A lot of people have called the current era a Golden Age for television, and while that may or may not be true, there's no denying that we live in an age when our favorite genres are dominating the airwaves. Just about every network has at least one sci-fi, fantasy or horror show going, and there are plenty more coming down the pipe. With so much to choose from, 2015 was a smorgasbord for the TV-watching geek.
All that being the case, it's hard to pick 10 shows that stood head and shoulders over the others. But, hey, that's why we're here. Once again, we put all the best in a ranked poll and let our writers vote. The ranked results are below. Check out our selections, and let us know about your favorite TV of the year in the comments!
The Man in the High Castle
An adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s alt-history tale had been through more than enough false-starts over the decades, and Amazon’s up-start streaming service didn’t seem like the most obvious landing site. But, sometimes the most unlikely of pairing are a match made in heaven. Amazon pumped in the resources to turn Dick’s vision of the occupied United States into a living, breathing world, and populated it with characters interesting enough to dole out the world-building one delicious bite at a time. It’s well-paced, mysterious, and unlike just about anything else on television (which, considering how many shows are on the air these days, is saying something). The team behind The Man in the High Castle has built a fascinating sandbox, and we can’t wait to see where it goes next.- Trent Moore
Ash vs. Evil Dead
Ash vs. Evil Dead is the best show of 2015 not just because of the promise it delivers on, but because it gives fans and viewers far more than we bargained for. Instead of going back to the well and retreading all the same beats, Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Rob Tapert fleshed out (pun intended) a bigger, bloodier Evil Dead world while remaining familiar. The dinner scene in Episode 2 stands as a great example of this; while Ash (Campbell) is being a combination buffoon/effective hero, Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) is emotionally preyed-upon by her resurrected Deadite mom (Mimi Rogers in great form), and Pablo (Ray Santiago) is coming into his own as a lovesick sidekick butt kicker. Meanwhile, the Eligos introduced in Episode 3 is straight out of Clive Barker's mind, and is the freakiest monster of the year. Overall, the blood, the gore, the humor, the updated mythology work so well that the pre-AvED TV landscape looks dull --and most other horror TV too serious -- in retrospect. Hail to the year of the king, baby. - Aaron Sagers
There was a lot to divide fans in Season 9 of new Who - those sonic sunglasses, though - but there was also plenty to recommend from Steven Moffat's fifth year as showrunner. Whether it was Maisie Williams' turn as Me, Peter Capaldi's increasing comfort with and definition of his Doctor, or some of the more out-there forays the show took this time around, we were on board...and then, Doctor Who hit us with one of its most epic season finale arcs ever with the two-parter "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent." The former, in particular, is going to go down as a classic, and deservedly so. Culminating in a rousing send-off for the Doctor's most recent companion, Season 9 kicked the Capaldi era into high gear (new sonic screwdriver, and all) and left fans champing at the bit to see what's to come. - Adam Swiderski
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
It’s hard to believe when looking back at that uneven debut season, but Marvel’s flagship television series has grown into one of the best genre shows on television, bar none. Now in its third season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has more compelling characters than it knows what to do with, and finally has the creative authority to shake things up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (well, at least a corner or two of it). It’s also thrown some Hail Marys in regards to major arcs, most of which have paid off wonderfully. This season took us to an alien world (and actually stranded a cast member there, resulting in one of the best individual episodes of television this year), rebuilt HYDRA, and put together its own superhero team of Inhumans, all before the midseason break. It took longer than most fans would’ve preferred, but S.H.I.E.L.D. finally earned its place in the larger Marvel canon. - Trent Moore
