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Top Ten Tuesday: Greatest TV Shows Of All-Time


Last week, we ranked the top ten movies of all-time, so now is a good time to make a list for the greatest television shows ever. Again, almost everyone will have their own individual lists, but this is what we came up with. Also, this doesn’t include shows that are primarily comedies like The Office, Friends, or South Park. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments! [Note: descriptions for each particular show will obviously contain spoilers, and clips may be NSFW]

 

10. Better Call Saul (2015- )

 

 

The spinoff prequel to Breaking Bad has more than lived up to expectations through three seasons, as it’s been great to see Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) slowly transform into Saul Goodman. Despite knowing that Jimmy will never be in any real danger because he’s obviously in Breaking Bad, the drama is still top-notch stuff, and Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) brings a ton to the show, too. Also, the flash-forward scenes have given viewers a chance to see small glimpses of Saul/Jimmy’s life in the post-Heisenberg world—and the entire show is only getting deeper.

 

 

9. The Americans (2013- )

 

 

The Americans doesn’t get the recognition it deserves heading into its sixth and final season (which begins tomorrow night on FX), but the series is among the best of all-time. Centered around Russian spies posing as Americans in the 1980s, The Americans is a slow build, but it comes with edge-of-your-seat thrills, particularly when Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) Jennings are working undercover. It also gives an accurate depiction of what life what like in the Soviet Union last century.

 

 

8. True Detective (2014- )

 

 

Anyone who has watched Season 1 of True Detective knows how great it was thanks to stellar acting from leads Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, who played Detective Rust Cohle and Detective Marty Hart, respectively. Both the past and present were beautifully done, and the clip above basically says all you need to know about the quality of the show. People weren’t as keen on Season 2, but it was still better than basically anything on TV, and Season 3 could be a return to form for the Nic Pizzolatto’s HBO hit.

 

 

7. Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014)

 

 

Similar to The Americans occurring around the Cold War in the ‘80s, Boardwalk Empire is based on an accurate historical setting of Atlantic City during Prohibition in the 1920s. Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is at the center of everything that occurs, and was amazing to see him maneuver as a businessman and politician among the likes of real-life gangsters Arnold Rothstein, Al Capone, and Lucky Luciano, among others.

 

 

6. Fargo (2014- )

 

 

Based on the hit movie Fargo, the FX television series is an improvement and expansion of the universe, and it starts off with a bang at the end of the very first episode of a tremendous first season. It’s difficult to see anything ever topping the story of Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) and Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) in Season 1, but even though it’s an anthology series, Season 2 and Season 3 connect in more than one way—with the biggest connection being it all centers around the frozen North Dakota town of Fargo.

 

 

5. Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014)

 

 

HBO is considered the king of television—and rightfully so—, but FX isn’t far behind with some excellent shows over the past decade. Sons of Anarchy is the standout for the network, as Jax Teller’s (Charlie Hunnam) crazy life in SAMCRO, the motorcycle club his father founded, was both exhilarating and tragic. Overall, Sons of Anarchy was extremely realistic and had unbelievable acting, both of which made the series such a masterpiece.

 

 

4. The Wire (2002-2008)

 

 

Speaking of realistic, The Wire portrayed the Baltimore drug scene on both sides of the law, including a close look at the dealers, officers, politicians, education system, and the media. Dominic West received top billing throughout the series for his role as Jimmy McNulty, but there was never really any main character that needed to carry things—it was actually the opposite; McNulty barely appearing in Season 4 didn’t impact the show, and neither did losing two iconic characters with Stringer Bell’s death and Avon Barksdale’s arrest and conviction at the end of Season 3.

 

 

3. The Sorpranos (1999-2007)

 

 

The Sopranos was probably the opposite of The Wire in terms of a single character being important to the series, as Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) was quite literally the namesake for the oldest show on our list. David Chase’s critically-acclaimed drama changed television forever and is largely responsible for the great shows to come after it. Besides sometimes preferring to wear shorts as a don, Tony was basically an old-school mobster with new-age problems, and Gandolfini was perfect for the role.

 

 

2. Breaking Bad (2008-2013)

 

 

Breaking Bad captivated viewers for five seasons as chemistry teacher Walter White went from drug dealer to drug kingpin after a terminal cancer diagnosis, and it will probably be at the top of the list for many people when it comes to the best show ever. The first two seasons can be slow for some, but there’s no denying that from the end of Season 3 to the finale, there are plenty of heart-pounding moments that simply leave your jaw on the floor, including the clip above.

 

 

1. Game of Thrones (2011- )

 

 

All the other shows are awesome, but nothing has or probably ever will touch the greatness of Game of Thrones. The separate storylines have converged as we head into the final season, but the quality has been consistent from Ned Stark beheading a deserter in the first episode to the Night King destroying the Wall in the Season 7 finale. There have been shocking deaths in television shows and movies over the years, but Game of Thrones will kill anyone at anytime, and nothing less than chaos should be expected when Season 8 airs next year. Winter is coming.

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