Best Canadian TV Shows, Ranked

When people think of Canada, many things might come to mind — maple syrup, a picturesque landscape, frigid winters, and, of course, its friendly people. Some of the most beloved actors working today are from Canada, from Seth Rogen to both Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds. Even one of the most popular superheroes, Wolverine from the X-Men, is Canadian. But one thing Canada doesn’t get enough credit for is making good TV shows.

Updated July 15, 2023: If you enjoy watching some of the most engrossing Canadian TV shows out there, you’ll be happy to know this article has been updated with additional content.

When it comes to television, Canada is often overlooked, but that doesn’t mean there is a shortage of great Canadian TV shows. Recent series like Schitt’s Creek have helped them break out, and even actor Simu Liu, who broke out with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and will soon be seen in Barbie, got his first big break with the Canadian series Kim’s Convenience. In an age of streaming, series from other countries are more accessible than ever, and audiences are tuning into Canadian television. Canada produces an assortment of TV shows spanning different genres, from gripping historical shows like The Tudors to funny animated series like Total Drama. Check out some of the best TV shows Canada has to offer.

25 Da Vinci’s Inquest

Nicholas Campbell in Da Vinci's Inquest (1998)
CBC Television

Grounded in real-life grit, Da Vinci’s Inquest debuted as a compelling crime drama, holding its audience captive from 1998 to 2005. Chris Haddock, the mastermind behind the series, centered the narrative around the investigative endeavors of Dominic Da Vinci, a Vancouver-based coroner. A former undercover officer, Da Vinci introduced a level of intrigue and suspense to the procedural genre unmatched and unseen in previous iterations of such shows. The show had a charming yet intense aura to it which draws audiences and keeps them engaged. Distinguished from its contemporaries, the series expertly entwined absorbing plotlines, profound character depth, and nuanced social commentary in each episode.

As Dominic Da Vinci, Nicholas Campbell delivered a performance of exceptional brilliance. A nuanced understanding of his character’s ethical challenges allowed Campbell to imbue life into Da Vinci with apparent ease. The portrayal of the torn coroner, caught between the stressors of the job, personal struggles, and an unyielding pursuit of truth, merited him the Gemini Award for Best Actor in a Continuing Dramatic Role. Ensuring a place for the show in the illustrious history of Canadian television, his profound performance emerged as a remarkable touchstone.

24 Corner Gas

Brent Butt and Gabrielle Miller in Corner Gas (2004)

Providing a charming snapshot of rural Canadian existence, Corner Gas found its setting in the imaginary Dog River, Saskatchewan. The brainchild of Brent Butt, the sitcom unfolded around the interactions in and around a gas station and an adjoining coffee shop, becoming a canvas for delightful small-town eccentricities. Distinguished by its self-deprecating humor, relatable conflicts, and affable characters, this show carved a distinctive position in the comedy landscape immediately upon its arrival.

The show distinguished itself through its quirky comedic style and relatable characters. Every member of the ensemble cast had an endearing charm, each contributing their unique flavor to the mix. Leading to comedic situations that were as unpredictable as they were amusing, the character interactions were peppered with the quintessential Canadian blend of understated humor and mild sarcasm. The show’s premise was simple and easy to follow with a hefty dose of compelling performances as well as a robust narrative to keep audiences hooked.

Related: The Best Small-Town Shows of All Time

The sitcom, Corner Gas, achieved a popularity surge that was nothing short of extraordinary, amassing six Gemini awards and leaving a profound cultural footprint. Impacting Canadian pop culture even beyond its run, this show paved the path for future sitcoms.

23 Slings and Arrows

Stephen Ouimette in Slings and Arrows (2003)
The Movie Network
Movie Central

Satirically showing a glimpse of the tumultuous reality of the New Burbage Festival’s backstage drama, Slings and Arrows skilfully marries its character arcs with the narratives of revered Shakespearean plays. This acclaimed series serves up an amalgamation of theatre with a nuanced mix of reverence and casual mockery of timeless creations.

Character-centric comedic situations and dialogue form the crux of the show’s understated humor. The series boasts standout performances, especially by Paul Gross and Stephen Ouimette. Comedy, drama, and supernatural elements find a harmonious blend in the show’s incisive script.

