50 best Netflix original series

Published 9:51 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Blur Studio

50 best Netflix original series

Netflix debuted its first original content series, “Lilyhammer,” in 2012 and introduced the binge-watching concept of releasing TV series all at once. The following year, “House of Cards” was released. Just three years later, Netflix was touting roughly 126 original series or films.

Despite its $7.7 billion in revenue and having added 1.2 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada, in the last quarter of 2021, Netflix had 221.8 million subscribers, which fell short of the company’s expectations. In March 2022, Netflix announced its plans to crack down on password sharing among viewers, stating there won’t be a ban on the act but customers would have to pay if they share their Netflix password with others outside of their household.

As for now, viewers still can’t get enough of Netflix. Its original offerings cover a wide genre spectrum, from stand-up comedy to crime documentary to romantic comedy and international works. And while every show may not resonate with the critics, there is some quality content to be found among the hundreds of choices available to Netflix viewers.

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Stacker pulled data on all Netflix original series and ranked them according to IMDb user rating as of March 24, 2022, with #1 being the best. Docuseries and limited series were considered. The number of votes can be attributed to several factors, including the length of each series, its popularity, or general viewer chatter surrounding the show.

As for which Netflix original series tend to rank highest, this list shows a trend toward stories based on true-life events such as “Maid,” those only loosely based on reality, and animations have grown in popularity such as “Tear Along The Dotted Line.”

The fact is, most people love to learn about other people. It’s why marketing executives push business owners to “tell their story.” Will we see more true-life originals coming from Netflix? Take a look at the TV series roundup we’ve curated to see if one of your binge-watching faves made the list.

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3 Arts Entertainment

#50. Master of None (2015–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.3
– Votes: 72,345

This comedy created by and starring Aziz Ansari follows Dev, a 30-year-old New York actor, as he struggles with his career, looks for a relationship, and hangs out with his friends. The three-season series takes viewers back to a time of hipster millennials and retro funk music, highlights the stories of American immigrants, and features Ansari’s real-life parents as Dev’s onscreen parents.

Exhibit A

#49. Atypical (2017–21)

– IMDb user rating: 8.3
– Votes: 82,381

Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Rapaport, and Keir Gilchrist star in this comedy-drama series that follows a family with a teenager on the autism spectrum. The final season of this Peabody-nominated aired in 2021, one of only a few series that have lasted four or more seasons. The show’s popularity is largely due to its showcasing of underrepresented points of view.

KMF Films

#48. The Killing (2011–14)

– IMDb user rating: 8.3
– Votes: 108,119

The crime drama series, “The Killing,” set in Seattle, follows the murder investigations of homicide detectives Sara Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) and how the investigations affect their personal lives. Linden and Holder’s investigative styles clash with Linden being by-the-book while Holder is more unregimented. Despite their professional differences, the duo still manages to pull it together for their plot gripping cases. The Netflix series gained huge popularity after being canceled twice, only for the show to be renewed again.

Anarchos Productions

#47. Sense8 (2015–18)

– IMDb user rating: 8.3
– Votes: 150,646

Eight strangers become mysteriously connected mentally and emotionally in this mystery/sci-fi series starring Bae Doona, Jamie Clayton, and Tina Desai. While some attempt to help the eight unravel the mystery, others hunt them down. The show’s hardcore fanbase was heartbroken when Netflix canceled “Sense8” in 2017, but the network eventually came back with a two-hour finale to wrap up the story.


#46. Money Heist (2017–21)

– IMDb user rating: 8.3
– Votes: 450,981

In this subtitled Spanish action-crime series created by Alex Pina and originally titled “La Casa de Papel,” a group of thieves attempt to steal $2.4 billion euros from the Royal Mint of Spain. The fifth and final season of this series aired in 2021. The final season featured several new faces, including “Sense8’s” Miguel Ángel Silvestre.

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#45. The Witcher (2019–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.3
– Votes: 460,327

From the writer and producer of “Daredevil” and “Private Practice,” “The Witcher” is based on a series of books by author Andrzej Sapkowski. The series follows a monster hunter named Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) who can’t seem to find his place in the world.

