Audiences have always had a thing for medical dramas on television. There’s plenty to go around, and here are the ten best that aren’t Grey’s Anatomy!
From the halls of hospitals to the depths of examination rooms, medical television shows mix procedural thrillers, romantic dramas, and sitcom-style comedies. For decades, television viewers have eaten up narratives that involve doctors, nurses, and aides working around the clock to save lives.
While the scientific accuracy of these shows is, at times, debatable, their settings provide a compelling background for character studies, investigations of medical practices, and who-dun-it mysteries. While Grey’s Anatomy may be the most popular medical drama on television, there are many others out there that came before, during, and after this genre-defying series. Here are the top ten, ranked by how well they capture the world of medical professionals.
The Good Doctor (Since 2017)
Derived from an award-winning South Korean drama of the same name, this ABC series focuses on Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon whose skills and knowledge are unsurpassed. Freddie Highmore plays Murphy, and he earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
Many critics believe the show’s success hinges on Highmore’s performance. As the newest surgeon at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital, Murphy has a unique ability to visualize the human body, which helps him with diagnosis and treatment. The Good Doctor has only aired for two seasons, and fans hope it continues to push the envelope in terms of character development.
Call The Midwife (Since 2012)
This British period drama from the BBC tells the story of London midwives working at a time of great social upheaval: the late 1950s and early 1960s. The midwives in the show are ordained Anglican nuns who are part of a nursing order called Nonnatus House, and the show’s events unravel without the excess violence or melodrama many other shows on this list possess.
Call The Midwife provides an honest portrayal of mid-century British medical practices, especially as they relate to birthing and sexual health. It’s narrative is supported by the real historical events that affected the British population, from the post-World War II baby boom to the founding of the National Health Service.
Hugh Laurie plays the sarcastic and antisocial Dr. Gregory House, who won large audiences over in this series that takes place at the fictional Princeton–Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey. Dr. House, while unlikeable, is a genius, and he develops a reputation for solving the most perplexing medical cases.
The show does a good job of combining mystery, methodology, and character studies. House has often been equated to Sherlock Holmes. A cast of well-known actors supports Laurie’s performance, including Robert Sean Leonard, Olivia Wilde, and Amber Tamlyn. House won many awards during its eight-season run.
Inspired by the Robert Altman film of the same name, this long-running television show is a testament to the mid-century wars that forever altered the course of history around the world. The show tracks the struggles of a US Army Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, which lasted from 1950-1953.
The 1970 movie and the early seasons of the TV show both aired concurrent to the Vietnam War, and many critics see the show as an allegory for that devastating conflict. Employing comedy, situational drama, and character development, this ensemble show focuses on a part of the military many people don’t think about: the medical units.
ER is number one for being the first contemporary hospital drama. It set the tone for future such television endeavors and launched the careers of some of the biggest celebrities in the world: George Clooney, Anthony Edwards, Julianna Margulies, and Noah Wyle. Created by Michael Crichton, it is the second-longest-running primetime medical drama after Grey’s Anatomy.
The show takes place at the fictional County General Hospital in Chicago, and it has no problem being bloody, emotional, and tense. Over its 15 season run, ER won 116 awards.