Secret Stage Top Fives: The Best Television Shows of All Time

Television. Everybody's favorite withering medium. Over the years, most of us have borne witness to hundreds of TV shows, good and bad. Be it drama, comedy, or anime, the range of shows out there is vast. Before heading to another commercial break, here are Secret Stage's favorite shows to ever grace the small screen:


5. That 70’s Show - "This is another adult-focused show. I liked it as a kid but never really respected it until I grew up. A lot of great humor and innuendoes."

4. Dragon Ball Z - "Again, this is a show I grew up watching. Like most of my friends we are fans of the series and the games."

3. House, M.D. - "This is a great show. I’m not normally a huge fan of doctor shows, but this one is in a league of its own. It has a lot of good drama, comedy and dark humor which I am a huge fan of."

2. Pokémon - "This is a show I grew up watching and often go back and watch today. If you like Pokemon then you probably watched it at some point in your life."

1. Futurama - "This show to me is one of the best animated shows. It not only has comedy, but it is intended for a more mature audience. The story is great and is just an all-around great show."


5. Recess - "This is definitely another nostalgia one. I think it had great entertainment. And some subtle adult humor. Multiple main character types so everyone can identify with someone. I would absolutely watch it, if it was still on."

4. Six Feet Under - "This was a great show with well built characters. But I think what really brings this home for me is that it ended so perfectly. Many shows didn't make this list, because either lack of an ending, just a horrible ending all together, a cheesy ending, or it didn't end when it should have. This one is so well wrapped up, you're aren't left wondering, or without closure."

3. Are You Afraid of the Dark? - "I remember so distinctly coming home and watching this after school every day. I really enjoyed the campfire story time feel. It had many good scary stories, and I know as a kid, it made me jump a couple of times. "

2. Game of Thrones - "This is widely acclaimed greatness, and I am on board. I thoroughly enjoy the action, drama, unseen twists. I like that you can't have a favorite, because they will probably be killed, and the twist are constantly keeping you on your toes."

1. Dragon Ball Z - "I'm sorry, but it has to be. The nostalgia factor for this is too much to not make it #1.  The constant watching of every episode, and disappointment because even 6 episodes in of a battle scene and you still don't know who might win. And well, this is the only one on the list that hits home hard enough for me to want a tattoo of it on my body."


5. White Collar – "This was a series that I couldn't stop watching once I started. I've always been a fan of crime dramas, but it's hard for me to get into many of them. This show has an interesting premise that is well-executed."

4. American Horror Story – "This is on my list mainly because of the writing. While the characters are interesting, the plot is really what keeps people watching."

3. Dexter - "There are many who pretend that season 8 doesn't exist, and some even pretend that seasons 5-8 don't exist. However, this is another show with an interesting premise and the first few seasons are well-executed. It raises many moral issues and we get a glimpse into the life of a "well-meaning", self-aware serial killer."

2. Whose Line is it Anyway? - "The American, Drew Carey version, specifically. The dynamic between actors, the themes, the audience involvement, and an aspect that is not noticed as often: the skillful editing. With a show like this, it’s difficult to keep coming up with new, funny content, and while there were running jokes throughout the series, it never seemed to get stale."

1. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – "We’ve talked about this a few times on the podcast, but I love this show. It is one of the only sitcoms I really ever watched. While it had a lot of the 90s-era sitcom formula, there was also a lot of aspects that made it unique. The dynamic between characters is great, and there was a great balance between funny moments and serious moments. It touched on real-life issues such as adolescent issues, parenthood, happiness despite wealth, and social issues involving fame, humility, and the role of race. This is all put together with many scenarios and likeable characters with whom many people can relate, despite the fact that the show features a black family living in one of the richest parts of California."


6. How I Met Your Mother (Since someone can't be constrained to 5) - "Another show that I'm a huge fan of the character development. It's also another show that there really hasn't been one episode that hasn't made me laugh."

