The Inverse Awards

The 25 Best TV Shows of 2023

It was a great year to be a TV fan. Here are Inverse’s top shows, ranked.

Inverse; HBO, Netflix, Paramount+, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video
The Inverse Awards 2023

While the subjects of this year’s TV shows started to look exceedingly grim, things have never been brighter for genre TV. In this year’s best shows, the apocalypse has never been more compelling, whether it’s one of the zombie variety, the fantasy-comedy variety, or the emotional variety. Then there were exciting new spins on the murder mystery, ranging from high-tech whodunits to old-fashioned howcatchems. The end of HBO’s most savage corporate thriller may or may not have marked the end of this new golden age of TV, but as of right now, it’s a good time to be a TV fan.

Here are the 25 best TV shows of 2023, according to the Inverse Entertainment staff and some of our favorite freelance writers.

Honorable mention: The Mandalorian Season 3

Lucasfilm Ltd

Even the worst season of The Mandalorian is still pretty good, right? After a very long wait — unless you count Din Djarin’s baffling takeover of The Book of Boba Fett — the flagship Star Wars live-action show finally returned in March 2023. Unfortunately, the results were mixed. Mando’s early adventure in the Mines of Mandalore and his stint as a detective on a planet ruled by Jack Black and Lizzo were series highlights, as was a standalone episode focused on an Imperial amnesty program on Coruscant. But Season 3 also featured plenty of duds, culminating in a fun but underwhelming climax that sidelined the show’s best villain while leaving the Mando-verse’s future murkier than ever. — Jake Kleinman

Other honorable mentions: Dead Ringers, My Adventures With Superman, Only Murders in the Building Season 3, Perry Mason Season 2, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, Mrs. Davis, Slip, Twisted Metal, What We Do in the Shadows Season 5, The Wheel of Time Season 2, Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake.

25. The Changeling

Apple TV+

The Changeling went under the radar on Apple TV+ this year, but that’s all too fitting. A modern urban fairy tale — the kind where New York really is like another character in the story — this creepily supernatural series echoes Rosemary’s Baby and The Yellow Wallpaper with an examination of postpartum psychosis, paranoia, superstition, and how much parents are willing to do for their children. While LaKeith Stanfield and Clark Backo gave their all, the show was stolen by its elder female characters. Adina Porter stuns in a standalone episode that plays like a piece of theatre, and Jane Kaczmarek has her Breaking Bad moment as the leader of a commune. Dais Johnston

24. Yellowjackets Season 2

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

From the moment Yellowjackets Season 2, Episode 1 “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” ended with Shauna finding (and devouring) a severed ear, it was clear this season wasn’t pulling any punches. After Season 1 merely alluded to possible cannibalism, Season 2 went all in — and then some — with cults, murder, VHS rentals, and a new crop of characters that elevated the action from a nostalgic female-led thriller to a fever dream that can only get wilder from here. Even Christina Ricci and Elijah Wood’s buddy cop storyline alone made it an improvement on Season 1. If Showtime’s “second season slump” curse is real, then Yellowjackets deftly avoided it — and looked amazing while doing so. — Dais Johnston

23. Invincible Season 2

Courtesy of Prime Video

After a celebrated series premiere in March 2021, Amazon’s Invincible finally returned more than two years later with… four new episodes. But let’s make one thing clear, even this paltry offering was absolutely worth the wait. Based on the voluminous comics from Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Invincible delivers a perfect blend of Saturday-morning-style superhero animation and ultra-violent gore. Throw in an incredible voice-acting cast that keeps getting better and some of the most creative sci-fi world-building around and you’ve got an all-time classic. In Season 2 (or at least, the first half of it), the series expands its universe even further and sets up an epic conflict when the show returns for Part 2 early next year. — Jake Kleinman

22. I’m a Virgo

Courtesy of Prime Video

Boots Riley is not an artist known for relenting. His directorial debut, Sorry to Bother You, was infused with enough coded humor and class satire to knock a horse out clean — even if it was buried within an absurdist tale that personified the phenomenon of “White Voice.” That trend continues in I’m A Virgo, a seven-episode coming-of-age series that follows a 13-foot-tall giant on a quest to explore the world. His adventure begins in Riley’s native Oakland, and though it all starts off quaint and detached — as if set in some fantasy world floating above our own — it’s not long before Riley introduces the anticapitalist messaging that exploded through his inaugural film.

Through Jharrel Jerome’s Cootie, I’m A Virgo skewers everything from the housing crisis to police brutality. Its unabashed message pairs surprisingly well with Cootie’s unorthodox coming-of-age. It might even soften the blow of Riley’s righteous indignation. That these two disparate tones pair so well together is a credit to Riley and his leading man. They’re an ideal match for this farcical fairy tale, and hopefully this won’t be the last we see of them. — Lyvie Scott

21. The Curse

Richard Foreman Jr./A24/Paramount+ with SHOWTIME.

The Curse is the collaboration of two titans of uncomfortable media. On one side is Nathan Fielder, who turned his Borat-but-sad character from Nathan for You into one of the most fascinating horror movie villains in his opus on anxiety The Rehearsal. On the other is Benny Safdie, who brought Adam Sandler acclaim in his crime thriller Uncut Gems, one of the most stressful movies of the decade. The result is a genius slow-motion trainwreck surrounding a well-intentioned married couple (Fielder and a maddeningly great Emma Stone) as they try to make a home improvement show about revitalizing a low-income neighborhood. Just like the characters’ “passive homes,” The Curse is a funhouse mirror showing what we do to feel good about ourselves. — Dais Johnston

20. Gen V

Brooke Palmer/Prime Video

Gen V was already a contradiction. The Boys existed as a takedown of sprawling superhero universes, so announcing a live-action spinoff felt like the ultimate hypocrisy. But the series quickly proved itself. Set in the superheroic Godolkin University, Gen V follows blood-bending supe Marie Moreau as she quickly rises to fame and uncovers a massive conspiracy. The contradictions only add to the fun in a show that explores issues like consent, gender identity, eating disorders, and self-harm while also featuring exploding penises, bloody puppet fight scenes, and even some The Boys cameos. The Boys Universe is officially here and it’s glorious. — Dais Johnston

19. Silo

Apple TV+

Silo is an ambitious, beautifully built sci-fi thriller that wisely does something few other mystery-box shows have thought to do: center its entire plot around Rebecca Ferguson. The Mission: Impossible and Dune star brings so much weight and charisma to Silo that watching its 10-episode first season is a surprisingly easy endeavor. Indeed, as intriguing as its many mysteries are, Silo ultimately works because it makes sure never to let its various dramatic questions get in the way of the performances given by Ferguson and her co-stars — namely, Tim Robbins, Harriet Walter, and Chinaza Uche. Created by Justified showrunner Graham Yost, the Apple TV+ series is a sturdy thriller that pulls off so many tricks so effortlessly that it makes the mistakes of other mystery box sci-fi shows seem all the more unfortunate and avoidable. — Alex Welch

18. Barry Season 4

Merrick Morton/HBO

Few shows in recent memory have evolved quite as much as HBO’s Barry did throughout its four-season run. What began as a satirical farce about a hit man who decides to become an actor slowly but surely grew into a visually stunning, thematically dense exploration of the cost of violence and the danger of glorifying the wrong people. In its fourth and final season, Barry brings all of its various ideas together and sends its characters down paths that prove to be as terrifying as they are cathartic and necessary. Directed entirely by series star and co-creator Bill Hader, it’s an immaculately crafted season of television. Not a single one of its frames feels phoned-in or unintentional, a fact that makes the succinct bloodshed of its final installments just hit that much harder. Take a bow, Barry. You’ve earned it. — Alex Welch

