Best Plays of All Time – Ranked

I found 15 lists of the best plays (best theater, best dramas) of all time on the Internet and in books and compiled them all into one meta-list.  The results are below: every play that is on at least three of the original source lists, organized by rank (that is, with the plays on the most lists at the top).  For a much larger list of best plays that includes every play on at least two of the original source lists, organized chronologically, go here.

A few notes:
(1) As is so often the case, the lists I am able to find online have a definite bias in favor of Western Civilization generally, and British and American culture specifically. Nevertheless, the lists I found contained a significant number of works that were originally written in a language other than English (including the top vote-getter: Waiting for Godot – Irish-born playwright Samuel Beckett wrote the original in French and the first production of the play was in French; he later translated it to his native English).
(2) The date is usually the date of the premiere production, unless the play was written and published before the first production, in which case I use the earlier date.
(3) Nearly all the lists I found excluded musicals, so I did not include musicals on the list, with the exception of the Brecht/Weill masterpiece, The Threepenny Opera.
(4) For those of you who thought this was a list of the best sports plays of all time, I apologize for the inconvenience.

On 14 Best Plays Lists
Waiting for Godot (Ireland/France,1953) By Samuel Beckett

A scene from the original 1953 production of Waiting for Godot at the Théâtre de Babylone in Paris.

On 12 Lists
Oedipus the King (Ancient Greece, c. 429 BCE). By Sophocles
Hamlet (England, c. 1599-1602). By William Shakespeare
The Importance of Being Earnest (Ireland, 1895). By Oscar Wilde
Death of a Salesman (US, 1949). By Arthur Miller

Arthur Kennedy, Cameron Mitchell and Lee J. Cobb in the original production of Death of a Salesman, at the Morosco Theater in New York.

On 11 Lists
A Streetcar Named Desire (US, 1947). By Tennessee Williams
Long Day’s Journey into Night
(US, 1956). By Eugene O’Neill

A scene from the 1956 production of Long Day’s Journey into Night at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York, starring Fredric March, Florence Eldridge, Jason Robards, Jr. and Bradford Dillman. 

On 10 Lists
A Doll’s House (Norway, 1879). By Henrik Ibsen
The Cherry Orchard
(Russia, 1904). By Anton Chekhov
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
(US, 1962). By Edward Albee

Amy Morton, Tracy Letts, Madison Dirks and Carrie Coon in a 2012 production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Booth Theater in New York.

On 9 Lists
Medea (Ancient Greece, 431 BCE). By Euripides
Our Town
(US, 1938). By Thornton Wilder
The Glass Menagerie
(US, 1944). By Tennessee Williams

Anthony Ross, Laurette Taylor, Eddie Dowling, and Julie Haydon in the original 1945 Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie.

On 8 Lists
Tartuffe (France, 1664). By Molière
Uncle Vanya (Russia, 1897). By Anton Chekhov
A Raisin in the Sun (US, 1959). By Lorraine Hansberry
Angels in America (US, 1993). By Tony Kushner

Marcia Gay Harden and David Marshall Grant in the original 1993 production of Angels in America at the Walter Kerr Theater in New York. (Photo by Joan Marcus.)

On 7 Lists
Doctor Faustus (England, c. 1592). By Christopher Marlowe
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (England, c. 1595-1596). By William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night (England, c. 1601-1602). By William Shakespeare
Macbeth (England, c. 1606). By William Shakespeare
King Lear (England, 1606). By William Shakespeare
Miss Julie (Sweden, 1888). By August Strindberg
Hedda Gabler (Norway, 1891). By Henrik Ibsen
The Playboy of the Western World (Ireland, 1907). By J.M. Synge
Pygmalion (UK, 1913). By George Bernard Shaw
Mother Courage and Her Children (Germany, 1939). By Bertolt Brecht
The Bald Soprano (Romania/France, 1950). By Eugène Ionesco
The Crucible (US, 1953). By Arthur Miller
The Homecoming (UK, 1964). By Harold Pinter
“Master Harold”… and the Boys (South Africa, 1982). By Athol Fugard

Zakes Mokae, Lonny Price and Danny Glover in a 1982 production of “Master Harold”… and the Boys at the Lyceum Theater in New York.

On 6 Lists
The Oresteia (Ancient Greece, 458 BCE). By Aeschylus.
Othello (England, c. 1603). By William Shakespeare
Woyzeck (Germany, 1836-1837). By Georg Büchner
Three Sisters (Russia, 1901). By Anton Chekhov
Six Characters in Search of an Author (Italy, 1921). By Luigi Pirandello
No Exit (France, 1944). By Jean-Paul Sartre
The Iceman Cometh (US, 1946). By Eugene O’Neill
Look Back in Anger (UK, 1956). By John Osborne
Glengarry Glen Ross (US, 1983). By David Mamet

Mike Nussbaum and Joe Mantegna in a 1984 production of Glengarry Glen Ross at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, Illinois.