Banger Films

#44. Hip-Hop Evolution (2016–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 5,832

The stars of hip-hop sit down with MC and journalist Shad Kabango to discuss hip-hop’s evolution and its place in modern music in this documentary series. Interviewees include LL Cool J, Alonzo Williams, Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee, and Russell Simmons.

Conde Nast Entertainment

#43. Last Chance U (2016–20)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 6,791

This documentary follows the story of students and coaches on the field and in the classroom at East Mississippi Community College. The student-athletes at this under-the-radar school attempt to overcome personal obstacles as they aim for future success in the NFL. A fifth and final season aired in July 2020.

Bardel Entertainment

#42. The Dragon Prince (2018–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 21,262

“The Dragon Prince” is an animated fantasy series about two princes who form an unlikely bond with an elven assassin whose mission is to kill them. The series takes place in the magical, make-believe continent of Xadia, where centuries before, humans, elves, and dragons lived peacefully together. The princes and the elven are now working together to bring peace to their conflicting lands. Cowriter of “The Dragon Prince,” Aaron Ehasz, also served as a headwriter on Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”


#41. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 23,949

Jim Henson’s “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” is the critically acclaimed prequel to the 1982 Jim Henson film, “The Dark Crystal.” Audiences return to the planet Thra, where a group of Gelfling fight to save their world.

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Two Boomerang

#40. Longmire (2012–17)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 33,928

This modern Western crime drama series, based on Craig Johnson’s mystery novels, follows a sheriff as he defends his fictional Wyoming town, Absaroka County. The sheriff struggles to overcome the death of his wife and with the help of colleagues, he has a renewed passion for his job and runs for re-election. In 2013, when Longmire was on A&E before Netflix scooped it up, it had become the network’s highest-rated original drama series with an average of 3.7 million viewers in its second season.

Zazen Produções

#39. The Mechanism (2018–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 36,030

Created by José Padilha (“Narcos” and “Elite Squad”) and loosely inspired by a Brazilian political scandal, this subtitled crime drama series shines a light on Brazilian politics and has audiences split on what’s fact or fiction. The former president of Brazil called the show underhanded and full of lies, but creator Padilha said he had nothing to apologize for.


#38. Kingdom (2019–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 42,999

Written by Kim Eun-hee and directed by Kim Seong-hun, “Kingdom” is Netflix’s first original Korean (subtitled) series. A mysterious plague runs rampant, turning people into zombies in this cinematic horror-thriller starring Ju Ji-hoon.

John Wells Productions

#37. Maid (2021)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 73,261

“Maid” is based on Stephanie Land’s memoir, “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive.” The story focuses on a young mother who struggles as a housekeeper to raise her young child while fleeing an abusive relationship. This emotional series explores the reality of what it’s like to work for America’s upper-middle-class, highlighting the country’s class divide from the lower-income worker’s perspective.

Gaumont International Television

#36. Narcos: Mexico (2018–21)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 80,124

Inspired by true events, “Narcos: Mexico” tells the story of how the Guadalajara drug cartel rose to power in Mexico in the 1980s. American DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena (Michael Peña) moves to Mexico from California to begin his long battle with the cartels.

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CBS Television Studios

#35. Unbelievable (2019)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 94,019

“Unbelievable” is based on the true story of a teenager (Kaitlyn Dever) charged with lying about being sexually assaulted. Two female detectives (Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) follow the evidence in order to find the truth. The eight-episode series was inspired by a Pulitzer Prize-winning 2015 article by ProPublica and The Marshall Project.


#34. Sex Education (2019–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.4
– Votes: 254,228

“Sex Education” stars Asa Butterfield as a teen who decides to benefit from his mom (Gillian Anderson) being a sex therapist by setting up an underground sex-ed class for kids at school, learning a lesson or two of his own in the process. The series, which was one of Netflix’s top 10 most popular shows in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2019, is still running.

