The Best Television Shows of All Time
(In my rarely-if-ever-humble opinion)
I almost didn’t write this article. While I watch TV more than I watch movies or read plays, I found those lists much easier to write. Movies are much more finite than TV. Take even some of the longest-running movie series, and they won’t compare to long-running tv series (If you wanted to watch all of the James Bond movies, you’d need about 53 hours. If you wanted to watch all 9 seasons of The Office, you’d need about 74 hours).
So, how can I say which shows are the “best”, when I haven’t even finished most of them?
The answer is simple: I can’t. So, instead, I’m simply ranking these shows based on how they are at their optimal levels. For example, Family Guy is my favorite show of all time. However, out of its 19 seasons, I’d really only say seasons 1–6 are “prime” Family Guy. This helped fix my dilemma of judging shows I hadn’t seen in their entirety. Is it totally accurate? Maybe not. But hey, it’s my show list, and I’ll cry if I want to!
Enough with the opening credits. Like HBO, this article is brought to you with no commercial interruptions!
Favorite Overall: Family Guy
This show was my comedy “textbook” growing up. The way my brain works now when it’s thinking comedically, I attribute largely to this show. Any success I have in comedic acting or writing in the future, I will also have to largely attribute to this show. Seth MacFarlane is a genius, and everyone aspiring to work in adult animation would be silly to not study this show as I have!
Best Overall: Breaking Bad
While I’d rather watch Family Guy (thus crowning it my “Favorite”), nothing beats Breaking Bad. Could it have been trimmed here and there? Sure. Is it hard to find another show as gripping, culturally relevant, or phenomenal? Also yes.
Best Drama: When They See Us
Heartbreaking. Necessary. Difficult to watch. The most important TV I’ve ever seen.
Best Dramedy: Entourage
I used to hate reading TV descriptions of this show that listed it as a “Comedy”. It’s hysterical, and funnier than most standard comedies. But it really is just a drama that happens to be really funny. Or a comedy with a really intriguing storyline. Either way, a beautiful blend of Comedy and Drama. Dare I say it… Johnny Drama.
Best Sitcom: Seinfeld
I don’t know about you, but I only consider it a sitcom if it has a live studio audience/laugh track. Otherwise…every comedy would be considered a “sitcom”. After all, Sitcom stands for “Situational Comedy”…and what comedy doesn’t have situations in it? What drama for that matter? But anyway, most comedies make me chuckle maybe two or three times per episode. Seinfeld never fails to make me crack up multiple times per scene. It’s just that much funnier than everything else, and so dang quotable.
Best Single Camera Comedy: Scrubs
Few shows are as funny, and few comedies are as poignant. Also the Best Ensemble in a tv show, comedic or otherwise.
Best Action: The Walking Dead
While it may have lost its way after a while, this show was the absolute best thing on tv for its first few seasons. It may have been focused on the dead, but it was really all about the living!
Best Docuseries: Last Chance U: Basketball
Whether you’re a basketball fan or not, it’s hard to not quickly grow to care deeply about the personal and professional development of these young men. And of course, Coach Mo always has something zany up his sleeve!
Best Horror: The Haunting of Hill House
Certainly not perfect, and I haven’t seen too many shows (or movies) in the horror genre (so my basis for comparison is very thin). But this one has a lot of heart in it, and could almost be classified not so much as horror, but as a really scary family drama.
Most Unique: Six Feet Under
Never before or since have I seen a show quite like this one. Weird. Moving. Funny. Disturbing. You name it, this show’s got it!
Best Musical Show: Galavant
Step aside, Glee! A wonderful show that was cancelled far too soon. Fun, funny, and totally original songs! A hidden gem of a show, and one of the freshest ideas I’ve seen in a long time.
Best Live-Action Disney: That’s So Raven
Back in my day, you had 2 options for live-action TV: Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. I was always a Disney kid, and this show really set the bar for how good a kids show can and should be.
Best Live-Action Nickelodeon: Drake & Josh
Maybe some of the jokes didn’t age well. But if you grew up in the early 2000s, nothing was as funny!
Best Disney Animation: Mickey’s House of Mouse
Not to be confused with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, this show was so creative in having our favorite Disney characters watching themselves in short films!
Best Nickelodeon Animation: Jimmy Neutron
Such a weird, odd, wacky show. But so good.
Best Adult Animation: American Dad!
I know, I know: I’m kind of cheating by including this separately from Family Guy, as they’re practically the same show if looked at from a bird’s eye view. But where Family Guy succeeds in its cutaway gags, this show is superb in its use of random, out-of-the-box humor. And while I’d still take Family Guy at its best, American Dad! is actually much more consistent in terms of quality.
Best Action Animation: Avatar the Last Airbender
This show has zero bad episodes, making it the most consistently great show of all time. And while most popular shows have their fans as well as their haters, I have never met anyone who has watched this show that hasn’t absolutely adored it. P.S., if I had to choose, I’d totally be a Firebender.
The Rest of the Pack
These beauties may not be the best in any specific way within their given genres, but they are still some of the best tv shows of all time (in not too particular of an order):
3. Dexter (S1–3)
4. The Morning Show
6. Designated Survivor (S1)
1. Barry (S1–2)
2. Sucession (S1)
3. The Good Place
4. Master of None
6. How to Make It In America
1. New Girl
2. Malcolm in the Middle
3. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
4. Blue Mountain State
5. Freaks and Geeks
8. How I Met Your Mother
9. That ’70s Show
10. Reno 911!
12. Key and Peele (S1-2)
13. Arrested Development (S1–3)
14. Glee (S1–2)
15. The Kominsky Method
17. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
18. The Jeselnik Offensive
19. The Big Bang Theory
20. The Addams Family
21. Curb Your Enthusiasm
22. Full House
23. The IT Crowd
1. Boy Meets World
2. Sister, Sister
3. Lizzie McGuire
4. Phil of the Future
5. Even Stevens
6. Suite Life of Zack and Cody
1. The Boys (S1)
2. The Mandalorian
3. Game of Thrones (besides final season)
5. Terra Nova
6. Stranger Things (S3)
7. True Blood
1. CNN’s The 70s
2. Disney Gallery: Star Wars the Mandalorian
4. The Shop: Uninterrupted
1. Big Mouth (S1–3)
3. The Boondocks
4. Teen Titans Go!
5. Bojack horseman (S1-2)
6. Harley Quinn
3. Hey Arnold!
4. The Proud Family
5. Kim Possible
1. Avatar: The Legend of Korra
2. Star Wars: Clone Wars
3. Batman: The Animated Series
4. Teen Titans
5. Batman Beyond
6. Star Wars: Rebels (S1-2)
7. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (not to be confused with Star Wars: Clone Wars without the “the”)
What are you thoughts? What did I miss? What did I get just right? Let me know! And if you liked this, check out all my other Best of All Time lists!
And for more things Datz, check out eddiedatz.com!
Note: This is an ongoing list that will continue to be edited as I see more tv shows and find new favorites!