Looking for the best shows on Netflix can be hard given the huge selection the streaming service offers. This is why we have created a list of our favorite ones and are ready to share it with you!
Netflix gave many critically acclaimed TV shows from regular broadcast and cable networks a second life. Some of the best television shows ever made are now available for binge viewing on the service. In addition, they have a healthy portfolio of original shows and mini series for your viewing pleasure.
Best shows on Netflix:
Editor’s note: This list of the best shows on Netflix will be updated as TV series leave and others make their debut on Netflix.
1. Breaking Bad
Of all of the older shows streaming on Netflix, this series may have benefited the most. Breaking Bad is about a high-school chemistry teacher who slowly descends into evil by cooking meth to pay for his cancer treatments.
This could be the best TV show on Netflix, and some would argue it’s the best one ever made. Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White is one of the best acting performances ever, TV or otherwise. He is helped by a superb supporting cast, including Aaron Paul, who is equally as good as White’s meth producing partner Jesse Pinkman.
Sherlock Holmes stories were thought to be dry period pieces before this BBC series launched. The show took the consulting detective into a modern setting and was a massive success in updating the material without losing the original’s spirit. It also made Benedict Cumberbatch an international star for his portrayal of Holmes.
3. Stranger Things
What can be said about this Netflix original show that hasn’t already been said? Stranger Things has become one of the most popular and buzzed-about current TV dramas, period. Created by the Duffer brothers, the show offers great nostalgic entertainment for people who grew up in the early 1980s and watched movies like E.T. and Poltergeist. At the same time, the show is made with a modern sensitivity towards relationships and characters.
The kids and adults who live and work in the fictional Hawkins, Indiana, have to deal with supernatural threats in the show’s first two seasons, but there’s also plenty of room for teenage romance and more. The long-awaited awaited third season of Stranger Things is now available to stream and a fourth season is in the works.
4. The Twilight Zone (1959)
Even though there is a new Twilight Zone series on CBS All Access, the original show can still pack a punch. There are classic episodes like Nightmare at 20,000 and It’s a Good Life that just want to scare you. There are also shows that make you think like The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.
While not every episode is a hit, there are plenty of Twilight Zone episodes to stream on Netflix that will entertain, frighten, and make you ponder on some serious themes. The show is a testament to Rod Serling, who many believe is the first great TV writer.
5. The Office (US)
Many fans of the original UK version of The Office were skeptical that the US remake would be good. Turns out, the US incarnation of the ultimate workplace comedy might actually be (don’t tell anyone) better than the original.
The US version ran longer (all nine seasons are on Netflix), so characters like Steve Carell’s Michael Scott, Rainn Wilson’s Dwight Schrute, and others had more time to develop and become more realistic. We also can’t forget one of the great TV romantic couples in John Krasinski’s Jim Halpert and Jenna Fischer’s Pam Beesly. Their performances, as well as the rest of the cast, make us wish we could visit the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, just to say, “Hi.”
6. Twin Peaks
Before shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad made TV a better place for cool drama than movies, David Lynch and Mark Frost came up with Twin Peaks. The ABC soap opera centered on the titular fictional Pacific Northwest town was all sorts of weird. In it, super-quirky FBI agent Dale Cooper (played to perfection by Kyle MacLachlan) tries to solve the mysterious death of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), a popular high-school student with a dark secret.
In case you’ve never seen Twin Peaks, that’s all we’ll reveal about this show. It goes in a ton of different directions that had never really been done before in a TV show. The last half of the show’s second season is admittedly a bit of a mess, but Twin Peaks is still one of the best shows on Netflix.
7. The Umbrella Academy
There are tons of superhero TV shows on both standard and streaming networks these days. However, it’s safe to say none of them are like The Umbrella Academy. Based on the Dark Horse comic book series written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, the series starts with a unique origin story for its superpowered characters. Many years ago, all of them were born, almost instantly, by women who previously were not pregnant. They were taken in by a millionaire to learn more about their powers.
Flash-forward to the present day, and these kids are now adults. Their millionaire “father” is now dead, and they are wondering what was the purpose of being gathered together. We quickly learn their goal is to save the world. This show has some unique characters and performers, along with lots of twists you will likely not see coming. You can watch the first season now, and the second season is due on July 31.
8. The Witcher
The Witcher is a fantasy Netflix TV show based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s books of the same name. This has become a very popular original series, and it is definitely among the best shows on Netflix.