DreamWorks Animation Television

#33. Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia (2016–18)

– IMDb user rating: 8.5
– Votes: 16,337

This DreamWorks Animation production features the voices of Kelsey Grammer, Charlie Saxton, and Lexi Medrano in a tale about an ordinary boy who becomes a Trollhunter after finding a magic amulet. The series was created by celebrated visionary and Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro.

KC Film Office

#32. Queer Eye (2018–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.5
– Votes: 18,156

This reboot of the original “Queer Eye” series features a new group of five stylists and a new setting, Atlanta, along with traveling to other spots across the U.S. People are advised on matters of style, home design, diet, and more, all while learning more about themselves through the efforts of the Fab Five.

Carnival Film & Television

#31. The Last Kingdom (2015–22)

– IMDb user rating: 8.5
– Votes: 116,502

This award-winning historical drama series is based on Bernard Cornwell’s “The Saxon Stories.” The novels chronicle the story of Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon), a fictional Saxon-born warrior raised by Vikings in ninth- and 10th-century Europe. The show retells the story of England’s development, featuring influential figures such as King Alfred the Great and his wife Ealswith, from the country’s early years. It took a while for the series to become a hit but it did eventually draw in a fanbase with season five having 63.5 million hours of viewership in its first five days.

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Derek Productions

#30. After Life (2019–22)

– IMDb user rating: 8.5
– Votes: 125,118

Comedian Ricky Gervais stars in this dark comedy-drama about how losing a loved one can change a person. The series follows Tony (Gervais) after he loses his wife unexpectedly and contemplates suicide. The series came to an end after season three.

Blur Studio

#29. Love, Death & Robots (2019–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.5
– Votes: 133,245

Emmy-award winner “Love, Death & Robots” features directors and animation studios from around the world that create animated short stories from a variety of genres, including fantasy, horror, comedy, and sci-fi. The series was created by Tim Miller, who directed “Deadpool.”

ABC Signature

#28. The Punisher (2017–19)

– IMDb user rating: 8.5
– Votes: 216,896

Jon Bernthal plays veteran Frank Castle (Marvel’s “The Punisher”) in this crime drama created by Steve Lightfoot. After his family is murdered, Frank’s main goal is to avenge their death, and he’ll stop at nothing to do so.

Zero Gravity Management

#27. Ozark (2017–22)

– IMDb user rating: 8.5
– Votes: 261,929

Jason Bateman stars in this story of a typical American family that turns out to be not so typical. Marty (Bateman) moves his family from Chicago to the Ozarks in Missouri when he gets in trouble with a drug boss who’s forcing him to launder money. “Ozark” kicked off its fourth and final season in January 2022.

Anchor Spud Productions

#26. Norm Macdonald Has a Show (2018)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 3,475

In this 30-minute talk show, comedian and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Norm Macdonald interviews actors such as Drew Barrymore, Chevy Chase, Michael Keaton, Jane Fonda, and more. Much like his podcast, on which the series is based, Macdonald gets the celebs goofing around and discussing off-the-wall topics.

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#25. Middleditch & Schwartz (2020–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 5,028

Based on audience suggestions, Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) and Ben Schwartz (“Parks and Recreation”) filmed three completely improvised comedy specials. It’s a rare opportunity to showcase long-form improv, formerly a staple of live comedy shows.


#24. Move to Heaven (2021–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 5,036

The emotional series tells the story of a young man, Geu-ru, with Asperger’s syndrome and his uncle. The two work for a trauma cleaning company after the death of Geu-ru’s father. The duo, while cleaning up the belongings of those who recently died, work together to understand the complex stories of the deceased. The series is inspired by Kim Sae-byul, a former trauma cleaner in South Korea who wrote an essay titled, “Things Left Behind.”

Brightlight Pictures

#23. Julie and the Phantoms (2020)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 9,289

From executive producer Kenny Ortega, director of “High School Musical” and “Descendents,” this comedy-fantasy-musical is a family-friendly series that follows a teen after her mother dies. Julie (Madison Reyes) is having a hard time finding her voice when the ghosts of a boy band show up and invite her to join them. The audience can only see the full band when the music is playing.

