The Wire tops BBC culture poll that lists the 100 greatest TV series of the 21st century
The 100 greatest television series of the 21st century have been revealed.
Chosen by 206 critics, academics and industry professionals from 43 countries in a poll by BBC Culture – the home of BBC.com for all things culture – the list is topped by American drama The Wire, starring Idris Elba and Dominic West.
The Brits are also in the top 10 elsewhere with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy Fleabag at number four and Michaela Cole’s award-winning drama I May Destroy You at number six.
So how many have you seen? Be sure to let us know your opinions and glaring omissions in the comments below.
BBC Culture’s 100 Greatest TV Series of the 21st Century
1. THE WIRE (2002-08) Baltimore cops are investigating homicides and narcotics.
2. CRAZY MEN (2007-15) Stylish advertising drama from the 1960s.
AMC / Lionsgate)
3. BREAKING THE BAD (2008-13) A chemistry teacher sells crystal meth.
4. FLEECE BAG (2016-19) Love and loss tragicomedy in London.
5. GAME OF THRONES (2011-19) Fantastic drama of death and dragons.
6. I CAN DESTROY YOU (2020) Arabella’s life is transformed after a sexual assault in a nightclub.
7. THE REMAINS (2014-17) The residents of Mapleton, New York go missing in a supernatural mystery.
8. THE AMERICANS (2013-18) Cold War era spy drama.
9. THE OFFICE (2001-03) Boss David Brent makes staff and viewers cringe.
10. ESTATE (2018-) Savage dramatic comedy about an extremely wealthy media family.
11. BOJACK HORSEMAN (2014-20) An animated sitcom about the anthropomorphic horse.
12. SIX FEET UNDER (2001-05) The Fisher family run a funeral home.
13. TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN (2017) Surreal mysterious crime drama.
14. ATLANTA (2016-) Follows a music boss and rapper.
15. CERNOBYL (2019) Nuclear drama of 1986.
16. THE CROWN (2016-) Tale of the life of the queen of the 1940s.
17. 30 ROCHE (2006-13) American comedy about eccentric stars.
18. DEAD WOOD (2004-06) Western, located in a corrupt town in the 1800s.
19. LOST (2004-10) The survivors of a plane crash are stranded on an island.
20. THE THICK (2005-12) The comedy swearing satirizes British politics.
21. REFUSE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2000-) Television producer Larry David is dabbling in pickles.
22. BLACK MIRROR (2011- Dystopian sci-fi series set in the near future.
23. BEST CALL SAUL (2015-22) Breaking Bad spin-off on a lawyer.
24. VEEP (2012-19) Satirical American political comedy.
BBC / Two brothers / Luke Varley)
25. SHERLOCK (2010-17) Benedict Cumberbatch plays the famous detective.
26. GUARDIANS (2019) Superhero drama.
27. LINE OF FUNCTION (2012-21) Good brass destroys curved brass.
28. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2006-11) American sports drama.
29. PARKS AND LEISURE (2009-15) Mockumentary follows Indiana City officials.
30. GIRLS (2012-17) American dramatic comedy about four young women.
31. TRUE DETECTIVE (2014-19) Black detective drama.
32. CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT (2003-19) The unusual story of a dysfunctional, once rich family.
33. THE GOOD WOMAN (2009-16) American political and legal drama.
34. THE BRIDGE (2011-18) Nordic detective drama.
35. FARGO (2014-) Dark dramatic comedy.
36 = DOWNTON ABBEY (2010-15) 1920s upstairs, life downstairs.
BBC / Various Artists Ltd and FALKNA / Natalie Seery)
36 = BAND OF BROTHERS (2001) American drama about WWII.
