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TV Guide Magazine's 60 Best Series of All Time (2013)

So many golden ages, so much brilliance from which to choose. In culling from the "60 Greatest" lists we've compiled during our 60th-anniversary year, we shook things up, blending drama, comedy and other genres to salute the shows with the biggest cultural impact and most enduring influence. What will the next 60 years bring? We can't wait to find out.

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  • Created October 23, 2022 by
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The Sopranos

1999

New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano deals with personal and professional issues in his home and business life that affect his mental state, leading him to seek professional psychiatric counseling.

Seinfeld

1989

The "show about nothing" is a sitcom landmark, with comic Jerry and his three sardonic friends finding laughs in both the mundane and the ridiculous.

I Love Lucy

1951

Cuban Bandleader Ricky Ricardo would be happy if his wife Lucy would just be a housewife. Instead she tries constantly to perform at the Tropicana where he works, and make life comically frantic in the apartment building they share with landlords Fred and Ethel Mertz, who also happen to be their best friends.

All in the Family

1971

Legendary and controversial series focused on conservative working stiff Archie Bunker fighting the tide of social change and dealing with flighty wife Edith, daughter Gloria and left-leaning son-in-law Michael Stivic.

The Twilight Zone

1959

The Twilight Zone was a popular American anthology series. The series was a collection of various tales that range from the tragic to the comedic. They may be scary or just thought-provoking. Most episodes have unexpected endings and a moral lesson. But, no matter what, it's "a journey into a wondrous land, whose boundaries are that of the imagination."

The Wire

2002

Follows one single drug and homicide investigation throughout the length of an entire season. Centered on the drug culture of inner-city Baltimore, the series' storyline unfolds from the points of view of both the criminals lording the streets and the police officers determined to bring them down.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

1970

The Mary Tyler Moore Show was one of the most literate, realistic, and enduring situation comedies of the 1970s. Mary Richards was the idealized single career woman. She had come to Minneapolis after breaking up with a man she had been dating for four years. Ambitious, and looking for new friends, she moved into an older apartment building and went to work as an assistant producer of the local news show on television station WJM-TV. In her early 30s, Mary symbolized the independent woman of the 1970s.

M*A*S*H

1972

The 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital is stuck in the middle of the Korean war. With little help from the circumstances they find themselves in, they are forced to make their own fun. Fond of practical jokes and revenge, the doctors, nurses, administrators, and soldiers often find ways of making wartime life bearable.

Breaking Bad

2008

When Walter White, a chemistry teacher, is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given a prognosis of two years left to live, he chooses to enter a dangerous world of drugs and crime with the intent to secure his family's financial security.

The Simpsons

1989

Set in Springfield, the average American town, the show focuses on the antics and everyday adventures of the Simpson family; Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, as well as a virtual cast of thousands. Since the beginning, the series has been a pop culture icon, attracting hundreds of celebrities to guest star. The show has also made name for itself in its fearless satirical take on politics, media and American life in general.

Cheers

1982

Sam, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, owns and runs Cheers, a cozy bar in Boston. Somewhat snobby, beautiful and intelligent Diane -- forced to become a waitress when her fiance jilts her -- constantly bickers with Sam. Eventually, they fall in love. Several wacky characters make the bar their home-away-from-home, including sarcastic waitress Carla, beer-loving Norm and Boston letter carrier Cliff.

Star Trek

1966

Space. The Final Frontier. The U.S.S. Enterprise embarks on a five year mission to explore the galaxy. The Enterprise is under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, who is assisted by First Officer Mr. Spock, from the planet Vulcan, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy. With a determined crew, the Enterprise encounters Klingons, Romulans, time paradoxes, tribbles and genetic supermen led by Khan Noonien Singh. Their mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

The Honeymooners

1955

The Honeymooners, one of the most influential situation comedy television series in American history, depicts the sincere attempts of two men attempting to better their lives, and the ensuing frustrations when their schemes to strike it rich inevitably backfire.

Law & Order

1990

A blended police procedural and courtroom drama which employs a two-part approach: The first half of each episode focuses on NYPD homicide detectives investigating a crime—often derived from a real-life headline—and apprehending a suspect. The second half takes place in the courtroom, with the district attorney prosecuting the defendant.

