The Best Television Show from Every Year

by nauru-1 | created - 25 Aug 2017 | updated - 6 months ago | Public

Based on popular and critical acclaim, cultural impact, and subjective judgment. Qualifications are based on year of debut, and with respect to the earlier years the program must have survived in some capacity.

For this list I'm considering fictional programs only.

This effectively excludes: Reality TV Game Shows Talk Shows Documentaries

Sketch Shows count, but their consideration is diminished if predominantly a variety show. A mini-series qualifies as well, but is less likely to be considered if it spans the length akin to a long television movie.

 Refine See titles to watch instantly, titles you haven't rated, etc
  • Instant Watch Options
  • Genres
  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • On TV
  • Release Year
  • Keywords





IMDb user rating (average) to
Number of votes to »




Reset



Reset
Release year or range to »




































































































1. Lights Out (1946–1952)

30 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Lights Out was an extremely popular American old-time radio program, an early example of a network series devoted mostly to horror and the supernatural, predating Suspense and Inner Sanctum... See full summary »

Stars: Frank Gallop, Jack La Rue, Mercer McLeod, Leslie Nielsen

Votes: 113

2. Kraft Theatre (1947–1958)

60 min | Drama

A well-received anthology series presenting live television dramas.

Stars: Vaughn Taylor, Ed Herlihy, Valerie Cossart, E.G. Marshall

Votes: 121

3. Studio One in Hollywood (1948–1958)

60 min | Drama

A pinnacle of the Golden Age of Television, "Studio One" presented a wide range of memorable dramas and received eighteen Emmy nominations and five wins during its prestigious nine-year run... See full summary »

Stars: Betty Furness, Paul Brinson, Paul Branson, Mary Sinclair

Votes: 187

4. The Lone Ranger (1949–1957)

TV-G | 30 min | Western

The adventures of the masked hero and his Native American partner.

Stars: Jay Silverheels, Clayton Moore, John Hart, Chuck Courtney

Votes: 1,834

5. The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950–1958)

30 min | Comedy

Neighbor Blanche Morton frequently joined Gracie in escapades which annoy hubby Harry and provides George with an opportunity to offer a humorous soliloquy.

Stars: George Burns, Gracie Allen, Bea Benaderet, Harry von Zell

Votes: 1,081

alt choice: The Jack Benny Program

6. I Love Lucy (1951–1957)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family

A daffy woman constantly strives to become a star along with her bandleader husband and gets herself in the strangest situations.

Stars: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley

Votes: 20,904

7. The Abbott and Costello Show (1952–1957)

TV-G | 25 min | Comedy, Family, Mystery

Bud and Lou are unemployed actors living in Mr. Fields' boarding house. Lou's girlfriend Hillary lives across the hall. Any premise would lead to slapstick, puns, lots of gimmicks from their movies.

Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Sid Fields, Gordon Jones

Votes: 983

8. Topper (1953–1955)

30 min | Fantasy, Comedy

This series was about a somewhat grumpy and uptight banker, Cosmo Topper, and the ghosts which only he could see or hear, George and Marion Kerby. The Kerbys would often try to get Cosmo to... See full summary »

Stars: Anne Jeffreys, Robert Sterling, Leo G. Carroll, Buck

Votes: 382

9. Sherlock Holmes (1954–1955)

30 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

The adventures of master detective Sherlock Holmes as he and his assistant, Dr. Watson--and, somewhat reluctantly, the bumbling Inspector Lestrade--battle criminals in London.

Stars: Ronald Howard, Howard Marion-Crawford, Archie Duncan, Richard Larke

Votes: 706

10. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962)

TV-14 | 25 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Series of unrelated short stories covering elements of crime, horror, drama, and comedy about people of different backgrounds committing murders, suicides, thefts, and other sorts of crime caused by certain motivations, perceived or not.

Stars: Alfred Hitchcock, Harry Tyler, John Williams, Patricia Hitchcock

Votes: 13,448

alt choice: The Honeymooners/Gunsmoke/The Phil Silvers Show

11. Playhouse 90 (1956–1961)

90 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Of the many anthology series, Playhouse 90 is considered the most ambitious with outstanding talent in front of the camera. Attracting top ranked directors and scripts it was often filmed live including the entire first season.

Stars: Richard Joy, Charles Bickford, Kim Hunter, Malcolm Atterbury

Votes: 248

12. Leave It to Beaver (1957–1963)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family

The misadventures of a suburban boy, family and friends.

Stars: Jerry Mathers, Hugh Beaumont, Barbara Billingsley, Tony Dow

Votes: 6,042

alt choice: Perry Mason

13. The Rifleman (1958–1963)

TV-PG | 30 min | Family, Western

The adventures of a Wild West rancher wielding a customized rapid fire Winchester rifle and his son.

