The Sopranos is the best-written show of all time, according to list honoring the written word with numerical rankings

The Sopranos is the best-written show of all time, according to list honoring the written word with numerical rankings

In an effort to recognize the many immersive joys and subtle nuances of the written word, the Writers Guild Of America has honored the best-written TV shows of all time by ranking their titles in a list. “This list is not only a tribute to great TV, it is a dedication to all writers who devote their hearts and minds to advancing their craft,” WGA West and East presidents Chris Keyser and Michael Kinship said of their “TV 101,” which rewards a writer's craft by putting numbers next to it, so that others can now say definitively that one writer’s devotion was greater than another’s by a clear numerical factor. Furthermore, the list was also compiled through online voting, lending it the total infallibility of the democratic process. Quibbling with the idea that The Sopranos is the best-written show, you may as well be quibbling with math.

No more will anyone argue whether, say, Mad Men is a better-written show than Breaking Bad. We now know it is six better. Houses bitterly divided over whether Sex And The City is better than Justified can forego marriage counseling: Sex puns have bested laconic threats by a factor of nearly 50. Freaks And Geeks and Moonlighting? Everybody Loves Raymond and South Park? 24 and Roseanne? All numerically indistinguishable. The densely layered narratives of The Wire that are so often championed as one of the greatest achievements in this or any medium—they’re good, but not Cheers good. Meanwhile, more modern favorites Parks And Recreation or Community exist beyond the list as some incalculable uncertainty only Stephen Hawking could probably define, like string theory or Charles In Charge.

Here’s the complete list, which you can clip and save for any such future arguments. 

1. The Sopranos
2. Seinfeld
3. The Twilight Zone (1959)
4. All In The Family
5. M*A*S*H
6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
7. Mad Men
8. Cheers
9. The Wire
10. The West Wing
11. The Simpsons
12. I Love Lucy
13. Breaking Bad
14. The Dick Van Dyke Show
15. Hill Street Blues
16. Arrested Development
17. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
18. Six Feet Under
19. Taxi
20. The Larry Sanders Show
21. 30 Rock
22. Friday Night Lights
23. Frasier
24. Friends
25. Saturday Night Live
26. The X-Files
27. Lost
28. ER
29. The Cosby Show
30. Curb Your Enthusiasm
31. The Honeymooners
32. Deadwood
33. Star Trek
34. Modern Family
35. Twin Peaks
36. NYPD Blue
37. The Carol Burnett Show
38. Battlestar Galactica (2005)
39. Sex And the City
40. Game Of Thrones
41. TIE: The Bob Newhart Show and Your Show Of Shows
43. TIE: Downton Abbey and Law & Order and thirtysomething
46. TIE: Homicide: Life On The Street and St. Elsewhere
48. Homeland
49. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
50. TIE: The Colbert Report and The Good Wife and The Office (UK)
53. Northern Exposure
54. The Wonder Years
55. L.A. Law
56. Sesame Street
57. Columbo
58. TIE: Fawlty Towers and The Rockford Files
60. TIE: Freaks And Geeks and Moonlighting
62. Roots
63. TIE: Everybody Loves Raymond and South Park
65. Playhouse 90
66. TIE: Dexter and The Office (US)
68. My So-Called Life
69. The Golden Girls
70. The Andy Griffith Show
71. TIE: 24 and Roseanne
72. The Shield
74. TIE: House and Murphy Brown
76. Barney Miller
77. I, Claudius
78. The Odd Couple
79. TIE: Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Star Trek: The Next Generation and Upstairs, Downstairs
83. Get Smart
84. TIE: The Defenders and Gunsmoke
86. Justified
87. Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show)
88. Band Of Brothers
89. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In
90. The Prisoner
91. TIE: Absolutely Fabulous and The Muppet Show
93. Boardwalk Empire
94. Will & Grace
95. Family Ties
96. TIE: Lonesome Dove and Soap
98. TIE: The Fugitive and Late Night With David Letterman and  Louie
101. Oz