17. The X-Files
Air Dates: September 10, 1993 - May 19, 2002
Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick, Annabeth Gish, Mitch Pileggi
The X-Files spoiled us all. It's difficult to find quality genre programs on TV, let alone ones that can actually scare, yet creator Chris Carter and his crack team of writers (which included Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan) blessed horror and sci-fi lovers with nine seasons' worth of top-notch storytelling, remarkably imaginative monsters, and somewhat human villains. Nine years after its last episode, we're still waiting on a worthy predecessor; Fringe is close, but not quite there.
The "monsters of the week" that made The X-Files such a disturbing viewing experience week in and week out would've been pointlessly included if it weren't for the show's now-iconic main characters, agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Both complex and endlessly fascinating in their own ways, Mulder and Scully's two-sided presence guaranteed that, even if any given episode's fantastical elements were lacking, the character-driven portions would keep The X-Files on an even keel. —MB