Another “golden age” of television is upon us, with comedies, dramas, horrors, and more captivating us with fascinating characters, compelling storylines, and unexpected plot twists.
From traditional network TV to streaming channels, and thirty-minute shows to hour-long programs, the scripts listed below demonstrate some of the best writing that TV has to offer.
We hope you enjoy reading the scripts below! Click the images or links below to read and download them for free.
The Good Doctor (Drama)
Originally based on a South Korean television show starring Daniel Dae Kim, The Good Doctor follows a young autistic surgeon’s journey from his rural hometown to a bustling urban California hospital. Debuting in 2017, Freddie Highmore stars as the series protagonist, and brings empathy, warmth, and complex moments to his character. This script is a great study of character development within an ensemble cast.
Good Omens (Comedy, Fantasy)
Based on the novel by the same name and starring veteran British actors David Tennant and Michael Sheen, Good Omens tells the story of two angel friends from heaven and hell who team up to prevent an impending Armageddon. Blending light comedy with fantastical elements, Good Omens creates a world on Earth like you’ve never seen before.
Dark Winds (Thriller)
Set in the 1970s Southwest, Dark Winds follows two Navajo police officers as they uncover a series of murders. A psychological thriller, its first season was filmed on Navajo Reservation lands, and aired with six episodes. Featuring a writers’ room comprised solely of Native American writers, including Shore Scripts’ alumni Anthony Florez, who went on to work as a staff writer on the show, this series seamlessly builds suspense quickly and is a master class in writing “limited-series” thrillers.
Better Call Saul (Drama)
Better Call Saul is the only show in this compilation that’s set as a prequel to another hit show – Breaking Bad. While many other shows might pick up where the character left off, this one follows Saul Goodman in the early 2000s, years before he met Bryan Cranston’s character. Considered to be one of the greatest TV series of this century, Better Call Saul garnered a whopping 53 Primetime and Creative Arts Emmy nominations, and the series premiere was the highest-rated scripted series premiere in the history of basic cable.
The Morning Show (Drama)
Based on the book “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV”, this 2021 break-out hit follows the staff of a morning show after allegations of sexual assault rock their current line-up. With contemporary issues and themes like the pandemic, power, and the movement for women’s rights, The Morning Show has been nominated for a host of awards, including for writing from the Writers Guild of America. For those looking to learn more about writing contemporary, workplace-based dramas, The Morning Show is a great first stop.
Family Guy (Comedy, Animated)
The only animated TV show in this compilation of scripts, Family Guy in some ways emulates the genre-setting standard of The Simpsons while taking the humor to the next level. With an original airing from 1999 – 2002, the series was brought back in 2005 after significant DVD sales and has brought a mix of raunchy comedy, hot political takes, and silly jokes to viewers ever since. While Family Guy may not be for everyone (it’s certainly not without controversy) writers can see and learn more about testing the boundaries of comedy while working within a traditional network context.
The Bear (Drama)
The Bear brings us Jeremy Allen White (Shameless) as a rising star in the restaurant industry who is forced to return home to Chicago and run the family’s sandwich shop after his beloved, but tortured brother kills himself. The show notably features fast-paced, snappy dialogue among the restaurant’s staff that White inherits, embedded in an industry standard-bending 30-minute drama. While the episodes in The Bear may be shorter than the standard television drama, the writing is packed with heartache, self-discovery, and even moments of touching light-hearted comedy.
Creator and writer Jesse Armstrong won three Emmys for outstanding writing for a drama series. The show centers around Logan Roy, the CEO of a media conglomerate, and his children’s efforts to secure the future of the company amidst his failing health. The series ran from 2018 to 2023, and the scripts serve as a master class in developing and executing quick, snappy dialogue within fast-paced scenes.
