The Best TV Shows of 2009

Aside from our 100 favorite things from TV this year, there were specific shows that just tickled our fancies or swelled our hearts or, in a few cases, made us angry. So we the TV.com staff have compiled our list of what we think is the best TV of the year, and what disappointed us most. Where do your favorite shows appear (or not appear) on this list? Let us know in the comments.

I loved…

Friday Night Lights: I’m just glad it’s back. I don’t care about football and I’ve never been to Texas, but I must find out what happens to Tim Riggins.

True Blood: While the writers may have gotten carried away with the Maryann storyline, I was impressed with their use of vampires to explore difficult subjects like discrimination and religious zealotry.

Cougar Town: I’m completely embarrassed to put this on my list, but: I was ready to boycott this show and its stupid slangy title, but then I watched it. And I didn’t hate it. The characters’ actions are completely over-the-top, but their motivations are based in truth. Courteney Cox is actually funny and amazing to watch—she still looks fresh out of that 1984 Bruce Springsteen video. And it has Freaks and Geeks’ Kim Kelly (Busy Phillips) as one of the most annoying yet lovable characters I’ve seen in a while. Cougar Town is like Weeds without the weed. Or like a campier version of Lipstick Jungle. Yes, I admit it, I watched that one too. So?

Mad Men: It’s not just a show. It’s a lifestyle.

Glee: I know I’m not the only one whose life has changed since this show first aired. Each week, Glee offers a dose of hyper emotional release through song that’s totally uplifting and completely addictive.

I was disappointed by…

Bored To Death: This show had me at the trailer: A sexy, pulpy detective show about New York writer Jonathan Ames investigating cases with the help of his ridiculous graphic-novelist friend? By the real New York writer Jonathan Ames, who boldly wrote himself in as the star of the series? With an all-star cast that includes Jason Schwartzman (sigh), Zack Galafanakis (Google his five-year-old with a beard routine), and Ted Danson (whose comeback I've been waiting for since Three Men and a Baby)? A roster of guest stars that reads like the VIP list for the ultimate downtown party (Parker Posey, Kristin Wiig, Sarah Vowell, Jim Jarmusch, Bebe Neuwirth)? Yes please! But then I watched the first episode, and it just never came together. The timing was off, the style inconsistent, and nobody was as funny or as dark or as perfectly awkward as I knew they could be. It was like discovering that all your biggest crushes got together to tempt you with your dreams—and then killed them.
—Ilana Diamond, Editorial assistant



I loved…

Community: The comedy isn't always great but when it's good it's amazing. The writers do great things with the star-studded ensemble cast including 30 Rock alum Donald Glover.

30 Rock: Alec Baldwin is without a doubt the best part of this show. The show's a powerhouse and the good jokes just keep on coming after more than three years.

Better Off Ted: Portia de Rossi is back in a major comedy role! One-liners abound and the fake Veridian commercials are always hilarious.

House: A serious departure from the old one-patient-per-episode formula when the writers decided to focus deeply on the mind of Dr. House and to develop the character interaction.

Dexter: John Lithgow is creepy as hell and is just another example of the writers’ superb character development. This fourth season is the most radical plot yet. Could it get any better?

I was disappointed by…

Scrubs: Coming back after the backstage footage of the cast at the end of last season? Can’t rename the show? Stop trying to keep it alive at all.

Anna Hiatt, Editorial Assistant



I loved...

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: After something of a slump in season four, FX’s absurdist buddy comedy has redeemed itself this year in spades. “The Gang Hits the Road” is absolutely the funniest 23 minutes of television I saw this year.

Dollhouse's "Epitaph One" episode: Though it didn’t technically air on TV, this brilliant hour was released with the first season DVD, so it counts! A bleak and thrilling look at a post-apocalyptic world gone mad with brainwashing, “Epitaph One” proved that Joss Whedon knew where he was steering this ship—somewhere grand and terrifying in its dystopia. Just in time for the show to get canceled! Ah well.

