Robert Rodriguez / TV Guide
Best and Worst TV Shows of 2018

Ranking the 25 Best TV Shows of 2018

We ranked the year's best TV shows — and Netflix gave us a 'lot' of them

This past year in television was a wild one, folks. Experts estimate that more than 5 billion television shows aired in 2018, and we watched every single one. It got us thinking: What if we put together a list of all the best shows of the year? We may be on to something here... good luck finding a list like this anywhere else online.

Some people complain about the onslaught of TV we're getting, but not us. Eight of our top 10 picks were either new or in their second season in 2018. And of course we're into the whole streaming thing; 11 of our top 25 picks were Netflix series.

Here's our ranked list of the 25 best shows of 2018:

25. Succession (HBO)

Where to stream: HBO Go, HBO Now, Hulu

Eighty percent of all entertainment is made by and about rich scumbags, and almost none of them have the appropriate level of contempt for their characters. Not Succession. Succession's rich scumbags will make you want to go door-to-door for Bernie Sanders in 2020. Creator Jesse Armstrong and executive producer Adam McKay's acidic satire of a soulless Murdoch-esque media family is a show about one-percenters, made for the 99 percent. It's a pitch-black comedy Trojan-horsed inside a prestige drama, and it's the most fun you'll have watching a show where you loathe every single character. --Liam Mathews

24. Bodyguard (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

We had heard the hubbub about a new thriller starring Robb Stark (Richard Madden) that was breaking ratings records in the U.K., but it wasn't until Bodyguard made its premiere stateside on Netflix that we understood why: It's bonkers addictive! Madden plays a war vet tasked with protecting a female politician whose extreme political views don't jibe with his, and the twisty Bodyguard makes everyone a suspect in the attempts on her life. But it's the style of the terrorist drama that pushes it into must-see territory; it thickens tension until you think you're going to explode (the opening scene is a cardiac exercise), employs creepy zooms so you second-guess everything you think you know, and makes the British pronunciation of "ma'am" echo in your head. And at just six episodes, it's a lightning-quick binge. --Tim Surette

RELATED: 10 Best Netflix Obsessions of 2018

23. Claws (TNT)

Where to stream: Hulu

After a breakneck first season that delivered a thrilling story backed by a robust cast of characters, Claws really hit its stride in Season 2. The show follows a group of manicurists who became entangled in organized crime, and the introduction of Russian mobster Zlata (Franka Potente) this season injected new life into the series, giving our heroes a formidable foe. The series also experimented with format in a way it never could in Season 1, serving up offbeat episodes - one took place entirely from Quiet Ann's (Judy Reyes) perspective - that allowed us to get to know these thrilling characters on a deeper level. Claws has been a wild show from the get-go, but this season solidified its status as one of the smartest and most interesting on TV. --Keisha Hatchett

22. Power (Starz)

Where to stream: Starz, Amazon Prime with Starz add-on, Hulu

For a show consistently packed with bangs! twists! and oh sh--! moments, Power got off to a slow start in Season 5. Fans seemed fatigued and even confused as they powered through the first few episodes of the season, which began with James St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) and Tasha (Naturi Naughton) looking to avenge the murder of their daughter, Raina (Donshea Hopkins), and had all the main characters forming strange alliances. But as it went on, Power proved it was laying pipe for an explosive, gripping end-of-season run that killed off at least one main character and possibly another. By the time the smoke cleared, Power had again shown how excellently it can set up an intricate web of deception, lies and murder - and why it's one of the smartest crime dramas in the history of the genre. --Malcolm Venable

21. Atypical (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Of course TV's most surprising family show is on our list! Atypicalbuilt upon its heartwarming first season and pushed its characters to new depths in Season 2, as it brought more laughs, higher stakes, and another scene-stealing performance from Brigette Lundy-Paine. Netflix's underrated comedy doesn't sanitize this family's dysfunction like sitcoms are often guilty of doing, but it also makes sure to show that they stick together in the end, because that's what families do. It's an emotional rollercoaster, but the ups, downs and inevitable ups again make it rewarding. Also, there are a lot of penguins, and that's pretty cool. --Megan Vick

20. Lodge 49 (AMC)

Where to stream: (with cable subscription), Amazon Prime (available for purchase)

