Best Dramas on Netflix

The best dramas currently available on Netflix, as ranked by our custom Best Show Ever list.

1. Mad Men

First Aired: 2007-07-19 | Network: AMC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Jon Hamm, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks
Top Attributes: Strong Male Lead, Drama, Historical Elements, Workplace
Similar Shows: Pan Am, Rescue Me, In Treatment, Magic City, Dirty Sexy Money
Description: Set in 1960 New York, MAD MEN reveals the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue’s “Golden Age”, where key players make the art of the sell while their private lives get sold. And no one plays the game better than Don Draper (Golden Globe®-winner Jon Hamm), the biggest ad man – and ladies man in the business.

2. Breaking Bad

First Aired: 2008-01-20 | Network: AMC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Giancarlo Esposito, Anna Gunn
Top Attributes: Strong Male Lead, Drugs, Science, Serial
Similar Shows: Ray Donovan, Dexter, Lights Out (2011), Better Call Saul, The Sopranos
Description: Walter White, a struggling high school chemistry teacher, is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine accompanied by a former student, Jesse Pinkman, with the aim of securing his family's financial future before he dies.

3. The West Wing

First Aired: 1999-09-22 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Martin Sheen, Dul, Hill, Bradley Whitford, Alan Alda
Top Attributes: Constant Dialogue, Political Elements, Drama, Political Intrigue
Similar Shows: House of Cards (US), The Whole Truth, The Newsroom (2012), Scandal (2012), In Treatment
Description: The West Wing provides a glimpse into presidential politics in the nation's capital as it tells the stories of the members of a fictional presidential administration. These interesting characters have humor and dedication that touches the heart while the politics that they discuss touch on everyday life.

4. Lost

First Aired: 2004-09-22 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 45
Starring: Matthew Fox, Terry O'Quinn, Evangeline Lilly, Naveen Andrews, Daniel Dae Kim
Top Attributes: Drama, Serial, Interwoven Storylines, Ensemble Cast
Similar Shows: FlashForward, Revolution, Heroes, True Blood, Battlestar Galactica (2003)
Description: After their plane, Oceanic Air flight 815, tore apart whilst thousands of miles off course, the survivors find themselves on a mysterious deserted island where they soon find out they are not alone.

5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

First Aired: 1997-03-10 | Network: The WB | Runtime: 60
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Emma Caulfield, Michelle Trachtenberg
Top Attributes: Supernatural, Drama, Geekiness, Strong Female Lead
Similar Shows: Eastwick, Charmed, Being Human, The Vampire Diaries, Angel
Description: In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer. Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as Buffy Summers, The Chosen One, the one girl in all the world with the strength and skill to fight the vampires. With the help of her close friends, Willow (Alyson Hannigan), Xander (Nicholas Brendon), and her Watcher Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) she balances slaying, family, friendships, and relationships.

6. The X-Files

First Aired: 1993-09-10 | Network: FOX | Runtime: 60
Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, William B. Davis, Robert Patrick, Mitch Pileggi
Top Attributes: Strong Male Lead, Plot Twists, Science Fiction, Supernatural
Similar Shows: Fringe, V, FlashForward, The Event, Nikita
Description: The X-Files focused on the exploits of FBI Agents Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, John Doggett and Monica Reyes and their investigations into the paranormal. From genetic mutants and killer insects to a global conspiracy concerning the colonization of Earth by an alien species, this mind-boggling, humorous and occasionally frightening series created by Chris Carter has been one of the world's most popular sci-fi/drama shows since its humble beginnings in 1993.

7. Friday Night Lights

First Aired: 2006-10-03 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 45
Starring: Connie Britton, Kyle Chandler, Taylor Kitsch, Aimee Teegarden, Scott Porter
Top Attributes: Sports, Drama, Serial, Teen Presence
Similar Shows: The Secret Life of the American Teenager, 7th Heaven, One Tree Hill, Dawson's Creek, Life Unexpected
Description: Expanding on the hit feature film and best-selling book "Friday Night Lights," this award-winning series centers on life in Dillon, Texas, where high school football brings the community together -- and the drama of small town life threatens to tear it apart.

