friday Night Lights

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Few shows have ever felt as real as Friday Night Lights. The heartfelt drama spent five seasons taking a topic some fans knew little about – Texas high school football and the thick cloud of toxic masculinity that surrounds it – and turning it into an exhilaratingly intimate viewing experience. With minimal blocking, rehearsals, and sets, and handheld cameras capturing all-star actors like Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, and Taylor Kitsch up close, Friday Night Lights broke down the barriers between its naturalistic world and our own. Couple its sense of verisimilitude with the profound emotion coursing through every second of the ultra-earnest show and the result is one of the small screen’s biggest tearjerkers. You don’t have to be a sports fan to cheer for Saracen’s first game-winning pass or smile through the Panthers famous mud bowl. You just have to know the trusty team words: clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

39. The Leftovers

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The enigmatic catastrophe facing the world in Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers isn’t a world-ender. Heck, it isn’t even enough to make society collapse. But 2% of the world’s population mysteriously vanishing one day, with no explanation, also in every way that contradicts religious doctrine, is enough to send most people into an existential spiral. The Leftovers starts dark and heavy as our characters sort through unimaginable loss and overwhelming anxiety but the miracle of this glorious, beautiful show is the joy and silliness it begins to embrace in its second season. An inspired lunacy that feels like a much better way for the world to spiral. Justin Theroux's Kevin and Carrie Coon's Nora (in a star-making role) play lovers in a world gone sideways as The Leftovers morphs, over the course of three seasons, into one of the most sublimely human stories ever put to screen.

38. Hannibal

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We’re still wondering HOW Hannibal aired on network TV. Bryan Fuller’s artistic, romantic, and genuinely disturbing mix tape of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter-verse combined elements of novels Red Dragon, Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising (and some gentle Silence of the Lambs surrogacy) to deliver the most whacked-out horror ever put on the boob tube. People got turned into trees, beehives, mushrooms, totem poles…look, a lot of people got turned into things! Mostly dinner, of course, since Hannibal knew how to prepare humans in such a gourmet way that we found ourselves salivating. Stepping into the Lecter role was a big deal, but Mads Mikkelsen brought his own sexy, impish flare, depicting a genius madman who loved to roll the dice and toy with people…sometimes to his own demise. And with Hugh Dancy’s suuuuper broken Will Graham as Hannibal's favorite plaything, the series became a "murder husband” love story for the ages.

37. Curb Your Enthusiasm

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Larry David has done pretty, pretty, pretty good for himself in TV comedy, from writing for SNL to co-creating Seinfeld to this hilarious, semi-fictionalized take on his own life and career, which has run for 11 seasons over 23 years on HBO. Larry has a penchant for pissing off nearly everyone he has any interaction with; no matter how petty the grievance, misunderstanding, or social faux pas, Larry always manages to only make things worse for himself (and funnier to the audience).

36. Battlestar Galactica

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Imagine if you will that humanity exists not on Earth, but on a cluster of planets referred to as the Twelve Colonies. There, we are entrenched in a war against the cybernetic race known as the Cylons. Yet, not all is as it seems, not for the Cylons, and not for us. A reimagining of the 1978 TV series, the 2004 version of Battlestar Galactica allowed the many compelling ideas of the original the space to develop, albeit a couple decades plus down the road. Taking cues from the first series and absolutely stacking the ensemble cast, Battlestar Galactica hit the air via a mini-series on SYFY, which was quickly followed by a show. Directly reflecting the politics of Iraq War-era America with plots that mirrored a number of then-current news items, Battlestar Galactica excelled by doing what science fiction does best - making it political.

35. Sesame Street

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For kids, the residents of Sesame Street are furry little friends to share their time with. The actors and puppets have spent decades imparting a kind sort of wisdom through funny earworms and vignettes at Mr. Hooper’s store. Most importantly, they've always operated on the same level with the kids. It’s easy to relate to lessons when they’re coming from a monster that’s trying to have a conversation as opposed to giving a lecture. As those kids have grown into parents to find Sesame Street still airing, it’s fascinating to see how the show has constantly evolved (Cookie Monster eats his vegetables now?!?!). Knowing that a new generation also knows how to get, how to get to Sesame Street, that it's still filled with the same thoughtful approach to speaking to children is a real treat. Fifty-plus seasons later Sesame Street is still all Sunny Days.

