Must-watch 50 Best TV Shows of All Time


Are you ready to embark on a journey through the greatest television experiences ever created? Our list of the best TV shows of all time offers a treasure trove of unforgettable moments, iconic characters, and groundbreaking storytelling that have left an indelible mark on viewers across the globe. Whether you’re looking to revisit your favorite series or discover new gems, this collection has something for everyone.

The best TV shows of all time include timeless classics that have shaped the landscape of television. Shows like The Sopranos, Friends, and Breaking Bad are more than just entertainment; they are cultural phenomena that have redefined the art of storytelling. These series have captivated audiences with their complex characters, intricate plots, and emotional depth, making them a must-watch for any television aficionado. Relive the moments that made you laugh, cry, and gasp in surprise as you explore these enduring favorites.

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In addition to timeless classics, the best TV shows of all time feature contemporary masterpieces that continue to push the boundaries of what television can achieve. Shows like Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and The Crown have set new standards in production quality, narrative complexity, and character development.

These series have captivated audiences with their immersive worlds, compelling stories, and stunning visuals. Discover the latest entries in the pantheon of great television and see why these modern classics have earned their place among the best TV shows of all time.


What makes the best TV shows of all time truly special is their ability to create unforgettable experiences that resonate with viewers long after the final episode has aired. These shows are more than just a form of entertainment; they are a shared cultural experience that brings people together.

From the water cooler conversations about Lost to the passionate debates over The Wire, the best TV shows of all time have a unique power to unite and inspire. Dive into our curated list and find out why these series have left an indelible mark on television history.


The best TV shows of all time represent the pinnacle of television artistry, offering a rich tapestry of stories, characters, and moments that have captivated audiences for generations. Whether you’re revisiting a beloved classic or discovering a new favorite, these shows are a testament to the power of great storytelling. So, grab your remote, settle in, and get ready to experience the best TV shows of all time – a journey through the finest television has to offer.

List of The 50 Best TV Shows of All Time

1 I Love Lucy

CBS (1951-57)

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“I Love Lucy” is often hailed as one of the best TV shows of all time, thanks to the iconic performance of Lucille Ball. From falling into a vat of grapes to cramming chocolates into her mouth, Ball’s character, Lucy Ricardo, became a beloved, rubber-faced heroine willing to do anything for a laugh. But Lucille Ball was more than just a performer; as co-owner of Desilu Studios with her husband and co-star Desi Arnaz, she was a trailblazer in an industry that rarely opened doors for women.

Through “I Love Lucy,” Ball turned Lucy Ricardo into a heightened Everywoman, whose exaggerated responses to life’s setbacks resonated with audiences. Despite many shows attempting to capture its magic, the unique blend of talent and early television innovation has cemented “I Love Lucy” as a timeless classic.


2 Mad Men

AMC (2007-15)

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“Mad Men” is widely regarded as one of the best TV shows of all time, known for its brilliant storytelling and exquisite aesthetics. Created by Matthew Weiner, this Emmy-winning drama, which aired from 2007 to 2015, launched the careers of stars like Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm. Set during the turbulent 1960s, “Mad Men” follows the complex life of ad executive Don Draper, portrayed by Hamm. The show artfully explores themes of feminism, class ambition, and American identity through the lens of a New York City ad agency. Despite its controversial finale and the allegations against Weiner, “Mad Men” remains a masterpiece of television’s second Golden Age, celebrated for its fully realized characters and ambitious narrative.


3 The Sopranos

HBO (1999-2007)

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“The Sopranos” is undeniably one of the best TV shows of all time, setting the standard for the antihero drama. Airing from 1999 to 2007 on HBO, it featured James Gandolfini as the complex mob boss Tony Soprano, whose therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) delved into the intricacies of maverick masculinity and psychological turmoil. Creator David Chase drew on his New Jersey upbringing and iconic Mafia films like “The Godfather” to craft a narrative exploring assimilation, American decline, and Freudian family dynamics.

The show’s portrayal of Tony’s chaotic personal and professional lives, alongside its blend of banality and brutality, resonated deeply with audiences. From his wife’s denial to his mother’s emotional demands and his interactions with his nephew and son, “The Sopranos” created a rich, dysfunctional tapestry that captured the country’s subconscious, securing its place as a television masterpiece.


