In 2006, The CW was born. A merger between two networks, UPN and The WB, would combine two impressive television blocks, resulting in a joint venture from CBS and Warner Bros created to market shows to a new audience. Joining the ranks of ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, the CW dared to defy all typical programming by directly targeting viewers between the ages of 18 and 34.
With properties like DC Comics sharing the rights to their stories with the network, the shared superhero universe has now crossover into broadcast television. Shows like Arrow, The Flash and soon Supergirl will take up forty percent of The CW’s fall lineup. With so many shows now coalescing to form one multi-dimensional story across different series, viewers are more compelled than ever to tune in and watch for what's in store next.
It was a daunting task choosing between a decades worth of original content. Obviously, we couldn't include everything, but to makes matters a little simpler, we did decide to focus solely on the shows that aired on The CW post-merger. That means if it only aired on UPN or The WB, it didn’t make the cut. We apologize to all the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans in advance. So in lieu of all the great surprises still yet to come, we honor the very best of teen dramas from the broadcast network by presenting the 25 Best Shows of The CW.
25 Melrose Place
With Beverly Hills, 90201 revived and fiercer than ever, The CW had one question floating around, “Would they bring back the popular spinoff series about the residents of West Hollywood’s most scandalous apartment complex?” The network quickly got to thinking of how to bring Melrose Place back to the small screen. Within months of 90210’s relaunch, the series was in development and the search was on for a new cast to live in the upscale residence. Katie Cassidy would snag the lead of the blonde, omnisexual PR specialist Ella Flynn. Ashlee Simpson-Wentz also landed a role as the new girl in town Violet Foster who moves to West Hollywood in search of her biological father, only to develop a relationship with her birth mother Sydney Andrews, the new landlady who watches over the tenants before being found murdered.
Other characters from the relaunch included Ella’s good-natured friend Jonah and his fiance Riley, a chef and former alcoholic named Auggie, the unemployed criminal David and Ella’s roommate Lauren. The diverse group of 20-somethings all come into question following Sydney’s murder. No one is quite who they seem and the interrelationships of the residents are all shaken up by the possibility of any one of them being a killer. While each character goes about their daily lives, each person comes under suspicion. Unfortunately, for the tenants of 4616 Melrose Place, the momentum of 90210 never carried over. The series suffered from below average ratings, leading to its cancellation after the first season. Had the show lasted longer, maybe it wouldn’t have failed to impress. Sadly, we’re left with only a small sample of the story, enough for us to just give the show some recognition.
24 Beauty and the Beast
For most readers, you might be thinking, “Wait, there’s an a TV show based on the classic 1991 animated classic from Disney?” But you won’t find Belle, nor a talking teapot in this story. We know, it’s a real bummer. Instead, Beauty and the Beast is a remake of another series from creator Ron Koslow that went by the same name and featured Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman, only with a procedural twist for the modern day audience. The show follows Catherine “Cat” Chandler, a police detective working for the NYPD. As a little girl, Cat witnessed her mother’s murder before almost being killed herself. When she is mysteriously saved by a figure she cannot identify, her life is put onto a course of intrigue with an ex-soldier named Vincent who has some problems of his own.
When Cat finally runs into Vincent, he is presumed dead. She soon learns of his history with a secret organization known as Muirfield that uses DNA manipulation in order to create super soldiers. Vincent Keller was a surviving guinea pig and now must control his anger, unless he wishes to become the creature he’s hiding inside. When Muirfield learns of Cat’s involvement with Vincent, they try coercing her into giving up his location. Instead, she works with her partner and romantic interest to try to prevent them from conducting any more scientific experiments. Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan lead the cast as the titular characters, but the retooled version of the classic fairytale fails to live up to earlier variations of the story. The show remained largely hit or miss during its four year run with the biggest complaint being that Vincent was more like the Incredible Hulk than a beast. Still, the series tried something new, even if it didn’t pan out the way the network had hoped.
Dropping the Beverly Hills but keeping the ZIP code, this remake of the ten year long series about two twins adjusting to the lavish life of Southern California was spearheaded by creators Rob Thomas, Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah. Thomas had first pitched the idea in 2008, only eight years removed from the finale of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 in early 2000.The new series followed a similar premise. Two siblings, Annie and Dixon Wilson, must adjust to their new lives in the hills after their father Harry moves back to his childhood home to care for his ailing mother, a former television actress. It’s at West Beverly Hills High School that the two come into contact with the privileged teens of the neighborhood. Harry takes a job as the school’s principal, soon discovering than his old flame Tracy Clark had a child, which she claims was his and later put up for adoption. Clark’s daughter Naomi befriends Annie, only to have an on again, off again relationship with her as they occasionally become enemies and get mixed up in a love triangle with the school jock Ethan Ward. Meanwhile, Naomi’s bestie Adrianna deals with a persisting drug addiction which lands her in rehab and Dixon begins dating Erin, a virgin who isn’t concerned with fitting into the popular crowd.
