Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Rolling Stone ranked The 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time last week, and the list has created some interesting buzz all over the internet since it came out.

Which shows got snubbed? How did Breaking Bad miss out on the top spot? Did The Simpsons really deserve a spot as the second-best show of all time? Did any underrated sleepers make the deserved jump into the mainstream spotlight?

Regardless of how you feel about one long list of legendary shows, one thing is certain. The top 10 TV shows on the Rolling Stone list include some memorable classic rock scenes.

Some shows, like Seinfeld, used references to musicians to feed their comedy bits. Some shows, like Mad Men and The Wire, used classic rock songs in powerful scenes. One show simply benefitted from a Joan Jett cover years after it was canceled.


  • The Sopranos

    The organized crime drama following the life of Tony Soprano included a mashup helped out by the Police.

    In Mr. Ruggerio’s Neighborhood, the first episode of season three, “Peter Gunn Theme” by Henry Mancini and “Every Breath You Take” combined for the background music that helped set the intense stage.

  • The Simpsons

    Matt Groening’s satirical cartoon remarkably began its 34th season on Fox this fall. The Simpsons has never been short on clever references, and countless rock stars have made their way into the comedy.

    The Who made one of the most memorable guest appearances the show has ever seen in “A Tale of Two Springfields,” the second episode of the 12th season. The band cleverly tears down a wall with a live performance of “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” to cap off the episode.

  • Breaking Bad

    The desert setting of Breaking Bad adds to the mystique of Walter White and the secrecy of his operations. The second episode of the show’s third season begins with Walter driving in his car singing to the tune of “A Horse with No Name” by America.

    “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no nameIt felt good to be out of the rain”

    Walter then gets pulled over by a local cop and ends up in jail after a powerful scene. The episode’s title “Caballo Sin Nombre” is the song’s title translated in Spanish.

  • The Wire

    The Wire attacked social issues with incredible intensity throughout its five seasons. Some of the more emotional scenes for its viewers came during the wakes of fallen policemen from the Baltimore PD.

    Multiple scenes use “Body of an American” by the Pogues as an emotionally-stirring song at the wakes. Show creator David Simon has consistently made his love for the band known since The Wire ended.

  • Seinfeld

    Rolling Stone ranked Seinfeld the sixth-best TV show of all time.

    The seventh episode of the eighth season includes hilariously memorable references to two Eagles’ songs. Elaine’s boyfriend Brett bizarrely loses himself in the music every time he hears the song “Desperado.”

    Elaine (unsuccessfully) tries to force “Witchy Woman” into their relationship with a more upbeat vibe as their couple song. Brett simply refuses to let go of his favorite song.


  • Mad Men

    In Season 5, Episode 11 of Mad Men, Peggy refuses to back down in a way that characterizes her progress and confidence throughout the seventh-best show of all time. The episode ends with an empowering transition into “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks.

    The song’s lyrics leave viewers with an interesting closing thought open for interpretation.

  • Cheers

    The list’s eighth-ranked show Cheers is easily associated with Gary Portnoy’s theme song celebrating the local bar where “Everybody Knows Your Name.”

    However, Cheers references Queen’s “We Will Rock You” with this hilarious opening to the eighteenth episode of season eight. The simple yet unmistakeable beat sets up the entire bar for some easy participation.

  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show

    “Love Is All Around,” the iconic theme song for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, was written and performed by Sonny Curtis. The show and the song became synonymous with feminist ideas throughout the 1970s and after the show went off the air.

    Joan Jett & The Blackhearts memorably covered “Love Is All Around” in 1996.

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