TONY's top 50 TV shows of the decade

The best stuff on the boob tube from 2000 to 2009.

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  • TV shows of the decade: Click to the next image to see our top 50 TV shows of the decade

  • TV shows of the decade: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005–present)

  • TV shows of the decade: Alias (2001–2006)

  • TV shows of the decade: The Amazing Race (2001–present)

  • TV shows of the decade: Dead Like Me (2003–2004)

  • TV shows of the decade: Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001–present)

  • TV shows of the decade: House (2004–present)

  • TV shows of the decade: Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2000–present)

  • TV shows of the decade: The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005–present)

  • TV shows of the decade: American Idol (2002–present)

  • TV shows of the decade: Reno 911! (2003–2009)

TV shows of the decade: Click to the next image to see our top 50 TV shows of the decade


It was a shitty decade for the auto industry and pager salesmen, but the aughts were remarkably kind to television. The small screen is no longer the ghetto for actors and production values that it once was—we're a couch potato nation, dang it, and we don't have to be ashamed. To celebrate the end of the '00s and the start of the tens (the teens? the tween years?), TONY picked the 50 best shows that made DVR ownership next to godliness. Our not-so-scientific method included casual debate and professions of love for David Simon; our only requirement was that the program made its biggest impact after the turn of the millennium (so calm yourselves, Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans).

Participants: Allison Williams, Amy Plitt, David Fear, Ethan LaCroix, Drew Toal, Sharon Steel, Noah Tarnow

50
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005--present)

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005–present)

On paper, this show shouldn't work: five deeply unlikable, morally bankrupt characters do icky things to themselves and others at a Philadelphia bar. But it does, thanks to a toxic cocktail of dark humor, absurd plots and go-for-broke performances—Danny DeVito, we're looking at you.—Amy Plitt

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49
Alias (2001--2006)

Alias (2001–2006)

The first season was stylish, heart-pumping and unapologetically fun, so it was kind of a bummer when J.J. Abrams's first adventure show went off the rails with a tangled mess of mythology in its later years. But whenever Jennifer Garner's bewigged superspy was kicking ass in high heels, it was perfect escapism.—Allison Williams

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48
The Amazing Race (2001--present)

The Amazing Race (2001–present)

Few shows stick to a formula as stubbornly as this round-the-world trek, but after 15 circumnavigations, it's hard to argue with success. By filming contestants at a constant run and hustle, the show leaves little time for them to become narcissistic loungers. And the backdrops beat any Real World house ever, hands down.—Allison Williams

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47
Dead Like Me (2003--2004)

Dead Like Me (2003–2004)

When Six Feet Under became a hit for HBO, Showtime got into the death business with Bryan Fuller's comedy about an alienated young woman who is enlisted as a grim reaper after dying in a freak accident. At its best, it had viewers laughing at the inevitability of death for us all, and that was a valuable service in the 2000s.—Ethan LaCroix

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46
Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001--present)

Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001–present)

On most teen shows, a kid gets pregnant, considers an abortion and then conveniently miscarries before the deed is done. While we're sure Rep. Stupak is a fan of that model, this Canadian import has the gall to portray such aspects of teenager life in dramatic, rather than sensationalistic, tones.—Allison Williams

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45
House (2004--present)

House (2004–present)

Sure, Hugh Laurie's House is a compelling focal point; the guy makes crabby, drug-addicted, rule-ignoring doctor Gregory House almost sympathetic. But let's not forget the real star of the show: the diseases and disorders that cause some poor patient's freaky symptoms ("Her skin fell off!" "His urine is blue!").—Ethan LaCroix

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44
Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2000--present)

Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2000–present)

Stoners have to watch TV, too, you know. As the surreal flagship for the Adult Swim animation block, ATHF represents cartoons that are gonzo and weird, not smug (ahem, Family Guy) or for kids—and the talking ball of meat is just precious.—Allison Williams

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43
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005--present)

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005–present)

Leno's humor is broad and toothless; Letterman tends to look bored (or guilty); Conan O'Brien relies too strongly on his geek persona. But the Scottish Ferguson is playful and petulant without resorting to fratboy humor, delivering crisp, lively late-night banter free of baggage.—Allison Williams

42
American Idol (2002--present)

American Idol (2002–present)

The Godzilla of TV talent competitions might be most notable for its size, but beneath the endorsements, the screams and Ryan Seacrest's bleached tips are sweet kids wanting nothing more than a shot at the big time. For all the dross in the lead-up, the best singers usually finish on top.—Allison Williams

41
Reno 911! (2003--2009)

Reno 911! (2003–2009)

The incompetent Reno police department made for one of the most entertaining cop shows on TV, and the inherent humor of police-issue short-shorts deserves applause all on its own.—Allison Williams

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  1. 50–41
  2. 40–31
  3. 30–21
  4. 20–11
  5. 10–1

Users say

2 comments
Jennifer
Jennifer

Glad to see Alias, Gilmore Girls, HIMYM, and FNL in the list but you forgot ER ;)