Thursday Apr 27

Entertainment

Written by Ben Pogany
  1. Roger Deakins: The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, No Country For Old Men, Sicario, Prisoners, The Assassination of Jesse James, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Doubt, True Grit.
  2. Emmanuel Lubezki: The Revenant, Gravity, Children of Men, Birdman, The Tree of Life, Sleepy Hollow, Y Tu Mama Tambien, A Little Princess, Ali, The New World.
  3. Haskell Wexler: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, American Graffiti, In The Heat of The Night, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?Bound For Glory, Days of Heaven, The Thomas Crown Affair, Coming Home, 61*, Colors.
  4. Vittorio Storaro: Apocalypse Now, Reds, The Last Emperor, The Conformist, Dick Tracy, Last Tango in Paris, Dune, The Sheltering Sky, Ishtar, Goya en Burdeos.
  5. Robert Elswit: There Will Be Blood, Good Night and Good Luck, Punch Drunk Love, Boogie Nights, Nightcrawler, Salt, The Town, Magnolia, 8mm, Inherent Vice.
  6. Conrad Hall: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, American Beauty, Cool Hand Luke, Road to Perdition, In Cold Blood, Searching For Bobby Fischer, A Civil Action, Marathon Man, The Day of the Locust, Tequila Sunrise.
  7. Janusz Kamiński: Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, War of the Worlds, Lincoln.
  8. Robert Richardson: JFK, The Aviator, Hugo, Platoon, Salvador, The Hateful Eight, Born of the Fourth of July, Inglorious Basterds, Snow Falling On Cedars, Django Unchained.
  9. John Toll: Braveheart, Legends of the Fall, The Thin Red Line, Almost Famous, Gone Baby Gone, Vanilla Sky, The Last Samurai, Tropic Thunder, The Rainmaker, Breaking Bad pilot.
  10. Wally Pfister: Inception, The Dark Knight, Memento, The Italian Job, Moneyball.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Menges, Rodrigo Prieto, Michael Ballhuas, Claduio Miranda, Mauro Fiore, Anthony Dod Mantle, Andrew Lesnie, John Seale, Dean Semler, Jeff Cronenweth, Dante Spinotti

*Academy Award winners for Best Cinematography in italics.  Must have worked on at least one 21st century film to be considered "modern."
 