5. The Office (US) - "I really like all of the characters and the way they develop throughout the show. I like the different relationships between each character. Especially the relationships between Jim and Dwight and also Dwight and Michael."

4. Reno 911 - "It's such a dumb show but it's so funny. I'm a fan how the characters play multiple people and how Nick Swardson plays a prostitute. I'm a pretty big fan of dry humor."

3. Bob's Burgers - "Everything about the show is funny and entertaining. I think Tina and Louise are my favorite characters. Tina is so awkward and Louise very mischievous."

2. Kim Possible - "Just like spongebob, this was my show. I watched it everyday. I had all of the Kim Possible stuffed animals/characters. I had a bunch of little naked mole rats, (not real ones), the CD, GameBoy game, and the bed set. I was a pretty big KP fan."

1. SpongeBob Squarepants - "I used to watch that show all the time when I was small and I like that it's still a show I can watch now and be entertained. I also like that I can watch any episode and not be lost in the middle of a series."


5.How I Met Your Mother - "The comedic joy that is Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel."

4. SpongeBob Squarepants - "I still remember the week that SpongeBob was launching on Nick. They would play the theme song in the commercials. It's another one of those shows that I watched as a child that I can still enjoy as an adult because of it's cheeky humor."

3. Breaking Bad - "Absolutely fucking phenomenal. The first actual series I ever binge watched on Netflix. The suspense and depth of the story was simply fantastic."

2. Pokémon - "As a first grader, I would wake up every morning at 6:50amand RUN down my stairs to watch Pokémon at 7am. I still remember the S.S ANNE episode that was split into two episodes and when I went to school after seeing the first one, that's all anyone was talking about."

1. Dragonball Z - "One of my absolute favorites. My sisters and I used to always watch it together. It was one of the first shows that I ever actually followed. We used to play outside and pretend to be Goku and the rest of the Z-Team. I was always Gohan because I was younger."


Talk Shows/Variety

5. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon/ The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon - "Jimmy is pretty consistently creative when it comes to coming up with interesting games and features for his shows. His monologues have improved a bit over time, and he benefits from the A-List scale that is the Tonight Show. Team him up with the legendary Steve Higgins and The Roots, and you have one hell of a late night arsenal."

4. The Colbert Report - "I'm happy to see that Colbert's wit carries through to the Late Show, but i was deeply saddened when he announced that he would be abandoning the conservative character and his finely-honed format. Stephen always had a unique approach to his political humor."

3. Late Night with Conan O'Brien/ The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien/ Conan - "When it comes to traditional late night, Conan is the guy I crown king. The guy is a comedic genius. From his rise to the top to his struggle with NBC to finding his niche in recent years, watching Conan is a mainstay for me."

2. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - "Jon Stewart was a master of balancing a positive political agenda with sharp-witted humor. Of all of the folks that have left their shows this year, Stewart's departure hit me hardest."

1. Saturday Night Live - "It's not a big secret that I freakin' love SNL. People love to hate it every passing year, saying it used to be better, but in reality, SNL has potential to surprise week after week."


5. Doctor Who - "Who has a certain charm to it that I can't really get myself to dislike. I've taken a crash course through the classic series', but my love for the show comes from the first 4 series of the 2005 reboot. I can drop into almost any episode and enjoy it."

4. The Newsroom - "Aaron Sorkin's writing is a little much, but the first two seasons of The Newsroom are some of the best TV I've watched in recent years. Jeff Daniels of all people was nice surprise as his character evolved throughout the show's run."

3. Sherlock - "The biggest crime is that BBC's Sherlock appears in a flash and then drops off of the planet for far too long."

2. Breaking Bad (3rd Overall) - "Breaking Bad, especially in the last few seasons, became an event. You simply couldn't afford to miss an episode for fear of having it spoiled."

