101 Best Written TV Series

Full List

1 THE SOPRANOS

Created by David Chase
A mobster in therapy, having problems with his mother," was how [i]The Sopranos[/i] initially sparked, according to creator David Chase, though he was thinking about the premise for a feature film.

2 SEINFELD

Created by Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld
At the end of [i]Seinfeld[/i]'s run, Jerry Seinfeld commented that one of the more underrated aspects of his show was the number of its locations and sets, creating a sense of indoor-outdoor movement unusual for a multi-camera sitcom.

3 THE TWILIGHT ZONE

Season One writers: Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Robert Presnell, Jr., Rod Serling
No show in the history of television has lingered in the imagination quite like Rod Serling's anthology series, which could function both as a science fiction chiller and an issues-driven examination of human behavior and moral complexities, with climactic twists.

4 ALL IN THE FAMILY

Developed for Television by Norman Lear, Based on [i]Till Death Do Us Part[/i], Created by Johnny Speight
Asked how he'd been able to be so controversial on [i]All in the Family[/i], creator Norman Lear said to the WGAW Web site in 2009: "I don't really know how to explain it. It took me three years to get All in the Family on the air. Let me put it that way."

5 M*A*S*H

Developed for Television by Larry Gelbart
[i]M*A*S*H[/i] remains the only long-running series, comedy or drama, set around a war zone.

6 THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW

Created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns
The MTM brand, under Moore and then-husband Grant Tinker, was responsible for an iconic run of comedies (and dramas) in the 1970s, beginning with [i]The Mary Tyler Moore Show[/i], an updating of the workplace sitcom set at a Minneapolis TV station where Mary Richards (Moore) was a news writer and producer.

7 MAD MEN

Created by Matthew Weiner
Matt Weiner wrote the [i]Mad Men[/i] pilot nearly a decade before it found a home as the first scripted drama at AMC, where the series debuted in the summer of 2007 and quickly took hold of the imagination with its evocation of Madison Avenue and the country as the turbulent 1960s dawn.

8 CHEERS

Created by Glen Charles & Les Charles and James Burrows
The qualities that made [i]The Mary Tyler Moore Show[/i] a seminal sitcom in the 1970s gave [i]Cheers[/i] the same importance to the '80s.

9 THE WIRE

Created by David Simon
No series, arguably, is more responsible for the novelistic ambitions possible for television writers now.

10 THE WEST WING

Created by Aaron Sorkin
"The people who get angry at us on one Wednesday night will be standing up and cheering the next Wednesday night," Aaron Sorkin wrote in [i]Written By[/i] before [i]The West Wing[/i] premiered.

11 THE SIMPSONS

Created by Matt Groening, Developed by James L. Brooks and Matt Groening and Sam Simon
[i]The Simpsons[/i] is as ineffable as American humor gets. Among the show's landmarks (hitting 100 episodes, then 200, then 500) was the inclusion of Homer's exclamation, "Doh!" in the [i]Oxford English Dictionary[/i] ("used to comment on a foolish or stupid action, especially one's own").

12 I LOVE LUCY

"Pilot," Written by Jess Oppenheimer & Madelyn Pugh & Bob Carroll, Jr.
Though the show won an Emmy as Best Comedy, the writers were never so honored (in fairness, the Emmy for sitcom writing didn't exist until 1955).

13 BREAKING BAD

Created by Vince Gilligan
Creator Vince Gilligan said he was joking with Tom Schnauz that the two former [i]X-Files[/i] writers might have to rent an RV and cook crystal meth if their stalled Hollywood careers didn't turn around.

14 THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW

Created by Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner has said he based his first sitcom on his experiences as a writer on [i]Your Show of Shows[/i], working for temperamental star Sid Caesar while also trying to be a husband and father.

15 HILL STREET BLUES

Created by Michael Kozoll and Steven Bochco
Low rated in its infancy, [i]Hill Street Blues[/i] broke as many TV storytelling rules as its ultimate success helped establish for cop shows.

16 ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

Created by Mitchell Hurwitz
Mitchell Hurwitz offered a glimpse into his take on the family sitcom when he spoke of his own parents' refusal to "quietly disappear into their middle age."

