THE SOPRANOS Tops WGA’s List of the 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time

     June 3, 2013


What is the best written TV show of all time?  Well, according to the Writers Guild of America the answer is David Chase’s HBO drama series The Sopranos.  Members of the WGA took part in an online voting survey in order to determine a ranked list of the best written TV series in history, and Chase’s brilliant The Sopranos topped the list of 101 shows, followed by Seinfeld, The Twilight Zone, All in the Family, and M*A*S*H to round out the top five.  It’s tough to argue with The Sopranos taking the top honors, as the show is largely responsible for kicking off the new “Golden Age” of television that we’re currently living through and made for a markedly different kind of television viewing experiences than audiences were used to.

The complete list is filled with shows both new and old, with Mad Men, The Wire, and The West Wing taking the number 7, 9, and 10 spots, respectively, and comedies like Arrested Development, Friends, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart cracking the Top 25.  Hit the jump to read the full list and weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments section.

seinfeld1. The Sopranos
2. Seinfeld
3. The Twilight Zone
4. All in the Family
5. M*A*S*H
6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
7. Mad Men
8. Cheers
9. The Wire
10. The West Wing
11. The Simpsons
12. I Love Lucy
13. Breaking Bad
14. The Dick Van Dyke Show
15. Hill Street Blues
16. Arrested Development
17. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
18. Six Feet Under
19. Taxi
20. The Larry Sanders Show
21. 30 Rock
22. Friday Night Lights
23. Frasier
24. Friends
25. Saturday Night Live
26. The X-Files
27. Lost
28. ER
29. The Cosby Show
30. Curb Your Enthusiasm
31. The Honeymooners
32. Deadwood
star-trek33. Star Trek
34. Modern Family
35. Twin Peaks
36. NYPD Blue
37. The Carol Burnett Show
38. Battlestar Galactica (2005)
39. Sex & The City
40. Game of Thrones
41. The Bob Newhart Show and Your Show of Shows (tie)
43. Downton Abbey, Law & Order and Thirtysomething (tie)
46. Homicide: Life on the Street and St. Elsewhere (tie)
48. Homeland
49. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
50. The Colbert ReportThe Good Wife and the UK Office (tie)
53. Northern Exposure
54. The Wonder Years
55. L.A. Law
56. Sesame Street
57. Columbo
58. Fawlty Towers and The Rockford Files (tie)
60. Freaks and Geeks and Moonlighting (tie)
62. Roots
63. Everybody Loves Raymond and South Park (tie)
65. Playhouse 90
south-park66. Dexter and the US Office (tie)
68. My So-Called Life
69. Golden Girls
70. The Andy Griffith Show
71. 24, Roseanne and The Shield 
74. House and Murphy Brown (tie)
76. Barney Miller and I, Claudius (tie)
78. The Odd Couple
79. Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Upstairs, Downstairs (tie)
83. Get Smart
84. The Defenders and Gunsmoke (tie)
86. Justified, Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show (tie)
88. Band of Brothers
89. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In
90. The Prisoner
91. Absolutely Fabulous and The Muppet Show (tie)
93. Boardwalk Empire
94. Will & Grace
95. Family Ties
96. Lonesome Dove and Soap
98. The FugitiveLate Night with David Letterman and Louie
101. Oz


  • NathanArizona

    These kinds of lists are so pointless because everyone will have their own variations. There is no way to accurately rank them in order. The Wire, for me, is the greatest show of all time. And as great as Mad Men and Game of Thrones are, no show still airing new episodes should be eligible, as all time great nominees should be looked as a whole, and those shows are incomplete. Homeland has had one great season and one sort of okay season and it’s on the best all time list? Hmm. Six Feet Under above Deadwood? Impossible! Lists like this are all opinion, and will make no one completely happy lol

  • Dr.H

    The Wire is better then the Sopranos on every level. It should be top of the spot. Lol, this list is so wrong it’s laughable. Really? Freaking Mad Men over The Wire? This list blows.

