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100 best TV shows of all time

  • #70. The Handmaid's Tale

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Years on the air: 2017–present

    Based on the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, this acclaimed Hulu show stars Elisabeth Moss as a woman struggling for freedom in a misogynistic, alternate-reality version of America that has been taken over by religious extremists. Far more critically and commercially successful than the ill-fated 1990 feature film of the same name, “The Handmaid’s Tale” has received critical acclaim and sufficient zeitgeist traction to warrant a “Saturday Night Live” parody.

  • #69. The Punisher

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Years on the air: 2017–2019

    Jon Bernthal (“The Walking Dead”) plays a vigilante superhero whose revenge quest brings him face to face with New York’s underworld. Critics found the first season to be a slow start, but Marvel fans hungry for more content between movies were willing to jump on board.

  • #68. Boardwalk Empire

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Years on the air: 2010–2014

    This crime drama starred Steve Buscemi as an Atlantic City mob boss during the Prohibition era. While not a hit on the same level as HBO’s contemporary Mafia series “The Sopranos,” the show received positive reviews and won 20 Primetime Emmy Awards over its run, as well as a Golden Globe for Best Television Series–Drama in 2011.

  • #67. Community

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Years on the air: 2009–2015

    Joel McHale made a transition from hosting the clip show “The Soup” to scripted comedy in this NBC favorite about a lawyer who’s disbarred for lying about his academic credentials and forced to attend community college in order to resume his career. In addition to helping launch the career of Donald Glover, the show featured Chevy Chase in a supporting role. Chase’s public feud with the show’s writers and producers received significant media coverage toward the end of the show’s run.

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  • #66. Hannibal

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Years on the air: 2013–2015

    Based on the Thomas Harris novels “Red Dragon” and “Hannibal,” this show sees Mads Mikkelsen stepping into the role of brilliant forensic psychologist/cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter (previously portrayed by Anthony Hopkins and Brian Cox in movie adaptations of Harris’s novels). Hugh Dancy plays his protégé, a profiler who is unaware of his mentor’s secret double life. The show employed José Andrés, a prominent restaurateur, to serve as a consultant in order to ensure that Lecter’s culinary preparation of human flesh was realistic.

  • #65. Spartacus

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Years on the air: 2010–2013

    Steven S. DeKnight, who would later go on to develop “Daredevil” on Netflix and “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” created the Starz show based on the historical gladiator Spartacus. Initially starring Andy Whitfield as the title character, the show focuses on the slave uprising begat by Spartacus. Whitfield died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, and Liam McIntyre replaced him in the leading role.

  • #64. Mr. Robot

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Years on the air: 2015–2019

    This surprise USA Network hit, which draws heavily from “Fight Club” and “The Matrix,” tells the story of a hacker named Elliot (Rami Malek) with social anxiety disorder, clinical depression, and, unbeknownst to him through most of the first season, a split personality (dissociative identity disorder). Christian Slater plays his Tyler Durden-esque alter ego with scenery-chewing aplomb.

  • #63. Suits

    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Years on the air: 2011–present

    A hotshot Manhattan lawyer hires a talented college dropout despite his lack of a law degree, forging a secret between them. While some critics dismissed the show as inessential, others found the sharp dialogue and lead chemistry sufficient to give this show an edge in the crowded legal drama genre. Star Meghan Markle would go on to royal fame, marrying Prince Harry in May 2018.

  • #62. Adventure Time

    - IMDb user rating: 8.6
    - Years on the air: 2010–2018

    This Cartoon Network show follows the adventures of a boy and his best friend, a talking dog who can change his size and shape at will, in a mystical and magical realm. While the premise may sound familiar, the show’s sweet but strange tone sets it apart. Creator Pendleton Ward has acknowledged influences as far-ranging as “Dungeons and Dragons,” “Beavis and Butthead,” and “Ren and Stimpy.” Another unusual aspect of the show is its approach to voice casting. While many animated shows employ adult actors for their child characters, “Adventure Time” cast an actual child actor (Jeremy Shada) to voice the character of Finn. As such, Finn’s voice deepened through the show’s run, as Shada progressed through puberty.

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  • #61. Justified

    - IMDb user rating: 8.6
    - Years on the air: 2010–2015

    This FX show saw Timothy Olyphant, who played the sheriff on HBO’s “Deadwood,” portraying Raylan Givens, a maverick U.S. marshal who returns to his hometown in Kentucky to take on the criminal element there. The character of Givens is adapted from an Elmore Leonard short story. Critics praised Olyphant’s performance and the show’s seedy worldbuilding.