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The 50 best TV show seasons of all time, according to critics

“Breaking Bad” (Season 5).

AMC

  • “Breaking Bad” and “The Sopranos” are some of the most acclaimed shows of all time.
  • We broke down quality TV by seasons and ranked the best TV seasons of all time based on Metacritic reviews.
  • Recent shows like Hulu’s “Pen15” and FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows” made the cut.

The most critically acclaimed TV shows in history have earned their praise by repeatedly producing innovative and memorable seasons.

Shows like “The Wire,” “Breaking Bad,” and “The Sopranos” consistently won over critics, and their best seasons have set a standard for what great television should look like.

More recent shows like “Fleabag,” “Atlanta,” and “Better Call Saul” have broken into this elite group, as well.

To find out which series have been the most influential, we turned to the review aggregator Metacritic for its list of the all-time best TV seasons, which ranks shows by their composite critical reception. We excluded TV specials that were on Metacritic’s original list. 

John Lynch contributed to an earlier version of this story.

The 50 best TV-show seasons of all time, according to critics:

50. “Better Call Saul” (season 5)better call saul

AMC

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 8.7/10

 

49. “The Shield” (Season 1)the shield

FX

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 9.3/10

 

48. “Mad Men” (Season 4)Mad Men season 4

AMC

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 9.0/10

 

47. “The Americans” (Season 6)The Americans season 6

FX

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 8.2/10

 

46. “The Larry Sanders Show” (Season 3)larry sanders show

HBO

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 7.5/10

 

45. “Bleak House” (Season 1)Bleak House 2005

BBC

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 9.0/10

 

44. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (Season 3)curb

HBO

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 8.8/10

 

43. “Louie” (Season 4)louie

FX

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 8.7/10

 

42. “Pen15” (Season 2)Anna Kone (Anna Konkle) and Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine) in an episode of Pen15

Lara Solanki/Hulu

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 7.3/10

 

41. “City So Real” (Season 1)city so real

NatGeo

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 4.4/10

 

40. “Deadwood” (Season 2)deadwood season 2

HBO

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 9.1/10

 

39. “The Office: UK” (Season 2)The office

BBC

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 8.9/10

 

38. “The Americans” (Season 5)the americans keri russell matthew rhys 03

FX

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 8.4/10

 

37. “Louie” (Season 3)louie

FX

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 8.8/10

 

36. “Transparent” (Season 2)transparent

Amazon

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 6.6/10

 

35. “Battlestar Galactica” (Season 3)battlestar galactica

Sci-Fi

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 9.1/10

 

34. “Game of Thrones” (Season 4)game of thrones

HBO

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 9.2/10

 

33. “Better Things” (Season 3)better things

FX

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 8.2/10

 

32. “Homicide: Life on the Street” (Season 1)homicide life on the street

NBC

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 8.7/10

 

31. “The Wire” (Season 2)the wire

HBO

Metacritic score: 95/100

User score: 9.0/10

 

30. “The Americans” (Season 4)the americans fx

FX

Metacritic score: 95/100

User score: 9.0/10

 

29. “The Staircase” 2004 (Season 1)the staircase

Canal

Metacritic score: 95/100

User score: 6.7/10

Netflix added more episodes to this original version, which Metacritic counted as two seasons.

 

28. “Enlightened” (Season 2)enlightened

HBO

Metacritic score: 95/100

User score: 7.6/10

 

27. “Catastrophe” (Season 3)Catastrophe

Amazon

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 9.1/10

 

26. “Planet Earth II” (Season 1)planet earth 2

BBC

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 9.4/10

 

25. “Fargo” (Season 2)fargo season two kirsten dunst

FX

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 9.3/10

 

24. “Fleabag” (Season 2)fleabag amazonPhoebe Waller-Bridge wrote and stars on Amazon’s “Fleabag.”

Amazon

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 8.7/10

 

23. “Better Things” (Season 2)2017 06 01_Better Things Season 2

FX

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 7.4/10

 

22. “The Sopranos” (Season 6)sopranos

HBO

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 8.9/10

21. “Breaking Bad” (Season 4)breaking bad

AMC

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 9.5/10

20. “What We Do in the Shadows” (Season 3)Harvey Guillén on season three of "What We Do in the Shadows."Harvey Guillén on season three of “What We Do in the Shadows.”

Russ Martin/FX

Matacritic score: 96/100

User score: 8.1/10

19. “O.J.: Made in America” (Season 1)oj simpson made in america

ESPN Films

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 8.0/10

 

18. “Twin Peaks” (Season 1)twin peaks

Showtime

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 9.3/10

 

17. “Homeland” (Season 2)homeland

Showtime

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 8.3/10

 

16. “America to Me” (Season 1)america to me

Starz

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 5.6/10

 

15. “The Sopranos” (Season 3)sopranos

HBO

Metacritic score: 97/100

User score: 9.4/10

 

14. “Atlanta” (Season 2)atlanta

FX

Metacritic score: 97/100

User score: 8.1/10

 

13. “Blue Planet II” (Season 1)Blue Planet II

AMC Networks

Metacritic score: 97/100

User score: 8.2/10

12. “The Larry Sanders Show” (Season 5)larry sanders

HBO

Metacritic score: 97/100

User score: 6.0/10

 

11. “The Sopranos” (Season 2)sopranos

HBO

Metacritic score: 97/100

User score: 9.3/10

 

10. “The Wire” (Season 4)wire

HBO

Metacritic score: 98/100

User score: 9.5/10

 

9. “The Wire” (Season 3)the wire

HBO

Metacritic score: 98/100

User score: 9.4/10

 

8. “The Leftovers” (Season 3)the leftovers HBO

HBO

Metacritic score: 98/100

User score: 9.1/10

 

7. “The Office: UK” (Season 1)the office

BBC

Metacritic score: 98/100

User score: 8.6/10

 

6. “The Office: UK” (Season 3)the office

BBC

Metacritic score: 98/100

User score: 8.5/10

 

5. “Breaking Bad” (Season 5)breaking bad

Ursula Coyote/AMC

Metacritic score: 99/100

User score: 9.6/10

 

4. “The Larry Sanders Show” (Season 6)larry sanders

HBO

Metacritic score: 99/100

User score: 5.5/10

 

3. “Murder One” (Season 1)murder one

ABC

Metacritic score: 99/100

User score: 6.2/10

 

2. “The Larry Sanders Show” (Season 4)larry sanders show

HBO

Metacritic score: 99/100

User score: 5.8/10

 

1. “Rectify” (Season 4)rectify

SundanceTV

Metacritic score: 99/100

User score: 8.6/10

 

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