Note that every show on this page is one I watch every time a new episode comes out, so all are shows I obviously consider good. But some are nonetheless better than others. Shows that I strongly recommend are in bold.
How to Use This List
Each show title is linked to its page on ShowRSS for ease of subscribing (except where torrent rss feeds are unavailable or where shows have ended). I highly recommend using ShowRSS; their service automates downloading of new episode torrents (from EZTV) of your favorite shows. Note that setup will require software to take the rss feed from ShowRSS and plug it into your BitTorrent client. (I use Catch and µtorrent respectively. Catch is Mac only; PC users can use Miro instead, though I can't personally vouch for how well it works.)
Where the show is no longer getting new episodes, I've instead linked to a magnet torrent TPB page for the complete series instead. (Be aware that for long series, this will be a BIG download. Use manual searches if you need smaller download chunks.) In the rare case where new episodes are still being made but ShowRSS does not have a feed (this happens when EZTV does not release a torrent rss), I will link to the most relevant page I'm aware of that can direct you to new episodes.
Remember that subscribing to a ShowRSS feed will not get you old episodes. You still need to manually download past episodes to catch up first. If you have any problems, remember that you can always do a manual search on The Pirate Bay.
(Please note that most anime are better subbed than dubbed. Seriously. Some of the anime I recommend below have really bad vocal English tracks. Exceptions are explicit.)
- The Daily Show: Humorous dissection of current news stories.
- The Colbert Report: Humorous parody of conservative news shows' takes on current stories.
- Democracy Now!: Straight news. Link is to podcast itunes feed.
- Frontline: This is perhaps the best in-depth news reporting available today. They consistently put out great investigative news stories. Link is to a podcast feed.
- Arrested Development: The best comedic television show ever made. Seriously.
- The Office: The pinnacle of uncomfortable situational comedy.
- Community: Extreme hijinks humor.
- The Big Bang Theory: A mix of really bad comedy with very good comedy. This feels a bit like SNL in that there are really good parts and really, really bad parts even though BBT is scripted and has no "live" excuse.
- 30 Rock: Strong meta-situational comedy. Watch more than a couple of episodes before giving up on this; it takes a while for viewers to realize just how good some of this writing is.
- South Park: Low-brow comedy wedded to high-brow social commentary.
- Robot Chicken: Pop culture nostalgia comedy.
- Daria: Animated comedy on high school related issues.
- Cheers: Classic sitcom that's surprisingly good. Link is to several torrents by season.
- Archer: Fast-paced line-by-line comedy.
- Firefly: Western sci-fi awesomeness.
- Cowboy Bebop: More western sci-fi awesomeness. Link is to dual audio. Excellent English voice actors.
- Babylon 5: Well-rounded sci-fi epic. Has a bit of each genre and is clearly a part of '90s culture, but has themes which overcome these initial hurdles.
- Battlestar Galactica: The dramatic remake of BSG is what most current scifi shows consider as the standard dark scifi series. (Compare to ST:TNG, the "standard" light scifi series.) Spinoff Caprica will be of interest to fans.
- Stargate Universe: While I enjoyed the previous Stargate series more than the average guy, SGU is a clear standout in the Stargate universe (pun intended). This is worth watching even if you're unfamiliar with Stargate canon in general.
- Star Trek: Every series (tos, tng, ds9, voy, ent) is well worth watching. Quality of individual episodes does vary, but the cultural value of seeing the best of them is worthwhile.
- Farscape: Fair warning: this takes a long time to get into. A full appreciation requires an attention to detail that most shows do not demand of viewers.
- Stargate: Note that Stargate Universe is a bold recommendation above. Other entrants in this series (SG1, SGA) are worth watching, but not at the level of SGU.
- Doctor Who: Classic sci-fi. Not the best on a show-by-show basis, but worth watching for the long-term lore and cultural appeal. If you're new to the series, start with the ninth doctor (the 2005 series 1) and only watch the older episodes if you become obsessed (as many do). Spinoff Torchwood is terrible, but still of interest to fans.
- Ghost in the Shell: Philosophically dense sci-fi anime. Link is to dual audio. Excellent English voice actors.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Yes, I'm serious. MLP reeks of cuteness and every episode warms my heart. No other show can cheer me up as fast as this. Link is to an r/mylittlepony post that is kept well-updated.
- The Vision of Escaflowne: Perhaps the best anime series of all time. Worth watching even if you've never had any interest in anime before. Link is to dual audio.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: An anime classic. Philosophical, topical, yet clearly aimed at a young audience. Worth watching just for the cultural value of being familiar with it alone. Link is to dual audio.
- FLCL: An extreme example of parody taken seriously. On one view, this is a commentary on the state of anime post-evangelion; but at a deeper level, this parodies the art of parody itself by turning what would be a mockery into an actual good story on its own merits. I had to watch this short series multiple times before I fully appreciated most of the concepts it had to offer. Link is to dual audio.
- Kino's Journey: Philosophically dense anime. Link is to dual audio.
- Read or Die: No other show uses quite this many literary references. While this could be a bad thing, it seems to work well in this anime. Link is to dual audio.
- Game of Thrones: While I strongly recommend reading the books first, you should definitely not forget to watch HBO's brilliant portrayal of the story once you're ahead in the novels.
- Breaking Bad: The drama of turning to crime under adversity.
- Sherlock: The best Sherlock Holmes adaptation ever made.
- The Walking Dead: The best zombie tv series lacks in several respects, but hey: it's the best zombie series that exists.
- West Wing: Hands down some of the best dialogue I've ever seen in a tv series.
Non-Fiction Non-News Programs
- Closer To Truth: Discussion on philosophical topics with roundtable discussion by experts that strongly disagree.
- Bullshit!: Penn & Teller do a fairly good job of bringing skepticism to the masses in this show, though their libertarian bias does tend to show in some episodes.
- MythBusters: While I have philosophical problems with the lack of rigor used in this show, I nevertheless enjoy how they bring skeptical ideas to the masses.
- NOVA scienceNOW: Neil deGrasse Tyson does a superb job of making scientific topics accessible to a general audience. Link is to a podcast feed.
I should also mention that there are a few shows that I enjoy that are not listed here, whether it is because it's been so long since they ended that I've forgotten they exist or because they only just started and I'm undecided on if I really like them or not (like Elementary). As time passes, I'll try to go back and edit this post to add shows I neglected on my first draft.