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The 50 Best TV Dramas of All Time

45. Prison Break

Network: Fox
Air Dates: August 29, 2005 – May 15, 2009
Stars: Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Peter Stormare, Robin Tunney, Amaury Nolasco, Marshall Allman, Wade Williams, Paul Adelstein, William Fichtner, Rockmund Dunbar, Robert Knepper, Sarah Wayne Callies, Chris Vance, Robert Wisdom, Michael Rapaport, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe

Who doesn't love a good action movie? When run-and-gun cinema is handled properly, there's nothing like the adrenaline rushes and high-stakes drama that come from the pervasive feeling of danger—characters can die at any moment, and slower moments of emotional development act as breathers from the otherwise breakneck pace. Now imagine that type of narrative recklessness sustained over the course of nearly 80 hours. That, in a nutshell, is Prison Break.

At first, creator Paul Scheuring's unique series didn't seem like it'd make sense beyond one season. The plot didn't exactly call for long-form storytelling: A brainy engineer (Wentworth Miller) purposely gets sent to jail in order to help his wrongly imprisoned (at least in his mind) brother (Dominic Purcell) escape. How Scheuring and his writing staff stretched that premise into four seasons' worth of seat's-edge entertainment remains a singular feat. —MB

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