Silvergate Media

#22. Hilda (2018–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 9,943

“Hilda” is a U.K.-based animated series following a blue-haired girl as she goes on adventures—some fun and some harrowing—with her new friends. The series won a Daytime Emmy and was nominated for a BAFTA award.

Boardwalk Pictures

#21. Chef’s Table (2015–19)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 15,059

Each episode of the Emmy-nominated “Chef’s Table” takes viewers behind the scenes with a different chef, some world-renowned and others largely unknown. This was Netflix’s first docuseries, debuting in 2015, and the series remains popular today.

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Box to Box Films

#20. Formula 1: Drive to Survive (2019–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 34,869

In this docuseries about Formula 1 racing, viewers go behind the scenes to meet the drivers, teams, and their families. This new perspective on the sport reveals the human connection that fans don’t normally get to see. The show’s fourth season premiered in March 2022.

Synthesis Films

#19. Making a Murderer (2015–18)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 92,912

This crime documentary follows the story of Steven Avery over a 10-year period. Wrongly convicted of a crime, Avery was released from prison after 18 years. Once released, and while trying to expose a corrupt legal system, Avery was arrested again as a suspect in a new crime. This series stirred major public interest regarding the case—to the tune of more than 500,000 signatures on a petition to the White House to pardon Avery.

Counterbalance Entertainment

#18. Cobra Kai (2018–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 161,717

“Cobra Kai” is an extension of the 1984 film, “The Karate Kid.” The martial arts series tells the story of the longtime rivalry between Danny LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). Decades after the karate tournament that he lost, Lawrence hits a low point as an unemployed handyman with a penchant for alcohol. One night, Lawrence helps a bullied kid, using the martial arts techniques from his tournament days, which inspires him to restart his own Cobra Kai dojo.


#17. The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 223,803

Created by Mike Flanagan, who has adapted Stephen King novels like “Doctor Sleep” and “Gerald’s Game,” this drama-horror-mystery series follows siblings who used to live in the haunted Hill House. When they have to return to the house with their own children, they’re faced with haunting memories—and more.

Denver and Delilah Productions

#16. Mindhunter (2017–19)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 264,397

In this crime thriller set in the 1970s, investigators interview convicted serial killers in order to understand their motives and help solve existing open cases. “Fight Club” director David Fincher directed seven episodes.

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#15. The Queen’s Gambit (2020)

– IMDb user rating: 8.6
– Votes: 397,936

Anya Taylor-Joy (“Peaky Blinders” and “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance”) stars as orphan Beth Harmon, who emerges as a chess prodigy at 9 years old. Once adopted, she enters the chess championship circuit but discovers that there are pros and cons to winning. The series was adapted from the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis.

Bao Publishing

#14. Tear Along the Dotted Line (2021–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.7
– Votes: 7,247

This Italian animated series is about a cartoonist in Rome named Zero who travels outside the city with his two friends. As they go about their trip, Zero has a tendency to overthink simple things and experiences social anxiety when it comes to decision-making, and Zero’s conscience takes on the form of a sarcastic armadillo. The show was written and directed by Italian cartoonist Zerocalcare.

Nexiko AB

#13. Young Royals (2021–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.7
– Votes: 24,803

“Young Royals” is a Swedish teen drama about Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) and his involvement in a scandal that results in him being sent away to a prestigious fictional boarding school, Hillerska. This LGTBQ+-themed series follows the relationship between two teenage boys and their coming of age. A majority of the six-episode series was filmed outside of Stockholm.

Northwood Anne

#12. Anne with an E (2017–19)

– IMDb user rating: 8.7
– Votes: 49,908

A new take on the L.M. Montgomery books about Anne of Green Gables, “Anne with an E” follows an orphan named Anne (played by Amybeth McNulty) as she adapts to her new life on Prince Edward Island in the 19th century. The series has won several Canadian TV awards.

