TV

100 best miniseries of all time

Written by:
August 17, 2020
BBC Drama Productions

100 best miniseries of all time

With shelter-at-home orders still in effect, the pandemic has left us with little more to do than veg out in front of the TV. Data released from Comcast in May showed that the average household watched some 66 hours of television each week—more than an additional full workday’s worth of television than people were watching in March.

There are those who may have relished the extra time they had to relive their favorite shows at the beginning—data from Parrot Analytics showed that “Stranger Things,” “Game of Thrones,” and “The Walking Dead” have been extremely popular during quarantine. But after so many stay-at-home months and the uncertainty of how many more there will be, it might be time for some fresh content to indulge in while noshing on takeout.

Enter the miniseries. It might just be the perfect format for quarantine life. Miniseries offer the rich visuals and storytelling of cinema, with the ability to binge-watch a few episodes, like conventional television. Plus, you’ve got decades of compelling miniseries to choose from in just about every genre imaginable.

To help narrow down the choices, Stacker collected IMDb data on all miniseries/limited series on July 29, and ranked them according to their IMDb user rating, ties broken by votes. It also looked at reviews from The New York Times, Rotten Tomatoes, Forbes, NPR, The Guardian, and other media to see what the critics have to say.

It should come as no surprise that BBC’s striking nature documentaries score highly on this list. But scattered throughout the rankings, you'll discover a mix of historical dramas, shocking true crime documentaries, sci-fi favorites, animated works and shows inspired by comics, and police procedurals that put a new twist on an old-school genre.

Looking for a new miniseries to add to the “must-watch” list, or curious to see if a favorite miniseries made the cut? Read on to learn more about the 100 best miniseries of all time.

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1 / 100
Brothers Dowdle Productions

#100. Waco (2018)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 15,669

Paramount Network’s “Waco” gives viewers a look at both sides of the 1993 conflict between the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Branch Davidians cult, which left more than 75 people dead. According to Paul Tassi of Forbes, the six-episode miniseries draws inspiration from two books by people involved in the stand-off—an FBI hostage negotiator and a surviving cult member—which makes the show that much more compelling.

2 / 100
DreamWorks Television

#99. Taken (2002)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 18,991

Steven Spielberg served as executive producer of “Taken,” a 20-hour miniseries that follows three families who’ve experienced extraterrestrial encounters. The Sci-Fi Network spent around $40 million on the 10-episode show—an investment that proved worth it once “Taken” earned sky-high ratings in 2002.

3 / 100
Légende Films

#98. The Spy (2019)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 25,774

Netflix’s 2019 miniseries “The Spy” tells the true story of Israeli secret agent Eli Cohen who went undercover on missions in Syria in the 1960s. Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays the spy, gives an engaging performance that elevates this spa drama to a thrilling, character-driven narrative.

4 / 100
Lorimar Productions

#97. Sybil (1976)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 6,321

Sally Field’s performance of a young woman trying to cope with multiple personality disorder in “Sybil” earned her critical acclaim and an Emmy Award. The two-part miniseries was based on Flora Rheta Schreiber’s book by the same name, which “manufactured a psychiatric phenomenon” and was later exposed to be based on a lie, according to Lynn Neary of NPR.

5 / 100
DreamWorks Televisio

#96. Into the West (2005)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 6,360

Produced by Steven Spielberg, “Into the West” portrays the story of two families—one white, the other Native American—that become entwined during the American expansion out West in the mid-19th century. The miniseries garnered 16 Emmy award nominations, the most of any show at the 2006 ceremony, and took home the titles of Outstanding Music Composition and Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing.

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6 / 100
Starz Originals

#95. Flesh and Bone (2015)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 9,648

Dubbed “a ballet drama with strippers” by Mike Hale of The New York Times, “Flesh and Bone” follows a tormented yet talented dancer who leaves Pittsburgh to pursue a career in dance in New York City. The eight-episode miniseries showcases both the elegance and the exploitative world of professional ballet, with tons of female nudity along the way.

7 / 100
Legendary Television

#94. The Looming Tower (2018)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 9,781

Based on Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,” this 10-episode miniseries explains the events that led to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The “gripping, counterterrorism drama” earned Jeff Daniels, who plays John O’Neill, head of the FBI Counterterrorism Center in New York, an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards.

8 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#93. Sense & Sensibility (2008)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 10,315

In an effort to make viewers forget about the 1995 film “Sense and Sensibility” by Ang Lee, screenwriter Andrew Davies sexed-up the Jane Austen story for his 2008 miniseries, according to WalesOnline. The show includes controversial on-screen portrayals of seductions that the original film left out of the story.