The first two seasons of the show would feature prominent characters from the original series, including key actresses Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth as Brenda Walsh and Kelly Taylor. Once the cast had gelled and the ratings were up, Doherty and Garth would leave the show for the new characters to take over. 90210 provided a facelift to the Beverly Hills continuity and over the course of five seasons, the close-knit community of spoiled teens grew out of their high school years into adults. While the series was never as popular as the shows that preceded it, viewers were intrigued enough to keep everything going despite other popular dramas debuting on the network at the same time. It can be hard to live up to another show’s standards, but 90210 provided enough luxury to land near the bottom of the list.
22 Hart of Dixie
Everything was coming up roses for Zoe Hart. She just graduated top of her class from medical school and plans to follow in her father’s footsteps as a cardiothoracic surgeon. She rejects a job offer from Dr. Henry Wilkes, a small town doctor and Zoe’s biological father. When things turn sour, the young New Yorker finds herself dumped by her boyfriend and out of a fellowship that would have covered her dreams financially. Out of work, she turns back to the offer from Wilkes, accepting the position and packing up her life to move to Bluebell, Alabama. It’s in the southern state that the aspiring doctor learns of her true father’s death and her inheritance of his medical practice. She soon learns a thing or two about southern charm and eventually takes a liking to her new profession. She constantly butts heads with Dr. Brick Breeland with whom she shares the Bluebell practice. Always critiquing her diagnoses, Brick attempts to buy out Zoe’s shares of the business, but with new friends in the community and a love interest in her charming next door neighbor Wade Kinsella, she decides to make the town her new home.
Hart of Dixie mixes well with the CW demo. The cast of attractive Southerners defying the stereotypes of small town, rural life remains enticing due largely to the romances and power struggles that go on in Hart’s life. The show repeats its message of community throughout the series’ four season run. While Zoe grows into a pillared member of Bluebell, adjusting to the hospitality of the townspeople and getting to know each member of the close-knit area, she’s never deterred by others to forget her dream of helping people. Rachel Bilson was a sound casting decision on behalf of the network, providing a face that appears all too new to a small town like Bluebell. Although the show is riddled with rom-com cliches, it’s unapologetic about the characters’ romances, making sure the viewers know where the creators’ interests lie. It’s a familiar formula for The CW, but it’s one that’s been proven successfully time and time again.
Historical accuracy may not have been what The CW had in mind when it imagined a series about the rise of power of Mary, Queen of Scots, but Reign makes up for its flaws with lush fashion designs and sweeping romances. We meet Mary as a 15 year old girl, betrothed to Prince Francis of France since she was six. While Mary isn’t sure how to feel about her future husband, she understands the importance of the union and must come to accept her role despite the changing political landscape that looks to denounce her. As her wedding approaches, Francis’s mother grows weary of what the marriage will bring for her son. Going off an early prediction from Nostradamus that her son would die if the marriage ever came to be, she tries to prevent the two from coming together.
The series spans many historical events, including the death of King Henry II, the French Wars of Religion between the Catholics and Protestants and the long-lasting rivalry between Mary and Queen Elizabeth I of England. The reaction to Reign has been varied. Largely, the series has been criticized for its flair of the dramatic, focusing more on the characters’ personal styles and relationships than on the power struggles between Mary and other prominent figures such as the members of the House of Bourbon looking to take the throne of France. Adelaide Kane and the rest of the cast abandon the facts for a lighter, fun nature that plays to a teen audience and isn’t afraid to get campy. Maybe a period piece about a monarch fighting for control of her throne isn’t the The CW’s usual story, but it manages to make its stamp on the network by adding just enough teen angst to keep viewers watching.
20 7th Heaven
As far as the depiction of the traditional, two parent household on television is concerned, perhaps no family has ever seemed more idyllic than the Camdens. The father Eric is a Protestant minister in Glen Oak, California where he serves as the pastor for the community church. He’s been married to his wife Annie for years, raising a total of seven children. Each week, the kids deal with a new conflict which is usually resolved before the end of the episode. The eldest children are all shown in their teens and early adult lives. The second oldest daughter Lucy marries and has a child of her own, while the oldest son Matt pursues his career as a doctor and the younger son Simon makes his way to college. The most famous cast member to move on to greater things was Jessica Beal as Mary, who shares a home with her grandparents in the series after learning of her grandmother’s battle with leukemia.