38. THE TALE OF THE HAND WOMAN (2017-) Women are the property of the state in the history of dystopian society.
39. THE BUREAU (US) (2005-13) Clash of ego with Steve Carrell at the head of an American paper mill.
40. BORGEN (2010-22) Danish political drama.
41. SCHITT CREEK (2015-20) A wealthy family, the Schitt’s are suddenly broke. Canadian sitcom.
42. PEEP SHOW (2003-15) Robert Webb and David Mitchell play annoying roommates hilariously.
43. THEFT OF MONEY (2017-21) Spanish police drama.
44. COMMUNITY (2009-15) Sitcom on suspended lawyer.
45. THE GOOD FIGHT (2017-) American legal drama.
46. HOMELAND (2011-20) Spy thriller with Claire Danes.
47. GRAY’S ANATOMY (2005-) Medical drama.
48. INSIDE NO 9 (2014-) Comic twisted tales.
49. THE BUREAU (2015-) French spy thriller.
50. STOP AND TAKE FIRE (2014-17) 1980s tech drama.
51. LITTLE AX (2020) Drama about the West Indian community in London.
52. THIS IS ENGLAND 86, 88 AND 90 (2010-15) Trace the troubled life of a group of young friends.
53. CALL MY AGENT! (2015-20) Dramatic comedy from the Parisian talent agency.
54. THE HAPPY VALLEY (2014-) Police drama set in West Yorkshire.
55. THE SHIELD (2002-08) Gritty American crime drama.
56. THE BIG BANG THEORY (2007-19) American comedy. Clumsy geniuses live opposite the aspiring actress.
57. THE YOUNG POPE (2016) Jude Law plays the young American pope.
58. DARK (2017-20) German science fiction thriller.
Des Willie / Netflix)
59. THE UNDERGROUND RAILWAY (2021) A young woman flees slavery in the Great South.
60. CASTLE OF CARDS (2013-18) Political thriller.
61. AVATAR: THE LAST MASTER OF THE AIR (2005-08) Animated fantasy adventure.
62 = THE RIGHT PLACE (2016-20) Comedy about the afterlife.
62 = ASK (2018-21) Eighties New York underground drama.
64. DETECTORISTS (2014-17) Comedy about metal detector buddies.
65. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (2013-19) American dramatic comedy set in a women’s prison.
66. ESTTOWN MARE (2021) Kate Winslet in the American crime drama.
67. RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE (2009-) A search for charismatic drag queens.
68. STRANGE THINGS (2016-) Sci-fi horror drama set in the 80s.
69. 24 (2001-10) Jack Bauer’s fight with the bad guys takes place in real time.
70. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004-09) Last of humanity in search of Earth.
71. ENLIGHTENED (2011-13) A woman tries to live an enlightened life.
72. GILMORE GIRLS (2000-07) American dramatic comedy.
73. PLANET EARTH (2006) Epic documentary by David Attenborough.
74. UTOPIA (2013-14) Groups that meet online are targeted by an underground organization in the thriller.
75. BABYLONE BERLIN (2017-) German neo-black series.
76. RICK AND MORTY (2013-) We hosted a sitcom.
77. AMERICAN CRIME HISTORY (2016-) True detective series anthology.
78. MURDER (DENMARK) (2007-12) Police procedural drama.
79. MINDHUNTER (2017-19) Two FBI agents interview serial killers.
YouTube / HBO)
80. HOUSE (2004-2012) American medical drama with Hugh Laurie.
81. JO: MADE IN AMERICA (2016) . Documentary by OJ Simpson.
82. BIG LITTLE LIES (2017-19) Women live “perfect” lives in American drama.
83. INSECURITY (2016-21) Pals Issa and Molly face their problems together.
84 = NORMAL PEOPLE (2020) Intense Irish love story.
84 = NARCOS (2015-2017) Tells the story of the cocaine trade in Colombia.
86. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (2005-2014) American sitcom.
87. THE RETURN (2005-2014) Lisa Kudrow is playing the role of a sitcom actress.
88. The OA (2016-19) Mind-blowing mysterious drama.
89. DEXTER (2006-13) Serial killer Dexter targets bad guys.
Peter Iovino / Showtime)
90. IT’S ALWAYS SUN IN PHILADELPHIA (2005-) Five narcissistic buddies run a dilapidated bar.
91. WESTERN WORLD (2016) Western science fiction-themed thriller.
92. SHOW ME A HERO (2015) Life in a 1980s New York suburb.
93. TREME (2010-13) Located in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
94. LOUIE (2010-15) Comedian Louis CK plays a fictional version of himself.
95. LUTHER (2010-19) Idris Elba in the British psychological crime drama.
96. DISASTER (2015-19) The romantic comedy follows an Irish woman and an American in London.
97. HANNIBAL (2013-15) Psychological and horror thriller series.
98. EX-PETITE FOLLE (2015-19) Musical comedy.
99. STEVEN UNIVERSE (2013-20) Coming of age animated series.
100. QUEEN’S GAME (2020) Orphan chess prodigy Beth Harmon fights addiction.
Learn more about how the survey was conducted here.
Sara Wallis of the Daily Mirror gives her verdict
There is nothing like a list of the best TVs to start an argument.
First of all, calm down… this is just 21st century television. The Sopranos, The West Wing, and Sex And The City all started in the previous century.
Yet there are glaring omissions. It’s A Sin deserves a place, just like Peaky Blinders, Desperate Housewives, Glee, Killing Eve and I would even add Squid Game.
Where’s Ted Lasso, Brooklyn 99, and Motherland?
The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad are in the top three, but I would move The Handmaid’s Tale, Schitt’s Creek, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Good Place much higher.