9 / 100
Phosphene

#92. Escape at Dannemora (2018)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 17,294

Patricia Arquette puts on a mesmerizing performance as Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell, a prison employee who becomes romantically involved with two inmates at a facility in upstate New York, in Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora.” Based on a true story, the miniseries takes its time to get into the details of the subsequent prison break, but rewards viewers with a memorable, chilling storyline.

10 / 100
Kudos Film and Television

#91. River (2015)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 19,264

Stellan Skarsgård plays the role of John River, a smart police investigator who’s troubled by the victims of unsolved murder cases, in this six-part British miniseries. The show goes beyond most police procedurals to study the motives of crime and go deep into the mind of a brilliant detective.

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11 / 100
Anonymous Content

#90. Defending Jacob (2020)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 20,566

“Defending Jacob,” starring Chris Evans, is one of the most popular series on Apple TV+, according to Nellie Andreeva of Deadline. The first episode hooked the majority of viewers, who, while stuck at home during the pandemic, continued to binge-watch all three of the available episodes during the premiere weekend. The miniseries dives into the story of a father and deputy district attorney who’s coping with an accusation that his teen son has committed murder.

12 / 100
Thinkfactory Media

#89. Hatfields & McCoys (2012)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 23,743

“Hatfields & McCoys,” a three-episode Western miniseries from the History channel, dramatizes a bitter family feud on the border of West Virginia and Kentucky shortly after the Civil War. The sepia-toned show came to life through vivid performances from an all-star cast, including Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton.

13 / 100
Mammoth Screen

#88. And Then There Were None (2015)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 30,524

When BBC1 brought “the bestselling mystery novel of all time,” by Agatha Christie, to television on Boxing Day in 2015, it drew a staggering 6 million viewers, according to Jasper Jackson of The Guardian. The three-episode mystery thriller portrays what happens when a group of people with guilty secrets find themselves in the middle of a murder case on an island.

14 / 100
Real Film Berlin

#87. Unorthodox (2020)

- IMDb user rating: 8
- Votes: 42,733

In Netflix’s “Unorthodox,” a Hasidic Jewish woman flees from an arranged marriage in her Brooklyn community to Berlin, only to find that she can never fully shed her past. The miniseries offers an authentic and captivating portrayal of rarely-seen Hasidic culture, along with a deeply moving performance from Israeli actress Shira Haas.

15 / 100
Dune Films

#86. Nobel (2016)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 5,497

Brought to the United States by Netflix, the Norwegian miniseries “Nobel” illustrates the shadiness a Norwegian soldier discovers at home after he returns from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The show breaks up its contemplative pacing with a range of absorbing, suspenseful moments, according to The New York Times.

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16 / 100
Fake Empire

#85. Looking for Alaska (2019)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 6,010

“Looking for Alaska,” based on the John Green novel by the same name, is a throwback teen drama that depicts the story of Miles “Pudge” Halter who’s on a poetry-inspired mission to seek “The Great Perhaps” and ends up meeting a mysterious student at a prep school in Alabama. The miniseries oozes with early-aughts nostalgia that takes millennial viewers right back to their teen years.

17 / 100
Hartswood Films

#84. Jekyll (2007)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 7,139

A follow-up to the 1886 gothic novella “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “Jekyll” tells the story of a descendent of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who agrees to a body-share arrangement with his evil alter ego “on condition he sticks to a set of rules,” according to Padraig Cotter of Screen Rant. James Nesbitt’s performance of the split personalities earned rave reviews.

18 / 100
Home Box Office (HBO)

#83. Show Me a Hero (2015)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 9,167

HBO’s “Show Me a Hero” portrays the real-life story of a plan to desegregate public housing in Yonkers, New York, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Exploring the themes of class division, race, and the right to housing, the six-episode miniseries earned critical acclaim for its engaging characters and nuanced storytelling.

19 / 100
Company Pictures

#82. Wolf Hall (2015)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 9,168

“Wolf Hall” leverages the strengths of stars Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis to adapt Hilary Mantel’s novels about Thomas Cromwell and King Henry VIII into a compelling historical drama. The six-episode series earned praise for its riveting storytelling and historically-accurate lighting design.

20 / 100
David L. Wolper Productions

#81. North and South, Book I (1985)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 9,384

One of the highest-rated miniseries of all time, the first installment of “North and South” takes place before the Civil War and portrays the friendship between the son of a rich plantation owner in South Carolina and the son of a wealthy factory owner from Pennsylvania. Performances from Patrick Swayze, Lesley-Anne Down, and Kirstie Alley earned rave reviews. The fourth episode of the miniseries also won an Emmy for its costuming.