A recurring theme throughout the show was the father’s ability to come to terms with the growing members of the household. In particular, he must learn to accept the maturation of the women in the house as they go through various life changes. New relationships bloom for the children as they each go on to either date or marry. During its long run, 7th Heaven built a reputation for being one of the most family-friendly shows on television, often appreciated for it positive messages and accepting outlook of everybody’s daily struggles and circumstances. While the series was guilty of playing things safely, it never faltered when it came to its theme of familial strength. Other shows have since given viewers a more modern day take on what the typical family household would look like today, but that didn’t stop us from believing that families like the Camdens could really exist. No family could ever be perfect, but as this series taught us, that doesn’t mean you can’t come together and try your best.
19 Everybody Hates Chris
Loosely based upon the troubled teenage life of comedian Chris Rock, Everybody Hates Chris details the life of the fictionalized Chris learning life lessons with his two younger siblings while growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood in Brooklyn. The entire family moves from the projects to the much more pleasant Bed-Stuy in 1982, the same year that Chris finally becomes a teenager. Despite being called the adult of the house when his parents are away, Chris’ brother Drew seems to be way cooler than him. Meanwhile, his bratty sister Tonya is the apple of his parents’ eyes, always getting their attention and often having things go her way. Rock narrates the series, often satirizing his own life experiences and looking back on them as awkward phases which would propel him into his profession as a comedy actor and stand-up performer.
Much like other classic family sitcoms such as The Cosby Show or The Wonder Years, Chris’ awkward days as a teen can be attributed to the strict parenting skills of his mom and dad. Without much money to their name, Chris’ parents stress the importance of an education and a hard day’s work. While his father balances his career as a truck driver with multiple other jobs, his mother brings in her share of the dough through a part-time clerical position. Down to the very last cent, Chis’s frugal dad Julius (Terry Crews) calculates how much money is being wasted by the household. Furthermore, he fancies himself to be a handyman around the home, often using duct tape to avoid investing in anything that needs fixing. Raised in a two parent household, Chris Rock’s childhood was anything but ordinary, but in the end, he had his fair share of Kodak moments like any kid would. It may not have been the perfect life, but you have to work with what you’ve got. For Chris, that was a family that stuck together when they needed to the most.
The CW’s first attempt at a live action DC adaptation saw a young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) coming to grips with his powers and learning about his lineage as a true Kryptonian. Smallville was originally pitched by creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar as an origin story without the tights or the flights of the original man of steel. As the story progressed, however, fans began to worry they would never see Kal-El at the best of his ability. It was a long and divisive run for DC fans as they watched Clark slowly grow into the role of a man and savior for the people of Metropolis, but viewers tuned in week after week in hopes that the last son of Krypton would eventually become the hero they deserved.
The highlight of Smallville’s ten season run was watching many of the comics' supporting characters finally coming to life on screen. Notable allies of the series included Green Arrow, Aquaman, Cyborg, Impulse and Martian Hunter. Meanwhile, lesser known characters were also getting recognized, including such players as the Legion of Super-Heroes who had an entire eighth season episode focused on them. Throughout the series, Clark’s true rival remained Lex Luthor, the wealthy tycoon of Metropolis trying to unveil his former friend’s true identity. While the results were mixed, the cast provided a first look into what comic fans had long been asking for, a superhero show they could watch on a weekly basis. It may not have delivered on its promises, but Smallville filled a demand until better shows came along to show everyone how things are done.
A remake of Luc Besson’s 1990 film La Femme Nikita about a kick-ass woman seeking vengeance on the secret government organization that stabbed her in the back sounds like the kind of show that should have made it on air years ago. It's no surprise then that a similar series with the same name as the original film ran for five seasons in the late 1990s and early 2000s. So when The CW came up with the idea of bringing the female assassin back, casting the perfect actress as the lead was viewed as essential if the series was going to be a success. From her long filmography of action films, people should know better than to mess with Maggie Q, so it was a no-brainer when her name came up as an option to play the titular star. Recruited as a troubled teenager, Nikita is trained as a black ops assassin, killing targets as a murderer-for-hire for the Division. Under the leadership of Director Percival “Percy” Rose, the government-sanctioned outfit holds power over its employees, permanently removing them when they deem it necessary.