Written by Ben Pogany
  1. Joel and Ethan Coen: Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country For Old Men, Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Inside Llewyn Davis, Bridge of Spies, Raising Arizona, Blood Simple.
  2. Woody Allen: Midnight in Paris, Hannah and Her Sisters, Annie Hall, Manhattan, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Blue Jasmine, Deconstructing Harry, Broadway Danny Rose, Husbands and Wives.
  3. Quentin Tarantino: Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, Django Unchained, True Romance, Natural Born Killers, From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds, The Hateful Eight.
  4. Charlie Kaufman: Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Synecdoche New York, Anomalisa, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Human Nature.
  5. P.T. Anderson: Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, The Master, Hard Eight, Inherent Vice.
  6. Wes Anderson: Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr. Fox.
  7. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu: Birdman, 21 Grams, Amores perros, Babel, The Revenant.
  8. Oliver Stone: Platoon, Wall Street, JFK, Salvador, Talk Radio.
  9. Christopher Nolan: Memento, The Prestige, Inception, The Dark Knight, Following, Interstellar.
  10. David O. Russell: American Hustle, Three Kings, Silver Linings Playbook, Joy, Flirting With Disaster.
*Academy Award winning screenplays in italics.
Must have at least one 21st century writing credit to be considered "modern"
Only writing credits are listed above.  For a look at their films ranked by direction, see The 50 Greatest Modern Directors
Written by Ben Pogany
Couple ground rules.  For starters, we'll be using 1990 as the demarcation line for what should be considered modern.  This seemed like a natural cutoff point, as the Cheers generation was giving way to the Seinfeld generation and cable channels were beginning to gain some footing.  When we say 1990, we mean that the first season of a show had to, at its earliest, at least span the turn of the decade.  This means The Simpsons is still good as its first season started in the latter half of 1989 and ended in 1990.  However, this disqualifies still active shows that started any earlier; as great as SNL and 60 Minutes are, you won't see them on this list.  Tough call but we ultimately decided that we didn't want to be handing out too many greatness points for longevity alone.  Furthermore, with all apologies to Freaks and Geeks, miniseries or single-season programs will not eligible.  Though we don't want to over award for longevity, there's something to be said for sustaining greatness across multiple years.  Beyond that it's wide open--dramas, sitcoms, talk shows, sketch comedy, British shows--if it comes on the small screen and could be considered essential viewing, it has a spot on this list.
  1. The Wire (2002-2008, 60 episodes over 5 seasons)  HBO  Created by David Simon
  2. The Simpsons (1989-Present, 601 episodes over 28 seasons)  FOX  Created by Matt Groening
  3. Seinfeld (1989-1998, 180 episodes over 9 seasons)  NBC  Created  by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld
  4. Breaking Bad (2008-2013, 62 episodes over 5 seasons)  AMC  Created by Vince Gilligan
  5. The Daily Show (1996-Present, 3000+ episodes)  COMEDY CENTRAL  Created by Madeleine Smithberg and Lizz Winstead
  6. Game of Thrones (2011-Present, 60 episodes over 6 seasons)  HBO  Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
  7. The Sopranos (1999-2007, 86 episodes over 6 seasons)  HBO  Created by David Chase
  8. Mad Men (2007-2015, 92 episodes over 7 seasons) AMC Created by Matthew Weiner
  9. South Park (1997-Present, 267 episodes over 19 seasons)  COMEDY CENTRAL  Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone
  10. The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998, 89 episodes over 6 seasons)  HBO  Created by Garry Shandling and Dennis Klein.
  11. The Colbert Report (2005-2014, 1447 episodes over 10 seasons.  COMEDY CENTRAL  Created by Stephen Colbert, Ben Karlin, and Jon Stewart
  12. Family Guy (1999-Present, 273 episodes over 15 seasons)  FOX  Created by Seth McFarlane
  13. Law and Order (1990-2010, 496 episodes over 20 seasons) NBC Created by Dick Wolf
  14. The West Wing (1999-2006) NBC Created by Aaron Sorkin
  15. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-Present, 80 episodes over 8 seasons) HBO  Created by Larry David
  16. Arrested Development (2003-Present, 68 episodes over 4 seasons)  FOX/NETFLIX  Created by Mitchell Hurwitz
  17. Louie (2010-Present, 61 episodes over 5 seasons)  FX  Created by Louie CK
  18. Friends (1994-2004, 236 episodes over 10 seasons)  NBC  Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman
  19. Chappelle's Show (2003-2006, 28 episodes over 3 seasons)  Comedy Central.  Created by Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan.
  20. 30 Rock (2006-2013, 138 episodes over 7 seasons)  NBC  Created by Tina Fey
  21. Lost (2004-2010, 121 episodes over 6 seasons)  ABC  Created by JJ Abrams
  22. NYPD Blue (1993-2005, 261 episodes over 12 seasons) ABC  Created by Steven Bochco and David Milch
  23. The X-Files (1993-2002, 208 episodes over 10 seasons) FOX Created by Chris Carter
  24. Deadwood (2004-2006, 36 episodes over 3 seasons)  HBO  Created by David Milch
  25. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-Present, 124 episodes over 11 seasons)  FX  Created by Rob McElhenney
  26. The Shield (2002-2008, 88 episodes over 7 seasons)  FX  Created by Shawn Ryan
  27. Friday Night Lights (2006-2011, 76 episodes over 5 seasons)  NBC  Based on the book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger
  28. Key and Peele (2012-2015, 53 episodes over 5 seasons)  COMEDY CENTRAL  Created by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele
  29. Six Feet Under (2001-2005, 63 episodes over 5 seasons)  HBO  Created by Alan Ball
  30. SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-Present, 205 episodes over 10 seasons)  NICKELODEON  Created by Stephen Hillenburg
  31. Oz (1997-2003, 56 episodes over 6 seasons) HBO Created by Tom Fontana
  32. Twin Peaks (1990-1991, 30 episodes over 2 seasons)  ABC  Created by Mark Frost and David Lynch
  33. Frasier (1993-2004, 264 episodes over 11 seasons)  NBC  Created by David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee
  34. Black Mirror (2011-Present, 13 episodes over 3 seasons)  CHANNEL 4/NETFLIX  Created by Charlie Brooker
  35. Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-1999, 122 episodes over 7 seasons)  NBC  Created by Paul Attanasio and based on the book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon
  36. 24 (2001-2014, 204 episodes over 9 seasons) FOX Created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran
  37. ER (1994-2009, 331 episodes over 15 seasons) NBC Created by Michael Crichton
  38. Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993-2009, 2,725 episodes over 14 seasons)  NBC  Created by Conan O'Brien
  39. Fargo (2014-Present, 20 episodes over 2 seasons)  FX  Created by Noah Hawley
  40. Atlanta (2016-Present, 10 episodes over 1 season)  FX  Created by Donald Glover
  41. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003, 144 episodes over 7 seasons)  THE WB/UPN  Created by Joss Whedon
