To attempt an objective ranking of the top television shows of all time, we gathered “Best Of” lists from as many sources, both from critics and viewers, as we could find and created a weighted scoring system to combine these lists into one authoritative ranking. The difficulty lies in merging sources which vary in length, time period, and genre – how we did it is explained in detail, along with the full list of sources at Best Show Ever Methodology.

So let’s end the debate about the best TV show ever right here and now. The full list is below, and check out a sublist for your genre specific needs or the compact list if screen space is tight.

Full List | Drama | Comedy

1. The Sopranos

First Aired: 1999-01-10 | Network: HBO | Runtime: 60
Starring: James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Dominic Chianese, Federico Castelluccio, Robert Funaro
Top Attributes: Mafia, Strong Male Lead, Drama, Violence
Similar Shows: Brotherhood, Sons of Anarchy, Ray Donovan, Boardwalk Empire, Deadwood
Description: Modern day morality tale about New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano, as he deals with personal and professional issues in his home and business life.

2. 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.

3. The Wire

First Aired: 2002-06-02 | Network: HBO | Runtime: 60
Starring: Dominic West, Michael Kenneth Williams, Idris Elba, Felicia Pearson, Corey Parker Robinson
Top Attributes: Cop Show, Drama, Drugs, Realism
Similar Shows: Homicide: Life On The Street, The Shield, Southland, The Chicago Code, Life (2007)
Description: Unlike most television crime dramas, which neatly introduce and then solve a case all in the space of one hour, HBO's THE WIRE follows one single drug and homicide investigation throughout the length of an entire season. Centered on the drug culture of inner-city Baltimore, the series' storyline unfolds from the points of view of both the criminals lording the streets and the police officers determined to bring them down.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Arrested Development

First Aired: 2003-11-02 | Network: Netflix | Runtime: 30
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael Cera, Jessica Walter, David Cross
Top Attributes: Callback Jokes, Single Camera, Cult Hit, Comedy
Similar Shows: Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office (US), My Name Is Earl, Party Down, Everybody Hates Chris
Description: Level-headed son Michael Bluth takes over family affairs after his father is imprisoned. But the rest of his spoiled, dysfunctional family are making his job unbearable.

7. Seinfeld

First Aired: 1989-07-05 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander, Liz Sheridan
Top Attributes: Mainstream, Multi Camera, Comedy, Stand Alone Episodes
Similar Shows: Friends, Happy Endings, Whitney, Rules of Engagement, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Description: Jerry Seinfeld is a very successful stand-up comedian, mainly because the people around him offer an endless supply of great material. His best friend is George Costanza, a bald, whiny loser who craves the kind of success Jerry has but is never willing to do what it takes to get it. Jerry's neighbor Kramer often barges into his apartment and imposes onto his life. In the second episode Jerry's former girlfriend Elaine Benes comes back into his life, and the four of them are able to form a friendship together. The episodes were rarely very plot-heavy, focusing more on mundane conversations and situations that could be found during everyday life in New York.

8. 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.

9. The Simpsons

First Aired: 1989-12-17 | Network: FOX | Runtime: 30
Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Marcia Wallace, Julie Kavner
Top Attributes: Comedy, Animated, Stand Alone Episodes, Mainstream
Similar Shows: King of the Hill, Family Guy, Bob's Burgers, Everybody Loves Raymond, Malcolm in the Middle
Description: Set in Springfield, the average American town, the show focuses on the antics and everyday adventures of the Simpson family; Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, as well as a virtual cast of thousands. Since the beginning, the series has been a pop culture icon, attracting hundreds of celebrities to guest star. The show has also made name for itself in its fearless satirical take on politics, media and American life in general.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. Friends

First Aired: 1994-09-22 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox
Top Attributes: Multi Camera, Comedy, Mainstream, Lightness
Similar Shows: Will & Grace, Cheers, Rules of Engagement, Seinfeld, Two and a Half Men
Description: Six young people, on their own and struggling to survive in the real world, find the companionship, comfort and support they get from each other to be the perfect antidote to the pressures of life.

