TV.com's Best of 2014: The Best Genre Shows

The "genre" label has long been used to describe a wide variety of niche TV programming that tends to draw in fewer viewers, yet generally boasts more loyal and dedicated fans than television's more conventional shows. But the category has exploded in recent years, and these days, it includes everything from science-fiction and fantasy series to supernatural and horror dramas to shows that are based on comic books. And thanks to a few big-named projects that have earned more widespread attention, genre TV now has a broader audience than it used to. These shows are no longer merely outliers; they're finally getting the attention they deserve and a permanent spot in the skyline of mainstream TV. That's why, out of all the Best of 2014 lists we've published so far (see also: the best new cable dramas, the best new cable comedies, and the best new broadcast series) the following collection of 2014's best genre shows is our biggest one yet. Check out our top 12 picks:


The 100  | The CW

In its first season, The 100 defied expectations to become one of the most compelling and captivating science-fiction dramas on TV. Set 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse wiped out most of humanity, the series embraced adventure as its world grew exponentially. With its gritty realism and brutal savagery, the series never shied away from dark themes because of the characters' underage status. And in its second season, The 100 has continued to move at a quick pace and expand its boundaries—both literally and figuratively—while introducing new villains and breaking former heroes as the political clashes between the various factions on the ground grow more violent. Don't be fooled by the silly stigma that somehow still plagues The CW, The 100 is one of the most consistently entertaining sci-fi dramas on TV.

TV.COM REVIEW: The 100 Series Premiere Review: Lord of the (Attractive, Teenage) Flies


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  | ABC

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was one of 2013's biggest disappointments, but the reveal earlier this year that Ward was actually a member of Hydra swiftly altered the show's course and set it on a path toward becoming appointment television. Ward's betrayal, the writers' decision to essentially abandon the mission-of-the-week format in favor of more serialized storytelling, and Season 2's introduction of instantly likable new characters like Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse have all given S.H.I.E.L.D. a sense of focus and purpose. Without all those elements working in tandem, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s evolution from "background noise" to "consistently entertaining and exciting drama" would not have been possible. Plus: Could Kyle MacLachlan be any better as Skye's dad?

TV.COM REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "Turn, Turn, Turn" Review: Out of the Shadows


Arrow  | The CW

Arrow finished its second season by wrapping up what was essentially a two-season arc involving Oliver's journey from revenge-seeking vigilante to hero. And while the show was busy doing that, it also successfully balanced the personal storylines of its many characters with the costumed crime-fighting saga at its core, making the series feel seamless in a way it previously hadn't. Although Arrow has occasionally struggled to maintain its momentum after the big death that kicked off Season 3, the show has made real strides in focusing on character development over action, maturing alongside its hooded hero into a stable show that's finally come into its own.

TV.COM REVIEW: Arrow Season 2 Finale Review: Hero's Journey


Game of Thrones  | HBO

Sorry, every other show, but Game of Thrones is basically the biggest series on television in terms of everything except the size of its de facto leading man—and Season 4 was grander in scope than anything the show had done before. The meaty second half of one of the best books in George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series was handled exceptionally well, and the final four episodes of the season were all jaw-droppers more befitting a summer blockbuster trilogy than a television series. Excellent stuff.

TV.COM REVIEW: Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale Review: A Great Way to Go


The Originals  | THE CW

The Originals had us worried in Season 1. With Klaus, Rebekah, and Elijah (three of the best characters in Vampire Diaries history) spun off into their own saga, the series initially seemed like a can't-miss proposition. But then one or more of them would disappear for long stretches at a time, New Orleans never felt befitting of their majesty, and worst of all, Rebekah was somewhat suddenly written off the show. However: By the time of Season 1's bloody finale rolled around and gave us that heart-exploder of a scene when Rebekah briefly returned for an important task, The Originals had undeniably found its footing. Even better, the trend has very much continued in Season 2, with a near flawless run of episodes this fall. Rebekah may still be gone, but no fewer than SIX new Mikaelson relatives have been introduced, resulting in a show that simultaneously feels more epic and more personal. Add to that some inspired casting choices and a relentless storytelling pace, and it's safe to say The Originals is now officially as next-level as we'd always hoped it would be.

