Few states have been the background of as many television series as Virginia over the years, thanks to the Old Dominion’s connections with the federal government and various branches of the military.
Given that small-screen backdrop, it’s no surprise that some of critics’ favorite TV series have been located in Virginia, including ‘90s cult classic “The X-Files” and the long-running zombie apocalypse series “The Walking Dead.”
BetVirginia.com took a pause from our coverage of VA sportsbooks to consider all the television series set in Virginia, as listed on Wikipedia, as a starting basis for the research. We then used IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes Audience score, Rotten Tomatoes Critic score and awards recognition to create a weighted scoring system.
Here are the 10 most acclaimed shows with settings centered around the state of Virginia over the years.
The highest scoring television show set in the state of Virginia was “The X-Files,” which notched a Rotten Tomatoes score of 159.7 for its 218-episode run on FOX between 1993 and 2002.
It seems that critics can’t get enough of FBI Special Agents Mulder and Scully, who try to solve a series of extraterrestrial mysteries from their Virginia office. Season 9 was set in the state, well before legal Virginia sports betting apps existed.
The runner-up among Virginia-centric shows was David Lynch’s cult classic, “Twin Peaks,” which nabbed a Rotten Tomatoes score of 105.7.
The mystery serial drama that ran on ABC and Showtime between 1990 and 2007 (with a 26-year gap between the two) also starred FBI agent Dale Cooper, who did his best to solve a series of bizarre murders in far-flung corners of the country, though the series was mostly set in the state of Washington.
Trailing those two was comic book-turned TV series “The Walking Dead,” which had a 13-year run on AMC, notching a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97.3.
The post-apocalypse horror drama was successful enough to spawn a cavalcade of spin-offs, including “Fear The Walking Dead,” “The Walking Dead: World Beyond,” “Tales of the Walking Dead” and “The Walking Dead: Dead City” — illustrating Americans’ shared love of a good zombie series.
One of the shorter-lived TV series on the list was No.4 “Mindhunter,” which lasted all of 19 episodes on Netflix between 2017 and 2019, despite its 94.7 Rotten Tomatoes score.
The 19-episode psychological crime thriller that was the brainchild of Joe Penhall was based on 1995 novel “Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit,” with FBI agents Halden Ford and Bill Tench doing their best to get inside the minds of America’s most notorious serial killers to crack future cases.
The No. 5 show based in Virginia was 2013’s “Hannibal,” which aired on NBC for 39 episodes, based on Thomas Harris’ novels “Red Dragon,” “Hannibal” and “Hannibal Rising.” The NBC horror-thriller once again focused on the FBI, this time dealing with special investigator Will Graham and cannibal serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
“Hannibal” finished its run with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 91.3, serving as the fifth and final Virginia-based show to score in the 90s.
A pair of shows that couldn’t be more different shared the No. 6 spot on our list, in animated comedy “American Dad!” and crime thriller “Criminal Minds.”
Both wound up scoring an 86 on Rotten Tomatoes, with Seth McFarland’s animated sitcom about the life and times of CIA agent Stan and his offbeat family tying the American police procedural crime drama series that CBS has aired since 2005.
“Criminal Minds,” like so many others on this list, centers around a group of FBI criminal profilers who work with the bureau’s Behavioral Analysis Unit to solve crimes and identify “unknown suspects.”
The third and final Virginia-based TV show to score in the 80s on Rotten Tomatoes was 2014’s “The 100,” which was a post-apocalypse science fiction drama that The CW aired between 2014 and 2020.
The brainchild of Jason Rothenberg centered around a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world that return to Earth from a space habitat called the Ark, nearly a century after nuclear apocalypse claims most of the human population.
The 100-episode series wound up notching a Rotten Tomatoes score of 80.3, finishing alone in eighth among Virginia-centered shows.
The final two TV shows on the Virginia list were “The Vampire Diaries,” which was a teen drama that aired on The CW between 2009 and 2017, and sitcom “A Different World.”
“The Vampire Diaries,” which took place in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia, centers around a teenaged girl named Elena Gilbert who falls in love with a male vampire by the name of Stefan Salvatore, setting off a relationship that tears the town at its seams.
The CW favorite lasted eight seasons, with 171 episodes airing on the network over the years, notching the show a Rotten Tomatoes score of 78.
Last on our list, “A Different World” (which was a spin-off of The Cosby Show), finished with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 73.
The sitcom, which centered around the life of Denise Huxtable during her college years at fictional HBCU school Hillman College, lasted for six seasons and 144 episodes on NBC — running from 1987 to 1993.
Each show had its cliques and supporters, though critics seemed to agree that the FOX mainstay about alien encounters and Lynch’s ABC and Showtime cult classic were the best of the bunch from the Old Dominion over the years.
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