Greatest Drama TV Shows of all time

by gregscarmel | created - 29 Sep 2013 | updated - 29 Sep 2013 | Public
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1. The Sopranos (1999–2007)

TV-MA | 55 min | Crime, Drama

A New Jersey mob boss, Tony Soprano, deals with personal and professional issues in his home and business life, which affects his mental state and leads him to seek professional psychiatric counseling.

Stars: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli

Votes: 228,038

2. Hill Street Blues (1981–1987)

TV-14 | 60 min | Drama

The lives and work of the staff of an inner city police precinct.

Stars: Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren, Bruce Weitz, James Sikking

Votes: 5,829

3. Thirtysomething (1987–1991)

60 min | Drama, Romance

Hope and Michael are a married couple in their thirties, living in Philadelphia, and struggling with everyday adult angst. Michael runs an ad agency with his friend Elliot, whose marriage ... See full summary »

Stars: Timothy Busfield, Polly Draper, Mel Harris, Peter Horton

Votes: 1,805

4. St. Elsewhere (1982–1988)

TV-PG | 60 min | Drama

The lives and work of the staff of St. Eligius Hospital, an old and disrespected Boston teaching hospital.

Stars: Ed Begley Jr., William Daniels, Howie Mandel, David Morse

Votes: 2,816

5. ER (1994–2009)

TV-14 | 44 min | Drama, Romance

The lives, loves and losses of the doctors and nurses of Chicago's County General Hospital.

Stars: Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, Eriq La Salle

Votes: 44,177

6. Law & Order (1990–2010)

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Follows a crime, usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points, the police investigation and the prosecution in court.

Stars: Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina, S. Epatha Merkerson

Votes: 27,568

7. The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)

TV-PG | 51 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

Ordinary people find themselves in extraordinarily astounding situations, which they each try to solve in a remarkable manner.

Stars: Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts, Vaughn Taylor

Votes: 54,307

8. The Defenders (1961–1965)

60 min | Drama

A father and son lawyer duo take a variety of cases that often deal with the important issues of the day.

Stars: E.G. Marshall, Robert Reed, Polly Rowles, Ossie Davis

Votes: 277

9. Playhouse 90 (1956–1961)

90 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Of the many anthology series, Playhouse 90 is considered the most ambitious with outstanding talent in front of the camera. Attracting top ranked directors and scripts it was often filmed live including the entire first season.

Stars: Richard Joy, Charles Bickford, Kim Hunter, Malcolm Atterbury

Votes: 227

10. The Fugitive (1963–1967)

51 min | Adventure, Crime, Drama

A doctor, wrongly convicted for a murder he didn't commit, escapes custody and must stay ahead of the police to find the real killer.

Stars: David Janssen, William Conrad, Barry Morse, Paul Birch

Votes: 2,640

11. The X-Files (1993– )

TV-14 | 45 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Two FBI agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained, while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.

Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis

Votes: 173,985

12. The Rockford Files (1974–1980)

TV-PG | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

The cases of an easy going ex-convict turned private investigator.

Stars: James Garner, Noah Beery Jr., Joe Santos, Luis Delgado

Votes: 5,556

13. Gunsmoke (1955–1975)

TV-PG | 60 min | Western

Marshal Matt Dillon keeps the peace in the rough and tumble Dodge City.

Stars: James Arness, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Ken Curtis

Votes: 3,971

14. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996–2003)

TV-14 | 44 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy

A young woman is forced to fulfill her destiny of fighting vampires and demons with the help of her friends all the while struggling to live a normal teenage life of heart break and drama.

Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Head

Votes: 112,646

15. Bonanza (1959–1973)

TV-PG | 49 min | Western

The adventures of Ben Cartwright and his sons as they run and defend their ranch while helping the surrounding community.

Stars: Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker, Pernell Roberts

Votes: 6,449

16. Twin Peaks (1990–1991)

TV-MA | 47 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

An idiosyncratic FBI agent investigates the murder of a young woman in the even more idiosyncratic town of Twin Peaks.

Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook

Votes: 141,788

17. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994)

TV-PG | 44 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

Set decades after Captain Kirk's five-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers set off in a new Enterprise on their own mission to go where no one has gone before.

