It’s been another wonderful year for top-tier TV shows. From fascinating fantasy series and devilish dramas, to scintillating sci-fi and sizzling superhero fare, the world’s best streaming services have given us plenty of stellar shows to watch over the past 12 months.
As the sun sets on 2022, there’s no better time to run through our favorite shows of the year. We’ve compiled a list of the 40 best TV shows of 2022, with unmissable entries from Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and more.
To make things easier, we’ve organized our entries by the streamer they debuted on and listed them alphabetically. Additionally, we haven’t restricted our choices to series that made their debuts this year. For example, because it was such a huge hit, we’ve included Stranger Things season 4. You can expect to see other entries like that in this guide.
Without further ado, then, here are TechRadar’s 40 favorite shows of 2022.
Best Netflix shows of 2022
Where do you even begin to explain what this mind-bending, mystery sci-fi period piece is about? From the acclaimed creators behind the criminally underrated Dark, 1899 put our collective heads in a spin as we tried to solve its remarkably intricate puzzle. One to set a whole weekend aside for because, once you start it, you’ll be hooked.
Better Call Saul season 6
This Breaking Bad spin-off has been one of the best Netflix shows of the past six years. Unsurprisingly, its final season brought down the curtain on Saul Goodman’s journey in electrifying and suspense-filled fashion. Some would even say it’s usurped Breaking Bad as creator Vince Gilligan’s best work – and you’d be hard-pressed to find any of us disagreeing with that opinion.
The Crown season 5
Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary might have dominated the headlines in the final month of 2022. However, The Crown’s fifth season was the talk of the royal family town in November, with its equally spiky content and timing of its release – the show arrived just two months after Queen Elizabeth II’s death – courting controversy. Despite the negativity, The Crown season 5 was another fascinating, albeit exaggerated, entry in the hit series that delivered what fans wanted: compelling and delicious family drama.
Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
A painfully uncomfortable and deeply distressing watch, Dahmer is a true crime show many viewers simply couldn’t complete due to its harrowing content. Those who made it to the finish line, though, helped it become the third most-watched English language series in Netflix history. Regardless of whether you think Netflix was wrong to develop a show based on one of the world’s most notorious serial killers, there’s no denying Dahmer has been hugely successful. Subsequently, it deserves its place on our list.
At the start of 2022, we wouldn’t have expected a show based on Alice Oseman’s webcomic series of the same name to be on this list. Yet, here we are. Heartstopper’s sweet story of two schoolboys who fall for each other wowed us with its tone, narrative pacing, and casting, but it’s the series’ authentic LGBTQ+ representation that really bowled us over. Given its immense popularity, it’ll come as no surprise that more seasons are on the way – and we’ll definitely be tuning in.
Ozark season 4
Like Better Call Saul, Ozark bid farewell to audiences in compelling fashion with a stupendous final season full of thrills and spills aplenty. Its final scene might have rubbed some viewers up the wrong way with how anticlimactic it was but, if there was any doubt about Ozark’s popularity, season 4 certainly ensured its place in the annals of Netflix history. Captivating and tense in equal measure.
After spending 30 years in live-action development hell, Neil Gaiman’s beloved graphic novel series finally made it onto a screen of some sort. And, thankfully, it was worth the wait. In our Sandman season 1 review, we called it an "adaptation worthy of Neil Gaiman's dark fantasy comic book series", which established fans and newcomers would equally revel in. It’s not perfect but, as faithful adaptations go, it’s right up there.
Stranger Things season 4
What can we say about Stranger Things season 4 that we haven’t said before? Netflix’s most popular English language series practically saved the streaming giant from drowning in May 2022 amid huge subscriber losses, major financial issues, and multiple show cancellations. More than that, though, it was a superb return to form for the sci-fi horror-fantasy series, with explosive action set-pieces, terrific character development, and hugely entertaining twists and turns that set ups Stranger Things season 5 perfectly.
Finger clicks quickly turned into riotous applause when Netflix’s Wednesday debuted on the platform in late November. At the time, it seemed odd to release a comedy-horror series – one directed by the Tim Burton, no less – well after Halloween had passed. Clearly, though, Netflix knew what it was doing. The Jenna Ortega-starring show dominated the streaming charts for weeks post-launch, becoming the second most popular English language Netflix series ever (sorry, Dahmer) and delighting viewers with its humor, charming leads, and murder mystery-centric plot. Creepy and kooky indeed.
Best Disney Plus shows of 2022
In a year where Star Wars staples like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett also received TV shows, who would’ve thought they’d be usurped by a prequel series of a prequel movie? That’s what happened with Andor, a series set five years before Rogue One that charts the rise of the Rebel Alliance. It’s brutal, heartbreaking, inspiring, politically fraught, action-packed, incredibly dramatic, and suitably epic for the universe it’s set in. One of the best Disney Plus shows ever made.
