Not only is it the last day of 2013, it's also the last day of our mega-epic super-gigantic exxxtreme-to-the-maxitude Top 100 Everything of 2013! What a serendipitous turn of fortune that was in no way planned! But it's only fitting, because this was an AMAZING year for television—and below, you'll find the top 10 things that we think made it so. Before we get to 'em (and before you debate/thumbs-up/lament our choices in the comments), we'd like to say thanks to all of you who regularly visited TV.com during what was our most fun year to date—we've had the time of our lives sharing our appreciation of television with you. Everybody raise your apple juice and let's cheers to a wonderful 2013 and an even better 2014! See you next year, you wonderful people!
10. THE KISS
Putting aside our current misgivings about New Girl, let us not forget that the end of the show's second season was pretty much the best thing ever, from the set-up for THE KISS in "Cooler" to everything that came after. The build-up to Jess and Nick as an actual official thing was hilarious and heartfelt, and the pay-off—following another glorious round of True American!—was the stuff of TV fairy-tales. You know, really awkward TV fairy-tales. New Girl managed to keep Nessy almost-there-but-not-quite for most of the Season 2 homestretch, and it was actually great, plus we got to meet Nick's family, putting a lot of Nick's Nick-ness into perspective. Oh! And Schmidt/Elizabeth! Schmidt and Elizabeth were awesome, okay? "Table 34," "Tinfinity," "Chicago," and "Quick Hardening Caulk" rounded out a fantastic—fan-tas-tic—sophomore season. But even with all of that, if we had to pick a highlight... damn, that kiss is on our list.
PREVIOUSLY: New Girl "Cooler" Review: ALL. OF. THE. FEELS.
9. American Horror Story: Coven's collection of crazy kooks
American Horror Story's third season is all about creepy witchiness, but the real fun lies in its fantastic bitchiness. Coven has been a showcase for a stellar group of nasty ladies, including Jessica Lange (like duh, obviously); Lange's fellow AHS vets Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy, Lily Rabe; newcomers Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett; and an excellent quartet of teenage witches-in-training featuring Taissa Farmiga, Emma Roberts, Jamie Brewer, and Gabourey Sidibe. Come for the zombies, minotaurs, and franken-boyfriends, stay for the venom spewed by the talented female cast.
8. Person of Interest makes an event out of it
Because its DNA is harvested from comics, CBS's Person of Interest centers on a mysterious billionaire, a strong-and-silent killer, and a city that needs their help. But the show has also borrowed from the medium in a narrative sense, as it did with this fall's three-episode "Endgame" event, an isolated arc that felt like a special must-read issue. Over the course of three cohesive hours, one of the series' biggest villains was conquered, a member of the team was lost *sniff*, and the fallout left Finch and Reese in an unknown space that will serve as a springboard for the rest of Season 3. Person of Interest absolutely deserves consideration for the title of "best drama on network television," and this trio of episodes served up its strongest argument to date.
PREVIOUSLY: Person of Interest "Endgame" Review: Get Carter? Nope, Carter Gets Hers; Person of Interest "The Crossing" Review: You Only Made Him Angry; Person of Interest "The Devil's Share" Review: Revenge, Redemption, and Resolution
7. Happy 50th, Doctor Who!
The longest-running science-fiction series in the world turned 50 this year, and it did so with a huge, wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey celebration that was simulcast around the globe and that thankfully lived up to the hype. The series brought back David Tennant's tenth Doctor to play with Matt Smith's then-outgoing Eleven, as well as some other familiar faces—like Tom Baker and Billie Piper, who appeared in roles they weren't necessarily known for—and, oh yeah, the entire race of the Time Lords. Even though Doctor Who's ability to constantly reinvent itself when an actor departs is probably its greatest achievement, we don't think anyone ever really expected the show to last quite so long. But we're glad it has, of course, and the 50th-anniversary special succeeded all of our expectations while simultaneously pushing the series in a new direction. It was fun, it was exciting, and we're looking forward to the next 50 years. If any TV show can pull off such a run, it's definitely the one that revolves around the mad man with a box.