  42. The Office (British) (2001-2003, 12 episodes over 2 seasons)  BBC  Created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
  43. Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009, 75 episodes over 4 seasons)  SCI-FI  Based on TV series Battlestar Galactica by Glen A. Larson and developed by Ronald D. Moore
  44. Real Time with Bill Maher (2003-Present, 400+ episodes over 14 seasons  HBO  Presented by Bill Maher
  45. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996, 148 episodes over 6 seasons) NBC  Created by Andy and Susan Borowitz
  46. Mr. Robot (2015-Present, 20 episodes over 2 seasons)  USA  Created by Sam Esmail
  47. The Leftovers (2014-Present, 20 episodes over 2 seasons)  HBO  Created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta and based on the novel The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
  48. Sex and the City (1998-2004, 94 episodes over 6 seasons)  HBO  Created by Darren Star
  49. 30 for 30 (2009-Present, 91 episodes)  ESPN  Created by Bill Simmons and Connor Schell
  50. The Americans (2013-Present, 52 episodes over 4 seasons)  FX  Created by Joe Weisberg
  51. Parks and Recreation (2009-2015, 125 episodes over 7 seasons)  NBC  Created by Greg Daniels and Michael Shur
  52. American Crime Story (2015-Present, 10 episodes over 1 season)  FX  Developed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
  53. Sherlock (2010-present, 10 episodes over 3 seasons)  BBC  Created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat
  54. Pardon the Interruption (2001-Present, 3500+ episodes)  ESPN  Starring Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.
  55. The Office (American) (2005-2013, 201 episodes over 9 seasons)  NBC  Developed by Greg Daniels and based on The Office by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
  56. Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000, 293 episodes over 10 seasons)  FOX  Created by Darren Star, Aaron Spelling, and E. Duke Vincent
  57. The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (1992-2014, 4,610 episodes over 22 seasons)  NBC  Presented by Jay Leno
  58. Justified (2010-2015, 78 episodes over 6 seasons)  FX  Developed by Graham Yost and based on the short story "Fire in the Hole" by Elmore Leonard
  59. Modern Family (2009-Present, 171 episodes over 8 seasons)  ABC  Created by Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan
  60. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000-2015, 337 episodes over 15 seasons)  CBS  Created by Anthony E. Zulker
  61. In Living Color (1990-1994, 127 episodes over 5 seasons)  FOX  Created by Keenan Ivory Wayans
  62. Beavis and Butthead (1993-1997, 2011, 222 episodes over 8 seasons.  MTV  Created by Mike Judge
  63. Hannibal (2013-2015, 39 episodes over 3 seasons)  NBC  Developed by Bryant Fuller
  64. Chicago Hope (1994-2000, 141 episodes over 6 seasons)  CBS  Created by David E. Kelley
  65. Dexter (2006-2013, 96 episodes over 8 seasons)  SHOWTIME  Based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay an developed by James Manos Jr.
  66. The Knick (2014-2015, 20 episodes over 2 seasons)  CINEMAX Created by Jack Ariel and Michael Begler
  67. The Real World (1992-Present, 591 episodes over 32 seasons)  MTV  Created by Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray
  68. Northern Exposure (1990-1995, 110 episodes over 6 seasons)  CBS  Created by Joshua Brand and John Falsey
  69. Veep (2012-Present, 46 episodes over 5 seasons)  HBO  Created by Armando Iannucci
  70. Orange is the New Black (2013-Present, 52 episodes over 4 seasons)  NETFLIX  Created by Jenji Kohan
  71. Broad City (2014-Present, 30 episodes over 3 seasons)  COMEDY CENTRAL  Created by Illana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson
  72. Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2006, 151 episodes over 7 seasons)  FOX  Created by Linwood Boomer
  73. Better Call Saul (2015-Present, 20 episodes over 2 seasons)  AMC  Created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould
  74. Vice (2013-Present) 58 episodes over 4 seasons HBO  Created by Shane Smith
  75. Rick and Morty (2013-Present, 21 episodes over 2 seasons)  ADULT SWIM  Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon
  76. Transparent (2014-Present, 30 episodes over 3 seasons)  AMAZON  Created by Jill Soloway
  77. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (2014-Present, 560+ episodes over 3 seasons  Presented by Jimmy Fallon
  78. That 70's Show (1998-2006, 200 episodes over 8 seasons)  FOX  Created by Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner, and Mark Brazill.
  79. Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014, 56 episodes over 5 seasons)  HBO  Created by Terence Winter
  80. Community (2009-2015, 110 episodes over 6 seasons)  HBO/YAHOO  Created by Dan Harmon
  81. The Walking Dead (2010-Present,  85 episodes over 7 seasons)  AMC  Developed by Frank Darabont and based on the comic book series The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
  82. Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005, 210 episodes over 9 seasons)  CBS  Created by Phillip Rosenthal
  83. King of the Hill (1997-2010, 259 episodes over 13 seasons)  FOX  Created by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels
  84. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-Present, 73 episodes over 4 seasons)  FOX  Created by Dan Goor and Michael Shur
  85. Futurama (1999-2013, 140 episodes over 7 seasons)  FOX/COMEDY CENTRAL  Created by Matt Groening
  86. Homeland (2011-Present, 60 episodes over 5 seasons)  SHOWTIME  Based on the Israeli drama Prisoners of War by Gideon Raff and developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa
  87. House of Cards (2013-Present, 52 episodes over 4 seasons)  NETFLIX  Created by Beau Willimon and based on British series and novel of same name
  88. In Treatment (2008-2010, 106 episodes over 3 seasons)  HBO  Developed by Rodrigo Garcia and based on the Israeli series BeTipul
  89. Last Week Tonight (2014-Present, 87 episodes over 3 seasons)  HBO  Presented by John Oliver
  90. Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014, 92 episodes over 7 seasons)  FX  Created by Kurt Sutter
  91. Jackass (2000-2002, 25 episodes over 3 seasons)  MTV  Created by Johnny Knoxville, Spike Jonze, and Jeff Tremaine
  92. Silicon Valley (2014-Present, 28 episodes over 3 seasons)  HBO  Created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler, and Dave Krinsky
  93. Newsradio (1995-1999, 98 episodes over 5 seasons)  NBC  Created by Paul Simms
  94. Picket Fences (1992-1996, 88 episodes over 4 seasons)  CBS  Created by David E Kelley
  95. Animaniacs (1993-1998, 99 episodes over 5 seasons)  FOX/THE WB  Created by Tom Reugger
  96. The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991-1995, 52 episodes over 5 seasons)  NICKELODEON  Created by John Kricfalusi
  97. Eastbound & Down (2009-2013, 29 episodes over 4 seasons)  HBO  Created by Ben Best, Jody Hill, and Danny McBride
  98. Party Down (2009-2010, 20 episodes over 2 seasons)  HBO  Created by John Enborn, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge, and Paul Rudd.
  99. How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014, 208 episodes over 9 seasons)  CBS  Created by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas
  100. Inside Amy Schumer (2013-Present, 39 episodes over 4 seasons)  COMEDY CENTRAL  Created by Amy Schumer and Daniel Powell

