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September 3, 2015

Here's a list of the top 50 dramas of all-time (OK, maybe 45) - VIDEO

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 25th 2009 2:10PM
The X-FilesQuestion: Is The Sopranos the best drama in the history of television, or is it one of the best dramas in the history of television that often gets the top spot because it's fairly recent?

That's one of the questions to ponder as you read AOL's Top 50 Dramas Of All-Time list. The Sopranos comes in at number one.

It's not a bad list, actually. When you narrow down a TV show to a specific genre and go all the way up to 50, most of the shows we would all pick will show up on the list: The X-Files, Deadwood, The Rockford Files, Mad Men, St. Elsewhere, Columbo, The Wire. Those are all classic dramas (and good ones) that you would expect to see.

One thing I didn't expect to see? Friday Night Lights in the number 10 spot, ahead of all the shows I just mentioned above.

Mad Men

I don't think I'd put Friday Night Lights that high on the list. Not because it has only been on for two seasons. After all, I'd put Mad Men on the list and it's only two seasons long, as well. But I don't think that FNL has had that all-encompassing effect on the television/pop culture landscape that Mad Men has had, and I certainly wouldn't put it ahead of The X-Files, Columbo, or The Wire (I know, different types of dramas, but still...)

Really happy to see The Fugitive on the list (much better than the movie), as well as The Rockford Files.

Magnum, P.I.I've been sitting here trying to figure out what's missing from this list. It's a fairly accurate representation of TV dramas over the past 50 years or so, though I guess some dramas were forgotten.

How about Magnum, P.I.? Sure, there was a lot of comedy on the show too, but if you're going to put Moonlighting and Desperate Housewives on the list (and DH has often been called a comedy), I think Magnum should be on there, too (and it ran for eight seasons). I'm impressed that the list goes back far enough to include shows like Dr. Kildare and The Untouchables, though the 50s should be represented by anthology dramas like Studio One and Playhouse 90.

A lot of people would like to lump Magnum, P.I. into a "cheesy" category because it's from the 80s and it featured a sports car and it had beautiful girls in it and all that, but it's a very solid drama. I wanted to find an episode to post here but couldn't find one to embed (same with The Twilight Zone below). Instead, gaze at the faces of Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Larry Manetti, and Roger E. Mosley.

Twilight ZoneAnd since we're talking about anthology dramas, where the heck is The Twilight Zone? It's not as if sci-fi/horror dramas would be in a separate category, because The X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek: The Next Generation did make the list.

Still not sure how The Mod Squad made the list. House fans might be a little ticked off that it beat that show by a few spots. I'm sure we could all think of many shows that could go into that Mod Squad spot (though I liked the show).

This is probably my biggest beef with an otherwise respectable list, no love for Rod Serling. I could probably name a lot of other shows I liked better than about 15 that they picked, but it would be more about my personal favorites than a definite best.

Which show is missing from the list?
The Twilight Zone63 (16.8%)
Dexter194 (51.9%)
Star Trek: TOS24 (6.4%)
Masterpiece Theatre8 (2.1%)
The Prisoner26 (7.0%)
Studio One/Playhouse 901 (0.3%)
Magnum, P.I.35 (9.4%)
Other (say in comments)23 (6.1%)

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Dark Shadows
1966-71 ABC-Tv
1991 NBC-Tv
The gothic, super-natural, time travelling, spooky soap opera about the Collins family who live/reside in the haunted/cursed Collinwood mansion/estate in Collinsport, Maine - along with witches, ghosts, zombies, and Vampire Barnabas Collins.

and the show V which is getting a re-make so YAY !!!

GLAD to see the Waltons made the list.

March 26 2009 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love the Twilight Zone and I was born many many years after it went off the air. I always look forward to the marathons on tv. Such a clever, if sometimes predictable show. I wish there was a modern day show like it.

March 26 2009 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


There were two big hits in 2006, Heroes and Jericho.

Heroes 2nd season was dreadful but got a renewal, Jericho's 2nd season was Incredible and once again it got the axe.

March 26 2009 at 8:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Sopranos the best ever? I have a feeling Big Love will end up being the superior HBO series when everything's said and done.

Mad Men is the American Beauty of tv series. In a few years, people are going to look back and say "What was the big deal? Why did we think it was so great?"

24 is 42nd? I get the joke.

March 26 2009 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Rome and Millennium would be my 2 biggest omissions.

I loved the Sopranos, but I wouldn't even consider it the #1 drama that was on HBO.

March 25 2009 at 7:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Where is Alias???? That was a show beyond it's time - and LOST should be #2

March 25 2009 at 6:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There are some modern dramas that are excellent which are missing from the list:

Big Love (3 seasons in so it's not new anymore)
Breaking Bad (Only 3 eps into season 2 so maybe too new to add)
Damages (Not yet done w/ season 2 so the verdict is still out...but I've never been so impacted by a silent performance than when Glen Close gets all distant-eyed...season one in the chair shaking and crying...amazing)
The Mentalist will eventually make the list.
Dexter should make it too.

March 25 2009 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Where is Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Which I believe Battlestar Galactica lite (Ron Moore was beyond one the best episodes of this show and many other quality ones)

March 25 2009 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There's nothing wrong with a movie or series with no redeeming characters. I don't understand the need for a show to have likable characters to be good. "The Sopranos" didn't really make you try to like Tony Soprano, and by the time Christoper dies, I don't think many did. "The Twilight Zone" is one of my favorite shows of all time. But the fact its anthology show doesn't allow you to put much connection with the characters of the episode. "Six Feet Under" should have been in the top ten at least.

March 25 2009 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to divineparasite's comment

As someone who loved The Sopranos I couldnt feel sympathy for Tony by the end. Bobby Bacala seemed to be the most sympathetic gangster at that point and he was brutally wacked.

March 25 2009 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

LOST should not be on that list. Maybe the first season but overall by far most shows on that list should be ranked much better than it.

I personally think that some of the top 10 shows are ranked way too high.

March 25 2009 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Z3Relic's comment

I totally agree. Lost should not be in the top 10; and should probably be ranked somewhere between 30-50.

Lost was a great show the first season or two. But it has devolved into an average show that continues to drip-drip-drip details at a furiously slow pace.

The series should have been over this season so that the producers could have wrapped up what the remaining mysteries are.

March 25 2009 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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