Top 10 best TV shows of all the time

Sometimes, a cozy night at home with your favorite TV show is better than a night in the city. Long before the broadcast took the public to watch full series in a single weekend, there was simply an old bliss of watching TV on primetime, and fan favorites such as “The West Wing” and “The Sopranos” kept to the fans stuck to the week of their sofas after week, year after year, to discover what would happen next. Some programs were so good that fans bought TV decoders on VHS or DVD to watch them again and again to relive the drama or enjoy the laughs.

Now that we have a multitude of streaming services at your fingertips and we can watch TV anytime, anywhere, the content has become even richer and more diverse, pleasing both fans and critics, with successes originals such as “Game of Thrones” and sample resurgence as “Development arrested.”

As we settle in for fall binge-watching season, Stacker is celebrating with a definitive list of the 100 best TV shows of all time, using data from IMDb. The shows with the highest IMDb score are ranked the highest, with #1 being the best TV show of all time, as rated by IMDb users, and with ties broken by the number of votes. For this list, a series had to have at least 50,000 votes.

Caution—this list contains some spoilers.

1. Breaking Bad
– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Years on the air: 2008–2013

The critically acclaimed AMC series “Breaking Bad” turned Walter White into an icon and catapulted Bryan Cranston into cult status for his portrayal of the high-school-teacher-turned-meth-lab-operator. Cranston won four Primetime Emmy Awards for the role. It’s considered one of the greatest TV shows of all-time, having become the most-watched cable TV show on American television, and most critically acclaimed of all time.

2. Game of Thrones
– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Years on the air: 2011-2019

Based on George R.R. Martin’s beloved series of novels, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” this megahit HBO series essentially took on a life of its own. The Emmy Award-winning medieval fantasy epic followed the deadly adventures of two powerful families as they battled for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. It frequently challenged “The Sopranos” in viewership ratings during its first four seasons. The show inspired licensed merchandise, games, replica armor, and boosted sales of the original novels.

3. Rick and Morty
– IMDb user rating: 9.3
– Years on the air: 2013–present

Cartoon Network’s adult animated sci-fi comedy “Rick and Morty” follows the adventures of Rick Sanchez, a mad scientist, and his daughter (Sarah Chalke) and her children. It has received high marks from critics for its creativity, scientific accuracy, and general wackiness, and has a massive cult following.

4. The Wire
– IMDb user rating: 9.3
– Years on the air: 2002–2008

Still cited as , “The Wire” went off the air more than 10 years ago. The acclaimed HBO drama featured a black ensemble cast, helping to launch the careers of Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba, and Michael K. Williams, and took a realistic look at Baltimore and its drug scene, police department, schools, and media.

5. The Sopranos
– IMDb user rating: 9.2
– Years on the air: 1999–2007

The late James Gandolfini led this megahit, award-winning HBO series as Tony Soprano, an Italian American mobster who had to balance family life with organized crime. Edie Falco, Lorraine Bracco, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler co-starred in what some critics think because of its effect on the industry in elevating the art form.

6. Avatar: The Last Airbender
– IMDb user rating: 9.2
– Years on the air: 2005–2008

Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino co-created this anime-inspired American animated show, with the backstory involving the “Avatar,” a person who can “bend” and manipulate all four main elements of air, water, fire, and earth. Aang is the current Avatar, found by Water Tribe siblings Katara and Sokka, 100 years after Aang froze in an iceberg, leaving the world under siege by the Fire Nation. The show was followed up by “The Legend of Korra,” a show set 70 years later about the next Avatar.

7. Sherlock
– IMDb user rating: 9.1
– Years on the air: 2010–present

Benedict Cumberbatch stars at Sherlock Holmes in this popular series based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective series of the same name. Produced as a co-production of BBC and WGBH in Boston for PBS Masterpiece, the show has received praise from critics and fans alike, winning three Primetime Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actor for Cumberbatch. A fifth season may or may not happen.

8. True Detective
– IMDb user rating: 9.0
– Years on the air: 2014–present

In this critically acclaimed anthology crime drama series, new cast ensembles take on challenging crime investigations each season. The first season, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, was called one of the best drama series of the year while other critics said it . Season two stars Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, and Taylor Kitsch; Mahershala Ali is the lead in the third season, with Carmen Ejogo, Stephen Dorff, Scoot McNairy, and Ray Fisher co-starring. A fourth season has not yet been confirmed.

9. Fargo
– IMDb user rating: 9.0
– Years on the air: 2014–present

Based on the Coen brothers film of the same name, “Fargo” is a darkly comedic anthology show about quirky characters in small towns. The award-winning series has and dedication to the absurd.

10. Firefly
– IMDb user rating: 9.0
– Years on the air: 2002–2003

Joss Whedon’s short-lived but beloved futuristic space drama was canceled by Fox, but then became a fan favorite when it was released on DVD. The series featured an ensemble cast (led by Nathan Fillion and won a Primetime Emmy for special effects, and inspired comics and a role-playing game, as well as the 2005 film “Serenity.”

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