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21 / 100
BBC Worldwide

#80. The Honourable Woman (2014)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 9,456

In this eight-episode political spy thriller from BBC Two, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays an idealistic Anglo-Jewish businesswoman who tries to “navigate the complexities of doing business in the Middle East” while promoting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, according to Elizabeth Blair of NPR. The show brought a human face to the often-confusing, intractable political conflict that continues to endure.

22 / 100
Pioneer LDC

#79. Serial Experiments Lain (1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 10,436

“Serial Experiments Lain” is a Japanese cyberpunk anime of a teen girl who discovers who she really is in both the real world and in virtual reality. The 13-part show intrigued viewers with its exploration of online and offline life, and the philosophies in finding a common identity between the two.

23 / 100
Asahi National Broadcasting Company

#78. Shōgun (1980)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 11,224

This five-episode miniseries draws inspiration from the life of English explorer William Adams, who traveled to Japan at the beginning of the 17th century and eventually became a shōgun. Richard Chamberlain garnered a Golden Globe for best actor in this drama, shot entirely in Japan. “Shōgun” earned NBC sky-high ratings and drove up interest in Japanese culture and food among Americans.

24 / 100
Cuba Pictures

#77. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2015)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 11,680

Based on a cult-followed book by the same name, “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” depicts what happens when two magicians try to bring the lost art of magic to England in the 19th century. Its seven episodes boast dazzling special effects and enchanting performances.

25 / 100
BBC Drama Productions

#76. Emma (2009)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 14,767

BBC One’s television adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma” brings to life the story of a clever matchmaker whose meddling eventually backfires. Star Romola Garai earned a Golden Globe nomination for her captivating portrayal of the titular character. The series also won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Hairstyling.

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26 / 100
Film 45

#75. The Keepers (2017)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 16,837

This Netflix docuseries depicts the investigation of the unsolved murder of a Baltimore nun in 1969. “The Keepers” follows a nontraditional timeline, hopping between the present-day and the past, but maintains an engrossing narrative structure that will leave viewers outraged and horrified throughout each of the seven episodes.

27 / 100
Showtime Entertainment

#74. Patrick Melrose (2018)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 22,547

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the namesake character of “Patrick Melrose,” a five-episode miniseries about a man who tries to beat addictions and overcome psychological damage from parental abuse over five decades. Cumberbatch’s performance drew praise from critics, while the miniseries’ source material—novels by Edward St. Aubyn—gave the show a built-in audience from the get-go.

28 / 100
Tandem Communications

#73. The Pillars of the Earth (2010)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 28,051

High-quality production values and a talented cast, including Ian McShane and Hayley Atwell, made “The Pillars of the Earth” a hit among viewers. The eight-part miniseries is based on a novel by Ken Follett that focuses on constructing a cathedral during a civil war in 12th-century England.

29 / 100
Raw Television

#72. Don't F*** With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer (2019)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 30,994

True crime fans indulged in “Don't F*** With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” en masse shortly after its debut, making the miniseries one of the top five most popular documentaries on Netflix in 2019, according to Stuart Oldham of Variety. The show traces a group of sleuths who use social media to track down a man who committed acts of animal cruelty, which turn out to be just the beginning of his disturbing crimes.

30 / 100
Amazon Studios

#71. Good Omens (2019)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 52,287

Amazon and the BBC brought “Good Omens,” a 1990 novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, to life in a six-part miniseries by the same name nearly 30 years after the source material was first published. Like the novel, the show centers on the humorous relationship between a demon and angel who try to prevent Armageddon and the coming of the Antichrist. Rotten Tomatoes gave kudos to the show’s lead actors—David Tennant and Michael Sheen—for their “very-nearly-holy (or maybe unholy?) chemistry.”

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31 / 100
DC Comics

#70. Watchmen (2019)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 73,661

Drawing inspiration from a graphic novel by the same name, HBO’s “Watchmen” explores events of racial violence in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in an alternate reality in 2019. The show’s themes felt especially current to audiences growing increasingly aware and concerned about racial strife in the United States. Each episode averaged 7.1 million viewers, according to Adam B. Vary of Variety.

32 / 100
Luminant Media

#69. The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez (2020)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 6,141

This six-episode true crime series centers on a case involving the abuse and murder of an 8-year-old boy from California in 2013. The show prompts serious questions about the abilities of child protective services agencies to protect the vulnerable children they’re responsible for serving, which makes it a “must watch,” according to Joel Keller of the Decider.

