What TV series have great storylines

The 30 best series of all time

▹ The best Netflix series

▹ The best Amazon series

Developed from radio series, the non-fictional series "Meet The Press" from 1947 is the oldest television series ever: Gradually, various genres crystallized out, so animals were initially often the stars in successful productions ("Lassie", " Fury "," Flipper ") or families (" The Waltons "," Dallas "," A terribly nice family ").

Later, more and more detectives and crime stories were added ("The Streets of San Francisco"; "Detective Rockford", "Charlie's Angels") and cartoons also enjoyed great success ("The Simpsons", "South Park", Animes).

In Great Britain, for example, a game began in the sixties with the series form itself, ironicizing the typical patterns of the format ("With umbrella, charm and bowler hat", "The Prisoner") - and today we are finally in the infinite possibilities arrived in the series world. So here is an overview of the milestones in the world of series: our ranking of the best series of all time. A colorful mix of old and new.

30. Stranger Things (2016 to date)

In the past few years, nobody has been able to ignore the story of Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Will and Elfi. A strong cast, lots of eighties nostalgia, a perfect soundtrack and the skillful handling of references, allusions and deliberate clichés have made this series work for almost every age group.

29. Dark (2017-2020)

The first German series on Netflix had worldwide success in 2017, so that in the USA it was even watched with subtitles and in the original: The dark mystery series is a bit reminiscent of "Stranger Things", but is more complex in its complex narrative and storylines. By the way, the great title song Goodbye comes from Apparat, in collaboration with the Austrian musician Soap & Skin.

28. The Walking Dead (2010 to date)

Based on the comic series of the same name, we breathlessly follow the struggle for survival of a small group of survivors in a merciless zombie apocalypse: Not only the undead are a constant danger, other people too, and above all the struggle for the preservation of morality, decency and dignity is at play a role. It is also about many relevant social issues such as racism, suicide or abortion.

27. The Crown (2016 - to date)

The British Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne since 1952 and since then has regularly experienced not only private but also politically eventful times: The series by Peter Morgan, who was also responsible for the Oscar-winning film "The Queen" with Helen Mirren as Queen, presents this The life of the royals as a drama, but without kitsch and sometimes with comedic aspects. The multi-award-winning series will end after the fifth season: Imelda Staunton ("Downton Abbey", "Harry Potter") takes on the role of Queen in the final episodes. Previously, Claire Foy played the role of seasons 1-2, since season 3 Olivia Colman (Oscar for "The Favorite") can be seen as queen. Season 4 will be aired on Netflix on November 15, 2020.

26. American Horror Story (2011 to date)

The anthology series by Ryan Murphy ("Ratched", "The Prom") tells each season of a different mythical horror motif: Among other things, it is about ghosts. Witches, freaks or murderers. With a few exceptions, the cast is changing and almost every season there are interesting guest stars such as model Naomi Campbell, actresses Taissa Farmiga or Mena Suvari as well as the musicians Lady Gaga and Stevie Nicks.

25. Buffy (1997-2003)

For seven whole seasons you could watch the vampire hunter Buffy, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, with her exciting and entertaining goings-on: The demonic framework is often metaphorical for the teenagers' fears in the action. And when it comes to genre, Buffy is also unconventional, as it mixes horror, action, drama and soap.

24. Friends (1994-2004)

For ten years - from 1994 to 2004 - we watched the life of these friends, who went beyond a sitcom and became a cult. In 2020 it was announced that a unique new episode with all six main actors, i.e. Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, will be filmed.

23. The Golden Girls (1985-1992)

One of the most popular and inventive NBC TV series of all time! The Golden Girls are four older women who live together in a shared flat in Florida and face a wide variety of everyday problems. In the seemingly easy series, many taboo topics such as Alzheimer's, homosexuality, discrimination, euthanasia, poverty in old age or AIDS are addressed. The women are incredibly funny, outrageously maudlin, glamorous (with an abundance of 80s shoulder pads and hairspray) and brave and blunt - it's always worth indulging in this comedy nostalgia of the 80s and early 90s.

22. Seinfeld (1989-1998)

The sitcom developed by the stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld is also considered one of the best series ever: It ran extremely successfully from 1989 to 1998 and set a few new accents. So she mixes fiction and reality, as the character Seinfeld is also a comedian and of course is played by Jerry Seinfeld. This semi-fictional element then appeared in many comedy series, for example "Cybill", in which Cybill Shepherd plays a version of herself.

21. Number 6 (1967-1968)

In the original "The Prisoner", this mystery series is a milestone in the genre: A nameless protagonist (Patrick McGoohan) is kidnapped in a strange village and imprisoned there as "Number 6". Every attempt to escape per episode fails. The series is postmodern without the term already existing back then. In 2009 there was a remake with Ian McKellen and Jim Caviezel in the lead roles. The series has a great cultural influence, there are allusions to it in the "Simpsons", among others, it is considered a forerunner to formats such as "Twin Peaks" or "The X-Files" and a dialogue from the opening credits can be found in Iron Maiden's Track " The Prisoner "again.

