Miniseries

The Best Documentary Miniseries  

Ranker TV
199 votes 40 voters 2.1k views 33 items

List Rules Vote up the best documentary miniseries that have aired on television. Only shows with six episodes or less.

The best documentary miniseries offer a more in-depth look at their subject than a film but are also digestible in a shorter time than longer shows. The best documentary miniseries ever shown on television may have episodes that are an hour long each but have a defined arc and a clear end. If you’ve been looking for the best limited series documentaries to add some educational value to your TV nights, this list of the best documentary miniseries of all time will help you figure out what needs to go into your queue.

Both the BBC and Netflix have solid histories of creating short documentary shows that tell their stories in no more than a dozen episodes. Even the expansive subjects of Planet Earth II or Natures Great Events are summed up in just six parts. Some series are even shorter, with only two or three episodes - great if you want to spread your documentary viewing across a couple of evenings. Cooked is a food documentary with only four parts that match with each of the four natural elements, and Yellowstone thoroughly examines the natural wonder in only three episodes.

Which miniseries do the best job sharing their subject in six episodes or less? Vote up the best documentary miniseries and add any limited documentary series that are missing.

list ordered by
1
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
HBO
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (HBO, 2015) is a documentary miniseries directed by Andrew Jarecki. Exploring the complicated life of reclusive real estate icon Robert Durst, the ...more
2
Wild Wild Country is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Netflix
Wild Wild Country (Netflix, 2018) is a documentary series directed by Maclain and Chapman Way. When Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh AKA Osho, the world's most controversial guru, builds a utopian city ...more
3
Planet Earth II is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
BBC One
Planet Earth II (BBC One, 2016) is a British nature documentary series presented and narrated by Sir David Attenborough. This 6-part limited series explores how animals meet the challenges of ...more
4
Murder Mountain is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Netflix
Murder Mountain (Netflix, 2018) is an American true crime documentary television miniseries. The 6-part limited series covers an area of Northern California's Humboldt County, including the ...more
5
Dirty Money is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Netflix
Dirty Money (Netflix, 2018 is an American documentary television series documenting various stories about exposing the greed, corruption, and crime spreading through the global economy.
6
The Case Against Adnan Syed is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
HBO
The Case Against Adnan Syed (HBO, 2019) is an American documentary television miniseries. Popularized by the podcast, "Serial," the documentary series follows the ongoing story of ...more
7
Wonders of Life is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Wonders of Life BBC, CCTV-9
Wonders of Life is a five-part television documentary series presented by physicist Professor Brian Cox. The series was produced by the BBC and Chinese state television network CCTV-9 and aired ...more
8
Nature's Great Events is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
BBC One
Each year, the planet is transformed through some of the most breathtaking natural events across our ecosystem, triggered by seasonal changes on a grand scale. These dramatic natural visual ...more
9
The Defiant Ones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
HBO
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
10
Wonders of the Solar System is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Wonders of the Solar System BBC, Science
Wonders of the Solar System is a 2010 television series co-produced by the BBC and Science Channel, and hosted by physicist Brian Cox. Wonders of the Solar System was first broadcast in the ...more
11
Wonders of the Universe is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
BBC, BBC HD
Wonders of the Universe is a 2011 television series produced by the BBC, Discovery Channel, and Science Channel, hosted by physicist Professor Brian Cox. Wonders of the Universe was first ...more
12
Death Row Chronicles is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
BET
Death Row Chronicles (Bet, 2018) is a six-part documentary series that chronicles the rise and fall of one of the most iconic hip hop recording labels "Death Row Records" in the 1990s ...more
13
Five Came Back is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Netflix
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
14
Stephen Fry in America is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC One
Stephen Fry in America is a six-part BBC television series in which Stephen Fry travels across the United States, a country in which he was almost born. Just before Fry was born, his father was ...more
15
Tricky Dick is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
CNN
Tricky Dick (CNN, 2019) is a documentary television miniseries constructed from CNN archives. The four-part limited series follows the life and times of 37th US President Richard Nixon and his ...more
16
Prehistoric Park is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
ITV
Prehistoric Park is a six-episode Docu-fiction television mini-series that premiered on ITV on 22 July 2006 and on Animal Planet on 29 October 2006. The program was produced by Impossible ...more
17
James Cameron's Story of Scien... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
AMC, Shudder
James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction (AMC, 2018) is an American documentary television miniseries. This six-part limited series explores the science fiction genre with some of the greatest ...more
18
Stephen Hawking's Grand Design is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Stephen Hawking's Grand Design Discovery Channel
Based on his acclaimed new book with science writer Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, Professor Hawking draws on more than 40 years of his own research and a recent series of observations and ...more
19
Life Story is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Life Story BBC One
Life Story (BBC One, 2014) is a British natural-history television miniseries. The six-part limited series reveals the challenges faced by individual animals at different stages of their lives
20
Cooked is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Netflix
Cooked (Netflix, 2016) is a documentary miniseries directed by Alex Gibney. Explored through the lenses of the four natural elements - fire, water, air and earth - the series looks at the ...more
21
The Death of Yugoslavia is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
The Death of Yugoslavia BBC One
The Death of Yugoslavia is a BBC documentary series first broadcast in 1995, and is also the name of a book written by Allan Little and Laura Silber that accompanies the series. It covers the ...more
22
Daughters of Destiny is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Netflix
Daughters of Destiny (Netflix, 2017) is a documentary series directed by Vanessa Roth, who follows a group of rural India's most disadvantaged children over the course of seven years.
23
Life in the Undergrowth is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
BBC One
Life in the Undergrowth is a BBC nature documentary series written and presented by David Attenborough, first transmitted in the UK from 23 November 2005. A study of the evolution and habits of ...more
24
Human Universe is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Human Universe BBC Two
Human Universe is a British television series broadcast on BBC Two, presented by Professor Brian Cox.
25
Treasures of Ancient Egypt is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Documentary Miniseries
Treasures of Ancient Egypt BBC4
Treasures of Ancient Egypt (BBC4, 2014) is a British historical documentary television series. This 3-part series follows Alistair Sooke as he visits 30 great treasures of Egyptian art, some in ...more