The story follows Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter that may have more trouble with human relations than he does with other creatures. Destiny makes him cross paths with a sorceress and a princess with special abilities. It doesn’t take long for them to find themselves in some crazy adventures.
9. The Walking Dead
Based on the long-running comic book series by Robert Kirkman, this AMC show became an instant hit for the cable network and continues to find new fans as one of the best TV shows on Netflix. This chronicle of a series of characters dealing with the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse transcends its pulp story roots and explores what would really happen if civilization really ended.
This was also one of the first TV shows to regularly kill off major characters, so if you are watching this on Netflix blind, don’t get too attached to the people you see in early episodes. The Walking Dead, even with its long history, remains a show that can regularly shock and surprise you, and it’s helped by great performances and some of the best horror makeup ever made.
10. Parks and Recreation
This NBC show might be considered as a spiritual sister show to The Office. It’s filmed in a similar documentary style and follows people doing their jobs in the Parks Department of fictional small-town Pawnee, Indiana. However, Parks and Recreation has a lighter tone than The Office, with perhaps even more eccentric characters. No one fits that category better than Ron Swanson. In a role seemingly made for actor Nick Offerman, Swanson is the man everyone comes in contact with at some point in their lives. He’s good at his job, knows it, and won’t let you forget it. The rest of the cast is excellent, and you can watch this show to see Christ Pratt just before he turned into, well, movie Chris Pratt.
11. The Good Place
This is another comedy, but one that deals with life after death. The Good Place begins after Eleanor Shellstrop, played by Kristen Bell, turns up in The Good Place after her unfortunate demise.
Her afterlife guide Michael (played by the always great Ted Danson) tries his best to help, but as with Twin Peaks, we really don’t want to say anything more. Surprises and twists by the bucketful await your viewing. This show is all about revealing your true self, which apparently isn’t as easy as it sounds after you find yourself dead.
12. Black Mirror
The spiritual successor to The Twilight Zone, Black Mirror is all about how today’s technology could morph into tomorrow’s major problems.
Creator Charlie Brooker has crafted some truly classic TV episodes that challenge our beliefs in mass media, social networks, artificial intelligence and more. There’s even a special episode, Bandersnatch, that gives the viewer the chance to pick where the story will go next, with several different possible endings. While not all of Black Mirror’s episodes are home runs, they all try to make us think, which is more than most TV gives us these days.
13. Russian Doll
This Emmy-nominated comedy series is a new take on the “Groundhog Day” time loop premise. Natasha Lyonne, who co-created the series, stars as a woman who is reliving the night of her 36th birthday over and over again.
While the basic idea of the show is nothing new anymore, Russian Day still manages to be funny, and Lyonne is perfect as the lead character who can’t believe this situation is happening to her. The show has already been renewed for a second season.
14. The Baby-Sitters Club
There are a ton of TV shows on Netflix made for young girls. However, most of them never rise above Disney Channel or Nickelodeon quality. The exception is The Baby-Sitters Club, and its one of the best Netflix TV shows. Based on the classic children’s novels, this adaptation still has the same premise. A group of girls form a “club” to help parents take care of their younger kids. It’s been updated for 2020, but it still has a retro feel. This is a perfect show not just for its target audience, but also for their parents who can watch it with their kids and not be bored.
Best Netflix TV shows: Honorable mentions
Obviously, our picks for the 10 best TV shows on Netflix leaves out a ton of other shows also worth your time. Here are just a few honorable mentions.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — We are going out on a limb here. This show, with its deep characters and serialized storylines, is the best of the six live-action Star Trek TV shows.
- The West Wing — We still wish this drama about the people who work in the White House was like how the real one worked, but at least we have this idealized fictional version to watch on Netflix.
- The People vs. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story — The real-life crime story about how the US football star was accused and tried for the murder of two people remains one of the most powerful TV limited series ever made.
- GLOW — This comedy about a fictionalized version of the very real TV show Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is funny and occasionally thought-provoking.
- Dexter — The show about a serial killer who kills, well, serial killers, remains one of the best crime drama ever made, thanks in large part to Michael C. Hall’s portrayal of the title character.
- You — You tells the story of a modern murderer. He uses social media and other means to spy on the ones he loves. He becomes obsessed with the ones he loves and will do anything for them… anything.
- Bojack Horseman — If you thought an animated show about a talking horse would be funny, you would be correct. This adult Netflix series features a talking horse who once was the star of a hit TV show and now wants to make a big comeback.
These are the best shows currently available on Netflix in our opinion. We’ll update this post with new ones once they launch.