TV.COM REVIEW: The Originals Season 2 Premiere Review: A Bigger Easy


Orphan Black  | BBC America

How BBC America's Orphan Black continues to fly so far under the radar of the general viewing public is beyond us. After an all-around stellar first season, the series expanded its world in Season 2 by adding new characters and new layers to the intricate mystery at its core and taking brave risks with its subject matter, ending on a compelling high note that left us clamoring for Season 3. The story of Sarah Manning and her (countless?) cloned siblings continues to push the boundaries of sci-fi on television, and the talent and technological prowess of the show's cast and crew is astonishing. Also, did you SEE Alison's musical? That was gold.

TV.COM REVIEW: Orphan Black Season 2 Finale Review: Sarah and Her Sisters


Outlander  | Starz

Romance! Time travel! Kilts! Gorgeous scenery! Pecs! The television adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's popular novels has delivered on all accounts, and Starz was the perfect network to bring it to the small screen. The channel is on the rise, it can afford to spend some money on a genre piece, and it's known as a home for both sex and violence, two of Outlander's main ingredients. What's more, the source novels have a pre-installed fanbase that generated plenty of buzz for the series, and the presence of showrunner Ronald D. Moore infused it with instant critic cred. Mix all that together with on-location filming in Scotland and two compelling leads in Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan and you've got a recipe for success.

TV.COM REVIEW: Outlander Series Premiere Review: Hurtin' Highlander Meets Sassy Sassenach


Penny Dreadful  | Showtime

Penny Dreadful is basically The League of Extraordinary Monsters, and Season 1 was merely a prologue to what the series will eventually become. But dammit, it sure was entertaining! Anchored by Eva Green's literally insane performance and John Logan's compelling writing, Penny Dreadful is the serious cable horror drama we've been waiting for. One request for Season 2, though: Can we please have Proteus back?

TV.COM REVIEW: Penny Dreadful Series Premiere Review: A Night to Dismember


Person of Interest  | CBS

How is this smart techno-thriller a network show? And how is it on CBS? Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman have constructed a masterpiece that has one foot in the present and one foot in the future, offering an ominous and timely warning about technology and the great privacy debate while treating us to plenty of gunfire and flipping SUVs. However, Person of Interest is also hilarious when it wants to be, lightening up its serious subject matter with throwback '80s action-movie one-liners and oddball character partnerships. Top it all off with Season 4's transition into entirely serialized storytelling, with all of the show's more procedural elements feeding into the greater story, and 2014 has been a big year for Team Machine.

TV.COM REVIEW: Person of Interest Season 3 Finale Review: Rise of the Machines


Teen Wolf  | MTV

Teen Wolf has always been willing to take risks that other shows won't, and Season 3B set out to prove as much when it transformed everyone's favorite wisecracking "sidekick" into a dark and twisted villain. The nuances that Dylan O'Brien brought to his two characters only helped to elevate a series that was already at the top of its game creatively. And just in case that wasn't enough, the first half of Season 4—which was saddled with the unfortunate task of rebooting the series after the departure of several key players—was Teen Wolf's most ambitious one to date. An exceptionally complex mystery that involved teenage assassins, the return of old villains, and PTSD proved that the show's dedication to horror is admirable even when it stumbles and turns shirtless hunks into real wolves.

TV.COM REVIEW: Teen Wolf Season 4 Finale Review: Brawl in the Family (PHOTO RECAP)


The Vampire Diaries  | The CW

It's probably not a coincidence that when The Vampire Diaries decided to take a step back from Elena's emotional trauma in Season 6 (yes, Season 6!), it also experienced a major resurgence in quality. Focusing less on her issues allowed the show to concentrate more of its energy on new and budding friendships, a renewed brotherly bond between Damon and Stefan, and a genuinely terrific storyline involving the Gemini Coven. Add to that a psychotic villain and the return of fan-fave Alaric and The Vampire Diaries once again resembles the fearless drama that hooked us all those years ago.

TV.COM REVIEW: The Vampire Diaries "The World Has Turned and Left Me Here" Review: Welcome to Warp Zone (PHOTO RECAP)


The Walking Dead  | AMC

If you want to start handing out Most Improved awards, you can begin by engraving The Walking Dead's name on a trophy. Season 5 (and the second half of Season 4) fixed so much of what has ailed the show in the past, simply by focusing on characters and slower stories. Yes, zombies were still getting killed by the show's various survivors in creative and extremely violent ways, but we finally had a sense of who those skull-popping, brain-impaling survivors really were. The show's recent fall finale may have been a misfire, but our hopes are extremely high for the series moving forward.

