It feels like I have been declaring all of the past few years the best year of television ever. Well, here I am saying it again, more convinced than ever that it is the truth. I could make a legitimate case for almost every selection in this top 30 as the best show of the year. Several shows fell down from where I had them ranked last year, but not, for the most part, because of any dip in quality on their part, but instead because of so many great new shows and improved performances by some returning shows. This was such a notable year for rookie shows that I thought about doing a Best New Shows of the year feature, but it seemed redundant, considering that all the shows that would have formed that feature made it onto this list. On to the excellence:


1. Rick and Morty (Adult Swim) – Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s animated take on mad science was the most imaginative, and best, show of 2014.
2. Hannibal (NBC) – Season 2 went even deeper in its examination of human relationships through the lens of deadly horror.
3. Review (Comedy Central) – A premise that could have been no more than a lark turned into one of the best and most poignant examples of character-based humor in Andy Daly’s hands.
4. Fargo (FX) – Archetypes and real people collided in the American Midwest with this thoroughly satisfying suspense tale that can stand proudly alongside its source material.
5. Nathan for You (Comedy Central) – Nathan Fielder continued to expose the extent of the bizarreness that humanity is capable of in the face of supposed expertise.


6. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) – The host of this show and his team may insist that they are doing comedy and not news. But while the jokes may be hilarious, they are still doing thorough investigative reporting on important topics that hardly anyone else is covering as in depth as they are.
7. Mad Men (AMC) – Don, Peggy, Pete, and company continued their journey towards redemption, or at least self-discovery.
8. Louie (FX) – Louis C.K. was more restless with his eponymous sitcom than ever before, changing up the form from episode to episode and always remaining fascinating.
9. Billy on the Street (Fuse) – The unsuspecting hordes of NYC continued to become accidental comedians at the prompting of the effervescent Billy Eichner.
10. Community (NBC) – The return of showrunner Dan Harmon resulted in a return to a version of Community that was not afraid to take its characters in new and challenging directions.

11. True Detective (HBO) – Vibrant filmmaking and existentialism combined for an astounding character study that was impossible to turn away from.
12. The Good Wife (CBS) – Shows with relentless plotting tend to burn themselves out eventually; The Good Wife bucks that trend by setting itself in a world where getting pulled in all directions is the name of the game.
13. You’re the Worst (FX) – What first ostensibly appeared to be the most cynical portrayal of relationships proved to be one of the sweetest, most genuine romantic comedies in a while.
14. Broad City (Comedy Central) – Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are the kind of people who could spend their days doing anything and make it entertaining.
15. Bob’s Burgers (Fox) – For those who think that television should have some social value, look no further than this gem about a fry cook and his goofy family, which continues to promote acceptance of all humanity’s quirks.


16. The Chris Gethard Show (Manhattan Neighborhood Network) – New seasons and new beginnings drove the “Evolve or die” engine on this public access staple.
17. New Girl (FOX) – With a renewed emphasis on its entire ensemble, New Girl re-asserted itself as the prime hangout sitcom on the air.
18. The Eric Andre Show (Adult Swim) – The pranks and interviews were as exhilaratingly Dadaist as ever on this hellish anti-talk show.
19. Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories (Adult Swim) – This horror-comedy anthology series was perhaps the clearest realization of the Heidecker/Wareheim brand yet.
20. Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC) – TV’s CB!B! continued its loving exploration of every possible permutation of a talk show.

21-23. Key & Peele, Kroll Show, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central) – Sketch comedy ruled on its natural home, with three flagship series all offering diverse and important viewpoints.
24. Bojack Horseman (Netflix) – Somehow, one of the best fictional examinations of depression managed to manifest in a silly show about an anthropomorphic world.
25. Rectify (Sundance) – Moral ambiguity at its most ambiguous; difficult, but absorbing viewing.

26. Silicon Valley (HBO) – The quirks of the characters in the capital of the tech industry made for delightful and illuminating comedy.
27. The Middle (ABC) – The most grounded, endearing, and quirky family sitcom around took great strides in the maturation of its characters in 2014.
28. Orphan Black (BBC America) – The suspense got heavier, the craziness got wilder, and Tatiana Maslany continued to portray all of it.
29. The Affair (Showtime) – While the end of its first season made it unclear what exactly The Affair wanted to be, this experimental drama remained fascinating, thanks to its dual framing device and one of the best acting ensembles on television.
30. Jeopardy! (Syndicated) – The venerable game show had one of its most thrilling years ever, with the return of classic all-time great champions in the Battle of the Decades tournament, and the formation of new classic champions Arthur Chu, Julia Collins, and Tournament of Champions winner Ben Ingram.

Paradoxically, the more great TV I watch, the more aware I am of the great TV I’m not watching. So, to acknowledge those omissions, here are the Best Shows I Didn’t Watch, ranked roughly in order of quality based on what I’ve heard:

1. Transparent
2. Orange is the New Black
3. Over the Garden Wall
4. Jane the Virgin
5. Game of Thrones
6. The Knick
7. Adventure Time
8. Looking