34. Saturday Night Live

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Saturday Night Live has been on since the 70s. It’s currently airing in its sixth different decade. But it’s longevity doesn’t top the list of reasons it belongs in our Top 100. The most engaging thing about Saturday Night Live is that everybody has their own favorites; favorite cast member, favorite era, favorite Weekend Update anchor (my answer is Norm Macdonald for all three, by the way). The sheer volume of stars that got their break on the show is staggering as well. There may be no bigger contributor to American comedy than the spotlights in Studio 8H as fifty years worth of comedy fans have been introduced to Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, and Amy Poehler thanks to creator-producer Lorne Michaels and generations-spanning sketch comedy institution. At this point it seems likely to run forever and that’s just fine.

33. Better Call Saul

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After the finale of Breaking Bad, it seemed guaranteed that there would be some kind of a follow-up on the horizon. With many of the original show’s central characters now deceased or otherwise indisposed, showrunners opted to delve into the past. And so this deep dive into the past life of fan favorite lawyer and Walter White accomplice, Saul Goodman, was born. Fleshing out his early days as Jimmy McGill alongside other series faves like Gus Fring and Mike, this is the rare prequel that may have actually improved on the initial format by making Breaking Bad’s tragedies seem even more unavoidable. As Breaking Bad made TV history showing the corruption of Walter White, Better Call Saul followed a man who seemed destined to live a life on the wrong side of the law, and showed us exactly what it cost him to do so.

32. Community

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Before taking the animated world by storm with Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon gave us the beloved cult-favorite Community. The series revolves around a study group of seven students at Greendale Community College, simultaneously the world’s most pathetic university and a place where comedic gold lurks around every corner. Community cleverly draws from all manner of pop culture influences as it explores the group’s increasingly wacky misadventures. But beneath all the epic paintball showdowns and explorations of chaos theory, Community thrives on the strength of its lovable cast of misfits. That’s why the show defied the odds to survive six seasons and multiple showrunner change-ups. This series is truly streets ahead.

31. The Mary Tyler Moore Show

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After half the country (or was it the whole country?) fell for Mary Tyler Moore for five seasons on The Dick Van Dyke Show, where she played Laura Petrie, the wife of Van Dyke’s character, the actress jumped into her own self-titled show which also took Moore’s persona to a realm beyond being the mere “wife.” Tracking with the changing times of the late ’60s/early ’70s, The Mary Tyler Moore Show depicted an independent woman who was career-focused rather than family-focused, one who didn’t have a husband or kids, but instead had a job. And with that job came her coworkers, who were also her friends, and eventually her family (and popular enough that three of them eventually got their own spin-off shows as well). Along the way, Mary and the gang dealt often dealt with adult problems, but always with a smile. She made it after all!

30. M*A*S*H

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Korean War sitcom M*A*S*H is best remembered today for its massively popular series finale, as it should be: it’s remarkable to think that at one point in America’s history, nearly 106 million people chose to watch any show together, nonetheless one as radical as this one. Based on Robert Altman's 1970 film of the same name and Richard Hooker's novel, M*A*S*H started in 1972 with Vietnam on its mind, and largely kept its anti-authority bleeding heart alive across its eleven seasons. Witty, pacifist surgeon Hawkeye (series writer-director Alan Alda) was our guide through an endless landscape of bloodshed and tragedy, which was punctuated regularly by the 4077th mobile army surgical hospital’s almost manic commitment to pranks and tomfoolery. M*A*S*H invented the TV dramedy early on, then continued to perfect it throughout its impressive lifespan, tying different eras of the series together via a dazzling cast, New Hollywood-inspired filmmaking, and searingly great scripts.

