Looking for something to stream this weekend? Check out these amazing Netflix Limited Series that you absolutely must watch!
Netflix Originals were once a powerhouse of entertainment. Then, for some reason, Netflix seemed to lose its way. Now, it has carved out a new and intriguing lane with a new crop of dynamic, entertaining, and captivating Netflix limited series.
And don’t get me wrong, I love me some Netflix. So much so that I even did a post celebrating the creativity of Netflix-Inspired Halloween Costumes. After all, there’s something so comforting at the end of a long week to be able to sit down and stream the lives of others from the comfort of my own living room. And this has especially been the case during Covid.
But, perhaps because of the onslaught of competitive streaming services, the quality of the Netflix Original seemed to dip, dramatically. In recent years, they seemed to rely heavily on importing shows from other countries instead of creating their own. Don’t get me wrong, there are some Spanish TV shows on Netflix that I have loved watching, but I missed the days when “Netflix Original” meant something positive.
However, there are some wonderful gems amongst the rubble, and the best of the bunch are entertaining binge-watchable Netflix Limited Series that will keep you hooked for hours.
To clarify, when I refer to a Limited Series on Netflix, I am only including those with a definitive (at least for now) beginning and end within a single season. For example, although 13 Reasons Why would have been a striking and powerful limited series on its own accord, the producers decided to extend it into multiple seasons and turn it into a recurring series… so it doesn’t count. However, The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor – albeit connected via some ensemble cast members – have very different and disconnected story arcs that allow them both to be classified as stand-alone limited series.
Top 18 Best Netflix Limited Series
So, without further ado, here are my picks for the Top 12 limited series that you can stream on Netflix. These are not in any particular order. Some are based on how recently I watched it, or some other reason they came to the top of my mind first.
For those who are concerned about spoilers, I have kept them to the absolute bare minimum – revealing nothing more than you might see in the trailer.
When prodigal son Riley Flynn returns home to a small fishing island in the middle of nowhere, he was prepared to face the familiar and familial dysfunction. What he was not prepared for was the havoc that the new priest would reak on the island and its inhabitants.
What I loved above this show, beyond the absolutely mesmerizing performances by Samantha Sloyan and Hamish Linklater was how it blended horror with a sense of blind faith.
Instead of your typical battle of good vs evil, this limited series blurs the lines between good, evil and showcases many cases where things that claim to be “good” are not.
A war veteran turned police officer is assigned to protect a politician who was the whistleblower on an army cover-up. The show follows their relationship as they uncover a level of corruption that puts them both in danger.
This Netflix limited series Bodyguard stars Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) and Keeley Hawes (The Durrells).
I was hooked by this series via one of the most compelling opening sequences I think I have ever seen. And it doesn’t really let up on the emotional, suspenseful, and thrilling roller coaster ride throughout the entire season.
Although there were originally rumors about a possible second season of Bodyguard, nothing ever seemed to come of it. Perhaps that was due to the Covid pandemic, or perhaps other factors played a role. For now, this will remain as a stand-alone limited series.
Russian Doll follows Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne) as she tries to navigate through the modern-day rat race of attending parties and hitting up after-parties while simultaneously figuring out why she keeps dying on her 36th birthday, only to snap back to the same moment shortly before her death.
The Netflix show also stars Charlie Barnett, although he doesn’t make a proper appearance until several episodes in.
It takes a few episodes for this Netflix original to find its footing but once it does you will be hooked by how captivatingly dark it gets. The dialogue is snappy and clever, the cinematography beautiful throughout each episode that perfectly captures both time periods equally well, even if they’re seemingly polar opposites.
I have watched this particular series a few times, and I notice new and interesting elements every single time.
Tales of the City
Speaking of Charlie Barnett, he can also be seen in the Netflix limited series that is a bit of a reboot of a much-loved TV show from decades earlier.
This Netflix Limited Series is a follow-up to the popular TV show that was set in 1970s San Francisco, where a young and somewhat naive woman finds an unexpected community among her quirky neighbors. This Netflix Limited Series picks up decades later and returns us to that quirky neighborhood full of some familiar and new faces.
An exploration of love, relationships, and queer culture, it does a nice job of bringing the storylines first explored in the trailblazing drama into the current age.
With layers upon layers of innuendo, suspicion, and betrayal, Clickbait follows the tragic course of events that occur when Nick Brewer is held captive by unknown assailants who force him to release a video confessing to his crimes against women.