8. The Twilight Zone

First Aired: 1959-10-01 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 30
Starring: Rod Serling, , , ,
Description: The Twilight Zone was a popular American anthology series. The series was a collection of various tales that range from the tragic to the comedic. They may be scary or just thought-provoking. Most episodes have unexpected endings and a moral lesson. But, no matter what, it's "a journey into a wondrous land, whose boundaries are that of the imagination."

9. Twin Peaks

First Aired: 1990-04-08 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Sheryl Lee, Catherine E. Coulson, Heather Graham
Top Attributes: Interwoven Storylines, Cult Hit, Serial, Psychology
Similar Shows: Rubicon, The Leftovers, Dexter, The Following, Burn Notice
Description: The body of Laura Palmer is washed up on a beach near the small Washington state town of Twin Peaks. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called in to investigate her strange demise only to uncover a web of mystery that ultimately leads him deep into the heart of the surrounding woodland and his very own soul.

10. Freaks and Geeks

First Aired: 1999-09-25 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: John Francis Daley, Linda Cardellini, Busy Philipps, James Franco, Samm Levine
Top Attributes: Cult Hit, Family, Geekiness, Teen Presence
Similar Shows: Hung, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, My So-Called Life, Gary Unmarried, Skins
Description: Freaks and Geeks tells the stories of two unique groups of teenagers dealing with life in high school during the 1980s. The show follows Lindsay Weir as she rebels and begins hanging out with a crowd of burnouts (the "freaks"), while her brother Sam Weir navigates a different part of the social universe with his nerdy friends (the "geeks").

11. Dexter

First Aired: 2006-10-01 | Network: Showtime | Runtime: 60
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, James Remar, Julie Benz, Lauren V
Top Attributes: Drama, Strong Male Lead, Serial, Darkness
Similar Shows: The Following, Burn Notice, 24, Hannibal, Southland
Description: He's smart, he's good looking, and he's got a great sense of humor. He's Dexter Morgan, everyone's favorite serial killer. As a Miami forensics expert, he spends his days solving crimes, and nights committing them. But Dexter lives by a strict code of honor that is both his saving grace and lifelong burden. Torn between his deadly compulsion and his desire for true happiness, Dexter is a man in profound conflict with the world and himself.

12. Firefly

First Aired: 2002-09-20 | Network: FOX | Runtime: 60
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin
Top Attributes: Cult Hit, Science Fiction, Strong Male Lead, Drama
Similar Shows: Battlestar Galactica (2003), Alias, Dollhouse, Falling Skies, Revolution
Description: In the far-distant future, Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds is a renegade former brown-coat sergeant, now turned smuggler & rogue, who is the commander of a small spacecraft, with a loyal hand-picked crew made up of the first mate, Zoe Warren; the pilot Hoban "Wash" Washburn; the gung-ho grunt Jayne Cobb; the engineer Kaylee Frye; the fugitives Dr. Simon Tam and his psychic sister River. Together, they travel the far reaches of space in search of food, money, and anything to live on.

13. Star Trek: The Next Generation

First Aired: 1987-09-28 | Network: Syndicated | Runtime: 60
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn
Top Attributes: Nerdiness, Geekiness, Ensemble Cast, Interwoven Storylines
Similar Shows: Star Trek, Stargate Universe, Stargate Atlantis, Stargate SG-1, Sanctuary
Description: A century after Captain Kirk's five year mission, the next generation of Starfleet officers begins their journey aboard the new flagship of the Federation. Commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard the Galaxy class starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D will seek out new life and new civilizations - to boldly go where no one has gone before.

14. Doctor Who (2005)

First Aired: 2005-03-26 | Network: BBC One | Runtime: 60
Starring: Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, David Tennant, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Karen Gillan
Description: The Doctor is an alien Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels through all of time and space in his TARDIS. His current travel companion is Clara Oswald, though he has a long list of friends and companions who have shared journeys with him. Instead of dying, the Doctor is able to “regenerate” into a new body, taking on a new personality with each regeneration. Twelve actors, plus John Hurt, have played The Doctor thus far.