On 5 Lists
Antigone (Ancient Greece, c. 441 BCE). By Sophocles
(Ancient Greece, 411 BCE). By Aristophanes
The Bacchae (Ancient Greece, 405 BCE). By Euripides
Romeo and Juliet (England, c. 1591-1595). By William Shakespeare
Life Is a Dream (Spain, 1635). By Pedro Calderón de la Barca
The Misanthrope (France, 1666). By Molière
She Stoops to Conquer (Ireland, 1773). By Oliver Goldsmith
The School for Scandal (England, 1777). By Richard Brinsley Sheridan
The Government Inspector (The Inspector General) (Russia, 1836). By Nikolai Gogol
Private Lives (UK, 1930). By Noël Coward
The Birthday Party (UK, 1957). By Harold Pinter
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (UK, 1966). By Tom Stoppard
(US, 1985). By August Wilson
Arcadia (UK, 1993). By Tom Stoppard
Topdog/Underdog (US, 2001). By Suzan-Lori Parks

Don Cheadle and Jeffrey Wright in the original 2001 production of Topdog/Underdog at the Public Theater in New York.

On 4 Lists
Richard III (England, c. 1591-1592). By William Shakespeare
Henry IV, Part One (England, c. 1597). By William Shakespeare
Volpone (England, c. 1605-1606). By Ben Jonson
Antony & Cleopatra (England, c. 1606-1607). By William Shakespeare
Coriolanus (England, c. 1605-1608). By William Shakespeare
The Tempest (England, 1610-1611). By William Shakespeare
The Wild Duck (Norway, 1884). By Henrik Ibsen
The Seagull (Russia, 1895). By Anton Chekhov
Man and Superman (UK, 1901-1902). By George Bernard Shaw
The Lower Depths (Russia, 1902). By Maxim Gorky
Major Barbara (UK, 1905). By George Bernard Shaw
Saint Joan (UK, 1923). By George Bernard Shaw
Machinal (US, 1928). By Sophie Treadwell
Blood Wedding (Spain, 1933). By Federico García Lorca
Awake and Sing! (US, 1935). By Clifford Odets
The Little Foxes (US, 1939). By Lillian Hellman
The Good Person of Szechwan (Germany, 1941). By Bertolt Brecht
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (US, 1955). By Tennessee Williams
A View from the Bridge (US, 1955). By Arthur Miller
Rhinoceros (Romania/France, 1959). By Eugène Ionesco
The Visit (Switzerland, 1956). By Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Marat/Sade (Germany, 1964) By Peter Weiss
Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Italy, 1970). By Dario Fo
Equus (UK, 1973). By Peter Shaffer
American Buffalo (US, 1975). By David Mamet
Betrayal (UK, 1978). By Harold Pinter
Cloud 9 (UK, 1979). By Caryl Churchill
Top Girls (UK, 1982). By Caryl Churchill
Noises Off (UK, 1982). By Michael Frayn
M Butterfly (US, 1988). By David Henry Hwang

B.D. Wong and John Lithgow in the 1988 production of M. Butterfly at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in New York.

On 3 Lists
The Trojan Women (Ancient Greece, 415 BCE). By Euripides
The Recognition of Shakuntala
(India, c. 100 BCE-400 CE). By Kalidasa
Edward II
(England, 1593-1594). By Christopher Marlowe
Henry V (England, c. 1599). By William Shakespeare
The Alchemist (England, 1610). By Ben Jonson
Fuenteovejuna (Spain, c. 1612-1614). By Lope de Vega
Le Cid (France, 1636). By Pierre Corneille 
The Rover
(England, 1677). By Aphra Behn
Phèdre (France, 1677). By Jean Racine
Faust (Germany, 1808 (Part 1), 1831 (Part 2)). By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Arms and the Man
(UK, 1894). By George Bernard Shaw
Ubu Roi (King Ubu) (France, 1896). By Alfred Jarry
Cyrano De Bergerac (France, 1897). By Edmond Rostand
Heartbreak House
(UK, 1919). By George Bernard Shaw
Henry IV (Italy, 1922). By Luigi Pirandello
Juno and the Paycock (Ireland, 1924). By Seán O’Casey
Blithe Spirit (UK, 1941). By Noël Coward
The Life of Galileo (Germany, 1943). By Bertolt Brecht
All My Sons (US, 1947). By Arthur Miller
Picnic (US, 1953). By William Inge
Endgame (Ireland/France, 1957). By Samuel Beckett
The Balcony (France, 1957). By Jean Genet
The Caretaker (UK, 1960). By Harold Pinter
What the Butler Saw (UK, 1969). By Joe Orton
Travesties (UK, 1974). By Tom Stoppard
Uncommon Women and Others (US, 1977). By Wendy Wasserstein
True West (US, 1980). By Sam Shepard
The Real Thing (UK, 1982). By Tom Stoppard
The Normal Heart (US, 1985). By Larry Kramer
Six Degrees of Separation (US, 1990). By John Guare
Dancing at Lughnasa (Ireland, 1990). By Brian Friel
The History Boys (UK, 2004). By Alan Bennett
Doubt (US, 2004). By John Patrick Shanley
August: Osage County (US, 2007). By Tracy Letts
Ruined (US, 2009). By Lynn Nottage
Red (US, 2009). By John Logan
Jerusalem (UK, 2009). By Jez Butterworth
Clybourne Park (US, 2010). By Bruce Norris

Mackenzie Crook, Mark Rylance, Charlotte Mills, Jessica Barden, Danny Kirrane and Alan David in the 2011 production of Jerusalem at the Apollo Theater in London.