Honorable Mentions: Gilmore Girls, Enlightened, True Detective, Scrubs, Girls, Mr. Show, Downton Abbey, The Good Wife, Sports Night, House, The Practice, Veronica Mars, Black-ish, Portlandia, Rescue Me, Saved by the Bell, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Home Improvement, Family Matters, Flight of the Conchords, Nathan For You, Bojack Horseman, American Crime, Jessica Jones, Melrose Place, Nurse Jackie, The Man Show, Master of None, Rectify, Da Ali G Show, You're the Worst, Grey's Anatomy, Prime Suspect, Survivor
Written by Ben Pogany
  1. Superman (first appearance: 1938)  Created by Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster for Action Comics #1 (DC Comics).
  2. Mickey Mouse (1928)  Created by Walt Disney and Ub Iworks for Steamboat Willie.
  3. James Bond (1953)  Created by Ian Fleming for novel Casino Royale.
  4. Bugs Bunny (1940)  Created by Warner Bros and originally voiced by Mel Blanc.
  5. Batman (1939) Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane for Detective Comics #27 (DC Comics).
  6. Dorothy Gale (1900)  Created by L. Frank Baum for novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Later portrayed by Judy Garland in the 1939 film adaptation.
  7. Darth Vader (1977) Created by George Lucas for Star Wars IV: A New Hope.
  8. The Tramp (1914)  Created and portrayed by Charlie Chaplin for Kid Auto Races at Venice.
  9. Peter Pan (1902)  Created by J.M. Barrie for novel The Little White Bird.
  10. Indiana Jones (1981)  Created by George Lucas for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Portrayed by Harrison Ford.
  11. Rocky Balboa (1976)  Created and portrayed by Sylvester Stallone for Rocky.
  12. Vito Corleone (1969) Created by Mario Puzo for novel The Godfather. Later portrayed by Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro in Coppola's film adaptation.
  13. Han Solo (1977) Created by George Lucas for Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Portrayed most famously by Harrison Ford.
  14. Homer Simpson (1987)  Created by Matt Groening for The Tracey Ullman Show, later The Simpsons as voiced by Dan Castellaneta.
  15. Archie Bunker (1971) Created by Norman Lear for All in the Family. Portrayed by Carroll O'Connor.
  16. Norman Bates (1959) Created by Robert Bloch for novel Psycho.  Later portrayed by Anthony Perkins in Hitchcock's film adaptation.
  17. King Kong (1933)  Created by Edgar Wallace and Merian C Cooper for the film King Kong.
  18. Lucy Ricardo (1951) Portrayed by Lucille Ball for I Love Lucy.
  19. Spiderman (1962)  Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel Comics).
  20. Spock (1964)  Created by Gene Roddenberry for Star Trek. Portrayed most famously by Leonard Nimoy.
  21. Godzilla (1954) Created by Tomoyuki Tanaka, Ishiro Honda, and Eiji Tsubaraya for the film Godzilla.
  22. Winnie-the-Pooh (1924)  Created by A.A. Milne for verse book When We Were Young.
  23. Popeye (1929)  Created by E.C. Segar for comic strip Thimble Theater (King Features).
  24. Forrest Gump (1986)  Created by Winston Groom for novel Forrest Gump.  Later portrayed by Tom Hanks in Zemeckis' film adaptation.
  25. Hannibal Lector (1981)  Created by Thomas Harris for the novel Red Dragon. Portrayed most famously by Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 Jonathan Demme film The Silence of the Lambs.
  26. Big Bird (1969) Created by Jim Henson and portrayed by Carroll Spinney for Sesame Street.
  27. Tony Montana (1983)  Created by Oliver Stone for film Scarface.  Portrayed by Al Pacino.
  28. Tony Soprano (1999)  Created by David Chase for The Sopranos. Portrayed by James Gandolfini.
  29. The Terminator (1984)  Created by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd for The Terminator. Portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  30. Charles Foster Kane (1941)  Created and portrayed by Orson Welles for Citizen Kane.
  31. Scarlett O'Hara (1936)  Created by Margaret Mitchell for the novel Gone With the Wind. Portrayed most famously by Vivien Leigh for the 1939 Victor Fleming film adaptation.
  32. Marty McFly (1985) Created by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale for Back to the Future. Portrayed by Michael J. Fox.
  33. Rick Blaine (1940)  Created by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison for the unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. Later portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in Michael Curtiz's film adaptation Casablanca.
  34. Man With No Name (1964)  Created by Sergio Leone for A Fistful of Dollars, which was adapted from a ronin character in Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961).  Portrayed by Clint Eastwood.
  35. Charlie Brown (1948)  Created by Charles M. Shultz for the comic strip L'il Folks; popularized two years later in Peanuts.
  36. E.T. (1982)  Created by Melissa Mathison for the film E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial.
  37. Arthur Fonzarelli (1974)  Created by Bob Brunner for the show Happy Days. Portrayed by Henry Winkler.
  38. Holden Caulfield (1945) Created by J.D. Salinger for the Collier's story "I'm Crazy."  Reworked into the novel The Catcher in the Rye in 1951.
  39. Phillip Marlowe (1939)  Created by Raymond Chandler for the novel The Big Sleep.
  40. Jay Gatsby (1925)  Created by F. Scott Fitzgerald for the novel The Great Gatsby.
  41. Lassie (1938) Created by Eric Knight for a Saturday Evening Post story, later turned into the novel Lassie Come-Home in 1940, film adaptation in 1943, and long-running television show in 1954.  Most famously portrayed by the dog Pal.
  42. Fred Flintstone (1959)  Created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for The Flintstones. Voiced most notably by Alan Reed.
  43. Rooster Cogburn (1968)  Created by Charles Portis for the novel True Grit. Most famously portrayed by John Wayne in the 196
    9 film adaptation.
  44. Atticus Finch (1960)  Created by Harper Lee for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.  (Appeared in the earlier work Go Set A Watchman, though this was not published until 2015)  Portrayed most famously by Gregory Peck in the Robert Mulligan film adaptation.
  45. Kermit the Frog (1955)  Created and performed by Jim Henson for the show Sam and Friends. Later popularized in Sesame Street (1969) and The Muppet Show (1976)
  46. George Bailey (1943)  Created by Phillip Van Doren Stern (then as George Pratt) for the short story The Greatest Gift. Later adapted into Capra's It's A Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart as the renamed George Bailey.
  47. Yoda (1980) Created by George Lucas for The Empire Strikes Back.
  48. Sam Malone (1982)  Created by Glen and Les Charles for the show Cheers.  Portrayed by Ted Danson.
  49. Harry Callahan (1971)  Created by Harry Julian Fink and R.M. Fink for the movie Dirty Harry.  Portrayed by Clint Eastwood.
  50. Tarzan (1912)  Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs for the novel Tarzan of the Apes.
  51. Zorro (1919)  Created by Johnston McCulley for the All-Story Weekly pulp magazine story The Curse of Capistrano. Later adapted to the Douglas Fairbanks' film The Mark of Zorro (1920).
  52. Moe, Larry, and Curly (1928)  Created by Ted Healy for the vaudeville act Ted Healy and his Stooges.
  53. Mary Poppins (1934)  Created by P.L. Travers for the children's book Mary Poppins.
  54. Ron Burgundy (2004)  Created by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay for the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.  Portrayed by Will Ferrell.
  55. Mario (1981)  Created by Shigeru Miyamoto for the video game Donkey Kong.
  56. The Dude (1998)  Created by Ethan and Joel Coen for the film The Big Lebowski. Portrayed by Jeff Bridges.
  57. Gandalf (1937)  Created by J.R.R. Tolkien for the novel The Hobbit.
  58. The Joker (1940)  Created by Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger, and Bob Kane for Batman #1 (DC Comics)
  59. The Grinch (1957)  Created by Dr. Seuss for the story How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
  60. Willy Wonka (1964)  Created by Roald Dahl for the children's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  61. The Hulk (1962)  Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for The Incredible Hulk #1 (Marvel Comics)
  62. Scooby-Doo (1969)  Created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears for the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
  63. George Costanza (1989)  Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld for the show Seinfeld.  Portrayed by Jason Alexander.
  64. Jules Winfield (1994)  Created by Quentin Tarantino for the film Pulp Fiction. Portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson.
  65. Harry Potter (1997)  Created by J.K. Rowling for the novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
  66. Travis Bickle (1976)  Created by Paul Schrader for the film Taxi Driver. Portrayed by Robert De Niro.
  67. John McClane (1988)  Based on the character Detective Joe Leland, who was created by Roderick Thorp for the novel Nothing Lasts Forever. Later adapted into the John McTernan film Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis as McClane.
  68. Ellen Ripley (1979)  Created by Don O'cannon and Ronald Shusett for the film Alien.  Portrayed by Sigourney Weaver.
  69. Ralph Kramden (1951)  Created and portrayed by Jackie Gleason for "The Honeymooners," which became its own show in 1955.
  70. Edward Scissorhands (1990)  Created by Tim Burton for the film Edward Scissorhands.  Portrayed by Johnny Depp.
  71. Eric Cartman (1992)  Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the animated short Jesus vs Frosty.  Later developed into the show South Park, which premiered in 1997.  Voiced by Trey Parker.
  72. Walter White (2008)  Created by Vince Gilligan for Breaking Bad.  Portrayed by Bryan Cranston.
  73. Cosmo Kramer (1989)  Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld for Seinfeld.  Portrayed by Michael Richards.
  74. Freddy Krueger (1984)  Created by Wes Craven for the film A Nightmare on Elm Street. Most famously portrayed by Robert Englund.
  75. Shrek (1990)  Created by William Steig for the children's book Shrek! Later adapted into the 2001 film starring Mike Myers as the titular character.
  76. Captain America (1941)  Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Captain America Comics #1 (Marvel Comics)
  77. Bambi (1923)  Created by Felix Salten for the children's book Bambi, a Life in the Woods. Later adapted into the Disney film Bambi in 1942.
  78. Ronald McDonald (1963) Created by Williard Scott for a series of television spots.
  79. Waldo/Wally (1987) Created by Martin Hanford for the children's book Where's Wally? (Waldo in US edition)
  80. Frasier Crane (1984)  Created by Glen and Les Charles for Cheers.  Portrayed by Kelsey Grammar.
  81. Omar Little (2002)  Created by David Simon for The Wire. Portrayed by Michael K. Williams.
  82. Cliff Huxtable (1984)  Created and portrayed by Bill Cosby for The Cosby Show.
  83. Wolverine (1974)  Created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and John Romita Sr for The Incredible Hulk #180 (Marvel Comics)
  84. Jason Voorhees (1980)  Created by Victor Miller for the film Friday the 13th.
  85. Betty Boop (1930)  Created by Max Fleischer and the Grim Network for the cartoon Dizzy Dishes.
  86. Bilbo Baggins (1937)  Created by J.R.R. Tolkien for the novel The Hobbit.
  87. Tom Joad (1939)  Created by John Steinbeck for the novel The Grapes of Wrath. Later adapted into the 1940 John Ford film and portrayed by Henry Fonda.
  88. Tony Stark (Iron Man) (1963)  Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby for Tales of Suspense #39 (Marvel Comics)
  89. Porky Pig (1935)  Created by Friz Freleng for the animated short film I Haven't Got a Hat. Voiced most famously by Mel Blanc.
  90. Hawkeye Pierce (1968)  Created by Richard Hooker for the novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. Famously portrayed by both Alan Alda and Donald Sutherland.
  91. Don Draper (2007)  Created by Matthew Weiner for the show Mad Men.  Portrayed by Jon Hamm.
  92. Jack Torrance (1977)  Created by Stephen King for the novel The Shining. Later adapted into the 1980 Stanley Kubrick film and portrayed by Jack Nicholson.
  93. Terry Malloy (1954)  Created by Budd Schulberg for the film On the Waterfront. Portrayed by Marlon Brando.
  94. Axel Foley (1984)  Created by Danilo Bach for the film Beverly Hills Cop.  Portrayed by Eddie Murphy.
  95. Tyler Durden (1996) Created by Chuck Palahniuk for the novel Fight Club.  Later adapted into the David Fincher film and portrayed by Brad Pitt.
  96. Holly Golightly (1958)  Created by Truman Capote for the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Later adapted into the 1961 Blake Edwards films starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly.
  97. Patrick Bateman (1987)  Created by Bret Easton Ellis for the novel The Rules of Attraction. Most famously portrayed by Christian Bale in the 2000 film adaption of American Psycho.
  98. J.R. Ewing (1978)  Created by David Jacobs for the show Dallas.  Portrayed by Larry Hagman.
  99. Optimus Prime (1984)  Created by Dennis O'Neil for the Transformers toy line.
  100. Keyser Soze (1995)  Created by Christopher McQuarrie for the film The Usual Suspects.
Pre-20th Century: Santa Claus, Dracula, Robin Hood, Cinderella, Huckleberry Finn, Odysseus, Sherlock Holmes, Romeo and Juliet, Frankenstein, Prince Hamlet, Uncle Sam, Paul Bunyan, Tom Sawyer, Pinocchio, Oliver Twist, Snow White, Don Quixote, Rip Van Winkle, Ebenezer Scrooge, Anna Karenina, Ichabod Crane, John Henry, The Tooth Fairy, Br'er Rabbit, Long John Silver, The Mad Hatter
Written by Ben Pogany
1) HBO: Launched in 1972
Top currently-running properties: Game of Thrones, The Leftovers, Last Week Tonight, Veep, Silicon Valley, True Detective, Girls, Togetherness
Top formerly-running properties: The Wire, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Larry Sanders Show, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Sex in the City, Oz, Boardwalk Empire, Band of Brothers

