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Best TV Shows of All Time

23 TV & Movies | by Business Insider

I Love Lucy

I Love Lucy

Comedy

I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, on the Columbia Broadcasting System. After the series ended in 1957, however, a modified version continued for three more seasons with 13 one-hour specials, running from 1957 to 1960, known first as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and later in reruns as The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour. I Love Lucy was the most watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and was the first to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings. I Love Lucy is still syndicated in dozens of languages across the world. The show was the first scripted television program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, and won five Emmy Awards and received numerous nominations. In 2002, it ranked second on TV Guide's list of television's greatest shows, behind Seinfeld and ahead of The Honeymooners. In 2007, it was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME." I Love Lucy remains popular, with an American audience of 40 million each year.
The Wire

The Wire

Drama, Crime

Told from the points of view of both the Baltimore homicide and narcotics detectives and their targets, the series captures a universe in which the national war on drugs has become a permanent, self-sustaining bureaucracy, and distinctions between good and evil are routinely obliterated.
Seinfeld

Seinfeld

Comedy

Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998. It lasted nine seasons, and is now in syndication. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself. Set predominantly in an apartment block in Manhattan's Upper West Side in New York City, the show features a handful of Jerry's friends and acquaintances, particularly best friend George Costanza, former girlfriend Elaine Benes, and neighbor across the hall Cosmo Kramer.
The Simpsons

The Simpsons

Animation, Comedy

Set in Springfield, the average American town, the show focuses on the antics and everyday adventures of the Simpson family; Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, as well as a virtual cast of thousands. Since the beginning, the series has been a pop culture icon, attracting hundreds of celebrities to guest star. The show has also made name for itself in its fearless satirical take on politics, media and American life in general.
Mad Men

Mad Men

Drama

Mad Men is set in the 1960s, initially at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City, and later at the newly created firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, located nearby in the Time-Life Building, at 1271 Avenue of the Americas. According to the show's pilot, the phrase "mad men" was a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue to refer to themselves. The focal point of the series is Don Draper, creative director at Sterling Cooper and a founding partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and the people in his life, both in and out of the office. The plot focuses on the business of the agencies as well as the personal lives of the characters, regularly depicting the changing moods and social mores of the United States in the 1960s.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Comedy, Drama

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series which aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. The series was created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production tag, Mutant Enemy Productions with later co-executive producers being Jane Espenson, David Fury, David Greenwalt, Doug Petrie, Marti Noxon, and David Solomon. The series narrative follows Buffy Summers, the latest in a line of young women known as "Vampire Slayers" or simply "Slayers". In the story, Slayers are "called" to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. Like previous Slayers, Buffy is aided by a Watcher, who guides, teaches, and trains her. Unlike her predecessors, Buffy surrounds herself with a circle of loyal friends who become known as the "Scooby Gang".
All in the Family

All in the Family

Comedy

Archie Bunker, a working class bigot, constantly squabbles with his family over the important issues of the day.
Lost

Lost

Action & Adventure, Drama

Lost is an American television series that originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, over six seasons which contained a total of 121 episodes. Lost is a drama series containing elements of science fiction and the supernatural that follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. The story is told in a heavily serialized manner. Episodes typically feature a primary storyline on the island, as well as a secondary storyline from another point in a character's life.
O.J.: Made in America

O.J.: Made in America

Documentary

The rise and fall of American football star, O.J. Simpson, from his days growing up in Los Angeles to his murder trial that polarized the country.
The Leftovers

The Leftovers

Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Drama

When 2% of the world's population abruptly disappears without explanation, the world struggles to understand just what they're supposed to do about it. The drama series 'The Leftovers' is the story of the people who didn't make the cut. Based on the bestselling novel by Tom Perrotta, 'The Leftovers' follows Kevin Garvey, a father of two and the chief of police in a small New York suburb, as he tries to maintain some semblance of normalcy when the notion no longer applies.
The Andy Griffith Show

