This list celebrates the 10 greatest TV shows in the history of the medium, those shows that innovated and revolutionized small-screen entertainment, by way of outrageous, ground-breaking concepts, award-winning acting, and ambitious storytelling that toyed with the very idea of exactly what could or couldn’t be talked about and shown on TV.
10. The Simpsons (1989-Present)
The Simpsons is an animated sitcom about the antics of a dysfunctional family called the Simpsons. Homer is the oafish unhealthy beer loving father, Marge is the hardworking homemaker wife, Bart is the ten-year-old underachiever (and proud of it), Lisa is the unappreciated eight-year-old genius, and Maggie is the cute, pacifier loving silent infant.
9. Mad Men (2007-2015)
The professional and personal lives of those who work in advertising on Madison Avenue – self-coined “mad men” – in the 1960s are presented. The stories focus on those at one of the avenue’s smaller firms, Sterling Cooper, and its various incarnations over the decade. At the heart of these stories is Donald Draper, the creative genius of the company.
8. I Love Lucy (1951-1957)
Cuban Bandleader Ricky Ricardo would be happy if his wife Lucy would just be a housewife. Instead, she tries constantly to perform at the Tropicana where he works and make life comically frantic in the apartment building they share with landlords Fred and Ethel Mertz.
7. Saturday Night Live (1975-Present)
A late-night comedy show featuring several short skits, parodies of television commercials, a live guest band, and a pop-cultural guest host each week. Many of the SNL players have spun off successful independent comedy and/or movie careers from here.
6. The Sopranos (1999-2007)
Modern day morality tale about New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano, as he deals with personal and professional issues in his home and business life. This serial is presented largely first person, but additional perspective is conveyed by the intimate conversations Tony has with his psychotherapist. We see Tony at work, at home, and in therapy. Moments of black comedy intersperse this aggressive, adult drama, with adult language, and extreme violence.
5. Seinfeld (1989-1998)
Jerry Seinfeld stars in this television comedy series as himself, a comedian. The premise of this sitcom is Jerry and his friends going through everyday life, discussing various quirky situations that we can all relate to. The eccentric personalities of the offbeat characters who make up Jerry’s social circle contribute to the fun.
4. Game of Thrones (2011–Present)
While a civil war brews between several noble families in Westeros, the children of the former rulers of the land attempt to rise up to power. Meanwhile, a forgotten race, bent on destruction, plans to return after thousands of years in the North.
3. The X-Files (1993–2002)
FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are different: Mulder is a believer in the paranormal while Scully is not. Together, they investigate paranormal cases which take them all the way to alien conspiracies within the U.S. government and even puts their lives and careers at risk. Together, they try to solve the mysteries within the U.S. government, no matter what they have to do, and along the way they try to solve any other case that’s related to the paranormal.
2. Breaking Bad (2008–2013)
When chemistry teacher Walter White is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given only two years to live, he decides he has nothing to lose. Determined to ensure that his family will have a secure future, Walt embarks on a career of drugs and crime. He proves to be remarkably proficient in this new world as he begins manufacturing and selling methamphetamine with one of his former students. The series tracks the impacts of a fatal diagnosis on a regular, hard working man, and explores how a fatal diagnosis affects his morality and transforms him into a major player in the drug trade.
1. Friends (1994–2004)
Rachel Green, Ross Geller, Monica Geller, Joey Tribbiani, Chandler Bing and Phoebe Buffay are all friends, living off of one another in the heart of New York City. Over the course of ten years, this average group of buddies goes through massive mayhem, family trouble, past and future romances, fights, laughs, tears and surprises as they learn what it really means to be a friend.