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New poll ranks the top 10 greatest television shows of all time

The greatest 100 television shows of the past 20 years? Experts around the world name their top programmes of the 21st Century with The Wire and Mad Men coming out top


What makes a great television series is often the subject of much debate.

But to be considered one of the best yet of the 21st century, it seems laughter is something many experts can do without.

In a poll of more than 200 television specialists from 43 countries, to compile a list of the 100 greatest TV series since 2000, just two comedies made the top ten.

American crime drama The Wire was voted the greatest series of the last 21 years in the poll. 

Scroll down for the full list  

The show, which ran from 2002 to 2008 and stars British actors Dominic West and Idris Elba, came out on top.

Almost a quarter ranked the series, based on the Baltimore drug scene, in first place and 48 per cent listed it in their top ten.

According to the list, compiled by BBC Culture, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy Fleabag landed in fourth place, with almost 40 per cent of experts placing it in their top ten. 

The show, featuring a young woman navigating life in London while she tries to cope with a recent tragedy, was the highest ranking programme by a woman.

According to the list, compiled by BBC Culture, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy Fleabag landed in fourth place, with almost 40 per cent of experts placing it in their top ten.

According to the list, compiled by BBC Culture, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy Fleabag landed in fourth place, with almost 40 per cent of experts placing it in their top ten.

Mad Men was voted the second greatest show, with crime series Breaking Bad third and Game Of Thrones fifth.

The newest series in the top ten is Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, which was released last year and came in at number six. 

The Office UK, starring Ricky Gervais, was ninth – the only other comedy in the top ten. The US Office was significantly lower down at 39.

Mad Men was voted the second greatest show, with crime series Breaking Bad third and Game Of Thrones fifth.

Mad Men (left) was voted the second greatest show, with crime series Breaking Bad third and Game Of Thrones fifth

Krysten Ritter as Jane and Aaron Paul as Jesse in Breaking Bad

Krysten Ritter as Jane and Aaron Paul as Jesse in Breaking Bad 

Other top ten shows include The Leftovers, The Americans and Succession. The Crown was number 16, Sherlock 25th and police drama Line Of Duty was further down at 27. Downton Abbey featured at 36, while Luther sat at 95.

And there were a number of entries from the past two years, when Covid lockdowns have resulted in increased TV viewings.

Normal People, released in April last year, was 84th. Small Axe made 51st place, while The Queen’s Gambit was number 100. Kate Winslet’s Mare Of Easttown was 66th.

American crime drama The Wire was voted the greatest series of the last 21 years in the poll

American crime drama The Wire was voted the greatest series of the last 21 years in the poll

BBC Culture journalist Hugh Montgomery said: ‘We were overjoyed by the great response, and we hope that this list will provoke debate and inspire many watches and re-watches of the wonderful shows that have really helped make television the defining art form of the new millennium.’

English was the primary language of 92 of the top 100 shows. And 79 programmes were created by men compared to 11 made by women.

But BBC Culture said: ‘With non-English language series increasingly amassing huge international audiences and a more diverse range of voices in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation being given creative control, the TV landscape could shift once again in crucial and inspiring ways in the future’. 

The 100 greatest TV series of the 21st Century – full list  

 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 and 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)

36= 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 and Catch Fire (2014-2017)

 

 51 Small Axe (2020)

52 This is England 86, 88 and 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)

62= 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 and 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)

84= 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)

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk