Courtesy of Fox, ABC, HBO

A-List TV Titans Best and Worst: Every J.J. Abrams Series Ranked

Sick of run-of-the-mill best-and-worst lists? We were, too. So in this new series of features, TVLine is singling out the small screen’s biggest behind-the-scenes titans, thenranking their output from their least to most impressive creations.

Long before he reawakened the Force on the big screen, J.J. Abrams was dramatizing the much less remote galaxy known as college as co-creator of a little show called Felicity. The WB series not only put Abrams on Hollywood’s Auteurs to Watch list, it launched a TV empire (under the Bad Robot banner) that would go on to include action thrillers (Alias), smart procedurals (Person of Interest), cult faves (Fringe) and the occasional pop culture phenomenon (Lost). 

Not all of his big swings led to home runs (R.I.P. Roadies, Almost Human, etc), but one thing we can say about Abrams’ TV work is, success or failure, he never plays it safe and the finished products are rarely, if ever, boring. One could say the same about our ranking of his entire small screen catalogue, which — spoiler alert — will likely prove to be both surprising and polarizing.

Scroll through the gallery above right (or click here for direct access) to find out, then hit the comments with your ranking of his shows.

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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85 Comments
  1. Suso says:

    The Alfonso Cuaron penned-and-directed pilot for “Believe” is amazing — I just wish the rest of the series was as good. And am I alone in really loving “Undercovers”? I feel like everyone wanted a dark, mythology heavy show and it just wanted to be fun. Had it come out today, I feel like it would be a smash.

  2. Coop says:

    Lost is #1. And yes, its’ one of the greatest pilots ever made. Alias can take the #2 spot.

    • Did you even see Felicity, though? Cause it’s obviously #1

      • Chuck says:

        Did you ever see Fringe? That is the true #1. It had everything superb acting, mystery, suspense, it was thought provoking, had sorrow, drama, comedy with a sci fi element. John Noble and Anna Torv were playing incredible multiple versions of themselves before anyone ever heard of Tatiana Maslany (which is a good show too btw). Abrams had some other incredible shows but Fringe is the king in any universe.

        • Fringe is #1 on my watch list along with Ally McBeal for when I finish my masters. I believe you.

          • Chuck says:

            Fair warning stick with it, the first season starts of slow and you wonder what it is all about, but it well worth it to stick with it, you are in for a treat

          • I’ve heard that as well — just about Tatiana Maslany — she’d been on Canadian tv for a really long time before Orphan Black. If one watches Canadian tv, you’d’ve seen her around because of the great rotativity of actors around the shows (basically they have few actors and many shows so, all actors go through all long lasting shows at some point!). By the time I saw her on Orphan Black, I’d seen her in multiple shows before (including my favorite one ever)!

          • KLS says:

            @Barbie, re Tatiana and other Canadian actors, I’ve been catching up on Canadian shows lately and quite a few of them appear everywhere. OB is an all Canadian production, I beleve, writers, directors, actors, etc. It’s great that they take care of their own. (I love OB, btw).

          • It’s hilarious and familiar and comforting at some point. If it’s a Toronto based show, you bet the same people are going to be in it. You literally know everyone you should expect to show up (like half of the Rookie Blue cast)

          • Chuck says:

            Actually I first saw Tatiana Maslany in Being Erica and The Listener she is a great actress and deserved her emmy, but my point was John Noble also deserved at least an emmy nomination, for his work on Fringe, he was doing some incredible work with material much like Tatiana has and it was before most knew who she was

          • You actually watch Being Erica? That’s literally my favorite show ever and no one’s ever heard of it! The difference is that Orphan Black is in premium cable and Fringe was on the CW. I think CW scored *one* major award nomination ever (Jane the Virgin, main actress)? Also, genre fiction is definitely a lot stronger now. Like I said, I’ve never seen Fringe, but I believe you! It’s first on my tbw list :)

          • Chuck says:

            Yeah I loved Being Erica it was a great show! There was talk of an American version around 2010 but it never happened, since Tatiany is wrapping up Orphan Black I would be up for a Being Erica continuation, with her involved that would be awesome!

            Btw in America, Fringe was on Fox but it still was broadcast TV and usually Sci Fi TV gets very little love anyway

          • I thought it was CW for some reason — I know there was talk for an American version of Being Erica — but there’s no point because half of the show is Erin Karpluk and the other half is Toronto. I’d be up for any form or shape of revival, though (that involved original cast because I’m obsessed)

          • Chuck says:

            Like I said posted in the wrong spot oops, I thought Erin was going to be in the American version but maybe not, I would rather see the original cast too

        • DebG says:

          Amen on Fringe.

      • CarissaLynn says:

        I saw Felicity and LOST. LOST should be #1. I’m very confused that’s it’s #2.

      • Chuck says:

        I thought Erin was going be involved in the American version too but I could wrong, doesn’t matter anyway, it didn’t happen, I agree I would much rather have the original cast too

  3. Kelly says:

    100% agree with this list although I would have swapped Alias and Lost

  4. How is Person of Interest #6? It’s definitely #2. Lost can go down to #3.

    • I’d put POI perhaps at #1, but at very minimum it obviously should be above the vastly over-rated Westworld which is mind-numbingly boring (I’d put it near the bottom of the list), I gave up after a few shows. Perhaps those who have never read much or thought about artificial intelligence somehow find something of interest in it (I’ve worked in the field of AI in the past at research labs), but I don’t see it. I think its an example of a show that writers that aren’t that sharp think is “smart” when it isn’t, though some of the audience doesn’t care. In terms of shows with an element of AI, Person of Interest is vastly more interesting and entertaining (“suspending disbelief’ for the usual technical flaws in such shows). Even silly shows like Almost Human with more questionable things are more entertaining than Westworld, as are non-Abrams shows like Humans if again you suspend disbelief for some of the technical details in terms of AI, or Agents of Shield.

    • Mark Green says:

      Person of Interest at #2? Oh dear…

  5. Stacy says:

    I absolutely loved What About Brian! #1 is certainly Felicity but I would argue #2 is Alais. It’s just more JJ Abrams-y thank Lost, IMO. The creation of Walter alone cements Fringe as one of my favorite shows of all time.

  6. Dominique says:

    for me, Lost will alway sbe #1. whether you loved or hated the final season, the show was full of suspense and mystery and written by an excellent writing team who knew exactly what they were doing without ruining continuity.
    alcatraz had so much promise but holy cow the lead actress was so bad, nobody could’ve saved it.
    revolution was a terrific show and that unfortunately went downhill the last batch of episodes.

  7. Tim says:

    a handful of good shows, but mostly garbage!

  8. lame says:

    I’m still pissed about the cancellation of almost human.

    • lame says:

      Ditto for person of interest, so many complex characters.

    • Chuck says:

      Almost Human wasn’t a bad show but I had very high hopes for it seeing much of the behind the scenes Fringe crew went to work on Almost Human and it was created by JH Wyman who was one of the producer/writer/directors of Fringe but it real was nothing more a buddy cop show with not much substance, I was waiting for them to get some overarching mystery/serial aspect that it never got to, now in fairness Fringe took almost a whole season to get to that point, maybe Almost Human would have gotten there in season 2 bummer we will never know. I was more bummed that Alcatraz got cancelled seeing that seemed to be more in line with Fringe, but it didn’t stand a chance because they messed up casting one the leads

    • JMark (formerly JM) says:

      +1 and it should be ranked higher!

    • haymarilyn7 says:

      So am I. Great show, arbitrarily canceled in a power move by FOXTV.

    • haymarilyn7 says:

      So am I – haven’t watched FOXTV since.

  9. Lauren says:

    Wow, he’s had some clunkers hasn’t he?

  10. Jason says:

    I think I’d rank Alias below Fringe and Person of Interest, because as much as I loved it at it’s peak, it did not end well. It’s last two seasons were a mess.

  11. Debbie says:

    Abrams is a great idea man and can arguably kick off a show like no other, but then he steps away and leaves things in lesser hands and that’s when things begin to suffer.

    • KLS says:

      You could say that about all of the showrunners/creators that TVLine has chosen so far. There are certain people who are great at the POC (Proof of Concept) stage in any field, but are horrible at the day-to-day (or episode-to-episode) stuff.

  12. Rebecca Parker says:

    I would have flipped the order of Lost and Felicity, but I have no problems with Felicity taking the spotlight – it’s one of my favorite shows ever and completely underrated.

  13. Guy says:

    Lost #1, Fringe #2.

  14. Morgan says:

    Pfft. MMC gave us Keri Russell. I have a problem listing Lost as a JJ Abrams show in the same what I have a problem listing Agents of SHIELD as a Joss Whedon show and that’s due to their extremely limited involvement in the actual carrying on of the show. While Abrams played a big part in the first season, Lost is essentially Darlton.

  15. lrdslvrhnd says:

    I definitely would’ve switched Lost & Alias. Lost just… er…. lost me.

  16. Dennis says:

    Totally agree with this list.

  17. milton thomas says:

    Fringe #1, Fringe #2, Fringe #3, even the shortened last season was good. There was not a bad filler quarter season, half season or bad episodes. Every episode of every season was outstanding!#Overthere

  18. Rachel says:

    Fringe is #1 for me!

  19. Suzanne Young says:

    The best show ever that he did was Revolution. Loved it, great show, but of course NBC canceled it even after it won awards. Bah Humbug!

  20. Red Snapper says:

    For the most part I agree with the list. I might rearrange the top 5 a bit though, Lost and Fringe would be at the top. I would also rate Almost Human in the top 10. I really loved that show. Yeah, it seemed to be mostly a buddy cop show but it was a good one. They were building to a larger mystery at the end. Also, I liked Roadies and think think it’s better than people think. There are worse shows on the list.