AMC: Breaking Bad soared to gritty new lows in its whip-smart and deeply unsettling second season, while Mad Men explored meaty themes and stepped bravely into the future at the end of its third. Per capita, AMC is producing the best TV shows in the biz. Well, except for The Prisoner.

Lost: Handling tricky time-traveling episodes with aplomb and daring, the Lost writers managed to push the show up to yet another new level of out-there-ness without losing any of the stirring humanity that grounds it. The rousing season finale flipped the board yet again in eerie and mysterious fashion, tantalizingly laying the groundwork for the series’ final (sob) run around the island.

Big Love: While always a curious and compelling look at a particular set of American lives, Big Love truly hit its stride in its third outing. By allowing themselves to explore more metaphysical and existential quandaries, the creative team blessedly loosened the show up and let some light and air come streaming in. The third season sang, like a great big yearning Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I was disappointed by…

Bored to Death (HBO): ...is exactly what it did to me, emitting a ponderously muted and sleepy hum when I was hoping for some lively, self-skewering Brooklyn quirk. Watching a show this pleased with itself feels like homework.

Richard Lawson, Staff Writer

I loved…

Things I Hate About You (ABC): When I saw that ABC Family was making my favorite teen movie EVER into a TV show, I was pissed. But, um, then I saw the show. It’s seamless. The script is witty. The characters are nothing like their cinematic counterparts, except maybe on paper. The plot is parallel but not identical to the movie (only Larry Miller crossed over). And everyone’s adorable (well Ethan Peck is just hot.)

Lie to Me (Fox): Well, FOX better love me, because apparently I love them. Lie to Me is just so damn interesting. I’m hoping against hope that Cal Lightman’s techniques will somehow adhere to my brain, but no such luck yet. I still enjoy watching him detect lies, though, and I love seeing the talents of his team come into play. The show also builds suspense and tension really well, especially for a procedural. Plus, Tim Roth is a total badass.

Fringe: This article says why I love it, but I’ll say it again. I’ve never loved a “supernatural thriller” type show before until I found this one. The actors (Josh Jackson and Lance Reddick) drew me in, but the story kept me coming back. The episode-to-episode cases are creative and fascinating, the characters develop more when they interact with each other, and the show-wide “alternate universe” story arc is just plain cool.

Modern Family: It’s hard to blend sentimentality and sarcasm together without one overpowering the other, but this comedy does it flawlessly. The Pritchett-Dunphy clan has a raunchy, racist, ignorant, and witty sense of humor. In other words, they’re as close to real people as it gets.

Glee: It's approachable—everyone knows the songs, which means they can appreciate when they’re being covered well. It’s realistic: The drama always happens in the right time frame. It’s heartbreaking: The characters experience real traumas and deal with them like real people. It’s hilarious: After all, it is high school. It’s the show I look forward to the most each week, and I’ll be tapping my fingers in anticipation for April.

I was disappointed by…

One Tree Hill Who cares about generically pretty people with really boring relationship problems? I sure as hell don’t. Especially since Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton, whose characters at least had an interesting storyline, ditched the show after the previous season.

Stefanie Lee, Staff Writer



I loved…

The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon and Leonard are the best leading pair of characters on TV.

Glee: This season’s hottest new cast of characters (and actors) delivered the year’s biggest surprise. Terrific writing and acting, with musical numbers that could’ve been awful but are instead charmingly uplifting.

Rescue Me: Flew under the radar this season but rediscovered its mojo. Tommy Gavin and the cast of characters are among the most grittily flawed & human on television.

30 Rock: A well-oiled machine racing at full throttle, with one zinger after another delivered with perfect aplomb. Awe-inspiringly original and funny, with characters I love.

Battlestar Galactica: The greatest series ever made bows out with a thrilling, overly dramatic finale and superb set of episodes. Saying goodbye to Baltar, Number Six, Roslin, and company wasn’t easy.

I was disappointed by…

Bravo: Apart from Top Chef and Flipping Out, its schedule continues to be dominated by worthless worshipping of the idle rich.

Walter Morbeck, Content Programmer

I loved…

Damages: I hate legal dramas, which is exactly why I love Damages. It's about power-hungry back-stabbers who will do anything they can to win, even MURDER. Hmmm, I guess it actually is about lawyers. Only without the courtroom.

Modern Family: God I wish my family was this funny.

Lost: The fifth chapter sent heads swirling and noses bleeding with time travel and a journey back to the best decade ever. An excellent launching point to Season Six.

Breaking Bad: Season Two added a much needed dimension to Jesse, and Aaron Paul answered the call brilliantly. The stakes were raised, the tension upped, and how about that finale?

Supernatural: Let's see, Paris Hilton gets her head chopped off, Grey's Anatomy gets parodied, and Lucifer is a cool guy. The show has found its stride, and all it took was the impending end of the world.

Honorable mentions: True Blood, Sons of Anarchy, Community.

I was disappointed by…

Flashforward: A great premise that was butchered beyond belief and buried under cliches and bad movie-making. Dreadful. And so disappointing.

Tim Surette, Staff Writer



I loved…

Curb Your Enthusiasm

: The Seinfeld reunion arc was fantastic.

Parks and Recreation: It may have started as a lesser/copycat version of The Office, but has dramatically improved this year.

Glee: Fun music, funny jokes, surprisingly and thrillingly dark undertones.

Modern Family: I can't decide which of the four dads is my favorite. Manny is pretty good, too.

30 Rock: Still love it. When it's silly, it's sublime.

I was disappointed by…

Flashforward: I still think the premise is intriguing, but I can't stand Joseph Fiennes' furrowed brow and Batman voice.

Jen Trolio, Managing Editor

Comments (115)
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loved Prison Break and Dexter.
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thank you
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!!!!NBC KINGS(2009)!!!!NBC KINGS(2009)!!!!!!

Please take my word when I say that this is one of the best shows that needs to be review by you. I truely look at the content of TV shows. I am not like those who shout "Sarah Connor Chronicles" or "Supernatural" or "Greys Anatomy"



!!!!NBC KINGS!!!

NBC KINGS is not a political drama. Its a modern day monarchy with an epic tale that has LOVE, WAR, hope, courage, FAMILY, ROYALTY, power and CORRUPTION. The language is beautiful. Its a bit dynasty and a bit shakespearean. WATCH IT!!!! You will not be disapointed
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10 Things I hate about you!
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Where's the love for Grey's Anatomy Absolutely love it!!!!!!
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add a commentForgot Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Awesome Loved It
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Sooo agree on Supernatural! It happens to be the BEST dang show on television,Hand down! but like Cherazz said..It found its stride years ago.
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I absolutely love Bored to Death. May be cases are not so elegant and awesome, but interactions between characters is the best on tv right now. Jokes are too funny to be true. But to be honest I needed time to fall in love with this show. First I thought it's pretty cool show with nice settings, then that it's pretty lame, and only then that it's just pure awesome. give it another try. Or may be it's just my type of humour. who knows.



And here's my list: Loved burn notice - interesting characters, fantastic soundtrack and beautiful cinematography. what not to like? dexter - after slow start and disappointing 3rd season, i was worried a bit. But oh mine, it sure delivered in the end. bored to death - best comedy on tv

californication - Hank Moody is THE coolest badass in the world. guily pleasure.



And I was disappointed by:

flashforward - uber pointless show

v - good pilot, crappy everything else

house - this season sucks.
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Supernatural is awesome at least ya got that right :D
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scrubs has been aweosme this year.dont care what ya think
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Tim Surette - Mad props for including Supernatural...points deducted because it found it's stride years ago ;-)
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test comment please ignore
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Monk was so great it was so sad to see it go. Supernatural is also a masterpiece, gets better every season...also Smallville became really good again in 2009 (I was thinking of dropping it but this brought me back)
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OH man I agree, BORED TO DEATH?! Jesus, has there been a more fitting name for what you feel when watching such a terrible TV show like that? And it's getting another season? Doll House should never have been on Fox. You can't put a show, on Fox, on a Friday evening? Nothing but Tivo for such shows. It should have been on the scifi channel! It's a good show. House is my favorite show the season opener was excellent writing/storytelling, with him in the rehab place. It was like House- the movie. Burn Notice, Flashforward, NCIS (original), CSI (original), 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, BSG and Fringe were my top shows.
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i loved Community and Gossip Girl but was dissapointed by my favorite show in the world One Tree Hill. Its seems as if the juicy stuff when away when Hilarie Burton and Chad Michael Murray got the boot off the show
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I loved Battlestar Galactica (so sad it's gone), Supernatural, NCIS, Lie To Me and Castle.

