When it comes to television we’re beyond obsessed with pretty much everything that a fangirl could be. While this season has seen some incredible freshmen shows, we can’t help but appreciate the returning shows that have proven season after season that they just get better with age.
From sophomore hits to veteran juggernauts, this year in television has brought us some incredible shows that continue to warm our hearts and unleash the fangirl within.
Here are the year’s 17 best returning TV shows that brought us to our emotional breaking point week after week.
1. The 100
Until about a week ago, I had no idea what I was missing when it came to The 100. Thankfully, I was able to binge watch the first two seasons (thanks Netflix!) and form a very deep love for this show very quickly. With a great mix between sci-fi and fantasy, it brings something new to both genres and establishs itself as a unique show. It has a wonderful array of characters that are easy to root for, and even the ones you don't still keep you invested in the storyline. The show has good poc representation and explores different sexualities. Sometimes I forgot this is a show on the CW network, as some of it's scenes can be graphic and compared to the likes of Game of Thrones. After watching the season 3 trailer, it's clear The 100 will continue to be the daring, intense, intriguing and all around badass show I fell in love with from episode one. Trust me, this is one season premiere you do not want to miss! – Lauren
Following an overtly criticized third season, Arrow has rebounded with one of its best seasons to date as it continues to focus on Oliver Queen’s evolution as the Green Arrow and Oliver and Felicity’s burgeoning relationship. The season’s big bad Damien Darhk is everything that we were promised last season with Ra’s al Ghul, which has made for a compelling dynamic between Oliver and Damien and Green Arrow and Darhk. But the true heart of the show has always rested with the characters, and they’ve gotten to shine this season with focal storylines. We need to care about the characters because all of that action means nothing if we don't care. But the season’s most pleasant arc has been Oliver and Felicity’s relationship, which has shown us the human element of this superhero show. There's been a great dynamic between the pair which has illustrated that team-within-a-team dynamic of their relationship, as well as the brilliant acting by leads Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards, who continue to be one of television’s best duos. Add in that heart wrenching midseason finale and that damning question of “who’s in the grave? (not Felicity),” and Arrow is poised to have its best season to date. – Alyssa
3. Once Upon A Time
Once Upon A Time has had its up and downs. Most of Season 4 was a down. We can’t explain why, but the spark seemed to have dulled a bit. Maybe it was too many guest stars and too little focus on the main characters, we thought at the time. Or maybe the show is just running out of ideas. Had to happen sometime, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Season Five is the best this show has been since the early days of Season 1 when we fell in love with a feisty princess and a lost woman who ended up being mother and daughter. Because this season is, once again, about Emma. Because then it was about finding family, and now it’s about finding love. And most of all, because this show can still make us feel all the FEELS. And we’re excited for more. -- Lizzie
4. Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones firmly established itself as one of the best shows on TV early on, but it really raised the bar this year by both bringing some of George R.R. Martin's most ambitious, shocking scenes to life and by surpassing the source material. From the White Walker army at Hardhome to the massacre by the Sons of the Harpies in Meereen to Sansa's 'marriage' to Ramsay Bolton and subsequent escape to Jon Snow's death(?), Season 5 was wild from start to finish, to say the least. Characters who seemed safe or stuck are in peril (or dead - this is Westeros, after all) or finally on the move. The show is essentially off-book, meaning that all bets are off for Season 6... and we can't wait to see what happens next. – Chloe
5. How to Get Away With Murder
Following its breakout season where it redefined diverse roles and compelling storytelling, How to Get Away With Murder returned with a vengeance for its second season where it proved once again why it’s a force to be reckoned with. Following the first big murder of the series, the second season began with another murder mystery: who killed Rebecca? But it also sent us into shock when the midseason premiere cliffhanger showed that Annalise had been shot and left for dead. They couldn’t possibly kill the now Emmy-award-winning Viola Davis could they? The great thing about How to Get Away With Murder is that it’s the furthest thing from predictable, which makes it so compelling to witness. – Alyssa
6. The Flash
