The Most Underrated TV Shows Ever

Under-the-radar gems that never got the fanfare they deserved.

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With all the new and classic TV shows available to consume, it's tempting to stick to the greats (who among us hasn't turned to Friends or Seinfeld after a long day?). But with a little investment, these lesser-known gems—many of which were quickly forgotten, or entirely overlooked at the time—could join your own personal television Hall of Fame.

Whether they were confusingly marketed, dwarfed by competitors, broadcast by a smaller network, or just fell out of the spotlight long before they should have, these TV shows deserved better—and with many of them readily available to stream right now, you'll soon find out why.

'Dead Like Me'

underrated tv Dead like me

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This premise speaks for itself: Sometimes, when a person dies, they become a "grim reaper," collecting the souls of people who have recently passed and ferrying them (metaphorically) to their destination. George Lass (Ellen Muth) dies and becomes one of them.

'High Fidelity'

underrated tv High fidelity

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While it was positively reviewed, the TV version of High Fidelity (a record store owner views love and life through music) was only canceled after one season. Nevertheless, the inimitable Zoë Kravitz is a standout as "Rob."

'Mr. Robot'

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Granted, Mr. Robot was a cultural phenomenon in the first season. But if you happened to miss the rest of the series, it remained strong and scarily relevant to our modern times. Elliott (Rami Malek), a troubled hacker, is recruited (and gets entangled with) the mysterious fsociety.

'Better Things'

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If you missed this show, great news: there are five seasons you can watch right now. You may be particularly relevant to the audience if you are a parent—for me, this is basically a glimpse of my future (the challenges of being a mom and raising daughters, lol).

'Better Off Ted'

underrated tv Better off Ted

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Think of this as (sort of) a television version of The Office, but actually more prescient of our modern times: Ted (Jay Harrington) works for Veridian Dynamics, which does not care about literally anything but profit. Portia de Rossi is great as his boss.

'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

underrated tv Agents of SHIELD

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This series was a Marvel spinoff after the first several movies (before we got inundated with content), and it was actually quite compelling—especially when it was revealed that the agency S.H.I.E.L.D. was (spoiler alert) infiltrated by bad guys, including some of our main characters.

'Bates Motel'

underrated tv Bates motel

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If you liked Pyscho but came away wondering, Wow, how did Norman get so crazy?? well, I have a show for you. It's a modernized retelling of the classic story. Without getting too heavy into spoilers, it really goes there in its weird, sometimes graphic horror. Just, trust me.

'Station Eleven'

underrated tv Station Eleven

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I'm sure no one wants to revisit pandemic-related content, but! This dystopian series (in which, yes, a pandemic wipes out most of the population and the stragglers are left to pick up the pieces) is actually quite good. If you liked The Last of Us, throw this on.


underrated tv Baskets

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This one got overlooked for being stranger than audiences were expecting (as opposed to the over-the-top humor Zach Galifianakis is traditionally known for). But the actor's playing two roles, one of them a failed clown, and it lends itself to some impressive awkward/sly humor.


underrated tv Condor

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The classic Three Days of the Condor Robert Redford movie gets a millennial television update with essentially the same premise: a spy comes back to his office, only to realize all of his coworkers have been murdered and he has to go on the run. It's as good as it sounds.

'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles'

underrated tv Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

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Like many of the items on this list, there were some ups and downs with this series (it struggled to find its footing a bit). But nothing beats a bad*ss Lena Headey in her pre-Game of Thrones days, playing Sarah Conner right after the conclusion of Terminator 2.


underrated tv Fringe

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The creators of Fringe may have regretted calling it that (it never quite hit the mainstream, despite good reviews after season 1, and it's now a cult classic). But it really got momentum in its later seasons, with the Fringe Division giving us X-Files energy but a modern sensibility.

'12 Monkeys'

underrated tv 12 monkeys

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Like many items on this list, this is an adaptation with a killer premise that people slept on when it originally aired. It loosely follows the movie of the same name (time travelers hope to stop the "Army of the 12 Monkeys"), but be prepared for the season to go in different directions.

'3rd Rock From the Sun'

underrated tv Third rock from the sun

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This show was popular in its time, but it sometimes got second place compared to other contemporaries (Friends, Seinfeld, and so on). It was a highly over-the-top show, with aliens coming down to Earth and living in human bodies and—most unsuccessfully—trying to blend in.

'Wynonna Earp'

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With some seriously passionate fans (particularly of the main queer romance—Wayhaught forever!) this show has lived on as a cult classic. If you're unfamiliar, it's Western-sci-fi, with the descendent of Wyatt Earp fighting all the reincarnated outlaws he killed.

