Year in Review
Best TV Shows 2015 Drama

TVLine's 10 Best Drama Series of 2015

A paranoid hacker, a butt-kicking private investigator and an infinitely quotable hip-hop mogul walk into a room.

But don’t look for a punchline to this setup — instead, get ready for TVLine’s countdown of the 10 Best Drama Series of 2015.

Our staff reflected on the last 12 months of small-screen fare — everything from network TV to cable to streaming services — and then went through the painful process of whittling it down to the most innovative, most moving and most gasp-inducing of the bunch.

Check out the gallery below for our picks — or click here for direct access — then tell us where you think we got it right, which shows we egregiously snubbed and what drama you’d put at No. 1 for 2015!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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109 Comments
  1. Alex BaldTwins says:

    This is actually a pretty good list, it’s very TVLine. The only one on that I’d really have to disagree with is The Man in the High Castle, it was good, but not the best.

    Mine would be:
    10. Penny Dreadful
    9. Jessica Jones
    8. Better Call Saul
    7. The Americans
    6. Banshee (controversial maybe, but they really killed it this year)
    5. The Leftovers
    4. Mr. Robot
    3. Justified
    2. Daredevil
    1. Fargo

  2. DarkDefender says:

    I would add Sense8 to that list.

  3. Josh W says:

    Uhhh where are Quantico and Blindspot?

  4. BillC says:

    Good List. Think I might have bumped up The Leftovers to #1. Surprised that Better Call Saul didn’t make the list too.

    • jakis says:

      Glad to see Fargo and The Leftovers so high on the list. They totally deserve it. I might’ve included The Affair and Scandal somewhere, too. And totally Mad Men. It was so good in its last season. If Better Call Saul isn’t a comedy, I think it deserves a spot, too. Empire… Not so sure. And UNReal was fun, but I don’t think it was all that good, necessarily. It and HTGAWM and Empire were pretty soapy and silly at times.

      • jakis says:

        This wasn’t supposed to be a reply to you, Bill C. Sorry that’s where it inexplicably appeared!

      • Ally Oop says:

        I really thought UnReal was a quality show and I absolutely loved it but the last couple episodes I think brought the show down and I might not watch it. I even detested Sheri Appleby’s character by the end.

        I stuck with HTGAWM for an entire season but almost none of the characters were likable and it never caught my liking enough to keep it on my Dvr recording list.

  5. dkwilley says:

    Where’s Orphan Black?????

  6. abz says:

    I’d have included Outlander on the list too, but there are some great choices here. I loved UnREAL and Penny Dreadful. I’m just getting into The Leftovers right now. Only watched a few episodes but I’m really interested in it. And if we’re only considering Empire’s first season then I’d say okay, but this second has just not been as great.

  7. spindae2 says:

    It is hard to distinct best from favorite. I love some shows even though they not always deliver in the storytelling department.
    From Ur list I agree on HTGAWM being top notch the rest I don’t watch.

  8. Tim says:

    The Knick needs to be in there too, Banshee and Power

  9. Ralph says:

    Walking Dead and Suits SHOULD be on this list

  10. Simon Jester says:

    Glad to see Penny Dreadful at the top of the list. It’s not perfect, but it is never less than compelling.

  11. I love this list because it doesn’t just go after the same old shows everyone always lists (though I personally would have included Game of Thrones). These are shows that usually go unrecognized, but truly shouldn’t. Really love the list. I would have added Outlander and The Affair though – those are personal favorites, but also outstanding television.

  12. robbiekaf says:

    Some good picks…but i’d definitely like to see Narcos on the list,if not at the top.

  13. bwhit says:

    UnReal, Mr. Robot and The Man in the High Castle(may not have found it had it not been for TVlines’s preview a few weeks back… Thanks!) were my favorites. I would have added Kingdom as well. The actors, especially Jonathan Tucker do a fantastic job.

  14. Al says:

    No GOT? Or American Crime?

  15. James says:

    I get that Empire is a ratings giant but, at the end of the day it’s a glitzed up soap opera that’s not, in my opinion, written well. I love Taraji P. Henson but her Cookie is getting annoying. If we’re going for a popular show, personally, I would have replaced Empire with Scandal, which has had a pretty solid season, thus far, from a writing and directing perspective. And Kerry Washington has been at her best this season.

    I would have expected to see HTGAWM a little higher on the list. The second season has been edge-on-your-seat entertaining and the twists are just as interesting as my #1 favorite, The Leftovers.