33 / 100
Home Box Office (HBO)

#68. I Know This Much Is True (2020)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 6,227

Mark Ruffalo plays the dual roles of identical twin brothers, one confined to an asylum due to schizophrenia, the other on a mission to get his brother released, in “I Know This Much Is True.” Brian Lowry of CNN called the show “a gripping adaptation” of the book on which the story is based, and said it has a powerful exploration of the “painful road to forgiveness.”

34 / 100
Jim Henson Productions

#67. Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2004)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 14,748

“Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars” is a military science fiction show intended to tie up loose ends of the original series, which was canceled in 2002. It tells the story of an astronaut who becomes a target of warring aliens after he learns how to make a devastating weapon.

35 / 100
BBC Cymru Wales

#66. War and Peace (2016)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 19,712

Ever wanted to read “War and Peace,” but couldn’t find a spare 32.6 hours to get through the thick tome? Try the BBC’s 2016 miniseries by the same name, instead. Running just longer than 6 hours, the visual rendition of Leo Tolstoy’s famous saga was called “the greatest costume drama of the decade” by Ben Lawrence of The Telegraph.

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36 / 100
Duplass Brothers Productions

#65. Wild Wild Country (2018)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 22,203

In this Netflix documentary miniseries, filmmakers profile a controversial Indian guru and the cult he built in the Oregon desert, which got into massive conflict with the local community that resulted in the country’s first bioterrorism attack. “Wild Wild Country” hooked viewers who wanted to learn more about an intriguing part of American history that’s left out of most history books.

37 / 100
Avenue Pictures

#64. Angels in America (2003)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 25,485

Based on a play that earned a Pulitzer Prize, HBO’s “Angels in America” is set in 1985 and tackles a range of topical issues, including the AIDS epidemic and Reaganomics, through angelic visits experienced by a gay man who has AIDS. It features a star-studded cast that includes Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Patrick Wilson, and Mary-Louise Parker, many of whom earned Golden Globe awards and other recognition for their performances.

38 / 100
Lions Gate Films

#63. The Lost Room (2006)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 28,711

This sci-fi series centers on a detective searching for his missing daughter who vanished from a strange hotel room. While reviews for the six-hour miniseries were mixed, it earned Emmy award nominations for sound mixing and main title design.

39 / 100
Crazyrose

#62. Sharp Objects (2018)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 62,970

HBO’s psychological thriller miniseries “Sharp Objects” stars Amy Adams as a journalist who finds herself back in her hometown to investigate the disappearance and murder of two girls. While the plot is dramatic in its own right, it’s Adams’ portrayal of internal conflict and self-loathing that hooked viewers.

40 / 100
Carpenter B

#61. 11.22.63 (2016)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 68,788

In “11.22.63,” James Franco plays a high school teacher who takes on a time-traveling mission to stop John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Franco’s performance is frequently cited among critics as a highlight of the show.

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41 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#60. Bleak House (2005)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 8,385

“Bleak House” is a 15-episode BBC miniseries that traces its source material to a Charles Dickens’ novel about an infamous court case set in Victorian London. The show drew critical praise for Gillian Anderson’s magnetic performance and the strange, engrossing world that writer Andrew Davies created.

42 / 100
Warner Bros. Television

#59. Roots (1977)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 15,724

“Roots” traces the story of Kunta Kinte, a teen boy from West Africa who was captured and sold into slavery, but refused to use his slave name, and the heirs who kept the memory of his defiance alive. The series won nine of the 37 Emmys it was nominated for, and features such notable actors as LeVar Burton, Cicely Tyson, Louis Gossett Jr., and Ben Vereen.

43 / 100
Carnival Film & Television

#58. The 10th Kingdom (2000)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 17,211

In “The 10th Kingdom,” a father-daughter duo find themselves in an alternate reality where trolls, goblins, and giants have taken over the fairy-tale kingdoms of Cinderella and Snow White. Seeing a new twist on classic characters delighted viewers of the popular show when it debuted.

44 / 100
Home Box Office (HBO)

#57. Olive Kitteridge (2014)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 17,259

This four-part dramatic miniseries takes a look at a 25-year stretch of a middle-school math teacher’s life as she navigates complex relationships with both her son and her husband. Critics pointed to the cinematography, writing, and Frances McDormand’s performance as highlights of “Olive Kitteridge.”

