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The 25 Best ABC Family and Freeform Shows of All Time, Ranked

It’s (almost) the end of an era: With this week’s grown-ish final season premiere, Freeform has unspooled the last of its original scripted series.

As the network potentially ends one chapter, TVLine is reflecting on its programming, going all the way back to when Freeform was known as ABC Family from 2002 to 2016. After much devoted viewing (not to mention reporting) over the past decade and a half, we’ve handpicked the 25 best shows to have aired across the channel.

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Our selections include early ABC Family dramas like Kyle XY, Greek and Lincoln Heights, as well as the comedies Baby Daddy, Melissa & Joey and Young & Hungry. And of course, no one can overlook network-defining fare like Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters, the latter of which successfully launched a long-running spinoff.

As ABC Family went through a name and branding makeover in 2016 to become Freeform, its lineup also evolved to offer us faves like The Bold Type and Cruel Summer. Plus, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to highlight several short-lived series whose cancellations we’re still lamenting. (In our hearts, the Bunheads are forever dancing.)

Review TVLine’s ranking of the best ABC Family/Freeform shows below, then hit the comments with your picks!

24. Melissa & Joey (2010-15)

24. Melissa & Joey (2010-15)
24. Melissa & Joey (2010-15)

Don’t get us wrong, Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence were fantastic in Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Blossom, respectively. However, we especially loved them together as conflicting personalities stuck under the same roof in this pleasant sitcom about a local politician who hires a down-and-out trader as a live-in “manny.” The former teen idols were wholly in their element while trading gentle verbal jabs and lingering stares, building up a slow-burn romance that paid off in spades by series’ end. — Keisha Hatchett

23. Make It or Break It (2009-12)

23. Make It or Break It (2009-12)
23. Make It or Break It (2009-12)

Backflips and boy problems were the centerpiece of this soapy teen drama about elite-level gymnasts vying for a spot on the 2012 Olympic team. Equally impressive as the show’s stunts were the breakneck stories that had its young characters dealing with everything from first loves to career-threatening injuries — all while trying to impress their new coach Sasha Belov, played by Neil Jackson. Even a lackluster final season can’t dim the brightness of this memorable series and the thrilling moments that kept us on the edge of our seats. — K.H.

22. Party of Five (2020)

22. Party of Five (2020)
22. Party of Five (2020)

The short-lived drama had something so few reboots have: a reason to exist. By centering the update around five siblings whose parents are deported to Mexico, creators Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser put a fresh spin on their Fox drama that allowed them to retain the original’s heart while exploring new, timely issues. With more patience and promotion from Freeform, Party of Five 2.0 could have grown into a series worthy of accompanying the network’s other popular family dramas. — Vlada Gelman

21. Young & Hungry (2014-18)

21. Young & Hungry (2014-18)
21. Young & Hungry (2014-18)

Freeform cooked up something different and fun with this culinary comedy, which saw Jonathan Sadowski’s nerdy tech millionaire hire Emily Osment’s ditzy but determined food blogger as his personal chef. The show’s energetic ensemble, also featuring TV vets Kym Whitley and Rex Lee as well as the delightful Aimee Carrero, played well against each other in chaotic scenarios that would have fallen flat in lesser hands. With a titillating will-they-won’t-they dynamic at the center and goofball antics that served up an abundance of laugh-out-loud moments, we fondly remember the show as an overall enjoyable experience. — K.H.

20. Huge (2010)

20. Huge (2010)
20. Huge (2010)

Adapted by My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman and her daughter Savannah Dooley from a YA novel of the same name, Huge centered around eight teens at summer weight loss camp, one of whom was played by Nikki Blonsky (Hairspray). In anyone else’s hands, such a premise could have gone horribly wrong, but Holzman brought the same sensitivity and depth of feeling to the subject matter that she did to the teenage angst of MSCL. — V.G.