The Last of Us (Drama)
Based on a successful video game developed and launched in 2013, The Last of Us is also a post-apocalyptic drama, set in the future twenty years after a pandemic has swept through the world, leaving a host of zombies and a world without order. The writers aptly created scripts that honored the original game, its characters, and their relationships, while building out the storyline and creating arcs that propelled this series into success.
The Other Two (Comedy)
A hilarious look at the absurdities of the music world, The Other Two introduces audiences to Chase, a 13-year-old overnight sensation discovered on social media, and his two older siblings who have been trying – unsuccessfully – to make it in the entertainment industry for years. Written by alums of Saturday Night Live the scripts are packed with solid jokes and social commentary on the world of fame and fortune in these ever-evolving times.
American Horror Story (Horror)
Starring our Short Film Fund Judge, Jamie Brewer, the anthology series, American Horror Story takes on a new and different storyline for each season. Running since 2013, each season also takes place in a different location and timeframe, from the early 1980s in New York City to suburban Michigan in the wake of Trump’s election. In 2019, the Guinness Book of World Records named the show the most in-demand horror TV show.
Quantum Leap (Sci-Fi)
Set nearly thirty years after the original Dr. Sam Beckett stepped back into time to never return home as he leaped from person to person, attempting to “put right what once went wrong”, a new scientist – Dr. Ben Song – has followed Beckett’s path. The reboot of Quantum Leap offers writers a glimpse into how to pick up storylines decades after the original with very few of the original characters.
This ten-episode limited-series show stunned audiences with its entirely relatable premise – an incident of road rage between two strangers escalates, creating a cat-and-mouse psychological play between the characters that’s impossible to not watch. Beef also succeeds in doing this with a small, limited central cast. With critical acclaim for the series’ acting and writing, this script is a must-read for writers who want to explore the psychological and thriller side of a drama.
The Queen’s Gambit (Drama)
Returning to Netflix for a second season, The Queen’s Gambit was a surprise hit among viewers. Based on a novel by the same name, this mini-series, set in the 1950s and 1960s, follows an unlikely hero – Beth – as she explores her natural talent for chess in a game dominated by men. The show artfully builds characters, allowing them – particularly Beth – to naturally develop against the background of the tumultuous times.
From the brilliant mind of Meredith Scardino, writer of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, comes Girls5Eva a comedy about a 1990s musical group who gets another shot at fame when a popular rapper samples one of their songs. With witty dialogue and the kind of banter you might expect when forty-something women reconnect to relive and rebrand their music, this show brings humor and empathy to even the most absurd moments.
Your Honor (Drama)
Adapted from an Israeli series, Your Honor hones in on a familiar theme – what a parent will do to protect their child from harm. The protagonist, played by Bryan Cranston, is an esteemed judge who finds himself at a crossroads when his son accidentally kills the son of a powerful mob boss. Writers interested in learning how to expertly build suspense, particularly against the backdrop of a legal drama, will want to read this script.
When a high school soccer team’s plane goes down in the Canadian wilderness, the surviving teens spend nineteen months stranded, doing everything they can to stay alive. Yellowjackets weaves the story of their survival with the aftermath of that experience twenty-five years later with the same group of women. The series demonstrates the ability to tell stories through time jumps and artfully placed plot twists and was nominated for a series of awards for writing.
Another show based on a series of novels, this show premiered in 2016 and has been renewed for a seventh season. Following a former WWII nurse who travels back in time to the mid-eighteenth century, this show is more of a historical drama than a sci-fi. What the writing on Outlander does particularly well is creating emotional bonds with the audience – allowing for complicated relationships and challenging situations that test the boundaries of human compassion, love, and self-interest.
After 15 years of working in state and national politics, Sarah Chaisson-Warner is moving into the entertainment industry. As the former Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Athena Magazine for Girls, Sarah is now focusing her passion for creative arts through screenwriting. Many of her feature-length scripts focus on the often unseen experiences of gay women throughout American History, and she is also currently writing a sci-fi TV series and a family Christmas script.
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