While Netflix started out as a place to watch popular movies with ease, the company has since amassed maybe the deepest collection of original shows in streaming media. The studio cranks out dozens of new series every year, with many going mostly unnoticed by its millions of subscribers.
But the Netflix originals that have reached mainstream success can be counted among some of the most popular shows in television today, thanks to the company’s large reach. We took the 35 Netflix original shows that had the most user ratings at IMDb and ranked them in order of greatness, using metrics like critical acclaim, overall popularity and cultural legacy.
35. ‘Iron Fist’
Of all the most popular original shows that Netflix has produced, none has a lower score with IMDb users than 2017’s “Iron Fist.” This Marvel series has earned an average score of 6.5 out of 10 from more than 113,000 viewers, which is pretty dismal by that website’s standards. The superhero series followed Finn Jones as a billionaire who becomes a martial arts expert and fights crime in New York City. It was axed after two seasons.
34. ’13 Reasons Why’
While “13 Reasons Why” has a higher rating with viewers at IMDb than “Iron Fist,” it fared even worse with professional critics. Of all the shows on this list, this teen drama has the lowest overall Rotten Tomatoes score, at 35% for its four-season run. The show proved to be controversial for Netflix, as many essays were written arguing that it glamorizes adolescent suicide. Its plot revolved around the suicide of a teen girl and the ripples it sent through the lives of her classmates.
33. ‘The Punisher’
Another one of Netflix’s now-defunct Marvel shows, “The Punisher” was a spin-off of the streaming giant’s original show “Daredevil.” Jon Bernthal brought the popular vigilante antihero to life for two seasons of his own series, as well as appearing in “Daredevil” several times. While regular viewers have given the show stellar ratings online, critics were much softer on “The Punisher,” saying the action was great but the main character was underwritten.
32. ‘The Killing’
“The Killing” was one of several popular Netflix originals that started on another network before the streaming studio produced its own original episodes. In this case, the murder-mystery drama ran on AMC for three seasons from 2011-2013 before Netflix rescued it from cancellation for a fourth and final season. The series was highly praised for being moody, well-acted and having a gripping mystery in its first season, but the critical reception was icier for the remaining seasons.
31. ‘The Defenders’
After Netflix had brought slightly obscure Marvel heroes like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist to the small screen, they teamed them up with Daredevil in this ambitious miniseries. “The Defenders” aired for eight episodes in 2017 and was the culmination of world building that the studio had done with its various Marvel shows. The result brought a middling reaction, with most people finding the individual characters’ shows more compelling than the mash-up.
30. ‘The Witcher’
Based on a series of Polish fantasy novels that have been turned into a popular video game series, “The Witcher” represents one of the Netflix’s most ambitious original shows ever. The production values and the casting of an A-list actor like Henry Cavill as the stoic monster slayer, Geralt of Rivia, give the show a more cinematic feel than most of the studio’s series. The fan response has been pretty solid but critics were more mixed on the 2019 first season, saying it was a good start, but there was room for improvement. A second season is set to debut in 2021.
29. ‘Altered Carbon’
Netflix has experimented with many high-concept sci-fi originals over the years and “Altered Carbon” was a great example. Joel Kinnaman and Anthony Mackie starred in this show as a single mercenary who was able to transfer his consciousness between different bodies. The show was canceled after just two seasons despite having solid reviews from viewers and critics, especially in its second batch of episodes.
28. ‘Love, Death & Robots’
The director of “Deadpool” is behind this inventive Netflix anthology series. Sometimes animated, sometimes live-action, each episode of “Love, Death & Robots” unfolds as its own self-contained short film. Actors like Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Topher Grace and Gary Cole are among the performers who’ve played parts in its run so far. After one season, the show holds a stellar 8.5/10 average grade at IMDb from nearly 100,000 users. A new season of stories is coming in 2021.
27. ‘Luke Cage’
In case you hadn’t noticed, all of Netflix’s original series based on Marvel characters rank among the company’s most popular offerings. “Luke Cage” is yet another from that group that had a shorter run than it likely would have, partly because the creation of Disney+ led to the end of all the Netflix Marvel series in 2018.
