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Best TV shows on Amazon's Prime Instant Video (pictures)

Want the best TV shows to watch on Amazon with your Prime membership? Here are some of our favorites.

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Ty Pendlebury

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Joseph Kaminski

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1 of 21 CNET

Best TV shows on Amazon Prime

In April 2014, Amazon and HBO announced an exclusive deal under which the online retailer's all-you-can-eat Prime Instant Video service would carry HBO shows, including titles "True Blood," "Boardwalk Empire," and "The Wire."

Though there will be no "Game of Thrones" (yet), the additions lend further ammunition to the growing arsenal of quality shows on Amazon's unlimited-streaming service.

Here are some of our picks for the best shows, HBO and otherwise,  on Prime Instant Video, which, of course, requires a Prime membership.

The service is available on several platforms, including the Amazon websiteRokuFire TV and several smart-TV offerings.

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2 of 21 20th Century Fox

Legen (wait for it) dary

"How I Met Your Mother"

 Seasons: 1-8

Amazon exclusive: No

Yes, it may be, as one reviewer called it, "the shaggiest dog story ever", but this is the show that both launched the career of Jason Segel ("Freaks and Geeks" notwithstanding) and revived that of Neil "Doogie" Patrick "Howser" Harris. Come for the story about the mother; stay for the tangled relationship between the five friends.

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3 of 21 Carnival Films/Masterpiece

See how the other half lives

"Downton Abbey"

Seasons: 1-3

Amazon exclusive: No

Two words: Maggie Smith.

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4 of 21 BBC

Time traveler and friends

"Doctor Who"

Seasons: 1-7

Amazon exclusive: No

See the Doctor get into scrapes and mischief with a broken time machine, scary monsters, and an assortment of attractive leading ladies (plus their clueless boyfriends).

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5 of 21 FX

Single fathers have it tough

"Louie"

Seasons: 1-3

Amazon exclusive: No

Though Louis CK's first TV show was a sitcom complete with laugh track, his second show is a lot darker and subtler. Think along the lines of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Arrested Development."

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6 of 21 BBC America

Send in the clones

"Ophan Black"

Seasons: 1

Amazon exclusive: No

This BBC America show about human clones had us hooked from the beginning thanks to strong performances from Tatiana Maslany (playing six different roles, natch), surprising plot twists, and a nuanced exploration into identity, genetics, and family.

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7 of 21 HBO

It's named after a drink

"True Blood"

Seasons: TBA

Amazon exclusive: Yes

Campy? Yes. Gory? Very. Hilarious? Often. HBO and Amazon have announced that only the first few seasons will be available on the streaming service, but that's OK, as they're easily the best.

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8 of 21 Wikipedia Commons

Cowboys in space

"Firefly"

Seasons: 1

Amazon exclusive: No

When it comes to creator Joss Whedon, it's sometimes a little too much ("Dollhouse"), or simply not enough ("Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"). Firmly in the latter camp, the prematurely terminated "Firefly" is one of the few shows that bears repeat watching, and that's because of the strength of both the writing and the cast.

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9 of 21 Sci-Fi Channel

Let Cylons be Cylons

"Battlestar Galactica"

Seasons: 1-4 Prime

Amazon exclusive: No

"Battlestar Galactica" is one of the most binge-worthy shows on all of the Internet. Though the second season doesn't make much sense, this is still a very consistent and non-techie science fiction show. "So say we all."

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10 of 21 20th Century Fox Television

American Gothic

"="">American Horror Story"

Seasons: 1-2

Amazon exclusive:  No

Gothic horror meets melodrama in this Jessica Lange vehicle. With each progressive season comes a creepy new setting: a haunted house, an insane asylum, and a carnival.

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11 of 21 Fox 21/FX Productions

Not-so-easy riders

"Sons of Anarchy"

Seasons: 1-5

Amazon exclusive:  No

It's about an outlaw motorcycle club -- what more do we have to say? The writers have an uncanny knack of capturing and keeping your attention -- usually with a sprinkling of grueling moments and shocking cliff-hangers -- that compels you to watch the next episode.

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12 of 21 20th Century Fox Television

Gleeky

"Glee"

Seasons: 1-4

Amazon exclusive: No

"Glee" is a show you either love or you hate. While it's mostly an opportunity for Jane Lynch to sneer her way to another Emmy nomination, there are also plenty of squeaky-clean teens from the wrong side of the tracks performing "modern" takes on pop songs.

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13 of 21 FX

A guy walks into a bar

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

Seasons: 1-8

Amazon exclusive: No

Another love-it-or-hate-it show, "Philly" subverts the usual "sitcom set in a bar" trope with offbeat humor and a star turn from Danny DeVito.

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14 of 21 FX

No, Mr. Archer. I expect you to die.

"Archer"

Seasons: 1-4

Amazon exclusive: No

Archer, everyone’s favorite self-centered agent, goes into season five on FX. For those not familiar with the series, we'd suggest catching up with the first four seasons, available on Amazon.

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15 of 21 Comedy Partners/MGM Television

Charlie Murphy!

"="">Chappelle's Show"

Seasons: 1-3

Amazon exclusive:  Yes

A comedy show that can not only take you by surprise but also was reportedly under close scrutiny from the FCC for its racy and hilarious, often-borderline-offensive humor.

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16 of 21 HBO

Down to the Wire

 "The Wire"

Seasons: TBA

Amazon exclusive:  Yes

Another HBO exclusive. If you like your cop shows gritty and urban, they don't come much better than the sharply written "The Wire." This show is the No. 1 reason never to visit Baltimore.

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17 of 21 CBS

By the numbers

"="">Numb3rs"

Seasons: 1-6

Amazon exclusive: No

A crime series set in Los Angeles involving two brothers: one an FBI agent and the other a mathematical genius. Guess which one solves the crimes?

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18 of 21 CBS

Next stop, The Twilight Zone!

"The Twilight Zone"

Seasons: 1-3 and 5

Amazon exclusive: No

The greatest appeal of the original black and white serial is the way it tantalizes the viewer's imagination: not everything is spelled out for you.

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19 of 21 Fox

Dog's Day Afternoon

"24"

Seasons: 1-8

Exclusive:  No

Set in real time, this is the show that proved driving and parking in LA is easy and that it's possible to last a whole day without going to the bathroom. Oh, and there are some plot twists and Elisha Cuthbert too.

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20 of 21 Desilu Productions/Paramount Television/CBS

Make it so

"="">Star Trek"

"="">Star Trek: The Next Generation"

Seasons: Original 1-3 / Next Gen 1-7

Amazon exclusive: No

"="" continued="" and="" expanded="" on="" original's="" greatness="" years="" later."="">

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21 of 21 Fox

The truth is out there

"The X-files"

Seasons: 1-9

Amazon exclusive: No

"="" just="" with="" '90s="" haircuts="" and="" palpable="" sexual="" tension."="">

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