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One reason New York City attracts millions of tourists a year is that so many people want to see the locations they’ve come to know and love through TV shows based in NYC. 

Here are the best TV shows that take place in New York City, including those both based and filmed here!

The Top Three TV Shows Based In NYC

Sex and the City (1998-2004)

Probably the best TV show based in New York City that was also filmed here is Sex and the City.

This enormously popular show is about four close friends trying to navigate their way through love and heartbreak in the Big Apple. 

The show centers on these four women, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon).

One could argue that there was a fifth friend -- New York City. After all, the name seems to indicate as much!

A list of the NYC locales from SATC could fill up several pages. Start off with Carrie’s stoop or check out our post on Sex and the City locations.

You can also take a Sex And The City bus tour!

Friends (1994-2004)

For ten years we got to know and love these six friends, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Ross (David Schwimmer). 

We saw them go through the aches and pains of being a mid-twenty/thirty-something living in exciting and challenging New York City. 

Though filming took place in Burbank, California, Friends is one of the best TV shows based in Manhattan. Many scenes take place in locales all around the city.

The most famous spot of all is the Greenwich Village building where Monica and Rachel lived together.

Read our post on the Friends Apartment Building tells you where it is located as well as a self-guided tour of other Friends locations. 

TIP: The Friends Experience in the Gramercy neighborhood is a fun New York attraction to go to! Get your picture taken in Central Perk and more!

Seinfeld (1989-1998)

For nine years over 180 episodes we watched - and sometimes winced - at the escapades of four neurotic New Yorkers: Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), his best friend George (Jason Alexander), his former girlfriend Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and his neighbor Kramer (Michael Richards).

Our Self-Guided Tour of Seinfeld’s New York takes you to Jerry's apartment, Tom's restaurant, and other Seinfeld locations.

Watch above as Kramer gets lost downtown! You can visit the 'nexus of the universe' on our pay-what-you-wish Lower East Side food tour!

This TV show based in New York City so magnificently captured the essence of the city’s craziness, it’s hard to believe that it was filmed in Studio City, California.

And see which tv shows the roughly 160k members of our NYC Travel Tips Facebook group say is their favorite show based in NYC and join the conversation.

The group is made up of locals, regular visitors to NYC, and those just getting to know the city.

There's no need to join to read the recommendations.

Best TV Shows Based And Filmed In New York City

Gossip Girl (2007-2012; 2021-Present)

Primarily filmed in New York City, Gossip Girl is about the lives of upper-class teenagers who attend an exclusive prep school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where so many real-life private schools are located. 

The Gossip Girl reboot in 2021 also shoots in NYC.

In fact, the cast was first pictured sitting in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-Present)

Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) is a 1950s Jewish housewife who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. 

When she learns that her husband (Michael Zegen) has been having an affair, she decides to pursue a career as a stand-up comic.

Mrs Maisel

This TV show based in NYC takes full advantage of filming here with scenes that take place in so many places across the city. Here’s a small sample:

The Gilded Age (2021-Present)

The Gilded Age brings us back to the 1880s as we follow the lives of the nouveau riche families, the Russells family and the van Rhijn-Brook.

The show is based in the wealthy neighborhoods of Manhattan, especially the Upper East Side.

Although very few scenes were actually filmed in Manhattan, the visit to Central Park in the show’s second episode was shot in the park around the beautiful Bethesda Terrace and Fountain built in the 1860s.

While most filming will likely continue in upstate cities like Albany and Troy, we anticipate some future scenes being filmed in Manhattan. 

After all, there are some places in New York City that just cannot be duplicated.

Billions (2016-Present)

This TV show is about hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and as such, the show is based in New York City, the center of global finance.

Axelrod is being watched closely by U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) for any signs of illegal activity.

Some locations are ones you would expect, like the New York Stock Exchange and Brooklyn Heights, an affluent neighborhood, is where Rhoades lives.

But other locales are less obvious for a show about big money. Some notable spots the show has been filmed at are: 

Only Murders in the Building (2021-Present)

This playful mystery show stars Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez who play residents of a building on the Upper West Side, the Arconia (actually The Belnord, built in 1909). 

The trio set out to solve the murder of one of their neighbors, and while this doesn't sound like a comedy, the cast plays off each other so well, the show is a hoot!

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999-Present)

You’d be hard-pressed to find a New Yorker who hasn't had their street blocked off at least once for this TV show to be filmed. 

Law & Order takes place all over New York City and this show may be responsible for either scaring tourists away from the city or luring them to it.

Many scenes are filmed at Pier 59 Studios in Chelsea, right near the High Line.

The trio set out to solve the murder of one of their neighbors, and while this doesn't sound like a comedy, the cast plays off each other so well, the show is a hoot!

TIP: If you want to find out where shows are filming when you are in town check out On Location Vacations Twitter for daily postings. 