The Andy Griffith Show

1960

Down-home humor and an endearing cast of characters helped make The Andy Griffith Show one of the most beloved comedies in the history of TV. The show centered around widower Andy Taylor, who divided his time between raising his young son Opie, and his job as sheriff of the sleepy North Carolina town, Mayberry. Andy and Opie live with Andy's Aunt Bee, who serves as a surrogate mother to both father and son. Andy's nervous cousin, Barney Fife, is his deputy sheriff whose incompetence is tolerated because Mayberry is virtually crime-free.

Masterpiece Theater

1971

Masterpiece Theatre premiered on PBS on January 10, 1971, making it America's longest-running weekly primetime drama series. Since 1993, its host has been Russell Baker. Other than this, its format remained relatively unchanged, one of its most distinguishing characteristics being its signature themesong, "Rondeau" by Jean-Joseph Moret. Masterpiece Theatre won 30 Primetime Emmy Awards, as well as a host of other awards over the course of the series. ** Masterpiece Theater though is no longer airing and goes by the name "Masterpiece" now. Please add any new or original titles there.

The Carol Burnett Show

1967

A variety / sketch comedy show starring Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and Tim Conway. It originally ran on CBS from September 11, 1967 to March 29, 1978 for 278 episodes, and originated from CBS Television City's Studio 33 (known today as the Bob Barker Studio). The series won 25 prime time Emmy Awards, and in 2007 was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All Time."

Saturday Night Live

1975

Each week, a famous guest host appears in sketches and parodies alongside a roster of up-and-coming comedians. A popular musical guest, short films, and Weekend Update - a recurring satirical newscast - form the backbone of one of the most influential and culturally significant TV shows in history.

The Oprah Winfrey Show

1984

The Oprah Winfrey Show has featured many celebrities over the years, but that's only one side of it. There's also Oprah's eternal quest to better herself, and to help viewers do the same.

The Dick Van Dyke Show

1961

Considered to be one of television's classics, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" centers on the personal and professional lives of Rob Petrie, a writer for the fictional "Alan Brady Show". The non-stop laughs revolved around Rob's relationships with with fellow writers Buddy Sorrell and Sally Rogers, and producer Mel Cooley. At home, we also got to chuckle (and sometimes cry) over Rob's antics involving his wife, son, and neighbors.

Mad Men

2007

In 1960s New York, alpha male Don Draper struggles to stay on top of the heap in the high-pressure world of Madison Avenue advertising firms. Aside from being one of the top ad men in the business, Don is also a family man, the father of young children.

The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson

1962

Late-night talk show hosted by Johnny Carson, including guest interviews and musical performances.

Hill Street Blues

1981

This groundbreaking and award-winning NBC crime drama provided a very realistic view into the lives of the dedicated cops and detectives of an urban police station. From January 1981 to August 1986, the show ran on Thursdays at 10/9 Central, with occasional repeats on Saturdays at 10/9 Central. From August 1986 to August 1987 first-run episodes aired Tuesdays at 10/9 Central.

60 Minutes

1968

60 Minutes has been on the air since 1968, beginning on a Tuesday, but spending most of its time on Sundays, where it remains today. This popular news magazine provides both hard hitting investigations, interviews and features, along with people in the news and current events. 60 Minutes has set unprecedented records in the Nielsen's ratings with a number 1 rating, five times, making it among the most successful TV programs in all of television history. This series has won more Emmy awards than any other news program and in 2003, Don Hewitt, the creator (back in 1968), was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Emmy, along with the 60 Minute correspondents. Added to the 11 Peabody awards, this phenomenally long-lived series has collected 78 awards up to the 2005 season and remains among the viewers top choice for news magazine features.

The X-Files

1993

`The truth is out there,' and FBI agents Scully and Mulder seek it in this sci-fi phenomenon about their quest to explain the seemingly unexplainable. Their strange cases include UFO sightings, alien abductions and just about anything else paranormal.

