The 25 Best TV Shows of 2016, Ranked

     December 29, 2016


[For more of Collider’s Best of 2016 lists, click here]

2016 may have been a year filled with many sad and unfortunate events, but one thing that we can be grateful for is the quality of TV escapism. The Platinum Age of Television has come out of the (somewhat unsettling) phenomenon of Peak TV, and it’s genuinely impossible to watch everything. That’s why I decided this year to do one list combining comedies, dramas, and miniseries (many of which have blurred the boundaries of those old categorical distinctions anyway), and not limit myself to a Top 10. There’s too much great TV for that.

On the other hand, there’s the reality that of the 450+ shows that aired this year, I watched all or some part of about 120 of them. Even though that’s just a fraction of the total, it’s an enormous amount of shows. This ranked list of what I consider to be the 25 best of the year (having seen a lot of junk, and a lot of mediocrity outside of it) is not exhaustive. Still, in this era of Peak TV, it’s about as close as one can get. It’s also worth noting that there are still a lot of very good shows that aren’t on the list, but are still fun to follow. Some that are listed in the honorable mentions are there just because they provide something new and entertaining. And even then, there are at least 10 more I could add that I never got the time to finish, but liked how they started (Quarry, as one example).

Most of the series below are in their premiere seasons or sophomore seasons, proving that (1) we’re getting a fantastic, somewhat overwhelming influx of new TV every year and (2) the sophomore slump isn’t always true (though it also hasn’t totally gone away). Only a few shows are still shining bright deep into their run, which is maybe a suggestion that that the British model of “leave them wanting more” is something we should take more to heart in the U.S. Whatever the case, there’s a lot to think about and celebrate for 2016, which gave us a truly outstanding year of television.

(A note on spoilers: I’ve tried to keep things pretty general, but if you have any doubts then skip on to the next!)

Related: The Best TV Shows of 2017

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