6. The Good Wife strikes out on its own
Most shows entering their fifth season would be content to coast, but not The Good Wife. Whereas lesser series would've settled into comfortable rhythms full of inter-office melodrama and twisty-turny legal cases while driving their central love triangle into the ground, The Good Wife blew everything up with Alicia and Cary splitting from Lockhart/Gardner and starting their own firm. And while this narrative decision was thrillingly executed in the Season 5 episode "Hitting the Fan," the show patiently built up to it, sowing the seeds in the second half of Season 4 as Alicia came to realize that she didn't want her love life and her professional life to mix, that she wanted to recommit to Peter, that ultimately, she wanted to control her fate as much as possible. And in doing so, The Good Wife became one of the most enthralling and emotionally complex shows on all of TV in 2013.
5. Tatiana Maslany, Tatiana Maslany, Tatiana Maslany, and Tatiana Maslany
Acting is difficult enough when you're only playing one character, but Orphan Black's chameleon/star Tatiana Maslany spent a full season climbing into four different sets of skin (and even more in passing) as punk runaway Sarah Manning, stuffy suburban mom Alison Hendrix, brainiac grad student Cosima Niehaus, and feral maniac Helena, all of whom were clones involved in some deranged experiment. And Maslany didn't just change her hairstyle and T-shirts for each character; she moved differently, fidgeted differently, and spoke differently, accounting for even the tiniest details, so that by Episode 3, viewers had forgotten they were watching the same actress. Let's also give a big shout-out to the technology and stand-in that allowed Maslany to act in scenes with herself (and sometimes TWO other versions), which sold the charade even more. We've been waiting for a new young star to set the screen on fire, and now we've found her.
4. The Americans: Now that's what I call the '80s
A lot of really, really great new shows debuted in 2013, but the caviar on top was FX's The Americans, a Cold War spy drama that delivered the most confident freshman season of the year. It smashed genres together without anything feeling forced, boasted a cast of ridiculously great actors, and made bad hairpieces and fake glasses cool again. But The Americans' best asset was the way the show used its early '80s setting, which was infused into the soundtrack (the "Tusk" scene is one of 2013's best), the costuming (those wigs), and most importantly, the spy games. With smartphones and laptops still years away, the cloak-and-dagger action was heightened because The Americans had to get back to basics. No other period piece benefited from the limitations of its era more than this gem, and no other new series was as compelling to watch.
3. Netflix defies tradition and completely changes the way we watch television
One day your children or android pets will look at you and say, "You used to wait for television episodes and watch them on an actual television and there were commercials and what the hell is NBC anyway?" And you will feel like a loser, because you will be one. We are part of the old school, which in 2013 was bombed by Netflix's new-school strategies of binge-watching, original online programming, and on-demand viewing. This was the year that Netflix signed the broadcast networks' death certificates and forced them to face a future of stunt programming like The Sound of Music Live 2: A Few More of My Favorite Things, proving that the online space isn't afraid of quality original series (House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black) and daring experimentation (Hemlock Grove, Arrested Development). In a decade, we might even wonder why Netflix wasn't number one on our list. That's how big a year it was for the company that once was known for its red envelopes.
2. It's a nice day for a Red Wedding
The shock. The pain. The suffering. The YouTube reaction videos. If it weren't for our number-one item on this list, Game of Thrones' devastating portrayal of the infamous Red Wedding would be the television event of the year. Three major characters were killed off in an act of deception by House Frey and an act of fan torture from author George R.R. Martin, and even if you'd read the books and already knew it was coming, it still hurt like the dickens. If this is an inciting incident that shapes the inevitable big war for the Iron Throne, then we better start stocking up on Kleenex, wine, and painkillers now.
1. Breaking Bad's final season
Well of course Breaking Bad is number one, what do we look like—idiots? (Don't answer that.) Though we obviously included a couple specific moments from the series' final season elsewhere on this year-end list, it's what Breaking Bad's final season accomplished as a whole that really stands out as the best thing about television in 2013. Even with so much pressure to maintain the quality of its addictive drama until the end, Breaking Bad moved forward with relentless pacing and made the most of its short eight-episode farewell. Instead of cramming everything into the last episode, series creator Vince Gilligan served up every aspect of what we knew would happen (Hank would find out! Walter's family would turn on him! Walter would run! Table-side guacamole would be consumed!) one by one throughout the season, giving each momentous piece the time it deserved. From the opening chapter, "Blood Money," to the very final fade from a dying Walter White, the end of Breaking Bad felt like the end of something great, and it was. Tony Soprano ushered in the "Golden Age of Television" that elevated the medium to new heights, and Walter White capped it off with a pinnacle that will be hard to reach ever again.