The Greatest Modern Television Shows

Couple ground rules.  For starters, we’ll be using 2000 as the demarcation line for what should be considered modern.  This seemed like a natural cutoff point, as premium TV was emerging and the medium was elevating to another level.  When we say 2000, we mean that the peak of the show had to, at its earliest, at least span the turn of the decade.  This disqualifies still active shows that started any earlier; as great as The Simpsons were at one time, you won’t see them on this list.  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.  Finally and most importantly, we’re limiting this list to scripted, English-language series only.

  1. The Wire (2002-2008, 60 episodes over 5 seasons)  HBO  Created by David Simon
  2.  The Sopranos (1999-2007, 86 episodes over 6 seasons)  HBO  Created by David Chase
  3.  Breaking Bad (2008-2013, 62 episodes over 5 seasons)  AMC  Created by Vince Gilligan
  4. Mad Men (2007-2015, 92 episodes over 7 seasons) AMC Created by Matthew Weiner
  5. The Office (American) (2005-2013, 201 episodes over 9 seasons)  NBC  Developed by Greg Daniels and based onBritish series The Office by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
  6. The West Wing (1999-2006, 156 episodes over 7 seasons) NBC Created by Aaron Sorkin
  7. Game of Thrones (2011-2019, 73 episodes over 8 seasons)  HBO  Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
  8. Curb Your Enthusiasm(2000-Present, 90 episodes over 9 seasons) HBO  Created by Larry David
  9. Deadwood (2004-2006, 36 episodes over 3 seasons + movie in 2019)  HBO  Created by David Milch
  10. South Park (1997-Present, 307 episodes over 23 seasons)  COMEDY CENTRAL  Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone
  11.  The Leftovers (2014-2017, 28 episodes over 3 seasons)  HBO  Created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta and based on the novel The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
  12.  Lost (2004-2010, 121 episodes over 6 seasons)  ABC  Created by JJ Abrams
  13.  Parks and Recreation (2009-2015, 125 episodes over 7 seasons)  NBC  Created by Greg Daniels and Michael Shur
  14. Chappelle’s Show(2003-2006, 28 episodes over 3 seasons)  Comedy Central.  Created by Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan
  15. Family Guy(1999-Present, 329 episodes over 17 seasons)  FOX  Created by Seth McFarlane
  16. 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
  17. Black Mirror (2011-Present, 19 episodes over 4 seasons)  CHANNEL 4/NETFLIX  Created by Charlie Brooker
  18. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-Present, 144 episodes over 13 seasons)  FX  Created by Rob McElhenney
  19.  Six Feet Under (2001-2005, 63 episodes over 5 seasons)  HBO  Created by Alan Ball
  20. Oz (1997-2003, 56 episodes over 6 seasons) HBO Created by Tom Fontana
  21. 30 Rock (2006-2013, 138 episodes over 7 seasons)  NBC  Created by Tina Fey
  22.  The Americans (2013-2018, 75 episodes over 6 seasons)  FX  Created by Joe Weisberg
  23. Arrested Development (2003-Present, 84 episodes over 5 seasons)  FOX/NETFLIX  Created by Mitchell Hurwitz
  24.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003, 144 episodes over 7 seasons)  THE WB/UPN  Created by Joss Whedon
  25. The Office (British) (2001-2003, 14 episodes over 2 seasons)  BBC  Created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
  26. 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
  27. Better Call Saul (2015-Present, 40 episodes over 4 seasons)  AMC  Created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould
  28. Sex and the City (1998-2004, 94 episodes over 6 seasons)  HBO  Created by Darren Star
  29. 24 (2001-2014, 204 episodes over 9 seasons) FOX Created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran
  30. Veep (2012-2019, 65 episodes over 7 seasons)  HBO  Created by Armando Iannucci
  31. Key and Peele (2012-2015, 53 episodes over 5 seasons)  COMEDY CENTRAL  Created by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele
  32.  Succession (2018-Present, 20 episodes over 2 seasons)  HBO  Created by Jessie Armstrong
  33. 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
  34. The Shield (2002-2008, 88 episodes over 7 seasons)  FX  Created by Shawn Ryan
  35. Atlanta (2016-Present, 20 episodes over 2 seasons)  FX  Created by Donald Glover
  36. Fleabeag (2016-2019, 12 episodes over 2 seasons)  Amazon Prime. Created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge
  37. Fargo (2014-Present, 30 episodes over 3 seasons)  FX  Created by Noah Hawley
  38.  Mr. Robot (2015-2019, 45 episodes over 4 seasons)  USA  Created by Sam Esmail
  39. The Knick (2014-2015, 20 episodes over 2 seasons)  CINEMAX Created by Jack Ariel and Michael Begler
  40.  Community (2009-2015, 110 episodes over 6 seasons)  HBO/YAHOO  Created by Dan Harmon
  41. BoJack Horseman (2014-Present, 61 episodes over 5 seasons)  NETFLIX  Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg
  42.  Rick and Morty (2013-Present, 31 episodes over 3 seasons)  ADULT SWIM  Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon
  43. Modern Family (2009-Present, 232 episodes over 10 seasons)  ABC  Created by Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan
  44.  SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-Present, 244 episodes over 12 seasons)  NICKELODEON  Created by Stephen Hillenburg
  45. The Walking Dead (2010-Present,  131 episodes over 9 seasons)  AMC  Developed by Frank Darabont and based on the comic book series The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
  46.  Gilmore Girls (2000-2007, 153 episodes over 7 seasons)  WB/CW  Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino.
  47. Sherlock (2010-present, 13 episodes over 4 seasons)  BBC  Created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat
  48.  Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-Present, 130 episodes over 6 seasons)  FOX/NBC  Created by Dan Goor and Michael Shur
  49. House of Cards (2013-2018, 73 episodes over 6 seasons)  NETFLIX  Created by Beau Willimon and based on British series and novel of same name
  50. The Good Place (2016-2020, 53 episodes over 4 seasons)  NBC  Created by Michael Schur


Honorable Mentions: Futurama, Sons of Anarchy, Eastbound and Down, Homeland, Master of None, CSI, Louie, Dexter, Better Things, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Ozark, Enlightened, Orange is the New Black, Broad City, Barry, Malcolm in the Middle, That 70’s Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Crown, Stranger Things, Peaky Blinders, Hannibal, Silicon Valley, In Treatment, The Deuce, True Detective, Halt and Catch Fire, The Handmaid’s Tale, Scrubs, Transparent, Party Down, How I Met Your Mother, Downton Abbey, Girls, Veronica Mars, Black-ish, Portlandia, Top Boy, Mr. Show, The Good Wife, Killing Eve, House, American Crime Story, The Practice, Rescue Me, The O.C., Alias, Big Mouth, Flight of the Conchords, Nathan For You, American Crime, The Big Bang Theory, Nurse Jackie, The Man Show, High Maintenance, Rectify, Da Ali G Show, Grey’s Anatomy, Mindhunter, Glow

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