best tv series in history

Top 10 Best TV Series of All Time

TV Series are the little brother of movies. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less popular or valued. In fact, many believe that we’re living in the ‘golden age of drama series’ which will subsequently lead to the complete replacement of the “big screen” in favor of the “small screen”. TV Series today are of course not necessarily watched on television but increasingly streamed on popular streaming services such as Netflix or Prime. And these platforms bring out several new series and shows to watch on a weekly basis. But what are the best TV Series of all time? Our updated Top 10 ranking of the best TV Series in history will show you just that.

Note: The ranking of the best TV series of all time is based on the average ratings a finished series has received on the leading critics websites (IMDb, Metacritic & Rotten Tomatoes). The same system is used as for our Top 10 Ranking of the Best Movies of all Time. A series has to have concluded at least two full seasons to be considered for this all-time best TV Series ranking.

The 10 Best TV Series of All Time

the best tv series of all time

1. Breaking Bad

breaking bad - best tv series of all time

Average Rating: 9.7/10

Running period: 2008 – 2013
Number of Seasons: 5
Number of Episodes:
62

Created by: Vince Gilligan
Genre:
Crime Drama
Original network: AMC

Breaking Bad is the best-rated TV Series of all time. The show follows an underachieving high school chemistry teacher (played by Bryan Cranston) who receives a lung cancer diagnosis around his 50th birthday. Not wanting to leave behind his family in debt, he turns to cooking meth.


2. Planet Earth

planet earth - second best tv show in history

Average Rating: 9.5/10

Running period: 2006 & 2016
Number of Seasons: 2
Number of Episodes:
17

Created by: David Attenborough
Genre:
Nature Documentary
Original network: BBC

British filmmaker David Attenborough’s nature documentary “Planet Earth” is the second best-rated TV show in history. In 17 episodes, the show shows the beauty and wonders provided by our planet.


3. The Blue Planet

the blue planet - third best tv show in history

Average Rating: 9.5/10

Running period: 2001 & 2017
Number of Seasons: 2
Number of Episodes:
15

Created by: David Attenborough
Genre:
Nature Documentary
Original network: BBC

The Blue Planet is another nature documentary about our planet created by David Attenborough. Just as fascinating and interesting as “Planet Earth”, the 15-episodes long The Blue Planet lands in third place in the Top 10 of best TV series of all time.


4. The Sopranos

the sopranos - fourth best tv series of all time

Average Rating: 9.3/10

Running period: 1999 – 2007
Number of Seasons: 6
Number of Episodes:
86

Created by: David Chase
Genre:
Crime Drama
Original network: HBO

The HBO series The Sopranos is the fourth best overall and second best crime drama series in history. The show follows New Jersey mafia boss Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini) in his daily family and mob life. The show is praised for its realistic depiction of life in the American mafia.


5. The Wire

the wire - fifth best tv series of all time

Average Rating: 9.3/10

Running period: 2002 – 2008
Number of Seasons: 5
Number of Episodes:
60

Created by: David Simon
Genre:
Crime Drama
Original network: HBO

The Top 5 is completed by The Wire. Another crime drama series, The Wire is set in Baltimore and shows different perspectives on the crime epidemic that the American city is unfortunately known for.



6. Better Call Saul

Text "Better Call Saul" with drawn set of balance scales to the right

Average Rating: 9.1/10

Running period: 2015 – 2022
Number of Seasons: 6
Number of Episodes:
63

Created by: Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould
Genre:
Crime Drama
Original network: AMC

Spin-off series are usually never as good as the original and very often outright bad. Better Call Saul is definitely not an example of that rule. The prequel to the current number 1 in the best TV Series of all time ranking, Breaking Bad, shows the same strengths as the original. No wonder when you consider Better Call Saul is co-written by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan.


7. Rick and Morty

rick and morty - best animated tv series of all time

Average Rating: 9.1/10

Running period: 2013 – ongoing
Number of Seasons: 6
Number of Episodes:
53

Created by: Daniel Harmon & Justin Roiland
Genre:
Animated Sitcom
Original network: Adult Swim

Ever since debuting on Adult Swim in 2013, Rick and Morty truly has turned itself into a cultural phenomenon. The animated sitcom includes elements of science fiction, all wrapped up in a lot of comedy, following the adventures of crazy-mad scientist Rick Sanchez and his grandson Morty Smith.


8. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones - best fantasy series of all time

Average Rating: 8.9/10

Running period: 2011 – 2019
Number of Seasons: 8
Number of Episodes:
73

Created by: David Benioff & Daniel Weiss
Genre:
Fantasy
Original network: HBO

Based on the novel series “A Song Of Ice And Fire” by author George Martin, Game of Thrones proved that the Fantasy genre can also be turned into a master class on the small screen. Even though the last season was a huge disappointment, the show will overall be remembered for its thought-provoking, intelligent, sometimes outright shocking, and never boring plot.


9. Fargo

Average Rating: 8.9/10

Running period: 2014 – ongoing
Number of Seasons: 4
Number of Episodes:
41

Created by: Noah Hawley
Genre:
Anthological Crime Drama
Original network: FX

Based on the original 1996 movie ‘Fargo’ by the Coen brothers, the series of the same name is truly “something else”. The anthological crime drama follows the events of different characters in different towns in different time periods, who are however still connected to each other in some ways.


10. Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire

Average Rating: 8.8/10

Running period: 2010 – 2014
Number of Seasons: 5
Number of Episodes:
56

Created by: Terence Winter
Genre:
Crime Drama
Original network: HBO

Boardwalk Empire is set in the 1920s during the Prohibition era in the United States. Over five strong seasons, the show shows the origins of the American Mafia, packed into strong dialogues and exciting, yet realistic action.


The 10 Best TV Series of All Time
(at a glance)

(as of September 2022)

Top 10 Best TV Series of All Time:
1. BREAKING BAD
Average Rating: 9.7/10
2. PLANET EARTH
Average Rating: 9.5/10
3. THE BLUE PLANET
Average Rating: 9.5/10
4. THE SOPRANOS
Average Rating: 9.3/10
5. THE WIRE
Average Rating: 9.3/10
6. BETTER CALL SAUL
Average Rating: 9.1/10
7. RICK AND MORTY
Average Rating: 9.1/10
8. GAME OF THRONES
Average Rating: 8.9/10
9. FARGO
Average Rating: 8.9/10
10. BOARDWALK EMPIRE
Average Rating: 8.8/10

Best TV Series of all time based on the aggregated average ranking for each series given on IMDb, Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes.
Tiebreaker: More episodes


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