4 The Simpsons


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“The Simpsons” is undoubtedly one of the best TV shows of all time, revolutionizing both animated and live-action comedy. Created by Matt Groening, it began as shorts on “The Tracey Ullman Show” before becoming a cultural phenomenon and arguably the most significant program in TV history. With its quick comedic flashbacks, absurd imaginary cutaways, and sharp satire of popular culture, “The Simpsons” shaped the sensibilities of multiple generations.

Despite its innovative approach, the show maintained the essence of classic family sitcoms, evoking the warmth of the Ricardos and the Cleavers. After 35 seasons and over 750 episodes, “The Simpsons” stands as the longest-running scripted primetime series and a true television institution.


5 Breaking Bad

AMC (2008-13)

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“Breaking Bad” is often considered one of the best TV shows of all time, showcasing Bryan Cranston’s masterful transformation from a disillusioned high school chemistry teacher to a notorious meth kingpin. Airing from 2008 to 2013, the show exemplifies the Peak TV era with its meticulously cinematic style, intricate writing, and the blend of domestic life with brutal criminal activity.

Its compelling cast, including Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn, and unforgettable supporting characters like Saul Goodman, Gus Fring, and Mike Ehrmantraut, contribute to its brilliance. “Breaking Bad” gained even more popularity through its availability on Netflix, cementing its status as a cultural phenomenon. The show’s success led to the acclaimed spinoff, “Better Call Saul,” further solidifying its legacy as a television masterpiece.


6 Sex and the City

HBO (1998-2004)

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“Sex and the City” is undeniably one of the best TV shows of all time, offering a vibrant exploration of self-discovery in New York City. Airing from 1998 to 2004, this iconic series focused on the friendship of four women, led by Sarah Jessica Parker’s charming performance as Carrie Bradshaw. The show masterfully balanced shifting tones, combining outsized fashion with deep emotional honesty. Each character faced setbacks on their journey to find “real love,” as Carrie once described, depicted with an open and sincere approach to matters of the heart. Its enduring appeal, highlighted by the reboot “And Just Like That …,” continues to captivate fans, solidifying its legacy in television history.


7 The Wire

HBO (2002-08)

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“The Wire” is often celebrated as one of the best TV shows of all time, breaking the mold of traditional cop stories. Airing from 2002 to 2008 on HBO, David Simon’s five-season epic challenged the simplistic dichotomy of “cops good, perps bad,” offering a more nuanced portrayal of the complexities within law enforcement and criminal worlds. With a journalistic lens, Simon, a former police reporter, crafted a narrative that highlighted corruption and wrongdoing on both sides of the law.

The show’s exceptional storytelling was brought to life by the nuanced performances of Dominic West, Idris Elba, and Michael K. Williams. While its politics may not perfectly align with contemporary views, “The Wire” set a new standard for television dramas by humanizing all its characters, from police officers to drug dealers, making it a groundbreaking and timeless series.


8 Seinfeld

NBC (1989-98)

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“Seinfeld” is widely regarded as one of the best TV shows of all time, thanks to the unique sensibilities of co-creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. Airing from 1989 to 1998, the show brilliantly constructed a vivid world centered around Jerry Seinfeld’s Manhattan, extending far beyond his apartment and interactions with his three best friends. Each episode presented encounters with quirky small-business owners, eccentric love interests, and the bizarre entertainment industry, all while Jerry humorously deconstructed social norms. Known for generating iconic catchphrases, “Seinfeld” confidently spoke in a distinct language of its own, creating a lasting legacy and ensuring its place as a television classic.



9 The Mary Tyler Moore Show

CBS (1970-77)

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“The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which aired from 1970 to 1977 on CBS, is undeniably one of the best TV shows of all time. Mary Tyler Moore, after gaining fame on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” broke new ground with her self-titled sitcom, co-created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns. The show portrayed Mary Richards as an independent news producer in Minneapolis, mirroring the women’s movement that was gaining momentum at the time.

Moore’s influence extended beyond acting; through her then-husband Grant Tinker’s company, MTM Enterprises, she became a television mogul. While “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” wasn’t always as overtly message-driven as its contemporaries, it undoubtedly set the stage for future trailblazers like Tina Fey and Issa Rae, making it a seminal work in TV history.