It’s hard to top a nearly perfect season one, and though I’m not yet prepared to say The Flash has topped it, I will say this – the show is, at least, as good as it was last season. And that’s a hard thing to pull off. But, with the brilliant setup this show has, well, all we needed was a little focus on the West family, plenty of Cisco and Caitlin time and a scary villain to pull that off. And, we got not only that, but a new and amazing love interest for Barry, the return of Harrison Wells and all the cool Legends stuff. And, as fun as the first part of the season has been, with the setup done and over with, I have the feeling we’re in for a lot more awesomeness in the second half. – Lizzie
7. Orphan Black
Good God, but Orphan Black remains mysterious despite answering so many questions this last season. Allies and enemies flipped many times and the losses suffered. The clones could not be in more danger! How much hurt are they (and us!) expected to take before we get to see the clones fight back, get the answers they need to move on with their lives, be at peace with their lives?! The shocking reveals this season do not bode well for anyone and amp up the tension between factions who claim to be helping the clones and as always providing yet more persons whose well-intentions are suspect. How this show keeps anxiety levels in the red zone while making me adore each of the clones more and more -- certainly has me convinced that for the rest of my life -- I'll be a member of the Clone Club. – Beth
8. Teen Wolf
After a contentious Season 4 and a long hiatus, the Teen Wolf we know and love came back strong for Season 5A. This year's episodes checked off so many boxes from our ideal Teen Wolf wish list: the core characters (especially Malia and Liam) had great development, the villains were terrifying and mysterious, and the new additions were people we grew strongly attached to... and even though many of them died as per usual, thanks to the power of the Nemeton (or something), they'll be back as Theo's undead chimera army next season. Thanks, Jeff Davis. – Chloe
9. Jane the Virgin
Season two of most TV shows are tricky. If we’re lucky, all the problems for the first season are ironed out and if we’re not, well, the show we fell in love with in the previous TV season, sometimes stalls in its growing pains. It’s always with major trepidation before I start a season two, but the creators of this show continue to blow my mind. I had nothing to worry about! Because even with a kidnapping plotline, Jennie Urman (creator and writer) always manages to make me cry, laugh, smile and want to break something. I’m always satisfied. We have a perfect lead in Gina Rodriguez, a star who’s on her second Golden Globe nomination, who works magic on our screens without any hesitation. We believe in Gina as Jane so much, sometimes I forget to breathe when watching the tough, emotional scenes. There’s rarely a character wasted, and we have learned the whole cast: Ivonne Coll, Andrea Navedo, Jaime Camil, Brett Dier, Justin Baldoni, Yael Grobglas. Ivonne as Alba is incredible, while Jaime as Rogelio manages to make us laugh with his silliness. Let’s not forget the Latin Lover Narrator. Not only is he our conscious, but he seems to say the things that are on the tips of our brains. Jane the Virgin is the best show due to its humor and emotional touches and remaining relevant in political discussions. When Alba received her green card – we all cried happily. Everyone deserves happiness in that world. – Iris
10. The Walking Dead
What makes The Walking Dead brilliant is that it continues to peel back on what it means to be a human under dire circumstances. It holds tight to hope and the survival of Team Rick while adding new additions every week (Surprisingly enough I care enough about these newbies as much as I love and adore Rick, Michonne, or Carol.) Who knew that by the end of the mid-season finale I would be crying/cheering over Deanna going out fighting in a defiant stand against a walker herd? Or going 'awwww' at Glenn showing his fatherly side while guiding Enid back to Alexandria? I sure didn't! And that's what makes this show amazing, it's ability to make me care for a group of strangers fighting the good fight. To top it off The Walking Dead manages to give all it's characters unique and evolving stories of their own. Perfect example: Carol Peletier. This silver fox's journey is only in the beginning stages as she finally starts to come out of the hard shell she's built around herself after the lost of her family. Whatever happens next when The Walking Dead returns will make me bawl my eyes out, cheer for Team Rick, and most certainly make me curse Negan's beautiful face! (Look up Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He's going to make me question just a teeny bit who I should back when it returns February 14th, 2015 on AMC.) – Lyra
Other than knowing that Rob Thomas does genius television delving into the darkest depths of humanity and that my darling Bradley James from Merlin had a reoccurring role on the show -- iZombie seemed to me from the start, the closest a show came to embodying irony in a very meta way and I had no idea how it would work beyond one season. Seriously, the show's brilliant on so many levels, I cannot even explain its layers without PhD dissertation levels of discussion on symbolism, sociology and the human condition. Throughout season two, the characters evolved, quietly seethed, and revealed secrets to become a show that definitely feels more akin to the other comic book shows being lauded out there. Humor pervades the entire concept and you laugh alongside the ridiculous situations Liv finds herself in, because if you break it down, really think about it -- there's nothing funny about Liv's predicament. When reality comes rushing back, you realize iZombie's strength is in how it wraps these characters up in suppressed memories, repressed emotions and denial; and you wonder how in the hell, these beautifully broken characters convinced you they were alright. – Beth