15. Star Trek

First Aired: 1966-09-08 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Walter Koenig, George Takei
Top Attributes: Nerdiness, Geekiness, Ensemble Cast, Interwoven Storylines
Similar Shows: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stargate Universe, Stargate Atlantis, Stargate SG-1, Sanctuary
Description: Star Trek was an influential science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry that followed the adventures of the crew of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise. The show began with the production of the 1964 pilot "The Cage". "The Cage" featured Jeffrey Hunter as Enterprise captain Christopher Pike. The pilot was rejected by NBC executives as being too cerebral. In order to demonstrate the action-adventure potential of the series, another pilot entitled "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was produced. Replacing Jeffrey Hunter as Enterprise captain was William Shatner who starred as Captain James T. Kirk. The new pilot also starred Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock who was the only character to return from the original pilot after NBC's rejection of "The Cage". Response to the second, action-oriented, pilot was good and NBC gave the go ahead to the series. The series premiered on NBC on Thursday, September 8, 1966 in the 8:30-9:30 PM timeslot with the episode "The Man Trap". Critical response to the series was mixed and rating were lower than expected. In its second season, reoccurring guest star DeForest Kelley was added to the series' starring cast and the show was moved to Friday at 8:30. A decline in the ratings, however, prompted NBC to attempt to cancel the series after its second season, but a letter writing campaign by die hard fans of the show saved it from cancellation. An additional season of episodes were produced, but ratings continued to decline most likely due to the quality of the third season episodes and a bad 10:00 PM Friday night time slot. Despite another letter writing campaign, the series was finally cancelled after its third season. The last new episode "Turnabout Intruder" was shown on June 3, 1969. After its three year run Star Trek began running syndication where it was discovered by legion of new fans and became a phenomenon. The show inspired six features films, an animated series, and four additional spin-off television shows. Other spin-off's include novels, comic books, merchandise and an enormous amount of fan-fiction based on the series. Despite its short network run, Star Trek has become one of the most successful shows in television history. Aside from its three main stars, Star Trek featured a large cast of reoccurring guest stars that includes James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, and Grace Lee Whitney. Other notable guest stars include Diana Muldaur, Gary Lockwood, Ricardo Montalban, Sally Kellerman, Julie Newmar, Frank Gorshin, John Colicos, Roger C. Carmel, William Campbell, Ted Cassidy, Michael Ansara and Elisha Cook, Jr. Notable writers for the series include Gene Roddenberry, Gene L. Coon, George Clayton Johnson, Jerry Sohl, Jerome Bixby, Robert Bloch, Theodore Sturgeon, Harlan Ellison, David Gerrold, and D.C. Fontana.

16. Sherlock

First Aired: 2010-07-25 | Network: BBC One | Runtime: 90
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington, Rupert Graves, Louise Brealey
Top Attributes: Detective, Crime, City Setting, Mystery
Similar Shows: Elementary, Prime Suspect, The Mentalist, White Collar, The Blacklist
Description: Sherlock depicts "consulting detective" Sherlock Holmes, who assists the Metropolitan Police Service, primarily D.I. Greg Lestrade, in solving various crimes. Holmes is assisted by his flatmate, Dr. John Watson.

17. Columbo

First Aired: 1968-02-20 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 120
Starring: Peter Falk, , , ,
Description: Many criminals made the mistake of underestimating Lieutenant Columbo, a homicide investigator with a crumpled trench-coat and a beat-up car, who certainly acted as an incompetent bumbler. But he was so polite to every suspect, and he talked so much about his wife (who we never got to see on any episode, but who many believe later had her own show, starring Kate Mulgrew, later of Star Trek: Voyager fame) that he lulled even the shrewdest murderer into a false sense of security. And although the audience had witnessed the murder in the beginning of each episode, it was still a surprise to see what mistakes the killers had made during the seemingly perfect murder.