10 Roots

ABC 1997

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“Roots,” which aired in 1977 on ABC, is a defining example of television’s power and is often considered one of the best TV shows of all time. Based on Alex Haley’s monumental novel, the eight-episode miniseries traces the harrowing journey of Kunta Kinte, portrayed by LeVar Burton and John Amos at different ages. Kunta is kidnapped from Gambia and sold into slavery, his story continuing through his descendants, culminating in the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery in America.

The impact of “Roots” was profound, with over 100 million Americans tuning in to witness this powerful narrative, making it a seminal moment in TV history. Its success also paved the way for other major miniseries like “Shogun,” “The Thorn Birds,” and “Lonesome Dove.” “Roots” remains an unparalleled achievement, serving as a crucial steward of our collective imagination and memory.


11 Cheers

NBC (1982-93)

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“Cheers,” which aired from 1982 to 1993 on NBC, is often hailed as one of the best TV shows of all time. Its simple premise revolved around the lives and interactions of the staff and regulars at a neighborhood bar in Boston. This straightforward setting provided endless opportunities for character collisions and comedic moments over 275 episodes and 11 seasons.

The show introduced audiences to a cast of memorable characters, including the recovering-alcoholic owner (Ted Danson), the high-minded and working-class waitresses, and the barflies with extensive tabs. “Cheers” launched the careers of Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, Shelley Long, Kelsey Grammer, and more. Grammer’s character, Frasier Crane, even led to the successful spinoff series “Frasier,” further cementing “Cheers” as a foundational sitcom in television history.


12 Sesame Street

PBS/HBO/Max (1969-present) 

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“Sesame Street,” which has been airing since 1969, is recognized as one of the best TV shows of all time for its educational and entertaining approach to children’s television. Created by a nonprofit organization, the show combines lovable characters, engaging lessons, and a utopian cityscape to teach academic and moral values. Its resilience and adaptability have allowed “Sesame Street” to continue educating and delighting generations of children around the world.


13 Succession

HBO (2018-23)

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“Succession,” which aired from 2018 to 2023 on HBO, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its sharp critique of wealth and power. Created by Jesse Armstrong, the series followed the Roy family, a dysfunctional dynasty vying for control of a media empire. With its brilliant ensemble cast and incisive writing, “Succession” blended dark humor with Shakespearean drama, capturing the complexities of family dynamics and corporate greed.


14 The Twilight Zone

CBS (1959-64)

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“The Twilight Zone,” which aired from 1959 to 1964 on CBS, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its pioneering approach to science fiction and fantasy. Created and hosted by Rod Serling, the anthology series used speculative storytelling to explore complex social issues. Its memorable episodes and iconic theme song have left an indelible mark on television, influencing countless shows and filmmakers.



15 Saturday Night Live

NBC (1975)

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“Saturday Night Live,” which premiered in 1975 on NBC and continues to air, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its influential and ever-evolving sketch comedy. Created by Lorne Michaels, the show has launched the careers of numerous comedians and generated countless catchphrases. With its live format and topical humor, “SNL” has remained a cultural touchstone, shaping Americans’ understanding of politics, celebrity, and media.


16 All in the Family

CBS (1971-1979)

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“All in the Family,” which aired from 1971 to 1979 on CBS, is recognized as one of the best TV shows of all time for its bold and honest exploration of social issues. Created by Norman Lear, the sitcom centered on the bigoted yet lovable Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O’Connor. Through its sharp writing and groundbreaking themes, “All in the Family” sparked national conversations about race, gender, and politics, leaving a lasting impact on television and society.



17 The Oprah Winfrey Show

Syndicated (1986-2011)

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“The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which aired from 1986 to 2011, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its profound impact on American culture and television. Hosted by Oprah Winfrey, the talk show covered a wide range of topics, from celebrity interviews to social issues, and introduced the world to Oprah’s book club. Known for her empathetic listening and ability to connect with guests, Oprah became a household name and an influential media mogul.


18 The Golden Girls

NBC (1985-1992)

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“The Golden Girls,” which aired from 1985 to 1992 on NBC, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its groundbreaking portrayal of older women living vibrant lives. Starring Betty White, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty, the sitcom explored themes of friendship, love, and aging with humor and heart. The show’s sharp wit and strong performances made it a beloved classic that continues to resonate with audiences of all ages.