2)  FX/FXX: Launched in 1994
Top currently-running properties: Fargo, Atlanta, American Crime Story, The Americans, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, American Horror Story, You're the Worst, Baskets, Tyrant, The Strain
Top formerly-running properties: Louie, The Shield, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck

3)  Netflix: Launched in 1997
Top currently-running properties: Master of None, Black Mirror, Making a Murderer, Narcos, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Bojack Horseman, Bloodline, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Jessica Jones

4)  Comedy Central: Launched in 1991
Top currently-running properties: The Daily Show, Inside Amy Schumer, South Park, Nathan For You, Broad City, The Nightly Show, Drunk History, Workaholics, Review, Tosh.0
Top formerly-running properties: Chappelle's Show, The Colbert Report, Key and Peele, The Man Show, Upright Citizen's Brigade

5)  AMC: Launched in 1984
Top currently-running properties: Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead, Halt and Catch Fire, Fear the Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels.
Top formerly-running properties: Breaking Bad, Mad Men

6)  Amazon Studios: Launched in 2013
Top currently-running properties: Transparent, The Man in the High Castle, Mozart in the Jungle

7)  Showtime: Launched in 1976
Top currently-running properties: Homeland, Ray Donovan, Episodes, Shameless, The Affair, Penny Dreadful, Masters of Sex, Billions
Top formerly-running properties: Dexter, Nurse Jackie, Californication, Weeds, The Tudors.