Lodge 49defies description, but I'll give it a shot anyway. Uhhh, it's an ensemble comedy and mystical drama that was almost certainly conceived in a sweat lodge during a peyote binge. Wyatt Russell plays a man searching for more out of life, and he finds it in one of those mysterious fraternal lodges that's really just a hodgepodge of other lost souls who gather 'round to drink beer. But there's an undercurrent of prophecy that electrifies the show with a deeper meaning, giving it a curious importance that other shows don't have. It's unusual, for sure, but the path to enlightenment is paved with strange experiences. That's what makes it special. --Tim Surette

19. Everything Sucks! (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Netflix was a fool to cancel this coming-of-age story set in the '90s after one wonderful season, and yes, we're still pissed off about it. Most TV shows about high school are obsessed with glitz and looks (have you seen the Riverdalecast?), but Everything Sucks! was more authentic, hiring actual teens to play the endearing, awkward characters navigating the murkiest years of life. Ironically, that's probably what did Everything Sucks! in; the show was such a reminder of our actual high school years, it's possible that viewers didn't want to relive them. That's too bad, because if they'd seen the whole series, they'd know it was about all the things we overlooked as kids: the learning experiences, hope and growing up. --Tim Surette

18. Bob's Burgers (Fox)

Where to stream: Hulu

Some people might look at Bob's Burgers' inclusion on this list and wonder why it's here. And those people must lead joyless lives, because if after nine seasons you're still not watching Fox's delightfully absurd comedy about the burger joint-owning Belcher family, you're missing out. Most shows slow down and struggle as they age, but Bob's Burgers only seems to have gotten stronger (if also a little weirder). If you need proof, look no further than this year's Halloween episode, "Nightmare on Ocean Avenue Street," which featured Gene (Eugene Mirman) dressed as Andre 3000 the Giant, a giant spider with chainsaws attached to its feet, and another fun Bob's Burgers original song. --Kaitlin Thomas

17. Jane the Virgin (The CW)

Where to stream: Netflix

Jane the Virgin
Michael Desmond/The CW

The CW's Jane the Virgin is many things -- complex, heartwarming, incredibly funny -- but the one thing it is not is boring. The beloved CW series raised the bar dramatically this year, smoothly and smartly tackling everything from Jane's (Gina Rodriguez) ongoing journey as a writer and Xo's (Andrea Navedo) emotional battle with breast cancer to Alba (Ivonne Coll) passing her citizenship test and Rafael's (Justin Baldoni) emotional insecurities. The series also pulled off its most surprising twist yet when it revealed in the final minutes of the season that Jane's husband, Michael (Brett Dier), wasn't dead after all (we think). And that Rafael was willing to give up his future with Jane so she could be happy with him. That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the kind of rollercoaster storytelling that puts shows on these kinds of lists. And Jane the Virgin manages to do it year after year after year. --Kaitlin Thomas

16. Dear White People (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Dear White Peoplestepped up its already-good game in Vol. 2, as the racial tensions that came to a boil last year continued to spill over. As a white nationalist group came to prominence and Samantha (Logan Browning) continued confronting racism and prejudice on her campus show, relationships got strengthened or pulled apart, as was the case with her white boyfriend, Gabe (John Patrick Amedori), which made for a must-see confrontation in a powerful episode. Season 2 also ended with a spooky mystery, leaving viewers curious about Sam's induction into a creepy secret society led by the longtime unseen narrator, hinting that all the thoughtful commentary and biting satire Dear White People already presented was really only just the beginning. --Malcolm Venable

15. GLOW (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

GLOW's sophomore run piledrove any doubts about whether it could recapture the magic of its much-hyped debut. After introducing some colorful characters in Season 1, the show dove further into their stories, revealing how these marginalized women found their place in a system hellbent on beating them down. Debbie struggled with single working motherhood, Tammé subverted people's inherent racism to send her son comfortably to college, Ruth began to find her footing as producer, and all the women of GLOW faced the consequences of their newfound fame. Season 2 also delivered bigger and better stunts, which were the kick-ass crowning glory on the emotional core of the show: the depth and complexity of female friendships. --Keisha Hatchett

