2010 Television Critic Top Ten Lists [Updated Jan. 7]

  • Publish Date: December 13, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 30 user comments

Below, we collect every year-end Top Ten list published by major TV critics and publications. This page will be updated throughout December and January whenever new lists are published; be sure to check back frequently.

The Scorecard: Critics pick the best TV shows of 2010

Added in last update (1/7): Austin Chronicle

Below is our updated running tally of the TV shows most frequently mentioned by individual critics in their year-end Top Ten lists. Note that if a critic ranks more than the standard 10 shows, we will not include titles ranked 11th or worse. In case of a tie for first or second, each show will receive the full points for that position. Our points system works as follows:

  • 3 points for each 1st place ranking
  • 2 points for each 2nd place ranking
  • 1 point for being ranked 3rd - 10th, or for being included on an unranked list
  Show /Network # 1st Place # 2nd Place # Other Points
1 Mad Men (AMC) 7 7 10 45
2 Breaking Bad (AMC) 5 3 5 26
3 Boardwalk Empire (HBO) 0 1 17 19
4 Community (NBC) 2 2 8 18
  Modern Family (ABC) 1 2 11 18
6 The Good Wife (CBS) 1 0 13 16
7 Lost (ABC) 2 0 7 13
  Terriers (FX) 1 0 10 13
9 Louie (FX) 1 0 8 11
10 Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC) 1 0 7 10
  Treme (HBO) 0 1 8 10
12 30 Rock (NBC) 0 0 9 9
  Parks and Recreation (NBC) 0 0 9 9
14 The Pacific (HBO) 0 0 7 7
  The Walking Dead (AMC) 0 1 5 7
16 Dexter (Showtime) 1 0 3 6
  Fringe (Fox) 0 1 4 6
  Justified (FX) 0 0 6 6
  Rubicon (AMC) 0 1 4 6
  True Blood (HBO) 0 1 4 6

Individual top ten lists

Below are the individual top ten lists used to calculate the standings above. Some critics may list ten shows without ranking them in order; such lists are displayed below, without numbers, in alphabetical order.

