NYC’s best television shows: The top 25 Gotham series

Tune into our era-spanning list of New York City’s best television shows—and watch a clip from each one.

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  • NYC’s 25 best television shows

  • Photograph: Virginia Sherwood

    NYC’s 25 best television shows: 25. Law & Order (1990–2010)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 24. Naked City (1958–1963)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 23. Gossip Girl (2007–2013)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 22. Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–1979)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 21. Kojak (1973–1978)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 20. Sports Night (1998–2000)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 19. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 18. The Odd Couple (1970–1975)

  • Photograph: Courtesy Margaret Herrick

    NYC’s 25 best television shows: 17. Fame (1982–1987)

  • Photograph: Eric McCandless/FOX

    NYC’s 25 best television shows: 16. How I Met Your Mother (2005–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 15. Barney Miller (1974–1982)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 14. Friends (1994–2004)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 13. I Love Lucy (1951–1957)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 12. Girls (2012–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 11. Louie (2010–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 10. Sex and the City (1998–2004)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 9. Delocated (2008–2013)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 8. The Honeymooners (1955–1956)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 7. 30 Rock (2006–2013)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 6. All in the Family (1971–1979)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 5. The Cosby Show (1984–1992)

  • Photograph: Dana Edelson/ NBC

    NYC’s 25 best television shows: 4. Saturday Night Live (1975–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 3. Sesame Street (1969–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 2. Mad Men (2007–present)

  • NYC’s 25 best television shows: 1. Seinfeld (1989-1998)

NYC’s 25 best television shows

To mark the much-anticipated return of Mad Men to the small screen (its sixth-season premiere airs Sunday, April 7 at 9pm on AMC), we’ve compiled the most quintessentially Gotham series of all time. What makes one of NYC’s best television shows, you ask? It could be a number of things—characters with particularly New York attitudes, nontouristy shooting locations, authentic period details—but we should note that we’ve excluded any locally shot news and chat shows. (Sorry, The Daily Show and vintage Conan.) If any omissions rub you the wrong way, like our decision to leave off Sex and the City (we’re kidding!), let us know in the comments.

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 25. Law & Order (1990–2010)

Law & Order (1990–2010)

The joke is that pretty much everyone—actors, musicians, even random New Yorkers—has made an appearance on one of the various Law & Order iterations at some point. The same could be said of New York City locales: In its decades on the air (as well as those of SVU and Criminal Intent), L&O filmed in far-flung corners of the city, lending the show an air of authenticity. And let’s not forget its ripped-from-the-headlines plotlines, including ones inspired by subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz and the murder of Kitty Genovese.—Amy Plitt

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 24. Naked City (1958–1963)

Naked City (1958–1963)

You don’t get Law & Order (or virtually any New York cop show) without this small-screen series based on the classic 1948 crime-realism movie. “There are eight million stories in the naked city” intoned the program’s deep-voiced narrator—and over six seasons, the serialized drama would tell as many of those as possible, all shot on the streets of New York City.—David Fear

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 23. Gossip Girl (2007–2013)

Gossip Girl (2007–2013)

Let’s ignore the fact that, by its final season, this series had become little more than a parody of itself. (Spoiler alert: Dan was Gossip Girl? Seriously?) When it premiered in 2007, GG captured the zeitgeist—thanks, in no small part, to Manhattan having as much of a starring role as any of the cast members. On Location Tours even launched a Gossip Girl–themed jaunt through the city in 2009, so wanna-be Upper East Siders could see the spots where Blair, Serena and the rest of the gang hung out.—Amy Plitt

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 22. Welcome Back, Kotter! (1975–1979)

Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–1979)

Goodbye, Mr. Chips; hello, Gabe Kaplan’s wisecracking professor, dedicated to giving Brooklyn’s inner-city kids a well-rounded education. NYC’s outer-borough high schools had a reputation as being unmanageable in the Beame era, but this comedy proved that a good teacher could even tame an unruly bunch like the Sweathogs—the most lovable multiethnic group of New York kids to ever grace the boob tube. And dig those ’70s graffitied subways in the credits!—David Fear

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NYC’s 25 best television shows: 21. Kojak (1973–1978)

Kojak (1973–1978)

“Who loves ya, baby?” We love smooth-domed Telly Savalas, who—during this cop show’s popular mid-’70s run (and long afterward)— became a walking emblem of gruff Manhattan street smarts. Famously, the character become addicted to lollipops while trying to quit smoking; he’d fit right into Bloomberg’s ban-happy NYC.—Joshua Rothkopf


  1. 25-21
  2. 20-16
  3. 15-11
  4. 10-6
  5. 5-1

Users say

10 comments
mark
mark

Family Affair! Taxi!

Billy
Billy

Night Court?!?

NMiguelCosta
NMiguelCosta

White Collar? Person of Interest? Why not?

AZ
AZ

will & grace?

LR
LR

Taxi was one of the top 5 I was looking for as well

Tom
Tom

Where are NYPD Blue and Taxi? C'mon.....

DB
DB

Where's White Collar? Absolutely stunning use of NYC as a backdrop.

ML
ML

Enormous miss on Taxi. Top 5 for sure.

GersonK
GersonK

Where are you Car 54, Where Are You?? So full of New Yorkers.

Ellen
Ellen

No Taxi? Definite miss!!