13. Deadwood

First Aired: 2004-03-21 | Network: HBO | Runtime: 60
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Brad Dourif, Leon Rippy, Jim Beaver
Top Attributes: Drama, Serial, Strong Male Lead, Historical Elements
Similar Shows: Boardwalk Empire, Rome, Magic City, Brotherhood, The Tudors
Description: In the Black Hills Indian Cession, the town of Deadwood is a settlement violating treaty obligations; a violent and uncivilized outpost that attracts outlaws and entrepreneurs, ex-soldiers and racketeers, Chinese laborers, prostitutes, city slickers and gunfighters.

14. Battlestar Galactica (2003)

First Aired: 2003-12-08 | Network: SciFi | Runtime: 45
Starring: Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, Katee Sackhoff, Kate Vernon, Michael Trucco
Top Attributes: Science Fiction, War, Nerdiness, Serial
Similar Shows: Revolution, Firefly, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Universe, Stargate Atlantis
Description: In a distant part of the universe, a civilization of humans live on planets known as the Twelve Colonies. In the past, the Colonies have been at war with a cybernetic race known as the Cylons. 40 years after the first war the Cylons launch a devastating attack on the Colonies. The only military ship that survived the attack takes up the task of leading a small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.

15. All in the Family

First Aired: 1971-01-12 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 30
Starring: Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers, Liz Torres
Description: All in the Family was first seen in January of 1971 and immediately changed the face of television. Not only was this the number one television series from 1971 through 1976, but it also signified an avalanche of other situation comedies that dealt with controversial subjects in realistic ways, including Chico and the Man, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good Times and Sanford and Son. The series centered around the Bunker family who lived in a home located at 704 Houser Street in Queens, New York. Archie Bunker was the main character, and what a character he was. He was televisons most famous bigot, crass and down right rude. Yet he was loveable, with a soft side just beneath the surface. Edith Bunker was his somewhat dizzy wife whom he called "Dingbat". Edith put up with Archie and had qualities about her that made her one of television's most unforgetable characters. Also living in the Bunker household were Archie and Edith's daughter, Gloria, and her husband Mike, or "Meathead".

16. Cheers

First Aired: 1982-09-30 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Ted Danson, George Wendt, Woody Harrelson, Rhea Perlman, Bebe Neuwirth
Top Attributes: Lightness, Mainstream, Multi Camera, Comedy
Similar Shows: Friends, The King of Queens, Rules of Engagement, Frasier, Will & Grace
Description: Sam, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, owns and runs Cheers, a cozy bar in Boston. Somewhat snobby, beautiful and intelligent Diane -- forced to become a waitress when her fiance jilts her -- constantly bickers with Sam. Eventually, they fall in love. Several wacky characters make the bar their home-away-from-home, including sarcastic waitress Carla, beer-loving Norm and Boston letter carrier Cliff.

17. 30 Rock

First Aired: 2006-10-11 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander
Top Attributes: Single Camera, Comedy, Strong Female Lead, City Setting
Similar Shows: New Girl, The Mindy Project, Parks and Recreation, The Office (US), It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Description: Emmy Award Winner Tina Fey writes, executive produces and stars as Liz Lemon, the head writer of a live variety programme in New York City. Liz's life is turned upside down when brash new network executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin in his Golden Globe winning role) interferes with her show, bringing the wildly unpredictable Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) into the cast. Now its up to Liz to manage the mayhem and still try to have a life.

18. Hill Street Blues

First Aired: 1981-01-15 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Barbara Bosson, Betty Thomas, Charles Haid, Daniel J. Travanti, Dennis Franz
Description: This groundbreaking and award-winning NBC crime drama provided a very realistic view into the lives of the dedicated cops and detectives of an urban police station. From January 1981 to August 1986, the show ran on Thursdays at 10/9 Central, with occasional repeats on Saturdays at 10/9 Central. From August 1986 to August 1987 first-run episodes aired Tuesdays at 10/9 Central.

19. The Shield

First Aired: 2002-03-12 | Network: FX | Runtime: 60
Starring: Michael Chiklis, Benito Martinez, CCH Pounder, Brian J. White, Anthony Anderson
Top Attributes: Serial, Diversity, Strong Male Lead, Character Focus
Similar Shows: Homicide: Life On The Street, Life (2007), Sons of Anarchy, Detroit 1-8-7, The Wire
Description: The story of an inner-city Los Angeles police precinct where some of the cops aren't above breaking the rules or working against their associates to both keep the streets safe and their self-interests intact.

