Ranking The 10 Best Television Shows Set In Maryland

Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

With television writers and actors on strike and no end in sight, the new fall season might consist of binging old shows. 

Still, BetMaryland.com took a pause from our Maryland sports betting coverage to take a look at the best shows set in Maryland.

Best TV Shows Set in Maryland

Rank Show Points
1 Homicide: Life on the Street 108.3
2 The Wire 96.3
3 Hannibal 91.3
4 Bones 85.7
5 We Own This City 81.7
6 Chesapeake Shores 81.5
7 Joan of Arcadia 80.3
8 Craig of the Creek 73
9 The Hot Zone 64.5
10 The Following 62

Upset In No. 1 Spot

BetMaryland.com, your source for the best Maryland sportsbook promos considered all the television series set in Maryland, as listed on Wikipedia, as a starting basis for the research. We then used a combination of IMDb ratings, Rotten Tomatoes Audience scores, Rotten Tomatoes Critic scores and awards recognition to create a unique, weighted scoring system.

No. 1 probably should have been “The Wire,” but “Homicide: Life on the Street” is a solid choice. The show was created by Paul Attanasio, and writers included TV heavyweights David Simon, who wrote the book that the series was based on and Tom Fontana (who later created “Oz”). Set in the Baltimore homicide unit, it took the grittiness of the 1980s “Hill Street Blues” and raised it a notch. It ran from 1993-99 and — along with “NYPD Blue,” which also debuted in 1993 — it transformed the police procedural on television. “Homicide” starred Richard Belzer, who later moved his John Munch character to New York for a long run on “Law & Order: SVU,” Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto, Kyle Secor, Andre Braugher, and a who’s who of now well-known TV faces.

At No. 2 is “The Wire,” also from former Baltimore Sun journalist David Simon. “The Wire” ran on HBO from 2002-08 and over five seasons covered the Baltimore drug scene from the criminal side, the police side, the newspaper side, the political side and, most important, how the war on drugs was impacting our crumbling society. Detectives included Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn and Wendell Pierce, but the show helped make stars of Michael Kenneth Williams, Wood Harris, Andre Royo and Idris Elba, who were on the other side of the law. The show also featured a young Michael B. Jordan as a teenage drug dealer.

At No. 3 is “Hannibal,” based on the characters created by “Silence of the Lambs” writer Thomas Harris. Set in Baltimore, but filmed in Toronto, the drama explored the early life of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, played by Mads Mikkelsen. The show also starred Hugh Dancy, Caroline Dhavernas and Laurence Fishburne. It ran three seasons from 2013-15.

No. 4 “Bones” was based on the characters in the mystery novels by Kathy Reichs. The series was about a forensic anthropologist (Emily Deschanel) who teams with an FBI agent (David Boreanaz) to solve crimes while bantering and flirting. It ran 12 seasons, from 2005-17, but it was really set in Washington D.C., (and filmed in Los Angeles) and not Maryland.

“We Own This City,” at No. 5, brought David Simon (and co-creator George Pelecanos) back to Baltimore and HBO. This time the story was about Baltimore’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force and based on a book by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton. Set in 2015, it premiered in 2022, and its six episodes starred Jon Bernthal, Wunmi Mosaku, Jamie Hector and Josh Charles.

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Diverse Selections in Second Five

No. 6: “Chesapeake Shores” was a family drama, based on the books of Sheryl Woods, that ran for six seasons on the Hallmark Channel from 2016-22. Megan Ory, Barbara Niven and Laci. J. Mailey starred. The Chesapeake shores were played by Qualicum Beach in British Columbia, Canada.

No. 7: In “Joan of Arcadia,” Amber Tamblyn starred as a teenager visited by God (Joan of Arc, get it) who helped solve problems and change people’s lives (see also “Highway to Heaven,” “Touched by an Angel,” “God Friended Me,” others). The exteriors of Arcadia, Maryland, were played by Wilmington, Delaware, but the show was shot in Los Angeles. It ran two seasons, from 2003-05.

No. 8: “Craig of the Creek” debuted in 2018 on Cartoon Network and has so far run five seasons. It’s set in Herkleton, a fictional suburb of Baltimore. But it’s not a real place and it’s in a cartoon, so I don’t think it should count.

No. 9: We’re really stretching here, Maryland. “The Hot Zone,” based on the book by Richard Preston, was a Netflix limited series about the effort to contain the Ebola virus in the U.S. in 1989. The show is partially set in suburban Washington, D.C. It premiered in 2019 with Julianna Margulies starring. “Suburban D.C.” was played by Toronto, Canada.

No. 10: The only connection to Maryland that I could find in the creepy serial killer series, “The Following,” is that lead character Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) lectures on Edgar Allan Poe, who died in Baltimore. The series ran three seasons from 2013-15 on Fox and was created by Kevin Williamson (“Scream”).

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Howard Gensler is a veteran journalist who’s worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a founding editor of bettorsinsider.com.

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