15. The Expanse
The show: Sci-fi with a gritty edge. That’s what ALL good sci-fi is like, right? The Expanse is worlds apart from every other show in the genre. Set hundreds of years in the future, it tackles the reality of a future where mankind sprawls into the universe, taking command of everything it lays its hands on. Mars is now its own military power, and at odds with Earth. Their squabbles lay the foundation for an imminent war, which forms a tense backdrop for the show’s main story, of a ship’s captain (Steven Strait) and a detective (Thomas Jane), who unite to solve the case of a missing young woman.
Why it’s worth a watch: The world-building is as close to realistic as you can imagine. Forget the typical sci-fi signifiers; there’s no weird portals to other dimensions, mad extraterrestrials, or weaponry that defies physics. What you’re left with is a damn good story that’s set to receive a season 4, courtesy of Amazon who picked it up for a final season.
The show: Based on the cult comic by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, AMC's adaptation has taken its sweet time getting to the small screen. Dominic Cooper leads as a southern preacher one day "possessed" by the spawn of an angel and devil's off-Earth shagging. This gives him powers which he obviously uses for good. Shortly afterwards, a whole host of weirdos are after him. Thankfully he's got his ex-girlfriend and a constantly-drunk vampire for company.
Why it's worth a watch: There's seriously nothing like it on television. Yeah, The Walking Dead is gory, but this is something else. Violence and religion, sex and death, the struggle of man's existential dilemma... and monsters.
13. The Good Wife
Region: UK, US
The show: Now is as good a time as any to start watching one of the best network dramas ever. Or, perhaps now is a good time to start re-watching it, because The Good Wife is so good you’ll end up seeing it more than once. The show kicks off with the downfall of Alicia Florrick's (Julianna Margulies) marriage, as her politician husband is caught cheating with a prostitute. That’s the firing shot, but it’s Alicia’s subsequent rise, as she returns to practice law that makes the series so compelling.
Why it's worth a watch: Even though it appears to be a standard courtroom show, it’s anything but. The Good Wife departs from the procedural format and details the operatic goings-on in Alicia's private and public life, and how the two often become entwined. Its well-rounded cast of supporting characters and unexpected subplots that continue to bubble up are what makes this a unique wedge of criminal television. Oh, and did I mention that one of those occurrences includes a serial killer in love with Alicia? Yeah, this show has a wicked sense of humour.
12. The Missing
Region: UK, US
Season(s): 1 (UK), 1-2 (US)
The show: This award-winning BBC drama preys on every parent's worst nightmare - losing a child. Instead of a lengthy serialised story, the anthology series focuses on one particular incident per season. Its debut revolves around the story of James Nesbitt and Frances O'Connor's as grief-stricken parents Tony and Emily. While on a family vacation in France, their car breaks down. Later that night, Tony takes his son Oliver to watch a World Cup game in a local bar, only to lose him in the crowd.
Why it's worth a watch: Many shows have explored this premise, a missing child, but none with such time dedicated to the emotional toll it takes on the parents. It's that depth of care that makes this show stand out from the crowd.
11. Parks and Recreation
Region: UK, US
The show: One of those series that’s slowly cemented itself as a comedic classic. Parks and Recreation, while having ended recently, is nevertheless worthy of cult status, treading the line between mockumentary and sitcom perfectly. That’s in large part because of its razor-sharp writing. Amy Poehler leads the cast as Leslie Knope, deputy director of the fictional Pawnee parks and recreation department, who goes above and beyond to do what’s right, with the help of her colleagues.
Why it's worth watching: Who doesn’t like to laugh and feel all warm and fuzzy, too? Reminiscent of Modern Family’s early seasons - back when it was consistently funny - it balances the gags with genuine affection and warmth. There’s no other show that maintains the same level of quality throughout seven whole seasons. Yes, it’s better than Friends.
10. American Gods
The show: Neil Gaiman's mystical writings spring to life in FX's superb take on American Gods. The series mixes normal everyday with a big dose of the supernatural, as we follow the coolest-sounding person ever, Shadow Moon. An ex-convict struggling to cope with his wife's death, he soon meets the mysterious and charismatic Mr. Wednesday - an absolutely brilliant Ian McShane - who hires him as his bodyguard. Against what? Well, you'll have to watch. Keep an eye out for a superb cameo from GLOW’s Betty Gilpin.
Why it's worth a watch: As Stephen King fans can attest, not every adaptation of a beloved book works. But in the case of Gaiman's modern classic? It absolutely works. The mythical aspects, the character backstories, the look and feel... well, let's just say we love it. It's magic realism at its finest.
Read more: American Gods season 1 ending explained - everything you need to know after watching
9. Mr. Robot
Region: UK, US
The show: Mr. Robot came out of nowhere and suddenly emerged as 2015's big watercooler hit. It's about hackers, yes, but the technology wunderkind at the heart of this story is unlike any other onscreen depictions. Rami Malek plays Elliott Anderson, a computer genius who joins the ranks of the mysterious Mr. Robot under the pretense that together their band of digital vigilantes will free society from the grip of corporate America.
Why it's worth a watch: Paranoid and tense, Robot rolls out like a thriller cooked up in the mind of David Fincher then siphoned through the bizarre lens of David Lynch. Its creator Sam Esmail showcases his eye for detail here, that ropes in styles of all kinds to craft an entirely unique thriller.
8. Orphan Black
The show: Orphan Black mixes futuristic genetic technology with family drama and thrilling action - who knew those components would make for gripping TV? Well, they do. The show follows Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany), a young woman whose life is changed forever when she witnesses her doppelgänger commit suicide at at train station. That moment sets her on a complex journey to uncover the truth behind her identity, which is full of twists and turns that are, at times, dizzying.
Why it's worth a watch: Maslany's nuanced turns as a series of clones are nothing short of breathtaking. You may find yourself scanning the credits for the actresses who play Sarah's sisters. Thank goodness she finally won an Emmy for her flawless turn.
The show: Anthony Hopkins brought a terrifying Hannibal Lecter to the public's attention, only for subsequent sequels to make him a boring caricature. In the hands of creator Bryan Fuller, Mads Mikkelsen twists that perception back toward pure evil. This version of events goes back to the beginning, with Lecter working in cahoots with the FBI and in particular, forensic profiler Will Graham to crack cases.
Why it's worth a watch: With some breathtaking cinematography, and a hyper-stylised set design, Hannibal transcends the guff that came before. Interspersed with the more traditional police work is Lecter’s penchant for haute cuisine, which was telegraphed in the movie, yet here it becomes a key component of his lifestyle. His cooking skills are shown in such intricate detail that you’ll be utterly fascinated and absolutely horrified by their implications. Its central villain is someone to truly fear.
6. The X-Files
The show: The adventures of Special Agents Mulder and Scully took the early '90s by storm, as the pair investigated a broad spectrum of bizarre cases deemed unsolvable by the FBI. Scully's skepticism toward Mulder's haphazard belief in the otherworldly provides viewers with an in-road to the oddities in store. Those weird happenings vary from typical monster-of-the-week episodes to the show's bigger mythology arc stories.
Why it's worth a watch: A game-changer in the realm of genre television. The fresh story, characters and situation elevated the show from a sci-fi must-watch into a mainstream serial that paved the way for the likes of Fringe, Supernatural, Buffy, Warehouse 13, and Grimm.