In a world where covert missions and thrilling espionage tales reign supreme, the best spy shows have carved a niche in the hearts of viewers. These pulse-pounding series boast adrenaline-fueled action, mind-bending plot twists, and intriguing undercover operations that keep audiences hooked.
With a captivating lineup filled with double-crossing agents and state-of-the-art gadgets, fans are treated to a binge-worthy experience like never before.
To determine the best spy shows of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on audience reception from IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon. Spy and espionage shows were ranked based on average IMDb user rating as of December 2022. Only shows with at least 4,000 user votes were considered. Data on series run and cast information also came from IMDb. (If you prefer the long form, these are the 30 best spy films of all time.)
Some shows that have earned high ratings and serious acclaim have not yet cracked the list of the 25 best spy shows in TV history. Providing stiff competition are a number of enduring classics, some of which went on to inspire movie adaptations and full-blown franchises. The most obvious example is “Mission: Impossible,” which debuted on CBS in 1966 and later inspired a blockbuster film series of the same name.
Of course, not every spy series takes itself as seriously as “Mission: Impossible.” Shows such as “Burn Notice” dispense frequent comic relief while the TV classic “Get Smart” often resorts to pure parody. It all helps create a wide-reaching milieu of characters, stories, and tones, as fans of the espionage subgenre hop from one timeless series to the next.
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