45 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#56. Jane Eyre (2006)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 18,890

The BBC’s serial adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” offers a vivid portrayal of the novel’s tale of an orphan-turned-governess who falls in love with a man with a dark past. The series earned nominations and awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Emmys, and the Golden Globes, among others.

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46 / 100
Netflix

#55. Godless (2017)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 47,113

A Western drama, “Godless” shows what happens when a ruthless outlaw makes a new life for himself in a community of all women as he tries to find a former gang member. The series, which was produced by Steven Soderbergh and written and produced by Scott Frank, intrigued viewers with its examination of “dark mythology embedded in the Western genre,” according to Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic.

47 / 100
DreamWorks

#54. The Pacific (2010)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 95,984

“The Pacific” shows what happened in the Pacific theater through the eyes of three Marines who fought in World War II. The 10-part miniseries was produced by Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and other members of the team behind HBO’s other beloved war drama, “Band of Brothers.”

48 / 100
Granada Television

#53. Prime Suspect (1991)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 6,377

Helen Mirren plays a detective who tries to investigate serial murders while overcoming sexist obstacles created by her male colleagues in “Prime Suspect.” The seven-episode police procedural resonated with audiences for its significant subplot of the sexism women face at work.

49 / 100
Yellow Bird,

#52. Millennium (2010)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 7,730

This six-part Swedish TV series is based on the movies that draw from Stieg Larsson’s series of mystery novels about a reporter and a computer hacker. The series strikes a balance between being a thriller and a drama, with lots of suspense.

50 / 100
Anne of Green Gables Productions

#51. Anne of Avonlea (1987)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 8,399

When the beloved novel “Anne of Green Gables” was adapted for the screen in 1985, it was a runaway hit with fans. It should come as no surprise that the sequel, “Anne of Avonlea,” which reunited the original cast to follow heroine Anne Shirley through early adulthood, proved just as popular with fans when the miniseries was released two years later.

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51 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#50. State of Play (2003)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 9,015

Upon investigating a murder of a teenager, a journalist and his fellow reporters uncover a conspiracy involving high-ranking politicians and the oil industry in “State of Play.” The miniseries boasted a talented cast, including David Morrissey, Bill Nighy, and John Simm, and went on to inspire a movie featuring Russell Crowe.

52 / 100
Avatar Film

#49. Law of the Lawless (2002)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 9,382

This 15-part Russian miniseries takes viewers into the world of four childhood friends who become members of a gang in Moscow. “Law of the Lawless” romanticizes violence and portrays criminals in a positive light, which made it controversial yet exciting for some viewers.

53 / 100
Princess Pictures

#48. Summer Heights High (2007)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 13,894

A sitcom shot in mockumentary style, “Summer Heights High” showcases the high school experience through the eyes of a performing arts teacher, exchange student, and a disobedient student. The quirky format of the show, which used nonactors in the roles of supporting characters, earned it favorable reviews.

54 / 100
Cinematograph AB

#47. Scenes From a Marriage (1973)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 14,442

Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 miniseries “Scenes From a Marriage” portrays the 10-year decline of a marriage, in which one spouse is a divorce lawyer. Audiences appreciated the miniseries’ realism and dialogue.

55 / 100
Red Production Company

#46. Years and Years (2019)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 18,474

“Years and Years,” from HBO and the BBC, follows the lives of the Manchester family members that converge on an important night in 2019. Emma Thompson plays the starring role of Vivienne Rook in the six-episode satire with tons of laugh-out-loud humor.

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56 / 100
CBS Television Studios

#45. Unbelievable (2019)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 61,418

Based on a true story, “Unbelievable” examines a case of a teen rape survivor accused of lying about the crime that was committed against her as detectives work to uncover the truth. Rotten Tomatoes said that the series goes beyond the conventions of the true crime genre to tell survivors’ stories “with grace and gravity.”

57 / 100
Granada Television

#44. Brideshead Revisited (1981)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 6,420

This drama centers on the life and flings of a man named Charles Ryder for the 20-year period leading up to the 1940s. It received a slew of British Academy Television Craft Awards for editing, camerawork, costume design, sound, and makeup.

58 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#43. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 7,433

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is an adaptation of John Le Carré’s novel about a master spy who’s on the hunt for an undercover Soviet embedded in the British intelligence services. The complex spy drama features “one of the greatest performances ever seen on the small screen,” according to Paul MacInnes of The Guardian.

59 / 100
Home Box Office (HBO)

#42. The Defiant Ones (2017)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 10,882

Directed by Allen Hughes, this four-part documentary takes a look at the partnership between Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, who together founded Beats Electronics. The filmmakers used a groundbreaking editing technique they dubbed the “Empathy Cut” to add meaningful depth of imagery over the narrative, according to editor and writer Doug Pray.