This one ran for two seasons and followed a Harlem man who was given unbreakable skin and superhuman strength after an experiment. “Luke Cage” was notable in the world of superhero stories in that the majority of the actors in its cast were Black.
26. ‘The OA’
Fans of “The OA” were devastated when Netflix pulled the plug after two seasons and a brutal cliffhanger ending in 2019. This sci-fi mystery followed a young woman, known by the titular nickname, who reappears at home after disappearing for seven years with her eyesight intact, despite being blind when she went missing. The show’s ambience and acting were sources of praise, especially in the second season, when critics gave it a 92% grade at Rotten Tomatoes.
25. ‘Arrested Development’
Originally a Fox series that was canceled after three seasons, Netflix picked “Arrested Development” off the trash heap in 2013 and has made two new seasons since. It’s one of the company’s oldest original shows and certainly one of its most popular, as more than 275,000 users at IMDb have given it grades so far.
This ensemble sitcom follows a wealthy, inept family as their business empire hits the skids. Critical praise has always been high for its quirky writing and unique characters, but some off-screen controversies have hurt its legacy in recent years.
24. ‘Jessica Jones’
With a magnetic lead performance by Krysten Ritter, “Jessica Jones” enjoyed praise from viewers and critics alike during its run on Netflix. The title character was a gruff Marvel superhero who kept her powers a secret and ran a private detective agency in New York. Netflix produced three seasons and included Ritter’s Jessica in its “The Defenders” miniseries before pulling the plug. Since then, fans have been clamoring for the character to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some way.
Like “Arrested Development,” Netflix’s “Lucifer” is another show that was picked up by the streaming network after a canceled run on Fox. This unique fantasy show follows the Devil after he moves from hell to Los Angeles and runs a club. The lead performance of Welsh actor Tom Ellis has been a target of praise across the show’s entire run. It ran for four seasons on Fox before Netflix picked up the production for two more seasons, the last of which is currently in production.
22. ‘The Umbrella Academy’
Oscar nominee Elliot Page leads the ensemble cast of this superhero action comedy — which has nothing to do with Marvel. “The Umbrella Academy” follows a family of extraordinary adults who were heroes as children but grew apart before reuniting to fend off evil again. The first season got decent marks from critics, but the second batch of episodes was highly acclaimed, earning a 90% grade at Rotten Tomatoes. The show has been renewed for a third season, which will already give it a longer life than some of the well-liked shows on this list.
The psychological thriller, “You,” has been an obsession with audiences since it debuted on Lifetime in 2018. Starting with its second season, the series became a Netflix original, becoming a perfect fit for people who like to binge-watch their shows. Hitmaker extraordinaire Greg Berlanti is behind “You,” which stars Penn Badgley as a charismatic serial killer who obsesses over women and inserts himself into their lives. The words “guilty pleasure” get thrown around a bit with this show but both seasons have been “Certified Fresh” at Rotten Tomatoes so far.
A trio of gifted, big-time actors lead the cast of Netflix’s hit family crime series, “Ozark.” This show sees Jason Bateman and Laura Linney as a married couple who run a money laundering operation in Missouri, while Julia Garner plays the daughter of a local crime family. Garner has won two Emmy Awards for her work on the show, which is full of gritty drama. All three seasons so far have been a hit with audiences, who’ve given it an average IMDb score of 8.4/10, which ranks near the highest of any show in the studio’s history.
This sci-fi series from the co-creators of “The Matrix” bent the minds of Netflix subscribers for a run that lasted for just two seasons and a feature-length final episode. “Sense8” is about a group of eight diverse strangers who find themselves linked mentally and emotionally. The show was praised for its visuals, originality and the human themes it explored. Rotten Tomatoes called it a “beloved series” and saw its critics give every new batch of episodes a better grade.
18. ‘The End Of The F***ing World’
This British production has been released as a Netflix original outside of the United Kingdom, including in the United States. It’s a dark comedy that follows a pair of troubled teens who develop an unlikely bond while on a road trip across England. It’s one of only a few Netflix shows to have won a Peabody Award. The committee that gives that prestigious honor called “The End of the F***ing World” “a wonderfully unorthodox coming-of-age story for 21st century realists.” Its brief, two-season, 24-episode run is likely to be the full story, according to its creator.
