TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time

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The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time is a best of list published the week of May 4, 2002 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the magazine TV Guide. It was also an ABC special that aired on May 13, 2002.

The shows were chosen by a panel of editors of the magazine and ranked. The list received much criticism for focusing too much on older shows and for listing a sitcom at the #1 spot. Also, only one show, The Cosby Show at #28, featured a primarily minority cast.

The List

  1. Seinfeld (NBC)
  2. I Love Lucy (CBS)
  3. The Honeymooners (CBS)
  4. All in the Family (CBS)
  5. The Sopranos (HBO)
  6. 60 Minutes (CBS)
  7. The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)
  8. The Simpsons (FOX)
  9. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
  10. Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  11. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS)
  12. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (NBC)
  13. The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS)
  14. Hill Street Blues (NBC)
  15. The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS)
  16. The Carol Burnett Show (CBS)
  17. Today (NBC)
  18. Cheers (NBC)
  19. Thirtysomething (ABC)
  20. St. Elsewhere (NBC)
  21. Friends (NBC)
  22. ER (NBC)
  23. Nightline (ABC)
  24. Law & Order (NBC)
  25. M*A*S*H (CBS)
  26. The Twilight Zone (CBS)
  27. Sesame Street (PBS)
  28. The Cosby Show (NBC)
  29. Donahue (Syndicated)
  30. Your Show of Shows (NBC)
  31. The Defenders (CBS)
  32. An American Family (PBS)
  33. Playhouse 90 (CBS)
  34. Frasier (NBC)
  35. Roseanne (ABC)
  36. The Fugitive (ABC)
  37. The X-Files (FOX)
  38. The Larry Sanders Show (HBO)
  39. The Rockford Files (NBC)
  40. Gunsmoke (CBS)
  41. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB/UPN)
  42. Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (NBC)
  43. Bonanza (NBC)
  44. The Bob Newhart Show (CBS)
  45. Twin Peaks (ABC)
  46. Star Trek: The Next Generation (Syndicated)
  47. Rocky and His Friends (ABC)
  48. Taxi (ABC/NBC)
  49. The Oprah Winfrey Show (Syndicated)
  50. Bewitched (ABC)


  • The entries on the list span from "The Ed Sullivan Show" (CBS) at #15 to "The Sopranos" (HBO) at #5.
  • Most of these shows are primetime, but a few of them are also daytime: "Today" (NBC) at #17, "Donahue" (Syndicated) at #29 and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (Syndicated) at #49.
  • "The Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS) is the highest ranking late-night show at #7, beating even "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (NBC) at #12. "Nightline" (ABC) ranks #23.
  • NBC dominates the list with 17 shows, ranging from "Seinfeld" (#1) to "Taxi" (#48), which also aired on ABC. CBS has 16 led by "I Love Lucy" (#2), ABC has 8 led by "thirtysomething" (#19), and FOX, HBO and PBS each have 2. There are 3 syndicated shows on the list. The WB and UPN have a shared entry: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" at #41.
  • "The Simpsons" and "Rocky and His Friends" are the only animated shows on the list.
  • "The Sopranos" and "The Larry Sanders Show" are the only cable shows on the list.
  • "Sesame Street" and "An American Family" are the only public shows on the list.
  • TV movies, miniseries and specials were not eligible for this list.

External Sites