19 Playhouse 90

CBS (1956-1960)

“Playhouse 90,” which aired from 1956 to 1960 on CBS, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its ambitious and highbrow approach to televised theater. The anthology series featured feature-length teleplays and attracted top talent like John Frankenheimer, Sidney Lumet, and Rod Serling. Its diverse and high-quality productions set a standard for television drama that influenced future anthology series and showcased the potential of TV as a serious artistic medium.


20 60 Minutes

CBS (1968)

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“60 Minutes,” which has been airing since 1968 on CBS, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its impactful and wide-ranging journalism. As the gold standard of TV newsmagazines, the show has covered significant stories and provided in-depth reporting for decades. Its legacy of excellence and commitment to investigative journalism have made “60 Minutes” a trusted source of news and information for millions of viewers.


21 Game of Thrones

HBO (2011-19)

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“Game of Thrones,” which aired from 2011 to 2019 on HBO, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its epic storytelling and complex characters. Based on George R.R. Martin’s novels, the series depicted the power struggles and mythical elements of Westeros. Despite its controversial ending, “Game of Thrones” redefined television with its depictions of violence, sex, and political intrigue, becoming a cultural phenomenon.


22 30 Rock

NBC (2006-13)

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“30 Rock,” which aired from 2006 to 2013 on NBC, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its witty and meta humor. Created by and starring Tina Fey, the series offered a behind-the-scenes look at a fictional sketch comedy show. With its sharp writing and memorable characters, including Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy and Jane Krakowski’s Jenna Maroney, “30 Rock” became a beloved sitcom known for its rapid-fire jokes and clever satire.


23 The Carol Burnett Show

CBS (1967-78)

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“The Carol Burnett Show,” which aired from 1967 to 1978 on CBS, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its pioneering approach to sketch comedy. Led by Carol Burnett, the variety show featured a talented ensemble and a wide range of hilarious sketches. Known for its parodies and musical numbers, the show earned numerous Emmys and left a lasting legacy in the world of comedy.



CBS (1972-83)

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“MASH,” which aired from 1972 to 1983 on CBS, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its unique blend of comedy and drama set against the backdrop of the Korean War. Based on the novel and film of the same name, the series followed the staff of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. With memorable performances by Alan Alda and the ensemble cast, “MASH” tackled serious issues with humor and humanity, culminating in one of the most-watched finales in TV history.


25 The West Wing

NBC (1999-06)

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“The West Wing,” which aired from 1999 to 2006 on NBC, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its idealistic and engaging portrayal of American politics. Created by Aaron Sorkin, the series followed the fictional administration of President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and his dedicated staff. Known for its sharp dialogue and complex characters, “The West Wing” offered a hopeful vision of political life and remains a beloved classic.


26 Veep

HBO (2012-19)

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“Veep,” which aired from 2012 to 2019 on HBO, is recognized as one of the best TV shows of all time for its sharp political satire and brilliant performances. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President Selina Meyer, the series humorously depicted the absurdities and power struggles of American politics. With its witty writing and dark humor, “Veep” offered a biting critique of the political landscape and became a standout comedy of its era.


27 Twin Peaks

ABC/Showtime (1990-91/2017)

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“Twin Peaks,” which aired from 1990 to 1991 and was revived in 2017, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its unique blend of mystery, horror, and surrealism. Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, the series follows FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) as he investigates the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer in the eerie town of Twin Peaks. Its innovative storytelling and unforgettable characters have left a lasting impact on television.


28 The Civil War

PBS (1990)

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Ken Burns’ “The Civil War,” which aired in 1990 on PBS, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its detailed and impactful exploration of American history. The nine-part docuseries used archival photographs, paintings, voiceover, and period music to bring the 19th-century conflict to life. Its comprehensive storytelling and educational value have made “The Civil War” a seminal work in historical documentary filmmaking.


29 Friends

NBC (1994-2004)

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“Friends,” which ran from 1994 to 2004 on NBC, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its enduring appeal and iconic ensemble cast. Starring Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer, the sitcom followed six friends navigating life and love in New York City. Its humor, memorable moments, and relatable characters have made “Friends” a beloved classic across generations.


30 Hill Street Blues

NBC (1981-87)

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“Hill Street Blues,” which aired from 1981 to 1987 on NBC, is recognized as one of the best TV shows of all time for its groundbreaking portrayal of police work and urban life. Created by Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll, the series introduced a large, diverse ensemble cast and a documentary-style approach. Known for its gritty realism and complex characters, “Hill Street Blues” set the standard for future cop dramas and earned numerous accolades.


