The 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time: How the List Was Made

VOTERS_2 - Credit: AMC, HBO,  Suzzane Tenner/FX
VOTERS_2 - Credit: AMC, HBO, Suzzane Tenner/FX

As the Rolling Stone staff stared down the task of culling decades worth of television to a list of the 100 best shows of all time, we knew we needed help — lots of it. So, we hit up Hollywood. In addition to polling our most pop culture-obsessed staffers, we reached out to a wide swath of television actors, creators, showrunners, writers, directors, producers, and critics. The instructions: Give us your top 50 shows of any genre — no restrictions — defining “best” as whatever it means to you.

The 46 ballots we got back were often surprising, occasionally head-scratching, and, in the case of a special few, idiosyncratic and hilarious. David Cross, who mastered dark goofiness as Arrested Development’s Tobias Funke — and co-created Mr. Show With Bob and David, the number 79 show on our list — joined many voters in naming The Wire TV’s best series. Actor Lizzy Caplan of Party Down and Masters of Sex fame topped her list with The Larry Sanders Show — as did Damon Lindelof, who co-created Lost and The Leftovers (and who refused to vote for any of his own shows). Meanwhile, BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s rankings included “SNL when you were in high school” (12) and “Frasier minus fat jokes” (42). The common denominator: strong opinions and an undying love of the art form.

More from Rolling Stone

Here, in alphabetical order, is the full roster of voters who lent their expert opinions to create a debate-worthy, all-time-great list.

Pamela Adlon, co-creator and actor, Better Things

Judd Apatow, showrunner, Freaks and Geeks

Tara Ariano, co-host, Extra Hot Great podcast

Betsy Beers, producer, Grey’s Anatomy, Bridgerton

Raphael Bob-Waksberg, creator, BoJack Horseman

Sarah D. Bunting, co-host, Extra Hot Great podcast

Lizzy Caplan, actor, Masters of Sex, Party Down

Chris Carter, creator, The X-Files

Jen Chaney, TV critic, Vulture

Sean T. Collins, TV journalist, The New York Times, Observer, Vulture

Carrie Coon, actor, The Gilded Age, The Leftovers, Fargo

David Cross, co-creator and actor, Mr. Show With Bob and David

Eric Deggans, TV critic, NPR

Paul Feig, creator, Freaks and Geeks

Daniel Fienberg, chief TV critic, The Hollywood Reporter

Maria Fontoura, deputy editor, Rolling Stone

Elisabeth Garber-Paul, culture editor, Rolling Stone

Roxana Hadadi, TV critic, Vulture

Tony Hale, actor, Veep, Arrested Development

Jon Hamm, actor, Mad Men

Aisha Harris, co-host, NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour

Brian Hiatt, senior writer, Rolling Stone

Linda Holmes, co-host, NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour

Michelle King, co-creator, The Good Wife, The Good Fight

Robert King, co creator, The Good Wife, The Good Fight

Kelly Lawler, TV critic, USA Today

Bill Lawrence, creator, Scrubs, co-creator, Ted Lasso

Tracy Letts, actor, Homeland, Winning Time; playwright, August Osage County

Damon Lindelof, co-creator, Lost, The Leftovers

Natasha Lyonne, co-creator and actor, Russian Doll

Glenn Mazzara, former showrunner, The Walking Dead

Soraya Nadia McDonald, senior critic, Andscape

Joel McHale, actor, Community, The Soup

Marti Noxon, producer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey’s Anatomy

Richard Rushfield, columnist, The Ankler

Maureen Ryan, contributing editor, Vanity Fair

Shawn Ryan, co-creator, The Shield

Ray Romano, actor, Everybody Loves Raymond

Stephanie Savage, executive producer, Gossip Girl, The O.C.

Mike Schur, co-creator, Parks and Recreation; creator, The Good Place

Alan Sepinwall, chief TV critic, Rolling Stone

Rob Sheffield, contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Janine Sherman Barrois, executive producer, Claws

Doreen St. Felix, staff writer, The New Yorker

Ben Stiller, executive producer, Severance, The Ben Stiller Show

Rob Thomas, creator, Veronica Mars; co-creator, Party Down

Ben Travers, critic and deputy editor, IndieWire

Kathryn VanArendonk, critic, Vulture

Glen Weldon, co-host, NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour

Alison Weinflash, managing editor, Rolling Stone

Joe Weisberg, executive producer, The Americans, The Patient

Terrence Winter, creator, Boardwalk Empire; writer, The Sopranos

Sean Woods, executive editor, Rolling Stone

Best of Rolling Stone

Click here to read the full article.