10 best TV shows of 2024 so far, ranked

Two men stand in a house in Tokyo Vice.

Considering that we’re not even halfway through the year yet, it may seem premature to start naming the best TV shows of 2024. Regardless, 2024 has already proven to have a great crop of new and returning shows for television fans, especially from streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. When the major studios are cutting back on content, the original streaming series are the ones that challenge our expectations while reminding us that television is a medium that can offer more rewarding stories than a two-hour film.

It’s too soon to declare this to be the definitive list of TV shows for 2024, especially since we have a full seven months to go before the end of the year. By that time, our top 10 will likely feature a very different lineup of shows. But at this moment in time, these are our picks for the 10 best TV shows of 2024 so far.

10. True Detective: Night Country

Two women stand over ice and look.
HBO / Max

Ironically, one of the biggest trolls for True Detective: Night Country was none other than Nic Pizzolatto, the creator of the series who had no involvement with the current incarnation of the show. Pizzolatto may not have been so agitated if Night Country hadn’t referenced the events of the first season so many times, although it is a marked departure from the show’s overall tone. Instead of only teasing occult or supernatural things as the first season did, Night Country embraces those elements.

Night Country isn’t as good as the first season of True Detective, but it’s far better to the two other seasons that preceded it. Jodie Foster and Kali Reis carry this season on their shoulders as former friends Police Chief Liz Danvers and Trooper Evangeline Navarro. The mystery they’re given to solve seems almost impossible to fully unravel, and there are some questions that remain unanswered by the time the final credits roll.

Watch True Detective: Night Country on Max.

9. 3 Body Problem

The cast of 3 Body Problem.

Living up to the high quality of Game of Thrones was always going to be nearly impossible for David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. That show was like lightning in a bottle that redefined fantasy on television. While 3 Body Problem will probably not have the same transformative effect on sci-fi TV series. the show – which was co-created by Benioff, Weiss, and Alexander Woo based on the novel by Liu Cixin – has a very intriguing premise that only gets more interesting as the season goes on.

There is an alien invasion at the heart of this series that’s unlike any of the others we’ve seen on film or television. The aliens won’t arrive on Earth for centuries, but their chaotic and disruptive influence is already felt in the present. Military might and even science seem useless in the face of this threat, leaving some brilliant minds, including Jin Cheng (Jess Hong) and Augustina “Auggie” Salazar (Eiza González), to devise unconventional strategies against them. Others, like Saul Durand (Jovan Adepo), are very reluctantly drawn into the fight as well. It’s refreshing that things seem so dire for humanity, and yet the show still offers some hope for the future.

Watch 3 Body Problem on Netflix.

8. Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Donald Glover and Maya Erskine in Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Amazon Prime Video

The 2005 Mr. and Mrs. Smith movie seemed like an excuse for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to explore their animal magnetism toward each other. Donald Glover and Maya Erskine will probably not be following in the former super couple’s footsteps. But their incarnation of Mr. and Mrs. Smith – which was co-created by Glover – is much more compelling.

In this reboot, John (Glover) and Jane Smith (Erskine) don’t really know each other at all when they’re tasked to pose as a married couple while carrying out lethal missions. But inevitably, they start to have romantic sparks, which complicates their relationship and their overall mission. The show goes out of its way to test the Smiths’ loyalty to their employers and each other. And while there’s currently no word about a renewal, this is a story that deserves to be continued.

Watch Mr. and Mrs. Smith on Prime Video.

7. X-Men ’97

Rogue holds a dead Gambit in X-Men '97.
Marvel Animation

This is the dark horse pick on the list, because no one expected X-Men ’97 to match up with the original X-Men: The Animated Series, much less surpass it. What does a throwback comic book superhero series have to say about racism, bigotry, tolerance, tragedy, forgiveness, romance, heartbreak, and more in 2024? It turns out a lot, at least according to showrunner Beau DeMayo.

With this show, DeMayo delivered more than just a modernized take on an old cartoon series; it’s also one of the most thrilling pieces of superhero fiction in years. X-Men ’97 hasn’t shied away from taking narrative risks or shocking places that even the comics haven’t dared to go. If this series can maintain its momentum through the first season finale, the show may actually rank higher on our list before the end of the year.

Watch X-Men ’97 on Disney+.

6. We Were the Lucky Ones

A young woman and man wearing period clothing talking to someone in a scene from We Were the Lucky Ones on Hulu.