His family is not aware of his disappearance until the viral video appears, promising that Nick will be executed when the video reaches 5 million views. Then starts the race against the clock, and social media, to find Nick Brewer… and the truth.
The Netflix limited series stars Adrian Grenier, Zoe Kazan, and Betty Gabriel as the victim/abuser, his sister, and his wife. Each episode in the series explores one of the central characters and slowly pieces the entire puzzle together. Expect plenty of twists and turns until the final climax.
Brand New Cherry Flavor
Not at all what one might expect from the title, this Netflix Limited Series is perfect for people who love things a little bit dark and a lot twisty.
Just like Russian Doll before it, Brand New Cherry Flavor is another Netflix original that starts off slow but manages to create tension and anticipation every step of the way.
With an exceptional cast that includes Catherine Keener, Eric Lange, and Jeff Ward, you really can’t go wrong with Brand New Cherry Flavor.
One of my favorite parts of this show was Keener’s portrayal of the protagonist Boro. She does an absolutely amazing job of creating a charismatic and complicated character that leaves you guessing throughout.
This high-impact Western follows the lives of the townfolk of La Belle, New Mexico. Years earlier, nearly every man in town was killed during a tragic mine collapse, leaving the women to find for themselves. But how can a group of women defend themselves from one of the most cutthroat band of thieves and murders in the region?
When a lost and wounded cowboy (Roy) collapses on Alice’s doorstep, it begins a chain of events that will turn this small, struggling town upside down. The entire cast does an amazing job of creating a rivetting portrayal of resilliance, strength, and courage in the face of inconceivable obstances.
This Netflix limited series is a must-see for those who love big westerns, and Netflix has given us another hit!
The Queen’s Gambit
You may think to yourself, “Why would I want to watch an entire limited series about chess?” But this fantastic Netflix original is about far more than the game. It is a story of resilience and the power of the human spirit.
This Netflix limited series tells the story of Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), a young and ambitious chess prodigy, who uses Chess as a way to escape her troubled life. It follows her from the day she first discovers the game to becoming one of its masters.
As she navigates this new game with its cutthroat players, beautiful losers, glamorous outsiders, and wealthy benefactors, it becomes clear that if Beth wants to succeed at this elite level, she will need to sacrifice part of herself along the way.
This Netflix original may be about chess but there are plenty of twists and turns throughout each episode! Plus, the series – which is set between the years 1958 and 1968 – does an incredible job of capturing the mood of that transformational time in American history.
Netflix has another Netflix limited series that is just about as good as it gets.
A true-crime drama that centers around an incredible case of sexual assault and the two female detectives who risked their lives to prove the woman’s story.
When a traumatized young woman reports being raped by an unknown assailant, the police are skeptical of her claims, so much so that she ends up recanting her story. Years later, two female detectives – Toni Collette (who absolutely kills it) and Merrit Wever – start pulling at the threads of the story, revealing far more than they ever expected.
What starts off as a simple investigation turns into full-fledged thriller thanks to some truly (pun intended) unbelievable twists throughout each episode.
The Haunting of Hill House
In Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, a family is haunted by their past and the trauma that has fractured them.
The show goes back in time to when the children were all teenagers and explores how the house and their childhood within it shaped each one specifically with their individual fears and struggles before shifting forward in present-day where the family has reunited under unfortunate circumstances.
The show is tightly bound with the theme of grief and how we all process it differently, which makes for a fascinatingly dark watch that will keep you hooked from beginning to end. Netflix’s Limited Series The Haunting of Hill House goes beyond your typical huanted house movie or TV shows and digs deep into the stories about trauma and how it can shape us as individuals.
Although the second Limited Series by the same producers, The Haunting of Bly Manor, was good… it lacked some of the punch of its predecessor, which is why it didn’t get its own mention in this list.
If you want some campy zombie fun, Dead Set is the place to be.
Cut off from the rest of the world, contestants on a British reality show (think Big Brother) have their lives, and their 15 minutes of fame, interrupted by a zombie outbreak. At first completely oblivious to what is happening in the world around them, when the outbreak finally penetrates their studio lives, the contestants must try to survive.
The Netflix original may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it does have some seriously good comedic moments throughout each episode that are totally worth your time!
Someone Has to Die
A Spanish-Mexian triller, this fun, visually stunning, and completely disturbing limited series features some recognizable faces (if you’ve watched any of the other Spanish TV shows on Netflix).
With only 3 episodes to tell a completely twisted story, this show does an amazing job of setting the perfect and compelling mood for the backgroup of this family drama.