TV.COM REVIEW: The Walking Dead Season 5 Premiere Review: You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do


thekaitling:list:whats-the-best-genre-series-of-2014/


What are your favorite genre shows of 2014?



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Feb 16, 2015
Why Leftovers is not on this list?!
I watched it more than half a year ago, and it stayed with me. I really feel it has something to say. Like everyone else i watched True Detective and i loved it but while it was exciting to watch it didn't leave me with anything, and for me that's the important think that tv and film can give you.
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Jan 06, 2015
I'm a little late on this, but:

My Top 12 Genre Shows of 2014

1. The Walking Dead
2. Game of Thrones
3. Continuum
4. Person of Interest
5. Agents of SHIELD
6. The Leftovers
7. Orphan Black

My top 7 favorite current shows of any kind ^^

8. Penny Dreadful
9. The Flash
10. Sleepy Hollow - down from #5 last year.
11. The 100
12. Salem

With honorable mentions to: Helix, Outlander, and Arrow.
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Jan 06, 2015
Person of Interest hands down would be my choice for 2014. I LOVED every minute for this original network series.
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Jan 02, 2015
And here is where we can't wait for it to continue on April 4th. Fan art made by me :)


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Jan 02, 2015

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Jan 01, 2015
I love the original's but I would really like to see Rebecca come back.
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Dec 31, 2014
I like Game of Thrones, and Arrow, I haven't seen the other shows listed here yet, but my favorite ever, hands down, it Outlander! If you haven't watched it yet, give it a try. It's fantastic and it's not just ONE genre. ♥

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Dec 28, 2014
when does this poll close?
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Jan 04, 2015
I have no idea, but I keep voting as long as it's open. :)
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Dec 28, 2014
Outlander is the best, best books, best show-hands down!! 😱😍📖
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Dec 28, 2014
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Dec 27, 2014
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Dec 27, 2014
there is some issue with the poll where you vote and the vote doesnt register. when u refresh the page, the vote stays at the number previoiusly! pls advise what is happening.
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Dec 26, 2014
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Dec 24, 2014
Grimm, The Last Ship, Suits ?
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Dec 24, 2014
i had thought silicon valley would be in this list.. or faking it.

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Dec 24, 2014
TVD? really? smh
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Dec 23, 2014
The 100 got more votes than TWD? And POI made it all the way into third place? SO PROUD!
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Dec 23, 2014
Person of Interest, Arrow, Orphan Black, The Originals, Teen Wolf... all great shows.
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Dec 18, 2014
I stopped watching Agents of SHIELD fairly early on maybe it is now worth another look.
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Dec 22, 2014
Season 2 is worth it! It feels like that they have invested more cash into season 2: better SE, many more stunts, somewhat better cast & twice as many characters, more interesting story. I recommend ppl to skip season 1 and go directly to season 2.

Good luck.
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Dec 22, 2014
I was ready to give up on it fairly early but stuck with it for no reason other than boredom and boy did it pay off. It's mostly meh, but once it ties into Captain America it really becomes a whole other beast.
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Dec 17, 2014
The 100 is really awesome.
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Dec 17, 2014
shameless god damn it !
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Dec 17, 2014
Shameless is not a genre show. See the drama section.
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Dec 17, 2014
Almost every show on here is awesome. That said, I'm throwing my vote to Marvel's Agents of SHIELD - it's become the show I look forward to the most every week. Game of Thrones would be a close second but SHIELD is just knocking it out of the park - ever since ep 15 from season 1 it has been killer!
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Dec 16, 2014
Agree with everything except Teen Wolf (Season 4 was meh) and The Vampire Diaries (The Originals i'll agree with)

Supernatural should've probably made the list IMO
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Dec 16, 2014
Can't beat Game of Thrones...
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Dec 15, 2014
My picks are Teen Wolf, The Originals, GoT and The WAlking Dead (first 3 episodes) in that order.
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Dec 15, 2014
I love Person of Interest but it feels slightly off in this list though I can't argue it should be in Drama necessarily... But it seems odd next to vampire-lite fare, Walking Dead & GoT...
I guess it is just the way TV is today, plenty of shows that defy genres as we know them...
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Dec 15, 2014
I watch almost all of those!! Except Person of Interest and Outlander.
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Dec 13, 2014
More than budget I think it's a matter of good writing: Game of Thrones is one of the most original writings I've ever seen on TV. Filled with well-constructed characters that act according to their culture, not ours. And that makes for a completely unique storyline.

