The Best ABC Shows of All Time

The American Broadcasting Network (ABC) produces some of the most popular television series of all time. These are some of the best ABC shows.

ABC (American Broadcasting Company) is one of the largest American television networks. The network has existed since the 1940’s and is home to countless popular television programs. ABC produces American staples like Good Morning America, The View, World News Tonight, and the NFL’s Monday Night Football. In addition to these staple programs, ABC also produces popular primetime television series. This is a list of the BEST ABC shows the network has produced. The list includes both current and former ABC shows.

best abc shows

The Current Best ABC Shows

Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy is one of ABC’s most successful TV dramas. The show is currently in its 18th season and was recently renewed for a 19th season. It was created, and originally written by, Shonda Rhimes. The show follows the life and career of surgical intern Meredith Grey. Meredith and the interns she befriends tackle relationship drama, family issues, and the pressures of work. Grey’s Anatomy also uses patients of the hospital to propel storylines for the characters. It’s amazing how the story of someone with only 20 minutes of screentime can profoundly impact an episode and bring the viewer to tears.

Grey’s Anatomy is one of my all-time favorite shows. I’ve rewatched the first 10 seasons of the show at least 6 times. I feel such a deep connection to so many of the characters after following their stories for so long. Not all of the seasons are great, but the overall story of the show is fantastic. My personal favorite seasons are 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 13, and 16. These seasons are my favorites for a variety of reasons. Some of them have a specific tone that I gravitate towards. Others are due to certain relationships and friendships.

Watch past seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. Catch up on the current season on Hulu.

Black-ish

Black-ish is another of ABC’s best sitcoms. The show is funny, while also being thought-provoking and educational at times. Black-ish is about the Johnson family. Dre works in advertising and his wife Rainbow (“Bo”) is a doctor. They have 4, later 5, children and Dre’s parents live with them as well. The show tackles regular family drama in a fun way. But Black-ish sets itself apart from other sitcoms because the Johnson family is Black. And their Blackness is never shied away from. Instead the show brings it to the forefront. They tackle issues like racism and prejudices. The show also discusses history and Black culture.

As a white woman, raised in the South, Black-ish is not only entertaining but educational. The show presented Black culture and racial injustices to me in a direct but easy to digest way. I’m sad to admit that I’d never heard of Juneteenth until it was talked about in an episode of Black-ish. This show opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to do more to educate myself on racial issues. It was a catalyst for me reading books on racism and purposefully seeking out books written by Black authors.

Watch past episodes of Black-ish and catch the current season on Hulu.

The Best ABC Shows of the 2010s

Scandal

Scandal is another phenomenal TV series from the brilliant mind of Shonda Rhimes. This show tells the story of crisis-management expert Olivia Pope. It’s a political thriller-style drama full of, well, scandal. In many episodes, Olivia Pope and her crisis-management team take on cases from important political figures in Washington D.C. The cases range from affairs to notorious practices, and even homicide. While working on these cases Olivia Pope is also navigating her complicated relationship with the President of the United States and the White House in general.

Most of Shonda Rhimes’ shows are must-watches. She tackles the stories of complex characters. Scandal is full of morally gray people, jobs, and decisions. It’s so compelling to watch. Rhimes’ also isn’t afraid to tackle current events, either through direct references or nuanced storytelling. If you like political dramas, Scandal is a show for you!

Watch Scandal on Hulu!

How to Get Away with Murder

Yet another fantastic show from Shonda Rhimes! This show is much darker than Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. The characters all have something to hide and are incredibly morally gray. How to Get Away With Murder is about a defense attorney and law professor named Annalise Keating. Keating selects a group of five students to assist her with cases due to the promise they show in class. Before long the students are caught up in a case that quickly becomes personal and dangerous for all of them.

How to Get Away With Murder is filled with twists and turns. The viewer is constantly learning new things about the characters. Each episode begins by showing a glimpse of the future and then travels back in time to fill in the gaps. It’s an exciting way to keep viewers intrigued and invested.

Watch How to Get Away With Murder on Netflix.

Modern Family

Modern Family has to be one of my favorite family-focused sitcoms of all time. The show follows the various stories of the Pritchard family. Jay Pritchard is the family patriarch. He has an adult daughter named Claire and an adult son, Mitchell. Jay is divorced from the kids’ mother but has since remarried. His wife, Gloria, is a feisty younger woman from Columbia. Gloria also has a son named Manny. Claire is married to Phil and they have three children. Phil is a total goofball and each of their children has vastly different personalities. Mitchell is married to Cam and they have a daughter named Lily.

Modern Family is filled with typical family drama and trauma that often makes for hilarious situations. And each family is in a different situation that makes them relatable to viewers. Mitchell and Cam are gay men with vastly different personalities that still complement each other. Phil and Claire are total opposites. Claire is extremely neurotic and uptight, whereas Phil is goofy and a little oblivious. And Jay and Gloria have a large age gap and cultural differences to work through.

Watch Modern Family on Hulu.