8) FOX: Launched in 1986
Top currently-running properties: Brooklyn Nine Nine, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Empire, The X-Files
Top formerly-running properties: Arrested Development, 24, That 70's Show, 90210, Melrose Place, In Living Color, Prison Break, House, Married...with Children, Party of Five, Undeclared.

9) CBS: Launched in 1941
Top currently-running properties: Big Bang Theory, NCIS, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, 60 Minutes, The Good Wife
Top formerly-running properties: CSI, Chicago Hope, Picket Fences, Everybody Loves Raymond, Murphy Brown
10) NBC: Launched in 1939
Top currently-running properties: Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Blacklist, Meet the Press, Law & Order: SVU
Top formerly-running properties: Seinfeld, The West Wing, Cheers, Law and Order, Friends, Parks and Rec, ER, Friday Night Lights, The Office, Frasier, Freaks and Geeks, The Cosby Show, Homicide: Life on the Street, 30 Rock, L.A. Law
Written by Ben Pogany
1) Stephen Colbert (1997-2005)
Even Stephven, This Week In God, The Jobbing of America
Extracurriculars: The Colbert Report, The Late Show

2) Steve Carell (1999-2005)
Even Stephven, Produce Pete, Dollars and "Cents, We Love Showbiz, Slimmin' Down With Steve, Ad Nauseam
Extracurriculars: The Office, Anchorman, Foxcatcher, The 40 Year Old Virgin

3) Jon Oliver (2006-2013)
Senior British Person; Wilmore-Oliver Investigates, Interim host
Extracurriculars: Last Week Tonight

4) Samantha Bee (2003-2015)
Extracurriculars: Full Frontal

5) Larry Wilmore (2006-2014)
Senior Black Correspondent, Wilmore-Oliver Investigates
Extracurriculars: The Nightly Show

6) Ed Helms (2002-2006)
Digital Watch, Ad Nauseam, Mark Your Calendar, We Love Showbiz
Extracurriculars: The Hangover, The Office

7) Jason Jones (2005-2015)

8) Jessica Williams (2012-2016)

9) Lewis Black (1996-2015)
Back in Black
Extracurriculars: Standup, Root of all Evil, Inside Out

10) John Hodgeman (2006-2015)
Resident Expert, Deranged Millionaire, You're Welcome, Exper-teasers ; Money Talks
Extracurriculars: Author, Mac Commercials, The Knick

11) Aasif Mandvi (2006-2015)
Senior Middle East Correspondent

12) Wyatt Cenac (2008-2012)
Extracurriculars: Standup

13) Rob Riggle (2006-2008)
Senior Military Affairs Correspondent
Extracurriculars: Step Brothers, 21 Jump Street

14) Rob Corddry (2002-2006)
Extracurriculars: Anchorman, Hot Tub Time Machine

15) Mo Rocca (1998-2003)
Dollars and "Cents, Mark Your Calendar, Mopinion.
Extracurriculars: CBS Sunday Morning, I Love the 70's/80's, My Grandmother's Ravioli

16) Demetri Martin (2005-2008)
Trendspotting
Extracurriculars: Standup, Important Things with Demetri Martin

17) Al Madrigal (2011-2015)
Senior Latino Correspondent

18) Jordan Klepper (2014-Present)

19) Kristen Schaal (2008-2015)
Women's Issues Correspondent
Extracurriculars: Flight of the Conchords

20) Beth Littleford (1996-2000)
The Beth Littleford Interview
Written by Ben Pogany
Definitive Dose presents the 50 best directors working in Hollywood today.
  1. Martin Scorsese: Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, The Departed, Mean Streets, Gangs of New York, Casino, Shutter Island, The Last Waltz, The Wolf of Wall Street, Cape Fear, The Color of Money, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Aviator, The Age of Innocence.
  2. Steven Spielberg: Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E:T: The Extra Terrestrial, Jaws, Lincoln, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, Poltergeist, Catch Me if You Can, Minority Report, The Color Purple, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Amistad, Munich.
  3. Francis Ford Coppola: The Godfather, The Godfather II, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, You're A Big Boy Now.
  4. Christopher Nolan: Memento, The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar, The Prestige, Batman Begins, Insomnia.
  5. Joel/Ethan Cohen: No Country For Old Men, The Big Lebowski, Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Barton Fink, Miller's Crossing, Raising Arizona, True Grit, The Man Who Wasn't There, Blood Simple, A Serious Man, The Hudsucker Proxy.
  6. P.T. Anderson: There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, The Master, Punch-Drunk Love.
  7. Alejandro González Iñárritu: The Revenant, 21 Grams, Birdman, Amores Perros, Babel.
  8. Quentin Tarantino: Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, Django Unchained, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds.
  9. James Cameron: Terminator 2, Avatar, Titanic, Aliens, The Abyss.
  10. David Fincher: Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
  11. Roman Polanski: Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist, Tess, Pirates.
  12. Darren Aronofsky: Requiem For a Dream, The Wrestler, Black Swan, Pi, The Fountain.
  13. Woody Allen: Annie Hall, Bullets Over Broadway, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo.
  14. Oliver Stone: Platoon, Wall Street, JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, Natural Born Killers.
  15. Clint Eastwood: Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Mystic River, The Bridges of Madison County.
  16. Ridley Scott: Alien, Gladiator, Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down, The Martian, Thelma and Louise, American Gangster.
  17. Robert Zemeckis: Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Cast Away, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Romancing the Stone.
  18. Peter Jackson: The Return of the King, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, King Kong, The Lovely Bones.
  19. David Lynch: Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, The Elephant Man, Wild at Heart, The Straight Story.
  20. Milos Forman: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Ragtime, Man on the Moon.
  21. Terrence Malick: The Thin Red Line, Badlands, The Tree of Life, Days of Heaven.
  22. Steven Soderbergh: Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Ocean's Eleven, Che, Out of Sight.
  23. Brian De Palma: Scarface, Carlito's Way, Mission: Impossible, The Untouchables, Carrie.
  24. Ang Lee: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi, Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm.
  25. David Cronenberg: A History of Violence, The Fly, Eastern Promises, Dead Ringers, Videodrome.
  26. Tim Burton: Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, Batman, Big Fish.
  27. Wes Anderson: The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr. Fox.
  28. George Lucas: Star Wars: A New Hope, American Graffiti, TXH 1138, The Phantom Menace, Revenge of the Sith.
  29. Terry Giliam: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 12 Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Brazil, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
  30. Michael Mann: Heat, The Insider, The Last of the Mohicans, Collateral, Manhunter.
  31. Gus Van Sant: Good Will Hunting, Milk, Finding Forrester, Drugstore Cowboy, Elephant.
  32. David O. Russell: American Hustle, The Fighter, Three Kings, Silver Linings Playbook, Flirting With Disaster.
  33. Edward Zwick: Glory, Blood Diamond, Courage Under Fire, The Last Samurai, The Siege.
  34. Sam Mendes: American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Revolutionary Road, Skyfall, Jarhead.
  35. John Carpenter: Halloween, The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, Big Trouble in Little China.
  36. Sydney Pollack: Out of Africa, Tootsie, Jeremiah Johnson, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, The Way We Were.
  37. Barry Levinson: Rain Man, Good Morning Vietnam, The Natural, Sleepers, Bugsy.
  38. Ron Howard: A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon, Cocoon, Apollo 13.
  39. Alfonso Cuaron: Children of Men, Gravity, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, A Little Princess.
  40. Danny Boyle: Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, Steve Jobs, 127 Hours, 28 Weeks Later.
  41. Steve McQueen: 12 Years a Slave, Hunger, Shame.
  42. Peter Weir: Witness, Master and Commander, The Truman Show, Dead Poets Society, Green Card.
  43. Curtis Hanson: L.A. Confidential, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, 8 Mile, Wonder Boys, Too Big To Fail.
  44. Kathryn Bigelow: The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, Strange Days.
  45. Ben Affleck: Argo, Gone Baby Gone, The Town.
  46. Richard Linklater: Boyhood, Dazed and Confused, Slacker, Before Sunset.
  47. Spike Lee: Malcolm X, Clockers, Do the Right Thing, Inside Man, 25th Hour.
  48. Rob Reiner: A Few Good Men, This is Spinal Tap, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, Misery.
  49. Alexander Payne: The Descendants, Election, Nebraska, Sideways, About Schmidt.
  50. Bennet Miller: Foxcatcher, Capote, Moneyball

