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25 voters

The Best Biographical Documentary Series

Updated May 25, 2021 197 votes 25 voters68 items

List RulesVote up the best documentary shows about a person or a specific group of people.

The best television documentary biographies are as engaging as a scripted series, while also sharing real lives. The best biography documentary series ever shown on television tell the tales of people - from celebrities to average folks who led extraordinary lives. If you’ve been looking for the best biography documentaries to add some enjoyable education to your TV nights, this list of the best art and art history documentary series of all time will help you figure out what needs to go into your queue.

Some documentary biography series follow individuals for the full run of the show, such as The Defiant Ones, or any documentary series that follows the life of historical figures such as Churchill or Napoleon. Many other documentary biography series use an anthology format and tell the story of different people each episode. 30 for 30, Behind the Music, and even E! True Hollywood Story tell peoples' stories with a mix of reenactment, file footage, and information from experts in the field.

Which shows do the best job sharing information about the lives of famous people? Vote up the best biography documentary shows and add any biographical documentary series that are missing.

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  • 1
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    PremieredAugust 17, 1997

    Behind the Music is a television series on VH1. It originally ran from 1997 to 2006, before it was stopped and only aired new episodes sporadically. The series places its generality on documentation...  more
  • 2
    5
    1

    Hillary

    Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton

    PremieredMarch 6, 2020

    Hillary (Hulu, 2020) is a documentary miniseries directed by Nanette Burstein. A look at the life and work of Hillary Rodham Clinton, interweaving biographical chapters of her life with...  more
  • 3
    5
    2

    E! True Hollywood Story

    Don Morrow, Neil Ross

    PremieredFebruary 16, 1997

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  • 4
    5
    2

    30 for 30

    Dan Rather, Magic Johnson

    PremieredOctober 6, 2009

    30 for 30 is the umbrella title for a series of documentary films airing on ESPN and its sister networks and online properties. The series highlights important people and events in the sports world...  more
  • 5
    3
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    Roman Empire

    Ido Drent, Craig Walsh-Wrightson

    PremieredNovember 11, 2016

    Roman Empire (Netflix, 2016) is an American/Canadia docuseries directed by Richard Lopez, and based on historical events. Narrated by Sean Bean, the series chronicles the reign of Commodus, the...  more
  • 6
    1
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    American Experience

    David McCullough, David Ogden Stiers

    PremieredOctober 4, 1988

    American Experience is a television program airing on the Public Broadcasting Service Public television stations in the United States. The program airs documentaries, many of which have won awards,...  more
  • 7
    1
    2

    American Masters

    Julianna Margulies, Laura Linney

    PremieredJune 23, 1986

    American Masters is a PBS television show which produces biographies on artists, actors and writers of the United States who have left a profound impact on the nation's popular culture. It is...  more
  • 8
    1
    1

    Final 24

    Danny Wallace, Dave McRae

    PremieredApril 15, 2006

    Final 24 is a Canadian documentary series which airs on the Discovery Channel and Global Television Network. Released in Canada in 2006, the series explores the last 24 hours of the life of a person,...  more
  • 9
    2
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    POV

    POV is a Public Broadcasting Service public television series which features independent nonfiction films. POV is an initialism for point of view. POV is the longest-running showcase on television...  more
  • 10
    2
    2

    VH1's Legends

    Legends is a music biography television series on VH1. Originally sponsored by AT&T Corporation, this series documents those artists who have made a significant contribution to music history to be...  more
  • 11
    2
    3

    Biography

    Joan Lunden, Peter Graves

    Premiered1987

    Biography is a documentary television series that had three original runs, twice on CBS and the current on A&E then The Biography Channel then FYI. It was originally a half-hour filmed series...  more

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  • 12
    0
    5

    Private Century

    Private Century is a 2007 biographical documentary TV miniseries written and directed by Jan Sikl....
  • 13
    0
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    Paul Merton's Silent Clowns

    Silent Clowns (BBC Four, 2006), also known as Paul Perton's Silent Clowns, is a documentary television miniseries. The show contains profiles of some of the greatest stars of silent comedy....  more
  • 14
    4
    0

    Finding Your Roots

    Henry Louis Gates Jr.

    PremieredMarch 25, 2012

    Finding Your Roots (PBS, 2012) is an American family history and genealogy television documentary series hosted by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In each episode, celebrities are presented with a...  more
  • 15
    0
    3

    The Churchills

    The Churchills is a documentary series presented by David Starkey. He tells the story of the two greatest war leaders the country has ever known, both of whom had the surname Churchill. Everyone...  more
  • 16
    2
    0

    The Men Who Built America

    A.J. Achinger

    PremieredOctober 16, 2012

    The Men Who Built America is a History six-hour, four-part miniseries docudrama broadcast in Fall 2012, and on the History Channel UK in Spring 2013. The series focuses on Cornelius Vanderbilt, John...  more
  • 17
    1
    2

    Beethoven

    Paul Rhys, Charles Hazlewood

    Premiered2005

    Beethoven (aka The Genius of Beethoven) is a 2005 BBC dramatized television documentary miniseries. The show follows the life and music of Ludwig van Beethoven....  more
  • 18
    2
    3

    Persons of Interest

    Mercia Deane-Johns, Haydn Keenan

    Premiered2013

    Persons of Interest (2013) is an Australian biographical documentary television series. In each episode, a person of interest is given their previously secret intelligence file and attempts to answer...  more
  • 19
    2
    2

    Five Came Back

    Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro

    PremieredMarch 31, 2017

    Five Came Back (2017, Netflix) is a three-part American documentary based on the 2014 book Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War by journalist Mark Harris. Five Came Back...  more
  • 20
    2
    1

    The Defiant Ones

    Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine

    PremieredJuly 9, 2017

    The Defiant Ones (HBO, 2017) is an American documentary miniseries directed by Allen Hughes. Examining the partnership between Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, and their leading roles in a chain of...  more

    More The Defiant Ones 

    #109 of 118 The Best HBO Originals#19 of 58 The Best HBO Miniseries Of All Time

  • 21

    PremieredSeptember 22, 2017

    Mike Judge Presents: Tales from the Tour Bus (Cinemax, 2017) is an American animated comedy television series created by Mike Judge, Richard Mullins and Dub Cornett. Narrated by Judge, the series is...  more
  • 22
    0
    0

    I Am the Ambassador

    Rufus Gifford
    I Am the Ambassador (Netflix, 2014) is an American documentary series. The series follows the life and career of Rufus Gifford, an openly gay man who served as U.S. Ambassador to Denmark for...  more
  • 23
    2
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    Bobby Kennedy for President

    Peter Edelman, Paul Schrade

    PremieredApril 27, 2018

    Bobby Kennedy for President (Netflix, 2018) is a documentary series. This four-part documentary series weaves together rare and exclusive footage of attorney general, U.S. senator, and presidential...  more
  • 24
    0
    1

    Tom vs Time

    Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen
    Tom vs Time (Facebook Watch, 2018) is an American documentary web television series created by Gotham Chopra. The six-episode series follows New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and provides an...  more
  • 25
    0
    1

    Hook'd

    Eduardo Deno, Nairoby Quezada

    Premiered2018

    Hook'd (Crackle, 2018) is a four-part docuseries that takes a look into the personal and competitive life of "Dragon Ball FighterZ" rising star HookGangGod....  more