Slings and Arrows, despite its brief stint of three seasons, still sparkles as an obscured treasure. A striking discourse on the pertinence of Shakespeare in contemporary society and the struggles endemic to the theatrical world underscores its status as one of Canadian television’s finest.

22 Flashpoint

Amy Jo Johnson, Michael Cram, and Sam David in Flashpoint (2008)

Chronicling the challenging missions of the Strategic Response Unit (SRU), Flashpoint places emphasis on the human condition within intense law enforcement scenarios. The show won global recognition, broadcasted in over 50 nations, and garnered numerous accolades. A meticulous exploration of character development showcases the impact of their high-stress profession on their personal life, while the series also bravely tackles modern concerns like mental health and gun regulation.

The soul of Flashpoint is deeply rooted in its emotional resonance. The narrative delves into the personal histories, internal conflicts, and professional predicaments of the characters with each unfolding episode. It highlighted and put the audience in the shoes of humans who have to constantly work in life-or-death environments. It became a renowned show because of its showcase of empathetic and human elements even in times of grave crisis. Its groundbreaking depiction of crisis resolution through negotiation rather than force resonated with audiences, culminating in an ardent fanbase and applause worldwide.

21 Being Erica

Vinessa Antoine, Reagan Pasternak, and Erin Karpluk in Being Erica (2009)

Being Erica explores the experiences of Erica Strange, a woman with the power to navigate through time, revisiting her past mishaps and regrets under the guidance of a cryptic therapist who helps her time travel. The inclusion of time travel extends beyond mere narrative decoration, serving as a catalyst for profound self-exploration and change.

The narrative addresses universal matters such as remorse, self-growth, and destiny, anchored by a relatable protagonist. The show provides viewers with an enthralling storyline that is both entertaining as well as food for thought. It served as an interesting exploration of traveling to one’s past and having the opportunity to change things. Erica’s time-traveling quest for self-improvement, although fantastical, resonates with the audience who frequently share her struggles and victories.

The show left a lasting imprint on television, drawing praise for its inventive premise and emotional depth. The series attracted good viewership domestically and internationally and continues to engage global audiences on streaming platforms even after its 2011 conclusion, cementing its legacy among outstanding Canadian television shows.

20 Alias Grace

A scene from Alias Grace (2017)
CBC Television

Alias Grace is a historical drama that will have you hooked from the first episode. The six-part miniseries is an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel of the same name. The show follows the story of Grace Marks (played by Sarah Gordon), a poor, young Irish immigrant and domestic servant accused and convicted of the 1843 murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper and mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Alias Grace is told in flashbacks, showing her arrest and trial in 1843 to her later life in 1859 when she is examined by a psychiatrist, Dr Simon Jordan (played by Edward Holcroft).

Dr. Jordan interviews Grace about her life and the events leading up to Kinnear’s murder to figure out what happened and if she is innocent. The show draws its audience into a complex web of gender power dynamics, class struggle, and Grace’s suppressed memories. Throughout the series, Grace attempts to piece together her fragmented memories of the events to understand her role in the murders.

19 Trailer Park Boys

A scene from Trailer Park Boys 

Canada proves yet again that it can produce a TV show that is funny and entertaining. Trailer Park Boys is a Canadian mockumentary television series created and directed by Mike Clattenburg and is a continuation of the 1999 movie of the same name. The show follows the misadventures of three lifelong friends and petty criminals, Ricky (Rob Wells), Julian (played by John Paul Tremblay), and Bubbles (played by Mike Smith), who live in the fictional Sunnyvale Trailer Park in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

The trio tries to make money through various criminal acts and get-rich-quick schemes while often evading the police and their vindictive park supervisor, Jim Lahey, and his assistant, Randy. If you want to check out Trailer Park Boys, all 12 seasons are available on Netflix.

18 Rookie Blue

Missy Peregrym as Andrea

Fans of shows like Grey’s Anatomy are in for a treat with this police drama series created by Morwyn Brebner, Tassie Cameron, and Ellen Vanstone. Rookie Blue tells the story of five rookie cops who are fresh out of the Academy in Toronto. As the series progresses, the rookies soon learn that no amount of training could have prepared them for what the real-world experience of being a cop is really like. The show takes its viewers through the whirlwind lives of the rookies as they explore the pressures of their jobs and newfound responsibilities.