60 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#41. House of Cards (1990)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 13,073

This British political thriller follows the manipulative schemes of an ambitious conservative politician who attempts to become the prime minister. The popularity of the miniseries inspired Netflix to create an American version of “House of Cards” in 2013.

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61 / 100
Pig Newton

#40. Horace and Pete (2016)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 14,411

“Horace and Pete” stars Louis C.K. and Pete Buscemi as the titular characters who operate a shabby Brooklyn bar. One of the unique features of this miniseries is its highly-topical barroom discussions, which felt extremely current to viewers when the show was released online.

62 / 100
Avalon Television

#39. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (2004)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 15,452

“Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace” parodies a low-budget horror sci-fi series from the 1980s and is set in a hospital located over the entrance to hell. Rotten Tomatoes has called the miniseries strangely brilliant.”

63 / 100
Anne of Green Gables Productions

#38. Anne of Green Gables (1985)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 18,665

This Canadian series was an instant hit among fans of the children’s novel that inspired the show, which “has sold more than 50 million copies,” according to Amazon. “Anne of Green Gables” is a coming-of-age story that centers around Anne Shirley, a red-haired orphan who comes to live on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

64 / 100
ITC Films

#37. Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 19,485

This miniseries brings the life of Christ to the screen using a blend of the narratives in the New Testament. Robert Powell received accolades for his portrayal of Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI also endorsed the miniseries when it debuted, according to History.

65 / 100
A-1 Pictures

#36. Erased (2016)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 23,747

Adapted from a manga series, “Erased” is a Japanese miniseries that’s part thriller, part mystery, and part fantasy. It follows the story of an aspiring writer who travels back in time to prevent his mother’s death.

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66 / 100
Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF)

#35. Generation War (2013)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 24,686

In three 90-minute episodes, “Generation War” looks at five German friends—a war nurse, a Jewish tailor, Eastern Front soldiers, and a singer—during World War II. The controversial miniseries was met with both positive reviews and criticism in Germany and abroad for its portrayal of Nazi Germany.

67 / 100
HBO Films

#34. John Adams (2008)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 27,362

This miniseries brings the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Founding Father John Adams to the screen in seven lavish episodes. “John Adams” earned more than a dozen Emmy awards, including Outstanding Miniseries, Outstanding Lead Actor for Paul Giamatti’s work, Outstanding Lead Actress for Laura Linney’s portrayal of Abigail Adams, and Outstanding Art Direction.

68 / 100
Home Box Office (HBO)

#33. Generation Kill (2008)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 46,422

“Generation Kill” is an HBO miniseries that’s based on a book by Evan Wright about working as an embedded journalist with the Marines during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The award-winning show balances masterful storytelling and period details while showing viewers the disturbing realities of war.

69 / 100
BBC Drama Productions

#32. The Night Of (2016)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 112,552

Based on the first season of the 2008 British show “Criminal Justice,” “The Night Of” weaves through a complicated murder case in New York City involving a Pakistani American student and his relationship with a prison inmate. It premiered during an otherwise lackluster summer for TV and had a tense mood that hooked viewers, according to Jesse Schedeen of IGN.

70 / 100
Starz!

#31. Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (2011)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 123,461

Intended as a prequel to “Spartacus,” this miniseries focuses on gladiator Gannicus who becomes a champion in a time before there was honor in the arena. It has an “apocalyptic video game look” with ample amounts of sex and violence, according to Ginia Bellafante of The New York Times.

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71 / 100
Clavius Base

#30. From the Earth to the Moon (1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 10,647

“From the Earth to the Moon” details the iconic Apollo space program from the creation of NASA to the last lunar mission. The filmmakers and actors worked closely with the real-life astronauts portrayed in the miniseries, which added depth and authenticity to the production.

72 / 100
Elixir Films

#29. Long Way Round (2004)

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 11,427

“Long Way Round” follows Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as they set out on a motorcycle journey from London to New York. The documentary miniseries was called “the ultimate road trip” by Virginia Heffernan of The New York Times.

73 / 100
Studio DEEN

#28. Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal (1999)

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 12,776

Set in the Meiji Restoration era, “Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal” is an anime miniseries that follows an assassin as he discovers his own humanity and forms a relationship with a young woman. The quality of both the animation and the voice acting captivated viewers and earned the miniseries rave reviews.