The Walking Dead has the uncanny ability to make its characters feel alive, even when sorrounded by death.

Outlander may be predictable - one look at Jaime and just know Claire is only going to sleep with him - but the contrast between her husband and his ancestor, between the XXth century scottish men and the past ones, between the victim and victimizer on a war depending on which side of the conflict you are on is not.
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Dec 12, 2014
It's hard to compare these. GoT has a per episode budget that's probably higher than some of the other ones have for the whole season. And it's fantastic. Full stop. But apart from that, I think all of them are excellent examples of their genre. If I really have to choose I'll take GoT and POI. Sorry Outlander (I do love you, but you haven't yet withstood the test of time). They're extremely different shows, both exceptional at what they do while being total opposites in genres.
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Dec 11, 2014
Does anyone know if TURN is returning and when?! I really like the show! I wish they would expand it to other areas that the American Revolution took place!! Anyway I hope someone out there know when it is returning!!! Thanks!
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Dec 11, 2014
I'm waiting for a fantasy show like Xena the Warrior Princess - starring some tough bitch either in ancient time - today or in the future - And really - she doesn't need to wear some "lotsa skin" revealing - or tight costume - Why do female heroines always have to be dressed in such a ridiculous way why male heroes hardly ever do

Another sorta theme I wish for is a witch show like "Charmed" with a good witch or some witches kicking evil's ass and standing up for the powerless - Why not a female witch disguised as a soldier or special agent kicking ass - We've demons enough in our time - like in the CIA or NSA for example - to controversial? - *lol*

Also a sc-fi show like Star Trek Voyager - Star Wars or Stargate would be great - Yes!! - with some females as the main leading characters - The same about costumes applies - No need to dress anyone of the females like Seven Of Nine - let their actions speak for themselves

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Dec 12, 2014
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Dec 12, 2014
Please please please check out Outlander. You dont' get a more KICK ASS and INTELLIGENT female character like Caitriona Balfe's Claire Randall Fraser. She's a WW2 error combat nurse who falls through time when some druids open up the standing stone markers where the crust of time is thin. She ends up in the 18th Century and isn't acting like women of that time. The showrunner is Star Trek's Ron Moore--and he treats her timeslip as if she's in an alien land trying to make sense of the customs. And...there is witchcraft...sort of used for good...but also evil....subject to interpretation!

She IS beautifully costumed in period appropriate clothing...some of it is fetching...because...corsets... and of course she's naked in the NON-GRATUITOUS sex scenes (they are crucial to the story, and REALLY WELL DIRECTED AND ACTED...sensual and beautiful...with the woman in charge, by the way.)

I think you will like Claire Randall Fraser--I know other Xena fans that do. (And if you like her--come find us on FB - Caitrionation. :)
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Dec 12, 2014
Thanks Calynova - I'm following Outlander and I've read all (7 of them) the Diana Gabaldon books as well *smiles*

It's a great story - I love it - but it's not really like Xena - I mean someone with fighting skills - with the sword - guns or martial arts - I wish the could make a TV spin off of the movie Salt (Angelina Jolie) for example
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Dec 11, 2014
As far as what makes a Genre show, I've always taken it to mean anything that takes place in a 'reality' different from our own. So anything that involves Vampires, zombies, demons, dragons, time travel, aliens, super heroes, and so on would be considered Genre
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Dec 10, 2014
Not a single mention of Helix? Remind me why Syfy bothered renewing it again?
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Dec 10, 2014
Arrow, POI & The Walking Dead are my choices.
That said, with the exception of Game Of Thrones & Agents of SHIELD I don't think I have watched any of the others listed yet.
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Dec 11, 2014
The flash?
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Dec 09, 2014
Anybody notice how many CW shows are in this best of mix. It's nice to see this network come into its own.
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Dec 09, 2014
So clearly I'm a fan of genre shows as I watch all of these apart from Penny Dreadful. I'll have to get cracking and watch that one to do the job right.
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Dec 10, 2014
I just watch Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and The Original.