17 THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART

Created by Madeleine Smithberg, Lizz Winstead; Head Writer: Chris Kreski; Writers: Jim Earl, Daniel J. Goor, Charles Grandy, J.R. Havlan, Tom Johnson, Kent Jones, Paul Mercurio, Guy Nicolucci, Steve Rosenfield, Jon Stewart
It began as [i]The Daily Show[/i] (hosted by Craig Kilborn) in 1996, became [i]The Daily Show[/i] (hosted by Jon Stewart) in 1999, and is now just as often referred to as [i]Jon Stewart[/i] as its official title, [i]The Daily Show with Jon Stewart[/i].

18 SIX FEET UNDER

Created by Alan Ball
Alan Ball pushed dramatic television into uncharted territory with his series about the Fishers and their Los Angeles funeral home.

19 TAXI

Created by James L. Brooks and Stan Daniels and David Davis and Ed. Weinberger
Post-[i]Mary Tyler Moore Show[/i], James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, Ed. Weinberger and David Davis left MTM, formed their own company, and sold [i]Taxi[/i] to Paramount (according to TV.com, Brooks and Davis bought back the option to a [i]New York[/i] magazine article about night-shift cab drivers from MTM's Grant Tinker).

20 THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW

Created by Garry Shandling & Dennis Klein
Having lampooned himself and sitcoms generally on the meta [i]It's Garry Shandling's Show[/i], Shandling this time trained his comedic radar onto the fear and self-loathing backstage at a late-night talk show.

21 30 ROCK

Created by Tina Fey
Tina Fey's canny take-off on her former life as head writer on [i]Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock[/i] was initially viewed as "too inside" for a mass audience, a behind-the-scenes look at a sketch show, with Fey playing showrunner Liz Lemon and Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, the hard-to-control comedy star brought in to juice ratings.

22 FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

Developed by Television by Peter Berg, Inspired by the Book by H.G. Bissinger
Peter Berg wrote and directed the pilot of a show that was the second adaptation of H.G. Bissinger's non-fiction narrative about the impact of high school football on the hearts, minds, and lives in small-town Dillon, Texas.

23 FRASIER

Created by David Angell & Peter Casey & David Lee, Based on the character "Frasier Crane" created by Glen Charles & Les Charles
The Grub Street Productions team of Casey-Angell-Lee furthered the work they'd done on [i]Cheers[/i] by moving psychologist Frasier Crane from Boston to Seattle and giving him a radio call-in show.

24 FRIENDS

Created by Marta Kauffman & David Crane
Co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane met in the theater program at Brandeis; by the time they created [i]Friends[/i], they had added a third partner, Kevin Bright, with whom they'd worked on the pilot of the HBO series [i]Dream On[/i].

25 SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Season One writers: Anne Beatts, Chevy Chase, Al Franken, Lorne Michaels, Marilyn Suzanne Miller, Paul Mooney, Garrett Morris, Michael O'Donoghue, Herb Sargent, Tom Schiller, Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel
In his 2009 memoir, writer-performer Tom Davis conjures the small gang of writers standing outside Lorne Michaels' office at the inception of [i]SNL[/i] in July of 1975.

26 THE X-FILES

Created by Chris Carter
Fox's signature drama for most of the '90s, [i]The X-Files[/i], created by Chris Carter, was one of primetime television's all-time great hit science-fiction series, although to call it sci-fi is requires qualifying that it delved into the paranormal and the conspiratorial.

27 LOST

Created by Jeffrey Lieber and J.J. Abrams & Damon Lindelof
A pastiche of genres sci-fi, James Bond movies, action, adventure, and thriller co-mingled to intoxicating effect on [i]Lost[/i].

28 ER

Created Michael Crichton
The show that launched George Clooney's career had a 20-year gestation period between the time Michael Crichton first wrote the pilot in 1974 and John Wells guided it to the top of the ratings in the mid-1990s.

29 THE COSBY SHOW

Created by Ed Weinberger & Michael Leeson and William Cosby, Jr., Ed. D.
Bill Cosby's return to network television caused a new vogue for sitcoms based closely on the act of a stand-up comedian, a trend that dominated primetime into the ensuing decades.

30 CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM

Created by Larry David
Having co-created Jerry Seinfeld's roman a clef of a sitcom, Larry David has turned himself inside out on [i]Curb[/i].