17. I Think You Should Leave Season 3


Tim Robinson broke our brains with the first absurd season of I Think You Should Leave, and every subsequent season has broken our brains even further. Season 3 brings yet another string of quotable diatribes for us to work into our everyday vernacular, along with so, so many outrageous Robinson facial expressions. The Driving Crooner! Club Haunted House! Nude eggs! There’s no comedy show like I Think You Should Leave out there — at least none with as much skill at putting together obscenely ridiculous sentences that have never been uttered by a human being before. At this point, if you’re not on board with I Think You Should Leave, you probably will never be. But if you aren’t: STOP. STOP, I’M DOING SOMETHING!! — Hoai-Tran Bui

16. Pluto


Netflix's original anime has been extremely hit-and-miss so far, but in 2023, the streamer scored an undeniable win with Pluto. Based on a 2003 manga itself based on a plotline from the iconic Astro Boy franchise, Pluto tells the story of a robot detective investigating a series of grisly robot murders. As the mystery deepens and this world opens wider, it threatens to swallow our hero whole. Pluto’s many interweaving plotlines and characters can feel overwhelming at times, but the show’s sharp political allegory and beautiful animation (aside from some questionable CGI for its main villain) make this the rare Netflix anime worth watching. — Jake Kleinman

15. Good Omens Season 2

Mark Mainz/Prime Video

Neil Gaiman traversed into unmapped territory with Good Omens Season 2, veering away from the source material he wrote with Terry Pratchett. With the help of massively underrated co-writer John Finnemore, the result is a cozy mystery set in their little street. No prophecies, no antichrists, just Arizaphale and Crowley trying to figure out what an amnesiac archangel who looks exactly like Jon Hamm is doing on their doorstep. But the shining moment of the season is the very last scene, which makes two huge swings that feel equally unfathomable in different ways. For a love story between an angel and a demon, opposites are the name of the game. — Dais Johnston

14. Reservation Dogs Season 3

Shane Brown/FX

After two seasons of almost lyrical storytelling about aspirational Indigenous kids trying to make it to California, the third and final season goes out with a bang with an “Oops, All Standalone Episodes” structure. While there is a solid throughline, every episode plays out like a beautiful anthology episode, tackling the elders of the Dogs’ community and tough issues like mental health, the kidnapping and abuse in boarding schools, and death and grief. It hops eras, main characters, and even genres, but it’s still got the same heart. It’s exactly what the show needed to cement its legacy by exploring the legacy of the community it has dedicated itself to. – Dais Johnston

13. Foundation

Apple TV+

The second season of Apple’s ambitious adaptation of the immortal Isaac Asimov Foundation novels keeps what worked in Season 1 and jettisons the rest. Yes, Foundation is using every sci-fi trick short of time travel to keep the same actors on screen over the course of hundreds of years, but every single hyperbolic trope is utterly earned. Although Season 2 has a scope even wider than Season 1, the episodes are smartly intimate, often focusing on pairs of characters. Psychohistory has never been more tender, which is one feat Asimov never managed to pull off. Ryan Britt

12. Poker Face


Poker Face isn’t just a delight to watch because of its myriad of talented guest stars (Hong Chau! Adrien Brody! Joseph Gordon-Levitt?!) or because of its clever update on the Columbo “howcatchem” murder-mystery formula. It’s because of how satisfying it is to see one of our most dynamic directors inject new life into an old formula. Rian Johnson has proven that no one loves the whodunit more than him with his deliriously fun Knives Out movies, but in Poker Face, he takes his characteristic twistiness and applies it to an endlessly rewatchable TV series. Anchored by an impossibly cool Natasha Lyonne, Poker Face has everything it takes to be a modern TV classic. — Hoai-Tran Bui