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time is a fantasy series. It’s a retelling of classic fairytale stories through a more modern lens. The show focuses on Emma Swan, a bondswoman in Boston, that finds herself in a small town full of interesting characters. We learn that the town, Storybrooke, is actually a fairytale world that was moved to our world via a dark curse. As the show progresses, the audience learns what fairytale characters the townspeople represent. It also pieces together the past from the fairytale world to explain how they all ended up in the real world.

This show was so fun because it was kind of mysterious but full of familiar characters. Not all of the seasons are great, but the first several were fantastic.

Watch Once Upon a Time on Disney Plus.

Nashville

Nashville is the story of a country music icon that is constantly fighting to remain relevant while struggling to be present with her family. The show stars Connie Britton as country music superstar Rayna James. Hayden Panettiere plays up and coming star Julliette Barnes, who both idolizes and despises James. Nashville premiered in 2012, during the height of Glee’s popularity. There was a demand for more music-centered television dramas. The show features original music, as well as covers of popular country songs. Country music fans will love Nashville.

Watch Nashville on Hulu.

Castle

If you love Nathan Fillion, then Castle is a must-watch. Fillion plays a popular murder-mystery author named Richard Castle. He is in a bit of a writing slump and seeking inspiration for a new novel. He pulls a few strings with the NYPD in order to tag along with homicide detective Kate Beckett. Castle and Beckett are total opposites that results in romantic tension and an ongoing will-they-won’t-they storyline. This show is funny, quick-witted and of course, a murder-mystery.

Watch Castle on Hulu.

The Best ABC Shows of the 2000s

Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives is the first major evening drama that I remember. It first premiered on ABC in 2004 and ran for eight seasons. Desperate Housewives follow the lives and scandals of four housewives that live on the idyllic Wisteria Lane. However, their lives are far from perfect. Each woman deals with a variety of soap opera level drama like affairs, murders, marriages and more. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the viewer engaged. And while the show is a bit dated, much of the drama is still pretty relevant. It still makes for an entertaining watch.

Watch Desperate Housewives on Hulu.

Alias

Alias is an action/science fiction thriller about a woman named Sydney Bristow that works as a double agent for the CIA. As the show progresses Bristow starts to unravel more about her past. And she learns that things aren’t as they appear. The show is full of action and espionage, as well as drama. It was created by J.J. Abrams in 2001. Alias rose to popularity during a time where strong female leads ruled television. If you enjoyed shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dark Angel, then Alias is for you.

Watch Alias on Hulu.

Private Practice

Private Practice is yet another Shonda Rhimes show. It is a direct spin-off from Grey’s Anatomy. The show stars Addison Montgomery and her journey to create her own life after her divorce from Derek Shepherd. Addison leaves Seattle to start a new life in Los Angeles and her friends’ private practice medical office. Similarly to Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice utilizes the patients and their situations to further drive character development in the doctors. The private practice doctors are experts in a variety of areas, from family medicine and infertility to psychiatry and wholistic medicine. While I didn’t like Private Practice as much as Grey’s Anatomy, it’s still an excellent and entertaining medical drama.

Watch Private Practice on Hulu.

Ugly Betty

Ugly Betty is a fun dramedy starring America Ferrera as Betty Suarez. Betty is a young woman with adult braces and questionable fashion-sense. She is hired by a prestigious fashion magazine as an assistant for the womanizing, unfocused editor-in-chief, Daniel. Daniel gets the job because he is the son of the magazine’s owner, but he is desperate to prove himself. Betty’s fresh perspective of someone outside the fashion industry and her dedication to the job make her invaluable with time. Ugly Betty constantly shames Betty’s appearance, weight and unconventional fashion choices, which is problematic. However, the growth that Betty and all of the character’s experience develops the show beyond it’s title and prejudice original concept.

Watch Ugly Betty on Hulu.

The Best ABC Show of All Time

Lost

Lost is referred to by many critics as one of the most popular television series of all time. It was the first widely-popular science fiction/supernatural television shows that paved the way for many others. It was created by J.J. Abrams and premiered in 2004. In fact, many of Abram’s projects following Lost feature actors from the popular series.

Lost follows the various stories of survivors of a plane crash. The commercial flight was flying between Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles when it crashed into a mysterious island. Each episode focuses on different characters and is filled with flashbacks, and later flashforwards, of their lives outside of the island and on the island. The mystery surrounding the island and it’s complicated nature grows with each season. The show has one of the most controversial TV endings in history.

Watch Lost on Hulu.

This list of the best ABC shows is full of can’t miss primetime television. Many of these shows shaped American culture and the future of television in some way. Networks tend to mimic each other with certain concepts, but ABC did it best when it comes to these shows.

Looking for a new show to watch? Check out my favorite Netflix shows or my favorite shows on Hulu!

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6 Comments

  1. I’m so embarrassed that I’ve hardly seen any of these. I watched the first couple seasons of Once Upon a Time many years ago, but other than that most of these aren’t familiar to me! I’ll have to add some of them to my watch list.

  2. The only one of these that I actually watched all the way through was OUAT! I loved that show so much. I also really liked Modern Family, but it was one of the shows I watched randomly in high school and never from start-to-finish. I’ll have to change that one of these days!

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