17. ‘Money Heist’
Netflix has had great success producing original shows that are in a language other than English and “Money Heist” is the most popular of them all. This Spanish-language series has been a massive hit with audiences worldwide and has picked up nearly 300,000 ratings from IMDb users alone, who’ve given it an 8.3/10 average grade. Each of its two seasons so far tells the story of a bank heist that’s so monumental it borders on ridiculous. The show’s anti-capitalist sentiments have apparently struck a chord with many viewers.
16. ‘Cobra Kai’
Not only does Netflix poach canceled shows from traditional broadcast networks, they also take them from fellow streaming outlets. That was the case with “Cobra Kai,” which was a YouTube Premium original for its first two seasons. The acclaimed series, which is a sequel to the beloved 1980s martial arts classic, “The Karate Kid,” was picked up by Netflix in 2020, ahead of its third season premiering there exclusively in 2021. “Cobra Kai” has been a magnet for love from critics and audiences since the beginning, and it immediately became one of Netflix’s best originals.
15. ‘House Of Cards’
Netflix’s standing as a legitimate producer of acclaimed original shows started with “House of Cards.” This pitch-black political thriller was the anti-“West Wing” and raked in praise in its early run, which started in 2013. Its critical standing softened in later seasons and the awkward final season was marred by a legion of sexual assault allegations surrounding its former star, Kevin Spacey. Still, “House of Cards” has a remarkable average score of 8.7/10 from more than 400,000 IMDb users, making it one of Netflix’s most popular and beloved shows ever.
14. ‘Making A Murderer’
When you think of Netflix original productions, documentaries have to come to mind, but “Making a Murderer” was the only one popular enough to qualify for our list. This hit series became mandatory viewing for anyone suffering from FOMO in the mid-2010s, as it told the unbelievable stories of two men on the hook for a 1985 slaying. Two seasons have aired to date, with the first garnering universal praise and earning a 98% score from critics measured by Rotten Tomatoes.
13. ‘Black Mirror’
Like “The End of the F***ing World,” this sci-fi anthology series was originally a British television production that was turned into a Netflix original. Since 2015, the streamer has been producing new episodes of “Black Mirror,” which is full of nightmare fuel for anyone who’s worried about future technology. Five seasons have enamored critics and fans, the latter group especially, with its average IMDb score of 8.8/10 ranking it inside the top 60 TV shows in history.
The most recent episodes hit Netflix in June 2019 and the future of the long-running show is up in the air.
12. ‘Sex Education’
Gillian Anderson and Asa Butterfield make for a fantastic mother-son pair in this acclaimed dramedy. Anderson plays a sex therapist and Butterfield is her insecure teen son who starts passing her frank lessons in sexuality on to his classmates. Both seasons that have aired so far have had great reactions from viewers and critics, with the second season earning a near-perfect score of 98% at Rotten Tomatoes. A third batch of episodes is expected to air this year after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed production in 2020.
Of all the Marvel series that Netflix gave us in the 2010s, none was as well done as “Daredevil.” This was the first collaboration between the streaming network and the ubiquitous comics publisher and it delighted both fans and critics for its entire run. Its lead character is Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who spends his evenings fighting crime as a masked vigilante. The cast was loaded with gifted actors, including Vincent D’Onofrio, whose menacing work as the villainous Kingpin helped the show earn Rotten Tomatoes scores of 97% or better for two of its three seasons.
Netflix really started picking up heat as a place for must-see original shows in the mid-2010s and “Narcos” was one of the studio’s biggest hits at the time. This crime drama at first tells the true story of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar as he rises to power in the 1980s, while also tailing the DEA agents who are trying to bring him down. The third and final season aired in 2017 and the entire run was praised by critics and viewers, the latter of whom have given it an average IMDb grade of 8.8/10 from a pool of more than 350,000 voters.
