Healthcare News & Insights

10 Best TV Medical Dramas of All Time

Cellular research, complex surgeries, and life-saving emergency treatments make medicine a fascinating topic not only for those that work directly in the industry, but for those on the outside as well. 

Perhaps that’s why televised medical dramas have been successfully capturing the hearts and minds of people around the globe for so many years. Combine the intrigue of the body and its complex functions, the heart-felt emotions of life or death procedures, and the behind-the-scenes glimpse of medical professionals’ lives, and you’ve got a blockbuster hit.

For the past 50 years, medical dramas on television have been quite popular and have made their way onto major cable networks during the daytime as well as prime time slots.

Here are the 10 best TV medical dramas of all time:

10. Nip/Tuck

medical dramasFrom 2003-2010, this medical drama put a new twist on things by following the lives of two eccentric plastic surgeons in Miami as they deal with a variety of bizarre clients, and the trials and tribulations of their own personal lives and friendship.

9. Royal Pains

medical dramas
Centered around the life of a young ER doctor who was wrongfully accused of a patient’s death, Royal Pains showcases the doctor’s comeback as a “concierge doctor” who tends to wealthy Hamptons residents. Though it is a more light-hearted show and includes some humor as well as drama, this is one of today’s popular medical shows to hit network television.


8. St. Elsewhere

medical dramas
This was one of the earlier versions of today’s medical dramas. Running from 1982-1988, St. Elsewhere was an intriguing show set in a teaching hospital in Boston’s South End neighborhood. It highlighted some serious stories about life and death, and was one of the first to bring real-life medical issues and heart-wrenching stories to its viewers.


7. Scrubs

medical dramas

Providing a bit of comic relief in the more seriously thought of healthcare industry, this medical comedy-drama began in 2001 and followed the life of the main character — a medical intern — who tries to find balance between his job, social circle of friends and life in general.


6. General Hospital

medical dramas

Since 1963, this daytime soap opera has been bringing scandal to the lives of everyone involved in this medical series. It began as a show that highlighted the goings-on inside a city hospital, but over the nearly five decades since it has been on, the hospital scenes have been almost phased out as the show concentrates more on the personal lives of the characters. Nonetheless, it is one of the most well-known medical dramas to hit television.


5. Grey’s Anatomy

medical dramas

Grey’s started back in 2005 and quickly caught the eye of viewers all over the world. Following the lives of a core team of medical interns and their supervisors, the Seattle based medical drama highlights the ups and downs of life inside and outside of the hospital.


4. Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman

medical dramas

This medical drama aired from 1993-1997, but was set in a post-Civil War society. It followed the life of a female doctor, originally from Boston, as she moves to the wild west of Colorado Springs and tries to establish herself as an esteemed doctor in the new town.


3. House, M.D.

medical dramas

House debuted in the Fall of 2004 and quickly became a big hit. The plot of the show, which revolved around the medical investigations of an out-of-the-ordinary doctor and his team, always keep viewers engaged with twisted plots and puzzles surrounding cases that can seemingly only be solved by the one-of-a-kind Dr. House.


2. M.A.S.H

medical dramas

From 1972-1983, this medical comedy follows the lives of doctors, nurses, administrators and soldiers from the Korean War who are forced to find humor in life’s most unpredictable circumstances.


1. ER

medical dramas

Widely considered the first of the widely popular prime time medical dramas, ER hit the small screen in 1994 and had a long run until its finale in 2009. The show followed the personal and professional lives of emergency room doctors in a Chicago hospital, and included a star studded cast of writers and actors that kept viewers engaged throughout its 15 year run.


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