The Cosby Show

1984

Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable was an OBGYN (obstetrician/gynecologist), and his wife Clair was a successful attorney. They had five children: Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy. Sondra was rarely seen during the first season because she was away at Princeton. She became a regular character in the second season, and was usually seen with her on-again off-again beau, Elvin. They eventually married and had twins; but not before stunning their families by announcing the fact that Elvin was dropping out of medical school to open a camping store, and Sondra was dropping out of law school to help her husband in his endeavor. Denise was the "unique" child, the black sheep of the family. She had her own way of doing things, right down to the style of clothing she wore. After graduating high school, she left for Hillman College in 1986 (a year later, this would become the setting for the spin-off A Different World), but returned two years later with news that she was dropping ou

Gunsmoke

1955

Marshal Matt Dillon keeps the peace in the rough and tumble Dodge City.

Friends

1994

Rachel Green, Ross Geller, Monica Geller, Joey Tribbiani, Chandler Bing and Phoebe Buffay are six 20 something year-olds, living off one another in the heart of New York City. Over the course of ten years, this average group of buddies goes through massive mayhem, family trouble, past and future romances, fights, laughs, tears and surprises as they learn what it really means to be a friend.

ER

1994

ER follows the medical personnel and patients in the emergency room of Chicago's fictional County General Hospital. The doctors and nurses of County's ER confront the daily challenges of a busy urban hospital, including overcrowded waiting rooms, staffing shortages, and the impact of life-and-death decisions. While they teach the next generation of doctors, each must tackle the demands of their personal lives, at times unsuccessfully.

Sesame Street

1969

On a special inner city street, the inhabitants, human and muppet, teach preschool subjects with comedy, cartoons, games, and songs.

The Ed Sullivan Show

1955

From 1949 until its cancelation in 1971, the show ran on CBS every Sunday night from 8–9 p.m. E.T., and is one of the few entertainment shows to have run in the same weekly time slot on the same network for more than two decades. (During its first season, it ran from 9–10 p.m. E.T.) Virtually every type of entertainment appeared on the show; opera singers, popular artists, songwriters, comedians, ballet dancers, dramatic actors performing monologues from plays, and circus acts were regularly featured. The format was essentially the same as vaudeville, and although vaudeville had died a generation earlier, Sullivan presented many ex-vaudevillians on his show. Seasons 1-8 can be found listed under the series "Toast of the Town".

Roseanne

1988

Explore life, death and everything in between through the relatable, hilarious and brutally honest lens of the working-class Conner household, which is located in the drab, fictional exurb of Langford, Illinois. With the inimitable Roseanne Barr at its epicenter as the family's matriarch, the series tackles current issues with fresh stories and even more laughs. Roseanne is joined by her husband, Dan, and their children, D.J., Darlene and Becky. Roseanne's warm, but neurotic, sister Jackie rounds out the core of the family.

Columbo

1968

A Los Angeles homicide detective, Lieutenant Columbo, uses his humble ways and shrewd demeanor to ferret out even the most careful criminals.

The Waltons

1972

In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, during the Great Depression, the Walton family makes its small income from its saw mill on Walton's Mountain. The story is told through the eyes of John Boy, who wants to be a novelist and go to college. The saga follows the family through depression and war, through growing up, school, courtship, marriage, employment, birth, aging, illness and death.

Taxi

1978

Taxi's success was due to its excellent writing, Burrows's award-winning directing using his innovative four-camera technique, and its largely unknown but talented cast. Danny DeVito's Louie DePalma soon became one of the most despised men on television--possibly the most unredeemable and worthless louse of a character ever to reside on the small screen. Andy Kaufman's foreign mechanic Latka Gravas provided over-the-top comedy within an ensemble emphasizing subtle character humor.

Lost

2004

After their plane, Oceanic Air flight 815, tore apart whilst thousands of miles off course, the survivors find themselves on a mysterious deserted island where they soon find out they are not alone.

Your Show of Shows

1950

Welcome to the Your Show of Shows guide at TV Tome. First Telecast:February 25, 1950 Last Telecast:June 5, 1954 153 Total Episodes (Black + White) Sid Caeser and Imogene Coca starred on this influental variety program. Nielsen Ratings: (Top 25 or better) # 4 in the 1950-1951 Season # 8 in the 1951-1952 Season # 19 in the 1952-1953 Season Broadcast History on NBC Feb. 1950-June 1954...Sat. 9-10:30 PM

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

1997

In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer. Buffy Summers is The Chosen One, the one girl in all the world with the strength and skill to fight the vampires. With the help of her close friends, Willow, Xander, and her Watcher Giles she balances slaying, family, friendships, and relationships.