After falling in love with a civilian and breaking the rules of the Division, Percy orders the death of Nikita’s new fiancé. Without any hope of a normal life, she goes rogue and targets the very people who attempted to make her a cold-blooded killer. Much like Besson’s film, Nikita sticks to its espionage roots. For four years, Maggie Q gave TV audiences a calculated female agent with a troubled past that never lost her humanity. The spy drama did well to establish chemistry between the lead and her supporting cast of players, all of whom are looking to put an end to Percy’s corruption. The action sequences are well choreographed and on par with the best shows in the same vein, including Alias and Dollhouse, both of which have been compared to the CW series. As far as female led action dramas go, Nikita was as entertaining as the rest, giving the broadcast network yet another show to call a hit.
16 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
An impulsive move to a new town over a chance encounter with an ex sounds like a reasonable explanation for a restraining order, but it is in fact the beginning to The CW’s newest comedy sensation Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Actress Rachel Bloom’s name has been on the mind of every television critic in Hollywood as the New York City lawyer who walks away from her seemingly ideal life to pursue her ex flame Josh Chan. Under the assumption that her failing romantic life is the reason behind her unhappiness, Rebecca Bunch sets up a new life in sunny West Covina, California. Adding an eccentric spin to the hardships of dating life, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a refreshing look into one woman suffering from depression and her go-forth attitude to change it all.
A progressive take on the internalized representation women have of themselves, this gem of a show explores the theme of what women must endure in order to appear perfect to male suitors. With an unabashed, one of a kind tone that isn’t afraid to break out into musical numbers, it’s easy to see how this new series has already landed on the good side of critics and fans alike. Bloom mixes a blend of sweet and cynical, a direct reaction to the unhappy life she’s built around her. While the character of Rebecca is never one hundred percent likable as a stalker looking to cheat her way to a perfect life, she does exhibit the kind of insecurities everyone has experienced at least once in their lives, making her one of the most relatable characters on television right now.
When Kevin Smith agrees to direct the pilot episode for your new television series, you know something must be going right for you. From the beginning, Reaper was an intriguing concept. A college dropout working at the Work Bench home repair store and still living with his parents, Sam Oliver wastes his days playing video games. One day, his parents drop a bomb on him when they reveal that they promised his life to the Devil when he was just a baby. Now under the command of Satan himself, Sam acts as a reaper, hunting down the escaped souls of hell and sending them back to the place from which they came. Now with the help of some newfound telekinesis and some specialty items called “vessels” crafted for each individual job, Sam sets out to remove evil from the earth.
Reaper only lasted for two seasons before the show was cancelled by the network. Although the ratings were not ideal, The CW did try to have the show revived on the Syfy channel. Negotiations would fall through and the series would never reach the height of some of the network’s other comedies. The show would did critical acclaim during its short run with many people likening the series to NBC’s Chuck, a show about another college dropout working in a store and living a double life, only this time as a spy. Ray Wise would be the real star of Reaper as the debonair demon who has big plans for Sam to help bring in the Apocalypse. While the few, dedicated fans of the show will never get to see an end to the series, it is a comfort knowing The CW was willing to take a chance on a show about the Devil and his sidekick. That’s something you don’t see on television very often.
14 The Originals
Beginning as a backdoor pilot from season four of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals follows the world’s original vampires who look to take control of New Orleans and the supernatural politics that consume the city. The show begins when Klaus Mikaelson, a vampire-werewolf hybrid, hears of a plot against him in the town his family helped build. With the help of his brother Elijah and his sister Rebekah, the Mikaelsons seek to take down Klaus’s protege Marcel to reclaim the town as their own. Joining the family is Hayley, a werewolf pregnant with Klaus’s child, the first to be born to a hybrid. With strong bonds and heated power struggles, The Originals holds its own with the show that gave it its start. The dark playground of New Orleans provides a sufficient setting for the show’s backdrop and old series favorites and newcomers alike are given plenty of background story to fill viewers in on the rich history of the characters.
Depending on who you ask, The Originals could very well be the superior series compared to The Vampire Diaries. With new threats always lurking around the corner, the 1000-year old vamps must collectively expel the forces looking to disrupt their control of the city. The importance of heritage has been a common theme throughout The Vampire Diaries, an idea that transfers over well to this brother series. Delivering on flashbacks that expand the story well beyond the town of Mystic Falls, The CW has stumbled upon a new series with unlimited potential still left to be tapped into. We could see The Originals surviving well beyond the end of Stefan and Damon’s story on the other show. With a diverse world still left to explore, we could be looking at a years long journey still left to be told.
