We’ve all heard of the TV series that seem to stand the test of time. From Breaking Bad to The Simpsons, these shows have earned their place in history as some of the best-rated TV series of all time. But why exactly have they been so successful?
One key factor is audience engagement, and this is something nearly every blockbuster Hollywood film consists of. These series are all notorious for their captivating storylines and attention-grabbing twists that keep viewers hooked until the end.
Breaking Bad, for example, follows Walter White as he navigates his way through a criminal underworld and works to provide financial security for his family before it’s too late. This storyline draws audiences in with its suspenseful tension, making it nearly impossible to look away until (spoiler alert!) the final episode.
Furthermore, these shows have also been incredibly successful at captivating a variety of different audiences. The Simpsons appeals to adults with its witty and complex humor while maintaining an entertaining appeal for younger viewers. On the other hand, Breaking Bad has become popular among college-aged viewers due to its intense plot and dark themes.
In this article, we are going to take a look at the best TV series of all time, based strictly on visitor feedback, user ratings and top TV review sites. You can view the full list below.
17 of the Greatest Television Series Ever Created
It’s not hard to understand why a television series becomes extremely popular. After all, the combination of great writing, compelling storylines and captivating performances by talented actors can draw viewers in and keep them hooked for years.
However, there are some other factors that contribute to the success of a show as well. As you make your way through the list below, think about why you liked each of these shows and the actors in it.
Parks and Recreation – NBC, 2009-15
This Emmy-winning comedy Parks and Rec, aired on NBC from 2009 to 2015 and starred Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, a mid-level bureaucrat in the Parks Department of fictional Pawnee, Indiana.
Through seven seasons the show explored political intrigue within small town government with an array of endearingly oddball characters.
Saturday Night Live – NBC, 1975-Present
Since 1975 this storied sketch comedy series has been airing on NBC. Created by Lorne Michaels it continues to be one of the longest running US TV shows ever made, with a revolving cast of impressionists, comedians and actors.
Lost – ABC, 2004-10
This sci-fi adventure drama aired on ABC from 2004 to 2010. Created by Jeffrey Lieber and J.J. Abrams it follows the survivors of a plane crash who are stranded on a mysterious island in the South Pacific Ocean.
The show starred Matthew Fox as Dr Jack Shephard and Evangeline Lilly as Kate Austen along with an ensemble cast that also included Josh Holloway and Terry O’Quinn. As the show progressed many supernatural elements were revealed which explored the ideas of faith, destiny and second chances.
Arrested Development – FOX, 2003-06; NETFLIX, 2013-19.
This dark comedy aired on FOX from 2003 to 2006 and later continued with a fourth season released on Netflix in 2013. Created by Mitchell Hurwitz, Arrested Development follows the dysfunctional Bluth family as they come to terms with their reduced wealth following the arrest of their patriarch George Bluth Sr.
The show starred Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Michael Cera and Jeffrey Tambor amongst others. It received huge critical acclaim for its innovative use of narration, fast-paced dialogue and multiple running gags throughout each episode.
The Twilight Zone – CBS, 1959-64
This iconic anthology series aired on CBS from 1959 to 1964 and was created by Rod Serling who also wrote most of episodes. It explored themes of science fiction, fantasy and horror through a series of self-contained stories.
Notable cast members included Earl Holliman, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds and William Shatner in some of their earliest roles. The show often featured twist endings that left viewers with food for thought long after the credits rolled.
Game of Thrones – HBO, 2011-19
This Emmy award-winning fantasy drama Game of Thrones, aired on HBO from 2011 to 2019. Based on George R R Martin’s novels it follows nine royal families as they battle for control over the Seven Kingdoms while an array of mystical creatures lurks in the background.
The show starred Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Kit Harington as Jon Snow and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister with an ensemble cast that also included Maisie Williams, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Friends – NBC, 1994-2004
This classic sitcom aired on NBC from 1994 to 2004. Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman it follows the lives of six young friends living in New York City — Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), Monica Geller (Courteney Cox), Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) and Ross Geller (David Schwimmer).
