The 100 greatest TV shows of the 21st century have been revealed 2 years ago

The 100 greatest TV shows of the 21st century have been revealed

Start your arguments... now!

Everyone loves a good, definitive, "Actually, this is the pinnacle of pop culture because we said so" list, don't they?


It's just one of those facts of life.

Take, for example, Rolling Stone's recent compendium of the 500 Best Songs of All Time, which placed Aretha Franklin's soaring 'Respect' at number one.

As for the world of prestige television, we have a new potentially contentious list to contend with.

The team at BBC Culture has polled 206 TV experts from 43 countries in a bid to decide the 100 greatest shows of the 21st century.


The Sopranos often tops TV polls, but given that it began in 1999, it does not qualify. That maxim is true of many classics, of course. It's strictly from the year 2000 onwards here.

"It felt like the right time to survey the television landscape because arguably it has been the defining art form of the past 21 years: where once, rightly or wrongly, it was largely patronised as cinema's younger, more rough-and-ready sibling, today its artistic credibility is unassailable, while the advent of streaming platforms has also given shows the ability to reach unprecedented global audiences all at once," notes the opening argument from the BBC Culture crew.

"And so, in order to mark TV's ascendancy, we have decided to ask the question: what are the greatest TV series of the 21st Century?"

We'll jump right ahead and reveal that The Wire takes top spot, with David Simon's exceptional societal crime saga still winning new fans and earning revisionist acclaim since the show concluded in 2008.


In an extremely detailed appraisal – that you can read right here – Eric Deggans of NPR hails The Wire's ability to both entertain and inform in a memorably unique way that few other shows have ever been able to come close to capturing.

"The Wire has earned its place as the greatest show of the 21st Century because there is no modern TV series that has better captured all the various ills hobbling the American experiment today, from ineffective politicians to toxic policing, vanishing labour markets, poverty-stricken neighbourhoods and systemic racism," says Deggans.

"It presented a vision of a community so hamstrung by issues, it's unable to fully recognise its problems, much less address them. Which sounds an awful lot like America today."

For contrast, The Queen's Gambit takes the number 100 spot.


Listing all 100 shows here would be a bit much, but you can find the top 25 and a link to the entire list below:

25. Sherlock

24. Veep

23. Better Call Saul

22. Black Mirror


21. Curb Your Enthusiasm

20. The Thick of It

19. LOST

18. Deadwood

17. 30 Rock

16. The Crown

15. Chernobyl

14. Atlanta

13. Twin Peaks: The Return

12. Six Feet Under

11. BoJack Horseman

10. Succession

9. The Office (UK)

8. The Americans

7. The Leftovers

6. I May Destroy You

5. Game of Thrones

4. Fleabag

3. Breaking Bad

2. Mad Men

1. The Wire

You can view the full countdown here.