  • tertiaryintervention

    And the WGA has lost all credibility.

    • Gadzookys

      You hurt their feelings and now they’re striking again. Good job!

      • tertiaryintervention

        NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I’m sorry WGA I didn’t mean it!! I’m sorry! Please come back!!!

  • Julio Navas

    Where is ¨Malcolm in The Middle¨?

  • Dr.H

    South Park should be higher then Simpsons. Simpsons has long since lost that momentum it once had. South Park continues to shine even after hundred’s of eps.

  • nate_hc

    Not a bad list by any means, but Boardwalk Empire at 97? C’mon now, there’s some incredible writing going on there.

  • DippingSauce

    As stated by someone else, lists like these are pointless.


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  • adam

    at least The Shield got some love…should have been way higher, but hey u can’t have everything

  • Keegan

    The Wire, even if not my favorite show, is the best written show of all time. And I think Oz at 101 is outrageous. I want to see the West Wing higher… but the post-Sorkin years were rough


    The Sopranos as the best written show of all time? What a joke!!! As good as the show was, it had small to huge flaws in almost every season.
    The Wire is without a doubt the most incredibly well written Television show of all time. No contest.

  • Kaya

    Question: Where. The heck. Is. House. Of. Cards (Either UK or US version)?

    • Strong Enough

      eck really? lol

  • PolakNarodowiec


  • Yo Omar Comin’

    Yep, as many others have said, The Wire is the greatest show of all time. No show currently airing has a shot at beating it. We may not see a better show for decades.

  • Drew

    Yes, The Wire should really be higher on this list, but as far as David Simon is concerned, I’m so much more offended by the fact that Treme continues to get no love. I’ve seen no other series that has developed its characters and environment in a manner more natural or nuanced. Treme has a life running through it unlike anything else on TV, and yet it is constantly overlooked in favor of cliffhangers and melodrama. And now, as a result, HBO didn’t even feel obliged to give them a full final season, allowing only a meager five episodes for Simon & co. to conclude our time with so many endearing characters. I find it horribly sad, because I would love to see Treme held up as a golden standard for character driven storytelling on TV.

  • The fuck did I do?

    Why The Wire should be #1 among the best written shows of all-time:

    (McNulty and Bunk enter a crime scene).

    “Aw, fuck.”


    “Fuck, fuck, fucking fuck. Fuck.
    Hmmmm, fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

    “The fuck?”



    “Oh fuck.”

    “Fuck it.
    Oh fuck!”

    “Mother fuck!”

    “Aw fuck… aw fuck!
    Fuckity fuck fuck fuck fuck. Fucker.
    Aw fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

    “Fuck fuck fuck.

    “Fuckin’ A

    “Fuck me.”

    (Crime solved).

  • salEZY

    Mad Men over Breaking Bad really ?

  • XKRED27

    Where is 227!?

  • Mandy

    Where is 99 and 100 >.> just Saiyan…

    • Vegeta

      Super Saiyan!!

  • TrekBeatTK

    So glad Northern Exposure made the list, though it deserves to be higher. Like higher than Lost.
    These lists seem to show that the WGA must all be a certain type of viewer who have similar tastes; I do not understand why Seinfeld gets all the love it does. Not that it’s bad, and it’s probably more “writerly” than other shows, making it’s slot here less of a surprise, but I still think the #2 slot is too high.

  • Milo

    Where are Southland and the Shield?

  • Tony

    no Sons of Anarchy = Bullshit list

  • cmay

    There are at least 80 shows on this list that are not as good as Sons of Anarchy. Breaking Bad should be higher too. The Sopranos is most definitely not the greatest written show I’ve ever seen…but as it’s been said, everyone has their opinion.

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  • Bob

    Uhmm… sorry but Game of Thrones>Everything else.

  • Vaishak Patil

    where in the damn world is PRISON BREAK it should be in the Top 10.

  • Joe Cogan

    Not to be a curmudgeon, but 4, 5, and 6 are the most overrated shows in the history of television. And Cheers was not better-written than Frasier.