14. Maniac (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Maniac may have the trappings of a dystopian sci-fi stress-watch -- it does, after all, star Emma Stone and Jonah Hill as two damaged young people who join an ill-run pharmaceutical study that (literally) messes with their minds -- but the show's grimdark setting gives way to a story that's surprisingly earnest and hopeful. This 10-episode series features a cast of memorable supporting characters who veer close enough to caricature that they easily could have stepped out of a Wes Anderson film, not to mention surreal visuals that recall your favorite Michel Gondry creations. But they all serve as backdrop for a moving (and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny) journey to an emotional climax that takes all the complexity of the series and boils it down to its simplest and most beautiful part. --Noelene Clark

13. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

Chilling Adventures of Sabrinais undeniably one of the best new shows of the fall. A dark, gothic twist onSabrina the Teenage Witch, Chilling Adventures turns up the campy melodrama while still portraying a young half-witch's tug-of-war between her magical and human sides as utterly grounded and relatable. Kiernan Shipka is the lynchpin of a remarkable cast, and her performance as Sabrina is the earnestly gooey center of a thrillingly black-hearted show. Even when it's tricking you, Chilling Adventures is a guaranteed treat to watch. --Krutika Mallikarjuna

12. The Americans (FX)

Where to stream: Amazon, FX+, FX Now

Series that are fawned over by critics during their run may seem to have it easy, but they're under more pressure than their peers to finish what they start, lest they be remembered as another "The early seasons were good; the rest, ehhh..." show. The final season of The Americansmade sure that didn't happen, matching so many of the compelling themes from the first season -- the divide between Philip and Elizabeth, the tension between Stan and the Jennings, how to cope with a teenager who knows too much -- to bring the whole series full circle. The series finale will go down as one of the greatest ever, answering all the questions we had from the pilot by keeping it simple -- proof that the entire show was planned out from the get-go. --Tim Surette

11. One Day at a Time (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

The first season of One Day at a Time already raised the stakes for the modern TV reboot, but when the second season hit Netflix this year, the family comedy rose to a whole new level. With episodes tackling depression, gender nonconformity, racism and death, the Norman Lear reboot delivered several intimate looks at pressing issues in modern society, filling these storylines with such specific details that every issue the Alvarez family faces -- no matter how removed it is from your own life -- takes on a universal feel. --Sadie Gennis

10. Kidding (Showtime)

Where to stream: Showtime, Amazon Prime with Showtime add-on, Hulu with Showtime add-on

Kidding is a series about an eternally optimistic children's show host who gets walloped over the head by the hammer of reality when tragedy strikes his family, and it's every bit as lovely and depressing as you think. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it a total mindf---? It's all those, but most importantly, it's a deep look at the masks we wear every day while our insides are crumbling from all the messiness. There's a perfect mix between creator David Holstein's writing, Jim Carrey's performance and Michel Gondry's vision that makes Kidding an uncomfortable, hilarious and addictive watch. --Tim Surette

9. Counterpart (Starz)

Where to stream: Starz, Amazon Prime with Starz add-on

The epitome of the best show you aren't watching, Counterpart had the disadvantages of airing in the middle of the holidays and having limited access to eyeballs as a Starz exclusive, but listen to me right now: Seek this gem out. Part science-fiction, part espionage thriller, Counterpart follows a war between two parallel universes and asks all the right existential questions about who we could be under the right circumstances. Actor of our generation J.K. Simmons gets to play two wonderfully written roles (how did we get so blessed?), and he's surrounded by a cast and crew who've put together one of the most complete series since Breaking Bad. --Tim Surette

8. Killing Eve (BBC America)

Where to stream: Hulu, Amazon Prime (available for purchase)

If you were expecting the typical game of cat and mouse when you tuned in for BBC America's Killing Eve -- the biggest surprise of 2018 -- you were probably a little turned around by the twisted tale of obsession between two adversaries on opposite sides of the law. Eve and Villanelle's destructive but intoxicating journey in Season 1 felt more like a courtship than a crime saga (except for all the murder-y bits, obviously) but it ultimately struck a perfect balance between its genre elements and the deeply character-driven narrative that hooked all of us in. Though it didn't get nearly the showing it deserved from the 2018 Emmy Awards, it's still a critical darling that won't disappoint. --Lindsay MacDonald