Austin Chronicle Belinda Acosta View article
  • Blue Bloods (CBS)
  • The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
  • Community (NBC)
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
  • Luther (BBC America)
  • Mad Men (AMC)
  • Men of a Certain Age (TNT)
  • Modern Family (ABC)
  • The Office (NBC)
  • Treme (HBO)
Boston Globe Matthew Gilbert View article
  1. Mad Men (AMC)
  2. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  3. Treme (HBO)
  4. Modern Family (ABC)
  5. The Good Wife (CBS)
  6. (tie) In Treatment (HBO)
  7. (tie) Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
  8. Justified (FX)
  9. Luther (BBC America)
  10. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  11. 30 Rock (NBC)
Cleveland Plain Dealer Mark Dawidziak View article
  1. Mad Men (AMC)
  2. True Blood (HBO)
  3. Damages (FX)
  4. Dexter (Showtime)
  5. Modern Family (ABC)
  6. Justified (FX)
  7. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  8. Treme (HBO)
  9. Terriers (FX)
  10. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
The Daily Beast/Televisionary Jace Lacob View article
  1. Mad Men (AMC)
  2. Community (NBC)
  3. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  4. Terriers (FX)
  5. Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
  6. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  7. Fringe (Fox)
  8. The Good Wife (CBS)
  9. Modern Family (ABC)
  10. Justified (FX)
Entertainment Weekly Ken Tucker
  1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  2. Fringe (Fox)
  3. The Good Wife (CBS)
  4. (tie) Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  5. (tie) 30 Rock (NBC)
  6. (tie) Community (NBC)
  7. Mad Men (AMC)
  8. Justified (FX)
  9. Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
  10. Modern Family (ABC)
  11. Men of a Certain Age (TNT)
  12. Work of Art (Bravo)
HitFix Daniel Fienberg View article
  1. Mad Men (AMC)
  2. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  3. The Pacific (HBO)
  4. Terriers (FX)
  5. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  6. Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
  7. Community (NBC)
  8. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  9. 30 for 30 (ESPN)
  10. The Vampire Diaries (CW)
HitFix Alan Sepinwall View article
  1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  2. Mad Men (AMC)
  3. Terriers (FX)
  4. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  5. Community (NBC)
  6. The Pacific (HBO)
  7. Louie (FX)
  8. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  9. Treme (HBO)
  10. 30 for 30 (ESPN)
The Hollywood Reporter Tim Goodman View article
  1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  2. Mad Men (AMC)
  3. The Pacific (HBO)
  4. Treme (HBO)
  5. Lost (ABC)
  6. The Inbetweeners (BBC America)
  7. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  8. Men of a Certain Age (TNT)
  9. 30 Rock (NBC)
  10. Terriers (FX)
Houston Chronicle Therese Odell View article
  1. Lost (ABC)
  2. Mad Men (AMC)
  3. Rubicon (AMC)
  4. Fringe (Fox)
  5. The Big C (Showtime)
  6. True Blood (HBO)
  7. 30 Rock (NBC)
  8. Glee (Fox)
  9. (tie) Eastbound and Down (HBO)
  10. (tie) Louie (FX)
  11. The Walking Dead (AMC)
Los Angeles Times Robert Lloyd View article
  1. Terriers (FX)
  2. Rubicon (AMC)
  3. The Choir (BBC America)
  4. (tie) Treme (HBO)
  5. (tie) How to Make It in America (HBO)
  6. Adventure Time with Finn and Jake (Cartoon Network)
  7. Louie (FX)
  8. Doctor Who (BBC America)
  9. Justified (FX)
  10. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
  11. La Danse (PBS)
Miami Herald Glenn Garvin View article
  1. Dexter (Showtime)
  2. The Walking Dead (AMC)
  3. The Good Wife (CBS)
  4. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  5. The Pacific (HBO)
Movieline Christopher Rosen View article
  1. Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
  2. Mad Men (AMC)
  3. The Office (NBC)
  4. Lost (ABC)
  5. 30 Rock (NBC)
  6. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  7. Bored to Death (HBO)
  8. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  9. How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
  10. Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
New York Emily Nussbaum View article
  1. Community (NBC)
  2. Mad Men (AMC)
  3. Terriers (FX)
  4. 30 Rock (NBC)
  5. In Treatment (HBO)
  6. Louie (FX)
  7. The Good Wife (CBS)
  8. United States of Tara (Showtime)
  9. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  10. Treme (HBO)
New York Daily News David Hinckley View article
  • 30 for 30 (ESPN)
  • Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  • Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
  • The Good Wife (CBS)
  • In Treatment (HBO)
  • Mad Men (AMC)
  • Movies and Moguls (TCM)
  • New York Street Games (PBS)
  • Sons of Anarchy (FX)
  • The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (NBC)
New York Times Mike Hale View article
  • American Experience: My Lai (PBS)
  • The Boondocks (Adult Swim)
  • Carlos (Sundance)
  • Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
  • Fringe (Fox)
  • Gavin and Stacey (BBC America)
  • The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Huge (ABC Family)
  • Louie (FX)
  • Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... (Sundance)
The Onion A.V. Club View article
  1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  2. Community (NBC)
  3. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  4. Louie (FX)
  5. Mad Men (AMC)
  6. Party Down (Starz)
  7. Terriers (FX)
  8. Lost (ABC)
  9. The Good Wife (CBS)
  10. Cougar Town (ABC)
Paste Josh Jackson View article
  1. Mad Men (AMC)
  2. Modern Family (ABC)
  3. Dexter (Showtime)
  4. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  5. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  6. 30 Rock (NBC)
  7. Lost (ABC)
  8. The Walking Dead (AMC)
  9. Community (NBC)
  10. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Rob Owen View article
  1. The Good Wife (CBS)
  2. Mad Men (AMC)
  3. Community (NBC)
  4. Modern Family (ABC)
  5. The Middle (ABC)
  6. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  7. Spartacus: Blood and Sand (Starz)
  8. The Walking Dead (AMC)
  9. (tie) Terriers (FX)
  10. (tie) Lone Star (Fox)
  11. (tie) Rubicon (AMC)
  12. Glee (Fox)
PopMatters Melissa Crawley View article
  1. Luther (BBC America)
  2. Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
  3. Mad Men (AMC)
  4. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  5. True Blood (HBO)
  6. The Office (NBC)
  7. Sons of Anarchy (FX)
  8. Spartacus: Blood and Sand (Starz)
  9. So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
  10. Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)
Salon Heather Havrilesky View article
  1. Community (NBC)
  2. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  3. 30 Rock (NBC)
  4. Men of a Certain Age (TNT)
  5. Louie (FX)
  6. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  7. Mad Men (AMC)
  8. Bored to Death (HBO)
  9. The Walking Dead (AMC)
  10. Modern Family (ABC)
St. Petersburg Times Eric Deggans View article
  1. Mad Men (AMC)
  2. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  3. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  4. Modern Family (ABC)
  5. The Walking Dead (AMC)
  6. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
  7. Temple Grandin (HBO)
  8. Lost (ABC)
  9. The Pacific (HBO)
  10. The Good Wife (CBS)
Time James Poniewozik View article
  1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
  2. Mad Men (AMC)
  3. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  4. Louie (FX)
  5. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  6. Party Down (Starz)
  7. The Pacific (HBO)
  8. The Good Wife (CBS)
  9. Rubicon (AMC)
  10. Terriers (FX)
TV Guide Matt Roush View article
  1. Mad Men (AMC)
  2. Modern Family (ABC)
  3. Lost (ABC)
  4. The Good Wife (CBS)
  5. Misc. HBO movies and miniseries
  6. AMC in general
  7. (tie) Glee (Fox)
  8. (tie) The Choir (BBC America)
  9. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  10. Sherlock (PBS)
  11. FX in general
TV Squad Maureen Ryan View article
  • ABC comedies (Cougar Town, Modern Family, and Better Off Ted)
  • AMC dramas (Mad Men, Rubicon, and Breaking Bad)
  • Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  • Fringe (Fox)
  • The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Lost (ABC)
  • Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  • Party Down (Starz)
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand (Starz)
  • Terriers (FX)
TV Worth Watching/NPR David Bianculli View article
  • 30 Rock (NBC)
  • Breaking Bad (AMC)
  • The Choir (BBC America)
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
  • Dexter (Showtime)
  • Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
  • Glee (Fox)
  • The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Mad Men (AMC)
  • Modern Family (ABC)
  • Rescue Me (FX)
  • True Blood (HBO)
USA Today Robert Bianco View article
  1. (tie) Lost (ABC)
  2. (tie) Modern Family (ABC)
  3. Mad Men (AMC)
  4. True Blood (HBO)
  5. Rescue Me (FX)
  6. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  7. Community (NBC)
  8. Justified (FX)
  9. Treme (HBO)
  10. Men of a Certain Age (TNT)
Wall Street Journal Dorothy Rabinowitz View article
  • Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  • Community (NBC)
  • In Treatment (HBO)
  • Mad Men (AMC)
  • Modern Family (ABC)
  • Moguls & Movie Stars (Turner Classic Movies)
  • The Pacific (HBO)
Washington Post Hank Stuever View article
  1. Louie (FX)
  2. Treme (HBO)
  3. The BP "spillcam"
  4. Work of Art (Bravo)
  5. Betty White hosts SNL (NBC)

