1. Orange is the New Black
Piper Chapman is a public relations executive with a career and a fiance when her past suddenly catches up to her. In her mid-30s she is sentenced to spend time in a minimum-security women's prison in Connecticut for her association with a drug runner 10 years earlier. This Netflix original series is based on the book of the same title. Forced to trade power suits for prison orange, Chapman makes her way through the corrections system and adjusts to life behind bars, making friends with the many eccentric, unusual and unexpected people she meets.
2. Grey's Anatomy
The medical drama series focuses on a group of doctors at a hospital in Seattle, including several who began their careers at the facility as interns. One of the doctors and the show's namesake, Meredith Grey, is the daughter of a famous surgeon. She struggles to maintain relationships with her colleagues, particularly the hospital's one-time chief of surgery, Richard Webber, due to a pre-existing relationship between them -- Webber and Meredith's mother had a personal relationship when Meredith was young.
3. One Tree Hill
The first season follows junior Lucas Scott as he joins his high school basketball team and forges a relationship with his half-brother Nathan Scott, while also coming to terms with who he is and who his father is. The season also explores the love lives of the boys as they develop relationships with characters like Peyton Sawyer, Haley James and Brooke Davis, while the parents of these teens must also face the past in order to move on from it.
4. Sons of Anarchy
Single father Jax Teller finds his loyalty to his outlaw motorcycle club tested by his growing unease concerning the group's lawlessness. While the club protects and patrols the town of Charming, Calif., keeping drug dealers away, its activities also include a thriving -- and lucrative -- illegal arms business.
Final episode date: December 9, 2014
5. Breaking Bad
Mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher Walter White thinks his life can't get much worse. His salary barely makes ends meet, a situation not likely to improve once his pregnant wife gives birth, and their teenage son is battling cerebral palsy. But Walter is dumbstruck when he learns he has terminal cancer. Realizing that his illness probably will ruin his family financially, Walter makes a desperate bid to earn as much money as he can in the time he has left by turning an old RV into a meth lab on wheels.
Final episode date: September 29, 2013
6. Friday Night Lights
Creator Peter Berg's critically acclaimed series adaptation of the book and movie of the same name centers on the coach and players of a high-school football team in Dillon, Texas, a small town in which football is near religion. New Panthers coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) arrives in Dillon amid soaring expectations and media scrutiny. It is clear that his coaching performance directly affects his welcome in the community, along with the acceptance of his wife, Tami (Connie Britton), and his daughter, Julie (Aimee Teegarden). Though Tami doesn't share her husband's passion for football, she is supportive nonetheless, and soon finds her own niche when she takes a job as the high school's guidance counselor. Julie, on the other hand, refuses to be friends with football players and doesn't like her new home in Dillon. The town's most beloved player is all-star quarterback Jason Street (Scott Porter), who suffers aspinal injury in the pilot episode that leaves him in a wheelchair. His paralysis profoundly affects those close to him, especially his girlfriend, Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly). The good-natured cheerleader channels her grief by entering a secret and volatile relationship with Street's charming-but-troubled best friend, Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch). Shy second-string quarterback Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) is thrust into the role of starter after spending much of his football career on the bench and under the radar of the fans and even his teammates. Cocky running back Brian "Smash" Williams (Gaius Charles), meanwhile, revels in the spotlight and keeps his focus determinedly set on gaining an athletic scholarship to college. Also looking to the future is the beautiful and jaded Tyra Collette (Adrianne Palicki), who desperately wants to escape the small-town life that has consumed her mother and sister.
Premiere Date: Oct 3, 2006
7. The Walking Dead
Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, this gritty drama portrays life in the weeks and months following a zombie apocalypse. Led by police officer Rick Grimes, his family and a group of other survivors find themselves constantly on the move in search of a safe and secure home. But the pressure each day to stay alive sends many in the group to the deepest depths of human cruelty, and Rick discovers that the overwhelming fear of the survivors can be more deadly than the zombies walking among them.
First episode date: October 31, 2010
8. Pretty Little Liars
Best friends Aria Montgomery, Emily Fields, Hanna Marin, and Spencer Hastings grow apart when their clique leader and 'queen bee' Alison DiLaurentis goes missing. A year later they all begin receiving messages from the mysterious "A", who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets.
Theme song: Secret
9. The Vampire Diaries
This supernatural drama, based on the series of novels by L.J. Smith, details the lives of two brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore, who have been living as vampires for centuries. After years of moving from from place-to-place to hide their eternal youth (and bloodthirsty condition), the brothers return to the small Virginia town, Mystic Falls, where their lives as humans ended. Damon is snarky, handsome and charming, with a propensity for evil, while Stefan tries to remain noble -- in part to atone for bad behavior in his past.
Widowed suburbanite Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) starts growing and selling marijuana to make enough money to support her family after her husband's unexpected death leaves her in big debt. Nancy has associates in her pot-growing business, which include Andy, who is her brother-in-law, and pot-smoking City Councilman Doug Wilson. Then there's the business of trying to keep the whole thing secret from people like her neighbor Celia.
Final episode date: September 16, 2012
11. Once Upon a Time
"Once Upon a Time" tells the story of a new world, one in which fairy-tale legends and modern life collide. Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is comfortable in her life as a bail bonds collector when Henry -- the child she gave up a decade earlier -- suddenly shows up. He is convinced that she is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who sent her away before the Evil Queen could cast a spell, freezing the fairytale world in time and bringing them to present-day Storybrooke, Maine. After taking Henry home, Emma decides to stay in the town to keep an eye on him, and she discovers he may not be wrong after all.
12. The 100
When nuclear Armageddon destroys civilization on Earth, the only survivors are those on the 12 international space stations in orbit at the time. Three generations later, the 4,000 survivors living on a space ark of linked stations see their resources dwindle and face draconian measures established to ensure humanity's future. Desperately looking for a solution, the ark's leaders send 100 juvenile prisoners back to the planet to test its habitability. Having always lived in space, the exiles find the planet fascinating and terrifying, but with the fate of the human race in their hands, they must forge a path into the unknown.
First episode date: March 19, 2014
13. Prison Break
Michael Scofield is a desperate man in a desperate situation. His brother, Lincoln Burrows, was convicted of a crime he didn't commit and put on Death Row. Michael holds up a bank to get himself incarcerated alongside his brother in Fox River State Penitentiary, then sets in motion a series of elaborate plans to break Lincoln out and prove his innocence. Once out of jail, their perils aren't over -- the brothers must flee to escape recapture and battle an intricate political conspiracy that puts everyone's life at risk.
First episode date: August 29, 2005
Final episode date: May 15, 2009
Think of this drama series as a kinder, gentler "Revenge of the Nerds." It centers around a college freshman, Rusty, who's determined to shed his high-school geekiness and become a frat boy. Unfortunately, his older sister, Casey, is a sorority queen who isn't thrilled about having her kid brother in her Greek system. Rusty's roommate and fellow nerd, Dale, wants nothing to do with the fraternity scene but wouldn't mind getting to know Casey better. Casey's BFF is Ashleigh, who has good looks, a sunny disposition and terrible taste in men.
First episode date: July 9, 2007
Final episode date: March 7, 2011
The four grown Braverman siblings -- Adam, Sarah, Crosby and Julia -- share the joys, heartaches and headaches of parenthood in their California hometown. As their parents deal with life and marital issues, the four lean on one another while tackling the challenges of modern family life in an updated reimagining of the 1989 film by the same name.
Final episode date: 2015
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