The 100 Greatest TV Shows Of The 21st Century (According To Critics)

BBC 100 Greastest TV Shows 21st Century HBO Band of Brothers 1

Less than a week after we rediscovered its 100 greatest films of the 21st century, the BBC reveals the 100 greatest TV shows of the 21st century (otherwise known as the golden era of bingeing).

Where the film list served as reassurance that cinema is still thriving – and a reminder there’ll always be stories worth experiencing in spite of all the bullshit – this latest pop-cultural breakdown demonstrates how television has transitioned from simply being a means of killing time to a certifiable art form. This is, of course, an era where the economy for attention has become beyond cutthroat thanks to a million different distractions. And a good deal of the Top 100 entrants below certainly deserves our precious minutes.

For this undertaking, the BBC surveyed a whopping total of 206 critics and from across 43 countries. Ranging from traditional print reviewers who make a buck writing for newspapers or magazines, the digital nomad who posts directly to websites like yours truly, relevant academics, and other industry figures alike… suffice it to say, the deliberation process was once again both comprehensive and extensive.



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“While in no way definitive, the answers we have collated are fascinating – and, we hope, will inspire TV lovers everywhere to both seek out titles they haven’t seen before, and further reflect on and discuss ones they have,” explains the BBC.

“The result is a list that stands as a true testament to the power, versatility, and innovation of the medium over the last two decades, from smalltown saga Gilmore Girls and caustic meta-comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm – which both kicked off in the immediate shadow of the new millennium in October 2000 – to the most recent entry, Barry Jenkins’ transcendent adaptation of alt-history epic The Underground Railroad, which premiered in May 2021.”

“This list is designed not as an end in itself but merely as a starting point for discovery, discussion, and debate.”

As noted by the AVClub, while a handful of recent shows make the cut, you’ll notice assumed contenders such as Netflix’s culture-defining Squid Game, Disney+’s The Mandalorian, and so forth are noticeably absent. And yet somehow The Big Bang Theory did. Also, it has to be said… HBO’s Band of Brothers at #37? Stiff. The absence of The Sopranos because it kicked off in 1999? Majorly stiff.

Check out the BBC’s greatest TV shows of the 21st century list in full below.

BBC’s 100 Greatest TV Shows Of The 21st Century

  1. The Wire (2002-2008)
  2. Mad Men (2007-2015)
  3. Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
  4. Fleabag (2016-2019)
  5. Game of Thrones (2011-2019)
  6. I May Destroy You (2020)
  7. The Leftovers (2014-2017)
  8. The Americans (2013-2018)
  9. The Office (UK) (2001-2003)
  10. Succession (2018-)
  11. BoJack Horseman (2014-2020)
  12. Six Feet Under (2001-2005)
  13. Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
  14. Atlanta (2016-)
  15. Chernobyl (2019)
  16. The Crown (2016-)
  17. 30 Rock (2006-2013)
  18. Deadwood (2004-2006)
  19. Lost (2004-2010)
  20. The Thick of It (2005-2012)
  21. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-)
  22. Black Mirror (2011-)
  23. Better Call Saul (2015-2022)
  24. Veep (2012-2019)
  25. Sherlock (2010-2017)
  26. Watchmen (2019)
  27. Line of Duty (2012-2021)
  28. Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)
  29. Parks & Recreation (2009-2015)
  30. Girls (2012-2017)
  31. True Detective (2014-2019)
  32. Arrested Development (2003-2019)
  33. The Good Wife (2009-2016)
  34. The Bridge (2011-2018)
  35. Fargo (2014-)
  36. Downton Abbey (2010-2015)
  37. Band of Brothers (2001)
  38. The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-)
  39. The Office [US] (2005-2013)
  40. Borgen (2010-2022)
  41. Schitt’s Creek (2015-2020)
  42. Peep Show (2003-2015)
  43. Money Heist (2017-2021)
  44. Community (2009-2015)
  45. The Good Fight (2017-)
  46. Homeland (2011-2020)
  47. Grey’s Anatomy (2005-)
  48. Inside No 9 (2014-)
  49. The Bureau (2015-)
  50. Halt & Catch Fire (2014-2017)
  51. Small Axe (2020)
  52. This is England 86, 88, 90 (2010-2015)
  53. Call My Agent! (2015-2020)
  54. Happy Valley (2014-)
  55. The Shield (2002-2008)
  56. The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)
  57. The Young Pope (2016)
  58. Dark (2017-2020)
  59. The Underground Railroad (2021)
  60. House of Cards (2013-2018)
  61. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)
  62. The Good Place (2016-2020)
  63. Pose (2018-2021)
  64. Detectorists (2014-2017)
  65. Orange is the New Black (2013-2019)
  66. Mare of Easttown (2021)
  67. RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-)
  68. Stranger Things (2016-)
  69. 24 (2001-2010)
  70. Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
  71. Enlightened (2011-2013) 
  72. Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
  73. Planet Earth (2006)
  74. Utopia (2013-2014)
  75. Babylon Berlin (2017-)
  76. Rick & Morty (2013-)
  77. American Crime Story (2016-)
  78. The Killing [Denmark] (2007-2012)
  79. Mindhunter (2017-2019)
  80. House (2004-2012)
  81. OJ: Made in America (2016)
  82. Big Little Lies (2017-2019)
  83. Insecure (2016-2021)
  84. Normal People (2020)
  85. Narcos (2015-2017)
  86. How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)
  87. The Comeback (2005-2014)
  88. The OA (2016-2019)
  89. Dexter (2006-2013)
  90. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-)
  91. Westworld (2016-)
  92. Show Me a Hero (2015)
  93. Treme (2010-2013)
  94. Louie (2010-2015)
  95. Luther (2010-2019)
  96. Catastrophe (2015-2019)
  97. Hannibal (2013-2015)
  98. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-2019)
  99. Steven Universe (2013-2020)
  100. The Queen’s Gambit (2020)