17 Continuum

A still of the Continuum cast

Continuum is a science fiction television series that aired for four seasons from 2012 to 2015. The series stars Rachel Nichols as Kiera Cameron, a police officer from 2077 who is accidentally sent back 65 years to the year 2012 to protect the present day from a terrorist group called the Liber8. In her effort to stop Liber8, Kiera joins the Vancouver police department so that she can have inside information on their activities. She is aided by Alec Sadler (played by Erik Knudsen), a seventeen-year-old tech genius from the future, and a police detective, Carlos Fonnegra (played by Victor Webster).

Together, they must stop the terrorists from altering the course of history and ensure that the future of 2077 remains intact. As the series progresses, Kiera must also contend with the fact that her actions in the present have far-reaching consequences in the future. If you like police dramas and action but want a unique twist, then Continuum should be on your list of must-watches.

16 Heartland

A scene from Heartland
The CW Plus

Set in the fictional town of Hudson, Alberta, Heartland is a family drama that follows the lives of the Fleming-Bartlett family as they try to save their nearly bankrupt ranch. Based on the books of the same name by Lauren Brooke, the show takes its viewers through the family’s happenings as they deal with the challenges of running a ranch while also struggling with their issues.

Related: 10 of the Best TV Shows About Found Family

With its heartwarming portrayal of family, love, and friendship, Heartland has won the hearts of many viewers and has become a fan-favorite. If you are looking for a new show to binge, all 16 seasons of Heartland are available for streaming on Netflix.

15 Sensitive Skin

A scene from Sensitive Skin
HBO Canada

Sensitive Skin takes the idea of getting older and turns it into a look at how it’s easy to feel lost as the years drag by. The dark comedy-drama is a Canadian adaptation of the British show of the same name by Hugo Blick. Sensitive Skin follows Davina (played by Kim Cattrall, a woman in her 50s, and her husband Al (played by Don McKellar) as they adjust to their new life in downtown Toronto after moving from the suburbs. Davina embarks on a journey of self-discovery, navigating the challenges of aging, mid-life crises, and changing relationships.

The show explores the boundaries of what it means to be a woman of a certain age and how to embrace the beauty and fragility of life. Sadly, the show was not picked up for a third season, but the two seasons are available to stream on HBO.

14 Kim’s Convenience

A scene from Kim's Convenience
CBC Television

The laugh-out-loud sitcom Kim’s Convenience follows the lives of a Korean-Canadian family called the Kims as they run a convenience store in downtown Toronto. The Kims are your average nuclear family with a strict dad, an overbearing mum and two grown children. The show has received critical acclaim for its clever use of humor while exploring real-life issues like immigration, identity, intergenerational relationships and the importance of family. Kim’s Convenience has five seasons, with season six being canceled due to production issues.

13 Total Drama

Still of various cast members of the original Total Drama Island
Cartoon Network 

Total Drama is the perfect combination of reality TV, comedy and drama. Total Drama is undoubtedly one of the best TV shows Canada has to offer. The animated reality TV series follows twenty-two teenagers at a fictional summer camp called Camp Wawanakwa. Through a series of eliminations and twists, the contestants battle it out to be the last one standing and take home the grand prize of $100,000.

Related: Top 10 Animated TV Shows of the 2000s

Challenges are usually related to the episode’s theme, ranging from physical challenges to problem-solving challenges. The contestants are also encouraged (sometimes forced) to form alliances, vote each other off the island, and sabotage each other. From its funny narration by the host Chris McLean and its array of interesting characters, it’s no wonder that the show has been met with critical acclaim for its humor and innovation.

12 Travelers

A scene from Travelers

Travelers is a science fiction series that follows a group of special operatives from the future who have had their consciousnesses sent back in time to take over the bodies of people in the 21st century in order to prevent an impending global disaster. The travelers possess the ability to “jump” into the bodies of people called hosts and take control of them. The hosts are specifically chosen because they are about to die so as not to mess with the impact on the future. Time travel might be one of the oldest and most talked about topics on TV, but Travelers has a unique take that is worth a watch.