13 Legends of Tomorrow
Another spin-off, another hit show for The CW. Despite only airing for one season so far, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is already making its presence known. The rogue time traveler Rip Hunter leads the way as the genius inventor who employs the help of a rag-tag group of heroes to stop his arch-nemesis Vandal Savage from taking over the world in the year 2166. In order to stop the immortal dictator, Hunter will need legends to brave the annals of time and travel to periods that could forever alter existing timelines. He looks to the most unlikely of candidates to answer the call to action. Assembling former supporting cast members from Arrow and The Flash, notable heroes of the time-jumping team include White Canary, Atom, Hawkgirl, Captain Cold and Firestorm. According to showrunner Phil Klemmer, the sci-fi narrative and large ensemble leaves the show open to opportunities to shake up the premise and leave certain characters behind in exchange for somebody new.
While Legends of Tomorrow still has a way to go to prove it can stand alongside its predecessors, it’s gotten off to an ambitious start. It can be hard trying to make a mark in the superhero world with the rise of so many popular shows based on DC properties. Time jumping from one period to the next gives Legends a distinct advantage over the competition, showing that viewers will never be treated to the same episode twice. More intriguing than the play on time, however, is just how much the show will open up the Arrowverse, reaching back to different periods to explain character origins and linking shows together through space and time. We can see why some people may think of Legends of Tomorrow as playing second fiddle to its predecessors, but with an endless amount of directions in which the writers can take the series, we believe the show will only get better as it continues to grow.
12 Gossip Girl
There was a time when Gossip Girl was the “it” show, sitting pretty atop of everybody’s guilty pleasure list. Blake Lively was the hottest actress on television. Leighton Meester was the queen bee of the Upper East Side. Chace Crawford was the golden boy every girl wanted. And Ed Westwick was the hedonistic, manipulative playboy. Narrated by the anonymous blogger known only as the Gossip Girl, the story begins with the return of Serena van der Woodson to Manhattan after having mysteriously disappeared from the area years prior. Upon her return from boarding school, Serena (Lively) is met with skepticism by her former friend and now enemy Blair (Meester). After learning that Serena had slept with her boyfriend Nate (Crawford) the night of her disappearance, a love triangle begins and Blair begins feeling insecure about her social status among the students of Constance Billiard and Saint Jude's. Blair later comes to terms with her feelings for Chuck (Westwick), leading to them dating briefly.
The primary demographic of high school girls kept Gossip Girl a hot topic of conversation during the week. The series saw its stars skyrocket to stardom, most notably launching the career of Blake Lively. As the title of the show would indicate, the stories between the Upper East Side’s finest was all about the scandals, often taking schemes so far as to jump the shark. Though many people complained that the show was often overreaching, it was the tendency to take things too far that had fans wanting more. People were drugged, sex tapes were leaked and characters were fired from their jobs. It was all part of the charm. While all the plot twists would eventually wear thin, Gossip Girl managed to stay in viewers’ minds because of its tabloids-inspired premise, giving The CW one of its most popular shows to date.
11 America’s Next Top Model
Over the years, The CW has added significantly to our unhealthy obsession with reality programming, but only one show stands above the rest as one of the most addictive series the network has ever produced. America’s Next Top Model was the brainchild of presenter Tyra Banks, the lively model and talk show personality who judges the show’s hopeful candidates based upon weekly competitions. The series originally premiere on UPN before the merger moved the show to the new network, where it continued its growth as a ratings hit. The series has gone through 22 cycles (seasons) since it debuted in 2003, each filled with new fierce competitors hoping they have what it takes to endure the runway and strike a pose, all while dressed like Hollywood fashion icons and braving the pressures to always appear comfortable, no matter the circumstances.
The format of the show is as follows: ten to sixteen models start the season with one participant being eliminated every week; new photo shoots take place each episode with a challenging theme behind each shoot and as the competitions become tougher, a group of judges determine who gets to stay. Among the guests who have appeared as judges, models such as Janice Dickinson and Kimora Lee Simmons and fashion editors such as Beau Quillian have all weighed in with their opinions. In recent years, the series has switched up its approach to the competition, selecting themes for each cycle which included ideas such as an all college edition of the show or a year where only models five feet, seven inches tall or under were eligible This year, Rita Orta was chosen to take over hosting duties for the series as it switched to VH1 after The CW chose not to renew it. Given the media’s concern with outward appearances, it’s not hard to see how a show like ANTM has managed to stay relevant for so long.
