Best Returning Shows of 2022

HBO is still the king of multi-season TV, even without Succession

BY ZACH JANUARY 3, 2023 - Updated JAN 7, 2023

There was so much tv returning this year after extended hiatus due to COVID that I was able to create an additional Top 22 list of returning shows in addition to my 22 Best New Series list this year.

It's not all good tv, which is why I decided only to flesh out my commentary on the top 10, but I decided to publish the full rankings of 22. (In total I watched about 30 seasons of returning shows this year.)

Some interesting observations first. Netflix still makes a lot of TV, but with the exception of The Crown, they make a lot of pretty mediocre TV, coincidentally filling all of the bottom 4 spots on this list. HBO, despite failing to crack the top 10 in my New Shows list this year, had an incredible run with their returning shows this year, taking 6 of the top 10 spots.

Lastly, I just want to say I still have not seen any of Atlanta or Reservation Dogs but they are probably better than half the shows on this list.


Annual "Best Returning Shows"

Annual "Best New Shows"


Best of the Decade Series

22. Ozark (Season 4) - Netflix

21. Russian Doll (Season 2) - Netflix

20. Stranger Things (Season 4) - Netflix

19. Bridgerton (Season 2) - Netflix

18. Resident Alien (Season 2) - Syfy

17. Billions (Season 6) - Showtime

16. Girls5eva (Season 2) - Peacock

15. Taskmaster (UK Seasons 13 & 14) - Channel 4

14. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season 4) - Amazon Prime Video

13. Only Murders in the Building (Season 2) - Hulu

12. What We Do in the Shadows (Season 4) - FX/Hulu

11. Raised By Wolves (Season 2)

HBO Max | Aaron Guzikowski

Two androids, Father and Mother, are tasked with raising human children on Kepler-22b after the Earth was destroyed by a great war.

Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama

First aired: 2019

Total episodes from start: 18

Length per episode: 42-55 min

Continuing, Cancelled, or Completed: Cancelled

10. The Crown (Season 5)

Netflix | Peter Morgan

Covers the period 1991 to 1997, and focuses on the "War of the Waleses" and the resulting divorce of Diana and Prince Charles, as well as the rise of the Al-Fayed family and the "annus horribilis" of Queen Elizabeth II in 1992.

Genre: Historical Drama

First aired: 2016

Total episodes from start: 50

Length per episode: 47-61 min

Continuing, Cancelled, or Completed: Renewed for a 6th (final) season

9. Mythic Quest (Season 3)

Apple TV+ | Charlie Day, Megan Ganz, & Rob McElhenney

The team behind the biggest multiplayer video game of all-time is tasked with building worlds, moulding heroes and creating legends, but the most hard-fought battles don't occur in the game -- they happen in the office.

Genre: Comedy

First aired: 2020 (#5 on my best new shows of 2020)

Total episodes from start: 30

Length per episode: 22-37 min

Continuing, Cancelled, or Completed: Renewed for a 4th season

The comedic geniuses behind It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia crossed with the premise of Silicon Valley but with the subject being a AAA game studio. This show continues to impress, maintaining the same balance of funny with the surprising ability to switch genres at any moment that made me a fan in its first season.

8. The Righteous Gemstones (Season 2)

HBO | Danny McBride

The Righteous Gemstones depicts a family of televangelists and megachurch pastors led by widowed patriarch Eli Gemstone. Eli and his children lead opulent lives funded by church donations.

Genre: Comedy

First aired: 2019 (#11 on my best new shows of 2019)

Total episodes from start: 18

Length per episode: 29-60 min

Continuing, Cancelled, or Completed: Renewed for a 3rd season

Gemstones continues to be equal parts outrageous, hilarious, and authentic. The latest season shifts effortlessly between serious satire and not-so-serious action-adventure involving motorbike-riding ninja assassins.

7. Industry (Season 2)

HBO | Mickey Down and Konrad Kay

Graduates from all walks of life compete for a limited number of opportunities at Pierpoint, a top investment bank in London.

Genre: Drama

First aired: 2020

Total episodes from start: 16

Length per episode: 49-52 min

Continuing, Cancelled, or Completed: Renewed for a 3rd season

I missed the first season of Industry in 2020 and caught up too late to add it to my Best of 2020 list. It was definitely one of the best new dramas of that year. The emotional backbone of the show is the complicated mentor/mentee relationship between Harper (Myha'la Herrold) and Eric Tao (Ken Leung, who will look familiar if you're a Lost fan) but the second season is a rare example of a new character being introduced in a way that actually makes the show better. Jesse Bloom, a hedge fund manager notorious for making huge profits off of COVID, is one of the best new characters of the year thanks to an absolutely magnetic performance by Jay Duplass. Most importantly, Industry is just a great example of how a great tv writer can make a scene of someone talking on the phone in front of a bunch of computer screens one of the most edge-of-your-seat thrilling moments of the year.

