15 All-Time Best Shows About Doctors
The best doctor shows will have you shouting, "Just one more episode—stat!"
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Is there a doctor in the house?
Why do we love doctor shows so much? Because hospital shows bring the drama: medical crises, power struggles, and romance. You wouldn’t think antiseptic infirmary halls or hospital scrubs are the makings of love, but the shows we’ve listed here will convince you otherwise. Doctor shows bring you to the brink and do a number on your nervous system. In the end, they speak about the human condition, and that’s why they’re so addictive.
Everyone loves a great binge watch now and again. If you’re a TV aficionado, check out the best classic TV shows, sitcoms, crime shows, and cartoon shows. But if you want a good cry or just edge-of-your-seat intrigue, flip on one of the best hospital shows ever filmed. We chose from super-popular hits, classics, recent releases, and gems that have garnered critical acclaim. They each have a story and characters who will pull you in and steal your heart.
When ER premiered in 1994, it was must-see television. The show ran for 15 years and launched George Clooney to silver screen stardom. The busy doctors, nurses, and residents in the bustling Chicago emergency room dealt with crisis after crisis. The show interwove the love lives and heartaches of the staff with the ever-changing medical predicaments of the patients, and that fast-pasted style is what makes this one of the most addicting doctor shows. It has a documentary-like roving camera, but if you want real reality, here are the best reality TV shows.
M*A*S*H was one of the most popular doctor shows of its time, and it’s also one of the most notable TV shows to spin off from a hit movie. Robert Altman’s film of the same name was a critically acclaimed award winner. It takes place during the Korean war and manages to be comedic amid the dramatic terrain of a wartime medical unit during. Alan Alda plays audience favorite Hawkeye, the wisecracking surgeon who serves as the main character on the hit series. If you’re interested in war and history, here are films to watch on Veterans Day—or any time of the year.
Grey’s Anatomy (2005–present)
Shonda Rhime’s Grey’s Anatomy is still going strong—18 seasons and counting!—because fans love the drama and intrigue of life in a Seattle hospital. It’s one of the most popular hospital TV shows, even with an ever-changing cast. One exception: Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey, who has grown from a wide-eyed intern into an experienced doctor. You’ll find yourself addicted to the ups and downs of the many romances in this long-running pop culture icon. You can watch the first 17 seasons on Netflix, and you’ll find season 18 on Hulu. When you’re done bingeing, tune in to the best shows on Netflix.
The Knick (2014–2015)
Director Steven Soderbergh helmed this TV drama for Cinemax, and it’s filled with his signature artsy style. Set in late Victorian New York City at the Knickerbocker hospital, it’s an immersion into the medicine of the 1900s and the harsh social realities of the day. Clive Owen plays a star surgeon with an addiction to readily available opioids. The show gives an intimate view of the difficulties and hardships that abound in a multicultural society with medical advancements that outpace social ones. If you love gritty history, here are the crime books you won’t be able to put down.
Getting On (2013–2015)
If you’re looking for a funny, satirical, Office-like portrayal of a geriatric extended care wing of a hospital, check out the heartfelt Getting On. Adapted from a British show, just like The Office was, this comedy exposes the power struggles within a financially imperiled hospital wing. Laurie Metcalf plays the head doctor amid an array of nurses, orderlies, and patients in this winning show that’s subtle and addictive. Here are the funniest books of all time to keep you chuckling.
Jada Pinkett Smith plays Christina Hawthorne—a formidable director of nursing, recent widow, and newly single mom—in this intriguing hospital TV show that brings the drama as it focuses on the lives of nurses. At work, Hawthorne advocates for patients; at home, she deals with her teen daughter. Michael Vartan plays the chief of surgery with whom (this should come as no surprise) romance ensues. You can catch this soapy doctor show on Hulu, where there’s so much romance to stream.
Virgin River (2019–present)
This is one of those wholesome, easy-to-binge doctor shows that you can’t quite stop watching. Follow L.A. nurse and midwife Mel as she takes a contract in a rural, one-doctor town called Virgin River. She’s escaping grief, and though the small-town vibe is too much at first, she quickly finds herself enmeshed in town drama and the medical needs of those who live there, including the hunky bartender, Jack. If you like rom-coms or went wild for Hart of Dixie, you’ll definitely want to add Virgin River to your watch list. Catch all the seasons on Netflix, and stay tuned for the show’s fifth season coming to Netflix in 2023.
The critically acclaimed series Transplant takes you inside the life of Bash (Hamza Haq), a preeminent doctor in Syria, who after immigrating to New York finds his degrees and experience mean nothing in his new country. In the pilot, you’ll watch as Bash’s unrecognized brilliance saves lives, and he just might find a place for his expertise in a local hospital. This is a sensitive drama that hooks you from the first episode.
Doctor Foster (2015–2016)
You can catch this acclaimed and addictive drama, one of the best British doctor shows, on Netflix. Suranne Jones gives a stunning performance as a happily married doctor whose life begins to unravel once she suspects her husband of having an affair. It’s a nail-biter as she goes through the twists and turns of suspicion and revelation in this suspenseful binge-watch.
General Hospital (1963–present)
One of the greatest hospital shows of all time has to go to the longest-running soap opera in history. Chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve caught at least a few episodes of General Hospital, even if that was at your Grandma’s house. It’s been running since 1963, and you can still catch it on ABC and Hulu. Set in the fictional Port Charles General Hospital, you’ll find binge-worthy intrigue and romance in a series that’s managed to stay relevant and afloat for almost 60 years.
St. Elsewhere (1982–1988)
Journey back in time and marvel at a young Denzel Washington in this ’80s show. Before he was a Hollywood superstar, Washington played a doctor at the woebegone Boston hospital St. Eligius, nicknamed St. Elsewhere for its less-than-stellar reputation. Its halls fill with gritty drama and the innovative realism that came to mark later prestige shows.
The End (2020–present)
Frances O’Connor plays the end-of-life doctor whose mother and suffering patients are ready to die. This Australian doctor show manages to make tough topics both humorous and heartfelt in its depictions of the hard stuff. Harriet Walter gives a striking performance as the mom, Edie, who has to start over in an assisted living community after she survives a suicide attempt. The show also includes a sensitive storyline that focuses on a teenager going through gender transition. You’ll find yourself both moved and inspired.
Call the Midwife (2012–present)
Dive into the world of a nursing convent in London’s East End during the 1950s. This acclaimed BBC drama looks at the lives of the nurses trying to help a community in dire straits. Everyone is poor, and new babies abound, all in need of care. The series is based on the real-life memoirs of a midwife who worked with an impoverished community during the same post-war period. The series is realistic and richly historical, and it’ll tug on your heartstrings and pull you into riveting dramas that often focus on intense subjects.
Audiences loved Zach Braff and Donald Faison in this slapstick comedy set in a teaching hospital. Braff’s Dr. J.D. Dorian narrates the goings-on in an internal monologue filled with quips and humor. He starts out as an intern whose surreal and comedic internal fantasies transform the busy hospital. Faison is fantastic as Dr. Christopher Turk, a surgeon and J.D.’s bestie. Scrubs shows you the stress and pressure of being a doctor while trying to have a personal life. The show throws in romance and plenty of hilarity along the way.
Nurse Jackie (2009–2015)
Edie Falco is amazing as a no-nonsense nurse and mom who also happens to be a drug addict. She spends the first few seasons making sure no one—neither her colleagues nor her husband—finds out, but she can’t keep it up, so the tension rises. Though well-intentioned, she keeps making mistakes; and yet you’ll find yourself rooting for this deeply flawed character. Falco’s performance grounds this emotional drama that also has touches of humor.