1. House, M.D. (2nd Overall) - "I don't watch nearly as many dramas on TV as I should, but House was one of the first for me, and remains on of my favorites, drawing me in with the crisp comedy and science and wrapping it around deep characterization."


5. Curb Your Enthusiasm - "It's essentially a show about George Costanza. How can you not enjoy that?"

4. Arrested Development - "It could have been higher, but Season 4 is simply not for me. That said, the original 3-season run was just so smart and calculated, and utilized an amazingly talented cast."

3. The Simpsons (5th Overall) - "I like lore. And as weird as it sounds, The Simpsons has some of my favorite lore that the creators have meticulously woven for nearly 30 years. There a ton of interesting, iconic characters that can pop up at any time, and the show is honestly still going strong, albeit a bit less edgy."

2. 30 Rock (4th Overall) - "My girlfriend introduced me to 30 Rock a bit late, but I was glad she did. I always like meta shows (it's a shame Community couldn't make this list), and 30 Rock does the SNL culture better than anyone could. It's always a little larger than life, and every character is distinct and fully-formed right from the get-go."

1. Seinfeld (1st Overall) - "The master of its domain, Seinfeld is just SO accessible. The characters aren't pure of heart and could be like anyone you might meet on the street, and the storylines could happen to anybody. Every episode feels really polished, and the show uses comedic timing and other devices in ways I haven't seen since."


5. Mythbusters - "If this list was taken a few years ago closer to when the show was new it would be higher on my list. Back then there was more math a science behind what they did and they explained it all. now they hardly explain anything in scientific terms and when they do it is always dumbed down."

4. Ed, Edd, & Eddy - "This show was my childhood. I could fill this whole list with old cartoons that I loved and still watch from time to time, but I decided against it."

3. Cowboy Bebop - "This anime is just all around great. As I mentioned in the soundtrack top five, the music is great, but so is the animation. And not only the quality of it, the fight scenes, whether it is hand to hand, gun fights, or dog fights in space, are fantastic."

2. Fullmetal Alchemist - "I am counting both of the series because I didn't want to take up two slots. I do like Brotherhood more overall, but I liked the concept of what was on the other side of the gate in the other one. Plus the movie is great." 

1. Top Gear (UK) - "There isn't a show that I enjoy more than this one. In fact it is the only show that I actually watch on a week to week basis. But it goes further than that since the dorms didn't have BBC or even BBC America, so I found sites that would stream it and watch it online at the same time it aired in the UK. Just thinking about it makes me want to fire up Netflix and watch the teenage driver episode. Can't wait for them to start the new show with Amazon."

Hales (The girl who can't follow the rules)

Live Action

HM. Game Of Thrones - "I've not kept up with this show so I didn't want to put it on my list, but what I have seen I loved. Also, the sheer impact this one show has had on culture is insane. I think that deserves a mention at the very least."

10. Breaking Bad - "This is another show I've been sleeping on, but as soon as I have time to start binging it again I plan to. Every episode leaves you wanting more and the acting is insane."

9. Supernatural - "Can be cheesy at times, but watching Sam & Dean take on demons ghouls monsters and more while dealing with their constant life struggles is always fun."

8. American Horror Story - "No other show nails the creepy factor like this one. I particularly loved Asylum and Coven, but the fresh theme of each season is compelling."

7. Hell On Wheels - "I've always been drawn to westerns for the thrill of getting away with whatever you want. However, this show does an incredible job showing the struggles of being an outlaw, slave, native american or woman in those times too."

6. Doctor Who - "The tenth doctor to be more specific, but I love the show overall for it's quirky take on the universe and all those who inhabit it. There's a reason it has one of the most loyal fan bases of any TV show."

5. Once Upon A Time - "Another show that can be a bit cheesy and dramatic at times, but who doesn't love fairy tales and classic disney characters? The writing for this show is super creative and the casting/costume design/makeup is stunningly accurate."

4. Orange Is The New Black - "It's intense, emotional, funny, dark... it just hits all the bases and gets better with each season. What more can I say?"