I just assume Penny Dreadful and the rest must be just as good
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Dec 11, 2014
The vampire diaries?
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Dec 12, 2014
Yep I watch the Vampire Diaries too. I'll never be opposed to Ian Somerhalder's eyes.
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Dec 10, 2014
Well I'm a fan of all the rest to the point where they'd all rate among the shows I enjoy the most. I was going to suggest a few but my uncompromising brain keeps yelling ALL OF THEM.

For the sake of some compelling storytelling I'd have to recommend Orphan Black.
Teen Wolf is great too once you get over the hump of a the first few episodes and I have come to love the characters.
Person of Interest has also only gotten better each season and I love the story they're trying to tell about the world we live in.

I'll quit now...
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Dec 09, 2014
So many great genre shows to choose from! The decision was made slightly easier as some shows improved this year (AOS & The 100), while others in my opinion had an uneven season (Teen Wolf).
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Dec 09, 2014
How dare you making me choose between so many great genre shows tv.com. How.Dare.You.
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Dec 09, 2014
I guess I'm not a genre show kind of person. The only show on the list that I watch is Person of Interest. I also watch Doctor Who, but it wasn't at its best this season.

All those who love the genre shows should be thankful for TV.com, since you devote so much space to them.
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Dec 09, 2014
American Horror Story??? I believe that its way better than The Walking Dead and it should be on this list.
American Horror Story never gets boring, where as I feel The Walking Dead got really boring after the 3rd season. American Horror Story also has Emmy worthy acting which has won the show many Emmys in the past. American Horror Story is just overall better than The Walking Dead because its able to keep its audience interested and even though you may not like the certain season they're on at least you know you'll have a completely different and crazy season next year.
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Dec 09, 2014
No arguments about quality, but wrong list. Unless I'm mistaken, each season of AHS is a miniseries, so it doesn't qualify as a genre show.
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Dec 11, 2014
Sorry, I didn't really understand why it was called a genre list instead of a regular list.
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Dec 10, 2014
I take Sleepy Hollow and Grimm as procedurals with a Supernatural twist.

...kind of like Supernatural, Haven or Continuum.
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Dec 09, 2014
can masters of sex be on this list ?
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Dec 09, 2014
Orphan Black, The Originals and Game of Thrones!
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Dec 09, 2014
Arrow picked up considerably, SHIELD kinda came into its own although it's still flawed.

I notice a lack of The Flash and Doctor Who, now why would that be? Because they weren't that good in 2014? Oh.
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Dec 10, 2014
To be honest, I see Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, The Flash and Dr. Who as superhero shows.

They are all based on either the sidekicks or the heroes.
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Dec 10, 2014
Superhero shows are genre shows one way or the other.
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Dec 10, 2014
True, if not Sci-fi, there's horror elements, if not horror there are supernatural elements so I guess they qualify too
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Dec 09, 2014
In random order....
Banshee
The Knick
Masters of Sex
True Detective
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Dec 09, 2014
Woah I am watching six out of these, and used to watch two more, I think my favourite type of show is firmly set :P So yes, I agree with the choices, especially the first four and Orphan Black and Penny Dreadfuly :D
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Dec 09, 2014
The 4th season of Game of Thrones was SO very overrated. It surprises me the acclaim it garnered this year opposed to other shows.
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Dec 10, 2014
It's the season with more genre elements IMO: the Baby Walkers, the skeleton army, premonition...not to mention, old fashioned dragons and sorcery.
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Dec 09, 2014
NOTE: It was still good, very good, but relative it wasn't as good.
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Dec 09, 2014
I personally thought it was the best since the first. IMO, the third season wasn't very memorable
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Dec 09, 2014
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Dec 09, 2014
Supernatural should be on the list. Not voting for any.
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Dec 09, 2014
OUTLANDER!!!!!
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Dec 09, 2014
I'm so glad that I kept with SHIELD through the bad times as it really is insanelly good now!
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