Nothing is more rewarding than watching a TV show that gives your brain cells exercise. TV shows that feature smart dialogue, fleshed out characters and complex plots are fun to watch. They give the TV audience credit and assume the average person can think for themselves. That is the polar opposite of what creative forces behind the ongoing spate of awful reality TV shows assume.

If you want to reward your brain, take time to check out these nine TV shows:



One of the great things about “M*A*S*H” is that the show's writers found a way to regularly blend comedy and drama. A typical episode could feature hijinks from the surgical staff and clever one-liners and transition into dealing with a serious moral or ethic issue that would naturally arise in a war-torn area. It's a major reason why the series stayed so popular during its 11 season run.


With “CSI” you get a nice twist on the old police procedural formula. The show's main characters rely on forensics to solve crimes and catch the culprits. It is interesting because it gives you insights on how the human body works and what methods were used to commit a particular crime. It has changed how an average person views police investigations.


On the surface, “House” can get a little tiresome after watching Hugh Laurie's character belittle everyone else around him whenever an opportunity to do it arises. Still, this is a thought provoking TV series because it offers plenty of insights into unusual and rare real-life medical conditions.

"All in the Family":

Working from the focal point of a bigoted main character, “All in the Family” was a groundbreaking sitcom. It probed many cultural and societal issues that other shows were afraid to touch. It still rates as a show far ahead of its time.

"The West Wing":

Viewers get a good dose of life in the political arena with “The West Wing.” Paying attention was mandatory to fully understanding the show. Each character found a way to spout interesting lines that really made you dig deep just to keep up with them.


This “Cheers” spin-off turned the sitcom formula on its head by featuring central characters who were intelligent working professionals. “Fraiser” produced high quality comedy throughout its existence because it did not resort to the dumb down tactics of other sitcoms. It proved characters could be smart and funny at the same time.

"The Twilight Zone":

This is the classic “Twilight Zone” TV series hosted by Rod Serling we are talking about here, not the two inferior reboots from later decades. Serling took scripts from leading sci-fi authors of the time and fashioned an anthology series that used science fiction settings as the backdrop for exploring a host of cultural and moral issues. Aliens, monsters and such quickly stood in as metaphors for real-life problems facing humanity.


Amid a plethora of game shows, “Jeopardy” remains the quintessential game show for a thinking person. The category names have become increasingly silly over the years, but the trivia questions still remain as challenging and educational as ever.


Before Stephen Hawking became a pop culture icon, Carl Sagan won over the masses with his engaging reality show “Cosmos.” Sagan had a way of making the universe and science in general feel accessible to people outside the scientific community. He had a gift for making complex ideas and theories understandable without dumbing down those things.