The Best of 2014: Best Drama

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The TV Fanatic staff has picked their best drama candidates for 2014. 

This list is in alphabetical order and does not designate the best by order of the slideshow.

1. The 100

The 100
The 100 had a rocky start to its freshman run, but improved dramatically as the show progressed. The second has season has been like a different show. Sure, we still have the group mostly apart, but the storytelling is up there with some of the best shows that have been on the air. The cast put in solid performances week to week. The best thing the show did was dropping the love triangle. It was only present in the beginning because this is a CW show and it had to fit into the CW DNA to get past the pilot stage. It feels like one of the shows you would get on cable! -- Paul Dailly

2. The Affair

The Affair
The Affair is a riveting drama had me hooked with its tale of Noah and Allison (oddly enough, names of the characters in The Notebook...), their personal lives and the effects the affair has on them. But what really sets it apart is the two different perspectives of the affair. The story is told from both the viewpoints of Noah and Allison, offering similar yet different experiences as the character tale unfolds. It's such a creative endeavor brought to life with a solid cast and writing that really just sucks you right into the show. -- Sean McKenna

3. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of Shield got off to a bit of a slow start, but it hit the ground running in 2014 and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. Finding out Ward was a double agent and the show's tie in with Captain America: The Winter Soldier became the turning point of the series. Delving into the mysteries surrounding Skye's father and background, the alien text consuming Coulson, and the obelisk has kept me on the edge of my seat each week in a way no other drama has this year. -- Stacy Glanzman

4. The Americans

The Americans
While fighting for their homeland, the Soviet Union, spies Elizabeth and Philip Jennings masquerade as Americans. Our protaganists constantly battle their own desires and dreams for their future as Americans and Soviets, but when their eldest daughter starts to question everything so soon after another family is murdered in cold blood, tensions rise. Is love of country or love of family more important? Can they choose? The pacing, acting and storytelling on the Americans keeps us on our toes, constantly wondering what is best for all sides. It's a world filled with grey areas and every avenue is riveting. -- Carissa Pavlica

5. Arrow

When we talk about best dramas, the CW doesn't usually come to mind. Neither do shows based on comic books. Which is unfortunate, because Arrow is one of the best dramas on television right now. It's about more than Stephen Amell's shirtless allure. This is a show that's fearless, that allows main characters to fail, that allows disasters and their consequences to happen. Arrow manages to keep us riveted without needlessly dragging out storylines for suspense. The show isn't afraid to shake things up or raise the stakes, and we are always on our toes knowing that no character is ever safe from harm. Team Arrow -- Oliver, Diggle and Felicity -- keeps our hearts in the game, as we care about these people. Lastly, we can't talk about Arrow without talking about the beauty of the fight sequences; the show's stunt coordination is simply unmatched on TV right now. -- Robin Harry

6. The Bridge

The Bridge
Last season, The Bridge was a suspenseful ride, but the two aimless episodes between the conclusion of the first season and the actual season finale had me wondering where the show would go once the bad guy was put away. What I didn’t anticipate was that the show’s rich characters and sense of place were more than enough to carry the show regardless of the villain (and Fausto Galvan was more than capable of filling the void). What’s more, the second season nicely wove the aftermath of the David Tate plot along with the disparate side plots into a larger picture. The show had a lot going for it: A well-paced plot, topicaliy, and the most underrated ensemble on TV. -- Orrin Konheim

7. The Good Wife

The Good Wife
Last season, The Good Wife shocked fans everywhere when Will Gardner (Josh Charles) was murdered in court by his own client. It had everyone wondering, myself included, if the show could survive without its leading man. But it not only survived, it flourished. Will's death allowed fan favorite Cary Agos to take center stage with his own storyline this season which resulted in the sharp lawyer pleading to a crime he didn't commit in order for him not to betray his very dangerous client. Alicia Florrick has always been a powerhouse and this season has been no exception with her not only running her own law firm but also campaigning for State's Attorney. With brilliant guest stars, top notch acting and incredible writing, The Good Wife continues to be network TV's best drama. Six seasons in and I still look forward to watching it on Sundaynights. Not many shows can boast that, but The Good Wife is anything but ordinary. -- Ariana Guzman

