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.

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. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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."

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. 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").

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. 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.

25. 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.

26. 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.

27. St. Elsewhere

First Aired: 1982-10-26 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Christina Pickles, Cynthia Sikes, David Birney, David Morse
Description: St. Eligius Hospital in South Boston was not exactly the world's best health care center. Despite its flaws, it featured some of the most caring doctors and nurses you could ever meet. Led by Dr. Donald Westphall (and later by Dr. Benjamin Gideon), St. Eligius became a sanctuary for the underdog and the downtrodden. "St. Elsewhere" ran on NBC for six seasons. Originally a ratings flop, NBC picked it up for a second season for the sole purpose of grabbing some additional Emmy nominations. It eventually became a minor hit for The Peacock, until burnout by the writers resulted in its 1988 cancellation. The series was nominated for 63 Emmy Awards and won 13.

28. L.A. Law

First Aired: 1986-09-01 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Michael Tucker, Susan Ruttan, Blair Underwood, Susan Dey, Corbin Bernsen
Description: On this critically acclaimed drama about a top Los Angeles law firm, some of the best battles take place outside of the courtroom. In the bedroom, in the courtroom, or at McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney & Kuzak's staff meetings, the firm's ambitious, competitive attorneys confront conflict between their own desires, their obligations as attorneys, and their principles as human beings.

29. 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.

30. Boardwalk Empire

First Aired: 2010-09-19 | Network: HBO | Runtime: 60
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Vincent Piazza, Stephen Graham
Top Attributes: Drama, Alcohol, Historical Elements, Serial
Similar Shows: Brotherhood, Deadwood, Magic City, The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy
Description: Boardwalk Empire is a period drama focusing on Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (based on the historical Enoch L. Johnson), a political figure who rose to prominence and controlled Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and 1930s. Nucky acts with historical characters in both his personal and political life, including mobsters, politicians, government agents, and the common folk who look up to him. The federal government also takes an interest in the bootlegging and other illegal activities in the area, sending agents to investigate possible mob connections but also looking at Nucky's lifestyle—expensive and lavish for a county political figure. The final season jumps ahead seven years, to 1931, as Prohibition nears its end.

31. 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.

32. True Detective

First Aired: 2014-01-12 | Network: HBO | Runtime: 60
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Potts, Tory Kittles, Michelle Monaghan
Top Attributes: Detective, Mystery, Serial, Strong Male Lead
Similar Shows: The Following, Hannibal, Dexter, Justified, Ray Donovan
Description: True Detective uses multiple timelines to trace two Louisiana State Police Criminal Investigations Division homicide detectives' hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana across seventeen years.

33. Justified

First Aired: 2010-03-16 | Network: FX | Runtime: 60
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Natalie Zea, Jacob Pitts, Joelle Carter
Top Attributes: Strong Male Lead, Drama, Cop Show, Action
Similar Shows: Blue Bloods, Ray Donovan, Southland, The Following, The Good Guys (2010)
Description: Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is something of a 19th century-style officer in modern times, whose unconventional enforcement of justice makes him a target with criminals and a problem for his superiors in the U.S. Marshals Service. As a result of an eager but "justified" shooting of a Miami fugitive while on assignment in Florida, Givens is reassigned to Lexington, Kentucky, in a district that includes his hometown of Harlan, a rural mining town in the east of the state.

34. Fargo

First Aired: 2014-04-15 | Network: FX | Runtime: 60
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Allison Tolman, Keith Carradine, Joey King
Top Attributes: Murder, Overall Quirkiness, Strong Male Lead, Cop Show
Similar Shows: Hannibal, White Collar, Elementary, The Killing (US), The Blacklist
Description: From the Coen brothers is a fresh story spun out of the world of the Oscar-winning film. A drifter named Lorne Malvo arrives in small-town Minnesota and influences the population with his malice and violence, including put-upon insurance salesman Lester Nygaard.

35. Homicide: Life On The Street

First Aired: 1993-01-01 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Richard Belzer, Andre Braugher, Max Perlich, Peter Gerety, Yaphet Kotto
Top Attributes: Detective, Murder, Cop Show, Serial
Similar Shows: The Shield, The Wire, Southland, Detroit 1-8-7, The Unusuals
Description: Based on the factual book Homicide: A Year On the Killing Streets by journalist David Simon, the series charts the lives of a team of homicide detectives in Baltimore, Maryland, both on and off the clock.

