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See which series kept us captivated all year long

1 of 15 AMC

Mad Men

The AMC hit's fourth season fully delivered on the promise of new beginnings, as Don Draper & Co. struggled to get Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce off the ground. But it was Don's downward spiral into drunken debauchery that reminded us that the more things change, the more they stay the same. As skillfully written and acted as ever, the season ended with Don proposing to his secretary. The season posed the question: "Who is Don Draper?" We still don't know. We're still eager to find out.
2 of 15 Craig Blankenhorn/CBS

The Good Wife

This CBS series is smarter and sexier than any other legal drama on television. Building on its freshman success, the show has reached new heights by putting Alicia and Cary at odds while also letting Kalinda lock horns with series newcomer Scott Porter. Plus, the Alicia-Peter-Will love triangle is endlessly watchable. The show just drips sexual tension.
3 of 15 FX


This FX adaptation of an Elmore Leonard short story got it right by sticking to Leonard's blueprint. Lawman Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is quick-drawing a man of few words. And he wears an excellent hat. Raylan's itchy trigger finger lands him back in his childhood home, where he faces the ghosts of his past, including an inspired Walton Goggins as Raylan's childhood friend-turned-nemesis Boyd Crowder.
4 of 15 HBO

Boardwalk Empire

From the minds of The Sopranos scribe Terrence Winter and Martin Scorsese came this HBO Prohibition era gangster tale, the cable channel's first worthy successor to Tony Soprano's throne. Steve Buscemi is a surprising delight as county Treasurer Nucky Thompson, the man who runs Atlantic City with booze, broads and bullets. The terrific ensemble includes Kelly MacDonald's Irish widow and Michael Shannon's insanely pious federal agent.
5 of 15 Fox


There's no sophomore slump here. Fresh off its Emmy-winning first season, the show has continued to pump out high-energy musical numbers and devilish comedy from Jane Lynch's Sue Sylvester. As if further proof of the show's success is needed, it has drawn such guest stars as Gwyneth Paltrow, Carol Burnett and Britney Spears.
6 of 15 AMC

Breaking Bad

You'd be hard-pressed to find a show that has thrilled, chilled, entertained, shocked, awed and stirred us this year the way this show did. From that edge-of-your-seat parking lot shootout to Jesse's tragic relapse, the AMC series ran the gamut on emotional extremes, as Walt's moral compass continued to rot with every calculated move. And yet, we still root for him. If you're still not watching, it's time to start. And we'll give you two more reasons to: The Cousins.
7 of 15 Karen Neal/ABC

Modern Family

There's a reason why the breakout sitcom gave ABC its first Emmy win for a comedy series in 22 years: No show gives you the best laugh for your buck like this show. Really, it's a scientific fact. We've been hunched-over after our oxygen-depriving belly laughs an average four out of five episodes watching the refreshingly kooky yet normal extended Pritchett clan. And the other time, we're aww-ing at its heartwarming sweetness. Find another show that does that.
8 of 15 Mario Perez/CBS

Hawaii Five-0

TV reboots are always a tricky proposition, but CBS found a way to make this one work. Although there's plenty of "Book 'em, Danno" nostalgia, this adrenaline-soaked procedural isn't exactly a love letter to its forbearer. What really makes this show tick is the dynamic between Alex O'Loughlin's McGarrett and Danno, played to perfection by Scott Caan. That and McGarrett's penchant for taking his shirt off.
9 of 15 AMC

The Walking Dead

We love a gory story as much as anyone, but what keeps us coming back to this zombie drama? The show has as much heart as brains. Though it's airing on a network known for quality (see also the multiple Emmys of Mad Men and Breaking Bad), this survival story has found (and kept) a sizable audience, quickly becoming AMC's biggest hit.
10 of 15 Lewis Jacobs/NBC


Community really found its stride during the second half of its freshman season with unforgettable — and exceptionally outlandish — episodes like "Modern Warfare" (aka the "Paintball Episode"). Parodying film and TV clichés has become one of the show's trademarks, and this season has already taken on Apollo 13 and zombie movies. Plus, the ensemble cast — especially Danny Pudi and Donald Glover — play the show's meta humor perfectly.
11 of 15 Craig Blankenhorn/FX


After a less-than-memorable second season, this FX legal drama came out roaring in Season 3, daring to kill off a series regular in the premiere episode. The timely Bernie Madoff-esque case introduced the Tobin family and allowed Emmy winner Glenn Close to go toe-to-toe with fabulous guest stars Campbell Scott, Martin Short and Lily Tomlin. We are glad DirecTV has saved the show, but this stellar season would have been an otherwise fitting ending.
12 of 15 NBC

Parks and Recreation

In some ways, this NBC comedy has never gotten a fair shot. And yet, like its upbeat leader, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the ever-determined show just kept chugging along. Simply put, those who don't watch are missing a very funny series with very funny characters. In Season 2, Pawnee's finest really come out to play, including Leslie's undermining lieutenant Tom (Aziz Ansari); bungling but loveable shoe shine guy Andy (Chris Pratt); anti-government boss Ron (Nick Offerman); and uninterested intern April (Aubrey Plaza). And unlike The Office's buffoonlike staff, you don't want to mock the working folks of Pawnee — you want to hang out with them.
13 of 15 Patrick McElhenney/FX


This delightful buddy-cop drama is equal parts hilarious, tense and heartbreaking. Donal Logue and Michael Raymond James star as Hank and Britt, a pair of ragtag private investigators who become intertwined in a massive (and murderous) corporate conspiracy. The leads' chemistry can't be faked, but it's their respective characters' trouble with the fairer sex — Hank's alcoholism drove his wife away and Britt's commitment issues sent his girlfriend into a regrettable affair — that really make this show tick.
14 of 15 Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW


As played by the intense Maggie Q, the assassin Nikita returned with a fresh, modern vengeance. The show improved upon the "as deadly as she is beautiful" premise with top-notch action sequences and plots that are more intriguing than the original series. Plus, the mole within the nefarious Division adds complexity, and gave former teen star Lyndsy Fonseca the chance to turn in some impressive work.
15 of 15 Ken Regan/Showtime

The Big C

You would think a show about cancer would be as depressing as they come, but Showtime managed to take the story of a Type-A suburban mother (Laura Linney) who finally starts to live when she finds out she's about to die and turn it into one of most hilarious, touching, and, yes, dark comedies of the year.