19. Baby Daddy (2012-17)

19. Baby Daddy (2012-17)
19. Baby Daddy (2012-17)

If you’re a millennial who still appreciates sitcoms with big TGIF energy, have we got a recommendation for you. Friends meets Three Men and a Baby in this cheesy-but-charming tale of a 20-something single dad (Jean-Luc Bilodeau) raising his infant daughter in the New York City apartment he shares with his himbo brother (Derek Theler) and childhood bestie (Tahj Mowry). The show’s secret weapon was Melissa Peterman as Bonnie Wheeler, mother of the titular Baby Daddy; the comedic powerhouse, who had previously captured America’s hearts on Reba, crafted an outrageous character every bit as unhinged and delightful as Barbra Jean. — Andy Swift

18. Lincoln Heights (2007-09)

18. Lincoln Heights (2007-09)
18. Lincoln Heights (2007-09)

ABC Family had a real gem on its hands with this gritty and heartfelt drama about a cop who moves his family back to his old, violence-afflicted neighborhood. The show mined powerhouse performances from its gifted ensemble led by Russell Hornsby, with the Sutton family navigating turbulent circumstances that tested their emotional grit. The show set itself apart from its network peers with harrowing storylines that touched on meaty topics such as gun violence, social injustice and interracial romance. — K.H.

17. The Lying Game (2011-13)

17. The Lying Game (2011-13)
17. The Lying Game (2011-13)

Let’s blow past the obvious here: The Lying Game was a direct response to the success of Pretty Little Liars. The two shows were based on books by the same author; every female character was given the same beachy waves; and ABC Family gleefully packaged the two shows together as part of its brilliant-but-unhinged “Summer of Lies.”

That said, The Lying Game was fully capable of standing on its own feet, thanks in large part to Alexandra Chando’s impressive turn as estranged identical twins on a mission to trace their mysterious origins. The show’s ensemble cast — which included Adrian Pasdar, Helen Slater and Charisma Carpenter — was nothing to sneeze at either. — A.S.

16. Shadowhunters (2016-19)

16. Shadowhunters (2016-19)
16. Shadowhunters (2016-19)

Three years after flopping on the big screen, Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments books were given a second chance at live-action success via this extremely CW-esque series about a smoldering group of leather-clad demon slayers. Impressive action scenes and visual effects; swoon-worthy romances (#Malec, anyone?); and an endearing cast, led by Katherine McNamara as part-human/part-angel/all-badass Clary Fray — what more could you ask for? You know, besides a few more seasons. — A.S.

15. Cruel Summer (2021-23)

15. Cruel Summer (2021-23)
15. Cruel Summer (2021-23)

If you asked us to rank the psychological thriller anthology based solely on its first season, then it’d be much higher on this list. Season 1 had us riveted, thanks to its compelling female-focused mystery and standout performances from Olivia Holt and Chiara Aurelia. The show felt like an ambitious departure for Freeform with its multiple timelines, nostalgia-packed ’90s setting and the deft exploration of tough subject matters like grooming. Unfortunately, the second season didn’t measure up to its predecessor, delivering a muddled mystery and leaving too many threads hanging to be fully satisfying. — V.G.

14. Jane by Design (2012)

14. Jane by Design (2012)
14. Jane by Design (2012)

April Blair’s unique premise — a high school student mistaken for an adult lands her dream job working for a famous fashion designer — was great on its own. But the ambitious story really shone with a charming ensemble that included Erica Dasher as a stylish teen straddling two worlds, and Andie MacDowell in a Miranda Priestly-type role that fulfilled our Devil Wears Prada appetite. Although it’s been more than a decade, we’re still lamenting the show’s cancellation after just one season; while great, it could have grown into something truly spectacular. — K.H.

