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Best medical dramas to watch now — and where to watch them

Our best medical dramas had to include 'Grey's Anatomy'.
Our best medical dramas had to include 'Grey's Anatomy'. (Image credit: Ron Batzdorff via Getty Images)

Here's our guide to the best medical dramas to watch right now.

The medical drama is one of TV’s most popular genres. With life-or-death decisions to be made at every turn, the shows are loaded with instant drama. Add to that the bust-ups and bunk-ups of the hospital staff and the scene is set for series that can really get our pulses racing.

We’ve done a rundown of our favourite hospital shows. Some are classics which you may want to visit for the first time (or even revisit - who doesn’t love a re-watch) and some are more recent shows, which are still running and might be worth jumping on board with.

'Grey’s Anatomy'

Grey's Anatomy's lead actor, Ellen Pompeo.

Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) leads the show. (Image credit: Mike Rosenthal via Getty Images)

The daddy of all US hospital shows, now screening its 18th season, Grey’s is the longest-running medical drama in US TV history. The show follows the staff at Seattle Grace Hospital as they juggle their personal lives and their careers as medics. While Patrick Dempsey as leading doctor Derek Shepherd (nicknamed ‘McDreamy’) may have won in the heart-throb stakes, the real heart of the show is actually the smart, strong women doctors. The series opened in 2005 with Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) arriving at the hospital as an intern, and by the latest series she is now Chief of General Surgery. Many of the cast have found international fame, including Sandra Oh (Killing Eve). The show was created by Shona Rhimes, who would go on to bring us a catalogue of hit shows including Bridgerton and Scandal.

Number of seasons: 18

Episodes: 382

Average episode length: 44 minutes

Where to watch: US: Hulu (Season 18), Netfix (Season 1-17) UK: Amazon Prime (seasons 1-16)

'Chicago Med'

Chicago Med staff

The medics of Chicago in action. (Image credit: Photo by: George Burns Jr/NBC)

A spin off from the already popular Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D., this series is set in the emergency room of a hospital in – you guessed it – Chicago, with the medics in the city’s busiest trauma unit coping with whatever is thrown at them each day. The first series begins with the opening of the state-of-the-art at the centre, which is immediately thrown into chaos after a train crash rocks the the city – and the high-octane drama doesn’t really stop for the next seven seasons. Starring Torrey DeVitto (Pretty Little Liars) and Nick Gehlfuss (Shameless), the show also has the added interest of crossing over into sibling series Fire and P.D., with characters from the other series popping in from time to time, connecting the whole Chicago world up.

Number of seasons: 5

Episodes: 78

Average episode length: 45 minutes

Where to watch: US: NBC.com UK: Sky Go

'The Good Doctor'

Antonia Thomas and Freddie Highmore in The Good Doctor

Sean and Claire have a strong bond in 'The Good Doctor'. (Image credit: ABC)

An interesting twist on the medical drama, this series sees Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) play Shaun Murphy, an autistic surgeon with a troubled past who relocates from a small town to a prestigious hospital in San Jose. While his abilities – including near photographic memory – see him demonstrate impressive skills on the ward, his hiring isn’t popular with everyone and he suffers scepticism from both colleagues and patients. A lot of the depth comes from Shaun’s relationship with colleague Dr. Claire Browne, who can break into his sometimes-distant world. Freddie’s portrayal of the doctor has won critical praise – and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor – although the show’s depiction of autism has had a mixed reactions from some corners. The fifth season is currently running.

Number of seasons: 5

Episodes: 78

Average episode length: 45 minutes

Where to watch: US: Hulu UK: Sky Go

'St. Elsewhere'

A seminal medical drama, St. Elsewhere came from the same production stable as Hill Street Blues, which had reinvented the cop show with its ensemble cast, hard-hitting stories and realistic filming style. St Eligius is a down-at-heel hospital in Boston, which finds itself taking patients that are shunned by the more prestigious medical centres in the city. Later seasons see the hospital taken over by a profit-oriented corporation, and the staff having to cope with the business of medicine as well as their frontline work. The show is often hailed as creating the template for many future medical dramas, including ER and Grey’s Anthony. St. Elsewhere also become a cult hit in the UK after becoming one of the US shows picked to air on the fledging Channel 4 in the early 80s.

Number of seasons: 6

Episodes: 137

Average episode length: 45 minutes

Where to watch: US: Hulu UK: All 4

'Casualty'

You can’t work at the ED as long as Charlie Fairhead without making some powerful contacts!

