50. The Walking Dead
Air Dates: October 31, 2010 - present
Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Sarah Wayne Collies, Chandler Riggs, Steven Yeun, Laurie Holden, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson, Dvaid Morrissey, Danai Gurira, Michael Rooker, Dallas Roberts, IronE Singleton, Melissa McBride
A television show about zombies? Any George A. Romero fanboy will tell you that, prior to AMC's The Walking Dead, such a proposition was unheard of. After all, TV producers only care about medical dramas, cop shows, and domestic sitcoms, right? Not the brave souls in the AMC offices, who continued their daring streak of green-lighting dark, cutting-edge adult dramas (Mad Men, Breaking Bad) by giving acclaimed filmmaker Frank Darabont the go-sign to adapt Robert Kirkman's beloved Image Comics title.
It's easy to see why AMC took the risk. The Walking Dead, as Kirkman lays it out, isn't about the zombies as much as its about the living characters. Led by do-gooder sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), the show's band of random survivors drives the hour-long pressure cooker, quarreling with each other while trying to stay alive amidst the flesh-eater takeover.
And thanks to Glen Mazzara, who stepped in to fill Darabont's role for season 2 after AMC's behind-the-scenes drama, the series is now exactly what optimistic fans thought it could be all along: bold, fearless storytelling. With its numerous zombie kills, bountiful gore, several major characters' terminations, and a heightened sense of danger supplied by bringing deadly comic book favorites (Michonne, the Governor) into Rick Grimes' ever-threatening world,
Furthermore, it's the people's show, breaking cable ratings records and dominating social media conversations every Sunday night while never registering with Emmy voters and making many stuffed-shirt pundits resist its genre sensibilities. —Matt Barone