20. 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.

21. Six Feet Under

First Aired: 2001-06-03 | Network: HBO | Runtime: 60
Starring: Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Lauren Ambrose, Frances Conroy, Lili Taylor
Top Attributes: Drama, Family, LBGT Elements, Serial
Similar Shows: In Treatment, Queer as Folk, Nip/Tuck, Army Wives, Big Love
Description: When death is your business, what is your life? For the Fisher family, the world outside of their family-owned funeral home continues to be at least as challenging as--and far less predictable than--the one inside. Oscar-winning screenwriter Alan Ball's breakout series that takes a darkly comic look at members of a dysfunctional L.A. family that run a funeral business.

22. 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."

23. The Office (US)

First Aired: 2005-03-24 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, Craig Robinson
Top Attributes: Single Camera, Workplace, Comedy, Lightness
Similar Shows: The Office (UK), Party Down, Parks and Recreation, Cheers, Seinfeld
Description: A fresh and funny mockumentary-style glimpse into the daily interactions of the eccentric workers at the Dunder Mifflin paper supply company. This fast-paced comedy parodies contemporary American water-cooler culture.

24. Curb Your Enthusiasm

First Aired: 2000-10-01 | Network: HBO | Runtime: 30
Starring: Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, Bob Einstein, Richard Lewis
Top Attributes: Comedy, Awkward Situations, Improvisation, One Man/Woman Against the World
Similar Shows: My Name Is Earl, Party Down, Raising Hope, The Office (US), Seinfeld
Description: The unscripted Curb Your Enthusiasm brings the off-kilter comic vision of Larry David, who plays himself in a parallel universe in which he can't seem to do anything right, and, by his standards, neither can anyone else.

25. 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.

26. The Office (UK)

First Aired: 2001-07-01 | Network: BBC Two | Runtime: 30
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Lucy Davis, Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook, Ralph Ineson
Top Attributes: British, Workplace, Single Camera, Comedy
Similar Shows: The Office (US), Extras, Party Down, Happy Endings, The IT Crowd
Description: A mockumentary about life in a mid-sized suboffice paper merchants in a bleak British industrial town, where manager David Brent thinks he's the coolest, funniest, and most popular boss ever. He isn't. That doesn't stop him from embarrassing himself in front of the cameras on a regular basis, whether from his political sermonizing, his stand-up 'comedy', or his incredibly unique dancing. Meanwhile, long-suffering Tim longs after Dawn the engaged receptionist and keeps himself sane by playing childish practical jokes on his insufferable, army-obsessed deskmate Gareth. Will the Slough office be closed? Will the BBC give David a game show? Will Tim and Dawn end up with each other? And more importantly, will Gareth realize what a hopeless prat he is?

27. Taxi

First Aired: 1978-09-12 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito, Andy Kaufman, Carol Kane, Christopher Lloyd
Description: Taxi's success was due to its excellent writing, Burrows's award-winning directing using his innovative four-camera technique, and its largely unknown but talented cast. Danny DeVito's Louie DePalma soon became one of the most despised men on television--possibly the most unredeemable and worthless louse of a character ever to reside on the small screen. Andy Kaufman's foreign mechanic Latka Gravas provided over-the-top comedy within an ensemble emphasizing subtle character humor.

28. Game of Thrones

First Aired: 2011-04-17 | Network: HBO | Runtime: 60
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Natalie Dormer, Peter Dinklage, Tobias Menzies
Top Attributes: Fantasy, Drama, Interwoven Storylines, Geekiness
Similar Shows: Rome, The Tudors, Battlestar Galactica (2003), Lost, Deadwood
Description: Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros. Friction between the houses leads to full-scale war. All while a very ancient evil awakens in the farthest north. Amidst the war, a neglected military order of misfits, the Night's Watch, is all that stands between the realms of men and icy horrors beyond.

29. 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").

30. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

First Aired: 1996-09-01 | Network: Comedy Central | Runtime: 30
Starring: Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Wyatt Cenac, Aasif Mandvi, Jason Jones
Description: Forget trying to keep pace with 24 hour news networks- the best fake news show in the world will provide you with all the news you can handle. The Daily Show is a comedic view of recent news headlines and political figures through a series of satirical monologues by Jon Stewart along with segments by correspondents and finally interviews with guest celebrities and political figures.

