Hundreds of television series are being released every year, giving audiences everything they need for pure entertainment. From drama to comedy, to suspense and sci-fi, there will always be shows that are a credit card swipe away that can capture viewers’ hearts. Because of their storyline and their effective portrayal of characters, many television series are doing extremely well these days, bringing in big money for streaming outlets like Netflix and HBO. But forget about the present and join us as we take a trip down memory lane to look back at the top 50 television shows of all time.
STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES
Lead character James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner, goes on a trip across the galaxy with his Starship Enterprise and crew. Together they had several adventures against evil forces. Although the science fiction television series only lasted for three seasons in the ‘60s, it garnered a whole lot of fans after it was syndicated. After ten years, Gene Roddenberry’s creation, much to its credit, turned into feature films, toys, and a lot more else. More than the Starship Enterprise’s goal of seeking new worlds and civilizations, the creator’s vision of humanity and consciousness made the series loved by fans even decades after its last episode was seen on TV.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
The original Star Trek series has become an iconic American television show before its spin-off series, Star Trek: The Next Generation began airing. The spin-off relived the grand days of Star Trek with Captain Jean-Luc Picard leading the way for the Starfleet officers and the Enterprise NCC 1701-D, with many saying that the latter was better than the original. Together with another cast, including Will Wheaton and Marina Sirtis, Star Trek brought new adventures in space. The Next Generation also took credit for being a trendsetter–it was the first multi-syndicated sci-fi series, proving that television should not be boxed within three big networks.
STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE
Just like any other Star Trek show, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had also become a hit for many fans. But instead of a mobile ship, this show was set in a fixed space station. It showed cross-cultural alien activities and different degrees of alien-like cultures. Other Trek shows may not have tackled the conflict between characters but this one anchored itself on this theme, making its storyline different and interesting among viewers. This Star Trek series was one of the best in terms of complex science fiction.
I LOVE LUCY
More than six decades ago, television viewers were treated to a sitcom that was remarkably charming as its lead character, Lucy, went through varying degrees of misadventure to get her ultimate dream. I Love Lucy featured Lucy Ricardo, a wannabe superstar who lacked the skills to make it in the industry. With the support of her husband, Lucy faces different antics and misadventures, and their neighbors get entangled alongside them. Lead star Lucille Ball and co-star Desi Arnaz paved the way for the use of multi-cameras and live studio audiences, and many sitcoms eventually followed suit. I Love Lucy served as a template for future sitcoms.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE
Back in the 1950s when television shows were merely simple and easy to do, The Twilight Zone veered from the stereotypical horror show template and paved the way for challenging stories that were imbued with science fiction. It tapped into societal issues but executed them in a way that made it more profound and relatable. All credit goes to Rod Serling who created the hit Twilight Zone with the idea of bringing in standalone episodes of mystical tales. Characters tended to solve their own struggles with unique ideas that shocked viewers.
Mad Men is a television series that focuses on the American advertising industry. Set in Madison Avenue, a street in New York City which is said to be the heart of advertising, Mad Men featured the life of self-made man and ad executive Donald Draper, played by Jon Hamm, and how he fabricates his identity as he tries to sell people the insurance of having the perfect image and reputation. Even though this drama is considered quiet and meditative, creator Matthew Weiner still made an impact in placing wit and shock in every episode– this made everyone love the show even more.
A number of plane crash survivors stranded on a mysterious island were forced to work hand-in-hand against a meta-mysterious creature. This is what made the Lost television series’ fans hooked until the last episode. Characters had to face monsters and other mysteries on the island while going through their own stories of love and loss. The creators injected the show with humor and suspense and made it one hell of a ride per episode. The sci-fi drama is a breath of fresh air when it aired in 2004 because back then, many shows were focused on lawyers, doctors, police, and drugs. Many reviews of its first two seasons said the show was a tad slow but the rest of its seasons picked up the pace, leading to more viewers.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Saturday Night Live started in 1975 with the aim of serving as a platform for keeping abreast of various topics under the sun. For four decades, the show evolved into a platform for actors, comedians, and artists to join together and perform skits that are relevant and entertaining to a certain degree. While it has been said that SNL’s performance every week varies, it has remained anchored to its mission of serving as an avenue for cultural and political moments. It has served as a platform for major events in the past, including the September 11 attack and U.S presidential elections. It has also produced an array of comedic talents during the last four decades. SNL is a witness for Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, and many other comedic talents, leading them to be cast into other Hollywood projects.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The comedy sitcom All in the Family, which aired on CBS, has brought the real-life American family situation to the television screen. The Bunkers, led by husband and wife Archie and Edith, showed audiences fascinating scenes that depicted typical family life. Although the patriarch, played by Carroll O’Connor, has shown immense narrow-mindedness and prejudice in his beliefs, he can still take credit for capturing many viewers’ attention. People got hooked on the sitcom, and its storyline is still relevant in these modern times.
The American television sitcom Arrested Development, created by Mitchell Hurwitz, followed the riches to rags story of the Bluth family. It started with the arrest of the family patriarch (George) for fraud, which led to the family’s loss of wealth and investments. Amidst the family’s feuding, George’s son steps in to try and make their family peaceful again. This sitcom captured millions of fans because of its quirky and outlandish storyline, which resulted in unique comedic instances and family drama. The sitcom first aired on Fox and was resurrected on Netflix before finally ending in 2019.