Most Influential TV Shows Of The 21st Century (So Far)

TV shows have been doing their best to keep us occupied over the last couple of decades, and they’ve been doing a great job of it. And this has only become more true in the age of streaming. Now, favorite TV shows past and present are with us perpetually. We can engage with them repeatedly, discuss them with friends, and often engage in everything from trivia, to video games, to cosplay stemming from them.

With all of that in mind, we wanted to take a look at some of the most influential shows we’ve seen so far this century.

Game of Thrones:

You’d be hard pressed to not be able to come up with a quote from this beloved HBO drama –– even if you haven’t seen it yet. It conquered the internet and held its ground for years, to the point that character lines like “I drink and I know things,” or “You win or you die” because popular language (or at least meme language). ‘Thrones,” for its many-year run, was more cultural event than TV show.

Even today –– and even despite a widely panned final season –– fans continue to enjoy various types of merchandise related to the seers. With clothing, novelty items, a version of Monopoly, an original board game, numerous video games and online slot machines, and now the card game A Game of Thrones: B’Twixt, there truly is something for every fan to engage with. Oh –– and there’s also a spinoff show coming to HBO in 2022.

Friends:

Okay, this show did technically start in the 20th century. But if anything that’s just a testament to how influential it truly is! ‘Friends’ took the torch from ‘Seinfeld’ and became, by some estimations, the most successful sitcom of all time. Multiple generations of fans make a habit of binge-watching the series more or less on repeat, and character and episode references are –– as with ‘Thrones’ –– part of everyday conversation. All of this activity even seems to be accelerating of late, with the whole series having been put up on HBO Max in early 2021.

‘Friends’ is also similar to ‘Thrones’ in that it, too, has left a mark on the gaming world. Somewhat unexpectedly, a Foxy Bingo Slingo title based on the sitcom has become one of the most prominent games in the online casino space. This game blends bingo and slot machine elements together (hence “Slingo”), but does so while wrapped up in licensed images and material from ‘Friends.’ The result is a warm, nostalgic, and inviting game for fans of the show –– who appear to be playing in droves, even as we near 18 years since the 2004 finale.

Downton Abbey:

‘Downton Abbey’ topped our list of the best historical series with six seasons of British period-drama genius. It’s an extremely well-written show with likable (and detestable) characters and unrivaled work with regard to costuming and set design.

Available on streaming platforms essentially since day one, ‘Downton Abbey’ has been charming millions without interruption for years. And like the other shows on this list, it has as a result taken on a life of its own in modern culture. ‘Downton Abbey’ has produced its own board game and cookbooks; there are touring exhibitions of costumes from the show; and into 2022 we’ll see a second film release following the finale of the TV show. Not to mention the forthcoming series ‘The Gilded Age’ (from the same creator) looks to be more or less an American spin on the drama.

The Office:

Who could forget the everyday work lives of those employed under Dunder Mifflin, chronicled in nine seasons of beautiful awkwardness, romance, and pranks? ‘The Office’ may have been based on a very successful British show, but the American version has taken on an extremely special place in the hearts of millions. Indeed, it may even be fair to say that it’s ‘Friends’ for people who grew up half a generation later.

This show actually doesn’t quite have the same reach in culture and entertainment. There is a board game called The Office Downsizing Game, as well as a brand new mobile game titled The Office: Somehow We Manage (an homage to a line from Steve Carell’s famous Michael Scott character). But mostly, ‘The Office’ lives on as quite likely the most binged show of the last 10 years (though there’s no exact way to determine this).

You’ve probably seen at least a few episodes of each of these series. Even if you haven’t though, you’ve likely felt their presence in one way or another –– and it’s never too late to get on board!

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