31 Survivor

CBS (2000)

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“Survivor,” which premiered in 2000 on CBS and continues to air, is one of the best TV shows of all time for revolutionizing the reality competition genre. Created by Mark Burnett, the show pits contestants against each other in a battle of wits, endurance, and strategy on a remote island. Its innovative format and compelling gameplay have kept viewers hooked for over two decades, making “Survivor” a cornerstone of modern reality TV.


32 Lost

ABC (2004-10)

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“Lost,” which aired from 2004 to 2010 on ABC, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its complex characters and captivating mysteries. Created by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the series followed the survivors of a plane crash on a mysterious island. Despite some controversial plot resolutions, “Lost” engaged audiences with its rich storytelling and character development, influencing the way fans interact with TV shows online.

33 Jeopardy!

Syndicated (1964-present)

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“Jeopardy!,” which has been airing since 1964, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its ingenious structure and enduring appeal. The quiz show, hosted for many years by the beloved Alex Trebek, combines challenging trivia with an engaging format that keeps contestants playing until they lose. Its unique question-and-answer style and intense yet understated tone have made “Jeopardy!” a cultural icon and a favorite among trivia enthusiasts.


34 ER

NBC (1994-09)

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“ER,” which aired from 1994 to 2009 on NBC, is recognized as one of the best TV shows of all time for revolutionizing the medical drama genre. Created by Michael Crichton and executive-produced by John Wells, the show featured a dynamic original cast including George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, and Anthony Edwards. Known for its fast-paced and realistic portrayal of emergency room life, “ER” captivated audiences and set a high standard for medical dramas.


35 Late Night With David Letterman

NBC (1982-93)

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“Late Night With David Letterman,” which aired from 1982 to 1993 on NBC, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its innovative and irreverent approach to late-night television. Hosted by David Letterman, the show deconstructed traditional talk show norms with a mix of sarcasm, irony, and absurdity. Letterman’s influence on comedy and television is profound, inspiring a new generation of comedians and talk show hosts.



36 Curb Your Enthusiasm

HBO (2000)

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“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which premiered in 2000 on HBO and continues to this day, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its improvisational genius and comedic brilliance. Created by and starring Larry David, the show captures his character’s disregard for social norms and chronicling his endless grievances. As a companion piece to “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” amplifies the comic chaos and delivers a unique and hilarious take on everyday annoyances.



37 Enlightened

HBO (2011-13)

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HBO’s “Enlightened,” which aired from 2011 to 2013, is recognized as one of the best TV shows of all time for its poignant and raw portrayal of personal transformation and social critique. Created by Mike White and starring Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe, the series explored the complexities of self-improvement and corporate life. “Enlightened” delved into the struggles of finding one’s place in a hostile world, offering a unique blend of humor and introspection.



38The X-Files

FOX (1993-02)

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“The X-Files,” which aired from 1993 to 2002 and revived from 2016 to 2018 on Fox, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its captivating blend of science fiction, horror, and mystery. Starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI agents Mulder and Scully, the series balanced its overarching mythology with “Monster of the Week” episodes. Its enduring appeal and influence on the genre are reflected in its extensive run and dedicated fan base.



39 The Office

NBC (2005-13)

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“The Office,” which ran from 2005 to 2013 on NBC, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its relatable and humorous portrayal of office life. Based on the UK series created by Ricky Gervais, the American version, led by Steve Carell as Michael Scott, combined sharp humor with heartfelt moments. It launched the careers of writers and actors like Mindy Kaling and John Krasinski and became a streaming favorite, cementing its place as a timeless workplace comedy.



40 Buffy the Vampire Slayer

WB/UPN (1997-03)

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“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” airing from 1997 to 2003 on The WB/UPN, is widely considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its innovative blend of horror, drama, and coming-of-age themes. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the titular character, the series created a new archetype for the horror heroine and addressed issues of teen angst and loss of innocence. Despite controversies surrounding its creator, Joss Whedon, “Buffy” remains a beloved and influential classic.