7. Queer Eye (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

It's rare for a show to bring people together in these divisive times, but Netflix's Queer Eye proved that even in 2018, people from completely opposite sides of the political, racial or religious spectrum can join forces for a good cause -- and Jonathan Van Ness' one-of-a-kind quips. The new Fab 5 -- Van Ness, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Bobby Berk and Antoni Porowski, pooled their individual gifts and built on the spirit of the show's predecessor, changing lives as they aimed to make over deserving people inside as well as out. We are forever moved by their generous spirit and, thanks to their kind words, know that we are beautiful and strong. We are a Kelly Clarkson song, and we are better for it. --Megan Vick

6. American Vandal (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

HowAmerican Vandal managed to spin sh-- into pure gold, the world may never know. But it's a fact we'll always be thankful for as the second and last (!!!) season took a pitch-perfect parody of true-crime documentaries and injected an empathetic appeal for kindness into the mix. The realistic view of a generation learning how to live in the unending spotlight of social media touched viewers' hearts without ever slipping into a preachy spiel about how we all need to get off our phones. It'll be a long time before we get such an emotional intelligent coming-of-age story again. --Krutika Mallikarjuna

5. YOU (Lifetime)

Where to stream: (with cable subscription), Amazon Prime (available for purchase)

Before it premiered, there were a lot of jokes about how YOU -- which stars Penn Badgley as a stalker obsessed with a self-sabotaging grad student who has enough problems of her own (Elizabeth Lail) -- was the spiritual successor to Gossip Girl but taken to the extreme. YOU isn't Gossip Girl; it's so much better. Badgley's performance as Joe Goldberg, the unhinged but charming bookstore owner who will do anything for the object of his obsession, is intricately layered and empathetic, managing to keep viewers hooked on Joe's story no matter the depths he sinks to. And the show's perfect balance between genuine thriller and campy humor has turned the typical Lifetime movie plot into real art with a gift for creating must-see moments we won't be forgetting anytime soon. --Sadie Gennis

4. Better Call Saul (AMC)

Where to stream: Netflix

Better Call Saul's fourth season finally propelled the AMC drama about the man who would become Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) into Breaking Bad territory. By the time Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) violently suffocated a man who crossed him, you just knew this season would be a turning point for the show. And it was. Jimmy McGill officially adopted the Saul moniker by the end of the season, breaking our hearts (and likely Kim's [Rhea Seehorn]) in the process, and setting up all the pieces for what's sure to be an electric Season 5. --Kaitlin Thomas

3. The Good Place (NBC)

Where to stream: Netflix

There's a reason The Good Place won first place on TV Guide's 100 Best Shows on Television ranking earlier this year. But can a broadcast comedy with a high concept stay good for longer than a few seasons? Yep! With the big cat out of the bag at the end of Season 1, Season 2 reinvented itself seemingly every week to stay fresh and keep viewers off guard. And Season 3 headed back to Earth for another reboot that's paying off huge dividends (and gave us Janet kicking the asses of a bunch of demons in Canada). We don't always know where The Good Place is going, but we always know it's going someplace good. --Lindsay MacDonald

2. The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)

Where to stream: Netflix

If you see a lot more character-driven horror shows over the next two years, The Haunting of Hill House is precisely the reason why. The series became a near-instant hit once it arrived on Netflix, transforming Shirley Jackson's haunted house story into a penetrating family drama exploring isolation and grief. The series played with perception in ways that both delight and terrify, and the often-devastating twists revealed along the way had us itching for a rewatch before we even finished. --Sadie Gennis

1. Atlanta (FX)

Where to stream: Hulu, FX+, FX Now

Donald Glover is pop culture's Man of the Year. He was the best part of the disappointing Solo, which was still a huge movie even if it wasn't as huge as Disney wanted. As Childish Gambino, his song "This Is America" and its accompanying Hiro Murai-directed music video will be used in documentaries 40 years from now to signify the Trump era. And those weren't even his greatest achievements. That would be Season 2 of Atlanta, aka Atlanta: Robbin' Season, his elegiac FX comedy series. Glover went inside the collective American unconscious and came back with Lynchian images that will stay in your brain forever (say it with me: "Owl's Casket"). It's a rare, special thing when someone is both as popular and artistically significant as Donald Glover is. He said he was gonna get Katt Williams an Emmy, and he did. Sometimes you just gotta stunt on people. --Liam Mathews

Relive the best, worst and most unforgettable TV moments of 2018, including the 25 best performances of the year and the 25 best episodes of the year.

Senior Editor, Reviews & Recommendations: Tim Surette

Creative: Robert Rodriguez and Sushant Sund