Limitless with Chris Hemsworth
Celebrity-led docuseries are a dime a dozen nowadays, but Limitless with Chris Hemsworth proved a genuinely life-improving addition. Produced by Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky, the show offers a crash course in unlocking the full potential of the human body, using its titular Thor: Love and Thunder star as a (mostly) willing test dummy to prove the efficacy of small-but-important lifestyle changes. Ahead of its release, Aronofsky told us how Limitless will help you live longer (and die better). Fascinating stuff.
Of all the Marvel TV shows released this year, few would have predicted Moon Knight being our favorite one of the lot. Led by a terrific Oscar Isaac, who sizzles in multiple roles, this MCU Phase 4 project is a god-tier TV series that’s more emotionally taxing and bloody than almost every Marvel production before it. It doesn’t dispense with the powerhouse formula Marvel has relied on for over 15 years. Instead, Moon Knight builds on it, creating a show that’s more mature than its predecessors, shines an important light on mental health issues, and simultaneously exists in, and stands alone from, the MCU.
It wasn’t as fantastic as we hoped, but Obi-Wan Kenobi was the nostalgia-inducing and prequel movie-redeeming series Star Wars needed. Its plot pacing was inconsistent, its narrative structure bitty, and some of its characters undercooked. Still, seeing Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan and Hayden Christensen’s Darth Vader go toe-to-toe was as joyous as it was thrilling. Add in an early subversive twist about Obi-Wan’s actual mission, too, and the Jedi Master’s standalone series hit all the notes required.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Oh boy, this is going to ruffle some feathers. It might be the lowest-rated Marvel series on IMDb.com, but She-Hulk: Attorney at Law surprised us with how good it actually was. Jennifer Walters’ live-action debut is funny, subversively dramatic, thought-provoking, bold, and unashamedly feminist. In a world where the MCU needs some new blood (from superhero and creative blueprint perspectives), She-Hulk is the breezy and bright series Marvel needs.
Like She-Hulk, few people expected a sequel to Warwick Davis’ 1988 cult classic movie to take pride of place on our list, but here we are. Willow did what sequels are supposed to do: expand on and celebrate what came before, and drive a franchise forward with some original ideas, fun twists, and plenty of humor and heart. A hugely underrated fantasy show that deserves your attention.
Best Paramount Plus shows of 2022
In a year when Paramount Plus’ most notable video game adaptation – Halo – absolutely tanked, this mockumentary series about esports teams took us by surprise. Players shone an intriguing light on the esports industry, marrying its real-life, high-stakes drama with the profession’s more absurd elements in highly amusing fashion. Fans of satirical shows, and even those who enjoy sports-based dramas and docuseries, such as The Queen's Gambit and The Last Dance, will want to check Players out.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Star Trek fans have had plenty of top-tier TV to enjoy in recent times, and Strange New Worlds only adds to the plethora of quality Star Trek shows. This Star Trek: Discovery spin-off captured the imaginations of Trekkies everywhere, leading the iconic franchise into new frontiers without casting the series’ roots aside. Like its biggest competitor (aka Star Wars), Star Trek is undergoing a renaissance on the small screen – and it’s got shows like Strange New Worlds to thank.
Yellowstone season 5
Paramount Plus’ biggest hit (it’s technically released on Showtime, but whatever) is showing no sign of running out of steam. Yellowstone season 5 continues to deliver high-stakes drama in its neo-noir western setting, with the Dutton family’s tightening grip on the state of Montana still captivating us. Given its immense popularity, it’s little wonder one of the best Paramount Plus shows ever is getting even more spin-offs – 1923 joined 1883 earlier this month, while 6666 is set to premiere in 2023.
Best HBO Max shows of 2022
Barry season 3
This criminally underrated dark comedy series continues to go from strength to strength. Bill Hader turns in another highly relatable performance, even if the hitman-turned-actor career path isn’t one any of us have experienced. Moreover, Barry’s third season doesn’t miss a narrative or character evolutionary step, making it one of the best HBO Max shows of the year. Given the competition it’s up against on Warner Bros’ streamer, that’s saying something, too.
Euphoria season 2
After a popular and award-winning debut season, Euphoria’s sophomore outing quickly established Sam Levinson's high school drama as a new HBO powerhouse. Euphoria season 2 set records up and down the network thanks to its awards-worthy performances (from Zendaya, mainly) and stylish storytelling, and Euphoria season 3 looks set to become one of the biggest releases in the next year or two.
House of the Dragon
After Game of Thrones ended with a whimper in 2019, expectations for its first follow-up series, aka House of the Dragon, were decidedly lukewarm. Luckily, the debut season of this Targaryen-focused prequel proved some of the best TV of 2022, and we can’t wait to see the likes of Rhaenyra, Daemon, and Alicent return for more dragon-riding action in season 2. Emmy for Paddy Considine!