Netflix has truly changed the way we watch television in the past 15 years or so. In addition to helping make streaming and binge-watching into possibly the world’s favorite way to watch TV shows, the company has become a production powerhouse, cranking out countless original series that cover every genre you could imagine. But not all of them are created equal.
We’ve ranked Netflix’s best original shows ever — including traditional scripted series, miniseries and docuseries — using a combination of scores from critics at Rotten Tomatoes, typical viewers at IMDb and factors like popularity to sort them. You might be surprised to see what made the list and which award-winning favorites missed it.
35. ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ (2019)
Netflix has had a lot of success bringing back beloved franchises and making them new again, and “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” is an example of a revival they nailed. This 2019 series came out nearly 40 years after Jim Henson’s classic fantasy film, “The Dark Crystal,” but is actually a prequel in terms of its story. Critics and viewers, including fans of the original, unanimously loved “Age of Resistance” and its use of old-school puppetry over computer-generated effects. A second season has yet to be confirmed but fans are eager for more.
34. ‘Narcos: Mexico’ (2018)
Who says spin-offs can’t be great shows on their own? “Narcos: Mexico” is a companion series to Netflix’s popular show “Narcos,” which we’ll hear more about later in the list. This story is set in the 1980s and follows the rise of a Mexican drug cartel, as well as the DEA agent trying to bring them down. Talented Latino actors including Michael Peña and Diego Luna star as men on opposite sides of the law. Impressively, “Narcos: Mexico” nearly drew as much praise from critics and IMDb users as the show from which it spun off.
33. ‘Top Boy’ (2011)
The British crime drama “Top Boy” saw its first two seasons air on Channel 4 from 2011-2013, but Netflix bought the rights and revived the cult hit in 2019 for more gritty action. The series follows the exploits of a pair of drug dealers in London and stars a talented cast of nearly all black actors. The 2019 Netflix revival earned top marks with a 90% grade from critics at Rotten Tomatoes, giving the show an overall average grade of 95%.
32. ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ (2015)
Tina Fey’s quirky sitcom, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” kept viewers and critics laughing for four seasons before ending in 2019. The show has a near-perfect grade of 96% at Rotten Tomatoes, even if viewers at IMDb have been a bit more tepid in their support, giving the show an average grade of 7.6 out of 10. The series followed an eternally optimistic woman, played by “The Office” star Ellie Kemper, who gets used to city life in New York after spending 15 years as a kidnapping victim in Indiana. While new seasons aren’t being made, the Emmy-nominated show is coming back in May 2020 with a new interactive special.
31. ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ (2017)
Based on the popular book series by Lemony Snicket, Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” was consistently beloved by critics and viewers during its too-brief run. In three seasons, the show covered events from all of the novels, which followed a trio of young orphan siblings who try to outwit the evil Count Olaf, who is after their inheritance. Neil Patrick Harris starred as Olaf and did a wonderful job bringing the nasty character to life. The show’s visuals were highly praised and the final season earned a perfect grade from critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
30. ‘The End of the [Blank] World’ (2017)
This British production with a memorable title has been praised for its writing and acting. It follows a unique relationship between two teenage classmates who embark on a road trip across England together, while one plans to kill the other. The show won a prestigious Peabody Award in 2018, with the committee calling it “a wonderfully unorthodox coming-of-age story.” Unfortunately for fans, it appears the story was finished after just two seasons and 16 episodes.
29. ‘Unorthodox’ (2020)
As of this writing, “Unorthodox” has only been out for a couple months, but its reputation is already stellar. The miniseries tells the true story of a 19-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman who runs away from her marriage and tries to find her own way in life for the first time. The show has received top marks from viewers and critics, with Rotten Tomatoes critics giving its first season a 94% grade and calling star Shira Haas’ performance “captivating.” The series has also been praised for accurately depicting the customs of the Satmar Jewish community.
28. ‘Castlevania’ (2017)
“Castlevania” has been a beloved favorite of gamers since the 1980s, and Netflix has managed to make a TV series set in its world that has also earned a great reputation. This animated show has been running since 2017 and has consistently been praised for its visuals, lore and action. Seasons two and three each earned flawless grades at Rotten Tomatoes and a fourth season is on its way. As you’ll see on this list, Netflix has had a lot of success in animation and “Castlevania” is one of its best efforts.
