In February 2011, Amazon announced that Amazon Prime members could access thousands of streaming movies and TV shows for free as part of its subscription service.
Today, it is estimated that there are over 150 million people around the globe who have access to Amazon Prime features, including its streaming video library. That’s a massive audience for any TV show, current or classic, spread across devices ranging from smartphones to big-screen TVs.
Let’s take a look at the best Amazon Prime shows in the US, including both original shows exclusive to the service, and older shows first shown by other outlets. Keep in mind that Amazon Prime Video does use geo-restrictions, so not all of these shows are available in every market.
Best Amazon Prime Video shows:
Editor’s note: We will be updating this list as more great TV shows are added to Amazon Prime Video and others are removed.
1. The Night Manager
One of the best shows on Amazon, The Night Manager is a limited British television series based on a John le Carre book by the same name. The show stars Tom Hiddleston as the night manager of a luxury hotel in Cairo, Egypt. It just so happens that Hiddleston’s character is also a former British soldier. When he unwillingly comes in possession of a confidential list of weapons and warfare chemicals, he reports it to the International Enforcement Agency in London. He is then recruited by an intelligence agent (Olivia Colman) to infiltrate an arms dealer’s (Hugh Laurie) inner circle. However, there’s a mole in the British intelligence community that makes things all the more complicated.
The Night Manager has won several accolades to date, including two Emmy awards and several Golden Globe awards. There are just six one-hour-long episodes in the show, so it’s a quick watch. It’s definitely addictive and will keep you at the edge of your seat throughout.
2. The Man in the High Castle
Based on the classic novel by the late Philip K. Dick, this Amazon Prime original show takes place in the 1960s, but in an alternate timeline where Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II and now occupy the coasts of either side of the US. This “what if” series tells the tale of several characters in this alternate Earth, who discover a series of movies that show the US winning World War II.
This series expands from Dick’s original novel and shows the characters not only realizing that they are on an alternate Earth, but also that it might be possible to actually travel to the timeline where the US and its allies won World War II. The Man in the High Castle is not only one the best Amazon Prime shows, but perhaps the best original Amazon Prime TV drama series.
3. The Expanse
Originally shown on the SyFy cable channel, this excellent sci-fi epic is now available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. Based on The Expanse novels by “James S. A. Corey” (actually a pen name for two writers, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), the show takes place hundreds of years in the future, where humanity has colonized the entire solar system. However, there are now factions in various locations in the system: Earth, Mars, and the “Belters” who live in the outer system.
The show not only has a huge cast and an epic feel, but it may have some of the best visual effects ever made for a space-based sci-fi series. The good news is that Amazon head Jeff Bezos, an admitted big sci-fi fan himself, loved The Expanse so much that when SyFy decided not to renew the show for a fourth season, Bezos got Amazon Prime Video to pick up the rights and approve production of that season.
4. The Americans
The Americans may be the best TV show that most of you may have never watched. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, a normal married couple who live in the Washington D.C. area in the early 1980s with their two kids. It sounds like a standard family drama, right? Wrong! Elizabeth and Philip Jennings are actually two deep-undercover KGB spies who are actively trying to gain intel for the Soviet Union.
This show has tons of twists and turns, especially as Philip starts to enjoy his time in the US, while Elizabeth sticks with her KGB training and her ideology. Oh, and their two kids have no idea that their mom and dad are spies. All six seasons of The Americans are available to stream now, and it is a no-brainer for our best Amazon Prime shows list.
If you thought no one but Sir Anthony Hopkins could portray the brilliant serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter, then check out this short-lived series that originally aired on NBC. Mads Mikkelsen gives us a highly creepy performance as Dr. Lecter, and Hugh Dancy plays FBI profiler Will Graham, who has to hunt down Lecter after he reveals himself to be a killer and a cannibal.
The series takes place before the first Hannibal Lecter novel by Thomas Harris, Red Dragon, for the first two and a half seasons. However, it actually adapts that novel for the second half of its third and final season. It’s too bad that this frightening show got canceled before the series could adapt the other Lecter novels, but what is available is still excellent, if you are not too squeamish.