13. 10 Things I Hate About You (2009-10)

13. 10 Things I Hate About You (2009-10)
13. 10 Things I Hate About You (2009-10)

It’s difficult to make your mark when you’re based on something as popular and iconic as the 1999 Julia Stiles-Heath Ledger movie. But ABC Family’s TV series adaptation managed to be charming and memorable in its own right, with zippy dialogue courtesy of creator Carter Covington (who wrote for Greek) and surprisingly good chemistry between Lindsey Shaw’s Kat and Ethan Peck’s Patrick. Sadly, the under-watched comedy was axed after just one season, but that was enough time to leave us crushing on the future Mr. Spock and introduce us to future Succession star Nicholas Braun (who took on the role of Cameron). — V.G.

12. Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (2020-21)

12. Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (2020-21)
12. Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (2020-21)

Perhaps the most critically acclaimed series to air on ABC Family or Freeform, the comedy starred Australian comedian/show creator Josh Thomas as a twentysomething gay man who became an unlikely guardian to his two teenage half-sisters, one of whom was autistic. Thomas’ signature sense of humor gave Everything’s Gonna Be Okay a distinctive feel among Freeform’s programming. Full of warmth, poignancy and wit, the series’ exploration of family and neurodiversity was a rare half-hour win for the network. — V.G.

11. grown-ish (2018-24)

11. grown-ish (2018-24)
11. grown-ish (2018-24)

This topical college comedy followed Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) from ABC’s black-ish to the next chapter of her young adult life at California University. The spinoff never passed up an opportunity to address a social or political issue as it related to Zoey’s circle of friends, a charming and refreshingly diverse group of individuals whose strong opinions often put them at odds. But grown-ish didn’t just work hard, it also played hard, giving us plenty of classic college shenanigans to enjoy along the way. We’d also like to formally blame grown-ish as the reason we’ll always think that Chloe and Halle Bailey are twins. — A.S.

10. The Bold Type (2017-21)

10. The Bold Type (2017-21)
10. The Bold Type (2017-21)

A show inspired by Joanna Coles’ experience as Cosmopolitan’s former top editor? We were tapped in from the start! Leading ladies Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee and Meghann Fahy were thoroughly likable as young millennials navigating sex, love and burgeoning careers at the fictional Scarlet magazine opposite the always-great Melora Hardin. Plus, impactful storylines, like Jane’s double mastectomy as preventative care, were handled with a refreshing balance of brevity and thoughtfulness that really solidified the series as one of Freeform’s best and brightest offerings. — K.H.

9. Chasing Life (2014-15)

9. Chasing Life (2014-15)
9. Chasing Life (2014-15)

Despite its grave subject matter, there was something undeniably uplifting about this gripping cancer drama. As a young woman fighting for her life as it was only just beginning, Italia Ricci gave us a beautifully nuanced character that was impossible not to root for, and her small-but-complicated family always kept things interesting. We’re also suckers for a good love triangle — all the better if Scott Michael Foster is involved. — A.S.

8. Kyle XY (2006-09)

8. Kyle XY (2006-09)
8. Kyle XY (2006-09)

There once was a boy with no belly button. And with his appearance in a forest outside Seattle, Kyle XY was born. Led by Matt Dallas (and co-starring future Blindspot canvas Jaimie Alexander), Kyle XY was part of ABC Family’s 2006 pivot to targeting young adults, and it did so with a compelling mix of sci-fi mystery and YA drama. So greatly did the series engage fans, it was the channel’s top-rated show for two straight years, and its eventual cancellation warranted a first-of-its-kind “wrap-up” featurette on DVD. — Matt Webb Mitovich

7. Single Drunk Female (2022-23)

7. Single Drunk Female (2022-23)
7. Single Drunk Female (2022-23)

We can’t help wishing Single Drunk Female had premiered about five years earlier. By the time it debuted in 2022, Freeform was starting to back off from scripted programming, and this hidden gem of a dramedy — starring Sofia Black-D’Elia as a young woman on the path to sobriety — didn’t get the buzz it deserved, resulting in a cancellation after its hardly-publicized sophomore run. A real shame, too: Anchored by Black-D’Elia’s fearless and funny performance (with a co-starring turn from the great Ally Sheedy as Sam’s mom), Single Drunk Female was thoughtful, messy, surprising and moving, much like the protagonist Black-D’Elia had us rooting for from the start. — Rebecca Iannucci