11. Blue Eye Samurai


Few would have predicted heading into the fall of 2023 that a straight-faced, bloody anime series like Blue Eye Samurai would end up being one of the year’s best shows. It doesn’t take long for the Netflix series to announce itself as a major artistic achievement, though. Its opening noodle-restaurant showdown announces it as a crowd-pleasing samurai thriller, and Blue Eye Samurai only proceeds to go to even more interesting, violent, and introspective places from there. It’s not the year’s subtlest show, but it is one of the most visually and narratively impressive — a genre exercise that hits all the same, satisfying notes as so many of the classics that have come before it while also telling a story that feels new and entirely its own. It was quietly dropped on Netflix in early November but has been steadily earning more and more fans in the weeks since. Press play, and you’ll quickly see why. — Alex Welch

10. Loki Season 2

Gareth Gatrell/Marvel

With the MCU awash in (likely spurious) rumors about desperate plans to bring Iron Man, Black Widow, and Captain America back into the fold, Loki demonstrates how such cockeyed ideas can find life. Loki, with all due respect to the many, many people who helped create it, works because it stars Tom Hiddleston, who continues to bring a roguish charm to his trickster god. It helps that Loki has a unique style, a clear vision, and a winning combination of supporting roles, but the show is ultimately an argument for running the MCU on clean, renewable star power. Loki may have an impact on the broader MCU, but it is first and foremost a story about its hero trying to finally find his place in the universe, and Hiddleston was given the space needed to make that story compelling. As he bids farewell to the MCU, he leaves the franchise with a timely reminder that we get invested in characters, not parades of plot points. — Mark Hill

9. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2

Michael Gibson/Paramount+

Plug “ending explained” into YouTube and you’ll uncover an entire industry dedicated to overanalyzing twists, cliffhangers, and sequel teases, usually in far, far more detail than necessary. At times, it almost feels like creators are given a perverse incentive to muddy the waters — would Yellowjackets have been as successful if fans hadn’t needed to figure out what the hell just happened every week? That’s why Strange New Worlds’ adventure-of-the-week format continues to be so refreshing. Sure, its characters grow and change, old adversaries return to cause trouble, and there are Easter eggs galore for hardcore fans. But at a time when seemingly every drama is focused only on getting you to the next bombshell, Strange New Worlds goes to a new planet, tells a good space yarn, and then heads off on its next adventure. It’s delightfully old-fashioned and mercifully self-contained. If only we could return to the days when Trek shows got 24 episodes a season. — Mark Hill

8. The Fall of the House of Usher

Eike Schroter/Netflix

Mike Flanagan loves horror literature more than a goth English teacher, so it was only a matter of time before he tackled the father of American horror, Edgar Allan Poe. The last of his Netflix series, The Fall of the House of Usher takes the best techniques from The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and The Midnight Club to create a semi-anthologized series that’s a “remix” of Poe, rather than an adaptation. Equal parts Succession, Dopesick, and The Twilight Zone, each episode follows the demise of one member of Roderick Usher’s expansive family, each inspired by a Poe work. It’s a fitting end to Flanagan’s Netflix tenure: changing the way we see Edgar Allan Poe (and lemons) forever. — Dais Johnston

7. A Murder at the End of the World

Christopher Saunders/FX

We may never get another season of Netflix’s The OA, but it’s a comfort to know that co-creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij are still so keen to collaborate. Their latest effort is A Murder at the End of the World, a series that’s as much about its titular murder mystery as it is about the death of its central relationship. The show follows Emma Corrin’s Darby Hart, an amateur sleuth and expert hacker who finds herself on a tech retreat quite literally at the end of the world. When an unexpected murder befalls a tech billionaire’s Scandinavian fortress, Darby races against time to solve it and prevent another. All the while, flashbacks to her very first case uncover her obsessions, vices, and secrets. Sure, the Agatha Christie-inspired beats are thrilling, but A Murder functions better as an exercise in memory than as a Gen Z tech-noir mystery. Its outside-in approach to a two-pronged tragedy makes it an utterly unique love story, and performances from Corrin, Harris Dickinson, and Clive Owen cut right to its beating heart. — Lyvie Scott