Along with “Money Heist,” this sci-fi thriller is the only non-English language series to qualify for our list, which is a testament to its broad appeal. “Dark” was a German Netflix original that drew heaps of praise for its performances, atmosphere and tricky plot. What starts as a story about children who go missing from a small town evolves into a complex tale that involves time travel and grim personal secrets. Its entire three-season run holds an average grade of 95% from professional critics tabbed at Rotten Tomatoes, with its second season commanding a rare perfect grade.
8. ‘The Haunting Of Hill House’
Many TV shows have tried to do horror, but few have scared anyone as much as Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House.” This 2018 miniseries was full of unforgettable images, impactful family drama and dozens of creepy ghosts hidden around the frames. It told the story of a family of adult siblings whose lives were all fractured by their childhoods, which were partly spent living in a haunted manor. Its brief run was universally praised by critics and audiences — even if they had their eyes closed through most of it.
7. ‘BoJack Horseman’
Animation is another genre that Netflix has gone into heavily for its original productions and “BoJack Horseman” was their first try. Going by IMDb metrics, it’s the studio’s most popular animated show, as well as its most acclaimed. The show’s six-season run came to an end in 2020 after years of praise being thrown its way. The show followed a washed-up, alcoholic actor who happens to be an anthropomorphic horse, voiced by Will Arnett, and some called it the best Netflix show ever while it was still airing.
6. ‘Orange Is The New Black’
Netflix originals often don’t have lives that are anywhere near as long as their broadcast TV counterparts, but “Orange is the New Black” bucked that trend. This groundbreaking ensemble drama that was set inside a women’s prison ran for seven seasons before ending in 2019. Every one of those seasons earned a “Certified Fresh” grade from critics at Rotten Tomatoes, with five of them getting at least a 94% grade. Its large cast was almost entirely made up of women, with many of them being people of color, making it an oddity in big-budget TV.
5. ‘The Queen’s Gambit’
This 2020 miniseries is the newest Netflix original on our list and it seemed to shoot to the top of the company’s greatest hits collection as soon as it debuted. “The Queen’s Gambit” spun its intriguing narrative over the course of seven tight episodes, taking viewers through the troubled life of an American chess prodigy. Anya Taylor-Joy brought the lead character, Beth Harmon, to life and drew enormous praise for her work. The series holds scores of 8.7/10 at IMDb and 97% at Rotten Tomatoes, both of which are nearly the best of any Netflix production.
4. ‘When They See Us’
The only miniseries Netflix has produced that can top “The Queen’s Gambit” in terms of acclaim is “When They See Us.” This powerhouse 2019 show told the true story of five men of color who were falsely accused of a brutal assault in New York’s Central Park in 1989. The four-part show, which was created by Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey, won a Peabody Award and an Emmy. Critics loved it but its viewer score of 8.9/10 at IMDb is the highest of any show on this list and ranks it inside the top 40 shows across TV history.
It’s a shame that “Mindhunter” appears to be finished because it was some of the best TV ever produced by Netflix. This crime drama told a fictionalized account of the formation of the FBI’s first team of criminal profilers in the 1970s. Some of America’s most frightening serial killers show up as characters being interviewed by the agents, who were played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany. Its overall Rotten Tomatoes score of 98% for its two-season run is the best of any Netflix original show on this list.
2. ‘The Crown’
Unless you’re a member of Britain’s royal family, you’ve probably found that “The Crown” just keeps getting better. This sumptuous and engrossing drama chronicles the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, often jumping many years between episodes to hit some of the most interesting parts of her long rule. According to critics, each of its seasons has gotten stronger than the last, with 2020’s fourth season earning an incredible 97% grade at Rotten Tomatoes. Real-life figures that have been brilliantly rendered in the show thus far include Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana.
1. ‘Stranger Things’
While “The Crown” is always a headline-grabber when a new season drops, “Stranger Things” is one of the biggest blockbusters in all of entertainment. It’s gorgeously made, well acted and contains a ton of heart, all of which add up to a show that has charmed pretty much everyone who’s watched it since it debuted in 2016.
It’s a love letter to 1980s coming-of-age adventure movies that combines sci-fi, horror and light teen drama into a mix that’s just fun to spend your time with. No other Netflix original comes close to its vote tally of more than 800,000 at IMDb, all of which have given it an average score of 8.7/10.