27. ‘The Last Kingdom’ (2015)
Another British co-production that has been acclaimed for Netflix, “The Last Kingdom” debuted on BBC America in 2015 but moved to the streaming network starting with the second season. This historical fiction series follows the story of Uhtred, a Saxon-born warrior raised by Vikings who is attempting to claim his birthright. The show has been acclaimed as a thrilling epic from the start, earning a 91% average grade at Rotten Tomatoes, bolstered by the perfect grade earned by its third season in 2018. The long-awaited fourth season just debuted on Netflix days before this writing.
26. ‘Lovesick’ (2014)
“Lovesick” pulls you in with its unique premise before holding your attention with its cast of characters. This sitcom follows a young man in Britain who gets in touch with all his former lovers after getting diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease. Through its great use of flashbacks, it shows the personal changes undergone by the main character and his close friends. After its three-season run ended, “Lovesick” had stellar average scores of 98% at Rotten Tomatoes and 8.1/10 at IMDb. The only complaint to be registered is that it might have ended too quickly.
25. ‘Money Heist’ (2017)
If you haven’t watched “Money Heist” yet, you’re missing out on one of Netflix’s most addictive and intense original shows. In its two seasons so far — which have included 31 pulse-pounding episodes — this Spanish-language series has followed its characters as they try to pull off two incredible heists. The first season was highly praised, but the second season, released in installments over 2019 and 2020, “raised the stakes” even higher, according to Entertainment Weekly.
With more than 230,000 user ratings at IMDb giving it an average grade of 8.4 out of 10, “Money Heist” is one of the company’s most popular and acclaimed international offerings.
24. ‘Kingdom’ (2019)
The genres of zombie horror and historical drama are both pretty thrilling and “Kingdom” combines them beautifully. The show was Netflix’s first original series to be produced in South Korea and has found plenty of fans who don’t mind reading subtitles to follow its bloody plot. What appears to be a typical period piece at first turns into something quite different when a zombie plague threatens to decimate 16th century Korea. Two seasons of six episodes each have aired since 2019 and have been loved by critics and fans, with Rotten Tomatoes calling the series “a refreshing addition to the zombie landscape.”
23. ‘Sacred Games’ (2018)
Like “Kingdom,” Netflix’s “Sacred Games” was a pioneering Asian production for the studio and has earned nothing but acclaim. This Hindi-language thriller was the company’s first Indian original production and has picked up fans across the globe. Set in bustling Mumbai, “Sacred Games” tells an epic crime story that stretches across many characters in various parts of Indian society. In 2018, GQ called it “the best new show on Netflix you aren’t watching.”
22. ‘Russian Doll’ (2019)
Netflix is known for taking risks with its original series and “Russian Doll” is a perfect example of one that paid off. This high-concept show stars Natasha Lyonne, who co-created it with Amy Poehler. Lyonne plays a woman who seems to be stuck in an endless time loop, dying and reliving the same night repeatedly in a manner similar to “Groundhog Day.” The star’s performance was heavily praised and earned her an Emmy nomination, while the first season earned a nomination for best comedy series. A second season has been announced by Netflix.
21. ‘Alias Grace’ (2017)
In the wake of the huge success of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Netflix released its own adaptation of one of author Margaret Atwood’s novels, “Alias Grace.” This six-episode miniseries was produced in Canada and was written entirely by the great Sarah Polley. It tells the story of an Irish immigrant who is convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper in 1800s Canada. With an average score of 99% at Rotten Tomatoes, “Alias Grace” is rated higher than Hulu’s hit Atwood adaptation.
20. ‘Queer Eye’ (2018)
Who doesn’t love the Fab Five? Netflix’s only reality series to make this list has been praised for adding substance to the typically shallow genre of makeover shows. In it, a group of gay men try to improve the lives of people who need a little help, with each one of the five stars focusing on a different aspect of the person’s life. The show has become a bit of a cultural phenomenon, causing Netflix to produce four seasons plus two international specials since 2018, with more on the way.
19. ‘The Keepers’ (2017)
Netflix has had a lot of success producing original true-crime murder mysteries, but none has earned higher grades from critics and viewers than 2017’s “The Keepers.” This heartbreaking docuseries looks into the case of a nun who was murdered in Baltimore in 1969 amid mysterious circumstances. The seven-episode miniseries was heavily praised, earning a 97% grade at Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.1/10 score at IMDb from more than 15,000 users.
18. ‘Sex Education’ (2019)
Gillian Anderson and Asa Butterfield have been commended for their performances as a mother/son duo in this comedy series. “Sex Education” sees Butterfield playing an awkward teenager and Anderson playing his mother, who also happens to be a sex therapist. Two seasons have aired since 2019 and Netflix has announced that a third will be forthcoming. The first season earned a 91% grade at Rotten Tomatoes, while the second season got even more praise, with a 97% score.