The Andy Griffith Show

Comedy

The Andy Griffith Show is an American sitcom first televised on CBS between October 3, 1960 and April 1, 1968. Andy Griffith portrays the widowed sheriff of the fictional small community of Mayberry, North Carolina. His life is complicated by an inept, but well-meaning deputy, Barney Fife, a spinster aunt and housekeeper, Aunt Bee, and a precocious young son, Opie. Local ne'er-do-wells, bumbling pals, and temperamental girlfriends further complicate his life. Andy Griffith stated in a Today Show interview, with respect to the time period of the show: "Well, though we never said it, and though it was shot in the '60s, it had a feeling of the '30s. It was when we were doing it, of a time gone by." The series never placed lower than seventh in the Nielsen ratings and ended its final season at number one. It has been ranked by TV Guide as the 9th-best show in American television history. Though neither Griffith nor the show won awards during its eight-season run, series co-stars Knotts and Bavier accumulated a combined total of six Emmy Awards. The show, a semi-spin-off from an episode of The Danny Thomas Show titled "Danny Meets Andy Griffith", spawned its own spin-off series, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a sequel series, Mayberry R.F.D., and a reunion telemovie, Return to Mayberry. The show's enduring popularity has generated a good deal of show-related merchandise. Reruns currently air on TV Land, and the complete series is available on DVD. All eight seasons are also now available by streaming video services such as Netflix.
SpongeBob SquarePants

SpongeBob SquarePants

Animation, Comedy

Deep down in the Pacific Ocean in the subterranean city of Bikini Bottom lives a square yellow sponge named SpongeBob SquarePants. SpongeBob lives in a pineapple with his pet snail, Gary, loves his job as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab, and has a knack for getting into all kinds of trouble without really trying. When he's not getting on the nerves of his cranky next door neighbor Squidward, SpongeBob can usually be found smack in the middle of all sorts of strange situations with his best buddy, the simple yet lovable starfish, Patrick, or his thrill-seeking surfer-girl squirrel pal, Sandy Cheeks.
The Sopranos

The Sopranos

Drama

The Sopranos is an American television drama created by David Chase. The series revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads. Those difficulties are often highlighted through his ongoing professional relationship with psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi. The show features Tony's family members and Mafia associates in prominent roles and story arcs, most notably his wife Carmela and his cousin and protégé Christopher Moltisanti.
Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

Drama

Breaking Bad is an American crime drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. Set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine, in order to secure his family's financial future before he dies, teaming with his former student, Jesse Pinkman. Heavily serialized, the series is known for positioning its characters in seemingly inextricable corners and has been labeled a contemporary western by its creator.
Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Comedy

The off-kilter, unscripted comic vision of Larry David, who plays himself in a parallel universe in which he can't seem to do anything right, and, by his standards, neither can anyone else.
Futurama

Futurama

Animation, Comedy

The adventures of a late-20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J. Fry, who, after being unwittingly cryogenically frozen for one thousand years, finds employment at Planet Express, an interplanetary delivery company in the retro-futuristic 31st century.
Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

Drama, Mystery

The body of Laura Palmer is washed up on a beach near the small Washington state town of Twin Peaks. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called in to investigate her strange demise only to uncover a web of mystery that ultimately leads him deep into the heart of the surrounding woodland and his very own soul.
Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Drama

Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros. Friction between the houses leads to full-scale war. All while a very ancient evil awakens in the farthest north. Amidst the war, a neglected military order of misfits, the Night's Watch, is all that stands between the realms of men and icy horrors beyond.
The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone

Drama, Mystery

A series of unrelated stories containing drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and/or horror, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist.
Roots

Roots

Drama

An adaptation of Alex Haley's "Roots", chronicling the history of an African slave, Kunta Kinte sold to America and his descendants.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

Documentary

Robert Durst, scion of one of New York’s billionaire real estate families, has been accused of three murders but never convicted. Brilliant, reclusive, and the subject of relentless media scrutiny, he’s never spoken publicly—until now. During interviews with Andrew Jarecki, he reveals secrets of the case that baffled authorities for 30 years. In 2010, Jarecki made the narrative film All Good Things based on the infamous story of Robert Durst. After Durst saw the film, he contacted Jarecki wanting to tell his story. What began as a feature documentary ultimately became a six-part series as more and more of his incredible story was revealed.
The Office

The Office

Comedy

The everyday lives of office employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Comedy

The Mary Tyler Moore Show is an American television sitcom created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns that aired on CBS from 1970 to 1977. The program was a television breakthrough, with the first never-married, independent career woman as the central character: "As Mary Richards, a single woman in her thirties, Moore presented a character different from other single TV women of the time. She was not widowed or divorced or seeking a man to support her." It has also been cited as "one of the most acclaimed television programs ever produced" in US television history. It received high praise from critics, including Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row, and continued to be honored long after the final episode aired.
I Love Lucy