20. Black Books (2000-2004)

Great Britain is also a pioneer when it comes to comedy series: the best example of this is, alongside Monty Python and Mr. Bean, this pitch-black bitterly angry series about a misanthropic bookseller, played by Dylan Moran, who starred in the film "Shaun Of The Dead" with Simon Pegg - this one also made a guest appearance on "Black Books" - became famous. It wasn't until 2016 that German television showed a dubbed version on Tele 5 - but the original version is recommended here.

19. The crime scene cleaner (2011 - 2018)

In Germany, too, comedy and cleverness go together, as this series with Bjarne Mädel in the leading role proves: The drastic job of cleaning the crime scene after a mostly bloody act always takes place in bizarre scenarios and offers a lot of situational comedy, sarcasm, but also soul. In addition, many guest stars such as Olli Dittrich, Olli Schulz or Sandra Hüller shine. After seven seasons it was over.

18. The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)

Nerds as series stars: This US sitcom from the successful duo Chuck Lorre ("Cybill", "Two And A Half Men", "The Kominsky Method") and Bill Pardy ("A terribly nice family", "Dharma & Greg", " The Muppets ") is the most watched series in Germany from 2014 to 2016 (in the advertising-relevant target group - as it is said so ugly). With 279 episodes, it is the sitcom with the most episodes ever and is about highly intelligent young physicists whose social skills leave a little to be desired. Instead, 17 percent more physics students enrolled in England in 2010 because of the series, and physics superstar Stephen Hawking appeared on the series several times than himself.

17. Miami Vice (1984-1989)

Representing the Eighties series boom with successes such as "Knight Rider", "Air Wolf" and "A Colt for All Cases" is this crime-action format, which not only visually but also musically captures an entire era. Don Johnson alias "Sonny" Crockett and Philip Michael Thomas alias "Rico" Tubbs chase through the episodes in candy colors and television cuts to the great synth music by Jan Hammer.

16. Scrubs (2001-2010)

This US dramedy from a first-person perspective and with lots of voice-overs from young doctor J.D. (Zach Braff) tells, is on the one hand a satire on the successful hospital series format, on the other hand musical aspects play a major role, for example there is a whole musical series. And here is our list: I'm No Superman: The ten best songs from Scrubs.

15. The Muppet Show (1976-1981)

British-American doll and comedy series by Jim Henson and Frank Oz: In over 100 countries you could watch the silly to anarchic drives of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear & Co. The series works on two levels, for children through the slapstick and for the adults through the numerous allusions to other things. Big stars such as Vincent Price or Peter Ustinov, as well as musicians who performed with the puppets, joined this new form of expression in each episode. Including Elton John, Alice Cooper or Debbie Harry!

14. Downton Abbey (2010-2015)

Historical drama and family series in one: obsessed with detail and in love with dialogue, the series tells the story of England using a noble family and their staff - and somehow also explains peculiarities such as Brexit. In 2011, the series even received an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for "Critically-Rated TV Series of the Year". Maggie Smith in her role as Countess of Grantham with her cynical and snappy comments has certainly made a big contribution to the success.

13. Sherlock (2010-2017)

Congenially staged by the brilliant duo Steven Moffat ("Coupling", "Jekyll", "Dracula") and Mark Gatiss ("The League Of Gentlemen", "Doctor Who"), the literary legends Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in what is now London. The templates by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are cleverly updated without losing their original charm. In the leading roles, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman inspire with quick-witted and rapid dialogue battles.

12. A Terribly Nice Family (1987-1997)

For over a decade, viewers were amused by the terribly nice everyday and family life of the unsuccessful shoe seller Al Bundy: With crude humor and gender stereotypes, the series was supposed to deliberately caricature the otherwise intact US series family world such as the "Bill Cosby Show" - it was originally supposed to even called "Not The Cosbys".

11. Six Feet Under (2001-2005)

For five seasons, this series was also about death: at the beginning of each episode, a person dies and ends up in the Fisher family's funeral home. This suffers from various problems and social aspects such as age, gender, homosexuality, racism or drug addiction are dealt with on the basis of the figures. The last episode in which the series is buried is legendary. A family member - David Fisher, played by Michael C. Hall - is said to have a lot more to do with the subject of dying in another series ...

10. Dexter (2006-2013)

... and this series was called Dexter: He works as a forensic scientist for the police in Miami, but leads a double life as a serial killer who only kills "bad" people. In the course of the series there are ever larger and more complex complications. This mixture of tragedy, drama, crime series and black comedy featured guest stars such as Julia Stiles, John Lithgow, Mos Def and Charlotte Rampling. Eight years after the finale, which was disappointing for most fans, there will be a 9th season as the makers announced.