6. The Middleman (2008)

6. The Middleman (2008)
6. The Middleman (2008)

Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s comic book adaptation, about a struggling artist (played by Natalie Morales) who is recruited by a secret agency to fight evil forces alongside the straight-laced Middleman (Matt Keeslar), was like nothing else on ABC Family or Freeform (or any other network, for that matter). The quirky humor, zany foes and dynamic partnership between Morales’ Wendy and The Middleman made for a wholly unique mix of comedy, action and sci-fi that still has us objecting to the show’s premature cancellation. — V.G.

5. Switched at Birth (2011-17)

5. Switched at Birth (2011-17)
5. Switched at Birth (2011-17)

With its multiple Deaf characters and frequent use of American Sign Language, the groundbreaking series truly required your full attention: If you looked away from the screen for even a second, you could miss an entire silent exchange. The fact that Switched at Birth was never afraid of letting its stories breathe in that silence was so refreshing and truly revolutionary at the time. Add in a unique take on a family drama — two clans come together after learning their daughters were switched — and plenty of romantic intrigue (Bay and Emmett 4eva!), and you’ve got a show that was equal parts important and entertaining. — V.G.

4. Bunheads (2012-13)

4. Bunheads (2012-13)
4. Bunheads (2012-13)

Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino’s drama about a small-town dance studio should’ve been an instant hit: Gilmore Girls vibes (not to mention alums, including Kelly Bishop), Broadway star Sutton Foster as a Vegas showgirl-turned-dance-instructor — there was even a pre-Succession Alan Ruck! Alas, the dramedy barely got to warm up before it had its toe shoes yanked out from underneath it: This one-season series is one we still miss. — Kimberly Roots

3. Pretty Little Liars (2010-17)

3. Pretty Little Liars (2010-17)
3. Pretty Little Liars (2010-17)

For seven outrageous, addictive seasons, Pretty Little Liars was the unmatched queen bee of the teen TV landscape, enjoying a level of lightning-in-a-bottle success that’s frankly impossible to replicate — though many have tried over the years. Forged in a bygone era when Twitter was still fun and Facebook was still cool, this show had social media in a vice grip; the mysterious identity of “A” will forever remain one of the small screen’s most iconic reveals. — A.S.

2. Greek (2007-11)

2. Greek (2007-11)
2. Greek (2007-11)

Regardless which camp (love, hate or indifference) you fall into when it comes to the polarizing American institution that is the Greek System, Patrick Sean Smith’s frothy college romp-com — which was equal parts soap opera, sitcom and socially conscious drama — held universal appeal. It also boasted a Murderers’ Row of up-and-coming talent (see: Scott Michael Foster, Jake McDorman, Amber Stevens, etc.), as well as one of the decade’s most satisfying series finales. For the uninitiated, rush to Hulu to binge all four seasons. — Michael Ausiello

1. The Fosters (2013-18) and Good Trouble (2019-24)

1. The Fosters (2013-18) and Good Trouble (2019-24)
1. The Fosters (2013-18) and Good Trouble (2019-24)

When The Fosters first launched, it’s doubtful anyone foresaw that the show would spawn a spinoff that would extend the franchise through the next decade. But the quality was always there from the very start. Following two moms raising kids both biological and adopted, the original series was a heartwarming, thoughtful drama about acceptance. Meanwhile, the Callie and Mariana-centric offshoot explored navigating one’s 20s in a way that was smartly topical and eerily prescient. Both dramas reminded us that family isn’t about blood. It’s about the people you love and who love you back, no matter what. — V.G.

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