  16. James says:

    I totally get that Empire is a ratings giant but, at the end of the day it’s a glitzed up soap opera that’s not, in my opinion, written very well. Personally, I would have replaced Empire with Scandal, which has had a pretty solid season, thus far, from a writing and directing perspective. And Kerry Washington has been at her best this season.

    I would have put HTGAWM a little higher on the list. The second season has been edge-on-your-seat entertaining and the twists are just as interesting as my #1 favorite, The Leftovers.

    • icy says:

      Exactly! Empire should not be on this list. Narcos, Daredevil, or Grey’s should replace Empire.

      • Timmah says:

        I agree. I would like to check out some of the shows on the list that I haven’t seen, but if garbage like Empire is #5 then it puts the credibility of the whole list into question.

    • asm says:

      I’ve stopped watching empire the first episode of season 2. It’s that bad that made dont want to continue.

    • elisabethz says:

      Scandal really ????. same story. rinse, wash and repeat . what are you talking about a solid season. Kerry did her best but Scandal is only for shock value now

    • Mable says:

      Gotta agree with you on Empire. I’m getting bored with it. It needs more story and less reliance on the lame music interludes (except for that female rapper, she was dope!) Terrance Howard looks bored.

  17. Daniel says:

    Great to see HTGAWM on the list! If only The 100 had made it.

  18. Lisa says:

    Id take off penny dreadful and put game of thrones around number 8. Even at its weakest, thrones operates on a whole nother level. And the leftovers is easily the number ONE show on tv right now

  19. Al says:

    My top 5:

    1. The Leftover
    2. Game of Thrones
    3. American Crime
    4, Fargo
    5. How To Get Away with Murder

  20. Mr. Tran K says:

    Sad they left out Homeland. Last season was outstanding and a great bounce back for the series but this season so far is even better.

    • asm says:

      Yes, homeland is amazing this season. It’s “slow”, there’s not a lot of bombs, deaths or anything, but the plots is intriguing. And I love Miranda Otto as Allison. So perfect

  21. Heather says:

    No Game of Thrones?

  22. Ro says:

    I’d include Bates Motel.

  23. daisy says:

    What about the originals

  24. Eva says:

    I loved some of the shows on the list, but since there can only be one winner, I’m gonna go with amazing SENSE8. There’s just nothing like it on tv. There maybe has never been anything like it. I’m rewatching it now, and it might be even better the second time. Masterpiece.
    (Mister Robot is a strong no. 2, though)

  25. Et al. says:

    This list is perfect.

  26. Mark says:

    Empire better than Daredevil? Come on !

  27. Guy says:

    The fact that Empire is on this list is bad enough. That you ranked it higher than The Americans is just plain ridiculous. Empire is nothing more than a soapy, melodramatic hot mess. It might be entertaining at times, but everyone needs to stop pretending it’s some high-quality drama.

  28. Steven says:

    10 Shameless
    9 The 100
    8 Bates Motel
    7. Forever
    6. Better Call Saul
    5. Chicago Fire
    4. Jessica Jones
    3. UnReal
    2. Daredevil
    1. How to Get Away With Murder

  29. Adam says:

    Of the 65+ shows I’ve been watching this year, my top dramas so far are:
    1. Fargo
    2. The Americans
    3. Hannibal
    4. Mad Men
    5. Mr Robot
    6. Sense8
    7. The Leftovers
    8. Marvel’s Daredevil
    9. Game of Thrones
    10. UnREAL

    I say ‘so far’ in that I still need to finish Orphan Black, Narcos, Bloodline, and Better Call Saul, which all have some chance in making it to that list. Most of my top 20 this year are comedies. Please Like Me, Review, Broad City, Veep, You’re the Worst, Jane the Virgin, Nathan For You and others have been stellar this year (especially Please Like Me, in competition with Fargo for my top show overall).

    Surprised with TVLine’s inclusion of Man in the High Castle. I couldn’t get through it, the performances were all too stiff. For the top pick, I like Penny Dreadful because I find myself so immersed in the atmosphere, but the storyline doesn’t really engage me that much. I couldn’t take the climax of the finale seriously due to the talking doll – it felt like comedy or parody, not horror or drama. But still, that and How To Get Away with Murder are probably in my top 15 or 20 for dramas.

  30. johnhelvete says:

    1. Mr Robot
    2. The Legacy/Arvingerne (Denmark) for seasons 1 and 2 even though season 1 is 2014.
    3. The Returned
    4. Unreal
    5. Justified
    6. Homeland
    7. Halt and Catch Fire
    8. Fortitude

  31. n8frogg says:

    No “Better Call Saul”, “Banshee”, “Rectify”, or “Justified”?