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton

Votes: 79,092

18. The West Wing (1999–2006)

TV-14 | 44 min | Drama

Inside the lives of staffers in the West Wing of the White House.

Stars: Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, John Spencer

Votes: 52,092

19. Mad Men (2007–2015)

TV-14 | 47 min | Drama

A drama about one of New York's most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s, focusing on one of the firm's most mysterious but extremely talented ad executives, Donald Draper.

Stars: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones

Votes: 167,033

20. L.A. Law (1986–1994)

46 min | Drama

The lives and work of the staff of a major Los Angeles law firm.

Stars: Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Alan Rachins, Michael Tucker

Votes: 3,490

21. Upstairs, Downstairs (1971–1975)

60 min | Drama

The trials of the British aristocratic Bellamy family and their household staff.

Stars: Gordon Jackson, David Langton, Jean Marsh, Angela Baddeley

Votes: 2,257

22. Lou Grant (1977–1982)

TV-PG | 60 min | Drama

The trials of a former television station manager, turned newspaper city editor, and his journalist staff.

Stars: Edward Asner, Robert Walden, Mason Adams, Jack Bannon

Votes: 1,342

23. Cagney & Lacey (1981–1988)

TV-PG | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Two female police detectives cooperate with each other both in their professions and in their personal lives.

Stars: Tyne Daly, Sharon Gless, Al Waxman, Martin Kove

Votes: 2,488

24. The Practice (1997–2004)

TV-14 | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

We follow the exploits and cases of defense attorneys of a Boston law firm. Bobby Donnell is the senior defense attorney and founder of the firm.

Stars: Dylan McDermott, Kelli Williams, Lara Flynn Boyle, Steve Harris

Votes: 6,522

25. The United States Steel Hour (1953–1963)

60 min | Comedy, Drama

Live drama series that was one of the best television shows ever shown. Over two hundred live plays, covering all aspects of society, were shown.

Stars: Richard Kiley, Betsy Palmer, Hans Conried, Jeff Donnell

Votes: 93

26. Mission: Impossible (1966–1973)

TV-PG | 50 min | Action, Adventure, Crime

An elite covert operations unit carries out highly sensitive missions subject to official denial in the event of failure, death or capture.

Stars: Peter Graves, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, Peter Lupus

Votes: 6,293

27. Picket Fences (1992–1996)

120 min | Crime, Drama, Family

An aging Sheriff tries to keep the peace in Rome, Wisconson, a small town plagued by bizarre and violent crimes.

Stars: Kathy Baker, Tom Skerritt, Lauren Holly, Costas Mandylor

Votes: 3,351

28. Studio One in Hollywood (1948–1958)

60 min | Drama

A pinnacle of the Golden Age of Television, "Studio One" presented a wide range of memorable dramas and received eighteen Emmy nominations and five wins during its prestigious nine-year run... See full summary »

Stars: Betty Furness, Paul Brinson, Paul Branson, Mary Sinclair

Votes: 176

29. NYPD Blue (1993–2005)

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Detectives from NYPD's 15th squad investigate homicides within their precinct.

Stars: Dennis Franz, Jimmy Smits, Gordon Clapp, James McDaniel

Votes: 9,933

30. 24 (2001–2010)

TV-14 | 44 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Jack Bauer, Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los Angeles, races against the clock to subvert terrorist plots and save his nation from ultimate disaster.

Stars: Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard, Dennis Haysbert

Votes: 158,904

31. Breaking Bad (2008–2013)

TV-MA | 49 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family's future.

Stars: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Betsy Brandt

Votes: 1,086,977

32. Lost (2004–2010)

TV-14 | 44 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

The survivors of a plane crash are forced to work together in order to survive on a seemingly deserted tropical island.

Stars: Jorge Garcia, Josh Holloway, Yunjin Kim, Evangeline Lilly

Votes: 431,096

33. Northern Exposure (1990–1995)

60 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

A newly graduated doctor is required to set up his practice in an eccentric Alaskan town.

Stars: Rob Morrow, Janine Turner, Barry Corbin, John Cullum

Votes: 13,131