9. The Simpsons (1989 - present)

Al Bundy can be considered the spiritual father of Homer Simpsons, because in this successful cartoon series, too, an unsuccessful family man is at the center, the stories are politically incorrect, the humor coarse, but in between there are many absurd situations, the constant expectations of the viewer break through. The humor developed over the years into much more subtle and many innuendos that require a broad knowledge of politics or pop phenomena. Over time, many (drawn) stars and musicians who spoke to themselves appeared in it. Among others: Stephen Hawking (he probably loved series too!), Sonic Youths Kim Gordon, Mick Jagger, Stephen King, Paul McCartney, Mel Gibson or Justin Timberlake.

8. With umbrella, charm and bowler hat (1961 - 1969)

Originally the series was called "The Avengers" and in it, Patrick Macnee alias John Steed with bowler hat and Diana Rigg ("Game Of Thrones") alias Emma Peel with leather outfit were determined with a lot of style, self-irony and British charm. As far as the prevailing memory, at least, there were other partners and partners of John Steed who used illustrious names like Dr. Keel, Cathy Gale, Tara King or as in "The New Avengers" (1976-1977) Purdey wore. In the prudish sixties, some episodes were not shown in Germany and were censored: In one episode, for example, Emma Peel drinks champagne in a coffin, in another she wears a sad-maso outfit - both of which caused scandals.

Commonly known as the first real space series, but in 1966 a great series of this genre was also shown in Germany called Raumpatrouille Orion, which enjoys cult status: But of course, Captain Kirk is known worldwide to this day, the series has become a pop culture phenomenon and sparked one of the world's largest Media franchises under the name "Star Trek".

6. Doctor Who (1963 - present)

This is actually no longer a series, but a whole and highly complex universe: Since 1963, it has been about a mysterious time traveler who is only known as "The Doctor". The meanwhile 13th "Doctor" is playing a woman for the first time with Jodie Whittaker, which led to bitter debates among die-hard fans. Some scripts are by Douglas Adams ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy") and there are numerous references to the series in other formats such as "Star Trek", "The Simpsons" or "South Park".

5. The X Files (1993 to 2002 and 2016 to 2018)

The mother of all mystery series combines crime, science fiction, fantasy and horror elements and is considered to be absolutely groundbreaking: The focus is on FBI agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), the deal with puzzling cases. It's about conspiracy theories, aliens and a lot of the improbable ... "I want to believe".

4. The Wire (2002-2008)

Realistic and multi-layered crime drama series with complex characters, which is considered the forerunner of highly acclaimed formats such as "Luther". This is played by Idris Elba, who celebrated his breakthrough in "The Wire". The title song is by Tom Waits: "Way Down In The Hole" is played through a different version of the song each season.

3. Breaking Bad (2008-2013)

For five seasons, enthusiastic and addicted fans followed the fate of the chemistry teacher suffering from lung cancer, who changes character over the course of the series and turns from a bourgeois American to a ruthless criminal: Together with his special purpose buddy Jesse, he becomes a successful (secret) meth cook and Dealer ... In addition to "Metástasis" (2014), a Spanish-language remake of the entire series, with "Better Call Saul" (since 2015) a prequel series for the fan favorite, the lawyer Saul Goodman, and with "El Camino: Ein Breaking Bad-Film "(2019) a sequel film based on the character Jesse Pinkman.

2. Twin Peaks (1990--1991, 2017)

In 1990 there was something like a "street sweeper" with this series: Despite the increasingly obscure elements, everyone was puzzled and excited about who might have killed Laura Palmer. David Lynch's series ("Lost Highway", "Mullholland Drive") is a genre mix of crime, mystery, noir and horror and contains traces of a soap opera. In addition to drastic violence, lots of sex and quiet humor, Twin Peaks is also characterized by the fantastic soundtrack by Angelo Badalementi and Julee Cruise. In the third season, which ran 26 years after the "first" end, the following acts appeared: Chromatics, Au Revoire Simone and Sharon Van Etten.

This Mafia series is considered by many critics to be the best series of all time: Soagr the writers 'union in the United States' film and television industry, the "Writers Guild of America" ​​voted "The Sopranos" at number 1 on the "101 Best Written TV" Series "of all time. The focus is on Anthony "Tony" Soprano (played by James Gandolfino, who died in 2013), who not only has problems with his family, but also with "La Familia". The series often alludes to other Mafia classics such as The Godfather, from which the characters often and deliberately quote. The series is considered to be groundbreaking because the alleged villain made it into the lead role of a TV series for the first time and thus paved the way for a series that is now considered by many to be the best series of all time: "Breaking Bad" with the anti- Hero Walter White.