10 One Tree Hill
When One Tree Hill began, it was a show about a sibling rivalry between two brothers. Nathan Scott was the star player of the Tree Hill Ravens, the high school basketball team in Tree Hill, North Carolina. Nathan was raised by his successful father Dan, who runs a local car dealership. When Lucas Scott, a social outcast who was abandoned by Dan and raised by his hard-working mother Karen Roe, decides to try out for the Ravens, a feud is ignited between the two. Adding fuel to the flame is Lucas’s interest in Nathan’s girlfriend Peyton Sawyer, whose personality complements his own and who he later marries in the show. Nathan tries to get back at his brother by dating his best friend Haley, who he also marries down the road. The series would follow the life choices of the characters as they grew throughout their high school years and into adulthood. Season five would show the lives of Nathan, Lucas, Peyton, Haley and Peyton’s best friend Brooke as they all move back to Tree Hill after graduating college.
One Tree Hill would go on to run for a successful nine years before coming to an end. While many critics had compared the show to other popular series such as The O.C. and Dawson’s Creek, the core five characters managed to stand on their own through their different perspectives about challenging topics such premature motherhood and genetic diseases. Star Chad Michael Murray would eventually leave the show after season six, breaking up the series' regular cast and ending Lucas and Peyton’s story. The show would continue with Nathan, Haley and Brooke with a fourteen month time jump and new circumstances that jeopardized the lives each character had made for themselves. Overall, One Tree Hill was just the kind of show The CW had built its demographic upon. The series upheld its drama until the very end with the show going out the same way it came in, a ratings darling in the eyes of the network.
9 The Vampire Diaries
What is it with vampires and their propensity to act like brooding teenagers despite years of life experience? Whatever it is, it's the new sexy trend and it's got everybody tuning in to watch The Vampire Diaries. It’s a given that a show about blood-sucking vampires was eventually going to make its way to a network like The CW. The supernatural drama about two brothers living by night in the town of Mystic Falls, VA was adapted from the popular young adult novels by L.J. Smith. Damon and Stefan Salvatore make their way back to the small town where they were first given their eternal youth. After Stefan develops a relationship with Elena Gilbert, the young protagonist of the series who proves to have a predilection for the dangerous things in life, Damon arrives soon afterwards to spoil the romance and seek vengeance on his brother for turning him into a vampire years ago.
The romantic triangle between Elena, Stefan and Damon was the driving factor that had audiences coming back for more week in and week out. Resembling Katherine Pierce, a doppelganger and past love of both Salvatore brothers, Elena becomes their object of desire and the two quarrel over her. When the past of Mystic Falls begins coming back up, Katrina as well as the family of Original Vampires return to plot evil against Elena. Nina Dobrev, who recently left the series at the end of season six, proves to be a worthy choice for the lead, delivering a confidence to the character that doesn’t let her romances dictate her choices. The series continues to provide strong-minded female characters while maintaining the show’s sharp-tongue entertainment and bloody action. The Vampire Diaries remains a fan favorite among network viewers, making it a respectable addition to the CW family.
The road so far has been paved with demons, crossroads deals, classic rock and a black 1967 Chevrolet Impala. One of The CW’s longest running series has lasted eleven years because of the chemistry between the two leads Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. It all began when Sam and Dean Winchester went searching for their father while simultaneously hunting down the yellow-eyed demon that murdered their mother. Since the pilot aired back in 2005, the Winchesters have been to hell and back- literally. It’s their indelible strength and willingness to sacrifice themselves to protect one another which has lured the show’s dedicated fan base and kept them over the past decade.
Along the way, Supernatural has earned its stripes along other notable sci-fi shows, often having notable actors from other renowned series come aboard to take on small, recurring roles or make cameo appearances. Such stars have included the likes of Charisma Carpenter, James Marsters and Felicia Day, all of whom appeared on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan of The Walking Dead fame and Katie Cassidy of Arrow. The monster-of-the-week episode format has kept things interesting over the years with creatures like bad-ass shapeshifters being thrown into the mix. Other fan favorites have also joined the party along the way, most notably the angel Castiel and the King of Hell Crowley. Although the obstacles have become greater, the Winchesters have continued to grow and strengthen their bond. Death doesn’t mean the end in Supernatural and much like Sam and Dean, we don’t see this series dying anytime soon.
7 Jane the Virgin
If we were to list a formula to success for crafting a satirical drama marketed to young adults, a show about a devote Catholic being artificially inseminated by accident wouldn’t be the first idea that came to mind. Jane the Virgin works first and foremost because of Gina Rodriguez’s charming likability as Jane Villanueva, the titular virgin who chooses to raise her child despite protests from her traditional Latin grandmother. With the help of the biological father, Jane manages her predicament while seemingly everyone around her gets wrapped up in their own scandalous affairs.
