The Best TV Shows of All-Time (As of May 2021)

Last Updated on: 31st August 2022, 08:07 am

Everyone has a favorite, but we’re talking about the best TV Shows of all time. In an effort to remain completely unbiased for this one, we’re going to be using a combination of IMDb’s ratings and Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomato-rating-meter-thing. If that isn’t fair, we don’t know what is!

It’s a question almost as old as TV itself, but what is the best TV show of all time? As you can imagine, as more TV shows get released… These lists tend to change. However, it looks like there are some classic TV shows out there that just can’t be topped! Below, we have the Top 10 for you to bicker and argue over.

I’m not sure we will all agree with these, but with these kinds of questions… You can’t throw your opinion into the mix really. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is one of the best TV shows out there. That’s just a fact, okay?

Anyway… Here’s the list. We’re sorry in advance.

Best TV Shows of All-Time (According To IMDb and RT)

For clarity, the way this list has been organized is by using IMDB’s star rating as a basis and altering it based on the Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer” to get a clearer result of the general consensus.

We’re also taking out things like Blue Planet and Cosmos. Documentary series will obviously be rated highly, especially if Sir David Attenborough is going to be talking over them.

10. Sherlock (2010)

IMDb Rating: 9.0

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 78%

Sherlock BBC
Credit: Netflix

Based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this modern take on the world’s greatest detective (that isn’t Batman) is reportedly the tenth-best TV Show out there. Benedict Cumberbatch gives an incredible performance as Sherlock Holmes in this BBC series which perfectly showcases the genius of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, its creators.

9. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009)

IMDb Rating: 9.1

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 100%

This is the second anime TV Show based on the Fullmetal Alchemist manga series and unlike the first Fullmetal Alchemist series, this is a faithful retelling of the manga’s narrative and plotlines.

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The source material has given the series wonderful worldbuilding, a sophisticated emotional intelligence, and epic action sequences that really define the genre.

8. The Sopranos (1999)

IMDb Rating: 9.2

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 92%

Best TV Shows The Sopranos
Credit: IGN YouTube

The Sopranos is only eighth on the list?! We know, we know. This feels like a crime. James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano is inspired and its portrayal of the Godfather-like Italian-American family crime organization is beloved by fans. It’s the oldest TV Show on the list and proof that sometimes, good character work is all you need to make a great TV Show.

6. Game of Thrones (2011)

IMDb Rating: 9.2

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 89%

Ignoring the final season, Game of Thrones really was an event in TV history. It was one of the most expensive TV shows out there and it’s hard to deny that it’s one of the best. It wove together complex narratives and, for a fantasy-based TV Show, it really did well. Unfortunately, though, it’s introduced a new batch of ASOIAF fans waiting for GRRM’s The Winds of Winter novel… Sorry, George.

7. Rick and Morty (2013)

IMDb Rating: 9.2

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 94%

Best TV Shows Rick and Morty
Credit: IMDb

Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, for all their flaws, know how to make a damn good animated TV show. It really is hard to argue that Rick and Morty isn’t one of the best TV shows out there when you think about what it does. It’s painfully witty, full of crude humor, and packed with underlying emotions that often lead to brutally blunt moments that highlight the characters’ flaws and comment on our flaws as a race. For a TV Show with Pickle Rick in it, that’s pretty dark.

5. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005)

IMDb Rating: 9.2

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 97%

Best TV Shows Avatar The Last Airbender
Credit: Deadline

Avatar: The Last Airbender was, and still is, absolutely iconic. It’s an action-adventure-fantasy-comedy-drama set in a mysterious Asiatic world embroiled in war and conflict. Aside from the fact people can “bend” elements, it was a pretty deep TV Show that tackled a lot of themes you don’t often see in this sort of media.

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Its blend of anime animation and Western animation make it a unique TV Show visually too. If you’ve seen Avatar, you know it deserves to be here, and if you haven’t… You really should check it out.

4. The Wire (2002)

IMDb Rating: 9.3

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 94%

Best TV Shows The Wire
Credit: Variety

The Wire is one of those shows that people love to brag about. What makes it special, though, is the fact that it’s been created primarily by a former Police Reporter and it’s loosely based on real-life experiences. This gives it a gritty realism other crime dramas don’t always offer us. It also has season-long themes that help differentiate each one from the last. There are overarching narratives and characters, but the way it tackles each institution differently in each season is truly incredible.

3. Band of Brothers (2001)

IMDb Rating: 9.4

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 94%

Best TV Shows Band of Brothers
Credit: CNN

Following on from Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg collaborated on another ground-breaking Second World War project. This time, it took the real stories of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment and turned them into an award-winning miniseries. Band of Brothers, to put it plainly, is fantastic. It’s emotional, gritty, intense, and an incredible cast carry the weight of the subject matter at hand perfectly. Each prelude interview of a real veteran of the war helps to add even more weight to this intense war drama.

2. Chernobyl (2019)

IMDb Rating: 9.4

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 96%

Best TV Shows Chernobyl
Credit: IndieWire

This dramatization of the Chernobyl Disaster of 1986 is the newest TV Show on our list, but we know that no one will disagree when we say that it’s one of the best TV shows of all time. Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgard, Emily Watson, the late Paul Ritter… The ensemble cast is truly incredible and it is a wonderfully tense retelling of one of the most dangerous national tragedies in recent history. It has been praised for its “creeping dread” and respect for the heroic actions of the ordinary people involved in helping to deal with this horrific incident.

1. Breaking Bad (2008)

IMDb Rating: 9.4

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 96%

Best TV Shows Breaking Bad
Credit: National School of Journalism, Bangalore

Of course, it’s Breaking Bad. Why did we even make this list? Everyone loves Breaking Bad and it’s easy to see why. Bryan Cranston gives the best performance of his career (Sorry, Trumbo) in Breaking Bad as Walter White and Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman is the perfect co-protagonist in this heart-wrenching crime drama that shows a man’s fall into the criminal underworld of Crystal Meth production and all the dangers that come along with it.

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It is a slow-burn drama that rightfully deserves the title of being one of the best TV shows of all time and number one on our list.