74 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#27. North & South (2004)

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 28,995

This BBC miniseries explores topical issues like class and gender through the story of a woman and her family who move from southern England and try to readjust to life in the North. While the show was not expected to do well, it became a hit with fans who appreciated the deep portrayal of the working classes.

75 / 100
R&D TV

#26. Battlestar Galactica (2003)

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 66,757

The most-watched miniseries on cable in 2003, “Battlestar Galactica” updates a 1970s show by the same name that explores the struggles of the last remaining humans in search of their home planet Earth. It won awards for its incredible special effects.

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76 / 100
Granada Television

#25. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1994)

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 6,835

“The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes” is the last installment of a series about the famous detective and his astute assistant Dr. Watson. Fans of the series appreciated the show’s faithfulness to Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories.

77 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#24. I, Claudius (1976)

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 15,266

“I, Claudius” dives into the history of the Roman Empire through the narrations of Emperor Claudius from 24 B.C. to A.D. 54. Jace Lacob of the Daily Beast called it “spellbinding” and “one of the best dramas ever to air on television.”

78 / 100
Motown Productions

#23. Lonesome Dove (1989)

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 19,840

In this Western, a pair of former Texas Rangers embark on a cattle drive to Montana, renewing their sense of adventure along the way. The New York Times credits the show for revitalizing both the Western and miniseries genres.

79 / 100
HBO Documentary Films

#22. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 37,528

This jaw-dropping miniseries investigates real estate heir Robert Durst and the unsolved crimes in which he was suspected to be involved. It delivers fresh storytelling stemming from a nearly decade-long research project.

80 / 100
Bavaria Film

#21. Das Boot (1985-1987)

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 25,290

“Das Boot” tells the story of a German U-boat crew on a patrol mission at the beginning of World War II. It captures the claustrophobia of living on a U-boat with intense realism.

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81 / 100
Cartoon Network Studios

#20. Over the Garden Wall (2014)

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 36,521

The plot of this animated miniseries involves two half-brothers who discover peculiar and fantastical things during an adventure through a mysterious forest. Stunning visuals and a surprisingly complex storyline made watching “Over the Garden Wall” a winning experience for audiences.

82 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#19. Pride and Prejudice (1995)

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 73,157

This cult-favorite miniseries focuses on the love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy as they overcome differences in social standing in high society. A scene featuring Mr. Darcy, played by Colin Firth, in a wet shirt has gone down in history as “one of the most unforgettable moments in British TV,” according to Fiachra Gibbons of The Guardian.

83 / 100
ARRAY Filmworks

#18. When They See Us (2019)

- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Votes: 79,769

“When They See Us” is a crime miniseries that centers on the case of the Central Park Five—a group of teen boys who were falsely prosecuted for allegedly raping and assaulting a jogger in New York City in 1989. The four episodes “chronicle an epic legal failure and help to restore a sense of the men as individuals,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

84 / 100
CC&C Clarke Costelle & Cie

#17. Apocalypse: The Second World War (2009)

- IMDb user rating: 9
- Votes: 9,115

In six episodes, this French documentary about World War II covers the rise of Nazism through the surrender of Japan. Its use of actual footage shot during the time helps viewers see what the war was like through the eyes of reporters, soldiers, members of the Resistance, and everyday people.

85 / 100
American Documentaries Inc.

#16. The Civil War (1990)

- IMDb user rating: 9
- Votes: 12,947

Ken Burns’ iconic documentary miniseries “The Civil War” received more than 40 awards for its skillful retelling of the events of the American Civil War. It gave birth to the film technique known as the Ken Burns effect, which involves panning and zooming on still images to create a sense of movement for video production.

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86 / 100
BBC Bristol

#15. Africa (2013)

- IMDb user rating: 9
- Votes: 13,474

It took four years and some 2,000 hours of footage for the BBC to complete “Africa,” a miniseries that examines wildlife on the continent. It features rarely-filmed animal behavior, such as white-necked rockfowl building nests, in stunning visuals.

87 / 100
Sender Freies Berlin (SFB)

#14. Dekalog (1989–1990)

- IMDb user rating: 9
- Votes: 20,874

“Dekalog” dives into the ethical dilemmas faced by residents of a housing project in Poland during the 1980s through 10 one-hour episodes, each inspired by the Ten Commandments. Robert Fulford of The National Post called it “the best dramatic work ever done specifically for television.”

88 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#13. Human Planet (2011)

- IMDb user rating: 9
- Votes: 22,872

While other BBC nature documentaries focus on where the animals live, “Human Planet” takes a documentary-style look at human habitats. The filmmakers shot footage in around 40 countries, including some of the most far-flung places on Earth.