'Happy Endings'

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Basically, what happened to Happy Endings was the inverse of what happened to New Girl (both were about friend group shenanigans): New Girl became more popular, and somewhat more broad in its humor, over time. Happy Endings tailored more and more to its audience, losing some viewers—but staying very funny.


underrated tv Banshee

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If you like the darkness of The Boys (and its main antagonist, played by Antony Starr), watch his early work here as a criminal on the run from the law (and a scary crime lord) who assumes the identity of an Amish town's murdered sheriff. Very graphic violence ensues.

'The Knick'

underrated tv The Knick

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At the Knickerbocker Hospital in the early 20th century, doctors are trying wild (and sometimes unsanctioned) medical procedures. No one is more cutting edge and reckless than the cocaine-addicted Dr. John Thackery (an extremely good Clive Owen). This is great.

'You’re the Worst'

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Perhaps no show captures the frustration of modern dating better than You're the Worst. It catalogs the on-off-on-off-on-off (I could keep going!) relationship between Jimmy and Gretchen—and simultaneously manages to be appropriately cynical and actually quite sweet.

'Pushing Daisies'

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Call this one a casualty of one of the writer's strikes, which put the show on hiatus (and it never found its footing again). The premise is a teeny bit complicated: Ted (Lee Pace), has the ability to reanimate dead people—but if he keeps them alive for more than a minute, someone else dies. And if he touches them again, they die too. It's fascinating—and somehow a comedy.

'Derry Girls'

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There's about a million jokes in every episode of Derry Girls (about a group of schoolgirls in Northern Ireland during The Troubles). If you've watched, this is your sign to rewatch, and if you haven't, this is your sign to put it on your watch queue immediately.

'The Bureau'

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If foreign language content doesn't scare you (and it shouldn't!), put on The Bureau. Sometimes viewed as the best series to ever come out of France, it details the lives of the security service's agents. I won't say too much...but it is a thriller, so, get excited.

'Halt and Catch Fire'

underrated tv Halt and catch fire

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If you've ever longed to live (or relive) the early days of computing and the internet—so, the '80s and '90s—this show is for you. Because it's four seasons, it can cover more amounts of time, and with the added bonus of Lee Pace and Mackenzie Davis, it's a must-watch.


underrated tv barry

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I fully recognize that this was a popular HBO show. But for all its acclaim, it's still underrated: hit man Barry (Bill Hader) wants to leave his life of murdering and become a Hollywood actor—only to realize that Hollywood is way worse. It gets dark, sure, but it's still great.


underrated tv hannibal

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The absolute brilliance of this show is that Hannibal Lector, arguably the most psychopathic written character of all time, is 1) played by the very likable Mads Mikkelsen, and 2) is actually not an unlikable guy?? This show will mess with your head in the best way.

'Sports Night'

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For some early Aaron Sorkin content (pre-West Wing, even!), Sports Night falls into the category of "cancelled too soon." It follows a sports news show constantly under deadline and under pressure, featuring that classic Sorkin-ese language and romantic drama.

'Party Down'

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Another "cancelled too soon" show (albeit due to very low ratings, which, fair!), this show has a lot of famous faces. Adam Scott, Jane Lynch, Ken Marino, and Lizzy Caplan, among others, star as caterers trying to "make it" in L.A. If you want to watch the 2023 third season, go watch the original first.


underrated tv severance

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This sci-fi thriller may start a little slow, but once it picked up, it became one of the most exciting TV shows out there. Adam Scott plays Mark, who agrees to "severance" (where your work memories and home memories are separate—when you go home, you don't remember work, and vice versa). It gets weird.

'The IT Crowd'

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You'll see a lot of recognizable famous faces on this show, which could arguably be considered their breakout (Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade, and Matt Berry, oh my!). This show also perfectly encapsulates the drudgery of working—where else—at an IT department.

'Trial and Error'

underrated tv trial and error

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This hilarious show only got a devastatingly short two seasons, but what we got was comic gold. Local lawyer Josh, played by Nicholas D'Agosto, has to represent zany defendents with an even zanier legal team in an even zanier Southern town. It's amazing.


underrated tv devs

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With creator Alex Garland (he of Ex Machina) at the helm, this trippy sci-fi series is as good as it gets. It centers around a young employee who, in her quest to uncover her boyfriend's mysterious death, unearths a vast conspiracy at the place where she works.

'In Treatment'

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Who hasn't wanted to be a fly on the wall during other people's therapy sessions?? Well, thanks to this show, you can be! Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne, who's always great but is exceptional in this) is a therapist to several troubled people—and he's not untroubled, either.

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.