31 THE HONEYMOONERS

Season One writers: Herbert Finn, Marvin Marx, A.J. Russell, Leonard Stern, Walter Stone, Sydney Zelinka*
The standard by which all working-class sitcoms are still measured had a fitful beginning. Harry Crane and Joe Bigelow are credited with creating Ralph Kramden, a Brooklyn bus driver, as a sketch character for Jackie Gleason in 1951, when Gleason was hosting the Dumont network's [i]Calvalcade of Stars[/i] variety show (two other writers on that show, Coleman Jacoby and Artie Rosen, brought in Art Carney for a different sketch).

32 DEADWOOD

Created by David Milch
After a dozen years as the bard of [i]NYPD Blue[/i], David Milch's first created series was a strange, brilliant, and rococo Western set in a Gold Rush town in the Dakota territories, circa the late 1800s.

33 STAR TREK

Created by Gene Roddenberry
As creator Gene Roddenberry wrote to science fiction author Isaac Asmiov two months after the first [i]Star Trek[/i] series premiered in 1966: "[i]Star Trek[/i] almost did not get on the air because it refused to do a juvenile science fiction, because it refused to put a Lassie' aboard the space ship, and because it insisted on hiring Dick Matheson, Harlan Ellison, A.E. Van Vogt, Phil Farmer, and so on."

34 MODERN FAMILY

Created by Steven Levitan & Christopher Lloyd
The sweet spot on [i]Modern Family[/i], done as a mock documentary, is in exposing the growing pains for a culture confronting the fluid meaning of the mainstream family unit.

35 TWIN PEAKS

"Pilot," Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch
"When Blue Velvet Meets Hill Street Blues," read the [i]New York Times[/i] headline in 1990, describing [i]Twin Peaks[/i].

36 NYPD BLUE

Created by David Milch & Steven Bochco
Steven Bochco made more creative elbow room on network television with [i]YPD Blue[/i], which debuted amid "viewer discretion" hype before settling into what it was one of the last important primetime cop series.

37 THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW

Season One: Written by Bill Angelos, Stan Burns, Don Hinkley, Buz Kohan, Mike Marmer, Gail Parent, Kenny Solms, Saul Turtletaub; Writing Supervised by Arnie Rosen
The kind of beloved series that television executives abandoned long ago comedy-variety, with an infectiously multi-talented comedian as host, aided by a small band of merry pranksters, Burnett's show was part of the era that also included [i]Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, The Flip Wilson Show,[/i] and [i]The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour[/i].

38 BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2005)

Developed by Ronald D. Moore, Based on the Series [i]Battlestar Galactica[/i], Created by Glen A. Larson
Having written for the series [i]Star Trek: The Next Generation[/i] and [i]Star Trek: Voyager[/i], Ronald Moore arrived at his remake of [i]Battlestar Galactica[/i] determined to bring the "space opera" genre out of its fusty cartoon past.

39 SEX AND THE CITY

Created by Darren Star, Based on the Book by Candace Bushnell
Is the show over? Because the movies aren't. Creator Darren Star based his series on Candace Bushnell's book, adapted itself from her columns in the [i]New York Observer[/i].

40 GAME OF THRONES

Created by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss, Based on [i]A Song of Ice and Fire[/i] by George R. R. Martin
Medieval (or thereabouts) fantasy is not a TV genre with a particularly exalted tradition, which is why [i]Game of Thrones[/i], in its lavish production values and depth of mythology, feels so unprecedented in television.

41 THE BOB NEWHART SHOW - TIE

Created by David Davis and Lorenzo Music
Talking about the success of [i]The Bob Newhart Show[/i] on the podcast "Bullseye" recently, Newhart told a story about Jack Benny.

41 YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS - TIE

Season One: Written by Mel Tolkin, Lucille Kallen, Max Liebman*
If you journeyed from Vaudeville to [i]Saturday Night Live[/i], you'd want to stop awhile at [i]Your Show of Shows[/i].

43 DOWNTON ABBEY - TIE

Created by Julian Fellowes*
Series creator Julian Fellowes' lavish period piece is also a pace-driven soap opera, set on a spectacular estate out in the English countryside of Yorkshire, home of the aristocratic Crawleys and their staff.

43 THIRTYSOMETHING - TIE

Created by Marshall Herskovitz & Edward Zwick
Since this sensitive ensemble drama burst onto the scene at the end of the "greed is good" 80s, many have tried and just as many have failed to replicate a show about well, ennui-riddled, upwardly mobile strivers, encountering speed bumps or ruptures in their relationship lives.