31. I Love Lucy

First Aired: 1951-10-15 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 30
Starring: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley, Keith Thibodeaux
Description: Cuban Bandleader Ricky Ricardo would be happy if his wife Lucy would just be a housewife. Instead she tries constantly to perform at the Tropicana where he works, and make life comically frantic in the apartment building they share with landlords Fred and Ethel Mertz, who also happen to be their best friends.

32. South Park

First Aired: 1997-08-01 | Network: Comedy Central | Runtime: 30
Starring: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mona Marshall, Isaac Hayes, April Stewart
Top Attributes: Animated, Stand Alone Episodes, Targeted to Young Demographic, Comedy
Similar Shows: Bob's Burgers, King of the Hill, Family Guy, SCTV, The Life & Times of Tim
Description: South Park is an animated series featuring four boys who live in the Colorado town of South Park, which is beset by frequent odd occurrences. The show grew out of short film that Trey Parker and Matt Stone created called The Spirit of Christmas, and has become an award-winning show that is a unique blend of humor and satire.

33. 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.

34. Frasier

First Aired: 1993-09-16 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Kelsey Grammer, John Mahoney, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin, Jane Leeves
Top Attributes: Multi Camera, Comedy, Stand Alone Episodes, Psychology
Similar Shows: Rules of Engagement, Cheers, The King of Queens, Whitney, Friends
Description: After many years spent at the "Cheers" bar, Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) moves back home to Seattle after his policeman father Martin Crane (John Mahoney) gets shot in the hip on duty. After Martin struggles with living alone after the incident, he moves in with Frasier in his luxury apartment at the Elliot Bay Towers along with his dog Eddie (played by Moose and later Enzo). Hired by Frasier, Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves) also moves in as Martin's personal physiotherapist. Also living nearby is his younger brother Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce), who is also a Psychiatrist.

35. 24

First Aired: 2001-11-06 | Network: FOX | Runtime: 60
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Carlos Bernard, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jude Ciccolella, Glenn Morshower
Top Attributes: Drama, One Man/Woman Against the World, Strong Male Lead, Serial
Similar Shows: Dexter, Burn Notice, The Following, The Chicago Code, Life (2007)
Description: "24" is a TV thriller presented in "real time" with each minute of airtime that corresponds to a minute in the lives of the characters. "24" employs fast-paced and complex stories, and often contains unexpected plot twists. Though each day's events typically revolve around thwarting an impending terrorist attack, each season is made up of various interwoven story threads. These may run for just one hour, but more usually run over several hours. These typically involve investigations of leads on terrorists, tracking suspects, and averting attacks. The exact objective of the day evolves over the course of the season as the antagonists adapt, contingencies arise, and larger scale operations unfold.

36. The Mary Tyler Moore Show

First Aired: 1970-09-01 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 30
Starring: Mary Tyler Moore, Cloris Leachman, Valerie Harper, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod
Description: The Mary Tyler Moore Show was one of the most literate, realistic, and enduring situation comedies of the 1970s. Mary Richards was the idealized single career woman. She had come to Minneapolis after breaking up with a man she had been dating for four years. Ambitious, and looking for new friends, she moved into an older apartment building and went to work as an assistant producer of the local news show on television station WJM-TV. In her early 30s, Mary symbolized the independent woman of the 1970s.

37. The Cosby Show

First Aired: 1984-09-01 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Tempestt Bledsoe
Top Attributes: Mainstream, Strong Male Lead, Diversity, Multi Camera
Similar Shows: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Full House, 8 Simple Rules, Family Matters, Sons of Tucson
Description: Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable was an OBGYN (obstetrician/gynecologist), and his wife Clair was a successful attorney. They had five children: Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy. Sondra was rarely seen during the first season because she was away at Princeton. She became a regular character in the second season, and was usually seen with her on-again off-again beau, Elvin. They eventually married and had twins; but not before stunning their families by announcing the fact that Elvin was dropping out of medical school to open a camping store, and Sondra was dropping out of law school to help her husband in his endeavor. Denise was the "unique" child, the black sheep of the family. She had her own way of doing things, right down to the style of clothing she wore. After graduating high school, she left for Hillman College in 1986 (a year later, this would become the setting for the spin-off A Different World), but returned two years later with news that she was dropping ou