Survivor

2000

Sixteen or more castaways are split between two or more "Tribes", are taken to a remote isolated location and are forced to live off the land with meager supplies for roughly 39 days. Frequent physical challenges are used to pit the tribes against each other for Rewards, such as food or luxuries, or for "Immunity", forcing the other tribe to attend "Tribal Council", where they must vote off one of their players. Once about half the players are remaining, the tribes are merged into a single tribe, and competitions are on an individual basis; winning Immunity prevents that player from being voted out, while several that are voted out at this stage form the game's "Jury". Once down to two or three people, a Final Tribal Council is held where the remaining players plead their case to the jury members. The jury then votes for which player should be considered the "Sole Survivor" and win the $1 million prize. Survivor has introduced numerous modifications, or "twists", on the core rules in order to keep the players on their toes and to prevent players from relying on strategies that succeeded in prior seasons. These changes have included tribal switches, seasons starting with more than two tribes, the ability to exile a player from a tribe for a short time, Hidden Immunity Idols that players can use to save themselves at Tribal Council and a chance to return to regular gameplay after elimination through "Redemption Island".

Sex and the City

1998

The narrative of the show focuses on Carrie Bradshaw and her three best friends, Miranda Hobbes, Charlotte York and Samantha Jones. The women discuss their sexual desires and fantasies, and their travels in life, love and lesbianism. The show often depicts frank discussions about romance and sexuality, features a short montage of interviews of people living in New York City.

Late Night With David Letterman

1982

David Letterman hosted this popular late-night comedy/talk-show. Often, Dave would go on location or to the phone lines to play pranks. Some famous features of the show include the "Top Ten" lists and "Stupid Pet Tricks" (complete with slow-mo). Fans of the show will also remember Dave's use of unusual camera placements (Sky-Cam, Guest-Cam, etc.) and Dave's supporting cast (Paul Shaffer, Chris Elliott, Larry Bud Melman). Many famous guests and bands appeared on the show.

Late Show with David Letterman

1993

“Late Show with David Letterman” is an hour-long weeknight comedy and talk show broadcast by CBS from the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway in New York City and is produced and hosted by David Letterman. The show's music director and bandleader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, is Paul Shaffer. The head writers are brothers Justin Stangel and Eric Stangel. The announcer is Alan Kalter, who replaced Bill Wendell as announcer in 1995. The show airs at night, but is recorded the afternoon of the broadcast.

The West Wing

1999

A glimpse into presidential politics in the nation's capital as it tells the stories of the members of a fictional presidential administration. These interesting characters have humor and dedication that touches the heart while the politics that they discuss touch on everyday life.

Modern Family

2009

This mockumentary explores the many different types of a modern family through the stories of a gay couple, comprised of Mitchell and Cameron, and their daughter Lily, a straight couple, comprised of Phil and Claire, and their three kids, Haley, Alex, and Luke, and a multi-ethnic couple, which is comprised of Jay and Gloria, and her son Manny.

NYPD Blue

1993

The gritty details of life as a member of a New York City police unit.

Jeopardy!

1984

This classic game show features a quiz competition in which contestants are presented with general knowledge clues in the form of answers, and must phrase their responses in the form of questions. After an 11 year run on NBC daytime, the show resurfaced in a modified format in 1978 and then came back in syndication in 1984, where it continues to enjoy long-term success.

Barney Miller

1975

Hal Linden stars in the title role as a NYPD captain in charge of a squad of oddball detectives and even stranger criminals.

Dallas

1978

The world's first mega-soap, and one of the most popular ever produced, Dallas had it all. Beautiful women, expensive cars, and men playing Monopoly with real buildings. Famous for one of the best cliffhangers in TV history, as the world asked "Who shot J.R.?" A slow-burner to begin with, Dallas hit its stride in the 2nd season, with long storylines and expert character development. Dallas ruled the airwaves in the 1980's.