43 LAW & ORDER - TIE

Created by Dick Wolf
The son of an advertising executive, Dick Wolf went into the ad business himself before moving into film and television.

46 HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET - TIE

Created by Paul Attanasio, Based on the Book [i]Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets[/i] by David Simon
[i]Homicide[/i] was based on the book [i]Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets[/i], written by David Simon from his time as a crime reporter at [i]The Baltimore Sun[/i].

46 ST. ELSEWHERE - TIE

Created by Joshua Brand & John Falsey, Developed by Mark Tinker/John Masius
Like other important shows from the 1980s MTM stable, [i]St. Elsewhere[/i], which twice won Emmys for its writing, featured a writing staff whose future series appear elsewhere on this list.

48 HOMELAND

Developed by Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa, Based on the Original Israeli Series Prisoners of War by Gideon Raff
[i]Homeland[/i] is a more humanist and psychologically disturbing version of [i]24[/i], a show on which co-creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa were writers.

49 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

Created by Joss Whedon
Part of the fun, and influence, of [i]Buffy[/i] was in the way it mixed and matched genres while maintaining the integrity of its comedy and its heart.

50 THE COLBERT REPORT - TIE

Season One writers: Mike Brumm, Stephen Colbert, Rich Dahm, Eric Drysdale, Peter Gwinn, Jay Katsir, Laura Krafft, Allison Silverman
"Anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you." That was Stephen Colbert's mantra when [i]The Colbert Report[/i] debuted, and he has hardly wavered.

50 THE OFFICE (UK) - TIE

Created by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant*
Early in the 2000s, the buzz began moving west across the Atlantic: There was this quirky and very funny faux-documentary comedy series out of England called [i]The Office[/i].

50 THE GOOD WIFE - TIE

Created by Robert King & Michelle King
Leading roles for women on TV don't grow on trees, much less leading roles as layered as Alicia Florrick, played by Juliana Margulies.

53 NORTHERN EXPOSURE

Created by Joshua Brand & John Falsey
The series' classic fish-out-of-water premise involved Joel Fleischman, a New Yorker fresh out of Columbia Medical School who is sent to run a clinic in frigid, off-the-grid Cicely, Alaska.

54 THE WONDER YEARS

Created by Neal Marlens & Carol Black
Created by Neal Marlens and Carol Black, this sweet, intelligent confection of a half-hour comedy functioned as a looking glass into a late '60s suburban childhood.

55 L.A. LAW

Created by Steven Bochco & Terry Louise Fisher
Over its eight seasons, [i]L.A. Law[/i] racked up 15 Emmys in various categories (including two as outstanding drama).

56 SESAME STREET

Created by Joan Ganz Cooney
Simply put, the show's continual inventiveness and impact as an educational tool forged via the runaway popularity of the Muppets changed the landscape of children's television.

57 COLUMBO

Created by Richard Levinson & William Link
As a writing team, Richard Levinson and William Link were an anomaly, given that they started writing together in junior high.

58 FAWLTY TOWERS - TIE

Written by John Cleese & Connie Booth*
In a TV interview, John Cleese called [i]Fawlty Towers[/i] "just little 30-minute farces that start very, very low-key and finish up absolutely frantic."

58 THE ROCKFORD FILES - TIE

Created by Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell
As smooth as Columbo was rumpled, private eye Jim Rockford, an ex-con, lived and worked out of a trailer at the beach in Santa Monica. To a certain extent the character was the creation, as Columbo was, of the personality of its star, James Garner.

60 MOONLIGHTING - TIE

Created by Glenn Gordon Caron
Nominally a comedic detective series, the show's originality came from the electrifying chemistry between stars Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd, whose verbal jousting earned the duo, and the series, comparisons to Howard Hawkes comedies like [i]His Girl Friday[/i], or William Powell and Myrna Loy of [i]The Thin Man[/i] series.

60 FREAKS AND GEEKS - TIE

Created by Paul Feig
The title itself was an ironic statement about the pejoratives that get attached to those kids who don't quite buy into the aspirational idea of fitting in.

62 ROOTS

Written by William Blinn, M. Charles Cohen, Ernest Kinoy, James Lee; Based on the Book by Alex Haley
[i]Roots[/i], from executive producer David L. Wolper, and produced by Stan Margulies, was more than a miniseries it was a spectacular and unprecedented example of television's power as a storytelling medium, one that could simultaneously direct the national conversation and prod its conscience.