  21. Lincoln Kupchak says:

    I didn’t even know he was involved with Revolution. No, Felicity is not #1… the first season is terrific but it got bogged down creatively after that… I’d go Lost 1, Alias 2, Fringe 3, then Felicity and then everything else way below those.

  22. Carol says:

    There are very few season 3+ shows I can say I stuck with from start to finish and loved them all. Alias, Lost, Fringe and Felicity are among them.

  23. T.W.S.S. says:

    Couldn’t finish Revolution, Felicity, or Fringe. Endured Lost. Enjoyed 11.22.63. Loved Westworld.

  24. 221bsam says:

    I would’ve put ALIAS first but that’s just me, certainly ahead of LOST but I suppose in terms of popularity, LOST has it (still don’t get that ending!)

  25. Gospino says:

    #1 Lost #2 Alias. Felicity was a terrific show, but it was not in the league of those two. I might put Fringe #3.

  26. canadian ninja says:

    Almost Human deserves a way higher ranking. That show had some of the most interesting and well thought out sci-tech elements of any show. Karl Urban & Michael Ealy were solid too.

    Also surprised PoI isn’t a touch higher. The top 3 is fine in any order ymmv

  27. Edyn says:

    I do not like most of Abrams’s work. I give new shows a chance and still do not like his work. I thought Felicity was good. Russell is a good actress and Almost Human I thought was decent because of Karl Urban. The new Westworld I love because of the big name cast, but it is a reboot. Never saw the movie. Star Wars and Star Trek were not worth my time and am glad I did not pay to see it. Good graphics and that’s it. I hate eschewed timelines and reboots. I will stick with the originals. It seems like he is now in the reboot business.

  28. Mark Green says:

    1. Fringe
    2. Lost
    3. Alias
    4. Everything else

  29. midas777 says:

    going top 3 on this as they were seriously good shows

    1) Fringe – nothing can compare to the writing and acting combination of this series
    2) Lost – amazing thought provoking television
    3) Alias – if you haven’t watched it you are missing out – some weird stretchy things at the end of the series but what a great fun show

    The one that i can see surpassing 2 of these is West World that show is flat out amazing

  30. haymarilyn7 says:

    I disagree with where Almost Human falls, and with the comments. Either the reviewer didn’t watch the whole show or watched in viewing order (which was deliberately messed up by FOXTV, without regard to how the relationships were unfolding. This scifi compared to Star Trek in terms of the subjects they addressed, and to Firefly in how FOXTV destroyed it by airing it late, eps out of order, and with long weeks of hiatus between eps, and aired against the top TV competition: The Voice, How I Met Your Mother final season and the Olympics. Doomed to fail.

  31. Ali says:

    Switch Person of Interest (should be #1 or #2) with Felicity (should be #5 or #6) and you’ve got a solid list. I haven’t seen Undercovers since it aired but I remember really enjoying it and being disappointed it got canceled. Revolution started off well enough but it felt apart in season 2.

  32. KLS says:

    I strongly disagree with Felicity at #1. That show was unwatchable and doesn’t match up with POI, Fringe, or even Alias.

  33. Ally Oop says:

    Alias should get the #1 slot. Sorry but it was frakkin awesome and it remains one of my favourite shows of all time.

  34. ChrisGa says:

    One and two for me are Felicity and Alias.

  35. Lysh says:

    Sometimes I forget Abrams still makes TV shows. It feels like he just puts his name on things, though I really have no idea his level of involvement in anything. He seemed really involved Felicity and Alias and the pilot of Lost. Gosh…I miss Lost. I’ve been binging The Americans recently; I’m going to have to check out Felicity afterward.

  36. Bark Star says:

    Are you kidding me ? Abrams barely has anything to do with most of these shows, outside of lending his name to it. He is a talentless hack, only good at creating hype and branding things.

  37. retsim says:

    Person of interest for me it should be at least number 2 .

  38. Tribal Mischief says:

    About half way through the list I kept thinking where’s Felicity? I mean, it was good, but not Westworld, Fringe, Person of Interest, Alias good. And then I realized, this is Michael’s website and this show gave us Kerri Russell. You are obsessed sir, but at least you are consistent.

  39. Douglas from Brazil says:

    Really? Lost #2 behind Felicity??? Also, Alias was full of gimmick and Jennifer Garner is alwul.

  40. Vi says:

    Fringe is #1 for me. Hated the last season of Lost so that knocks that show down the list some for me. Sorry to see Almost Human cancelled before it took off but enjoyed watching.

  41. Catherine says:

    Almost Human was awesome! Why rank it so low?!

  42. Jennifer says:

    I truly love Felicity, but the fourth season was so all over the place that I feel like its existence makes it impossible for this show to be in the top stop. I’d say Felicity is a strong second place with Lost being in the top spot and lightyears ahead of every other J. J. Abrams show.

    Lost in an incredible work of art from beginning to end. Hands down my favorite show I’ve ever seen.