TV has taken over the world. More and more networks are investing in original programming to compete for our attention. Which means there’s a lot of competition for what qualifies as a “great” show. So what makes a show the best TV series of all time?
Some would say it’s the endearing anti-hero. Others would argue the platform itself allows storytellers to flesh out their storylines and make their characters more relatable. For us, we created a list of the best TV shows of all time to present our argument.
Check out 17 of the best TV series of the last decade (according to men). These range from crime dramas to comedy shows to adult cartoons. Some of the TV shows on this list are now back for a limited run – hooray!
Watch 17 of the Best TV Series Of the Last Decade | 2017 List
1. The Americans
Synopsis: “The Americans” follow the professional and personal lives of a married couple in Washington, DC, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings. It also chronicles their marriage as they navigate the 1980s as secret Soviet deep-cover sleeper agents while keeping a home with their two unsuspecting, American-born children.
Fun fact: You can expect some level of authenticity in one of the best TV shows of 2017. This spy drama was created and produced by Joe Weinsberg, a former CIA officer.
2. The Walking Dead
Synopsis: Based on the post-apocalyptic zombie novels by Robert Kirkman, “The Walking Dead” follows the lives of a group of survivors led by former sheriff Rick Grimes from the world overrun by zombies and even their fellow survivors.
Fun fact: Celebrities like former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, Anthrax legend Scott Ian, and even A-lister Johnny Depp appeared in the series. Ward played a zombie in Season 3, Ian was put down by Carl Grimes as a zombie in Season 5, while Depp’s head was used as a model to make a decapitated walker’s head.
Synopsis: Only on its second season, Preacher is consistently delivering the dry humor, wit, and violence which is a signature of the Vertigo comic book series original by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. It follows Jessie Custer, a small-town preacher who is on a mission to literally find God.
Fun fact: “Preacher” is a labor of love of pals, actor Seth Rogen and director/producer Evan Goldberg. The duo also worked on the comedy hits “Superbad”, “Knocked Up”, “Pineapple Express”, and “This Is The End”. The show also features another longtime couple, Cooper and Negga, who has since dated and also co-starred in the movie adaptation of the video game series “Warcraft”.
4. Saturday Night Live (SNL)
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) May 26, 2017
Synopsis: The long-running late-night television comedy series has regained its viewership thanks to the caliber of its latest skits. Even bookies think the show would win another round of Emmys. “SNL” also produced some of Hollywood’s finest comedians, including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, and Melissa McCarthy.
Fun fact: Alec Baldwin, who has fascinated audiences (and infuriated some officials) for his impersonation of Donald Trump, has hosted “SNL” a record 17 times. Contrary to public opinion, he has never been an official cast member.
5. Mad Men
Synopsis: Steve Matoren for the Huffington Post said the show mirrors a stark reality about facades people put up, making it one of the best shows ever. “Mad Men” focuses on the world of advertising via the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency in New York, and the professional and personal life of its talented creative director, Don Draper.
Fun Fact: Creator Matt Weiner was hesitant to cast his son Marten as Don Draper’s neighbor, Glen Bishop. Although Marten passed the audition with flying colors, he didn’t even get the special treatment.
6. Breaking Bad
— Breaking Bad (@BreakingBad_AMC) July 11, 2017
Synopsis: This multi-awarded neo-western crime drama showcases a stellar performance by TV star Bryan Cranston, of “Seinfeld” and “Malcolm in the Middle” fame. “Breaking Bad” shows the highs and lows of a chemistry teacher named Walter White, who had succumbed to creating drugs, then built a drug empire as Heisenberg after doctors found out that he has terminal lung cancer.
Fun Fact: Creator Vince Gilligan appears to have based both Walter White and Heisenberg from actual people. Moreover, a man who shares the same name as the show’s titular character landed in Alabama’s Most Wanted list because of his drug empire.
7. The Sopranos
Starting rewatching “The Sopranos” again and STILL consider it to be the perfect series! Soooooooo good! pic.twitter.com/ocP1uJABII
— Don Segberg 🇨🇦 (@DSegberg) July 11, 2017
Synopsis: This crime drama follows a family well deep into the mob business. Led by the late James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, it gave us a peek at how a father tries to balance his home and work lives.
Fun Fact: The episode where Paulie and Christopher went on a simple errand gone wrong was directed by actor Steve Buscemi. Coincidentally, he also stars in another crime series, the Coen brothers’ “Fargo”. Observers have said the snow-covered wilderness scene in “Fargo” appears to have the same elements as of the original.
8. The Wire
“The Wire.” After “Breaking Bad” this is the series I rate as number two. pic.twitter.com/0WJLq8WwT0
— Molete 🇱🇸🇿🇦 (@ThatBrothaMo) July 12, 2017
Synopsis: It’s been almost 9 years since we have been graced with this TV gem, which tackled the relationship between the city of Baltimore to law enforcement.
Fun Fact: Musician Tom Waits, whose song “Way Down in the Hole” was used as the show’s theme song, didn’t see “The Wire” after the show ended. When he did watch the series, he confessed to becoming such a huge fan.
9. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Stars: Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Courtney B. Vance
Synopsis: If there’s one Ryan Murphy series that would appeal to you, it would be this powerful true-to-life retelling of the events surrounding OJ Simpson’s trial. This TV show is based on a book by Jeffrey Toobin, and also touched sensitive topics like racism, power, and privilege that seems timely in our culture today.
Fun Fact: Producers of the show did not contact any of the people featured in “The People v. O.J. Simpson”. According to them, this is because they would want the portrayals of the characters as neutral as possible.
Synopsis: Drugs, violence, and lots and lots of rough sex? What’s not to like about the television series based on the life of Pablo Escobar? This ambitious series of power and corruption has the notorious drug kingpin at the center of it all.
Fun Fact: Escobar’s son, Sebastian, said his father was actually a huge fan of the Deportivo Independiente Medellín football team. In the series, the scriptwriters had Pablo rooting for Atlético Nacional.
Synopsis: This comedy series chronicled the life of a fictionalized version of comedian and star Jerry Seinfeld, and his handful of friends. Dubbed as “The Show About Nothing,” this 90s TV show is a critics’ favorite on several top TV series lists.
Fun Fact: Jerry’s last conversation with George mirrors the first conversation they had on the show. In the first conversation, Jerry comments about the button placement on George’s shirt. When Jerry comments about the same thing in the last conversation, George questions if they had this conversation before.
12. The X-Files
Synopsis: Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are tasked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to work on the “X-Files” or cases that involved the unexplained, and paranormal. It has recently been revived as a limited series and is expected to return in the 2017-2018 season.
Fun Fact: Can you think of anyone who can play the role of Dana Scully? Studio executives reportedly wanted a different actress with “bombshell” looks for the role. Duchovny, on the other hand, thought his friend, “Flashdance” star Jennifer Beals, would be perfect. However, creator Chris Carter remained firm on keeping Anderson for the role.
13. Rick and Morty
Synopsis: This cartoon series documents the intergalactic (and sometimes) domestic lives of a mad scientist named Rick and his easily influenced grandson Morty. Created by voice actor/writer Justin Froiland and “Community” creator Dan Harmon, this sci-fi show is popular for its unique comedy and its parodic homage to “Back To The Future” and “Doctor Who”.
Fun Fact: Matt Groening, the creator of the iconic “The Simpsons” loved the show so much that he had Harmon and Froiland do a couch gag for his show’s 2017 season.
— Archer (@archerfxx) July 10, 2017
Synopsis: The show features Sterling Archer, “the world’s greatest secret agent”, and his relationship with his mom Mallory. This black comedy follows their lives as spies, and eventually drugs and arms dealers, private investigators, CIA agents, and were both even sent back in a different timeline. Much of the show is focused on the hilariously sad relationship between Archer and his mom, and tension between him and special agent Lana Kane.
Fun Fact: Walter was the first actor cast on the show simply because, in Reed’s mind, the character reminded him of the actress. Reed and Walter previously worked on the comedy TV series “Arrested Development”.
15. House of Cards
— House of Cards (@HouseofCards) June 8, 2017
Synopsis: The show follows the rise of American politician Francis “Frank” Underwood, who, along with his equally cold and calculating wife, scheme their way to claim (and retain) the highest seat in Washington. The political topics in the show easily make it one of the best TV shows Netflix has ever invested in.
Fun Fact: The actors behind the Underwoods are no foreigners to holding positions of power. Wright played Wonder Woman’s aunt and Themyscira’s greatest warrior, General Antiope, in DC’s “Wonder Woman”. Spacey himself played President Nixon, also for a film.
16. Family Guy
Synopsis: “Family Guy” features one of America’s iconic families: The Griffins. The show follows parents Peter and Lois, their children Meg, Chris, and Stewie; and their talking pet dog Brian in their everyday life in the fictional city of Quahog in Rhode Island.
Fun Fact: Blink and you’ll miss it. Supposedly, every episode of the series had at least one character saying “what the hell” to another character.
17. Game of Thrones
Synopsis: Who says that this epic fantasy drama is not one of the best TV shows of all time? Based on George RR Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” novels, it chronicles the power struggle between royal families for the Iron Throne and royal birthrights. The show’s seventh season will premiere on July 16th.
Fun Fact: Actor Iwan Rheon said in an interview that he was actually the runner-up to play Jon Snow. The role obviously went to Harington, and he played Ramsay Bolton instead. He has since moved on from the show to play another kind of villain in “Marvel’s The Inhumans”.
Can’t get enough of this list? Check out WatchMojo’s top 10 list of decade-defining TV shows in the 2010s:
Critics have said the golden age of television is approaching to an end. But looking at the number of new TV shows that have made our all-decade list, it looks like we’re entering a new golden age of programming. TV is getting bigger, bolder, and better. As more and more viewers demand top-tier content, expect more TV shows with intriguing storylines that will have the ability to draw us in the open, and leave us wanting for more.
Did your favorite TV show make it on our list? Which shows you think should have been here instead? Let us know in the comments section below.