Left Bank Pictures

#11. The Crown (2016–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.7
– Votes: 188,673

Created by Peter Morgan (“The Queen,” “Frost/Nixon,” and “The Last King of Scotland”), “The Crown” is so popular it will return for a fifth season. Spanning decades, it follows the political rivalries, romances, and events that have shaped England and its people during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

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ABC Signature

#10. Daredevil (2015–18)

– IMDb user rating: 8.7
– Votes: 413,959

Created by Drew Goddard (“Alias,” “Lost,” “The Good Place”), this Marvel superhero series follows Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), a blind lawyer by day and vigilante by night who fights crime in New York City. Over its three-season run, the show was nominated for five Primetime Emmys, among other honors.


#9. House of Cards (2013–18)

– IMDb user rating: 8.7
– Votes: 492,007

When “House of Cards” ended its run after six seasons, it had already been nominated for 33 Primetime Emmy awards. The show originally starred Kevin Spacey as a congressman on a mission to get revenge against those who betrayed his trust. Following Spacey’s departure, the series’ focus shifted fully to his wife, played by Robin Wright.

21 Laps Entertainment

#8. Stranger Things (2016–present)

– IMDb user rating: 8.7
– Votes: 974,357

While season four of “Stranger Things” is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first three seasons are available for those who need to catch up before the new season drop in May. The fantasy-horror series created by Matt and Ross Duffer takes place in a small town, where a boy goes missing and his family and friends must confront supernatural beings in order to get him back.

Tornante Company

#7. BoJack Horseman (2014–20)

– IMDb user rating: 8.8
– Votes: 140,827

This animated dramedy follows a washed-up horse actor (Will Arnett) in Hollywood. Although he’s a horse, BoJack struggles with many of the same issues as other actors who have fallen out of the spotlight—depression, addiction, and relationship issues. The show, which was loved by critics and audiences alike, also features the voices of Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, and Aaron Paul.


#6. Dark (2017–20)

– IMDb user rating: 8.8
– Votes: 349,568

The first German (subtitled) production for Netflix, “Dark” tells the story of two children who disappear from a German town in the present day. However, a turn toward the supernatural takes the story, and its four families, back to the same town in 1986.

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#5. Narcos (2015–17)

– IMDb user rating: 8.8
– Votes: 400,995

Centered on the Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, the three-season biographical drama “Narcos” chronicles the true story of international drug cartels and law enforcement’s efforts to stop them. The series was nominated for three Primetime Emmys and two Golden Globes over its three-season run.

ARRAY Filmworks

#4. When They See Us (2019)

– IMDb user rating: 8.9
– Votes: 113,102

Created by Ava DuVernay (“Queen Sugar” and “The Red Line”) and based on a true story of the Central Park Five, this legal drama follows five teens in Harlem who are falsely accused, and eventually exonerated, of the violent sexual assault of a 28-year-old woman. The story can be difficult for some to watch, but is also an important look at what can happen when the legal system fails its citizens.

ESPN Films

#3. The Last Dance (2020)

– IMDb user rating: 9.1
– Votes: 108,411

This critically acclaimed sports documentary chronicles the 1990s basketball dynasty of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, led by the legendary Michael Jordan. The series jumps back and forth in time to profile key players and examine the personal and collective factors that spurred the team to greatness.

Riot Games

#2. Arcane (2021–present)

– IMDb user rating: 9.1
– Votes: 166,262

This animated adventure series, which mostly takes place in the fictional cities of Piltovar and Zaun, tells the story of two sisters on rival sides of a war. The conflict between the cities causes division between friends and families. The series’ universe and its characters come from the popular online game “League of Legends,” and “Arcane” also places LGBTQ+ relationships at the forefront of the show.

Silverback Films

#1. Our Planet (2019)

– IMDb user rating: 9.3
– Votes: 40,945

From the BBC, creators of “Planet Earth” and “Blue Planet,” this documentary series brings viewers closer than ever to Earth’s animal habitats and showcases nature’s diversity. It was filmed over four years and in 50 different countries.

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