Jane the Virgin could be best described to the casual viewer as a rom-com with all the drama of a Latin telenovela, even going so far as to employ the help of a narrator that recounts all the soap opera theatrics that takes place in each episode. The show gets right into the thick of the character's everyday lives with relationship struggles, mystery murders and lovers scorned. It’s enough to get viewers hooked after only a few episodes. The showed was patterned after its Venezuelan original Juana la Virgen and displays a shocking amount of heart despite its need to step up the melodramatic. It’s a show that has fun playing up its campiness and isn't afraid to admit it. The writers are completely aware of how strange the show may seem to newcomers, but it’s the peculiarities which ultimately make Jane’s story so addictive.
6 Gilmore Girls
Once Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life premieres on Netflix for the series’ limited revival, it will make three networks that the drama show has aired on. While Lorelai and her daughter Rory began their journey on The WB, the show did air its seventh season on The CW. The show takes place in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, CT where Lorelai has established a life for herself and her daughter. After moving away from her home in Hartford to flee from her overbearing parents, Lorelai takes a job at the Independence Inn, where she eventually works her way up to the position of executive manager. Doing everything in her power to make sure her daughter doesn’t follow in her footsteps, she enrolls sixteen year old Rory into the prestigious Chilton Preparatory School in hopes of fulfilling her dream to study at Harvard. Unable to afford the tuition, Lorelai is forced to ask her affluent parents for a loan, rekindling her relationship with her mother and setting up all the drama that follows.
Romantic entanglements are a recurring theme throughout the series, often interjecting themselves into the lives of the two leads and leading to important life decisions for both of them. Lorelai’s on again, off again involvement with Rory’s biological father is a constant in the series, though her real romantic interest is Luke Danes, a local diner owner whose playful banter and antagonism eventually turns into a real interest in the mother. Rory’s involvement with men is also a part of the story which is present from season one. Jared Padalecki and Chad Michael Murray star as notable romantic interests that lead to some of Rory’s questionable decisions throughout the series. When Gilmore Girls returns, fans will be looking forward to seeing how the mother-daughter dynamic has blossomed between the two. With Rory being a Yale graduate, her future looks bright. Only the show will reveal how well the Gilmores have held up over so much time.
Zombies are taking over our viewing lives these days. What was once a metaphor about the ways in which our lives were slowly making us all brain-dead has now become an easy way to please fans. The Walking Dead proved that people were in demand of the undead on a regular basis, so it was expected that other shows would eventually follow suit. Cue iZombie, a loose adaptation of the DC comic series created by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred. The series follows a young medical student named Olivia Moore (Rose McIver) living in Seattle who unexpectedly becomes a flesh-eater after attending a party. To cope with her newfound hunger for brains, Liv takes a job at a morgue where she confesses to her boss Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti that she is dead. Examining the ways in which her condition affects her mind and body, Ravi and Liv begin to make more sense of how being a zombie can be beneficial to the general public. While eating the brains of the victims in the morgue, Liv receives flashes of the deceased and how each one died. She uses her abilities to help the Seattle Police Department catch the murderers.
The wit and banter of the show come from McIver’s performance of the crime-solving Liv. Balancing its tone as a light-hearted comedy and a police procedural, iZombie satirizes our society in new and inventive ways. The series does well to incorporate zombie motifs into the show’s thematic elements, weaving together narratives about class and consumerism while managing to still resonate with audiences. Overall, the series is an amusing approach to an already cluttered Hollywood trend that is sure to continue for years to come. While so many other zombie projects have shown to be content with simply going by the numbers, iZombie pushes forward with its weekly whodunits, crafting intrigue in ways that few TV shows have been able to do in the past.
The criminals of Starling City may have failed their hometown, but Oliver Queen brought some much needed life to The CW network when he launched the beginning of the Arrowverse. It all began on the island of Lian Yu, where we learn of Oliver’s struggles to survive a man in a green hood and the increasing threats that continue to make their way to the secluded area. It’s there that Mr. Queen dropped his playboy persona and took on the responsibilities of the Arrow. He returns to his beloved city to cleanse the streets of all their crimes and to atone for the sins of his father by tracking down every known associate he kept on a personal list. With the aid of some friends and police detective Quentin Lance, Oliver looks to restore the city back to its former glory before his family left it in shambles.
