Special Report

100 Best TV Dramas of All Time

We’re in a golden age of TV series, and there’s a little something for everyone. The best shows span just about every genre imaginable. There are crime thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy epics, coming-of-age tales, period pieces, comedies and more. 

Some are set in alternate universes filled with monsters and magic and others are rooted around true events and people. Many revolve around power struggles, greed, deception and great characters. Regardless of the setting, they all tell the human experience in one way or another.

To determine the 100 best TV dramas of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on audience reviews from the Internet Movie Database. Television shows with the drama genre label on IMDb were ranked based on average IMDb user rating. Only shows with at least 75,000 user ratings, that have been or were on the air for at least one year, and have a rating from the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board were considered. Data was collected in November 2021.

Some of the shows that make this list, like “Twin Peaks,” “Oz” and “The Sopranos,” blazed the trail for modern day series. They helped elevate the medium to rivaling movies when it comes to storytelling. 

This list also asks what exactly makes a good series. Some of the shows that make the list critically-acclaimed — until they weren’t. But they still have plenty of great plot and characters even if they crumble in the later seasons. Many of these classic shows gave us popular TV quotes that are now part of everyday vocabulary.

The longform aspect of TV dramas lets writers and directors dive deep into the worlds they create and allows them to sculpt complex characters and settings. It’s hard to imagine “The Office ” being as funny if audiences didn’t have time to understand the characters and their relationships well. 

TV series are also debatably a much better way to translate books to digital media than movies. Limited time means that a lot of the story is often cut out in movies. Meanwhile, series have more room to include details and tell stories properly. Overall, the dramas on this list do a fantastic job of growing their characters, building up tension, and delivering (most of the time). These are the best TV spinoffs of all time.

Click here to see the 100 best TV dramas of all time