18. House of Cards (US)

First Aired: 2013-02-01 | Network: Netflix | Runtime: 55
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara, Ben Daniels, Sandrine Holt
Top Attributes: Political Elements, Strong Male Lead, City Setting, Political Intrigue
Similar Shows: Scandal (2012), The West Wing, State of Play, The Newsroom (2012), Mad Men
Description: House of Cards is an American political drama series developed and produced by Beau Willimon. It is an adaptation of a previous BBC miniseries of the same name which is based on the novel by Michael Dobbs. Set in present day Washington, D.C., House of Cards is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina's 5th congressional district and the House Majority Whip, who, after getting passed over for promotion to Secretary of State, decides to exact his revenge on those who betrayed him. The series also stars Robin Wright, Kate Mara and Corey Stoll in lead roles.

19. The Walking Dead

First Aired: 2010-10-31 | Network: AMC | Runtime: 45
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Norman Reedus
Top Attributes: Drama, Science Fiction, Tragedy, Serial
Similar Shows: Jericho (2006), Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, V, The 4400, Revolution
Description: Based on the comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead tells the story of a small group of survivors living in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.

20. Ally McBeal

First Aired: 1997-09-08 | Network: FOX | Runtime: 60
Starring: Greg Germann, Calista Flockhart, Gil Bellows, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Peter MacNicol
Top Attributes: Law, Workplace, Strong Female Lead, City Setting
Similar Shows: Franklin & Bash, Suits, Sex and the City, Harry's Law, Boston Legal
Description: Ally McBeal is an American comedy-drama series which aired on the Fox network from 1997 to 2002. The series was created by David E. Kelley, who also served as the executive producer, along with Bill D'Elia. The series stars Calista Flockhart in the title role as a young lawyer working in the fictional Boston law firm Cage and Fish with other young lawyers whose lives and loves were eccentric, humorous and dramatic.

21. The Rockford Files

First Aired: 1974-03-01 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: James Garner, Noah Beery Jr., Stuart Margolin, Gretchen Corbett, Joe Santos
Description: Emmy® winner James Garner stars as the offbeat Jim Rockford, an ex-con-turned-private-investigator who would rather fish than fight but whose instinct on closed cases is more golden than his classic Pontiac Firebird. From his mobile home in Malibu, this wisecracking private eye takes you on the cases of the lost and the dispossessed, chasing down seemingly long-dead clues in the sun-baked streets and seamy alleys of Los Angeles.

22. Angel

First Aired: 1999-10-05 | Network: The WB | Runtime: 45
Starring: David Boreanaz, J. August Richards, Charisma Carpenter, Alexis Denisof, Glenn Quinn
Top Attributes: Serial, Magic, Detective, Supernatural
Similar Shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Pushing Daisies, Supernatural, FlashForward, Being Human
Description: Angel, a 240-year old vampire cursed with a conscience, haunts the dark streets of Los Angeles alone. But after he meets a half-demon with mysterious visions, Angel realizes his true purpose: to help those in danger with the hope that he may have a chance to redeem himself and save his own soul. With Cordelia and Doyle at his side, he forms Angel Investigations. He is soon joined by Wesley, Gunn, Lorne and Fred, and he will need all their expertise to fight the growing forces of evil, and the supernatural law firm of Wolfram and Hart.

23. Alfred Hitchcock Presents

First Aired: 1955-10-02 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 30
Starring: Alfred Hitchcock, , , ,
Description: Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962) was a mystery and suspense anthology hosted by the master of suspense himself - Alfred Hitchcock. Each episode stands alone, delving into horror, comedy, suspense, and the supernatural.

24. Alias

First Aired: 2001-09-30 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Michael Vartan, Ron Rifkin, Victor Garber, Amy Acker
Top Attributes: Strong Female Lead, Science Fiction, Drama, Plot Twists
Similar Shows: Revolution, Nikita, Westworld, Dollhouse, Terra Nova
Description: Sydney Bristow, an agent who has been tricked to believe she is working for the U.S. government is actually working for a criminal organization named the Alliance of Twelve. Upon learning this, Sydney becomes a double agent for the real CIA.

25. Supernatural

First Aired: 2005-09-13 | Network: The CW | Runtime: 60
Starring: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard, Jim Beaver
Top Attributes: Serial, Supernatural, Mystery, Drama
Similar Shows: Sanctuary, FlashForward, Rubicon, Reaper, Angel
Description: Two brothers follow their father's footsteps as "hunters" fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

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