29. The Golden Girls

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Aging is scary, but anyone with a TV set who was born after 1985 doesn’t have to do it alone. That’s because we’ve got The Golden Girls, a sitcom that’s blunt and hilarious in its portrayal of women of a certain age. Menopause, death of a partner, body image, sex and dating as an older woman, illness, mortality, and more are all topics of conversation broached around the table of Dorothy (Bea Arthur), Rose (Betty White), Blanche (Rue McClanahan), and Sophia’s (Estelle Getty) Florida home. Few topics in the groundbreaking sitcom were off limits, while all of them were addressed with candor and – as importantly – some of the best comedic chemistry ever put to screen. The show’s character archetypes (dumb country girl, serial seductress, humorless rule-follower, and crotchety old lady) were familiar, but its all-star ensemble turned every dirty punchline into high art. Thank you for being a friend, ladies.

28. Veep

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If Seinfeld begat Curb Your Enthusiasm then all paths led to swirling torrent of hilarious misery, Veep, which was just a den of bitter, jaded, self-loathing vipers hurling some of the nastiest (and cleverest) insults at each other while barely keeping it together. Oh, did we mention they’re also all government officials in service of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Vice President Selina Meyer? Created by The Thick of It’s Armando Iannucci, who served as showrunner for four seasons until Seinfeld/Curb’s David Mandel took over and, somehow, made everything even more crass and ludicrous, Veep was always out for the jugular. Fortunately the series ended, after seven seasons, right as our own political landscape became almost indistinguishable from the sinister satire it was doling out but it will always be remembered as a crown jewel of cringe comedy as well as yet another lasting testament to Louis-Dreyfus' comedic brilliance.

27. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (74)

Sometimes it’s wild to think about how a show about overconfident, insufferable, ignorant sociopaths who are constantly foiled by their own ineptitude, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is officially the longest-running live-action sitcom in U.S. TV history. (Beating a show that couldn’t be more different, by the way, in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.) Still, despite the riotous antics and runaway narcissism of the gang at Patty’s Pub, there’s televisual dependability here that works. They’re always going to lose. All ploys and schemes will end in disaster. That’s the bizarre comfort that’s kept Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olsen, and Danny DeVito (who came on board in Season 2 to help boost the fledgling series) going for nearly two-decades now. Known for grinding out gut-busting laughs from seriously taboo topics, little-cult-show-that could Always Sunny broke new ground while also delivering a few genuinely emotional moments ("Mac Finds His Pride")

26. The Muppet Show

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (75)

Jim Henson's signature creation is so singular that decades later there still isn't any show that comes close to imitating or at this point even trying to recreate what The Muppet Show achieved. Building on the success of the characters that he created, Henson piloted his magnum opus in 1974 before the show truly launched in 1976. The Muppet Show was a hybrid sketch show, talk show, and variety show hosted by Henson's cast of now legendary puppet / marionette mashups. It was in '76 that Kermit the Frog became the face of the show changing Hollywood history forever, as the amphibian became a household name and launched the Muppets into the stratosphere. Now that the whole series is finally streaming on Disney+, it's the perfect time to delve into one of the most ambitious and unusual TV shows of all time.

25. Succession

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (76)

When it was announced that Jesse Armstrong, the creator of cult British comedy Peep Show, was taking on the Murdochs, many audiences expected a searing satire in the shape of another show he'd worked on, Veep. Instead, we got a dramedy so engaging and dynamic that by its final season it was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Telling the story of the Murdoch-inspired media dynasty known as the Roys, Armstrong brought his knife-sharp wit and a gut-wrenching tension to the series that followed who would succeed the elderly patriarch of the family. Perfect casting and writing make this a four-season tour de force that never lets up on the anxiety-inducing cruelty and cringe-inspiring terrible choices. Though it ended this year, it's not recency bias making us say that this is one of HBO's — and TV's — best shows ever.

24. Freaks and Geeks

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (77)

Created by Paul Feig and executive produced by Judd Apatow, two of some of the many geniuses to shape comedy in the 21st century, the single season of Freaks and Geeks still is considered one of the best and most authentic portrayals of teenagedom in television. Following two teen siblings entering new phases of their respective young lives, their high school experiences as outcasts highlight the confusing, messy reality of growing up and determining who you want to be versus who you should be. Featuring a young cast of actors who would also go on to star and write some of the finest, funniest comedies themselves, it became the launch pad for these talented people to embrace the awkwardness of life in their own works.