Stars: Chuck Connors, Johnny Crawford, Paul Fix, Joe Benson

Votes: 2,825

14. The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)

TV-PG | 51 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Ordinary people find themselves in extraordinarily astounding situations, which they each try to solve in a remarkable manner.

Stars: Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts, Vaughn Taylor

Votes: 63,765

15. The Andy Griffith Show (1960–1968)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family

Widower Sheriff Andy Taylor, and his son Opie, live with Andy's Aunt Bee in Mayberry, North Carolina. With virtually no crimes to solve, most of Andy's time is spent philosophizing and calming down his cousin Deputy Barney Fife.

Stars: Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, Don Knotts, Frances Bavier

Votes: 10,959

alt choice: Thriller/The Flintstones

16. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family

The misadventures of a TV writer both at work and at home.

Stars: Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam

Votes: 7,915

alt choice: The Avengers

17. The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962–1965)

50 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A continuation of the dramatic anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955) hosted by the Master of Suspense and Mystery.

Stars: Alfred Hitchcock, Hinton Pope, Jimmy Joyce, Lew Brown

Votes: 3,500

alt choice: Combat!

18. Doctor Who (1963–1989)

TV-PG | 45 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

The adventures in time and space of the Doctor, a Time Lord who changes appearance and personality by regenerating when near death, and is joined by companions in battles against aliens and other megalomaniacs.

Stars: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker

Votes: 33,556

alt choice: The Outer Limits

19. The Addams Family (1964–1966)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family, Horror

The misadventures of a blissfully macabre but extremely loving family.

Stars: John Astin, Carolyn Jones, Jackie Coogan, Ted Cassidy

Votes: 12,522

alt choice: The Munsters

20. Get Smart (1965–1970)

TV-G | 25 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

Maxwell Smart, a highly intellectual but bumbling spy working for the CONTROL agency, battles the evil forces of rival spy agency KAOS with the help of his competent partner Agent 99.

Stars: Don Adams, Barbara Feldon, Edward Platt, Robert Karvelas

Votes: 10,045

21. Star Trek: The Original Series (1966–1969)

TV-PG | 50 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

In the 23rd Century, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise explore the galaxy and defend the United Federation of Planets.

Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols

Votes: 67,607

22. The Prisoner (1967–1968)

TV-PG | 50 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

After resigning, a secret agent is abducted and taken to what looks like an idyllic village, but is really a bizarre prison. His warders demand information. He gives them nothing, but only tries to escape.

Stars: Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat, Peter Swanwick, Peter Brace

Votes: 11,612

alt choice: The Carol Burnett Show

23. Dad's Army (1968–1977)

30 min | Comedy, War

A ragtag group of Home Guard volunteers prepare for an imminent German invasion during World War II.

Stars: Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, John Laurie

Votes: 5,062

alt choice: Hawaii Five-O

24. Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969–1974)

TV-14 | 30 min | Comedy

The original surreal sketch comedy showcase for the Monty Python troupe.

Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle

Votes: 61,705

alt choice: Night Gallery/Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

25. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy

The lives and trials of a young single woman and her friends, both at work and at home.

Stars: Mary Tyler Moore, Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Valerie Harper

Votes: 6,202

alt choice: The Odd Couple

26. All in the Family (1971–1979)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

A working class man constantly squabbles with his family over the important issues of the day.

Stars: Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers

Votes: 12,981

alt choice: Columbo

27. M*A*S*H (1972–1983)

TV-PG | 25 min | Comedy, Drama, War

The staff of an Army hospital in the Korean War find that laughter is the best way to deal with their situation.

Stars: Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swit, Jamie Farr

Votes: 47,479

28. Kojak (1973–1978)

TV-PG | 60 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A bald, lollipop sucking police detective with a fiery righteous attitude battles crime in his city.

Stars: Telly Savalas, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas

Votes: 5,900

29. The Rockford Files (1974–1980)

TV-PG | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

The cases of an easy going ex-convict turned private investigator.

Stars: James Garner, Noah Beery Jr., Joe Santos, Luis Delgado

Votes: 6,182

alt choice: Kolchak: The Night Stalker/Happy Days

30. Fawlty Towers (1975–1979)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy

Hotel owner Basil Fawlty's incompetence, short fuse, and arrogance form a combination that ensures accidents and trouble are never far away.

Stars: John Cleese, Prunella Scales, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth

Votes: 78,126

alt choice: Barney Miller

31. SCTV (1976–1981)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy

The staff of Melonville's TV station put on programming that is unique in its own silly way.