*Best Director Academy Award winners in italics

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Written by Ben Pogany
1) Denis Leary (20 episodes)

2) Brian Williams (22 episodes)

3) Will Ferrell (16 episodes)

4) Fareed Zakaria (21 episodes)

5) Bill O'Reily (13 episodes)

6) Paul Rudd (17 episodes)

7) John McCain (18 episodes)

8) Ricky Gervais (13 episodes)

9) Louis CK (8 episodes)

10) Richard Lewis (16 episodes)
Written by Ben Pogany

Since 2008, there have been two kinds of people in the world: those who insist The Wire is the greatest television series ever, and those who insist that it's totally at the top of their Netflix queue but they just haven’t had the time to get around to it yet.  For over half a decade, TV’s Greatest Of All Time was safe.  Sure, The Sopranos and Mad Men were in the conversation, but that conversation usually ended once David Simon’s trump card was introduced.  Today, that conversation just got a whole lot dicier.  Breaking Bad has ended, and in doing so, has forced us to reopen the discussion anew.

A new contender has arisen from the multitudes, and like its predecessor, it is a modern masterpiece of moral compromise.  Hitting the airwaves just weeks before The Wire took its final bow, Breaking Bad set out on the unprecedented journey of taking a warm, relatable hero and slowly transforming him into a villain, forcing the audience to question where their allegiances lay all the way down to the series’ final moments.  The Wire had forced us to reexamine the typical good guy/bad guy roles in an entirely different manner, by gradually exposing everyone as imperfect players in a broken system.  Ultimate takeaway?  Under the right circumstances, everyone eventually breaks bad, no matter what side of the wire you happen to be on.

Two great shows, but there can only be one G.O.A.T.  Let the breakdown begin.

Series Arc: It's actually kind of remarkable how similarly the arcs of each of these series mirror one another when you really think about it.  Both shows submitted pilots that instantly announced that this was going to be vastly different from anything you’d ever seen on television before.  They then proceeded in the early going as more of a slow burn, so much so that you may even have been inclined to protest to a new initiate, “just keep watching.  Things eventually pick up.”  And do they ever.  Both series then experienced polarizing sophomore seasons (the season on the docks was a departure to be sure, but also very necessary to the overall scope of the show. In Breaking Bad, it was the business with the pink teddy bear and the season long lead-up to the plane crash.  Over the top perhaps, but also an important and meaningful step along Walt’s transformation.)  Season three in each show is right around when we realized that we were witnessing something truly special.  Between the Stringer/Avon showdown and the Los Pollos Hermanos operation being in full swing, season three is when you probably started proselytizing the merits of these shows to your friends with an almost religious zeal.  Many a Netflix/on-demand/DVD binge was had between seasons three and four, as countless people at first curious to see what all the buzz was about were now full on hooked and desperate to be caught up before the start of the new season.  For each, season four catapulted the series from great drama to high art; there was no longer any doubt that we were witnessing something historic.  And then there was season five....

Final Season: It's not so much that The Wire’s final season was bad, just not quite up to the unprecedented, almost impossibly high standard it had previously set for itself.  Breaking Bad did what perhaps no other show ever has been able to accomplish, get better and better the closer it got to the end.  Whichever side you ultimately come down on (or maybe you’re just more of a Good Wife kinda guy), it seems almost impossible to argue with the fact that if nothing else, Breaking Bad had the most riveting, astonishing, and altogether masterful final season in television history.  While The Wire was stumbling to the finish line with invented serial killers and numbskull reporters, Breaking Bad seemed to raise the bar to ever staggering heights with every successive episode.  (Although the high water mark for me has to be the antepenultimate "Ozymandias", which might be the most harrowing, devastatingly brilliant hour ever committed to the small screen.)  Time and time again, we have seen great shows reduced to impotent shells of their former selves by not knowing when to pack it in (Lost, Dexter, 24).  Breaking Bad stepped away exactly as any show could ever hope to, with us all wanting more.