23. The Office (US)

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (78)

It’s often difficult for the US version of a British TV show to justify its existence let alone stand on its own, but The Office US had something special in its watercooler. The Office set the bar for workplace comedies to follow in terms of ensemble chemistry and comedic timing, led fearlessly by Steve Carell and his eager, if sometimes misguided manager Michael Scott. The banality and politics of American office life grounded the show, but just like any upper-management mantra, these characters really became family, and as Michael Scott puts it at Jim and Pam’s wedding, “I feel like all my kids grew up, and then they married each other. It's every parent's dream!”

22. Arrested Development

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (79)

Sorry to Succession and Schitt’s Creek, but Arrested Development is the original “story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.” A cult classic that was canceled on Fox, but lived on in timeless memes and reaction GIFs, the show made a return on Netflix for two more seasons. Jason Bateman masterfully plays the straight man against his out-of-touch, spoiled family members, self-martyring himself for people who aren’t interested in adapting to their new reality. Constant miscommunications give way to some hilarious Benny Hill runarounds and the show’s candid camera approach and interactive narration captured all that chaos.

21. Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (80)

What does it mean to be a kids’ show? Can a show for children talk about war and trauma? Can it preach nonviolent resistance in the face of evil, or love of nature as a path to harmony? If that show is Avatar: The Last Airbender, it can do all that and a whole lot more. The beloved three-season Nickelodeon series takes on each of the surprisingly mature issues above without talking down to young viewers, but it also delights and entertains every step of the way. Avatar Aang’s world-saving story balances its Buddhism-influenced takes on war and peace with moments of silly, youthful adventure. From blind earthbender Toph to scorned prince Zuko to wise Uncle Iroh, the show is chock full of characters worth loving, each with their own stunning story arc. A pitch-perfect voice cast and endlessly creative worldbuilding are just more icing on an already fantastic cake.

20. Batman: The Animated Series

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (81)

For many kids who grew up in the '80s & '90s there's only one Batman: Kevin Conroy. That is the impact of this beautifully animated show that enchanted viewers and still holds up as one of the best comic book adaptations of all time. Taking inspiration from Tim Burton's noir-steeped vision for Gotham, this stunning series adapts some of Batman's most famous comic book adventures while also introducing iconic new characters in its own right. Most famously, DC Comics' beloved Harley Quinn debuted on an episode as one of the Joker's henchies before becoming a staple in the DC roster. With stunning animation, brilliant writing, and an atmosphere you could cut with a knife, this is truly one of the greatest shows ever made.

19. I Love Lucy

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (82)

You think of Lucille Ball and most likely you picture her stuffing her face with chocolate on an out of control assembly line. Or maybe she’s pitching the 1950s version of an energy drink, “Vitameatavegamin,” only to get drunk from the concoction mid-speech. Or perhaps it’s her husband/co-star Desi Arnaz singing "We're Having a Baby (My Baby and Me)" on the occasion of not just their TV pregnancy, but also their real-life one. From off-the-wall to heartwarming, I Love Lucy remains eminently rewatchable over 70 years after it debuted. But it was also groundbreaking in that it essentially created the sitcom format that would be used for decades to come when Arnaz and the show’s director of photography (and Hollywood legend) Karl Freund perfected a multi-camera system that enabled the show to be shot in sequence “theater” style while a live studio audience reacted in real time to Lucy’s antics. And react they did.

18. Star Trek: The Original Series

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (83)

This is where it all began. Almost 60 years after Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise embarked on their five-year-mission, Star Trek has grown into one of the biggest media franchises of all time. And while the must-watch factor of The Original Series has faded some with time (witness The Next Generation overtaking it on this list as those who grew up on ’90s Trek tend to relate to that show more), the mission statement that has sustained Gene Roddenberry’s creation all these decades was conceived here. The use of sci-fi to examine thinly veiled real-world issues wasn’t a new idea, but Star Trek consistently elevated the genre by probing topics that mattered to the humans of 20th century Earth as much as they did to those of 23rd century outer space. That the show did so in an exciting, emotional, and frequently humorous manner only made it that much better.

