Top 50 Favorite TV Shows

I talk a lot about film on this blog because, if you haven’t figured it out, it’s something of a passion of mine. But we’re really in a golden age of television right now. Cable and streaming have changed the landscape of American television in the past few years, with many top Hollywood stars heading to the small screen for the best depth of character and more freedom outside the 120 minute box that is a film – either studio or independent.

Now, there’s a LOT of great television out there coming straight into your living room at all hours of the day. Game of Thrones, in particular, has set pieces that rival any superhero tent film, but also shows like The Deuce, The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies are drawing fantastic talent and telling great stories.

The funny thing about television, though, is it’s much easier for a production to go off the rails and harder to keep up the consistent quality from week to week. With a film, you shoot the entire thing knowing all of the pieces. Television, on the other hand, is more of a wandering journey. Start off with a concept, see where it takes you, and we watch all of the way.

Therefore, in my list of my Top 50 favorite television shows, I’m only going to list the ones that have fully completed their journey. I’m sure I’ll be updating this next year or the following with GoT finally runs its final six, but this is it for now.

As with my film list, I’m not trying for “the best ever” or the “most awarded”, just my own personal favorites. I’m also sure I’ve forgotten some, and will be facepalming 10 seconds after this post drops.

50 The Sopranos
49 ER
48 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
47 Rocky and Bullwinkle
46 Night Court
45 Battlestar Galactica (2004)
44 Quantum Leap
43 The Mary Tyler Moore Show
42 Six Feet Under
41 30 Rock
40 Taxi
39 Eureka
38 I Love Lucy
37 The Bob Newhart Show
36 Deadwood
35 The Price is Right*
34 Breaking Bad
33 Alpha House
32 The Newsroom
31 Episodes
30 Downton Abbey
29 Big Little Lies
28 Newsradio
27 The A-Team
26 Seinfeld
25 The Office
24 Mad Men
23 Parks and Recreation
22 The Dick Van Dyke Show
21 Community
20 Sherlock**
19 The Killing
18 Entourage
17 Prison Break
16 Parenthood
15 24
14 Farscape
13 Californication
12 Sons of Anarchy
11 Sports Night
10 Cheers
9 Sliders
8 The Wonder Years
7 The Wire
6 Jericho
5 Friday Night Lights
4 Lost
3 Frasier
2 Firefly
1 The West Wing

*I’m making an exception for The Price is Right on not completing its run because the show has been on for so long, and it’s not like we’re waiting for some twist ending, you know?

**Sherlock isn’t “officially” over, but given the ending of this past season and the fact that Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch are both in The Avengers and so busy now, I don’t believe the show will be back. At least not for a very long time.