100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time

From time-capsule sitcoms to cutting-edge Peak-TV dramas — the definitive ranking of the game-changing small-screen classics

3. 'Breaking Bad'

2008-13
Bryan Cranston, previously the dentist on Seinfeld and the lovable dad from Malcolm in the Middle, became a villain for the ages in Vince Gilligan's AMC noir. Walter White, a bitter high school chemistry teacher, gets terminal lung cancer and decides to provide for his kids by turning into New Mexico's premier crystal-meth chef. Unfortunately for his family, his victims and practically everyone he meets, he loves his new secret life as the killer drug lord Heisenberg. "I am not in danger, Skyler," he tells his wife. "I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!" Yet he's so frightening because he's so ordinary – any American loser who gets a chance to act on his most criminal fantasies, which in Walter's case is just the chance to finally be good at something. That's what makes Breaking Bad as addictive as the Blue Sky that Walter cooks. The more Walt transforms into Heisenberg, the deeper he digs into the grim side of the American dream. After one spectacular killing involving a kamikaze wheelchair bomb, he calls his wife to report, "It's over. We're safe. I won." The tragic part is he believes it – but he's lost her as well as himself.

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