89 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#12. Frozen Planet (2011-2012)

- IMDb user rating: 9
- Votes: 25,588

From the producers behind “Planet Earth” and “The Blue Planet,” “Frozen Planet” is a nature documentary miniseries that looks at life in the most frigid places on the planet. It was acclaimed for its visual depiction of climate change and how it affects glaciers and ice shelves.

90 / 100
Apple Corps

#11. The Beatles Anthology (1995-1996)

- IMDb user rating: 9.1
- Votes: 6,943

The Fab Four teamed up for “The Beatles Anthology,” an autobiographical documentary miniseries that traces the lives of one of the most famous bands in history through archival footage. It gave fans of the Beatles the chance to see previously-unreleased performances and hear two new songs.

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91 / 100
Florentine Films

#10. The Vietnam War (2017)

- IMDb user rating: 9.1
- Votes: 18,583

This 18-hour miniseries by renowned filmmaker Ken Burns shares the firsthand accounts of people who fought in the Vietnam War, as well as those who opposed it. “The Vietnam War” offers a refreshing and sobering look at one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

92 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#9. Life (2009)

- IMDb user rating: 9.1
- Votes: 36,992

Some of the strangest behaviors of Earth’s species are depicted in all their glory in “Life,” a documentary miniseries by David Attenborough and a legendary team of filmmakers. It gives audiences the chance to see macaques bathing in the Japanese Alps, an ibex escaping a predatory fox near the Dead Sea, and ragged-tooth sharks feeding on sardines off the coast of South Africa.

93 / 100
Contagious Online Media Network

#8. TVF Pitchers (2015)

- IMDb user rating: 9.2
- Votes: 49,545

This miniseries has earned a cult following for its story of the successes and challenges experienced by young entrepreneurs who leave their nine-to-five jobs to attempt to create a successful startup. The tale draws inspiration from the HBO series “Silicon Valley,” but adapts it for an Indian audience.

94 / 100
ESPN Films

#7. The Last Dance (2020)

- IMDb user rating: 9.2
- Votes: 60,152

“The Last Dance” traces the career of basketball great Michael Jordan and the legendary 1990s Chicago Bulls, featuring previously-unaired footage. The compelling documentary series includes interviews with a variety of NBA stars, including Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.

95 / 100
Silverback Films

#6. Our Planet (2019)

- IMDb user rating: 9.3
- Votes: 27,426

Netflix’s first nature documentary, “Our Planet,” was an instant hit with fans of similar miniseries, like “Frozen Planet” and “The Blue Planet,” when it debuted in 2019. The conservation-focused miniseries, which takes a close look at the impact of humans on the environment, was on track to be streamed by 25 million households within the first month of hitting the Netflix library.

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96 / 100
BBC Natural History Unit (NHU)

#5. Blue Planet II (2017–2018)

- IMDb user rating: 9.3
- Votes: 30,270

A follow-up to 2001’s “The Blue Planet,” this nature documentary miniseries sent filmmakers on a years-long mission involving 125 expeditions to capture life under the sea. It earned recognition for its rich cinematography and unique footage of species and behavior rarely shown on television.

97 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#4. Planet Earth (2006)

- IMDb user rating: 9.4
- Votes: 161,862

This $10 million BBC nature documentary series sent 20 camera crews on an international journey to film life on Earth, garnering it huge audiences and critical acclaim, according to Michael Slenske of The New York Times. The documentary was among the earliest nature series to be shot in high-definition.

98 / 100
DreamWorks

#3. Band of Brothers (2001)

- IMDb user rating: 9.4
- Votes: 359,059

Created by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, HBO’s “Band of Brothers” used interviews from members of the real-life Easy Company to share the story of the exceptionally brave 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army during World War II. The miniseries strikes a balance between “the ideal of heroism with the violence and terror of battle,” according to Caryn James of The New York Times.

99 / 100
Home Box Office (HBO)

#2. Chernobyl (2019)

- IMDb user rating: 9.4
- Votes: 484,083

This historical drama tells the story of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the efforts to clean up the area. It offers a thought-provoking portrayal of the dangers of dishonest leaders and abuse of authority.

100 / 100
BBC Natural History Unit (NHU)

#1. Planet Earth II (2016)

- IMDb user rating: 9.5
- Votes: 90,332

The highly-anticipated follow-up to 2006’s “Planet Earth” explores the changes that have occurred in Earth’s many habitats, including mountains, cities, grasslands, and jungles, over the past 10 years. It brings viewers up close to fragile wilderness and the fascinating creatures who call it home.

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