Netflix’s Someone Has to Die (aka Alguien tiene que morir) is a limited series from the creators of The House of Flowers about a conservative and traditional society during the Franco regime, where appearances and family ties play a critical role in everyone’s day-to-day lives.
When their son returns to the family home after a lengthy absence with a handsome friend as his companion, it stirs up a series of damaging rumors in the Homophobic world of 1950s Spain. While they are busy trying to find a suitable woman for him to marry, he is busy exploring his own hopes for the future, while at the same time trying to reconcile the tragedies of the past.
Based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace is a Netflix limited series based on the true story of convicted murderer Grace Marks who, along with stable hand James McDermott was sentenced to life imprisonment after killing their employer Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery.
Spanning two time periods in her life, this six-part miniseries follows how events unfolded one dark summer in 1843 when she and stable hand James McDermott were accused of killing their employer Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery.
The second part takes place years later, as Dr. Simon Jordan tries to determine whether or not Marks was involved with the murders at all while also trying to unravel the secrets and lies that seem to be peppered through the various accounts of the events.
The Bonfire of Destiny
The Bazar de la Charité was an annual charity event organized and the infamous for the fire at the 1897 bazaar claimed 126 lives, many of them aristocratic women.
This French period drama takes place around the time of the devastating 1897 fire in Paris (which is known as the Charity Bazaar Fire), following three women whose lives are forever changed following the tragedy.
The series starts with the moments leading up to the tragedy and then focuses on the terrifying events that ensued, as those who were trapped inside the blaze try desperately to escape. Hampered by their own garments, most of the women are trapped without any hope of survival. But what is the most difficult to watch is the mix of cowardice and selfless heroism on display during these moments. This dramatic contrast sets the tone for the rest of the series, which is relentlessly intense.
The rest of the series follows three women who try to pick up the pieces of their fragmented and fractured lives, despite the best efforts of those around them to turn the tragic fire to their own advantage.
The film is in French, but Neflix offers both subtitled and dubbed versions.
The English Game
From the creator of Downton Abbey comes a new period drama that highlights the pervasive class divides of the time. This Netflix limited series chronicles the early days of organized football in Britain when a working-class footballer joins a game that is normally reserved for his upper-class counterparts. These two 19th-century footballers, who are on opposing sides of a class divide, face personal and professional turmoil that ends up changing the game – and – England, forever.
If you enjoy period dramas, this limited series is right up your Downton Abbey.
Have you ever dreamed of moving to Hollywood and becoming a star? This series by the acclaimed Ryan Murphy takes a peek at old school Hollywood, the place where dreams came true – even if they turned out to be nightmares.
It follows the struggles of several Hollywood wannabes, including budding actors and screenwriters, while simultaneously exposing and rewritting Hollywood’s tainted history of racial profiling, homophobia, and typecasting.
Gloriously filmed and with some truly wonderful performances by its cast members, the only downside is that it often falls victim to its own desire to rewrite Hollywood’s past mistakes.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
For those who know and love Gilmore Girls, this was a welcome return to Stars Hollow. Featuring most of the original cast, ableit sometimes more briefly than one would like, this was both modern and nostalgic.
The limited series, which also acted as a seguel to the popular TV series from the early 2000s and picks up several years after the series ended. We get to see the changes in their lives – some good, some sad – and how they plan on tackling the next phase of their lives.
Although it was missing some of the charm of the original TV show, it was nice to visit these old friends once again.
When They See Us
The Netflix limited series When They See Us Netflix is a four-part Netflix original about the Central Park Five case and how five Harlem teenagers were wrongly convicted of raping Trisha Meili.
It follows the events that took place between April 19, 1989 when Trisha went missing after going for her evening jog in New York City’s Central Park until May 31, 2002 when Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr., and Korey Wise became exonerated individuals after serving their full prison sentences.
With an all-star cast including Michael K Williams as Bobby McCray aka “The Father” Ava DuVernay directs this Netflix mini-series with great care to detail – from the set, to costuming and even down to each actor’s diction.
What’s Next for Netflix Limited Series?
Given how powerful and popular these Netflix limited series have become, I would not be at all surprised to see more of them pop onto the streaming service in the coming months.
I would also not be surprised to see some of these stories return with a second season, although that would – officially – change them from the limited series (where they have really shone) into a standard series (where they often fade). But for now, hop on over to Netflix and check out some of these amazing shows!