36. thirtysomething

First Aired: 1987-09-29 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Ken Olin, Mel Harris, Melanie Mayron, Patricia Kalember, Patricia Wettig
Description: When thirtysomething debuted in 1987 it was attacked by some critics as being a self-indulgent examination of the minutiae of yuppie life. Before the first season was over, some of those same critics were covering their tracks by calling it "the most improved show on television." Producers Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz had teamed up before on Family and would go on to create My So-Called Life, Relativity and Once and Again. Often using feature-film techniques, their brand of what could be called "reality" television tackled not only the small subjects, but the big ones too, all the way from life to death, as they followed their characters on the road from the idealism of youth to the search for security and responsibility as they glided toward middle age.

37. 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.

38. 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.

39. Survivor

First Aired: 2000-05-31 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 60
Starring: Rob Mariano, Parvati Shallow, Jeff Probst, Brian Heidik, Anthony
Top Attributes: Reality Show, Mainstream, Ensemble Cast, Drama
Similar Shows: The Amazing Race, The Apprentice (US), Big Brother, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette
Description: Sixteen or more castaways are split between two or more "Tribes", are taken to a remote isolated location and are forced to live off the land with meager supplies for roughly 39 days. Frequent physical challenges are used to pit the tribes against each other for Rewards, such as food or luxuries, or for "Immunity", forcing the other tribe to attend "Tribal Council", where they must vote off one of their players. Once about half the players are remaining, the tribes are merged into a single tribe, and competitions are on an individual basis; winning Immunity prevents that player from being voted out, while several that are voted out at this stage form the game's "Jury". Once down to two or three people, a Final Tribal Council is held where the remaining players plead their case to the jury members. The jury then votes for which player should be considered the "Sole Survivor" and win the $1 million prize. Survivor has introduced numerous modifications, or "twists", on the core rules in order to keep the players on their toes and to prevent players from relying on strategies that succeeded in prior seasons. These changes have included tribal switches, seasons starting with more than two tribes, the ability to exile a player from a tribe for a short time, Hidden Immunity Idols that players can use to save themselves at Tribal Council and a chance to return to regular gameplay after elimination through "Redemption Island".

40. 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.

41. 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.

42. My So-Called Life

First Aired: 1994-08-01 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Claire Danes, A.J. Langer, Bess Armstrong, Wilson Cruz, Tom Irwin
Top Attributes: Interwoven Storylines, Ensemble Cast, Drama, High School
Similar Shows: The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill, 90210, Beverly Hills, 90210
Description: "My So-Called Life" is a realistic mid-nineties teen drama series that takes a look at a 15 year-old girl and her trials and tribulations with being a teenager and dealing with friends, guys, parents and school.

43. Veronica Mars

First Aired: 2004-09-22 | Network: The CW | Runtime: 60
Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Tina Majorino, Francis Capra
Top Attributes: Drama, Teen Presence, School, High School
Similar Shows: Revenge, Weeds, The O.C., Pretty Little Liars, Ringer
Description: In the wealthy, seaside community of Neptune, California, the rich and powerful make the rules. Unfortunately for them, there's Veronica Mars, a smart, fearless 17-year-old apprentice private investigator. During the day, Veronica must negotiate high school like any average teenage girl. But at night, she helps with her father's struggling private investigator business.

44. Avatar: The Last Airbender

First Aired: 2005-02-21 | Network: Nickelodeon | Runtime: 30
Starring: Zach Tyler Eisen, Mae Whitman, Jack DeSena, Jennie Kwan, Melendy Britt
Description: In a world where the four elements can be controlled by people known as Benders, Fire Nation is waging a war to control other nations. The only hope for stopping the brutal war led by them rests on the shoulders of a reluctant young boy named Aang. The last known survivor of the peaceful Air Nomads and the Airbenders, Aang is The Avatar, Bender of all elements. Aided by a Waterbender named Katara and her brother Sokka, Aang begins a perilous journey to restore balance to their war-torn world.