38. ER

First Aired: 1994-09-19 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Maura Tierney, Shane West, Parminder Nagra, Goran Visnjic, George Clooney
Top Attributes: Hospital, Drama, Mainstream, Ensemble Cast
Similar Shows: Three Rivers, Mercy, Grey's Anatomy, Chicago Hope, Private Practice
Description: Created by novelist Michael Crichton and reportedly based on his own experiences as a medical student, the NBC hospital drama ER debuted September 19, 1994, directly opposite the similar CBS endeavor Chicago Hope. Though many critics thought that Chicago Hope had a better chance for survival than ER, the NBC series scored a surprise hit -- and over a decade later it was still firmly imbedded in the network's Thursday-night schedule, while Chicago Hope had long since vanished. Set largely in the emergency room of Chicago's fictional County General Hospital, ER focused on the professional and personal trials and tribulations of the unit's staff, with several subplots and story arcs weaving in and out of each hour-long episode. The regular cast for the first season consisted of Anthony Edwards as Dr. Mark Greene, George Clooney as Dr. Doug Ross, Sherry Stringfield as Dr. Susan Lewis, Eriq La Salle as Dr. Peter Benton, Julianna Margulies as Head Nurse Carol Hathaway, and Noah Wyle as med student (and later doctor) John Carter. Of these actors, only Sherry Stringfield and Noah Wyle would still be on the series as it entered its second decade on the air -- and of these two, only Wyle had been on the show throughout its entire run (Stringfield retired from the series in season three, but returned five years later). Later principals, in order of their appearance, included Laura Innes as Dr. Kerry Weaver, Alex Kingston as Dr. Elizabeth Corday, Paul McCrane as Dr. Robert Romano, Kellie Martin as med student Lucy Knight, Erik Palladino as Dr. Dave Malucci, Goran Visnjic as Dr. Luka Kovac, Ming-Na as Dr. Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen (a recurring character in season one who returned as a regular in season six), Maura Tierney as Nurse (and later Dr.) Abby Lockhart, Michael Michele as Dr. Cleo Finch, Sharif Atkins as Dr. Michael Gallant, Mekhi Phifer as Dr. Gregory Pratt, and Parminder Nagra as med student (and later doctor) Neela Rasgotra. Many of these characters' lives were intertwined romantically, while some of the characters were bitter enemies; all were uniformly fascinating. And just as in "real life," there was nothing predictable about the exits of certain characters: some departed with tragic abruptness (Lucy Knight, Robert Romano), others simply bade farewell and moved on with their lives (Doug Ross, Carol Hathaway, Peter Benton); but no "goodbye" was as poignant and moving as the lingering illness and death of Mark Greene throughout the length and breadth of season eight. Though the plot emphasis was on the continuing characters, a number of prominent guest stars made memorable appearances during the series' decade-plus run. Alan Alda, Sally Field, and Bob Newhart were but three of the A-list entertainers who passed in and out of the doors of Chicago County. The winner of innumerable industry awards, ER has also earned a niche in media history as the most expensive dramatic series in TV history, reaching this particular plateau with its 13-million-dollar-per-episode average budget during the 1998-1999 season.

39. 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.

40. Saturday Night Live

First Aired: 1975-10-11 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 90
Starring: Kenan Thompson, Bobby Moynihan, Taran Killam, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey
Top Attributes: Stand Alone Episodes, Sketch Comedy, Comedy, Ensemble Cast
Similar Shows: Important Things With Demetri Martin, SCTV, Little Britain USA, Michael and Michael Have Issues, Mr. Show
Description: A weekly late-night 90-minute American sketch comedy/variety show broadcast live from Studio 8H at the GE Building in New York's Rockefeller Center. The show is one of the longest-running network programs in American television history and has launched careers for many major American comedy stars of the last thirty years.