Stars: Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas

Votes: 1,900

alt choice: I, Claudius

32. Mind Your Language (1977–1986)

30 min | Comedy

Jeremy Brown is a put-upon language teacher who tries to make a living by teaching English to immigrants. With pupils from India, France, China, and many other countries, his lessons do not... See full summary »

Stars: Barry Evans, George Camiller, Jacki Harding, Zara Nutley

Votes: 6,233

33. WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–1982)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy

The misadventures of the staff of a struggling Top 40 rock radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Stars: Gary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Loni Anderson, Howard Hesseman

Votes: 7,084

alt choice: Taxi/Future Boy Conan

34. The Dukes of Hazzard (1979–1985)

PG | 60 min | Action, Comedy

The adventures of the fast-drivin', rubber-burnin' Duke boys of Hazzard County.

Stars: Tom Wopat, John Schneider, Catherine Bach, Denver Pyle

Votes: 9,726

35. Yes Minister (1980–1984)

TV-PG | 60 min | Comedy

The Right Honorable James Hacker has landed the plum job of Cabinet Minister to the Department of Administration. At last he is in a position of power and can carry out some long-needed reforms, or so he thinks.

Stars: Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne, Derek Fowlds, Diana Hoddinott

Votes: 11,138

36. Only Fools and Horses (1981–2003)

TV-PG | 95 min | Comedy

Comedy that follows two brothers from London's rough Peckham estate as they wheel and deal through a number of dodgy deals and search for the big score that'll make them millionaires.

Stars: David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Roger Lloyd Pack, Buster Merryfield

Votes: 42,184

alt choice: Hill Street Blues

37. Police Squad! (1982)

TV-PG | 24 min | Comedy, Crime

Sight gags and non-sequiturs dominate this spoof of police dramas. The six episodes formed the basis for the very successful "Naked Gun" film franchise.

Stars: Leslie Nielsen, Alan North, Rex Hamilton, Ed Williams

Votes: 14,399

alt choice: Cheers

38. Blackadder (1982–1983)

TV-PG | 195 min | Comedy

In the Middle Ages, Prince Edmund the Black Adder constantly schemes and endeavors to seize the crown from his father and brother.

Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Brian Blessed, Elspet Gray, Tim McInnerny

Votes: 33,109

alt choice: The A-Team

39. The Cosby Show (1984–1992)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family, Romance

The goings-on in the life of a successful African-American family.

Stars: Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Votes: 29,484

alt choice: Miami Vice/Transformers

40. MacGyver (1985–1992)

TV-PG | 48 min | Action, Adventure, Crime

The adventures of a secret Agent armed with almost infinite scientific resourcefulness.

Stars: Richard Dean Anderson, Dana Elcar, Bruce McGill, Robin Mossley

Votes: 33,290

alt choice: The Golden Girls

41. Blackadder II (1986)

TV-PG | 176 min | Comedy

In the Tudor court of Elizabeth I, Lord Edmund Blackadder strives to win Her Majesty's favour while attempting to avoid a grisly fate should he offend her.

Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Tim McInnerny, Miranda Richardson

Votes: 39,822

alt choice: Dragon Ball

42. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994)

TV-PG | 44 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

Set almost 100 years after Captain Kirk's five-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers set off in the U.S.S. Enterprise-D on their own mission to go where no one has gone before.

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton

Votes: 89,520

alt choice: Married with Children/Black Adder the Third

43. The Wonder Years (1988–1993)

TV-PG | 22 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

Kevin Arnold recalls growing up during the late 60s and early 70s; the turbulent social times make the transition from child to adult unusually interesting.

Stars: Fred Savage, Dan Lauria, Daniel Stern, Alley Mills

Votes: 32,236

44. The Simpsons (1989– )

TV-PG | 22 min | Animation, Comedy

The satiric adventures of a working-class family in the misfit city of Springfield.

Stars: Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer, Julie Kavner

Votes: 340,500

alt choice: Seinfeld/Dekalog

45. Twin Peaks (1990–1991)

TV-MA | 47 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

An idiosyncratic FBI agent investigates the murder of a young woman in the even more idiosyncratic town of Twin Peaks.

Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook

Votes: 158,676

46. Rugrats (1990–2006)

TV-Y | 30 min | Animation, Short, Adventure

The cartoon misadventures of four babies and their snotty older cousin as they face the things in life they don't understand.

Stars: Elizabeth Daily, Christine Cavanaugh, Nancy Cartwright, Kath Soucie

Votes: 29,471

alt choice: The Adventures of Tintin

47. Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995)

TV-PG | 23 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

The Dark Knight battles crime in Gotham City with occasional help from Robin and Batgirl.

Stars: Kevin Conroy, Loren Lester, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hastings

Votes: 77,958

alt choice: The Larry Sanders Show/X-Men

48. The X-Files (1993–2018)

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Two F.B.I. Agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained, while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.

Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis

Votes: 186,476

alt choice: Homicide: Life on the Street

49. Friends (1994–2004)

TV-14 | 22 min | Comedy, Romance

Follows the personal and professional lives of six twenty to thirty-something-year-old friends living in Manhattan.

Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc

Votes: 708,658

Neon Genesis Evangelion </