TV Shows Based In NYC But No Longer On Air

Mad Men (2007-2015)

This TV show based in NY follows the lives of Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Pete Campbell, Roger Sterling and others who work at Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue.

The show’s production design captures the essence of the advertising industry in NYC from 1960-1970.

Only the pilot was filmed in New York and the remaining episodes were filmed in studios in Los Angeles.

You can still go to some of the restaurants and bars where the characters drank Martinis and Mai Tais like Minetta Tavern.

We visit the outside of this famed restaurant on our pay-what-you-wish Greenwich Village Tour.

Some other Mad Men hot spots you can check out are:

30 Rock (2006-2013)

This satirical sitcom based in NY is about a fictional live comedy show written by Tiny Fey, who herself worked on the real-life comedy show, Saturday Night Live.

The marquee at NBC Studios

The title 30 Rock is shorthand for 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where the NBC Studios are located. You can tour NBC Studios as well as Rockefeller Center

TIP: If you want to be in the audience of Saturday Night Live, read more here.

Boardwalk Empire 

This critically-acclaimed TV show about mobsters during the Prohibition era was not based in New York City but rather in Atlantic City in New Jersey.

Filming, however, occurred in many NYC locations, primarily Staten Island. 

The below scene was filmed in the Appellate Courthouse on Pierpont Street in Brooklyn Heights, a building included in our pay-what-you-wish Brooklyn Heights tour.

Just a few of the many other neighborhoods that appear in the show are Lower Manhattan, DUMBO, the East Village, and Gramercy Park.

TIP: You can visit Staten Island by taking the free Staten Island ferry. Even if you don’t stay to find the filming spots, you’ll get amazing views of NYC and the Statue of Liberty for free!

Will and Grace (1998-2006) (2017-2020)

This Emmy-Award-winning sitcom set in New York City follows the friendship between best friends Will Truman, a gay lawyer (played by Eric McCormack) and Grace Adler, a straight interior designer (played by Debra Messing). 

Though the show was filmed in Los Angeles, exterior shots establishing NY locales include one of the historic Puck Building at 295 Lafayette Street near SoHo, where Grace’s company is located.

Puck Building

Will & Grace is one of the most successful TV shows featuring a main character who is gay. It’s also one of the funniest TV shows that take place in NYC.

The King of Queens (1998-2007)

This story of a working-class couple, Doug and Carrie Heffernan, their extended family and friends ran for nine seasons, from 1998 to 2007.

As the name indicates, the Heffernans live in the borough of Queens in New York City. 

The show, however, was filmed entirely at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles.

The closest this NY-based TV show gets to the actual city is during its opening credits sequence shown above.

Classic TV Shows Based In New York

I Love Lucy (1951–1957)

This iconic 1950s half-hour comedy, based in NYC, starring the incomparable Lucille Ball.

Lucy is married to the Cuban band Ricky Ricardo. They live in an apartment building on Manhattan's Upper East Side next door to another couple Fred and Ethel Mertz.

Lucy and Ethel get into all sorts of hi-jinx while their husbands stand by helplessly.

Below is a clip of one of the absolute best episodes from the show!

I Love Lucy was the most-watched show in the United States for four of its six seasons.

All in the Family

This TV sitcom based in Queens in NYC revolves around a blue-collar conservative bigot, Archie Bunkers, his passive and naive wife Edith, their liberal daughter Gloria and their outspoken son-in-law, Mike.

All the filming took place in a Los Angeles TV studio.

But the exterior shot of the Bunker’s house at the fictitious address 704 Hauser Street in Astoria, Queens, was of a house that still stands in the neighborhood of Glendale, Queens. 

In the opening credits, you can catch a bit of Manhattan and also the streets of Glendale and the Bunker residence.

All in the Family is considered by some to be one of the greatest American TV series of all time.

This was due not only to its comedic excellence, but also to its ground-breaking treatment of controversial topics of race, gender, racism, and social inequity.

The Jeffersons (1975 to 1985)

This spinoff sitcom from All in the Family also takes place in New York but was filmed in a studio in Los Angeles.

The show depicts George and Louise Jefferson, an African-American couple, and their upward mobility, figuratively and literally.

The Jeffersons move into a posh high-rise building on the wealthy Upper East Side of Manhattan.

They engage in all sorts of comical mishaps and miscommunications sometimes relating to race, but not always.

In the opening sequence, you can see the building they move into which is located at 185 E. 85th Street and 3rd Avenue, just a few blocks from Central Park and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

One of the features of this show that has lingered in the American consciousness is its catchy theme song, Movin' On Up, which many Americans can still sing today.

A fun fact about the song is that one of the prominent male singers was also a background singer in Michael Jackson's hit song Thriller!

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About The Author


Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: March 24th, 2023
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