45. Upstairs, Downstairs

First Aired: 1971-10-10 | Network: ITV1 | Runtime: 50
Starring: Gordon Jackson, David Langton, Jean Marsh, Angela Baddeley, Christopher Beeny
Description: Covering a span of 27 years (1903-1930), Upstairs, Downstairs follows the lives of the wealthy Bellamy family residing upstairs at 165 Eaton Place, London, as well as the lives of those employed in their service living downstairs. Richard Bellamy, the son of a poor parson, is married to Lady Marjorie, the daughter of the wealthy Earl and Countess of Southwold, whose family money provides for the Bellamy's lavish lifestyle. As an influential member of the Conservative party, the Earl secures a seat in Parliament for Richard, with the expectation that he will support conservative policies. He tries his best to please his wife's family but, being a Liberal at heart, Richard finds it's not always that easy. These political and financial differences are a reoccurring source of contention for the Bellamys. On the surface, the lives of the family living upstairs couldn't seem more different than those of the servants living below but, strangely enough, through the years their lives often intersect, becoming increasingly entwined as time goes by. The addition of real-life events, like the tragic sinking of the RMS Titanic and the horrors of World War I, incorporated into the storylines add a touch of authenticity and realism to the show.

46. Rome

First Aired: 2005-08-28 | Network: HBO | Runtime: 60
Starring: Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Ciar, n Hinds, Nicholas Woodeson
Top Attributes: Drama, Historical Elements, Violence, Strong Male Lead
Similar Shows: Spartacus, The Tudors, Deadwood, Band Of Brothers, Generation Kill
Description: "Rome" is the saga of two ordinary Roman soldiers and their families. An intimate drama of love and betrayal, masters and slaves, and husbands and wives, it chronicles epic times that saw the fall of a republic and the creation of an empire. The series begins in 52 BC, as Gaius Julius Caesar has completed his masterful conquest of Gaul after eight years of war, and is preparing to return to Rome. He heads home with thousands of loyal battle-hardened men, huge amounts of loot in gold and slaves, and a populist agenda for radical social change. Terrified, the aristocracy threatens to prosecute Caesar for war crimes as soon as he sets foot in Rome. Caesar's old friend and mentor, Pompey Magnus, attempts to foment mutiny in order to maintain the balance of power. Two of Caesar's soldiers, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, thwart Pompey's plan and in the process, win the eternal gratitude of Caesar and the Julian clan, affording the two plebian officers an intimate view of the ruling class. The fates of Pullo and Vorenus become entwined with those of Caesar, Mark Antony, Cleopatra and the boy Octavian, a strange and awkward child who, by political guile and bloody force, will become the first emperor of Rome.

47. The Good Wife

First Aired: 2009-09-22 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 60
Starring: Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Josh Charles, Matthew Goode, Zach Grenier
Top Attributes: Strong Female Lead, Workplace, Drama, Law
Similar Shows: The Whole Truth, Raising the Bar, Harry's Law, Dirty Sexy Money, Damages
Description: The Good Wife is a drama starring Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies as a wife and mother who must assume full responsibility for her family and re-enter the workforce after her husband's very public sex and political corruption scandal lands him in jail.

48. Gunsmoke

First Aired: 1955-09-10 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 60
Starring: Amanda Blake, Buck Taylor, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Weaver, Glenn Strange
Description: The show is about a Marshal who doesn't allow guns in Dodge City. He always tries to show people different ways to solve things before getting angry.

49. Northern Exposure

First Aired: 1990-07-12 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 60
Starring: Rob Morrow, Janine Turner, Peg Phillips, John Corbett, Cynthia Geary
Description: Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) graduates from Columbia University medical school thanks to a scholarship from the state of Alaska. Though he was promised a placement at the large hospital in Anchorage, he is instead whisked away to the tiny town of Cicely, where he must work off his education debt as the local General Practitioner. The location is remote, the people are weird and quirky, and all Joel wants is to return to New York. The show thrived on this "fish out of water" storyline and the "will they or won't they" dynamic between Fleischman and Janine Turner's Maggie O'Connell.

50. Downton Abbey

First Aired: 2010-09-26 | Network: ITV | Runtime: 60
Starring: Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Joanne Froggatt
Top Attributes: British, Historical Elements, Melodrama, Drama
Similar Shows: Pan Am, Mad Men, House of Cards (US), Scandal (2012), Luck
Description: Downton Abbey depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era—with great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy.