Best TV Shows of All Time – Chronological

I collected over 12 lists of the Best TV Shows of All Time by critics and experts and combined them into one list. Here are the results – every show on two or more lists, arranged in chronological order.  Unlike the lists of Best Films, which tend to avoid recent movies, those making lists of the Top TV Shows seem to have short memories and have rated many recent shows highly.  The list is almost exclusively U.S. productions, except as noted.

For the same list organized by rank (that is, with the shows on the most lists at the top), go here.

THE 1940s and 1950s

The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971) Creators: Marlo Lewis & Ed Sullivan (on 3 lists)

Your Show of Shows/Caesar’s Hour (1950-1957) Creator: Sylvester L. Weaver, Jr. (on 5 lists)

I Love Lucy (1951-1957) Creators: Desi Arnaz & Jess Oppenheimer (on 10 lists)

The Honeymooners (1955-1956) Creator: Jackie Gleason (on 8 lists)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962) Creator: Alfred Hitchcock (on 6 lists)

Gunsmoke (1955-1975) Creators: Norman Macdonnell & John Meston (on 4 lists)

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) Creator: Rod Serling (on 13 lists)
William Shatner in the 1963 episode, ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.’

THE 1960s

The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) Creator: Arthur Stander (on 5 lists)

The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966) Creator: Carl Reiner (on 6 lists)

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962-1992) Creators: Steve Allen, William O. Harbach, Dwight Hemion & Sylvester Weaver, Jr. (on 4 lists)

The Fugitive (1963-1967) Creator: Roy Huggins (on 3 lists)

Doctor Who (UK) (1963-1989; 2005- ) Creators: Sydney Newman, C.E. Webber & Donald Wilson (on 10 lists)

Star Trek (1966-1969) Creator: Gene Roddenberry (on 10 lists)

The Prisoner (UK) (1967-1968) Creators: Patrick McGoohan & George Markstein (on 6 lists)

The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978) Creator: Carol Burnett (on 6 lists)
Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman in “Went with the Wind.”

Sesame Street (1968- ) Creators: Joan Ganz Cooney & Lloyd Morrisett (on 6 lists)

Monty Python’s Flying Circus (UK) (1969-1974) Creators: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones & Michael Palin (on 14 lists)


THE 1970s

The Odd Couple (1970-1975) Developers: Garry Marshall & Jerry Belson (on 4 lists)

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) Creator: James L. Brooks & Allan Burns (on 8 lists)

All in the Family (1971-1979) Creator: Norman Lear (on 8 lists)

Columbo (1971-1978, 1989-2003) Creators: Richard Levinson & William Link (on 5 lists)


Sanford and Son (1972-1977) Creator: Bud Yorkin (on 3 lists)

The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978) Creators: David Davis & Lorenzo Music (on 6 lists)


M*A*S*H (1972-1983) Creator: Larry Gelbart (on 10 lists)

Good Times (1974-1979) Creators: Norman Lear, Eric Monte & Mike Evans (on 3 lists)

The Rockford Files (1974-1980) Creators: Roy Huggins & Stephen J. Cannell (on 4 lists)

Happy Days (1974-1984) Creator: Garry Marshall (on 4 lists)

Fawlty Towers (UK) (1975-1979) Creators: John Cleese & Connie Booth (on 8 lists)


Saturday Night Live (1975- ) Creator: Lorne Michaels (on 10 lists)

I, Claudius (UK) (1976) Creator: Robert Graves (on 5 lists)

The Muppet Show (1976-1981) Creator: Jim Henson (on 6 lists)

Roots (1977) Creator: Alex Haley (on 5 lists)

Soap (1977-1981) Creator: Susan Harris (on 4 lists)

Taxi (1978-1983) Creators: James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis & Ed Weinberger (on 6 lists)

Dallas (1978-1991) Creator: David Jacobs (on 4 lists)

THE 1980s

Hill Street Blues (1981-1987) Creators: Steven Bochco & Michael Kozoll (on 8 lists)

Only Fools and Horses (UK) (1981-2003) Creator: John Sullivan (on 4 lists)

St. Elsewhere (1982-1988) Creators: Joshua Brand & John Falsey (on 4 lists)

Family Ties (1982-1989) Creator: Gary David Goldberg (on 3 lists)

Cheers (1982-1993) Creators: James Burrows, Glen Charles & Les Charles (on 8 lists)

Late Night (1982-1993)/Late Show with David Letterman (1993-2015) Creator: David Letterman (on 5 lists)


Blackadder
(UK) (1983-1989) Creators: Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis & Ben Elton (on 5 lists)

The Cosby Show (1984-1992) Creators: Ed Weinberger, Michael Leeson & Bill Cosby (on 6 lists)

Moonlighting (1985-1989) Creator: Glenn Gordon Caron (on 3 lists)

The Golden Girls (1985-1992) Creator: Susan Harris (on 7 lists)

The Singing Detective (UK) (1986) Creator: Dennis Potter (on 4 lists)

thirtysomething (1987-1991) Creators: Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz (on 3 lists)

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) Creator: Gene Roddenberry (on 6 lists)

The Wonder Years (1988-1993) Creators: Neal Marlens & Carol Black (on 5 lists)

Roseanne (1988-1997) Creator: Matt Williams (on 8 lists)

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999) Creator: Joel Hodgson (on 5 lists)

Seinfeld (1989-1998) Creators: Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld (on 16 lists)

The Simpsons (1989- ) Creator: Matt Groening (on 17 lists)

THE 1990s

In Living Color (1990-1994) (on 3 lists)

Twin Peaks (1990-1991, 2017) Creators: Mark Frost & David Lynch (on 15 lists)

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996) Creators: Andy & Susan Borowitz (on 3 lists)

Law & Order (1990-2010) Creator: Dick Wolf (on 6 lists)

Prime Suspect (UK) (1991-2006) Creator: Lynda La Plante (on 3 lists)

Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995) Creators: Bruce Timm & Eric Radomski (on 3 lists)

The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998) Creators: Garry Shandling & Dennis Klein (on 8 lists)


The Real World/Real World (1992- ) Creators: Mary-Elis Bunim & Jonathan Murray (on 4 lists)

Beavis and Butt-head (1993-1997) Creator: Mike Judge (on 4 lists)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) Creator: Rick Berman & Michael Pillar (on 3 lists)

Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-1999) Creator: Paul Attanasio (on 5 lists)

The X-Files (1993-2002) Creator: Chris Carter (on 11 lists)

Frasier (1993-2004) Creators: David Angell, Peter Casey & David Lee (on 7 lists)

NYPD Blue (1993-2005) Creators: Steven Bochco & David Milch (on 5 lists)

My So-Called Life (1994-1995) Creator: Winnie Holzman (on 6 lists)

Friends (1994-2004) Creators: David Crane & Marta Kauffman (on 14 lists)

ER (1994-2009) Creator: Michael Crichton (on 9 lists)

Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005) Creator: Philip Rosenthal (on 4 lists)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) Creator: Joss Whedon (on 13 lists)

Oz (1997-2003) Creator: Tom Fontana (on 7 lists)

South Park (1997- ) Creators: Trey Parker & Matt Stone (on 10 lists)

Sex and the City (1998-2004) Creator: Darren Star (on 10 lists)

Will & Grace (1998-2005, 2017- ) Creators: David Kohan & Max Mutchnick (on 5 lists)

Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) Creator: Paul Feig (on 11 lists)

Spaced (UK) (1999-2001) Creators: Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson & Edgar Wright (on 5 lists)

The West Wing (1999-2006) Creator: Aaron Sorkin (on 11 lists)

The Sopranos (1999-2007) Creator: David Chase (on 17 lists)

Futurama (1999-2013) Creator: Matt Groening (on 5 lists)

The Daily Show with John Stewart (1999-2015) Creators: Madeleine Smithberg & Liz Winstead (on 8 lists)

THE 2000s

Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) Creator: Amy Sherman-Palladino (on 4 lists)

Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-2011, 2017- ) Creator: Larry David (on 11 lists)

Survivor (US) (2000- ) Creator: Charlie Parsons (on 4 lists)

Band of Brothers (2001) Creators: Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks & Stephen E. Ambrose (on 5 lists)

The Office (UK) (2001-2003) Creators: Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant (on 13 lists)

Six Feet Under (2001-2005) Creator: Alan Ball (on 14 lists)

Alias (2001-2006) Creator: J.J. Abrams (on 4 lists)

Scrubs (2001-2010) Creator: Bill Lawrence (on 3 lists)

24 (2001-2010, 2014) Creators: Joel Surnow & Robert Cochran (on 10 lists)

The Wire (2002-2008) Creator: David Simon (on 17 lists)

Firefly (2002) Creator: Joss Whedon (on 6 lists)

The Shield (2002-2008) Creator: Shawn Ryan (on 10 lists)

American Idol (2002- ) Creator: Simon Fuller (on 4 lists)

Chappelle’s Show (2003-2006) Creators: Dave Chappelle & Neil Brennan (on 4 lists)

Arrested Development (2003-2006, 2013) Creator: Mitchell Hurwitz (on 14 lists)

Deadwood (2004-2006) Creator: David Milch (on 12 lists)

Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) Creator: Ronald D. Moore (on 10 lists)

Lost  (2004-2010) Creators: Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams & Damon Lindelof (on 13 lists)

House, M.D. (2004-2012) Creator: David Shore (on 4 lists)

The Office (US) (2005-2013) Creators: Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant (on 8 lists)

The Colbert Report (2005-2014) Creators: Stephen Colbert, Ben Karlin & Jon Stewart (on 3 lists)

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005- ) Creator: Rob McElhenney (on 5 lists)

Planet Earth (UK) (2006) Creator: Alastair Fothergill (on 4 lists)

Friday Night Lights (2006-2011) Creator: Peter Berg (on 8 lists)

30 Rock (2006-2013) Creator: Tina Fey (on 9 lists)

Dexter (2006-2013) Developer: James Manos, Jr. (on 6 lists)

Mad Men (2007-2015) Creator: Matthew Weiner (on 12 lists)

Breaking Bad (2008-2013) Creator: Vince Gilligan (on 15 lists)

Party Down (2009-2010) Creators:  John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge & Paul Rudd (on 4 lists)

Eastbound and Down (2009-2013) Creators: Ben Best, Jody Hill & Danny McBride (on 3 lists)

Community (2009-2015) Creator: Dan Harmon (on 3 lists)

Parks and Recreation (2009-2015) Creators: Greg Daniels & Michael Schur (on 5 lists)

The Good Wife (2009-2016) Creators: Robert King & Michelle King (on 4 lists)

Modern Family (2009- ) Creators: Christopher Lloyd & Steven Levitan (on 5 lists)

Downton Abbey (UK) (2010-2015) Creator: Julian Fellowes (on 6 lists)

Louie (2010-2015 ) Creator: Louis C.K. (on 5 lists)

Justified (2010-2015) Creators: Graham Yost & Elmore Leonard (on 3 lists)

The Walking Dead (2010- ) Creators: Frank Darabont, Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore & Charlie Adlard (on 3 lists)

Sherlock (UK) (2010-2017) Creators: Mark Gatiss & Steven Moffat (on 5 lists)

Homeland (2011- ) Creators: Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa (on 5 lists)

Game of Thrones (2011-2019) Creators: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss (on 12 lists)

Veep (2012- ) Creator: Armando Iannucci (on 4 lists)

House of Cards (2013-2018) Creator: Beau Willlimon (on 5 lists)

The Americans (2013-2018) Creator: Joe Weisberg (on 5 lists)

Orange Is the New Black (2013- ) Creator: Jenji Kohan (on 3 lists)

Fargo (2014-2015, 2017 ) Creator: Noah Hawley (on 5 lists)