Over the course of ten seasons their relationships were explored through a mix of quick wit, slapstick humor and poignancy. It’s still one of the most watched television series of all time, through re-runs and streaming platforms like Netflix and Peacock.
Curb Your Enthusiasm – HBO, 2000-Present
This hit comedy series has been airing on HBO since 2000. Created by Larry David and starring the creator himself as a fictionalised version of himself, the show follows him as he attempts to navigate his way through social situations with often disastrous results.
It features an array of guest stars including Ted Danson, Richard Lewis and Cheryl Hines whilst exploring themes such as religion, ethics, relationships and money.
Atlanta – FX, 2016-Present
This critically acclaimed dramedy has been airing on FX since 2016. Created by Donald Glover it follows Earn (Glover) as he manages his rapper cousin Alfred’s career while also trying to make ends meet in Atlanta’s rap music scene.
Mad Men – AMC, 2007-15
This hit series aired on AMC from 2007 to 2015. Created by Matthew Weiner it explored the lives of the employees of the Sterling Cooper advertising agency in New York City during the 1960s.
It starred Jon Hamm as Don Draper, Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson and John Slattery as Roger Sterling amongst others. The show was praised for its detailed writing, precise setting and iconic costuming.
The Office (U.S.) – NBC, 2005-13
This beloved mockumentary sitcom aired on NBC from 2005 to 2013. Created by Greg Daniels it was based on the British version of the show created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
It followed a group of employees at the fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin in Scranton, Pennsylvania with Steve Carell playing Michael Scott, John Krasinski as Jim Halpert and Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly all in their earliest roles. The show often featured twist endings that left viewers with food for thought long after the credits rolled.
Cheers – NBC, 1982-93
This classic sitcom aired on NBC from 1982 to 1993. Created by Glen Charles and Les Charles the show focused on a group of regulars who frequented the bar ‘Cheers’ in Boston, Massachusetts owned by Sam Malone (Ted Danson).
Seinfeld – NBC, 1989-98
This classic sitcom Seinfeld, aired on NBC from 1989 to 1998. Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld it followed a group of four friends as they navigated their way through life in New York City with often hilarious results.
Notable cast members included Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards and Wayne Knight amongst many others over the course of nine seasons.
The Wire – HBO, 2002-08
This acclaimed episodic crime drama aired on HBO from 2002 to 2008. Created by David Simon it follows a range of characters from both sides of Baltimore’s drug trade with each season focusing on a different element of the criminal justice system.
It starred Dominic West, Idris Elba and Michael K Williams as well as many other acclaimed actors over its five season run.
Breaking Bad – AMC, 2008-13
This gripping drama aired on AMC from 2008 to 2013. Created by Vince Gilligan it follows chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) who teams up with former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to cook and sell crystal meth in an effort to secure his family’s financial future before he dies of cancer.
The show earned multiple awards for its exploration of the lengths people will go to for money, power and respect.
The Simpsons – FOX, 1989-Present
This long running animated sitcom has been airing since 1989 on Fox networks around the world. Created by Matt Groening it follows the adventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson in their hometown of Springfield.
It has featured renowned actors such as Kelsey Grammer, Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz amongst others over its thirty-one season run.
The Sopranos – HBO, 1999-2007
This classic crime drama aired on HBO from 1999 to 2007. Created by David Chase it follows mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) as he navigates his criminal enterprises whilst also dealing with issues in his personal life.
The show also starred Edie Falco, Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli and Steven Van Zandt amongst other notable actors. It was praised for its realism and unique blend of dark comedy and drama.
The Best TV Shows, Streaming Content and Movies
From comedy to drama, there’s something for everyone when it comes to TV series. For decades, these long-form stories have captivated audiences around the world with their unique worlds and characters, and many of them have become true classics.
And with so many different TV shows, streaming series and movies out there, it’s quite hard to achieve such positive ratings in the 9 range.
However, it’s not just the story lines that makes these series great, it’s also the cast members that bring the stories to live. For more on this, be sure to check out our most attractive women in Hollywood and handsome men in movies.