With the new year approaching, there's no better time than now to get your resolutions in order. There are, of course, the standard promises that we make every year: Find a permanent role for Summer Glau on a series that won't get canceled, slap some sense into whoever is in charge at NBC, and finish that friendship bracelet you've been making for Dana Brody. But this year, let's commit to the biggest resolution of all: Let's resolve to be nicer to Mario Lopez. The poor guy is just scraping by. So if you see him, give him an old shirt of yours, or those leftovers that you know you won't eat. Together, we can make this world a better place for Mario Lopez. We'll get started as soon as we finish up the Top 100 Everything list! Only 30 items left to go...
30. The Returned's opening credits
We always like to honor at least one new show's opening credits in this big end-o'-the-year list, and few of them really jumped out until Sundance Channel imported this amazing French series about the dead returning to a small town. The themes of life and death, past and present, and light and dark are all captured to perfection in this work of art, creating a moving intro that steels viewers for the heavy stuff to follow. Also... a kitten!
29. Supernatural writes some Men of Letters
After many fans had given up on Supernatural for good, the veteran series experienced a resurgence in the middle of Season 8 when it revealed the other half of the family lineage. "As Time Goes By" used some time-travel magic to introduce Sam and Dean to Henry Winchester, their paternal grandfather, and in doing so, let the boys in on the existence of the Men of Letters, a secret organization of scholars who believe that monsters and demons are things to be studied, not just hunted. Membership is hereditary, meaning John Winchester would've become a member if Henry hadn't been killed in the future, which means Sam and Dean are also members. This new development gave the brothers a home for the first time since Azazel killed their mother, and it opened up Supernatural's world, making it ripe for new stories once again. Not many series last for eight seasons, and even fewer experience an injection of originality so far into their runs.
28. Rectify captures Daniel's world
Very few shows did as good a job of showing a character's perspective in 2013 than Sundance Channel's Rectify, which put viewers inside the head of newly freed Death Row inmate Daniel Holden after he spent 19 years waiting to die. The outside world had moved on without him. His family members had grown and aged, technology had evolved and devices had shrunk, and Sonic the Hedgehog had gone 3-D. The deliberate pacing of scenes in which Daniel shuffled along, staring in wonder at the towers of gadgets in a big-box store or the shelves full of enhanced bottled water at a gas station should have been a bore, but thanks to Rectify's careful, deliberate style, they became a window into the mind of one of television's most fascinating new characters.
PREVIOUSLY: Rectify Is the Best New Show You Haven't Watched
27. It's Always Sunny celebrates 100 episodes with a surreal sequence of fever dreams
FX's longest-running and yellingest series celebrated its 100th episode with a convenient-store robbery that kicked off a series of glimpses into the gang's fractured psyches—all of which were bizarre, and some of which were truly terrifying. Mac got his stunt work on and became the badass he's always considered himself to be. Dee achieved fame as an actress and dumped Josh Groban for Brad Pitt. Dennis got shot in the head, fell in love with busty weather-girl-turned-nurse Jackie Denardo, and then smothered her with a pillow after a car accident destroyed her breasts. Frank ate some hot dogs. And Charlie—oh man, Charlie. Mr. Kelly embarked on a ridiculous animated adventure, a simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking tale of a waitress, a janitor, lots of rats, and lots of babies living happily ever after in the house from Up. We may have even cried a little.
26. Lizzy Caplan leads a cast full of great female performances on Masters of Sex
It's not that surprising that Showtime's Masters of Sex turned out to be one of the best freshman series of 2013. It's rooted in great source material, has a solid creative team, and Michael Sheen is a perfect actor for long-form storytelling. But what really allowed the show to thrive was its slew of fantastic female cast members, top-lined by Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson. Caplan's always been a talented actress, but the Virginia character rightfully gave her so much more to play with than she's enjoyed in her past roles, and she knocked it out of the park, becoming the nucleus of the show and pulling interesting stories and characters toward her. Though of course, Caplan wasn't alone: Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Heléne York, Annaleigh Ashford, and Rose McIver all turned in lovely and oftentimes heart-wrenching performances, making certain the women were the proverbial masters of the show's universe.