Before the show branched off into The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, Ollie was running the whole superhero show on his own. He’s aided by the help of his right-hand man John Diggle, his younger sister Thea, his ex-girlfriend Laurel and his current love interest Felicity Smoak. It’s the supporting cast which round out the series and build the chemistry which continually makes Arrow worth watching. It can be hard sharing the spotlight, but the fact that pretty much everyone in the show can kick some ass means Mr. Queen isn't the only one capable of beating the bad guys. The Arrowverse looks like it will only get bigger as it looks to separate itself from the DC cinematic universe and build into yet another superhero franchise for fans to explore.
3 The 100
The overwhelming increase in viewers’ fascination with apocalyptic television has led to some questionably subpar moments on the small screen, but The 100 falls on the better side of all those shows, providing a refreshing young adult adaptation that stands with the best of them. Based on the novel of the same name by Kass Morgan, the series depicts a version of Earth 97 years removed from a nuclear event that wiped out the planet’s population. The only survivors of the event are the inhabitants of twelve space stations orbiting Earth when the whole thing happened. Years later, the stations have banded together to form the Ark, a massive hub floating through space and occupied by its 2400 residents. Without much food to speak of, the leader of the Ark, Chancellor Jaha sends 100 juveniles to the abandoned Earth to find any remains which may indicate that the human race’s former home is now habitable.
The 100 is a series about moral ambiguities, often resulting in morose displays of conflict resolution. The surviving members of the 100 are always at odds, creating factions and choosing sides in an attempt to brave the elements of the planet. Upon landing, the group of teens quickly realize they aren’t the only ones living there. Others have survived the epidemic, some resulting to cannibalism to survive, while others have locked themselves up in an attempt to avoid radiation. In the vein of Lord of the Flies, The 100 is a politically complex viewing experience filled with choices that refuse to go easy on the show’s teen characters. As wars break out and truths are revealed, the story takes a gripping hold and never lets go, making this teen drama among the very best The CW has ever produced.
2 The Flash
It took two full seasons and two plots to try to destroy Starling City before Barry Allen finally got his own show. When the red speedster made his first appearance before the Arrow gang as a police scientist from Central City sent down to help on a case, we weren’t sure if the world’s fastest man was going to live up to the quality of his predecessors. It wasn’t until Allen awoke from his coma after being struck by a bolt of lightning and began to take down metahumans with Cisco, Caitlin and Harrison Wells at S.T.A.R. labs that we realized Grant Gustin was the Flash we needed all along.
The Flash brought the much needed supernatural elements to The CW superhero world that Arrow lacked. Thus far, the DC television universe had been missing superpowers. The show had all the same things which made Arrow great- a terrific supporting cast, a hero with a troubled past, a mysterious villain whose motives were shrouded in even more mystery, but where the writers managed to step it up was with the villain-of-the-week episodes where each new baddie would be given a different power. Each bad guy became a growing experience as Barry learned more about his abilities. Then came all the really cool stuff. Atop of all the new gadgets and gizmos Cisco cooked up in the lab, the red streak began tapping into his true potential, learning how to travel through time and jump from parallel universe to parallel universe. The new dimension to the Arrowverse made for the most intriguing episodes of the cannon, sitting The Flash rightfully on top of Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and the soon to be added Supergirl as the best DC adaptation on the network.
1 Veronica Mars
All the Marshmallows could’ve predicted Veronica Mars would make it to the top of this list. After only three short seasons, this Nancy Drew style show about a young detective breaking cases in the affluent town of Neptune was canceled. The last season of the show was considerably altered to try luring in a slightly older audience. Veronica went to college, met some new friends and dealt with a case involving sexual abuse on the campus. The season was notably different, but the titular character retained her wit and felt considerably more mature. Just as the show was picking up steam, shifting into a new era destined to continue into greatness, it was all gone. Of course, fans weren’t having it and the whole thing eventually got wrapped up thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign and a slightly underwhelming movie. It didn’t feel quite the same, and we were all left wondering how the third season could have segued into a new story.
Following the creation of The CW, the network was looking to build its brand off new, original content. That would mean saying goodbye to underperforming series like Veronica Mars, but despite having only one season after the merger, the young detective still manages to remain perched on top of the ladder looking down at every show that’s come after. Every mystery, from the week to week whodunits to the overarching season one case involving the murder of Veronica’s best friend Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried), has proven that a series can last by keeping the viewers guessing. Along the way, Kristen Bell delivered a charismatic, quick-witted performance that portrayed her as wise beyond her years. Veronica was always too much for the town of Neptune and in the end, she proved too much for the network. Veronica Mars transcended being just another show marketed to teens and ultimately it left us all too soon.