17. Cheers

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (84)

Although not initially a ratings success, this beloved NBC sitcom about a Boston bar “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” ran for 11 seasons and spun off another classic sitcom, Frasier. What made Cheers work was its bevy of lovable characters who either work at or frequent the titular bar, from womanizing proprietor Sam Malone to fixtures like know-it-all Cliff Clavin and sardonic Norm Peterson. Like other long-running shows, Cheers saw its share of characters leave and cast changes, most notably when Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers was replaced by Kirstie Alley’s Rebecca Howe or when Nicholas Colasanto, who played bartender Coach died, and the character of dopey Woody Boyd (played in his breakthrough role by Woody Harrelson) was introduced. Its final episode remains one of the highest-rated series finales of all time.

16. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (85)

What if the gorgeous girl victim in a horror movie was actually the one doing the slaying? That simple question served as the foundation for one of the greatest hero’s journeys of all time – that of teen vamp hunter Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar). A found family comedy, teen drama, and feminist fantasy story all rolled into one, Buffy the Vampire Slayer built a singular TV world that’s endlessly fun to revisit. Of course, the cracks in the show’s oversimplified girl-power ideology show more with age – and in light of everything we now know about series creator Joss Whedon – but Buffy still packs a punch thanks to its ever-excellent cast, nimble scripts, and its clever, thoughtful exploration of what it means to grow up in a world full of monsters.

15. Seinfeld

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (86)

One of the most celebrated, quotable, and re-watchable sitcoms of all time, Seinfeld mined comedy gold from the mundane and minuscule. Whether it's the proper etiquette for dipping chips, parallel parking, or sharing toilet paper in public restrooms, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s “Show About Nothing” was a series about everything. Well, except hugging and learning. Which were abject no-nos on a series that felt, at times, like an Upper West Side fable about a quartet of characters who became more unlikable and unhinged with each passing season. Soup Nazis, Bubble Boys, Anti-Dentites, Library Cops, Schmoopies, Bizarro Jerrys - the juggernaut that was Seinfeld paved the path for shows like It's Always Sunny, The League, and You’re the Worst. It created it's own style of comedy and played by its own (ever-changing) rules.

14. Watchmen

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (87)

HBO’s Watchmen is an odd duck when it comes to comic book shows. It’s not an adaptation of the iconic series from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, but rather a sequel that lovingly remixes many of the comic’s tropes and character archetypes. The result is a series that not only lives up to the lofty source material, but actually manages to enhance it. Despite taking place in an alternate universe set decades after a staged alien invasion, Watchmen is a series with an awful lot to say about racism and violence in our world. Impeccably acted and wonderfully written, Watchmen is as good as anything Damon Lindelof has produced on television.

13. Star Trek: The Next Generation

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (88)

It may be tough to fathom given how beloved TNG is now and how much Star Trek there currently is out there but the notion of following the original Star Trek’s run with an entirely new cast was a massive long shot back in 1987. While TNG struggled creatively in its first two seasons, it found its footing in Season 3. Its rich new crew of characters was led by Patrick Stewart’s thoughtful Jean-Luc Picard, a very different Starfleet captain than the impetuous James T. Kirk. TNG was one of the first true successes in establishing a shared universe and ushered in even more complex and compelling storytelling in the Trek mythos that has kept the franchise boldly going to this day.

12. Fleabag

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (89)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s two-season wonder Fleabag was a paean to the messy women among us. During its short run, the show’s unnamed central character became a patron saint to the heartbroken, the grieving, the selfish, and the horny. The show and its protagonist were often funny as hell, but Fleabag’s greatest accomplishment was its slyly profound character study, executed with the help of an aside-to-camera gimmick that grew increasingly meta as the show unfolded. Fleabag began with a woman joking her way toward oblivion and ended with her waving goodbye to the fourth wall that stood between herself and the people she loved. It was two seasons of laugh-out-loud therapy (or, in season two’s case, confession), delivered in such an entertaining way that the scope of its impact was impossible to feel until it ended and left us, like our hero, with no one’s company but our own.