17. ‘Wild Wild Country’ (2018)
Another original docuseries that has been heavily praised by critics and viewers is 2018’s “Wild Wild Country.” This six-part miniseries won the Creative Arts Emmy for best documentary or nonfiction series after its release, which is a category that Netflix has come to dominate in recent years. It looks into the Indian guru, Rajneesh, and his community of followers in 1980s Oregon. It has a 98% grade at Rotten Tomatoes and the website said it “must be seen to be believed.”
16. ‘American Vandal’ (2017)
You might be surprised to find this silly little comedy so high on the list of Netflix’s best original shows, but critics and audiences loved every minute of its brief run. “American Vandal” is a parody of true-crime documentaries like “The Keepers,” following two high school filmmakers who give the hard-hitting investigative treatment to much sillier crimes that include a person tagging high school teachers’ cars with pornographic graffiti. The show’s hilarious first season won a Peabody Award for its sly social commentary.
After two acclaimed seasons, “American Vandal” was surprisingly canceled by Netflix in 2018.
15. ‘Narcos’ (2015)
An early landmark for Netflix was this crime drama that united both critics and regular viewers in their love for it. “Narcos” told the story of infamous drug kingpin Pablo Escobar as he rose to power in 1980s Colombia. Along with showing you into Escobar’s life, it also followed the titular DEA agents who were trying to bring him down. This tense and mature drama was highly praised during all three of its seasons, the final one of which aired in 2017. Its average grade of 8.8/10 from more than 328,000 IMDb users is one of the highest earned by any Netflix original on that site, proving its status as a fan favorite.
14. ‘Daredevil’ (2015)
Before Disney+ came along and prompted a sea change, Netflix was the go-to network for TV shows in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Daredevil” was the first in that partnership and ended up being the best one by far. The plot follows a blind lawyer, played by Charlie Cox, who fights as a masked vigilante once nightfall comes. The series was canceled after three highly acclaimed seasons, earning an overall grade of 92% at Rotten Tomatoes for its 39-episode run, with all three seasons being “Certified Fresh.”
13. ‘One Day at a Time’ (2017)
Netflix also decided to say goodbye to this acclaimed series after three seasons but it remains one of the company’s best offerings. “One Day at a Time” is a modern reboot of the 1975 classic sitcom, shifting its focus to a multi-generational Cuban-American family. The show has an incredible average Rotten Tomatoes score of 99%, with its second and third seasons earning perfect grades. After Netflix gave up on it, Pop network bought the right and aired a fourth season, which also earned a flawless score, thanks to endearing performances by stars Rita Moreno and Justina Machado.
“One Day at a Time” has so far been the high point of Netflix’s attempts at the sitcom genre.
12. ‘Big Mouth’ (2017)
One of Netflix’s most acclaimed animated shows and comedies of any format is this hilariously awkward look at life in middle school. It holds down a rare 100-percent average rating at Rotten Tomatoes across its three seasons aired since 2017. Voice actors include comedy fan-favorites Nick Kroll, who co-created the show, John Mulaney and Maya Rudolph. A fourth season is coming soon, much to the delight of fans.
11. ‘The Dragon Prince’ (2018)
Fans of Netflix’s animation offerings need to add “The Dragon Prince” to their lists if they haven’t already binged it. This fantasy series came from Aaron Ehasz, who was one of the main writers behind Nickelodeon’s brilliant “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Forbes called it one of the best fantasy shows on TV upon the release of its third season in 2019 and other top critics have clearly agreed. “The Dragon Prince” currently holds a perfect grade at Rotten Tomatoes across its entire run so far.
10. ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ (2018)
Possibly the creepiest show Netflix has ever produced, “The Haunting of Hill House” made its debut in October 2018 and immediately announced itself among the network’s best series. The show’s first season followed a family of adult siblings and charted the damage done to them by living in a haunted house as children, with plenty of chilling flashbacks. The series has been unanimously praised by critics and viewers alike, boasting one of the highest IMDb ratings of any show on this list at 8.7/10 from more than 144,000 users.
A second season has been filmed and we’re all waiting to see if it can live up to the legacy of its predecessor.
9. ‘Dark’ (2017)
Based on reviews from Rotten Tomatoes critics and IMDb users, “Dark” is the best foreign-language original series that Netflix has ever done. This German program has earned scores of 94% and 8.7/10 from those sites respectively, and has been greatly praised for its atmosphere and mythology. This sci-fi thriller packs some lofty ideas into its ambitious narrative, which starts by focusing on the mystery of a missing child, including time travel.
