[[caption-width-right:313:''[[TagLine Brace Yourself]]'']]

A pay channel in the model of {{Creator/HBO}}, Showtime debuted on the market in 1976. Originally based in California, the network expanded to national markets two years later. Its original owner was the first incarnation of {{Viacom}}, which is now known as Creator/{{CBS}} Corporation, and has the Smithsonian Channel as a sister network as part of a unique deal with that institution for rights to programming involving Smithsonian exhibits and properties (You can blame this for why you see [[NetworkDecay programs like]] ''Series/{{Ice Road Truckers}}'' on Creator/{{The History Channel}}).

Showtime lags behind its rivals, HBO/Creator/{{Cinemax}} and Creator/{{Starz}}/Encore, primarily due to the other networks' stronger movie offerings. It may have lost the film libraries of its largest providers, Creator/{{Paramount}} Pictures (which was its corporate cousin from 1994 to 2005) (not counting those that are aired on ''Creator/ABCFamily''), MetroGoldwynMayer (not counting those that are aired on ''Creator/ABCFamily'') and Creator/LionsGate, to their own Epix in 2009, but it hasn't been hurt by this at all. [[note]] Indeed, thanks to Lionsgate's acquisition of Creator/{{Starz}} in 2016, there are reports that the company will sell their stake in Epix. [[/note]] Besides that, Showtime does hold the rights to the ''{{Twilight}}'' film franchise, which they air [[AdoredByTheNetwork plenty of times]]

When it comes to original programming, Showtime's offerings generally rival those of HBO--especially with its big drama series, such as the critically acclaimed ''Series/{{Weeds}}'' (which is also AdoredByTheNetwork), and ''Series/{{Dexter}}'', ''Series/UnitedStatesOfTara'' and ''Series/{{Homeland}}''. Back in TheNineties, Showtime was known more for genre shows (with a reliance on RecycledTheSeries), with ''Series/StargateSG1'', ''Series/PoltergeistTheLegacy'', and a {{revival}} of ''[[Series/TheOuterLimits1963 The Outer Limits]]'' in [[Series/{{TheOuterLimits1995}} 1995]] all getting their start on the network.

Back in TheEighties one of its earliest original series was ''Shelley Duvall's Series/FaerieTaleTheatre'', a low budget but well-acted and written series that re-told classic fairy tales with {{all star cast}}s, including some of the biggest names in Hollywood. The series was so popular that it became one of the earliest series to get released on home video. A SpiritualSuccessor called ''Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories'' also ran for three years in the 90's. Another notable early original series was ''Brothers'', one of the first shows to address [[GayAesop gay issues]], which is also notable for the novelty of Yeardley Smith, best known for her role as [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Lisa Simpson]], in a live-action setting, and for being [[KeepCirculatingTheTapes hard to find]].

Being a premium network, it has more lenient standards when it comes to profanity and nudity (this is after all where Creator/DavidDuchovny got his start as the "host" of ''Red Shoe Diaries''); something which has been lampshaded over the years.

!!Shows featured on Showtime have included:
* ''Series/TheAffair'' (2014-present)
* ''A New Day In Eden'' (1982-1983)
* ''Series/TheBigC'' (2010-2013)
* ''Series/{{Billions}}'' (2016)
* ''Bizarre'' (1980-1985)
* ''Series/TheBorgias'' (2011-2013)
* Boxing (1976-present)
* ''Series/{{Brotherhood}}'' (2006-2008)
* ''Brothers'' (1984-1989)
* ''The Busy World of Richard Scarry'' (1993-95)
* ''Series/{{Californication}}'' (2007-2014)
* ''Series/DeadLikeMe'' (2003-2004)
* ''Series/{{Dexter}}'' (2006-2013)
* ''Series/{{Episodes}}'' (2011-present)
* ''Series/FaerieTaleTheatre'' (1982-1987)
* ''Series/FatActress'' (2005)
* ''Series/FullColorFootball'' (2010)
* ''Series/{{Guerrilla}}'' (2017)
* ''Series/{{Homeland}}'' (2011-present) Winner of the 2012 Emmy for Best Drama.
* ''Series/HouseOfLies'' (2012-present)
* ''Inside NASCAR'' (2009-present)
* ''Inside the NFL'' (2008-present after a ChannelHop from HBO, one of the [[LongRunner Long Runners]] of cable)
* ''It's Garry Shandling's Show'' (1986-1990)
* ''Series/{{Jeremiah}}'' (2002-2004)
* ''Series/TheLWord'' (2004-2009)
* ''Series/MastersOfHorror'' (2005-2007)
* ''Series/MastersOfSex'' (2013-)
* ''Creator/{{Motown}} On Showtime'' (1987-89)
* ''Series/NurseJackie'' (2009-present)
* ''Series/TheOuterLimits1995'' (1995-2001, seasons 1-6)
* ''The Paper Chase'' (1983-86)
* ''Series/PennAndTellerBullshit'' (2003-2010)
* ''Series/PennyDreadful'' (2014-present)
* ''Series/PoltergeistTheLegacy'', first two seasons
* ''Series/QueerAsFolk'' (US remake, 2000-2005)
* ''Series/RayDonovan'' (2013-present)
* ''Series/SecretDiaryOfACallGirl'' (2007-2011)
* ''Series/ShamelessUS'' (remake of the [[Series/{{Shameless}} UK series]], 2011-present)
* ''Sherman Oaks'' (1995-97)
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' (1997-2002, seasons 1-5)
* ''Steven Banks Home Entertainment Center'' (1989)
* ''Super Dave'' (1987-1994)
* ''Tall Tales and Legends'' (1985-87)
* ''Radio/ThisAmericanLife'', television version (2007-2009)
* ''Series/TotalRecall2070'' (1999)
* ''Series/TheTudors'' (2007-2010)
* ''Series/TwinPeaks'' : The Return (2017)
* ''Series/UnitedStatesOfTara'' (2009-2011)
* ''Series/{{Weeds}}'' (2005-2012)
* ''WebVideo/WebTherapy'' (2011 -present)