One reason New York City attracts millions of tourists a year is that so many people want to see the places they’ve come to know and love through TV shows based in NYC.
We've put together this list of the best TV shows that take place in New York City, including those both based and filmed here.
When making this list, we asked our local tour guides to chime in. After all, they are experts in the neighborhoods and streets of NYC!
This list below is by no means exhaustive. But it does include many of the big hits over the decades. Hope your favorite show is below!
The Top Three TV Shows Based In NYC
So many of our local guides have this show at the top of their list.
Who could not love these six quirky, funny, and vulnerable friends who are there for each other every step of the way?
For ten years we got to know these six friends, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Ross (David Schwimmer), Chandler (Matthew Perry, whom we miss so very much).
We saw them go through the growing pains of being mid-twenty/thirty-somethings living in exciting New York City.
Though filming took place in Burbank, California, many scenes take place in locales all around the city replicated on a studio set.
The most famous spot of all is the Greenwich Village building where Monica and Rachel lived together.
Most of our local NYC guides envied their huge rent-stabilized apartment. Hey, it's not easy getting one of those no matter how long we've lived in NYC!
On our pay-what-you-wish Greenwich Village Tour, your guide will take you there. Feel free to ask them about rent-stabilized apartments. They love to explain the city regulations.
If you can't join us but want to see the building, take a look at our Friends Apartment Building post which also includes a self-guided tour of other Friends locations.
TIP: Get your picture taken in Central Perk and more at the Friends Experience.
Every one of our guides can attest to the near-accuracy of many scenarios that played out in this show.
The difference is that we've never made things worse for ourselves the way that the gang of four does!
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, that it’s hard to believe that it was filmed in Studio City, California.
Sex and the City (1998-2004)
Among us local guides who have lived through the same challenges that the four strong, independent women of Sex and the City have, this show wins hands down as the best TV show based in NYC that is also filmed here.
The show centers on four close friends, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), who must navigate the perils of love and heartbreak in the Big Apple.
Want to see even more locales? Check out our post on where Sex and the City was filmed.
You might like this very highly-rated Sex and the City bus tour!
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 (including our guides), regular visitors to NYC, and those just getting to know the city.
There's no need to join to read the recommendations so take a look!
Best TV Shows Based And Filmed In New York City
Law and Order (1990-2010, 2021- present) & Law & Order: SVU (1999-Present)
Together these two crime shows have more than 40 years worth of episodes filmed in New York City.
Given the kinds of activities depicted in these shows, Law and Order may be responsible for either scaring tourists away from the city or luring them to it!
Both shows center around a team of police detectives and prosecutors who together take on the worst criminal elements the city can throw at them.
The Law and Order shows are favorites of blog writer Courtney, who has had overseas friends visit NYC who were thrilled to see fire escapes on buildings since they've seen bad guys running down them on the show!
If you want to visit many of the frequent locations from the show, look into this Private NYC Law & Order Sites Walking Tour.
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.
But other locales are less obvious for a show about big money. Some notable spots the show has been filmed at are:
- Kossar’s Bialys (a food stop on our Lower East Side Food Tour!)
- Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan
- New York Public Library
- Bryant Park
- Brooklyn Heights Promenade
- Roosevelt Island
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.
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:
- Greenwich Village
- Coney Island
- Lower East Side
- Apollo Theater in Harlem
- McSorley’s, one of the oldest taverns in New York City in the East Village
The Gilded Age (2021-Present)
The Gilded Age takes us to New York City in the 1880s where we follow the lives of two 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 filmed in New York City, the visit to Central Park in the show’s second episode was shot around the park's beautiful Bethesda Terrace and Fountain which was built in the 1860s.
The Gilded Age was so successful that a 2nd season was filmed and began airing on October 29, 2023.
This HBO Max has yet to be renewed for a 3rd season, but if it does, we anticipate at least a few scenes being filmed in Manhattan.
After all, some places in New York City cannot be replicated.
Only Murders in the Building (2021-Present)
Only Murders in the Building stars Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez who play residents of an Upper West Side apartment building named the Arconia (the exterior shots are a real building, the spectacular 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 that the show is a hoot!
Not only do they work to solve the murder mystery, but they make a podcast about their sleuthing.
For lovers of True Crime podcasts who like to chuckle, this show is for you.
Gossip Girl (2007-2012; 2021-Present)
Primarily filmed in New York City, Gossip Girl is about the lives of upper-class teenagers, including Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) and Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester).
Much of the plot revolves around the exclusive prep school they attend, which is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where so many real-life private schools are located.
The cast was first pictured sitting in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Gossip Girl reboot in 2021 also shoots in NYC.
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:
- Grand Central Oyster Bar on the lower level of Grand Central Terminal
- Barbetta on Restaurant Row in the Theater District
- Sardi’s Restaurant at 234 W. 44th St. in Times Square. (Order an “Old Fashioned” cocktail here!)
30 Rock (2006-2013)
This satirical sitcom based in NY is about a fictional live comedy show written by Tina Fey, who herself worked on the real-life comedy show, Saturday Night Live.
TIP: If you want to be in the audience of SNL, find out how you can be here.
Boardwalk Empire (2010–2014)
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.
Will and Grace (1998-2006 and 2017-2020)
This Emmy-Award-winning sitcom is one of local guide Lori's favorite shows.
It follows the friendship between best friends Will Truman, a gay lawyer (Eric McCormack), and Grace Adler, a straight interior designer (Debra Messing).
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 takes place in NYC.
Though the show was filmed in Los Angeles, exterior shots establishing NY locales included the historic Puck Building at 295 Lafayette Street near SoHo, where Grace’s company is located.
It also appeared in a few movies like When Harry Met Sally, American Psycho, and the 1990 version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
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.
I Love Lucy was the most-watched show in the United States for four of its six seasons.
All in the Family (1971–1979)
This classic TV sitcom is a fave of local guide Josh.
The show takes place in Queens in NYC and revolves around a blue-collar conservative bigot, Archie Bunker, 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 (1975-1985)
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.
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!