3. Parks And Recreation - "This is my type of humor through and through. I can relate to almost every character in one way or another. Even though it's a comedy, there is this defiant "follow your dreams" mentality that carries through the entire show which I love. "

2. Firefly - "I'm still bitter as hell about the cancellation of this show. It's everything a nerd wants. Pirates, space, science, conflict, love. Nathan Fillion. Everything."

1. Sherlock - "Sherlock Holmes has always been one of my favorite characters. When I first saw the Benedict Cumberbatch version, I knew I was in love. He can blow your mind with Sherlock's intellect and eye for detail while still making you laugh with his wit and charm. His relationship with Martin Freeman's take on John Watson (which I also love) makes you BELIEVE they are those characters and need one another to get through life. Even the production side of things leaves me in awe with every single episode. Without a doubt my number one pick."


HM. American Dad & Family Guy - "I really do love these shows. I just don't watch them as often. But they helped shaped my sense of humor as it is today. Hence the honorable mention!"

10. Regular Show - "I'll be honest I haven't watched this one in a while now that I don't pay for cable and watch almost everything on Netflix. But I adore the animal/human world and the dark yet ridiculous and twisted sense of humor. Similar to Bojack which is higher on my list, but more innocent."

9. Invader Zim - "I refrained from putting a lot of childhood favorites here because well, my list is already long enough. But this NEEDED to be here because Jhonen Vasquez is one of my favorite comic book writers with works like Squee and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Zim pushed the boundaries of children's shows with the twisted humor and dark art style. It's a hard thing to recreate and while many have tried, no one does it quite like Jhonen."

8. Bob's Burgers - "These next two feature H. Jon Benjamin who is a goddamn genius. The whole show is great in that it's awkward, relatable and stupid as hell. "

7. Archer - "Similar to my reasons above, but more vulgar and not exactly relatable... unless you're an alcoholic CIA agent. Which I mean, I don't know your life. You might be."

6. Bojack Horseman - "Can we talk about how DARK this show gets? I won't spoil anything but seriously. If you're looking for a show that is almost too real when it feels like it shouldn't be since half the characters are animals, watch this. It's also fucking hilarious and the casting is on point." 5. South Park - "This show has been in my life for well, my entire life. It's the only show I can remember watching as a toddler and still watch now. It's been consistently funny the whole time and even when you think Matt Stone and Trey Parker can't be any more offensive, they find a way. The best kind of way."

4. Clone Wars - "As an avid Star Wars fan, you'd think I would've watched this whole thing by now. Sadly I got on the bandwagon late (as I do with most things) and am still finishing it up. But holy shit do I LOVE this show! It really opens up the SW universe and after going back and watching the films having seen this, I have a whole new respect for the franchise."

3. Futurama - "I feel like a broken record with my explanations... consistently funny, dark and raunchy humor, good writing and characters. All that being said, this show captures all of those aspects the best in my opinion. I really don't have better praise than saying I've watched the entire series 3-4 times. It's that good."

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender & The Legend Of Korra - "Alright this is where things change up a bit. Also, I'm cheating a tad because these are completely different shows, but the world is the same so I figured I could get away with this. I LOVE the concept of a world where benders exist and everything is kept in balance by a master of all four elements. The real world history behind everything in the show is meticulous and they find a way of being incredibly serious while dotting in humor at the same time. Beautifully illustrated, well written, great overall message."

1. Dragon Ball Z - "I'll be honest. I do enjoy some of the other shows on this list more as an adult. But the Dragon Ball universe changed my life. I watched it as a kid, then got sucked in as a teenager buying all the seasons on DVD and watching to fill in gaps of what I missed. I last watched the series in full just after moving out a few years back and the nostalgia really brought me back to a more care free time of my life. THAT is why it's my number one. Your favorite show should make you feel good and bring back fond memories every time you watch it and the one that does that best for me is DBZ."