This list captures the best television shows currently available for streaming on Netflix. The shows are sorted by TheTVDB ratings [Ed note: We use a tweaked version to give more significance to ratings with a high number of votes], an open database of everything television. If you don’t agree with the order, yell in the comments, or just head over to TheTVDB and rate your favorite shows.
First Aired: 2002-09-20 | Network: FOX | Runtime: 60
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin
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.
2. 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.
3. Arrested Development
First Aired: 2003-11-02 | Network: Netflix | Runtime: 30
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael Cera, Jessica Walter, David Cross
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.
4. Breaking Bad
First Aired: 2008-01-20 | Network: AMC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Giancarlo Esposito, Anna Gunn
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.
First Aired: 1999-03-28 | Network: Comedy Central | Runtime: 30
Starring: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John Di Maggio, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom
Description: A late 20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J. Fry, after being unwittingly cryogenically frozen for one thousand years, finds employment at Planet Express, an interplanetary delivery company in the 31st century.
First Aired: 2010-07-25 | Network: BBC One | Runtime: 90
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington, Rupert Graves, Louise Brealey
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.
First Aired: 2006-10-01 | Network: Showtime | Runtime: 60
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, James Remar, Julie Benz, Lauren V
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.
8. 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
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.
9. Archer (2009)
First Aired: 2009-09-17 | Network: FX | Runtime: 30
Starring: H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, George Coe, Adam Reed
Description: At ISIS, an international spy agency, global crises are merely opportunities for its highly trained employees to confuse, undermine, betray and royally screw each other. At the center of it all is suave master spy Sterling Archer, whose less-than-masculine code name is "Duchess." Archer works with his domineering mother Malory, who is also his boss. Drama revolves around Archer's ex-girlfriend, Agent Lana Kane and her new boyfriend, ISIS comptroller Cyril Figgis, as well as Malory's lovesick secretary, Cheryl.
10. The West Wing
First Aired: 1999-09-22 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Martin Sheen, Dul, Hill, Bradley Whitford, Alan Alda
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.
11. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
First Aired: 2005-08-04 | Network: FXX | Runtime: 30
Starring: Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton
Description: Four egocentric friends who run a neighborhood Irish pub in Philadelphia try to find their way through the adult world of work and relationships. Unfortunately, their warped views and precarious judgments often lead them to trouble, creating a myriad of uncomfortable situations that usually only get worse before they get better.
First Aired: 2004-09-22 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 45
Starring: Matthew Fox, Terry O'Quinn, Evangeline Lilly, Naveen Andrews, Daniel Dae Kim
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.
First Aired: 1999-03-01 | Network: SciFi | Runtime: 60
Starring: Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Jonathan Hardy, Paul Goddard, Gigi Edgley
Description: Five years ago, astronaut John Crichton attempted to use the Earth's atmosphere to propel his ship, Farscape 1, at great speeds across the solar system. He went much further though and was sucked down a wormhole to a distant part of the galaxy and into the middle of a battle. He was rescued by a group of escaping prisoners and taken aboard their living ship. As the years went by, Crichton has made enemies, powerful and dangerous enemies. On his journey to find a way back home, he freed other captives who became part of the crew on Moya.
14. How I Met Your Mother
First Aired: 2005-09-19 | Network: CBS | Runtime: 30
Starring: Josh Radnor, Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders
Description: The year is 2030. Ted Mosby is relaying the story of how he met his wife to his daughter and son. The story starts in the year 2005, when then twenty-seven year old architect Ted was spurred on to want to get married after his best friends from his college days at Wesleyan, lawyer Marshall Eriksen, who was his roommate at the time and kindergarten teacher Lily Aldrin, got engaged after nine years of dating each other. Ted's new quest in life was much to the dismay of his womanizing friend, Barney Stinson. But soon after Marshall and Lily's engagement, Ted believed that his life mate was going to be news reporter and aspiring news anchor Robin Scherbatsky, who, despite having had a romantic relationship with her after this time, ended up being who the kids know as their "Aunt" Robin. As Ted relays the story to his kids, the constants are that their Uncle Marshall, Aunt Lily, Uncle Barney and Aunt Robin are always in the picture and thus have something to do with how he got together with their mother.
15. The Office (US)
First Aired: 2005-03-24 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, Craig Robinson
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.
First Aired: 2001-10-02 | Network: ABC | Runtime: 30
Starring: Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, Judy Reyes, John C. McGinley
Description: Scrubs focuses on the lives of several people working at Sacred Heart, a teaching hospital. It features fast-paced dialogue, slapstick, and surreal vignettes presented mostly as the daydreams of the central character, Dr. John Michael "J.D." Dorian.
17. 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
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.
First Aired: 2007-08-13 | Network: Showtime | Runtime: 30
Starring: David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Evan Handler, Pamela Adlon, Madeleine Martin
Description: David Duchovny returns to TV with his Golden Globe-winning portrayal of author Hank Moody in the critically-acclaimed Showtime hit Californication. Author Hank Moody's life is spinning gloriously out of control as he juggles his sex and drug addictions while raising a daughter and trying to win back the love of his life in this edgy new series.
19. Life (2007)
First Aired: 2007-09-26 | Network: NBC | Runtime: 60
Starring: Damian Lewis, Sarah Shahi, Adam Arkin, Brooke Langton, Brent Sexton
Description: Complex, offbeat Detective Charlie Crews returns to the force after serving time in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Crews' new lease on life has provided him with a Zen-like outlook, peace of mind and no need for vengeance, an attitude which can be challenging to maintain when someone he cares about is threatened -- or when he is investigating the mystery surrounding the murder he was falsely accused of..
First Aired: 2006-07-07 | Network: USA Network | Runtime: 60
Starring: James Roday, Dul, Hill, Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson
Description: Thanks to his police officer father's efforts, Shawn Spencer spent his childhood developing a keen eye for detail (and a lasting dislike of his dad). Years later, Shawn's frequent tips to the police lead to him being falsely accused of a crime he solved. Now, Shawn has no choice but to use his abilities to perpetuate his cover story: psychic crime-solving powers, all the while dragging his best friend, his dad, and the police along for the ride.