One of my personal favorites of 2015, Agent Carter was conceived as a spinoff to both Captain America: The First Avenger and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The new Marvel series took TV by storm when it premiered during S.H.I.E.L.D.’s winter hiatus in early January. The 8-episode first season run hit the ground running (while featuring lots of 1940s glamour, amazing cinematography, and great period settings) and centered on Steve’s best gal, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) now working as a SSR agent in New York City in the wake of Cap’s “death.” Even though the series wasn’t a ratings juggernaut, it proved a big hit with fans and critics alike, warranting the series a much-deserved second season set to premiere on Jan. 19. - Nathalie Caron
The Walking Dead
The AMC juggernaut began 2015 with a massive adrenaline dump in the wake of slaying belligerent cannibals and a tragically failed rescue effort from the hospital from Hell. After a bleak run on the road, there was a seismic shift of scenery to the affluent suburb of the Alexandria Safe Zone. With the walker threat mostly barricaded outside the town’s expansive walls, viewers experienced a fascinating transition as Rick Grimes and the group became road-weary watchdogs frustratingly trying to save the naive town sheep. However, confrontations with a group of demented killers called the Wolves and the threat of a massive walker herd breaking loose from a nearby quarry served as an efficient source of edification. While the tail end of 2015 was likely defined by the controversial cliffhanger mystery related to the fate of a herd-corned Glenn, the show successfully overcame the specter of sixth season ennui and settled into an intriguing new dynamic, digging the bulwark for an impending, series-defining “all out war.” - Joseph Baxter
The Marvel television universe hit its stride with Jessica Jones, a gritty and compelling noir presentation of Brian Michael Bendis' graphic novel, Alias. Krysten Ritter is commanding in the eponymous title role, invigorating the damaged, private detective tropes with an impressive, measured balance of misanthropy and vulnerability. Jones' evolution from a skittish, damaged drunk to an empowered reluctant hero is at its heart also a savvy exploration of consent, obsession, and rape as embodied by David Tennant's insidious mind-controlling villain, Kilgrave. Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg crafts their season long cat and mouse game with incredible cliffhangers and twists, yet never forgets that Jones' personal stakes and redemption are even more riveting. One can only imagine how the series (or Marvel, for that matter) will ever top a foe like Kilgrave, but Jessica Jones has us beyond excited to see who she's capable of taking down next. - Tara Bennett
The Flash had one of the strongest first seasons I've ever seen. Unlike its peers (including Arrow), it achieved the ultimate balance: It made you laugh while simultaneously tugging at your heartstrings. It's a superhero show rooted in family. You have a genuine affection for each person, even the bad guys! The show's success can be attributed to its dedication to the title character. Barry Allen/The Flash isn't trying to be Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, or Hal Jordan. The writers didn't force him into a box to fit the latest superhero trend. They respect the source material. We wanted The Flash, so they gave us The Flash. - Krystal Clark
Game of Thrones
In a promo for season 5, Daenerys had spoken of a wheel of ascendency that she intends to break. She doesn’t need to. As the season progressed, we saw the houses of Lannister, Baratheon, Martell, and Tyrell turn on themselves and each other. Our characters became older, wiser, sadder, and tougher versions of their Season 1 selves — or else they’re dead, as Myrcella and Shireen can (no longer) tell you. In Season 5, we hoped for the best for our heroes, but expected the worst. We were never disappointed. The season was so full of pathos it was practically opera, and included what some are calling the series' best episode to date ("Hardhome"). Also, thanks to Cersei’s exchange of repentance for freedom, I will never use the words "walk of shame" the same way again. - Carol Pinchefsky
The first product of the marriage between Marvel Television and Netflix was a stunning achievement, setting the pace for future shows (like the also terrific Jessica Jones) and exploring brave new territory for Marvel, itself. Dark, brooding, extremely violent and grounded in a rugged urban setting, Daredevil was Marvel's most "adult" offering yet on either the big or small screen. Charlie Cox was powerful as the haunted Matt Murdock/Daredevil, while Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin was an incredibly complex villain, both thoroughly frightening and oddly vulnerable. Faithful to the tone and history of the comics while also transcending them, Daredevil proved just how sophisticated this genre could be. - Don Kaye