63 SOUTH PARK - TIE

Created by Matt Stone & Trey Parker*
From "The Spirit of Christmas," an animated holiday card made for Fox executive Brian Graden that got passed around Hollywood like comedy samizdat, to [i]The Book of Mormon[/i], their current Broadway smash musical, no comedy writers have been on quite on such a run of wrongness as Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

63 EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND - TIE

Created by Philip Rosenthal
There was always something deceptively simple on display, in both its straightforward concept and skillful execution.

65 PLAYHOUSE 90

Season One writers: Edna Anhalt, Edmund Beloin, Harold Jack Bloom, Marc Brandel, George Bruce, James P. Cavanagh, Whitfiled Cook, Helen Doss, Scott Fitzgerald, Devery Freeman, Frank Gilroy, Helen Howe, Speed Lamkin, Ernest Lehman, Herbert Little, Jr., Don Mankiewicz, Elick Moll, Paul Monash, Dean Reisner, Norman Retchin, Selma Robinson, William Sackheim, Rod Serling, Leonard Spigelgass, Leslie Stevens, Brandon Thomas, David Victor, Charles M. Warren, Hagar Wilde, Cornell Woolrich
"One cannot imagine the joy one had as a professional viewer of this windblown medicine show called television to be able to deal every week for four years with the depth, the quality and sometimes the disaster that was the weekly [i]Playhouse[/i]."

66 DEXTER - TIE

Developed for Television by James Manos, Jr., Based on the Novel [i]Darkly Dreaming Dexter[/i] by Jeff Lindsay
The movement toward dark characters on TV had grown dark enough to make possible a series, albeit on pay cable, about a Machiavellian serial killer whose targets are other serial killers.

66 THE OFFICE (U.S.) - TIE

Created by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant, Developed by Greg Daniels, Based on the BBC Series [i]The Office[/i]
Adapting the British comedy by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, Greg Daniels gathered around him writer-performers B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling, and Paul Lieberstein.

68 MY SO-CALLED LIFE

Created by Winnie Holzman
"I cannot bring myself to eat a well-balanced meal in front of my mother. It just means too much to her," the searching teenager Angela, played by Claire Danes, says in voice-over in the pilot of [i]My So-Called Life[/i], which lasted 19 episodes before being cancelled by ABC.

69 THE GOLDEN GIRLS

Created by Susan Harris
The sitcom that stormed the gates of prevailing wisdom about TV and the over-50 set.

70 THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW

Episode 1, "The New Housekeeper," Written by Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart
Writing in the [i]San Francisco Chronicle[/i] upon the death of Andy Griffith, David Wiegand pointed out that Sheriff Andy and the good folks of Mayberry, N.C., found wide appeal in primetime in an era when "the sexual revolution, the divisiveness of the Vietnam War and the general rejection of traditional values' by younger Americans had an impact on TV.

71 24 - TIE

Created by Joel Surnow & Robert Cochran
Heading into its debut, the challenges facing this intriguing new thriller were narrative ones namely, the ability to attract, and hold, a large audience through a story that unfolded by the hour, in weekly installments.

71 THE SHIELD - TIE

Created by Shawn Ryan
You could argue that no series in the history of television left a greater imprint on its network than [i]The Shield[/i], which enabled FX to branch out into grittier, R-rated dramatic fare while also keeping its dignity intact.

71 ROSEANNE - TIE

Created by Matt Williams, Based on a Character Created by Roseanne Barr
In 1985, on [i]The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson[/i], America met a comedian named Roseanne Barr. Three years later she had a hit sitcom that furthered her inimitable persona as the housewife sardonically self-identifying as a "domestic goddess."

74 MURPHY BROWN - TIE

Created by Diane English
Series creator Diane English left after four popular and award-winning seasons to create new shows, just as Murphy Brown's decision to become a single mother was blasted as morally irresponsible by then-Vice President Dan Quayle.

74 HOUSE - TIE

Created by David Shore
Creator David Shore's series came along a decade after ER and gave the medical drama a jolt, basing a show on a physician who didn't have a God complex so much as a complex that was vociferously godless.