National Geographic’s A Small Light was one of last year’s best shows on Disney+ and Hulu, and We Were the Lucky Ones explores several of the same themes this year. The series begins shortly before World War II as the Kurc family – including Halina (Joey King), Addy (Logan Lerman), and Genek (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) – attempt to escape persecution for being Jewish as Germany expands its power across Europe.

The Kurcfamily’s situation quickly becomes dire as they are forced to flee their homes and their former lives. Not all of them are able to escape the grasp of the Nazis. But a few of the Kurcs manage to get out and survive, even if they may never be able to reunite as a family again.

Watch We Were the Lucky Ones on Hulu.

5. Fallout

The cast of Fallout.
Prime Video

Fallout has been a surprisingly faithful take on the postapocalyptic video game franchise. The show successfully translates the games’ sense of humor and retrofuturistic elements while maintaining the drama and action. It also wisely gives Walton Goggins a lot to do as a bounty hunter known as The Ghoul, as well as a look at his distant past as a fully human Hollywood actor named Cooper Howard. Whenever Goggins appears, he lights up the screen.

Ella Purnell stars as Lucy MacLean, a young woman who has spent most of her life living in a vault separated from the rest of humanity. When Lucy finally emerges from the vault to find her missing father, she’s not prepared for the people of the wasteland or the dangers that await her. But Lucy does prove that she’s a survivor as she acclimates to her new life.

Watch Fallout on Prime Video.

4. Manhunt

Tobias Menzies as Edwin Stanton in Manhunt.
Apple TV+

The Crown‘s Tobias Menzies was seemingly doomed to play either villains or weasels throughout most of his TV career. But Apple TV+ finally gave him a chance for a true leading role in Manhunt, a post-Civil War drama that takes place in the aftermath of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln (Hamish Linklater). Menzies plays Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s friend and his Secretary of War.

Stanton is so outraged by the murder of Lincoln that he personally leads the hunt for the president’s killer, John Wilkes Booth (Anthony Boyle). But in this era, it was a lot harder to find a fleeing suspect who already had a head start. It’s an incredibly tense time for both the country and for Stanton, whose sanity may be cracking under the strain.

Watch Manhunt on Apple TV+.

3. The Sympathizer

Two men talk in a restaurant in The Sympathizer.

The Sympathizer would probably have been one of the best dramas of the year even if Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t in it. But with Downey Jr. co-starring in several different roles, it’s a can’t-miss experience to see just how far he’ll go in his performances. Hoa Xuande stars as the Captain, a spy for North Vietnam who is so deeply embedded with the other side that he’s forced to join the South Korean refugees in America after the end of the Vietnam war.

The Captain soon finds himself feeling conflicted loyalties while in living in the U.S. Only a few episodes of The Sympathizer have been released to date, but it’s been so wildly entertaining that it’s bound to remain on this list by the end of the year.

Watch The Sympathizer on Max.

2. Tokyo Vice

Two men sit on house steps in Tokyo Vice.

Tokyo Vice had a strong first season on Max, and an even stronger second season earlier this year. The series follows journalist Jake Adelstein (Ansel Elgort) as he attempts to make his name on Tokyo’s crime beat near the end of the 20th century. Jake thought he could handle anything the criminal underworld had to throw at him, even as Detective Hiroto Katagiri (Ken Watanabe) tried to dissuade him. Now, Jake’s in way over his head. and he’s not the only one in danger.

Much like our pick for No. 1 on this list, Tokyo Vice has expanded its focus beyond following the white foreigner living in Japan, which has only made it a more interesting show.

Watch Tokyo Vice on Max.

1. Shōgun

A samurai drawing in a sword, a crowd behind him in a scene from Shogun on Hulu.

If you’ve been watching any TV shows this year, then it should come as no surprise that FX’s Shōgun landed on top of this list. The original 1980 adaptation of James Clavell’s novel was considered to be the best TV miniseries of its era. However, the modern take on Shōgun has far surpassed it. This miniseries feels more alive and authentic because it isn’t simply about John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), an English sailor who is trapped in Japan in 1600. If anything, Blackthorne is the second or third lead behind Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Toda Mariko (Anna Sawai).

Blackthorne gets to live because Lord Toranaga sees value in him, but Toranaga has far greater issues to deal with as he fights his rivals and attempts to hold on to his power. Mariko’s story is also explored in greater detail as she tutors Blackthorne in the ways of Japan’s people while they form a bond with each other. The higher production values of this adaptation are cinematic in scope, and the show is already an instant classic. Shōgun is the TV series to beat in 2024, and a strong contender to remain at No. 1 when the year comes to an end.

Watch Shōgun on Hulu.