The most popular TV series of modern times: The ultimate ranking

The most popular TV series of modern times – What are good series? What is the best series in the world? Which Netflix series are good? Before we go through the most popular TV series of modern times with you, we will take a short jump into the past, into the history of TV series. Oh – and we have a spoiler for you: Unlike the name, for once Game of Thrones doesn’t top our list.

Revolution TV: Tube to Netflix, Amazon & Disney

Although the television set was available in the late 1920s, it reached only a few in society. The television technology of the time was still too experimental. It was not until a few decades after the Second World War that an improved form of black-and-white television broadcasting enjoyed great popularity, especially in the USA and Great Britain. In the 1950s, the television was considered the most important medium for influencing public opinion and ten years later, the colour broadcast known today was introduced.

VSH tapes, hard drives and DVDs revolutionized the television landscape. After the introduction of digital television, resolution also improved. HDTV was now available in 1080p, 1080oi and 720op. Today, Internet television has established itself. So streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu now allow video on demand. One of the most popular here is the TV series.

  • 1920s: The first television set is publicly available for sale
  • 1960’s: Colour sending is introduced

History of the TV series: It wasn’t that long ago

Unlike a film, a TV series is broadcast in single episodes. These are often linked by a narrative context (similar to the chapters of a book). The core of the cast usually remains the same and the many episodes are finally divided into seasons. A series with a limited number of episodes can be called a mini-series.

The first TV series were, like the television set, rather experimental in nature. The first broadcasts started in the 1930s, but they could only be received near the local TV tower. In 1948 the breakthrough came: the popular radio show Taxaco Star Theater became the first weekly variety show to be broadcast. 1966 saw the first full-color prime-time season and the availability of color television increased the popularity of regular television shows.

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Before the 1980s, the suspense of the story line remained mostly static. There were hardly any dramatic changes in the lives of the protagonists. This meant that the episodes could be broadcast in different order. A dramatic structure of the series plot as we know it today only became popular in the late 1980s.

  • 1930s: First TV series
  • 1948: Taxaco Star Theater becomes the first weekly variety show
  • 1966: First full-color prime-time season

Genres: From fictional to educational

The TV series is more diverse than most other forms of media due to its many narratives and formats.

All series can be assigned to at least one of the following genres:

  • fictional
  • non-fictional
  • current
  • historical
  • educational
  • entertaining

With all the different formats, it is not surprising that our ranking of the most popular series of modern times also includes everything your heart desires. Nevertheless, we from the editorial team were really surprised to see who has sneaked to the top of TV history in recent years.

The most popular TV series 2020

Who among us doesn’t know that. It’s a normal Sunday night. Your stomach’s full of dinner. So you lie lazy on the couch with your family. And almost automatically your hand goes to the remote control. It’s switched through the TV program. Especially during prime time at 8:15 pm, you can find everything the TV viewer could wish for: thrilling horror movies, dramatic casting shows, tele-shopping for the next Christmas present and of course this classic: the TV series.

Here we have compiled the most popular TV series ever for you:

  1. NCIS
  2. Young Sheldon
  3. This Is Us
  4. Game of Thrones
  5. Modern Family
  6. The Mandalorian
  7. Stranger Things
  8. The Walking Dead
  9. Orange Is The New Black
  10. Rick and Morty

The most popular TV series of modern times – Video

Take a look at the entire ranking from 1986 to 2019:

NCIS: Hotte special agents in action

The most popular series of modern times is also one of the oldest and probably known to most of you: The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, NCIS for short. The NCIS is a fictional team of American special agents who have been regularly uncovering mysterious murders and criminal cases since 2003. The team is led by Special Agent Leroy Gibbs, a former Marine. His team also includes Senior Field Agent Tony DiNozzo, a handsome misogynistic homicide detective; Eleanor Bishop, a former NSA agent and Junior Field Agent Timothy McGee. Also included are medical examiners Abby Sciuto and Dr. Donald Mallard.