76 I, CLAUDIUS - TIE

Written by Robert Graves and Jack Pulman*
'Twas the year of the miniseries: In January of 1977 [i]Roots[/i] premiered on ABC; in March the network's scandalous hit [i]Rich Man, Poor Man[/i] concluded, and in November, public television's [i]Masterpiece Theater[/i] waded into the muck – albeit the rarefied muck – by airing the 13-hour [i]I, Claudius[/i] from the BBC.

76 BARNEY MILLER - TIE

Created by Danny Arnold & Theodore J. Flicker
The air of world-weary sadness that hung over the denizens of the 12th Precinct made [i]Barney Miller[/i] feel different from other sitcoms, quieter in personality and more offbeat cops in action via inaction, dragging themselves around the squad room like drones in an office otherwise made colorful by the perps coming in off the street.

78 THE ODD COUPLE

Episode 1, "The Fight of the Felix," Written by Peggy Elliott & Ed Scharlach
Neil Simon's hit Broadway play was directed by Mike Nichols and starred Walter Matthau and Art Carney.

79 STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - TIE

Created by Gene Roddenberry
For his follow-up to a sci-fi series phenomenon roughly the size of the cosmos, Gene Roddenberry wanted to demonstrate, as he put it in a 1991 [i]Los Angeles Times Magazine[/i] article, "that TV need not be violent to be exciting."

79 ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS - TIE

Season One writers: Gwen Bagni, Samuel Blas, Robert Blees, Ray Bradbury, Richard Carr, James Cavanagh, Eustace Cockrell, Francis Cockrell, Marian Cockrell, John Collier, Robert C. Dennis, Mel Dinelli, Stanley Ellin, Fred Freiberger, Irwin Gielgud, Gina Kaus, Terence Maples, Richard Pedicini, Louis Pollock, Joseph Ruscoll, A.J. Russell, Stirling Silliphant, Andrew Solt, Harold Swanton, Victor Wolfson, Cornell Woolrich
Some of Hitchcock's most memorable films came out while he was hosting his anthology TV series, including Vertigo, [i]North by Northwest[/i] and [i]Psycho; Rear Window[/i] had come out the previous year.

79 UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS - TIE

Created by Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins*
Long before the sotto voce buzz and chatter at Edwardian era Downton Abbey, there was 165 Eaton Place, London, and the Bellamy family.

79 MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS - TIE

Conceived and Written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Neil Innes, Terry Jones, Michael Palin*
Greatest comedy in the history of television? You wouldn't get an argument in some quarters.

83 GET SMART

"Pilot," Written by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry
Not having seen Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or Woody Allen in [i]What's Up, Tiger Lily[/i], for that matter I didn't read [i]Get Smart[/i] as a take-off on Cold War-esque, mutually assured destruction; I'm just now realizing the CONTROL vs. KAOS dichotomy.

84 THE DEFENDERS - TIE

Created by Reginald Rose
Reginald Rose won two Emmys for his writing on [i]The Defenders[/i], which continued in the vein of the work for which he was most known for writing, [i]Twelve Angry Men[/i].

84 GUNSMOKE - TIE

Episode 1, "Matt Gets It," Written by Charles Marquis Warren & John Meston
Already a hit on radio starring William Conrad as Marshall Matt Dillon, [i]Gunsmoke[/i], starring James Arness, became the most popular Western in TV history and one of the longest running shows ever.

86 JUSTIFIED - TIE

Developed by Television by Graham Yost, Based on the Short Story "Fire in the Hole" by Elmore Leonard
Graham Yost, after working on two major miniseries for HBO, [i]Band of Brothers[/i] and [i]The Pacific[/i], segued into something entirely different in [i]Justified[/i].

86 SGT. BILKO (THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW) - TIE

Created by Nat Hiken
In a [i]New York Times[/i] article in 1996, when the movie version of [i]Sgt. Bilko[/i] was to be released, David Everitt, author of the book [i]King of the Half Hour: Nat Hiken and the Golden Age of TV Comedy[/i], paid homage to one of early TV's great overlooked comedy writer figures, dating back to Fred Allen on radio.

88 BAND OF BROTHERS

Written by Erik Bork, E. Max Frye, Tom Hanks, Erik Jendresen, Bruce C. McKenna, John Orloff, Graham Yost; Based on the Book by Stephan E. Ambrose
The television miniseries had traditionally gone to war, but [i]Band of Brothers[/i] did so with a budget that reportedly stretched to $120 million.