Charlie is Casualty's longest-serving character. (Image credit: BBC)

Hi, America? It’s the UK here. Think 18 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy is quite something? Well, check out Casualty, now running for a whopping 35 years and still going strong in the UK. The drama started as a rather politically leant study of an accident and emergency department. However, it soon broadened out into a now familiar mix of medical issues, staff relationships and some thrilling stunts – guessing what terrible accident is going befall the soon-to-be patient at the start of the show becoming a fun game for viewers. Star Derek Thomson has been there since episode one as Charlie Fairhead, and we’ve seen a revolving door of fresh junior staff and hard-nosed bosses over the years. The show’s spin off, Holby City – set in the hospital’s surgical ward – will have run for an impressive 23 years when it airs its final episode next year.

Number of seasons: 36

Episodes: 1218

Average episode length: 50 minutes

Where to watch: US: Britbox (Seasons 1 & 2) UK: Britbox (Season 1)

BritBox
On Amazon Prime Video Channels

Britbox is the No. 1 way to watch all your favorite British shows from the BBC and ITV. And you can watch it easily via Amazon Prime Video Channels. All your subscription and billing is handled through your Amazon account, allowing you to watch as much as you want for a single price.

'The Resident'

'The Resident' on Fox.

Devon (right) gets a dose of reality in The Resident. (Image credit: FOX)

A hard-hitting take on the medical drama, looking at the ‘business’ of medicine as much as the practice of it. The series follows Doctor Devon Pravesh, a newly-qualified doctor, as he takes up his first role at Chastain Park Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and finds he has his idealistic outlook on medicine shattered. Coming under the mentorship of hard-nosed Dr Conrad Williams, Devon soon realizes how blurred the ethical lines often are. Deep diving in on the bureaucratic side of world, particularly ethics and malpractice, this is one shows a real insight into the behind-the-scenes drama away from the wards. Season 5 is currently being broadcast.

Number of seasons: 5

Episodes: 74

Average episode length: 45 minutes

Where to watch: US: Hulu UK: Disney+

'House'

British actor Hugh Laurie stars as Gregory House, a brilliantly intelligent doctor, and also a rude, caustic, unpleasant drug addict. In a change from the ensemble casts we’ve come to expect from these sort of shows, House is very much our leading man. In fact, the show is set up more like a detective drama than a traditional medical drama, with House the genius protagonist who solves medical diagnoses rather than cracking cases. Each episode sees a different medical case to solve for House and his team, alongside the usual staff relationships and hospital politics. The show shot Hugh to international fame and saw him win a cabinet-full of awards.

Number of seasons: 8

Episodes: 177

Average episode length: 45 minutes

Where to watch: US: NBC.com UK: Amazon Prime

'ER'

Before there was Grey’s there was ER, a juggernaut of a medical drama, running for 15 series and catapulting George Clooney and Julianna Marguiles to international fame. Created by writer Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park), based on his own time as a medical student, the series was a smash hit. Set in the Emergency Room of Chicago’s County General Hospital in Boston, the show’s success did begin to wane in the later seasons – especially with all of the original main cast now departed – but it was still the US’s longest-running medical drama until it was taken over by Grey’s in 2019.

Number of seasons: 15

Episodes: 331

Average episode length: 45 minutes

Where to watch US Hulu US:  All 4

'M*A*S*H'

A mobile military hospital core stationed in Korea during the Vietnam war might seem like an unusual choice for a comedy, but M*A*S*H was from your normal comedy. The show ran for 11 series, with its final episode Goodbye, Farewell and Amen becoming the most watched show ever when it aired in 1983.  Although billed as a comedy, M*A*S*H was more of a comedy/drama and could easily veer from slapstick to dark moments from episode to episode. The show used comedy to question the America's role in the war, which was still ongoing when the show first aired in 1972.

Number of seasons: 11

Episodes: 256

Average episode length: 30 minutes

Where to watch: US: Hulu UK:  Prime Video

We hope you enjoyed our best medical dramas guide — more guides below!

Steven Murphy

Steven is a writer, editor, and commentator with a passion for popular TV and soap operas. He spent 20 years as the editor of Inside Soap magazine, documenting every punch up and pucker up in the Street, the Square and the village. As a feature writer he’s covered TV crime dramas, period dramas and even some real-life star dramas. He’s been seen as a talking head on more TV clip shows than he cares to remember, has a 

a life-long passion for TV sci-fi – the older and creakier the better – and is a slight obsessive about any reality show featuring hotels.