41. Sex and the City

First Aired: 1998-06-06 | Network: HBO | Runtime: 30
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon,
Top Attributes: Strong Female Lead, Sex, City Setting, Romance
Similar Shows: Entourage, Lipstick Jungle, Will & Grace, The Hills, Cougar Town
Description: The narrative of the show focuses on Carrie Bradshaw and her three best friends, Miranda Hobbes, Charlotte York and Samantha Jones. The women discuss their sexual desires and fantasies, and their travels in life, love and lesbianism. The show often depicts frank discussions about romance and sexuality, features a short montage of interviews of people living in New York City.

42. Modern Family

First Aired: 2009-09-23 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara
Top Attributes: Single Camera, Comedy, Family, Ensemble Cast
Similar Shows: Malcolm in the Middle, Raising Hope, Everybody Loves Raymond, Kath & Kim, Samantha Who?
Description: This mockumentary explores the many different types of a modern family through the stories of a gay couple, comprised of Mitchell and Cameron, and their daughter Lily, a straight couple, comprised of Phil and Claire, and their three kids, Haley, Alex, and Luke, and a multi-ethnic couple, which is comprised of Jay and Gloria, and her son Manny.

43. Monty Python's Flying Circus

First Aired: 1969-10-01 | Network: BBC One | Runtime: 30
Starring: Terry Jones, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam
Description: And now for something completely different: Monty Python's Flying Circus was simply the most influential comedy program television has ever seen. Five Englishmen, all working under the constraints of conventional TV shows such as The Frost Report (for which the five Englishmen wrote), gathered together with an expatriate American in the spring of 1969 to break the rules. The result, first airing on BBC-1 on October 5, 1969, has influenced countless future men and women in the media and comedy since.

44. NYPD Blue

First Aired: 1993-09-01 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 45
Starring: Dennis Franz, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Charlotte Ross, Currie Graham, Justin Miceli
Description: The gritty details of life as a member of a New York City police unit.

45. 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.

46. Law & Order

First Aired: 1990-09-13 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach, S. Epatha Merkerson, Linus Roache, Anthony Anderson
Description: "In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories." Filmed entirely on location in New York, the realistic program looks at crime and justice from a dual perspective. In the first half-hour, Detective Cyrus Lupo and his new partner, Detective Kevin Bernard, investigate crimes and apprehend suspects under the supervision of their precinct lieutenant, Anita Van Buren. In the second half-hour, the focus shifts to the criminal courts as Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter and the Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa work within a complicated justice system to prosecute the accused under the guidance of the newly appointed District Attorney Jack McCoy.

47. Homeland

First Aired: 2011-10-02 | Network: Showtime | Runtime: 60
Starring: Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend, Nazanin Boniadi, Jackson Pace
Top Attributes: Strong Female Lead, Drama, Political Intrigue, One Man/Woman Against the World
Similar Shows: The Americans (2013), Rubicon, Hannibal, Prime Suspect (US), The Killing (US)
Description: While in Iraq, Carrie Mathison, a Central Intelligence Agency operations officer, had been warned by an asset that an American prisoner of war had been turned by al-Qaeda. After conducting an unauthorized operation in Iraq, Carrie is put on probation and reassigned to the CIA's Counter-terrorism Center in Langley, Virginia.

48. The Golden Girls

First Aired: 1985-09-14 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Betty White, Beatrice Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty, Bill Dana
Description: Defying the TV-industry "rules" that A) no viewer is interested in watching a situation comedy with an all-female cast and B) no viewer wants to see anybody over the age of 34, The Golden Girls was one of the few sitcoms in which all of the regulars were women, and none was under the age of 50 -- and it turned out be NBC's biggest hit of the 1985-1986 season.

49. M*A*S*H

First Aired: 1972-09-01 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 30
Starring: Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Mike Farrell, Gary Burghoff, Larry Linville
Description: The 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital is stuck in the middle of the Korean war. With little help from the circumstances they find themselves in, they are forced to make their own fun. Fond of practical jokes and revenge, the doctors, nurses, administrators, and soldiers often find ways of making wartime life bearable.

50. The Honeymooners

First Aired: 1952-11-01 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 30
Starring: Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, Joyce Randolph, Jean Kean
Description: The Honeymooners, one of the most influential situation comedy television series in American history, depicts the sincere attempts of two men attempting to better their lives, and the ensuing frustrations when their schemes to strike it rich inevitably backfire.