The 30 Best Miniseries of All-Time

Updated May 14, 2022 • Staff

One and done, that's how miniseries seasons work. It's always so much more enriching to watch 4 different stories with different casts and themes than watching 4 seasons of the same show. So in this list, we count down the best mini-series of all time.

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30.

Informer

This visually stunning thriller is about a young man called Raza who is hired by a counter-terrorism officer as his informer. If you liked Netflix’s Bodyguard, you will love this, which in my opinion is has much more substance.

Originally a photographer with no link to the world of crime or terrorism, the color of Raza’s skin and his accent make the authorities believe he would be a valuable asset. And quickly, he falls into a web of crime, giving this show the appeal of the fantastic HBO series The Night Of.

Our staff rating: 7.9/10
Genre: Mystery
Actor: Bel Powley, Nabhaan Rizwan, Paddy Considine
Rating: Not Rated
29.

Wayne

This violent action-comedy miniseries is about a Massachusetts teenager who tries to retrieve a stolen 1979 Trans Am.

And the show is not nice to Wayne who, from the very first scene, takes a beating. Think of it as The End of the F***ing World but more violent and with Boston accents.

Our staff rating: 7.9/10
Genre: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Actor: Ciara Bravo, Dean Winters, Mike O'Malley
28.

Wolf Hall

Claire Foy (The Crown), Damian Lewis (Homeland), and Mark Rylance (Dunkirk) star in this highly-acclaimed period drama about the rise of Thomas Cromwell as he goes from being the son of a blacksmith to becoming an important figure in British history.

The miniseries is made up of only six parts, despite being based on two famous books that span thousands of pages. The result is a dense, fast-paced and compelling historical drama, where each frame manages to look like a delicate painting. And all that is very difficult not to binge in one take.

Our staff rating: 7.9/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Bernard Hill, Damian Lewis, Jessica Raine, Mark Rylance
27.

Long Strange Trip

Long Strange Trip was originally a four-hour movie before Amazon cut it to a six-part TV show. Produced by Martin Scorcese, it tells the full story of the band The Grateful Dead. It’s an account so detailed that it will satisfy the biggest Deadheads, but it also can be appreciated by anyone. The focus is the band, but it’s also the band’s significant impact on Rock history, and by extension, on American culture. I didn’t know much about the band and I couldn’t stop watching.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Documentary, Music
Actor: Al Franken, Bill Kreutzmann, Donna Godchaux
Director: Amir Bar-Lev
Rating: R
26.

The Night Manager

Olivia Colman and Hugh Laurie (House) star in this espionage mini-series based on a John le Carré novel.

A quick mini-series that spans six episodes, it’s about a former soldier (Tom Hiddleston) who, while working as a night manager for a hotel in Cairo, Egypt, ends up getting hold of very sensitive information. He is then recruited by an intelligence officer (Olivia Colman) to bring down a corrupt businessman (Hugh Laurie.)

A highly-acclaimed TV show not to be missed by lovers of spy stories, John Le Carré films (A Most Wanted Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), or just anyone who appreciates excellent acting.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Actor: Adeel Akhtar, David Harewood, Douglas Hodge, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Laurie, Michael Nardone, Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hollander
Rating: TV-14
25.

The Night Of

An HBO show that's almost too suspenseful to watch. It stars Riz Ahmed as a kid who steals his father's cab to go to a party, only to later find himself tangled up in a crime. Everything leading up to his arrest, while not necessarily indicative of anything criminal, boasts cut-throat suspense. And that's the magic of this show, it's taking familiar crime story arcs, adding flawless acting and incredible writing, and perfecting the thrills. You'll want to binge this show but, if your anything like me, your heart might not be able to take it.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Bill Camp, John Turturro, Riz Ahmed
24.

Devs

This mini-series by Alex Garland (28 Days Later writer and Ex Machina director) is about a tech company like Google that has a building that only select developers (devs) work in. Sergei is one of the lucky ones that get the call but he disappears after his first day. His girlfriend, who works for the same company, tries to find out what happened to him, first by uncovering well-kept dark secrets about that building. If you liked Mr. Robot or Ex Machina, you will love this. And a surprise bonus: Nick Offerman plays the CEO of the company, in a great serious role.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Jin Ha, Nick Offerman, Sonoya Mizuno
Rating: TV-MA
23.

River

This six-chapter British miniseries stars the ever-reliable Stellan Skarsgård as an erratic London police detective. He starts seeing visions or “manifests” of his recently murdered colleague and tries to solve her case even though he was excluded from it. River blends reality and illusion in a thoughtful and original police thriller.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Adeel Akhtar, Eddie Marsan, Georgina Rich, Lesley Manville, Nicola Walker, Owen Teale, Sorcha Cusack, Stellan Skarsgård, Steve Nicolson, Turlough Convery
Rating: TV-MA
22.

Small Axe

This impressive body of work defies any classification: it’s a collection of five films that have been put together into a miniseries. Director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) collected a timeless set of stories set from the ‘60s to ‘80s about London’s West Indian community and their struggle with rampant racism.

The first film, Mangrove, bears the name of the restaurant at the center of the story. As a sanctuary for the community, the restaurant quickly becomes the target of a racist police division that employs various tactics to disrupt  its popularity. The local chapter of the Black Panthers and its charismatic leader (played by Letitia Wright) get involved.

Mangrove and Lovers Rock, the next episode, were in the selection of the Cannes Film Festival that got canceled because of the pandemic.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama
21.

Our Flag Means Death

The scene: 1717, the Golden Age of Piracy; the people: brute criminals living on nothing but loot. Seems typical enough for a pirate story, but more than just an action-packed swashbuckling treat, Our Flag Means Death is also a raging ensemble comedy that is both modern and subversive as it dares to recast masculinity in a whole new light. 

The show follows Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby), a flamboyant aristocrat who leaves his pampered life and turns to the sea in search of deeper meaning and purpose. Specifically, he’s out to figure out, once and for all, what it means to be a man. Does it entail remorseless murder and a stoic acceptance of one’s responsibility, as he’s been taught and taunted to do for so long, or is there more to it than that? The wannabe pirate gets closer to answering these questions when he meets and eventually falls for the legendary Blackbeard, played warmly and hilariously by Taika Waititi.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Action, Action & Adventure, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, History
Actor: Con O'Neill, David Fane, Ewen Bremner, Guz Khan, Joel Fry, Kristian Nairn, Matthew Maher, Nathan Foad, Rhys Darby, Rory Kinnear, Samson Kayo, Taika Waititi, Vico Ortiz
Rating: 18+

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