89 ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN

Season One: Written by Chris Beard, Phil Hahn, John Hanrahan, Coslough Johnson, Paul Keyes, Marc London, Allan Manings, David Panich, Hugh Wedlock, Digby Wolfe
Unlike other landmark comedy variety series, most notably [i]Saturday Night Live[/i], It's impossible to talk about [i]Laugh-In[/i] without viewing it through the lens of its times, the late 1960s and early '70s.

90 THE PRISONER

Premiere Episode: Written by George Markstein and David Tomblin*
A strange, psychedelic amalgam of Cold War spy fiction, sci-fi and Kafka-esque anti-authoritarianism, [i]The Prisoner[/i] starred Patrick McGoohan as Number Six.

91 THE MUPPET SHOW - TIE

Season One: Written by Jack Burns, Jim Henson, Jerry Juhl, Marc London
Behind Jim Henson's genius and generosity of spirit were writers who shared his vision for puppetry that could tickle kids while delighting adults.

91 ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS (U.K.) - TIE

Episode 1, "Fashion," Written by Jennifer Saunders, Based on an original idea by Jennifer Saunders & Dawn French*
Jennifer Saunders was already known in the U.K. as part of the comedy double act French and Saunders when she created "Ab Fab," which featured the besotted exploits of middle-aged gal pals Edina (Saunders) and Patsy, played by Joanna Lumley.

93 BOARDWALK EMPIRE

Created by Terence Winter, Based on the Book [i]Boardwalk Empire[/i] by Nelson Johnson
As a writer on [i]The Sopranos[/i], Terence Winter's name is on some of the show's most iconic episodes, including "Pine Barrens," and "Long Term Parking," in which a mobster's fianc was taken out.

94 WILL & GRACE

Created by David Kohan & Max Mutchnick
The season prior to [i]Will & Grace[/i]'s debut had seen TV history, when Ellen Degeneres' sitcom alter ego came out as a lesbian in a two-part episode of ABC's [i]Ellen[/i].

95 FAMILY TIES

Created by Gary David Goldberg
In 1986, [i]The Washington Post[/i] reported that at a White House ceremony honoring 141 high school students selected as presidential scholars for achievement in academics, the arts and leadership, President Reagan called [i]Family Ties[/i] his favorite TV show, pointing to how "the wider culture is once again beginning to respect, even to celebrate, family life."

96 LONESOME DOVE - TIE

Teleplay by Bill Wittliff, Based on the Novel [i]Lonesome Dove[/i] by Larry McMurtry
"It was so big, and at that moment, Westerns were dead," Bill Wittliff, who adapted Larry McMurtry's novel into the acclaimed miniseries, told the [i]San Antonio Express-News[/i] in 2007.

96 SOAP - TIE

Created by Susan Harris
What more could you want from a primetime satire of daytime soaps? The comedy, centered around the extended family circus of the wealthy Tates and the middle-class Campbells, hit all the soapy plot points and then some extramarital affairs, major crimes, spells of amnesia, a guy abducted by aliens and cloned, another guy who talks only through his puppet, transvestitism, incest, asexuality, homosexuality, a demon spawn, and the butler who had to put up with all the shenanigans.

98 THE FUGITIVE - TIE

Episode 1, "Where the Action Is," Written by Harry Kronman
The series finale set a ratings record with a 72 percent share, and went down as history-making for the way it gave audiences a climax to all the tension it had built up over four seasons.

98 LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN - TIE

Season One: Writing Supervised by Merrill Markoe, Writers: Andy Breckman, Tom Gammill, David Letterman, Richard Morris, Gerard Mulligan, Max Pross, Karl Tiedemann, Steve Winer
The sort of irony that David Letterman popularized on his show involved, for starters, calling attention to the fact that he was doing a talk show.

98 LOUIE - TIE

Season One: Written and Directed by Louis C.K.
The show, about a bemused comedian and divorced father of two girls, has the feel of honest autobiography.

101 OZ

Created by Tom Fontana
Before [i]The Sopranos[/i], or [i]The Wire[/i], there was [i]Oz[/i], the first dramatic series produced by HBO (HBO had produced comedies, including [i]The Larry Sanders Show[/i], but not a drama).

The 101 Best Written TV Series list was announced on June 2, 2013. The writing credits noted with each series are based on that date.

*Non-WGA determined credit