11 Workin’ Moms

A scene from Workin Moms
CBC Television

Any working mom knows that there are no one-size-fits-all answers on how to deal with the intricacies of motherhood. Catherine Reitman took this idea on, and what followed is a much-beloved sitcom about the challenges of modern motherhood. Workin’ Moms follows the lives of four friends struggling to balance their personal and professional lives while navigating the world of motherhood.

The show is not only funny but features a star-studded cast that brings the real-life issues of working moms to life. Workin’ Moms is an honest and often hilarious representation of the challenges of modern motherhood, relationships, and friendship.

10 Anne with an E

Amybeth McNulty in Anne with an E
CBC Television

Anne with an E is the perfect show for you to delve into if you are a fan of coming-of-age stories with a picturesque setting. Based on the classic novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne with an E follows Anne Shirley (played by Amybeth Mcnulty), an independent and imaginative 13-year-old orphan who is sent to live with elderly spinster siblings Marilla (played by Geraldine James) and Matthew Cuthbert (played by R.H Thomson) in the fictional town of Avonlea, Prince Edward Island.

Through the series, Anne embarks on a journey of self-discovery and adventure, navigating her relationships with the townspeople, discovering the meaning of family, and finding her true place in the world. Unfortunately, despite its huge fan following and critical acclaim, Anne with an E was not renewed for a third season, but you can watch the available two seasons on Netflix.

9 Frontier

Jason Mamoa wearing fur in Frontier
Discovery Channel 

The North American fur trade is one of the most undiscussed topics of Canadian history that Frontier sheds light on. Set in the late 18th century, Frontier is a historical drama series that follows Declan Harp (played by Jason Momoa), a part-Irish, part-Cree outlaw who is determined to stop the monopoly and power the Hudson Bay company has on the North American fur trade.

Momoa gives an excellent performance as Declan Harp that will keep viewers glued to their screens. Frontier is co-produced by the Discovery Channel, so it is not only full of action and mystery but also strives to give a historically accurate version of the North American fur trade.

8 Murdoch Mysteries

A scene from Murdoch Mysteries

A good detective show needs to have three main things going for it — an eccentric detective, a lovable sidekick or sidekicks, and a great mystery to solve; Murdoch Mysteries ticks all three boxes. The series centers around William Murdoch (played by Yannick Bisson), a police detective working for the Toronto Constabulary, who uses radical forensic techniques such as fingerprinting, blood testing, surveillance, and trace evidence to solve murders in the city.

With the assistance of his colleagues, Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (played by Thomas Craig), Constable George Crabtree (played by Johnny Harris), and Dr Julia Ogden (played by Helen Joy), Murdoch investigates a variety of mysteries that often have an interesting twist.

7 The Tudors

A scene from The Tudors
BBC Two 
CBC Television 

Die-hard fans of royal dramas like The Crown and Reign will be happy to know there’s another royal drama to sink their teeth into. The Tudors follows the life of King Henry VIII of England, his marriages to his six wives, and political relationships with his courtiers, as well as his conflicts with the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. When King Henry III is unable to produce an heir, he becomes obsessed with the beautiful Anne Boleyn (played by Natalie Dormer). However, Anne refuses to marry him unless he divorces his wife, which at the time was forbidden. In his desire to have Anne for himself, King Henry III starts the process of divorcing his wife, which sparks a fight with the Roman Catholic Church.

Related: 25 Best TV Shows of All Time, Ranked

The series takes its viewers through the politics and power struggles at the court of King Henry VIII. The cast of The Tudors is nothing short of exceptional in their portal of 16th Century England. The Tudors may not always get its historical facts right, but it makes up for it with its stellar cast and entertaining drama.

6 Wynonna Earp

Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp in Wynonna Earp (2016)
Space/CTV Sci-Fi Channel 

Lovers of Westerns have no doubt heard of the legendary Wyatt Earp. Wynonna Earp is a supernatural Western horror television series that is based on the comic book series by Beau Smith. It follows the life of Wynonna Earp (played by Melanie Scrofano), the great-granddaughter of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp.

After years away, Wynonna Earp travels back to her hometown of Purgatory to reluctantly take on the role that Wyatt Earp once fulfilled. Her mission is to put down the revenants, the resurrected souls of the criminals Wyatt Earp once took down. With a badass female lead and a supernatural horror theme, Wynonna Earp is worh checking out.