In 2019, the show’s second season earned a perfect Rotten Tomatoes score and was called “one of streamings strongest and strangest science fiction stories.”
8. ‘The Crown’ (2016)
While many of Netflix’s original shows are smaller in scope and production, “The Crown” is as big and ambitious as TV gets. The Emmy-winning show follows the life of England’s Queen Elizabeth II, chronicling important moments in her long reign in great dramatic detail. The show’s visuals are cinematic, its costumes and sets are immaculate and its performances are impeccable from top to bottom.
After two highly acclaimed seasons, the show jumped forward in time and replaced its cast with older actors for a third season that earned a 90% score at Rotten Tomatoes, which was the best grade for a season yet.
7. ‘BoJack Horseman’ (2014)
Netflix’s first foray into original animation has also arguably been its best. “BoJack Horseman” saw its reputation grow considerably in the years since it debuted in 2014. The sitcom follows a washed-up, alcoholic actor who happens to be a horse — voiced by Will Arnett — as he lives out his middle-age years in Hollywood. Each of its final five seasons earned at least a grade of 96% at Rotten Tomatoes, with 2019’s sixth season marking the end of its great run.
6. ‘Master of None’ (2015)
Rotten Tomatoes has ranked “Master of None” as the best original show ever produced by Netflix and, while we’re not going that far, we do have it ranked as the studio’s best comedy. Co-created by and starring Aziz Ansari of “Parks and Recreation” fame, this show followed him as a young actor trying to navigate adult life with varying degrees of success. Both seasons of the Emmy-winning show earned a 100-percent grade from critics at Rotten Tomatoes, which is nearly unheard of. It’s unclear if any more episodes will be produced, leaving fans with the open-ended conclusion of the second season finale.
5. ‘Unbelievable’ (2019)
While there are plenty of fun shows on this list, “Unbelievable” is an example of hard-hitting drama that Netflix should be proud of producing. This 2019 miniseries, based on a true story reported in a Pulitzer Prize-winning article, is about a teen woman who is charged with lying about being the victim of sexual assault. Powerhouse performances from Kaitlyn Dever and Toni Collette helped make this a favorite of critics, who gave it an overall grade of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes for its eight-episode run. IMDb users were also gripped, with more than 54,000 users giving it an average grade of 8.5/10.
4. ‘Stranger Things’ (2016)
Unquestionably the biggest cultural phenomenon Netflix has produced, “Stranger Things” also happens to be one of the network’s best shows ever. This thrilling sci-fi adventure has made its young ensemble cast into legitimate stars, led by Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard. The series has broken streaming viewership records at every turn, with 2019’s third season reportedly being the most-watched season of any original series in Netflix’s history. On top of its popularity, it’s also a critical darling, with all three seasons so far being “Certified Fresh” at Rotten Tomatoes and its average IMDb score being a remarkable 8.8/10 from more than 740,000 users.
3. ‘Mindhunter’ (2017)
While “Stranger Things” is Netflix’s cash cow, we’re ranking “Mindhunter” as the network’s best multi-season original series. The show’s striking visual style, heavy subject matter and unique take on well-worn genres like detective procedurals and true-crime mysteries make it a can’t-miss streamer. In two seasons so far, “Mindhunter” has given viewers a fictionalized look into the real work done by the FBI’s first team of criminal profilers who interviewed convicted serial killers and tried to use what they learned to stop ongoing killers. The show’s 97% overall score at Rotten Tomatoes speaks for itself, with the outlet calling it “utterly absorbing.”
It’s unclear if a third season will happen.
2. ‘When They See Us’ (2019)
No non-documentary in Netflix history has a higher average rating at IMDb than the 8.9/10 earned by “When They See Us.” This four-part miniseries told the true story of the Central Park Five, a group of teenagers who were wrongly convicted of brutally assaulting a woman in 1989. The drama was created and directed by Ava DuVernay and featured one of the best ensemble casts Netflix has ever put together — and saw star Jharrel Jerome win an Emmy for his performance.
1. ‘Our Planet’ (2019)
Not only is “Our Planet” the highest-rated original production in Netflix history, in terms of IMDb rating, it’s also tied as the third highest-rated program in all of TV history on that site. That average score of 9.3/10 is mind-blowing and points to how impactful this 2019 miniseries has been on viewers. The eight-part nature docuseries takes a heartbreaking look at the impact human life has had on the animal world, with each episode focusing on a different ecosystem. “Our Planet” was narrated by the legendary David Attenborough and earned 10 Emmy nominations, winning two including the trophy for best documentary or nonfiction series.