6. The White Lotus (Season 2)

HBO | Mike White

A sharp social satire following the exploits of various guests and employees of the fictional White Lotus resort chain, whose stay becomes affected by their various dysfunctions.

Genre: Dark Comedy, Satire

First aired: 2021 (#2 on my best new shows of 2021)

Total episodes from start: 13

Length per episode: 54-77 min

Continuing, Cancelled, or Completed: Renewed for a 3rd season

It's incredibly difficult to live up to the success of The White Lotus's first season. It's doing something very different than season one (which is of course its right as an anthology series) and it does it to a degree of the highest quality. Jennifer Coolidge's Tanya (the only main character appearing from season 1) takes us for another incredible ride. Aubrey Plaza is perfectly cast, as she is in every role she's ever taken. The music is on point and the Sicilian setting is an intriguing change from Hawaii. Overall, I'd say season 1 is marginally better, but this season's roller coaster of a finale makes it close.

5. For All Mankind (Season 3)

Apple TV+ | Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert, Ben Nedivi

In an alternative version of 1969, the Soviet Union beats the United States to the Moon, and the space race continues on for decades with still grander challenges and goals.

Genre: Sci-Fi Drama, Alternate History

First aired: 2019

Total episodes from start: 30

Length per episode: 1 hour

Continuation: Renewed for a 4th season

Ronald D. Moore (showrunner of Battlestar Galactica) continues to go bigger every season with For All Mankind. Season 1 started off looking like just another NASA drama that didn't stand out from the many other films and tv with similar subject matter. Season 2 really put the show on the map for critics and sci-fi lovers. Season 3 is not necessarily better from a storytelling standpoint, but does increase the scope of the show dramatically. And if this all sounds vague, it's intentional. Avoid spoilers if you can!

4. Euphoria (Season 2)

HBO | Sam Levinson

A look at life for a group of high school students as they grapple with issues of drugs, sex, and violence.

Genre: Drama

First aired: 2019 (#3 on my best new shows of 2019)

Total episodes from start: 18

Length per episode: 48-65 min

Continuing, Cancelled, or Completed: Renewed for a 3rd season

In addition to being HBO's most popular show that doesn't have dragons of all time, Euphoria was called one of the best directed shows of the year by Sam Esmail, one of the greatest television directors of all time. In addition, it has now earned Zendaya a 2nd Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series, making her the first Black woman, and youngest person to win this award twice. Season 2 also delivered some incredible storylines and performances from its large supporting cast, most notably Maude Apatow, Angus Cloud, and Sydney Sweeney.

3. Hacks (Season 2)

HBO Max | Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky

Explores a dark mentorship that forms between Deborah Vance, a legendary Las Vegas comedian, and an entitled, outcast 25-year-old.

Genre: Comedy / Drama

First aired: 2021 (#6 on my best new shows of 2021)

Total episodes from start: 18

Length per episode: 26-35 min

Continuing, Cancelled, or Completed: Renewed for a 3rd season

Many critics doubted Hacks could maintain quality past its first season. Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder's performances (along with a lot of excellent writing) proved them wrong. The second season is every bit as funny as the first, and perhaps even more emotionally complex.

2. Barry (Season 3)

HBO | Alec Berg & Bill Hader

A hitman from the Midwest moves to Los Angeles and gets caught up in the city's theatre arts scene.

Genre: Dark Comedy, Tragedy

First aired: 2018 (#7 on my best new shows of 2018)

Total episodes from start: 24

Length per episode: 26-35 minutes

Continuation: Renewed for a 4th season

Season 3 of Barry continued to prove why it's the best comedy on television, and maybe the best dark comedy of all time. This season maintained the excellent writing and directing the first two were known for, but also gave more material to Sarah Goldberg who I believe was the most underappreciated performer on the show.

1. Better Call Saul (Season 6)

AMC | Peter Gould

Six years before Saul Goodman begins to represent chemist-turned-meth dealer Walter White, Saul is Jimmy McGill, a small-time attorney hustling to make a name for himself.

Genre: Crime Drama, Dark Comedy, Tragedy

First aired: 2015 (#3 on Required Viewing podcast's Best Dramas of the Decade)

Total episodes from start: 63

Length per episode: 41-69 minutes

Continuation: Completed series

When we were compiling our list of the top 10 dramas of the 2010s, my cohost on the Required Viewing podcast convinced me (before I had seen a single episode) to put Better Call Saul ahead of it's parent series, Breaking Bad. Now that the series is completed, I can say with utmost certainty that it is better than Breaking Bad. Many people would enjoy Breaking Bad more, but Saul is an objectively better series in almost every respect.