EXTREMELY disappointed by Stargate Universe (doesn't deserve the Stargate name) and Dollhouse.
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NCIS is still the best show on tv.

Can't wait to see the new NCIS with the portuguese beauty Daniela Ruah.
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Burn Notice was amazing as was NCIS. :D
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I loved Friday Night Lights, still amazing quality, Chuck, there's love, action, comedy and Zachary Levi, what else do you need?

And the show I'm the most looking forward every week is Glee: between the great acting, the funny jokes and the amazing songs, I'm totally addicted!
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the best shows of 2009 are1.the vampire diaries2.heroes3.V4.Merlin5.Smallvile6.true blood
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The best: Lost, FlashForward, Fringe, Eastwick

Disappointed by: One Tree Hill & Dollhouse.
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what happened to Trauma?great show real life ,sexy funny show,also NCIS AND NCIS LOS ANGELES BIG BANG for the geek in all of us,Two &1/2 men, Ghost Whisper,Flash point and of course numb3ers
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Wow! I'm going to spend some time online today checking out some of these shows. I watch several hours of recorded tv in an evening but most of these haven't even come across my radar screen let alone my tv screen. The show that I DO like, I'm even content to watch Mystery chanel reruns: NCIS, NCIS:LA, CSI, CSI: NY, Bones, Criminal Minds, Numbers, Lie to Me, all the L&Os, 2 1/2 Men, Good Wife, CASTLE & MENTALIST (yes, I meant to captialize them!) Then I top off my evening with a Daily dose of Jon Stewart.and head for bed. I always record the pilot of a new series so I can get the base story and decide if I want to follow it. 30 Rock, Flashforward, Fringe, Mad Men, just weren't within my interest range. I will revisit Glee and will check out some of the shows others have commented on. I agree with pjean253 that our comedy choices are pathetic. "Stupid" best describes most of them...
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What about V? White Collar? Brothers & Sisters? Grey's Anatomy? Private Practice? Ugly Betty? Just about everything on PBS?
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As usual this list sucks. Just by admitting that you watch the unfunny unwatched 30rock makes this whole article crummy. 30rock is so embarrasing that it is ending Alec Baldwins career!
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I guess everyone's entitled to their opinion, but what's NOT to love about Flashforward?! I also love Numbers, Criminal Minds, Legend of the Seeker, Lie to Me, Fringe, CSI NY, and Flashpoint. So called comedies have never appealed to me - their just not funny; and some have been downright sooo not funny! A good show slips humor in when your not expecting it; then turns around and has you on the edge of your seat. All the sexual content and innuendo in many shows has gotten so boringly stupid these last few years that it's nauseating!
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I think Flashforward is lovely to watch, it is like Lost in the beginning. But because a show like this happened before most of you think it's boring. I'm getting bored of Lost and Heroes (the story is gone, I think after Lost is going to leave us Heroes has to follow too)