  32. Guy says:

    Hannibal was probably the most exquisite thing on TV all year. Was leaving it off the list just an oversight because it’s been cancelled? Or do you honestly think Empire is a better drama?

    • James says:

      Hannibal would definitely be in my top ten, possibly even in my top five. Disappointed that it was cancelled and couldn’t find a home elsewhere.

  33. xx says:

    Samaritan must’ve gotten to you.

  34. J Rogan says:

    Totally agree with Penny Dreadful being Number 1. There wasn’t a single episode that didn’t leave me wondering what I had just seen, and chilled by it.

    Wish Vikings had made the list. It’s under rated but incredibly well executed and the acting is too notch. Maybe next year.

  35. AdM says:

    HTGAWM has been incredible this season. Hope it’s recognised by GG and Emmys again
    My Top 5ish
    1. Game of Thrones
    2. Jessica Jones
    3. HTGAWM
    4. UnReal
    5. Bates Motel

  36. asm says:

    I’m glad you didn’t put “The Good Jealous Actress” on the list. Err.. I mean, the good wife.

  37. Dave says:

    In no particular order, my picks for the best dramas this year:
    The Americans
    Hannibal
    Fargo
    Mad Men
    The Leftovers
    Justified

  38. Spence says:

    Completely agree with Leftovers, Mr. Robot, and Jessica Jones. Empire and HTGAWM, however, I disagree. The first seasons of other those shows were exceptional, but both suffered from lousy and erratic second seasons, meaning neither should be on this list. And as much as people are annoyed with the Glenn reveal and the lackluster mid-season finale, I feel that Walking Dead should be on this list somewhere; in terms of a character drama it is only getting deeper and darker every episode.

  39. Eoin says:

    Mine would be:

    10. How To Get Away With Murder
    9. Empire
    8. Daredevil
    7. Unreal
    6. Orange is the New Black
    5. Jessica Jones
    4. Hannibal
    3. The Affair
    2. The Good Wife
    1. The Leftovers

  40. danoregon says:

    Other than the Bloodline omission, no complaints.

  41. Taylor says:

    This is a WONDERFUL list. I yelped when I saw Penny Dreadful in the top spot – one of my favorite shows and one I find myself thinking about frequently.

  42. Christine says:

    Where the hell is “Outlander”? HTGAWM is crappy.

    • ck says:

      I will never understand this general infatuation with HTGAWM. And I agree with others here, Halt and Catch Fire should be on this list. I haven’t seen such a successful reboot in the 2nd season of a show in a long time.

  43. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    Yay for Mr. Robot and Fargo!!! Walking Dead and HTGAWM (which people don’t like this season) should be on there as much as I like Empire it’s not that good this season hell the MUSIC is still on fire w/ Timbaland in charge!

  44. RichCD says:

    Looking at these lists – wow, what a great time for TV. Here’s mine:

    1. Justified
    2. Sense8
    3. Jessica Jones
    4. Mad Men
    5. Better Call Saul
    6. Outlander
    7. Daredevil
    8. Banshee
    9. Mr. Robot
    10. The Flash

  45. Angela says:

    Totally agree with “How to Get Away with Murder”. This season’s been great, and the first season had some excellent episodes and moments, too.
    .
    I would also add “Bates Motel” to the list. They had a fantastic season earlier this year, too.

  46. The Beach says:

    OK, here goes for me, realizing it’s totally subjective:
    1. Fargo
    2. Mr. Robot
    3. Justified
    4. Sense8
    5. The Americans
    6. Penny Dreadful
    7. Game of Thrones
    8. Flesh and Bone
    9. Homeland
    10. Sons of Anarchy

  47. Gaara says:

    YES Penny Dreadful at number 1. Too bad not so many people know the show, in my humble opinion it’s a little masterpiece. And Eva Green simply ascended to goddess-hood, ’nuff said.

    I’m also very happy about the inclusion of Jessica Jones, The Americans and the Man in the High Castle… Now I only need to find the time to binge Fargo and Mr. Robot

  48. Lucas says:

    My top 5. This year brought so much intensity to small screen.
    1. The Knick
    2. Fargo
    3. Mr Robot
    4. Homeland
    5. The Americans
    6. Person Of Interest
    7. Halt and Catch Fire
    8. Hannibal
    9. Suits
    10. Banshee

  49. Ray says:

    Don’t agree with Empire appearing on this list and I couldn’t make it through more than a few episodes of The Leftovers, but I absolutely concur with the top pick. Penny Dreadful is currently the best show on TV.

  50. That Guy That Doesn't Like Fargo says:

    I don’t like Fargo.