11. Lost

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (90)

In 2004, a bunch of beautiful strangers crash-landed on an island and TV was never the same again. Millions of viewers not only tuned into Lost, but obsessed over fan theories, lived on message boards, and analyzed every episode for signs of things to come. Lost ushered in the modern TV puzzle box, a trend that still persists (often with pale imitators) today, but that’s only the second-best thing the show did. The first was to craft a story that balanced big-idea sci-fi and metaphysics with matters of the heart. Fans didn’t just care about what was going on with the island; we cared about what was going on with our favorite characters. Part survival series, part existential drama, part out-there genre fiction, Lost made captives of us all for six years – and no communal viewing experience has felt the same since. We have to go back!

10. Parks and Recreation

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (91)

Parks and Recreation, from The Office's Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, may have stumbled out of the gate for its first, shortened season but in its sophom*ore run it truly found its form, reshaping many of its characters to suit the performers, which included de-Michael Scott-ing Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope, shifting her from incompetent to immensely capable. Overly capable, in fact, which only added to the comedy given that someone as talented as Knope would have to struggle to get anything done in the weird web of local Midwest politics. What followed was a phenomenal seven-year run featuring characters we all came to adore and a love story that didn’t need to fall apart over and over in order to remain endearing and hilarious. Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, and more became stars while Adam Scott's Ben became one of the best non-Darcy Mr. Darcys of all time.

9. Game of Thrones

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (92)

Billed as Lord of the Rings for those who like epic fantasy with heaping doses of sex and violence, George R.R. Martin’s beloved (and still unfinished) book series was adapted into an HBO series that became a pop culture phenomenon during its eight-season run. Game of Thrones stumbled badly in its final two seasons – without GRRM’s source material to draw from, the show moved at an accelerated rate to wrap up the saga of who would win the Iron Throne as well as the apocalyptic threat posed by the White Walkers. But when GoT worked, it really worked, delivering masterful storytelling, fully realized performances from its great ensemble cast, stunning spectacle, gripping suspense, and countless, passionate fan conversations. Dracarys!

8. The Twilight Zone

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (93)

When we talk about Rod Serling’s seminal series The Twilight Zone, we often talk about the show’s perfectly crafted twist endings: bent realities, nightmares come to life, and twists of fate that are as existentially harrowing as sci-fi has ever been. Across its 156 episodes, the show played with big ideas, delivered big feelings and, yes, sucker-punched audiences with big surprise twists that still astound today. Yet Serling’s grandest achievement was a moral one. His tales of alien invasions, it turned out, were actually about xenophobia and hatred. His stories of well-respected men questioning their sanity portrayed PTSD before the term existed. Serling’s self-contained sagas – some of them adapted from short stories by literary giants – were not just excellent episodes of television but also clear-eyed lessons about how essential unity and kindness are. The best episodes of The Twilight Zone have a mighty heartbeat – one viewers can still hear today.

7. Mad Men

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (94)

Nostalgia for a past that never truly was can be a dangerous thing and nowhere was that more apparent than in Mad Men. Taking the fictional Don Draper, creative director of ad agency Sterling Cooper, as its case study, any rose-tinted longing for the 1960s was immediately shattered as the office politics and biases of the time were explored. Draper’s ad-making brilliance and greeting card family don’t make him happy, and so much of the series was dedicated to watching his slow motion fall from grace. Meanwhile, former protegee Peggy Olson rises the ranks with new opportunities for women in the office. With the stunning, historically accurate set design and period-accurate clothing and characters, the series is a tour through the workspace during a decade of change. Where it ends is a far distance from where it began, but the journey is worth it.

6. The Sopranos

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (95)

For six wild seasons, we all watched excitedly as mob boss Tony Soprano did the unthinkable and sought help for his mental health struggles. This came in the form of therapist Jennifer Melfi, who spent much of the series engaging with the moral complexity of knowing of Soprano’s crimes while attempting to effectively treat him. As we soon learned, these were not to be run of the mill sessions: Soprano’s life story was a nod to gangster tales of old, but the series shone its brightest when showing the complex social balance between family and criminal behavior Tony was compelled to uphold. Unpacking toxic masculinity through a classic unreliable narrator, The Sopranos regularly delved into serious existentialism while delivering laughter, tears, and chills (and helped launch a second golden age of television, but who’s counting?)

