15 Greatest TV Shows From the Early 2000s

The early 2000s were a golden era for television, birthing a variety of shows that would leave a lasting impact on audiences and the TV landscape alike. This period saw an explosion of creativity and innovation, introducing viewers to groundbreaking series that mixed traditional genres with new storytelling techniques.

From the gripping dramas that kept us on the edge of our seats to the laugh-out-loud comedies that brought joy and light-hearted fun, the early 2000s had something for everyone.

1. “The Sopranos” (1999-2007)

The Sopranos.
Image Credit: Courtesy of HBO.


Although it began in the late ’90s, “The Sopranos” truly dominated the early 2000s television scene. It offered an in-depth look at the life of Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mob boss struggling to manage his criminal organization and his family life.

The show was acclaimed for its complex characters, intricate plots, and its portrayal of the psychological struggles Tony faced. It set a high standard for narrative depth in television.

2. “The Wire” (2002-2008)

The Wire.
Image Credit: HBO.


This series provided a raw, unfiltered look at the city of Baltimore, seen through the eyes of both law enforcers and drug traffickers.

“The Wire” was lauded for its authentic depiction of societal issues and its deep dive into the lives of its multifaceted characters. Each season focused on a different facet of the city, from the drug trade to the school system, making it a comprehensive study of urban life.

3. “Gilmore Girls” (2000-2007)

Alexis Bledel in Gilmore Girls.
Image Credit: Saeed Adyani/Netflix.


A lighter, more heartwarming addition to the TV lineup of the early 2000s, “Gilmore Girls” captured the charming dynamics of mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore.

Set in the quaint town of Stars Hollow, the series was beloved for its fast-paced dialogue, witty banter, and the strong, supportive relationships depicted throughout the community. It was a feel-good show that resonated with audiences looking for comfort and humor.

4. “Arrested Development” (2003-2006)

Arrested Development.
Image Credit: Saeed Adyani/Netflix.


Known for its innovative narrative style and eccentric characters, “Arrested Development” was a comedy that often played with the conventional norms of sitcoms. The show revolved around the dysfunctional Bluth family, whose members continually find themselves in absurd situations.

It’s celebrated for its clever writing, intricate jokes, and the ability to densely pack humor into every scene.

5. “24” (2001-2010)

Image Credit:
Imagine Entertainment.


“24” introduced a novel concept to television by presenting each season in real-time, with each 24-episode season covering one day in the life of protagonist Jack Bauer. This structure created an intense, suspenseful atmosphere that kept viewers on the edge of their seats.

The series was groundbreaking for its pacing, style, and the way it dealt with themes of national security and moral ambiguity.

6. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Image Credit: Sandollar Television.


Though it started in the late ’90s, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” left an indelible mark on the early 2000s with its mix of drama, humor, and supernatural elements. The show followed Buffy Summers, a young woman who battles evil creatures as a Slayer.

With its witty dialogue and strong, complex characters, especially the powerful female lead, the series became a cultural icon, influencing many future shows in its genre.

7. “Scrubs” (2001-2010)

Image Credit: NBC Universal.


“Scrubs” was a show that successfully blended comedy and drama in a hospital setting, focusing on the lives of several employees at Sacred Heart, a teaching hospital. The series stood out for its unique narrative style, which included fantasy sequences and fourth-wall-breaking moments.

Its ability to tackle serious themes such as life, death, and love, all while maintaining a light-hearted and humorous tone, won it critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase.

8. “Six Feet Under” (2001-2005)

Six Feet Under.
Image Credit: HBO.


This series took a darker approach to storytelling by focusing on a family-run funeral home, exploring themes of mortality and family dynamics. “Six Feet Under” was known for its profound narrative depth, complex characters, and its unflinching exploration of psychological and societal issues.

The show’s finale is often cited as one of the best in television history, providing a satisfying conclusion to the characters’ arcs.

9. “Alias” (2001-2006)

Jennifer Garner in Alias (2001).
Image Credit: ABC.


“Alias” combined the elements of action, thriller, and drama in a show that was centered around Sydney Bristow, a double agent for the CIA. The series was praised for its strong female lead, played by Jennifer Garner, and its compelling blend of personal drama with espionage. Its high-stakes missions and intricate plot twists kept viewers hooked throughout its run.

10. “Firefly” (2002-2003)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.


Though short-lived, “Firefly” has achieved a significant cult following due to its unique blend of science fiction and western elements. Set in a future where Earth has been abandoned, the show follows the crew of the spaceship Serenity. The series is celebrated for its character development, dialogues, and for the creative vision of its creator, Joss Whedon.

11. “Friends” (1994-2004)

Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Noelle Sheldon, and Cali Sheldon in Friends (1994).
Image Credit: NBC Universal.


Although “Friends” began its run in the mid-90s, it remained one of the most popular and beloved shows well into the early 2000s. The series, centered around six friends living in New York City, struck a chord with its audience for its humorous and heartfelt exploration of friendships, relationships, and the trials of adulthood.

The chemistry among the cast and the blend of humor and emotional depth ensured that “Friends” remained a staple in homes around the world, concluding with a highly watched finale.

12. “The West Wing” (1999-2006)

The West Wing.
Image Credit: Warner Bros Television.


This show provided viewers with a fascinating look inside the White House, following the fictional presidency of Josiah Bartlet. Known for its fast-paced dialogue and complex storytelling, “The West Wing” was praised for its detailed exploration of U.S. politics and its portrayal of moral and ethical dilemmas.

The series won numerous awards for its writing and performances, and is remembered for elevating the standard of narrative sophistication on television.

13. “Lost” (2004-2010)

Image Credit: ABC.


Kicking off in the latter half of 2004, “Lost” quickly became a cultural phenomenon. The series began with the dramatic crash of Oceanic Flight 815 on a mysterious island, leading survivors to confront not only the dangers of the island but also their own personal demons.

The show was groundbreaking for its intricate plot, deep character development, and its use of flashbacks and flashforwards to enhance the storytelling.

14. “Malcolm in the Middle” (2000-2006)

Malcolm in the middle.
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.


A standout in the family sitcom genre, “Malcolm in the Middle” offered a humorous yet strikingly honest look at family life through the eyes of a child genius, Malcolm, who navigates the chaos of his quirky family.

Unlike many of its contemporaries, the show was shot in a single-camera format, which allowed for a more cinematic and fluid style of comedy. It was celebrated for its creative episodes and the way it broke the fourth wall, speaking directly to the audience.

15. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (2000-present)

Larry David HBO Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 11 - Episode 8.
Image Credit: John P. Johnson/ HBO.


Debuting in 2000, this series created by and starring Larry David, offers a fictionalized version of his life as a semi-retired television writer and producer in Los Angeles. The show’s use of improvisation in dialogue and its focus on the social faux pas and everyday frustrations that Larry encounters have garnered it a loyal fanbase.

It is known for its sharp wit and often cringe-inducing situations that highlight the absurdities of social conventions.

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