That the new Golden Age of Television coincided with huge advancements in computer-generated effects can’t be a coincidence, right? Sure, celebrated shows like The Wire and Deadwood were maaaybe better known for their writing than they were for CGI, but these days it’s hard to find a classic show that doesn’t somehow include seamless special effects.

Most of the big genre hits have effects that rival or surpass those found in summer movies, but even dramas like Breaking Bad and Mad Men use computer imagery in such crucial ways that these shows may have been prohibitively expensive to produce in earlier eras.

So let’s give all those unheralded tech whizzes their props: Special effects have never been better or more crucial to the shows we love.

Below are some off-the-top-of-our-heads picks for TV shows with the best effects work. Which show’s visuals are YOU constantly amazed by?



Game of Thrones – is another show that uses effects in both ostentatious AND subtle ways. There’s no debate about how straight-up incredible the wildfire incident was, but Season 2 also gave us Dany’s haunting hallucination scene, plus the now-CGI direwolves looked just as organic and normal as their real dog predecessors. And those baby dragons looked so real that I’m pretty sure everyone in the world wants one now.



Fringe – One can point to the various creatures of Fringe (human porcupines! Ribcage burrowers! Genetic hybrid abominations!) as examples of the show’s top-notch effects work, but some of the most impressive CGI on the show is what you may not notice. Specifically all the split-screen work where characters must interact with their own doppelgangers on a regular basis. It’s a deadly tricky thing to do and Fringe nails it every time.



The Walking Dead – Effects gurus Gregory Nicotero, Robert Kurtzman, and Howard Berger formed the KNB Efx Group in the late ’80s but have steadily become the industry gold standard for horror effects. Their zombie work on The Walking Dead, a mixture of CGI and practical effects, holds the high honor of being probably the most disgusting imagery ever broadcast on cable. In this case that’s a compliment!


See the restWhich TV Shows Have the Best Special Effects?


// Thx – Kristen Nedopak

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