I agree that Modern Family is fun to watch, I mean 20/25 for a show like this are just great, just like watching Cougar Town. I think it's too bad some shows are going to get cancelled after just 4 episodes or so. But hey you can't help it either. I'm looking forward to seeing Chuck again on my tv, also last season of Lost (I need my closure). 24 is going to air too, but I think that is also a show that needs to stop airing, there is nothing new to it (the same story every season). Last shows I want to add as a few good new comers: Mercy (everybody needs a bit hospital drama that isn't Grey's Anatomy), Accidentally on Purpose (a very cool comedy too, for me better then Cougar Town but that is because I don't like the acting of Courtney Cox). I just found out castle started airing also in 2009 so that definately needs to be included into the list (it reminds me so much of Bones, but then more wittier and it really is based around the two main characters). Glee of course very good (it makes everyone so happy, just singing and dancing and crazy characters it makes it all complete). Melrose Place the new one I liked too, but not that much. And then the last show V, don't like it that much, I rather watch Flash Forward, i just find it weird and I don't see the formula working. --- Babette, TV addict
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Well I loved Prison Break and Dexter. The final break was dissapointing but all the seasons were totally awesome I have ever seen .
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I love Numb3rs and see a lot of shows influenced by the idea of the "geek" working with the police/FBI. I don't think there is a show around now that doesn't have its stereotypical geek (or outsider) working on cases. I think about the Mentalist, Criminal Minds, even the Big Bang theory...I think Charlie made being smart cool again on t.v. And the brother interaction can't be beat- that show on TNT tried it with 2 major stars (think it was Trust Me) and look where it is now. As for the Mentalist- Psyche gets it right when it makes tongue-in-cheek comments about it. Love House- his intensity and character has not comparison on t.v. Even when they made the mistake of "dumping" the cast he was able to hold the show; not many, if any, characters could do that.
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Also love MONK (who will be sadly missed), MEDIUM and THE CLOSER. And the best one of all still after 8 seasons? AMERICAN IDOL. I'm anxious to see what exchanging Ellen for Paula will bring.
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Again, where are HOUSE and MAD MEN??? Most of the shows listed above are fantasy shows. (Can this be the backlash to so many REALITY shows?) I couldn't spend 10 minutes watching them but could watch back-to-back episodes of HOUSE and MAD MEN forever.
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LOVE HOUSE!!!!! Best show ever!!!!
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I loved - True Blood, Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Big Band Theory and Desperate Housewives.

I was dissapointed with One Tree Hill from the end of season 5 - now.
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I cannot figure out how House still makes anyone's list other than old tired and gone to to the dogs. Everyone I know stopped watching it when Chuck came along and House kept popping pills and being a jerk who should have lost his medical license years ago.
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Gossip Girl is just a horrible copy of the O.C., not that the O.C. was that good after season two. LOVE Supernatural, Grey's (Improving), and Smallville (Shaping together nicely). Disagree with the OTH comment, still has heart and cares about its characters, not alot of shows can say that now.
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Gossip Girl is just a horrible copy of the O.C., not that the O.C. was that good after season two. LOVE Supernatural, Grey's (Improving), and Smallville (Shaping together nicely). Disagree with the OTH comment, still has heart and cares about its characters, not alot of shows can say that now.
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I just love Modern family. Didn't see this season of rescue me but I love Tommy Gavin.I also love cougar town.Curb your enthusiasm was fantastic also.

This was a good list of shows.
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i loved Lie to Me
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Dollhouse !!!
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You're on point MachW most of my favourite shows are gone or on their way out and the new shows just don't cut it out much for me
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Everybody thinks the shows they watch are "the best!" and ones they've never even seen before "suck!", so there's no point in trying to change anybody elses' minds here, but for me the best new show was Glee, biggest disappointment (which started off strong) was Flashforward, and best comedies were Curb and Sunny. Most of my favorite shows have either recently ended (Monk), or will be ending soon (LOST, nip/tuck), so hopefully newer shows will start stacking up.
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Woohoo! Supernatural!
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Woohoo! Supernatural!
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I'm sorry, but you are such a jerk who don't understand anything!! disappointed by FlashForward and lucifer is a nice guy!!! how come, jerk??
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Supernatural!!! Yeah! XD
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How about NCIS anyone? I would love to see that as one of the best of 2009!
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Better off ted is awesome! I hope the ratings will get better!!!!
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i agree with flashforward and bored to death both just awful



Sweet Supernatural was on someones loved list woo!
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Loved Flashfoward, Family guy is still funny. Will miss monk but Psyce is weel grounded
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The Middle.. long time I laughed so much! GENIAL
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