6. Good Omens
Some TV shows on streaming platforms are designed to be “one-and-done,” with their stories completed in just one season. That’s the case for Good Omens. Based on the acclaimed fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett, the series centers on two supernatural beings on Earth. One is the angel Aziraphale, played by Michael Sheen, and the other is the demon Crowley, played by David Tennent. The two beings, despite being on opposite sides, not only grow to become friends but also love being on Earth. That’s a problem, however, as the series deals with these two friends trying to prevent the end of the world.
Gaiman served as the showrunner for this six-episode limited series, and it shows. Good Omens feels like both a great adaptation and an extension of the original novel. It’s also flat out funny. Look for a lot of interesting cameos and voices in this show as well.
Homecoming is an Amazon Prime Video original starring Julia Roberts in the lead. The show is produced and directed by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail. It’s a fast-paced thriller, the plot of which revolves around a sketchy transitional support facility for US soldiers. Roberts plays Heidi Bergman, a social worker hired by the facility to help battle-torn soldiers transition smoothly into civilian life. But something sinister is going at the Homecoming center and after four years of working there, Bergman has no memory of what she did until a defense auditor comes inquiring about her past.
Homecoming has 10 half-hour-long episodes in its first season, and we also hear a second season is on its way. The 2018 show was nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Drama Series. If you have an Amazon Prime Subscription, Homecoming is one show you should really not miss.
8. Downton Abbey
We have seen tons of movies and TV shows about the British class system, but none of them have been as entertaining as this show. Originally shown on ITV in the UK and on PBS in the US, Downton Abbey is centered on a fictional estate in the British countryside and all of the people who live and work there in the early part of the 20th century. Real-world events of the time affect both the Crawley family and their domestic servants.
The show puts the spotlight on the many changes in the class system in Britain during that time period, as the aristocracy start to lose their once massive influence on society. The show has some great writing and terrific performances by the cast, who make you care about what happens to them through the years. All six seasons are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
9. The Boys
One of Amazon Prime Video’s best TV series is also an original. The Boys basically tries to answer the question, “What if superheroes existed in the real world?” In this series, superheroes would be used as products and marketing tools for a massive company. Also, most superheroes themselves in this series are pretty nasty folks, who feel they can do whatever they want and get away with it.
The Boys centers on one particular superhero group, The Seven, and the efforts of a rouge group of (mostly) ordinary humans (The Boys) who know the truth and want to bring these powerful beings down. It’s a highly adult TV show (definitely don’t let kids watch it), but if you want to see a more realistic and brutal look at superheroes, this show is a must on Amazon Prime Video.
10. Modern Love
Modern Love is a collection of short love stories — a romantic anthology — that’s based on a weekly column published in The New York Times. The series presents eight half-hour episodes, each exploring a different facet of love. Every episode has different cast members, some of which include Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, Andy Garcia, Dev Patel, and Julia Garner, amongst other celebrated names. It’s one of those shows that will make you exuberant in one episode and depressed in the next. However, its romantic appeal and the short length of the episodes make it a highly binge-worthy title.
The 2019 show has been renewed for a second installment, so you might want to catch up on the first season while we wait for the second one.
Here’s another Amazon Prime Video original series designed to have a beginning, middle, and end. Phoebe Waller-Bridge writes and stars as “Fleabag”, a young woman who is trying to find love and companionship in London. She frequently talks directly to the camera in a fourth-wall breaking tactic that, for once, is not annoying but actually helps to make her funnier and more relatable at the same time.
Waller-Bridge adapted her one-woman play for this series, and it sometimes shows in some of the episodes of this two-season series. However, the scope of the show is expansive enough that it doesn’t feel like a stage play. You can catch both seasons of Fleabag on Amazon Prime Video right now.
12. Mr. Robot
This show not only has a cool premise, but it also has a visual style unlike any TV show made before or since. The show centers on Elliot, a computer programmer who is also a secret hacker. He gets recruited by a mysterious group who want to use Elliot’s skills to bring down what they claim are evil corporations.
The idea of a computer hacker anti-hero is a good one, and Rami Malek is perfect as Elliot, a smart man who also has some serious mental health issues. Those issues bleed into the camera work for the series, which sometimes places the camera at odd angles, in part to give us a glimpse as to how Elliot sees the world.
13. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
This Amazon Prime Video TV show centers on a woman in New York City in the late 1950s who decides to become a stand-up comedian after her husband leaves her. The show won an Emmy Award in 2018 for Best Comedy Series and its star, Rachel Brosnahan, also won that year for Best Actress in a Comedy series. The show also won, or was nominated for, many other major awards over the past couple of years.
Even though it’s labeled as a comedy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has a lot of drama as well, as you might expect from its creator Amy Sherman-Palladino who also created Gilmore Girls. It’s also a great look back in time in the late 1950s, where women were just beginning to make themselves known in the workforce for more than just being teachers or secretaries.
14. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan
Amazon Prime Video made a huge splash in 2018 with the launch of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. This original series stars John Krasinski as Jack Ryan, who has been portrayed in several movies by other actors based on the techno-thriller novels by the late Tom Clancy. The first episode of this eight-episode first season sees Ryan as a young CIA analyst. He thinks he’s only going to be working at a desk, but his work has him leave his office and go out in the field to try and stop an Islamic terrorist.
The show is action-packed and will keep you at the edge of your seat. It’s a must-watch!
15. The Tick
The Tick is not your run-of-the-mill superhero. He’s extremely gullible and supremely annoying to work with. He wears a ridiculous blue suit and befriends people easily. One of them happens to be a mild-mannered young man named Arthur who eventually becomes his sidekick. The series follows the adventures of The Tick and Arthur as they fight off a series of bad guys to ultimately take on an apparently long-dead supervillain called “The Terror.”
The Tick is based on an American comic book by the same name and is a funny show for when you just want to binge-watch something aimlessly. There are two seasons of the show available, each with 10-12 half-hour episodes. Once again, this is a quick watch, but witty and entertaining to the core.
16. Dead Like Me
Before American writer and producer Bryan Fuller made shows like American Gods and Hannibal, he created a black comedy series called Dead Like Me. The plot of this 2003 show revolves around an 18-year-old woman named Georgia Lass (Ellen Muth) who is the protagonist of the show. On her first day of work as a temp, Georgia is hit by a toilet seat falling from space. Instead of going to heaven or hell, she becomes a grim reaper, responsible for collecting souls. Her ultimate mission, and that of other grim reapers she meets, is to collect enough souls to become eligible for moving on to the next realm. Can she adjust to her new role while also working at her day job? That’s what season one of the series is all about.
There are two whole seasons with a total of 29 episodes to watch, so this one if for the hardcore streamers. It’s also been converted into a TV movie and has a pretty solid fanbase as far as TV shows go.
A pathbreaking show for its time, Transparent is a comedy-drama series from 2014 that represents the trans community on TV like never before. The story of the series revolves around an LA-based family and their lives after they discover that the patriarch of the family (Jeffrey Tambor) is actually a transgender woman.
The show won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards in its five-season-long run. The final season concluded in 2019, so this would be the best time to watch all of it. It’s also one of the most highly-rated shows in the history of television, known for its daring and open-minded ideas.
18. HBO shows on Amazon Prime Video
We are cheating a bit for this last entry on our best Amazon Prime shows for two good reasons. One is that the HBO shows you can stream on Amazon Prime Video are, simply put, some of the best television ever produced. We are talking classic dramas like The Sopranos, The Wire, Band of Brothers and Boardwalk Empire. It also has the network’s funniest comedy shows like Veep, Sex and the City and more.
The other reason we are putting these shows in one category and listing is that they may not be on Amazon Prime Video for much longer. HBO’s owners at WarnerMedia, which is now a part of AT&T, had previously said they planned to remove all HBO shows from Amazon Prime Video by the end of 2018. That has not happened as predicted, but we expect that those HBO shows could be delisted from Amazon Prime any day now, especially since WarnerMedia plans to launch its own streaming video service as well. So you better binge on those shows right now because you might be forced to pay an extra fee to access them on another service soon.
That’s our list of the best Amazon Prime Video TV shows you can watch right now. We’ll add more titles to the list once they launch on the streaming service.