8. Hannibal

Hannibal is creepy, riveting, stressful, with surreal cinematography that makes the grotesque seem both gorgeous and unsettling all at once. Season 2 had us captivated from the very first moment, and kept us at the edge of our seats every week, wondering just how far Will would go (or had gone) to catch Hannibal, or if he even wanted to. There was Beverly Katz. Frederick Chilton. Mason Verger with his gloriously demented ways (and equal fate). The social worker in that horse. Then the season finale that blindsided us, that left us all curled up in a ball as every main character lay bleeding, dying at Dr. Lecter's house while he ran off with an accomplice that shocked us all. I'm still not over it. Bryan Fuller owes me a stiff drink for that finale. -- Robin Harry

9. House of Cards

House of Cards
Frank Underwood is our protagonist, but he's also very much the villain on House of Cards. Kevin Spacey's performance on this series is nothing short of astounding and we can't help root for him regardless of the evil things he does. I find myself longing for Frank to break that fourth wall and address the audience directly just to see Spacey's reactions. The wait between seasons is unbearable and with Underwood now succeeding Walker as President of the United States in the Season 2 finale, the fun has only just begun. -- Hank Otero

10. Mad Men

Mad Men
Every season I think Mad Men cannot top itself. Then Don gets married again or has a breakdown. During Mad Men Season 7, Don tucked his tail between his legs and found his purpose again. He let the big guys who took over his firm think they were getting the better of him, but it was his work keeping business alive the whole time. Don and Peggy reconnected and his support of her work reinvigorated their friendship and partnership. There isn't another show like it on television. There is no doubt Mad Men has been magical, and we'll be shorted a masterpiece when its final episode airs. -- Carissa Pavlica

11. Parenthood

I am going to go with Parenthood. What is there to say about a show that constantly makes me cry? Parenthood hit all the right notes; separating Joel and Julia (thankfully they fixed that mistake), they had Adam and Kristina come together to create a warm environment for kids such as Max, Amber finally let go of Ryan (of course she is not completely free of him) and we said good-bye to the Braverman's childhood home. Every week we become part of this crazy family who is always there for each other no matter the circumstances and they consistently hit it out of the park. It is truly heartbreaking that we have to say good-bye to these people we have grown to love -- and hate -- these last few years, but it is will always be my top pick for best drama. -- Samantha McAllister

12. Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful
Every once in a while a television series transcends genre to become a glorious work of art. While John Logan's masterpiece can easily be dismissed as horror, his fresh take on the macabre is truly elevated by the cast and crew. Eva Green in particular was remarkable in Season 1, her performance was a masterclass in acting. I'm sure the character of Vanessa Ives is a dream come true for any actress, however what Green accomplished here is mind-boggling. Josh Hartnett stepped up his game as well. Seriously, who knew he was such a great actor? Let's not forget Reeve Carney, whose Dorian Gray is the epitome of mesmerising. I could go on and on about Penny Dreadful, suffice it to say Season 2 can't get here soon enough. -- Hank Otero

13. Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan
Because it's a summer show, Ray Donovan is often overlooked when it comes to the best of categories. This year it earned a place on the list as Ray struggled to find peace in his life, only to be thrust into the spotlight once again with a corrupt FBI agent hoping to hang his director's hat on the Donovan family, a plucky Boston reporter Ray cared about just a bit too much and the murder of his daughter's boyfriend right in front of her eyes. Making Bridget the key witness to a high level gang killing and Ray's determination to keep his family safe while still trying to find meaning through all of the turmoil was absolutely riveting. -- Carissa Pavlica

14. Scandal

Thursday nights still do it for me, or should I say Shonda Thursdays?! People think Scandal has gone downhill, but for me I am still excited week after week and careful to avoid social media until I watch it. Kerry Washington is as strong as ever and the rest of the key players like Cyrus and Mellie are killing it. -- Leigh Raines

15. Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy
Kurt Sutter's Shakespearean influenced drama about an outlaw motorcycle club grew from a modest 2 million viewers, to breaking its own ratings records each subsequent season. The series was violent and raw, but at its heart dealt with a young man struggling with the legacy of his father. What kind of legacy would he pass on to his own sons? The writing and performances throughout the show's run were solid. Sure, trading Charming for Ireland in Season 3 probably wasn't the best move. However, Sutter wrote himself into a corner with Abel's kidnapping. The season's that followed were strong enough to forgive that little misstep. Overall, Sons of Anarchy was a series well-deserving of all its awards and accolades. -- Hank Otero

16. Stalker

I was very hesitant about whether Stalker would be a good show, or if it would be as half baked as The Following. Thankfully, every week we are introduced to a new aspect of stalking. It isn't just relationships gone wrong. The characters are all excellent and it's nice to see some of the secondary characters get some screen time. I'm really excited to find out what will happen with the Perry storyline. -- Paul Dailly

17. Suits

I'm always amazed more people don't watch Suits, as I find it to be one of the more consistent and entertaining dramas on these days. Harvey Specter is the epitome of cool and everything you'd expect a hotshot NYC lawyer to be, but it's his relationships with those around him that is the real crux of the series for me. His brotherly connection to Mike will always be the core of the show, but his deep friendship with Donna, complicated partnership with Jessica and hostile relationship with Louis are what keep viewers tuned in each week. While Gabriel Macht is mesmerizing as the main man at Pearson Specter, Rick Hoffman shines as perennial underdog Louis Lit and it's been incredible to watch the man from Season 1 turn into the vicious bad ass we saw in this past summer's finale. Pearson Specter Litt?! Bring it on. -- Whitney Evans

18. True Detective

True Detective
Since the demise of the amazing Breaking Bad series, viewers looked for something to replace it. The only one that came close was the series True Detective - a drama that ended up being more about the two detectives than it was about their hunt for a serial killer. Those who had never seen Matthew McConaughey in the movie Dallas Buyers Club were blown away by his performance opposite Woody Harrelson's Marty Hart as Rusty Cohle on this show. His deep and tragic portrayal of Cohle left more questions than it offered answers, as he evolved from a marginally disenchanted atheist to a full blown endless beer drinking nihilist. The constant friction between the two detectives played an interesting counterpoint to their success as a team, never quite reaching full friendship. The writer took a chance in penning such an intelligent story, instead of descending to any tried and true formulaic thriller series - and it paid off so well that when it ended, fans were left wanting more. -- Douglas Wolfe

19. The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead may first come to mind as a thriller/horror, but there is certainly enough drama to put it in this category. The world has descended into a zombie infested, apocalyptic world where you need to fear both the living and the dead. The group has suffered betrayals, seen enough death to make them numb and continues to come face to face with the darkness of the world. There is seemingly no happy ending in sight, especially with the virus being present inside every living human being. This is the ultimate and most nihilistic drama on television. -- Amanda Wolf

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Best of 2014
The 100, The Walking Dead, True Detective, The Bridge, Scandal, Suits, Hannibal, Penny Dreadful, Ray Donovan, Stalker, Arrow, The Good Wife, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Parenthood, The Affair, House of Cards, Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, The Americans
Related Photos:
Best of 2014 Slideshows, The 100 Slideshows, The Walking Dead Slideshows, True Detective Slideshows, The Bridge Slideshows, Scandal Slideshows, Suits Slideshows, Hannibal Slideshows, Penny Dreadful Slideshows, Ray Donovan Slideshows, Stalker Slideshows, Arrow Slideshows, Good Wife Slideshows, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Slideshows, Parenthood Slideshows, The Affair Slideshows, House of Cards Slideshows, Sons of Anarchy Slideshows, Mad Men Slideshows, The Americans Slideshows
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