6. Succession Season 4

Claudette Barius/HBO

Unless you spent all of 2023 in a remote mountain retreat for billionaires and their secret families, you probably remember the incredible cultural moment that was Succession Season 4. HBO’s brutal portrayal of wealth and power came to a season-long climax that pretty much delivered everything fans wanted. Killing off series star Logan Roy in an early (and unforgettable) episode was a stroke of brilliance, giving Succession plenty of time to pit its hateable Roy siblings against each other until the entire story crescendoed with a stunning, final showdown. If the golden age of television is truly over, at least it went out with a roaring “f*ck off.” — Jake Kleinman

5. Beef

Andrew Cooper/Netflix

The most withering social satire of the year didn’t come in the form of the typical “eat-the-rich” thriller that now dominates annual award shows. Instead, we got Beef, one of Netflix’s sharpest, darkly funny series ever. Created by Lee Sung Jin as an A24 and Netflix co-production, Beef is a piercing depiction of the fractured state of the Asian-American experience. After a particularly aggressive case of road rage between Steven Yeun’s Danny Cho and Ali Wong’s Amy Lau leads to a vicious feud between the two, their “beef” spirals to such extreme heights that it starts to violently destroy the lives of everyone around them. Featuring one of Yeun’s best performances of his career, Beef is an electric, wonderfully complex portrait of what happens when two people have a very bad day. — Hoai-Tran Bui

4. The Bear Season 2

Chuck Hodes/FX

The second season of The Bear is just as blistering and bombastic as its first, but there’s something much softer about the series now. It helps that its ensemble — once on opposite sides of a battle for the soul of a restaurant — are now more or less on the same page about turning “The Beef” into “The Bear.” That stubborn resistance to change still runs strong throughout the series, and is personified best through the episodes where we follow individual members of this restaurant team to be. But in the end, The Bear Season 2 is all about letting that fear go, growing, and acknowledging the quiet ambition inside. The raw wound that connected each of these characters in Season 1 is beginning to heal, making way for some truly touching moments of team-building. Paired with a revolving door of jaw-dropping cameos and a liberal dose of dad rock, the breakout series finds a perfect balance between its white-knuckle stakes and its earnest ambitions. — Lyvie Scott

3. For All Mankind Season 4

Apple TV+

Now in its fourth decade in just four years, the multi-generational scope of For All Mankind has arrived in the alternate early aughts. This is a 21st century that was never rocked by 9/11, a world in which we landed on Mars in 1995, and, at this point, exists in a brilliantly complex world of advanced space flight that is also exceedingly realistic. But For All Mankind doesn’t continue to be one of the best shows on TV only because it’s great, realistic science fiction. Instead, it’s one of the greatest modern dramas for the simple fact that the narrative never cheats with mystery boxes or unearned twists. Everything makes sense, and yet, it still manages to surprise us every single time. — Ryan Britt

2. Scavengers Reign

Courtesy of Max

A brutal and intelligent animated sci-fi series, Scavengers Reign alternates between oddly soothing and legitimately disturbing. While it's tempting to say that the strengths of this series lie in its provocative commentary about socioeconomics and the nature of identity, the overriding reason to watch Scavengers Reign is that it is truly original science fiction. You may have seen a few of these tropes before, but never quite like this, and never so deftly handled. The series is so compact, you can’t help but wonder if it deserves a live-action prestige TV version, or if its humble format is part of its authenticity. — Ryan Britt

1. The Last of Us

Liane Hentscher/HBO

It’s a testament to the precariousness of modern media that HBO opened the year with a smash genre hit, only to close it entangled in Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to pivot to reality shows like Four-Legged and Pregnant and Baby Gronk Does Dallas. But as television feels ever more prone to being disposed of the moment it leaves the air, The Last of Us managed to stick with us throughout 2023. Dark but not dour, existential but not maudlin, and harsh but not without love, it is a triumph of genre television and a stern notice that video game stories are worth retelling in other mediums — so long as they are given the time and money to be told well. As another year closes, The Last of Us persists as a reminder of both why we bother to live and why we choose to occupy our lives with good television. — Mark Hill

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