The worst thing you can say about the finale is that it ended perhaps a little too neatly, or a little too predictably.  (Just imagine the mind-blowing shock had we never received those flash-forwards to puzzle over for so many months.  All in all, I say it was a worthwhile peak.)  While "Felina" might not quite belong alongside the pantheonic conclusions of say Six Feet Under or The Shield, it might also be that after having raised the bar so incredibly high in the preceding handful of episodes nothing short of Citizen Kane: ABQ could have possibly lived up to our expectations.  (Actually that probably would have sucked pretty bad.  You’re telling me Heisenberg was just the name of his childhood sled?!!)

Acting: Again, this is to say nothing ill of the magnificent ensemble of The Wire, but come on, Bryan Cranston?!!  His performance of Walter H. White these past six years is simply in a whole other league, only so much as glimpsed by James Gandolfini and perhaps, depending on how these final 14 shake out, Jon Hamm.  The degree of difficulty here cannot be overstated.  Cranston literally played four characters in one: Walter White, Heisenberg, Heisenberg pretending to be Walter White (think the scene when he’s subtly encouraging Jesse to dump Andrea), and Walter White pretending to be Heisenberg.  With all the other assets Breaking Bad had going for it, it seems wrong to suggest that it couldn’t have succeeded without Cranston’s performance, but can you really see anyone else pulling this off?  Not a chance.  Idris Elba’s Stringer and Dominic West’s McNulty are iconic, even transcendent characters, but I can’t say with the same conviction that they absolutely could not have been pulled off by anyone else.

Speaking on the rest of the casts, it's almost mind-boggling how ridiculously deep these benches of talent were.  Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Giancarlo Esposito, Jonathan Banks all got their Emmy nods or better.  As for The Wire, the fact that this series did not receive so much as one nomination throughout its run is the single greatest travesty in anything, ever.  Michael K. Williams’ Omar, Andre Royo’s Bubbles, Michael B. Jordan’s Wallace...just top notch up and down the line.

Significance/Importance: There’s a reason they teach a college course on The Wire at Harvard.  Even if you weren’t fully internalizing everything David Simon was serving up, you just knew that you were watching something important.  The Wire was social commentary at its most profound, a window into the all-too-overlooked world of poverty, drug addiction, urban dysfunction, and the twin engines of the streets and the government bureaucracy charged with policing it, each infected to its core by ambition, greed and corruptibility.  It was just about as real as any show has ever been; gritty and raw and unflinchingly honest. Breaking Bad, on the other hand, inhabited more of a hyper-reality, in which a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief was a required prerequisite.  I don’t mention this as a slight.  Heck, if you’re getting on Breaking Bad for not being realistic, you’re simply missing the point.  The world of Heisenberg was one of inflated reality, full of fantastical train heists and impossibly orchestrated prison murder sprees.  Its style is more Western than neo-realist.  The Wire was entertainment to be sure, but it was also a sociological treatise on our times.  While Breaking Bad no doubt had a lot to say about society, it was always first and foremost a show firmly committed to entertain.

Direction, Cinematography, and Music: As one of the last shows to still be shot on film, Breaking Bad often looked as impressive as anything being churned out of Hollywood.  Directors such as Michael Slovis, Rian Johnson and most notably Michelle MacLaren elevated the craft to a level heretofore unseen on the small screen.  The dazzling cook sequences, inventive camera work (think Roomba cam), awesome time-lapse shots, and magnificent landscape panoramas were truly things of beauty.  And then there’s Dave Porter’s scoring.  Whether it was the slow, trepidatious beat in "Crawl Space",  or the frenzied fury that accompanies Jessie’s attempted foray into arson, Porter was simply a virtuoso at taking an already tense situation and introducing just the right amount of sonic accompaniment to leave your heart positioned firmly in your throat. The Wire didn't suffer in these departments, it just was never really all that a part of the equation the way it was with its counterpart.  Reality didn’t need to be heightened by fancy camera work or scoring, and that’s perhaps the point.  Still, Bad wins this one running.

Comic Relief: It's amazing that two of the darkest, most brutal shows in recent memory could also be as hilarious as anything on television when they wanted to (or maybe you would have preferred it to just be like this).  Sustained tension needs to have built-in release points; to do otherwise would simply have been too punishing to audiences.  Of course, longtime comedian Bill Odenkirk was a revelation as Saul Goodman, and his cohort of fellow stand-ups Bill Burr (Kuby) and Lavell Crawford (Huell) were masters at diffusing the tension with some well placed laughs.  (see: Huell going all Scrooge McDuck on Walt’s bed of money)  Then there's the twin jesters Badger and Skinny Pete and that epic Star Trek script.  In The Wire, you have that classic scene with Bunk and McNulty communicating solely through the use of one four letter word in all its glory.  You had Rawls and Landsman excelling in verbal assholery, Clay Davis and his trademark other four letter word (although come to think of it, there had to have been six or seven i's in there), and hell even Stringer had his moments.  Which brings us to...

Epic Quotes: Man, so much to choose from.  Do you like Heisenberg's "Say my name" or Marlo's "My name is my name!"?  Jesse's "I’m the bad guy" or Omar's "I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It's all in the game though, right?" And then of course, we have the iconic “I am the one who knocks” monologue and the equally unforgettable "Where's Wallace at? Where the fuck is Wallace? Where's Wallace, String? STRING!"

The Verdict: When you get this far up on the totem pole, you almost want to stop and say ‘screw it, why can’t we just acknowledge that they were both great and be thankful that God saw fit to give us Vince Gilligan and David Simon and leave it at that'.  Cause that would just be a cop out, that’s why.  And frankly, if you haven’t noticed, ranking things is kind of what we do.  So at risk of offending one of my greatest loves, the show that up until very recently I touted as having an untouchable perch atop the TV pantheon, I have to admit that yes, indeed, a new GOAT has arisen.  Maybe in another decade, after some of the afterglow of its recent departure has dissipated, things will look differently.  Maybe an entirely new show will rise to overtake them both.  Maybe Boardwalk Empire or House of Cards will soon make that jump. Maybe Long Winter Sun will take---ummm, na maybe not.  For now, it's Breaking Bad, it's The Wire, and it's everybody else.

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