We will definitely look back on these shows fondly. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Shows That Will Become Future Classics.
For this list, we’ll be looking at modern TV shows which have remained consistently excellent throughout their runs and which we think will inevitably age well.
We’ll only be considering shows which began airing in or after 2010, so shows like “Mad Men” will not be included. We’re also excluding animated shows from this list. Sorry “Rick and Morty” fans!
#10: “The Walking Dead” (2010-)
Just barely squeaking into our established time period is “The Walking Dead,” the zombie show which has become a cultural phenomenon. While the show may not have the gravitas of some of the others on our list, there’s no denying the impact that it has had on popular culture since its release. Seriously, just walk into any Hot Topic and you’ll be bombarded with “The Walking Dead” merchandise. It also kick-started numerous debates and discussions, including the acceptable level of violence that can be shown on TV. We have a feeling people will be enjoying this one for years to come.
#9: “Boardwalk Empire” (2010-14)
HBO is certainly no stranger to fantastic shows, and while “Boardwalk Empire” may not have been as widely viewed as “The Sopranos”, it was still an undeniably great show which showcased the stellar acting abilities of Steve Buscemi. Like a lot of shows on HBO, “Boardwalk Empire” was a crime drama which loosely followed the real life story of politician Nucky Johnson (or Nucky Thompson in the show). Aside from Buscemi’s performance, the show is also well worth watching due to its historical story and visual style, as HBO captured the Prohibition era with stunning clarity and detail. It’s another excellent notch in HBO’s belt.
#8: “Hannibal” (2013-15)
While “Hannibal” never managed to garner enough viewers or take home any major awards, it was nevertheless an extremely ambitious and courageous show which enjoyed immense amounts of critical acclaim throughout its painfully brief three seasons. Come on, Netflix, bring it back! Please! The show is an adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter stories, and acts as a prequel of sorts to “The Silence of the Lambs.” In a time when network television is riddled with reality shows and safe, inoffensive material, “Hannibal” was an outlier. It was slow, meticulous, and brooding, and Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as Lecter was unparalleled.
#7: “Mr. Robot” (2015-)
While “Mr. Robot” is still a relatively new program, we are confident that it will go down as a classic in the coming years. The show follows a socially awkward and depressed man by the name of Elliot Alderson who becomes a hacker for a group of cyber-anarchists. Like many acclaimed shows of the 21st century, “Mr. Robot” is painfully dark and makes for some disturbing viewing, but it also challenges the viewer in ways that other shows don’t through its morally ambiguous themes and characters. If that doesn’t interest you, then its story definitely will, as it’s riddled with drama, intrigue, and tantalizing cliffhangers.
#6: “The Handmaid's Tale” (2017-)
There’s no shortage of TV shows that take place in a dystopian, futuristic setting, but few have managed to handle the subject matter in such a thought-provoking way as “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Based on the Margaret Atwood book of the same name, this Hulu series is set in post-war America, where totalitarian rule has forced fertile women into endless servitude. The story is seen through our main character Offred, played brilliantly by Elisabeth Moss, who must bear children for the Gilead regime against her will. With incredible performances, stunning cinematography and a thoroughly suspenseful plot, “The Handmaid’s Tale” leaves us with disturbing questions about the future, and will not be forgotten anytime soon.
#5: “Atlanta” (2016-)
Is there anything Donald Glover can’t do? The writer/actor/rapper adds “tv series creator” to his ever expanding list of titles with “Atlanta”, a dramedy that constantly defies expectations in the best ways possible. Glover stars as Earn, a college dropout trying to make ends meet by managing his cousin, a rapper known as Paper Boi. While the premise sounds simple, the execution is anything but, and the show can go from grounded to surreal at the drop of the hat. No matter what form the story takes, though, “Atlanta” always has something to say - whether it’s about class, race, or gender - and it says it all with grace, humor, and nuance.
#4: “The Americans” (2013-18)
“The Americans” never got quite enough love while it was on the air. Its viewership declined season by season but we’re surprised that it’s not more popular, as it follows a story reminiscent of “Breaking Bad”. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys star as two undercover Soviet KGB officers living in the suburbs of North Virginia. Oh, and their neighbor is an FBI agent. The show features all the intrigue, secrets, and painfully tense moments that the premise suggests, but it is also a humane look at marriage, love, and family. It has everything which makes 21st century television so great.
#3: “Fargo” (2014-)
Oh yah, we placed this show on the list, you betcha! “Fargo” is an FX program that takes place within the same universe as the classic Coen Brothers movie of the same name. While the style of the Coens is tricky to replicate, the show manages to pull it off. Not only does it feature the gloriously funny accents and painfully polite midwestern characters, but the friendly and welcoming façade is constantly dripping with tension and foreboding, just as it was in the film. Each season is exciting and violent, but also humane and touching. It’s a fantastic show which has earned a spot in the history books next to its film counterpart.
#2: “The Leftovers” (2014-17)
“The Leftovers” is widely considered to be one of the greatest shows in recent years, perhaps of all time, due to its consistently great writing, genuine performances, and touching subject matter. Metacritic even deemed is to be the best show of 2017. The story chronicles the lives of a group of survivors after 2% of the world’s population disappears. While that may sound mysterious and intriguing, the show forgoes the overall mystery to focus on the characters at its heart. It’s ambitious and challenging television, and it is already a classic.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Top of the Lake” (2013-)
“The Knick” (2014-15)
“Orange Is the New Black” (2013-)
"Stranger Things" (2016-)
"Downton Abbey" (2010-15)
#1: “Game of Thrones” (2011-)
“Game of Thrones” is undoubtedly THE television event of the 2010s, and for good reason. It provides spectacle for those wishing to watch sword fights and dragons. It contains political intrigue, is full of three-dimensional and interesting characters, and, well... nudity. That’s what the show is known for, right? “Game of Thrones” has enjoyed large amounts of critical success throughout its run, has become a bonafide cultural phenomenon, and continues to break viewing records to this day. It managed to overcome its genre and will undoubtedly be viewed as a classic in the coming years.