The series premiered on CBS on September 23, 2003 and is the second longest prime-time series in the U.S. after TV Hit Law & Order. The original title was Navy NCIS, but later the Navy became superfluous and the series is since then only known as NCIS. Six successful seasons later it finally came to a spin off – NCIS: Los Angeles. Five more seasons and some awards finally led to another successful spin off – NCIS: New Orleans.

Quick Facts: There are that many seasons already

  • German title: Navy CIS
  • length: 43 minutes
  • number of relays: 17
  • Year(s): since 2003
  • similar TV series: JAG, NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans

Cast: The core remained

  • Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs
  • Sasha Alexander as Caitlin Todd
  • Michael Weatherly as Anthony DiNozzo
  • Pauley Perrette as Abby Sciuto
  • David McCallum as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard
  • Sean Murray as Timothy McGee

Watch the latest trailer of the 17th season here:

Young Sheldon: Spin Off of Big Bang Theory

The series revolves around the life of nine-year-old Sheldon Cooper, who attends high school in the fictional city of Medford, Texas in the 1980s. His unique intellectual abilities present him and his family with many challenges.

The TV show is a spin-off prequel to the popular Tv show The Big Bang Theory, which follows the later life of Sheldon Cooper and his friends. Originally, Young Sheldon was a spontaneous idea of Jim Parsons, who plays the adult Sheldon in Big Bang Theory. He passed this idea on to the producers in November 2016 and in the following March the first castings took place.

Due to the huge success of The Big Bang Theory series and its huge worldwide fanbase, Young Sheldon was first broadcast as a special preview on September 25, 2017. Two days later it became official: CBS took over the series for a complete season and since November 2, 2017, fans can follow the life of the young Sheldon Cooper on a weekly basis.

Quick Facts: A rookie TV show

  • German title: Young Sheldon
  • length: 22 minutes
  • number of relays: 3
  • year(s): since 2017
  • similar TV series: The Big Bang Theory

Cast: The family is complete

  • Iain Armitage as young Sheldon
  • Jim Parsons as older Sheldon
  • Zoe Perry as Mary Cooper
  • Sr. Lance Barber as George Cooper
  • Montana Jordan as George “Georgie” Cooper Jr.
  • Raegan Revord as Melissa “Missy” Cooper
  • Annie Potts as Constance “Meemaw” Tucker
  • Matt Hobby as Pastor Jeff Hodgkins

CBS released more than five trailers before the special broadcast of Young Sheldon. Check out the promos here:

This Is Us: Emotional Stories Written by Life

The comedy genre is also at number three on our list and, similar to Sheldon, a very special family is at the forefront: the families around the siblings Kevin, Kate and Randall.

A short review: In 1980 the actual triplets Kevin and Kate are born. Their brother dies in childbirth. In the belief that they were supposed to have three children, the parents adopt Randall – a little boy of African-American origin. The father Jack Pearson dies and the mother Rebecca Pearson later marries her late husband’s best friend. Randall becomes a successful financial professional and family man; Kevin becomes an actor and the musical Kate becomes a mother.

Most episodes take place in the present, while others take place at specific moments in the past. The focus is always on the parents Jack and Rebecca and their three children. Only from the second season on there are also flash-forwards, which show the future of the family.

Quick Facts: A comedy for everyone

  • English title: This Is Us
  • length: 42 minutes
  • number of relays: 4
  • year(s): since 2016

Cast: From young to old

  • Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson
  • Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson
  • Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson
  • Chrissy Metz as Kate Pearson
  • Justin Hartley as Kevin Pearson
  • Susan Kelechi Watson as Beth (Clarke) Pearson
  • Chris Sullivan as Toby Damon
  • Ron Cephas Jones as William “Shakespeare” Hil

Watch the emotional trailer for the award-winning series here:

Whether it’s a crime thriller, romance or comedy – every one of us looks forward in the evening after a long day to watching an episode of his or her favourite series over a glass of beer. It never gets boring and the creative heads of Hollywood come up with something new. Although … you don’t really need that much creativity. After all, life writes the best stories, right?