I Love Lucy

Comedy

I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, on the Columbia Broadcasting System. After the series ended in 1957, however, a modified version continued for three more seasons with 13 one-hour specials, running from 1957 to 1960, known first as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and later in reruns as The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour. I Love Lucy was the most watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and was the first to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings. I Love Lucy is still syndicated in dozens of languages across the world. The show was the first scripted television program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, and won five Emmy Awards and received numerous nominations. In 2002, it ranked second on TV Guide's list of television's greatest shows, behind Seinfeld and ahead of The Honeymooners. In 2007, it was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME." I Love Lucy remains popular, with an American audience of 40 million each year.
The Sopranos

The Sopranos

Drama

The Sopranos is an American television drama created by David Chase. The series revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads. Those difficulties are often highlighted through his ongoing professional relationship with psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi. The show features Tony's family members and Mafia associates in prominent roles and story arcs, most notably his wife Carmela and his cousin and protégé Christopher Moltisanti.
The Wire

The Wire

Drama, Crime

Told from the points of view of both the Baltimore homicide and narcotics detectives and their targets, the series captures a universe in which the national war on drugs has become a permanent, self-sustaining bureaucracy, and distinctions between good and evil are routinely obliterated.
Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

Drama

Breaking Bad is an American crime drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. Set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine, in order to secure his family's financial future before he dies, teaming with his former student, Jesse Pinkman. Heavily serialized, the series is known for positioning its characters in seemingly inextricable corners and has been labeled a contemporary western by its creator.
Seinfeld

Seinfeld

Comedy

Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998. It lasted nine seasons, and is now in syndication. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself. Set predominantly in an apartment block in Manhattan's Upper West Side in New York City, the show features a handful of Jerry's friends and acquaintances, particularly best friend George Costanza, former girlfriend Elaine Benes, and neighbor across the hall Cosmo Kramer.
Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Comedy

The off-kilter, unscripted comic vision of Larry David, who plays himself in a parallel universe in which he can't seem to do anything right, and, by his standards, neither can anyone else.
The Simpsons

The Simpsons

Animation, Comedy

Set in Springfield, the average American town, the show focuses on the antics and everyday adventures of the Simpson family; Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, as well as a virtual cast of thousands. Since the beginning, the series has been a pop culture icon, attracting hundreds of celebrities to guest star. The show has also made name for itself in its fearless satirical take on politics, media and American life in general.
Futurama

Futurama

Animation, Comedy

The adventures of a late-20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J. Fry, who, after being unwittingly cryogenically frozen for one thousand years, finds employment at Planet Express, an interplanetary delivery company in the retro-futuristic 31st century.
Mad Men

Mad Men

Drama

Mad Men is set in the 1960s, initially at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City, and later at the newly created firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, located nearby in the Time-Life Building, at 1271 Avenue of the Americas. According to the show's pilot, the phrase "mad men" was a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue to refer to themselves. The focal point of the series is Don Draper, creative director at Sterling Cooper and a founding partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and the people in his life, both in and out of the office. The plot focuses on the business of the agencies as well as the personal lives of the characters, regularly depicting the changing moods and social mores of the United States in the 1960s.
Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

Drama, Mystery

The body of Laura Palmer is washed up on a beach near the small Washington state town of Twin Peaks. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called in to investigate her strange demise only to uncover a web of mystery that ultimately leads him deep into the heart of the surrounding woodland and his very own soul.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Comedy, Drama

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series which aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. The series was created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production tag, Mutant Enemy Productions with later co-executive producers being Jane Espenson, David Fury, David Greenwalt, Doug Petrie, Marti Noxon, and David Solomon. The series narrative follows Buffy Summers, the latest in a line of young women known as "Vampire Slayers" or simply "Slayers". In the story, Slayers are "called" to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. Like previous Slayers, Buffy is aided by a Watcher, who guides, teaches, and trains her. Unlike her predecessors, Buffy surrounds herself with a circle of loyal friends who become known as the "Scooby Gang".
Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Drama

Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros. Friction between the houses leads to full-scale war. All while a very ancient evil awakens in the farthest north. Amidst the war, a neglected military order of misfits, the Night's Watch, is all that stands between the realms of men and icy horrors beyond.
All in the Family

All in the Family

Comedy

Archie Bunker, a working class bigot, constantly squabbles with his family over the important issues of the day.
The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone

Drama, Mystery

A series of unrelated stories containing drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and/or horror, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist.
Lost

Lost

Action & Adventure, Drama

Lost is an American television series that originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, over six seasons which contained a total of 121 episodes. Lost is a drama series containing elements of science fiction and the supernatural that follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. The story is told in a heavily serialized manner. Episodes typically feature a primary storyline on the island, as well as a secondary storyline from another point in a character's life.
Roots

Roots

Drama

An adaptation of Alex Haley's "Roots", chronicling the history of an African slave, Kunta Kinte sold to America and his descendants.
O.J.: Made in America

O.J.: Made in America

Documentary

The rise and fall of American football star, O.J. Simpson, from his days growing up in Los Angeles to his murder trial that polarized the country.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

Documentary

Robert Durst, scion of one of New York’s billionaire real estate families, has been accused of three murders but never convicted. Brilliant, reclusive, and the subject of relentless media scrutiny, he’s never spoken publicly—until now. During interviews with Andrew Jarecki, he reveals secrets of the case that baffled authorities for 30 years. In 2010, Jarecki made the narrative film All Good Things based on the infamous story of Robert Durst. After Durst saw the film, he contacted Jarecki wanting to tell his story. What began as a feature documentary ultimately became a six-part series as more and more of his incredible story was revealed.
The Leftovers

The Leftovers

Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Drama

When 2% of the world's population abruptly disappears without explanation, the world struggles to understand just what they're supposed to do about it. The drama series 'The Leftovers' is the story of the people who didn't make the cut. Based on the bestselling novel by Tom Perrotta, 'The Leftovers' follows Kevin Garvey, a father of two and the chief of police in a small New York suburb, as he tries to maintain some semblance of normalcy when the notion no longer applies.
The Office

The Office

Comedy

The everyday lives of office employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
The Andy Griffith Show

The Andy Griffith Show

Comedy

The Andy Griffith Show is an American sitcom first televised on CBS between October 3, 1960 and April 1, 1968. Andy Griffith portrays the widowed sheriff of the fictional small community of Mayberry, North Carolina. His life is complicated by an inept, but well-meaning deputy, Barney Fife, a spinster aunt and housekeeper, Aunt Bee, and a precocious young son, Opie. Local ne'er-do-wells, bumbling pals, and temperamental girlfriends further complicate his life. Andy Griffith stated in a Today Show interview, with respect to the time period of the show: "Well, though we never said it, and though it was shot in the '60s, it had a feeling of the '30s. It was when we were doing it, of a time gone by." The series never placed lower than seventh in the Nielsen ratings and ended its final season at number one. It has been ranked by TV Guide as the 9th-best show in American television history. Though neither Griffith nor the show won awards during its eight-season run, series co-stars Knotts and Bavier accumulated a combined total of six Emmy Awards. The show, a semi-spin-off from an episode of The Danny Thomas Show titled "Danny Meets Andy Griffith", spawned its own spin-off series, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a sequel series, Mayberry R.F.D., and a reunion telemovie, Return to Mayberry. The show's enduring popularity has generated a good deal of show-related merchandise. Reruns currently air on TV Land, and the complete series is available on DVD. All eight seasons are also now available by streaming video services such as Netflix.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Comedy

The Mary Tyler Moore Show is an American television sitcom created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns that aired on CBS from 1970 to 1977. The program was a television breakthrough, with the first never-married, independent career woman as the central character: "As Mary Richards, a single woman in her thirties, Moore presented a character different from other single TV women of the time. She was not widowed or divorced or seeking a man to support her." It has also been cited as "one of the most acclaimed television programs ever produced" in US television history. It received high praise from critics, including Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row, and continued to be honored long after the final episode aired.
SpongeBob SquarePants

SpongeBob SquarePants

Animation, Comedy

Deep down in the Pacific Ocean in the subterranean city of Bikini Bottom lives a square yellow sponge named SpongeBob SquarePants. SpongeBob lives in a pineapple with his pet snail, Gary, loves his job as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab, and has a knack for getting into all kinds of trouble without really trying. When he's not getting on the nerves of his cranky next door neighbor Squidward, SpongeBob can usually be found smack in the middle of all sorts of strange situations with his best buddy, the simple yet lovable starfish, Patrick, or his thrill-seeking surfer-girl squirrel pal, Sandy Cheeks.