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (30)

  • Dale Cooper  

    I find it frustrating how most/all critics watch Mad Men but only some of them also watch Breaking Bad, which was clearly superior this year. Hence the staggeringly low "# Other" votes for Breaking Bad.

  • DennyS  

    There ARE people who aren't fond of Breaking Bad. I've watched the whole first season and I just couldn't stomach a 2nd one. I think Walt is whiny, repressed and unlikeable as a protagonist. As far as lists and personal taste goes, I think Jace Lacob's list is pretty spot on. Couldn't have made a better list myself.

  • Brian E  


    Spot-on. I don't mind if people don't think Breaking Bad was the best show on TV this year. Heck, I don't mind if people don't like it, full stop. Critics are entitled, and encouraged, to have prerogatives, and any adequate defense of an unpopular opinion should, at the very least, serve as interesting debate.

    However, what I've seen time and time again is critics say, "I haven't seen it." Frankly, this isn't an excuse. This series premiered almost three years ago. It was a consensus Top-10 pick in its strike-shortened first season, and a consensus Top-5 pick last year, with many critics either picking it as the best or second to Mad Men (for my money, it was the best). And the justly-heralded third season? It ended in the summer. There's been plenty of press, plenty of hype, and plenty of time to watch. It's not as if AMC wouldn't send out a set of screeners for the press to get caught up; BB, while brilliant, needs all the attention it can muster, especially given that the "Walking Dead" numbers prove AMC can have a series that competes, numbers-wise, with HBO, which BB certainly cannot do.

    If you're getting a salary to review TV for a living, there's no excuse not to watch this show. This is akin to a member of the State Department not knowing what Wikileaks is.

  • jd  

    Fringe needs to be higher up...totally agree with EW

  • chuck gage  

    I think TRUE BLOOD is the best series on tv and why it aint number one , the hell if i know. Also i didnt see WAREHOUSE 13 or GHOST HUNTERS!!!! Both of them shows are on SYFI. TRUE BLOOD is way better than boardwalk empire breakin bad, son of anarcky, glee, treme. All the shows on that list

  • Anna  

    Why isn't LOST higher? I understand that some people say that they "quit watching when it got too confusing" but come on... LOST is one of the greatest things to happen to television.

  • Radisson McCooligan  

    Some copy editing: The chart (as of 01/05/11) says Rubicon received 1 vote for 1st place and none for second, but the top ten lists that follow don't bear this out (the LA Times ranking has Rubicon at # 2, and no list has it at # 1). Likewise, Dexter has one vote for # 1 (The Miami Herald) and none for # 2; the chart has it the other way around.

  • Sean  

    USA shows never get the recognition they deserve. Burn Notice? White Collar?

  • Guilherme  

    I Think that Fringe deserved a much better place and Glee down! The first seven are great, but Fringe should go after them. The Pacific is absolutely amazing and it deserved a much better place as well! So instead of Terriers, Louie and Friday Night Lives, it should be: The Pacific, Fringe and 3o Rock!

  • ANDY  

    i am unclear as to why Southland is not on any list. Dexter,breaking bad and eastbound and down were the BOMB

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