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41 The Real World

MTV (1992-17)

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MTV’s “The Real World,” which aired from 1992 to 2017, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its groundbreaking impact on reality television and culture. Created by Jonathan Murray and Mary-Ellis Bunim, the show introduced the concept of “seven strangers picked to live in a house,” fostering real conversations about race, sexuality, and social issues. Its early seasons, particularly the “San Francisco” season featuring AIDS activist Pedro Zamora, left a lasting legacy on the genre and society.

42 The Americans

FX (2013-18)

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“The Americans,” which aired from 2013 to 2018 on FX, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its thrilling portrayal of Cold War espionage and complex character dynamics. Starring Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as Russian sleeper agents in Reagan-era America, the series explored themes of patriotism, pragmatism, and marital tension. Its cerebral yet sexy storytelling made it a standout drama of the second Golden Age of television.



43 The Larry Sanders Show

HBO (1992-98)

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“The Larry Sanders Show,” airing from 1992 to 1998 on HBO, is regarded as one of the best TV shows of all time for its satirical take on the television industry. Created by and starring Garry Shandling, the series deconstructed the ego-driven world of late-night talk shows. With standout performances by Jeffrey Tambor and Rip Torn, “The Larry Sanders Show” played a crucial role in HBO’s rise as a home for original, groundbreaking television.



44 Star Trek: The Next Generation

syndicated (1987-94)

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“Star Trek: The Next Generation,” syndicated from 1987 to 1994, is recognized as one of the best TV shows of all time for successfully expanding the beloved sci-fi franchise. Led by Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the series offered deeply satisfying morality plays and memorable characters like Data and Troi. Executive-produced by Rick Berman and Michael Piller, “TNG” provided a hopeful and intellectual vision of the future that remains influential and re-watchable.


45 The Dick Van Dyke Show

CBS (1961-66)

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“The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which aired from 1961 to 1966 on CBS, is one of the best TV shows of all time for its perfect blend of workplace and family comedy. Created by Carl Reiner and starring Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, the show was praised for its clever writing and memorable episodes. It set a high standard for television sitcoms, earning 15 Emmys and influencing many future shows about the entertainment industry.



46 The Leftovers

HBO (2014-17)

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HBO’s “The Leftovers,” airing from 2014 to 2017, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its profound exploration of grief and existential despair. Created by Damon Lindelof and based on Tom Perrotta’s novel, the series follows the aftermath of a mass disappearance known as the Sudden Departure. With standout performances by Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon, “The Leftovers” embraced the unknown and showcased human resilience through its unique narrative and dark humor.



47 Friday Night Lights

NBC-DirecTV (2006-11)

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“Friday Night Lights,” which ran from 2006 to 2011, is celebrated as one of the best TV shows of all time for its realistic depiction of small-town America. Set in the fictional Dillon, Texas, the series used high school football as a backdrop for exploring life-and-death stakes. Led by Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, and featuring future stars like Michael B. Jordan, the show stood out for its authentic portrayal of American life beyond the coastal elites.



48 The Shield

FX (2002-08)

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“The Shield,” airing from 2002 to 2008 on FX, is recognized as one of the best TV shows of all time for its gritty portrayal of a corrupt L.A. cop, Vic Mackey, played by Michael Chiklis. The series, created by Shawn Ryan, set a high standard for basic cable dramas and inspired future shows like “Nip/Tuck” and “Rescue Me.” Known for its intense plotting and exceptional performances, “The Shield” also pioneered the trend of high-profile guest stars, exemplified by Glenn Close’s acclaimed season four arc.



49 Watchmen

HBO (2019)

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HBO’s 2019 series “Watchmen” is hailed as one of the best TV shows of all time, expertly continuing the legacy of the celebrated graphic novel. Created by Damon Lindelof, the series serves as a sequel rather than a direct adaptation, delving into themes of race, identity, and social justice within an alternate America. The show masterfully intertwines the historical 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre with the overarching narrative of masked vigilantes, updating Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ original work for a new era.



50 My So-Called Life

ABC (1994-95)

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“My So-Called Life,” which aired from 1994-95 on ABC, is considered one of the best TV shows of all time for its authentic portrayal of teenage angst, anguish, and hope. Starring Claire Danes as 15-year-old Angela Chase, the series offered a grounded and tangible look at adolescence, contrasting the glossy view of shows like “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Despite its short run, the show’s depiction of first love, parental understanding, and emotional turmoil resonates with both teens and former teens today.

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