25. Mad Men's Don Draper finally tells the truth
The meticulously fabricated walls that Mad Men's maddest man spent so many years building up around himself sustained quite a bit of structural damage both before and during Season 6, so it was only a matter of time before they crumbled and fell—and that happened in spectacular fashion in the season finale, when Don scrapped his pitch script and told Hershey's he was an orphan who grew up in a whorehouse. Sure, his brutal honesty got him fired fro Sterling Cooper & Partners—or at least put on leave—and he'll probably be divorced when we next see him, but it what a cathartic moment! It's awesome to finally have a clear picture of his motivation, and we're truly curious to see where he'll go next. PLUS, Don's breakdown paved the way for Boss Peggy to take over his corner office, and as we look forward to Season 7, we're certain there's some good stuff up ahead.
PREVIOUSLY: Mad Men Season 6 Finale Review: The Mask Slips
24. Sons of Anarchy finally pulls the trigger
After wriggling his way out of the reach of Mr. Mayhem's scythe for nearly three seasons—often to serve the story rather than a sense of reality—Clay Morrow was finally sent to that big biker bar in the sky as Jax schemed to get SAMCRO out of the gun trade. Would we rather have seen him dragged behind a motorcycle over a field of sharp tacks and loaded mousetraps? Sure. But getting his very overdue death out of the way worked, too.
23. Arrow's Flash-dance
The CW's latest superhero series has dramatically improved in its second season, turning in exciting episodes filled with great character moments and interesting enemies. But if we're talking about a standout this year, it has to be the mid-season finale, "Three Ghosts." Not only did it tell the origin story The Flash (which was totally freaking awesome, by the way), it was also a turning point for the series. Tommy Merlyn's death loomed large over the first half of Season 2—and rightfully so—but the time had come for Ollie to nut up and face his inner demons to defeat Brother Blood and his super soldiers. We might have teared up a bit when Tommy's ghost gave Ollie the necessary pep talk to keep fighting, but the real blow came when Slade Wilson, who we all thought was dead (and who Ollie also believed to have perished) was revealed to be the one who was pulling Blood's strings. There was also that whole thing about Roy being injected with the Mirakuru serum and surviving. So yeah, "Three Ghosts" was pretty freaking awesome.
PREVIOUSLY: Arrow "Three Ghosts" Review: Now It's Personal
22. Selina Meyer for President!
Veep took on a more serialized format in Season 2, which not only enhanced the show's quality but introduced several new characters played by the likes of Gary Cole, Dave Foley, and Kevin Dunn, all while maintaining its hilarious and cynical outlook on American politics and winning all the awards for "most creative use of the F word." The show's ensemble cast is one of the best on TV, and Julia Louis Dreyfus deserves every accolade she's received for her portrayal of the ever-insecure and delightfully profane Selina Meyer. But perhaps the highest highlights of the show's "robust" second season—which saw our trusty veep become a meme, tell Jonah to "get the fuck off my plane," and get groped in Helsinki, among plenty of other things—were its final two episodes, "Running" and "D.C." Now, both Veep and its title character are on the road to to a potentially major shakeup, and we can't wait to tag along for the ride.
21. Walter Bishop says goodbye
We said we wouldn't cry we said we wouldn't cry we said we wouldn't cry oops we cried. Fringe's earnest emotional core was what truly set it apart from other network sci-fi shows, and we always knew we'd be in for a teary series finale, but Walter's trio of farewells—to Donald, to Astrid, and to Peter—stomped on our eyeballs until even our future tears were all dried up. With all due respect to Walter and Peter's touching send-off, the hardest and happiest of them all was Walter's loving conversation with his assistant
Astroturf Aspirin Astrid, which said so much without saying much at all.
PREVIOUSLY: Fringe Series Finale Review: A Fond Farewell