12. The Originals
The Originals is one of those rare shows that is a spinoff but is better than it's predecessor. With each new season, the storylines continually get better and better. The show has found a nice balance between supernatural threats and family drama. Each character gets their chance to shine and has shown tremendous growth throughout the seasons. The Originals is never lacking in talent, from it's lead actors to it's guest stars. This season has had more guest stars than I can count, but I never find myself any less intrigued and I'm invested in the story now more than ever. That cliffhanger alone will take the show in a whole new direction and will challenge all the characters we've come to know and love. If you haven't been sucked into The Originals as of yet, consider taking this trip to New Orleans with the Mikaelson family and thank me later. – Lauren
13. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
It's been a rollercoaster ride for Marvel's Agents of SHIELD after the events of Afterlife which saw the Inhumans go up against SHIELD, and the Terrigen crystals get leaked into the ocean and awaken Inhumans all over the country. In Season 3 we got to see Daisy assembling her team of Secret Warriors; Jemma travelling to another planet; Fitz moving heaven and earth to get her back; Bobbi and Hunter going up against Ward; Coulson falling for a government agent, Rosalind Price; Andrew turning out to be the Inhuman-killing monster Lash; a HYDRA plot gets discovered and Ward finally meets his end (well for now at least). Agents of SHIELD is a show that keeps improving itself and this year has been it's best yet in where it upped the suspense, upped the action and upped the character moments, I can't wait to see what comes in 2016. – Caryn
Nashville was really depressing this season, to be honest. I was so excited and anxious to see how Deacon would recover from his liver surgery, and for him and Rayna to finally have their happy ever after. I was so looking forward to Avery and Juliette’s adventures as new parents. I wanted Will to have his happy ending with Kevin. But instead, we got a divorce, two deaths, too many love triangles, a bratty teenager and a proposal! But even though this season was both good and bad, the show still manages to keep me on my feet every week. I hope next half of season four brings more happiness, starting with Rayna and Deacon’s wedding! – Danielle
15. Pretty Little Liars
This was the big year for Pretty Little Liars, in where we finally finally finally found out who Big A was. It left many people angry, others frustrated, plenty confused but in the end the story was somewhat complete. Cece, who was thought to be Alison's older friend, was actually Alison's sibling, Charles who transitioned into a woman and had been tormenting the girls to get back at them for how they treated Alison. Season 6 was so well done as it brought in aspects and clues from all the previous seasons in order to solve the mystery once and for all, it was an excellent prize for long time viewers. And with a couple of weeks left for the second half of the season where someone new is after the girls, one cannot help but be sucked back in. – Caryn
16. The Fosters
The Fosters has also had its positive, negative and sad moments. Brandon and Callie’s relationship drama, not to mention Lena and Stef’s issues showed that lessons in trust and communication had to be taken. Brandon and Callie’s romance has had some rocky starts, but they didn’t let that stop them for letting their feelings overflow. Now if Lena and Stef could work on their problems too. Not to mention, Mariana’s boy problems with Mat and Wyatt. She’s had a lot of growing up to do, and I’m so proud of how mature she’s gotten at the end. Not to mention the return of Jesus, now played by Noah Centineo! Also, the big adoption of Callie into the family sets the tone that blood doesn’t make a family, love does. And the Fosters have enough to last a lifetime. – Danielle
It's not hot guys driving around in a stunning muscle car. Well...not just. Supernatural is a show about brotherhood, love, and fighting for the betterment of mankind by destroying evil. This show manages to come back year after year because they're not afraid to tackle the unknown. The best episode of this season (at least for me) was about Sam's imaginary friend and how both of their lives changed because of one decision. It was heartfelt, creative, and funny beyond belief. They're also not afraid to dig into the past. Bring back Lucifer after years away? Done! They know how to keep things fresh without losing who they are at the core. I see this formula working for them for years to come! – Lyra
What were your favorite returning shows from 2015? Did any of them make our list?