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

  • Comments: ↓ 31 user comments
  • Publish Date: December 13, 2010

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 (31)

  • Dale Cooper  

    By the way, my top 10 is:

    1. Breaking Bad
    2. Louie
    3. Mad Men
    4. Terriers
    5. Rubicon (mostly disregarding the finale)
    6. Community
    7. Boardwalk Empire
    8. Friday Night Lights
    9. Men of a Certain Age
    10. Party Down/Treme

  • Dale Cooper  

    It's quite frustrating how all critics who watch Breaking Bad watch Mad Men but some critics who watch Mad Men don't watch Breaking Bad (as can be seen by the lack of #2's for Breaking Bad) because season 3 was hands down the best TV show of 2010.

  • fritz  

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-25-best-television-series-of-2010,49229/3/

  • shiva  

    Unless there will be a lot more lists considered this is hardly representative, dear Metacritic staff.

    The awards forum over at LA Times has gathered a lot more publications from various newspapers. This is the current standing:

    1. Mad Men (72 points, 11 lists, 1 top)
    2. Breaking Bad (71 points, 10 lists, 4 top)
    3. Community (51 points, 7 lists, 2 top)
    4. Modern Family (34 points, 6 lists)
    5. Boardwalk Empire (33 points, 10 lists)
    6. Terriers (31 points, 6 lists)
    7. Parks and Recreation (27 points, 5 lists)
    8. Friday Night Lights (25 points, 4 lists, 1 top)
    9. Louie (25 points, 5 lists)
    10. Lost (23 points, 5 lists, 1 top)

  • mattyfran  

    10. Treme
    9. In Treatment
    8. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
    7. The Colbert Report
    6. Eastbound & Down
    5. The Pacific
    4. Louie
    3. The Walking Dead
    2. Boardwalk Empire
    1. Mad Men

  • Anna  

    DEXTER!

  • Ruxin's Trophy  

    I would've liked to see more love for Parks and Recreation--I thought it had a great season after a miserable first season. I posted this elsewhere, but this page seems more appropriate for it (it's another list of best shows of the year--if you're like me you're scouring the internet for these): http://thecriticalfan.blogspot.com/2010/12/tv-nine-best-tv-series-seasons-of-2010.html

  • AD  

    Thank goodness "Community" is getting the recognition it deserves. I think everyone gave up on it after the lackluster first few episodes of the first season, right before it turned from just another TV comedy to one of my favorite TV comedies of all time.

  • thedemonhog  

    Hi, I think that you actually have the Salon.com list backwards. On the website, the list merely appears as an unnumbered slideshow, so it is hard to tell if it is ascending or descending, so I did some digging. In an article published a month earlier by the same author, she did a story with the headline of " 'Modern Family': Best Comedy on TV". She name-drops 'Community' in this article, but writes, "the continued supremacy of ABC's "Modern Family" (9 p.m. Wednesdays) as king of the current sitcom lineup all the more impressive. Against a backdrop of haphazard, unremarkable shows and a handful of reasonably consistent standouts"... http://www.salon.com/entertainment/tv/modern_family/index.html?story=/ent/tv/heather_havrilesky/2010/11/13/modern_family_king_of_the_sitcom

  • A.C.  

    Eastbound & Down destroys all of these. Its omission shows critic's preference of bland, safe humor.

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