5. Twin Peaks

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (96)

Nightmare maestro David Lynch and TV vet Marc Frost came together in 1990 and injected some much-needed weirdness and wonderfulness into network primetime. The result was the incomparable Twin Peaks and, despite the show's basic story elements being a small town murder mystery, there was absolutely nothing like it on television. "Who Killed Laura Palmer?" became a puzzle that gripped the world as Twin Peaks helped reinvigorate 'water cooler TV.' This time though, the show people couldn't wait to discuss at work the next day had a fantastical assortment of goofy oddities and scary dreamscapes: damn fine coffee and cherry pie that’ll kill ya; red rooms in black lodges; One-Eyed Jacks; magic, mysticism, and David Lynch's penchant for peeling back the veil of suburban life and revealing the creepy crawlies residing underneath. Suffice to say, when Twin Peaks returned to TV decades later, there was still nothing quite like it.

4. The X-Files

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (97)

The X-Files hit Fox in 1993 and became a massive cultural touchstone after landing as a cult hit. Blurring the lines between grounded reality, conspiracy theories, and the paranormal, the case of the week procedural is like no other. Led by one of the greatest unlikely duos in TV history, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson's chemistry made fans fall in love with the show as the bickering FBI agents explored murders, vampires, folkloric myths, and more. Chris Carter's creation went on to become the longest running sci-fi show in TV history as well as one of the most influential genre series of all time. Blending monsters of the week with a decades-long overarching story, The X-Files has been engaging, infuriating, and inspiring audiences for 20 years and carving a path for all the weird shows that have come in its wake.

3. Breaking Bad

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (98)

Vince Gilligan’s pitch for Breaking Bad was “Mr. Chips becomes Scarface," and that’s exactly what he and his fellow creatives delivered. The sordid saga of Walter White, a cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher who turns into the meth kingpin Heisenberg, gripped audiences as his moral erosion violently and cruelly escalated over the course of five seasons. Walter corrupted or betrayed everyone close to him from his wife Skyler to former student Jesse Pinkman, who became his accomplice and eventual adversary. The writing and characterizations were rich and complex, and the stunning cast – particularly Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as Walter and Jesse – gave career-defining performances. Heartbreaking, suspenseful, and shocking, Breaking Bad later spawned the sequel film El Camino and the prequel series Better Call Saul.

2. The Simpsons

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (99)

It’s impossible to understate The Simpsons’ impact on the pop culture landscape. Running continuously since 1989, the series is now one of the longest-lived shows in TV history, and certainly among the most influential. Its classic episodes are quoted endlessly: one need only shout “Dental plan!” in a crowded room to be bombarded with calls of “Lisa needs braces!” The series has added entirely new words to the English language, like “D’oh” and “cromulent.” And much like how no musician has truly made it until they have a song parodied by “Weird Al” Yankovic, no celebrity is truly famous until they’ve guest-starred in an episode of The Simpsons. Sure, most fans bemoan the fact the show is a far cry from the glory days of the first eight seasons, but those eight seasons are about as good as animated sitcoms get.

1. The Wire

The Top 100 Best TV Shows of All Time - IGN (100)

Starting HBO's acclaimed crime drama The Wire may feel like the equivalent of cracking into a tome like Tolstoy's War and Peace but it's some of the most rewarding TV "homework" you'll ever do. Created by former police reporter David Simon and former police detective/public school teacher Ed Burns, The Wire explores the complex lives of both cops and crooks, delving into the bureaucratic ins and outs surrounding the war on drugs, inner city life, poorly funded education systems, and bent politics in modern day Baltimore. Furthermore, the Wire's sprawling world pulsates with thrilling life, its massive, charismatic ensemble there to aid in the story's daring, zig-zagging format of switching focus season to season (we're especially looking at you Season 2!). Simply put, The Wire is one of the grandest zero-sum saga's you'll ever experience.

What are your favorite shows? Let's discuss in the comments!

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