The 30 Best Miniseries of All-Time

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.

Patrick Melrose

A five-part mini-series where the camera rarely leaves Benedict Cumberbatch, enabling him to deliver possibly the best performance of his career. He plays Patrick Melrose, an autobiographical character from renown British writer Edward St Aubyn. A wealthy man who in the first scene of the show hears about his father's death, Patrick tries to get his act together to go retrieve his father's ashes. However, a nasty drug habit and a dark past stand in the way of sobriety. This is a fast-paced and impeccably-acted show with a solid supporting cast that includes Jennifer Jason Leigh and Hugo Weaving.

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Genre: Drama
Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugo Weaving, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Rating: TV-MA

Free Watching Options:

Watch Patrick Melrose on Showtime for free
29.

The Outsider

This creepy miniseries stars Jason Bateman, Bill Camp, and Ben Mendelsohn. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, it follows an investigation into the horrific murder of a child where all evidence leads to the local baseball coach, Terry Maitland (Bateman). However, Terry's demeanor and his shock when the police come to arrest him raise questions about whether he actually committed the crime. It's a grim and slow-burning story with immaculate acting although it suffers from the thing it aspires the most to: the (not entirely satisfying) book. Created by The Wire writer Richard Price.

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Genre: Horror
Actor: Ben Mendelsohn, Bill Camp, Jason Bateman
Rating: TV-MA
28.

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.

Genre: Mystery
Actor: Bel Powley, Nabhaan Rizwan, Paddy Considine
Rating: Not Rated

Free Watching Options:

Watch Informer on Amazon Prime for free
27.

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.

Genre: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Actor: Ciara Bravo, Dean Winters, Mike O'Malley

Free Watching Options:

Watch Wayne on Amazon Prime for free
26.

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.

Genre: Drama
Actor: Bernard Hill, Damian Lewis, Jessica Raine, Mark Rylance
25.

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.

Genre: Documentary, Music
Actor: Al Franken
Director: Amir Bar-Lev
Rating: R

Free Watching Options:

Watch Long Strange Trip on Amazon Prime for free
24.

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.

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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

Free Watching Options:

Watch The Night Manager on Amazon Prime for free
23.

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.

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Genre: Drama
Actor: Bill Camp, John Turturro, Riz Ahmed
22.

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.

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Genre: Drama
Actor: Jin Ha, Nick Offerman, Sonoya Mizuno
Rating: TV-MA

Free Watching Options:

Watch Devs on Hulu for free
21.

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.

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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

Free Watching Options:

Watch River on Amazon Prime for free

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