American Idol

2002

The smash reality series showcases wannabe pop stars competing for a record deal by crooning for a panel of judges. The judges review a performer's talent (or lack thereof), and at-home viewers then vote for their favorite potential star. The show helped launch the careers of such artists as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert.

The Bob Newhart Show

1972

Bob Newhart is Dr. Robert Hartley, a Chicago psychologist living with his schoolteacher wife Emily. Complicating life for the serene, stammering doc was his neighbor, Howard, a flighty navigator; and Bob's coworkers, dentist Jerry and flippant receptionist Carol. The humor was gentle, sophisticated and, at times, wonderfully surreal.

The Shield

2002

The story of an inner-city Los Angeles police precinct where some of the cops aren't above breaking the rules or working against their associates to both keep the streets safe and their self-interests intact.

St. Elsewhere

1982

St. Eligius Hospital in South Boston was not exactly the world's best health care center. Despite its flaws, it featured some of the most caring doctors and nurses you could ever meet. Led by Dr. Donald Westphall (and later by Dr. John Gideon), the hospital nicknamed "St. Elsewhere" became a sanctuary for the underdog and the downtrodden.

The Big Bang Theory

2007

A woman who moves into an apartment across the hall from two brilliant but socially awkward physicists shows them how little they know about life outside of the laboratory.

The Daily Show

1996

Forget trying to keep pace with 24 hour news networks; the best fake news show in the world will provide you with all the news you can handle. The Daily Show is a comedic view of recent news headlines and political figures through a series of satirical monologues along with segments by correspondents and finally interviews with guest celebrities and political figures. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah is filmed at 733 11th Avenue, New York, NY.

The Golden Girls

1985

Four previously married women live together in Miami, sharing their various experiences together and enjoying themselves despite hard times.

Homicide: Life on the Street

1993

Based on the factual book Homicide: A Year On the Killing Streets by journalist David Simon, the series charts the lives of a team of homicide detectives in Baltimore, Maryland, both on and off the clock.

The Larry Sanders Show

1992

Comic Garry Shandling draws upon his own talk show experiences to create the character of Larry Sanders, a paranoid, insecure host of a late night talk show. Larry, along with his obsequious TV sidekick Hank Kingsley and his fiercely protective producer Artie, allows Garry Shandling and his talented writers to look behind the scenes and to show us a convincing slice of behind the camera life.

Battlestar Galactica (2003)

2005

In a distant part of the universe, a civilization of humans live on planets known as the Twelve Colonies. In the past, the Colonies have been at war with a cybernetic race known as the Cylons. 40 years after the first war the Cylons launch a devastating attack on the Colonies. The only military ship that survived the attack takes up the task of leading a small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.

Monty Python's Flying Circus

1969

And now for something completely different: Monty Python's Flying Circus was simply the most influential comedy program television has ever seen. Five Englishmen, all working under the constraints of conventional TV shows such as The Frost Report (for which the five Englishmen wrote), gathered together with an expatriate American in the spring of 1969 to break the rules. The result, first airing on BBC-1 on October 5, 1969, has influenced countless future men and women in the media and comedy since.

The Good Wife

2009

The Good Wife is a drama starring Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies as a wife and mother who must assume full responsibility for her family and re-enter the workforce after her husband's very public sex and political corruption scandal lands him in jail.

Everybody Loves Raymond

1996

Everybody Loves Raymond revolves around Ray Barone, a successful sportswriter living on Long Island with his wife, Debra, 12-year-old daughter, Ally, and 8-year-old twin sons, Geoffrey and Michael. That's the good news. The bad news? Ray's meddling parents, Frank and Marie, live directly across the street and embrace the motto "Su casa es mi casa," infiltrating their son's home to an extent unparalleled in television history. Frank's favorite expression, "Holy Crap," is shouted at regular intervals, and Marie's "cooking advice" is less than appreciated by Debra. Brother Robert, a divorced policeman, is constantly moving in and out of his parents' house, and loves to drop over and resent Ray's successful career and happy family life. Ray and Debra just wish someone would knock once in a while. Finalizing it's 9th and final season, the cast and crew of "ELR" has had a very successful run, and it makes it even harder for them all to say good-bye. This show has a place in televi