Crime Shows and Movies The Greatest TV Shows About Prison  

Ranker TV
2.4k votes 664 voters 32.6k views 27 items

For most of the population, prisons are only accessible via our TV sets and movie screens. At least, that's the goal as nobody really wants to visit a prison. For those of us interested in seeing what life is like behind bars, there are television shows about prison for us to watch! These series generally sit in the drama and action genre, but comedies have been known to get locked up as well. You can even find anime series about prison. While there are more than a few docuseries and reality shows about being imprisoned, there are also series with impressive storylines and detailed characters fans can enjoy. So, if you'd prefer to see what prison looks like from the perspective of the people serving time, or hear some scary prison stories, you'll find plenty of options on the list below.

Recent additions to the jail genre include shows like Orange is the New Black, which delves into the life of the inmates in a women's prison, while a series like Prison Break features men trying to fulfill the title of the show. Whatever your interest in prisons— getting into them or breaking free—there are plenty of shows on television capable of captivating your attention! 

For more recommendations, browse this list and feel free to add any similar shows and movies you think are missing! Of course, don't forget to vote up the best prison shows, while voting others down accordingly.

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Wentworth is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Danielle Cormack, Nicole da Silva, Kate Atkinson
Wentworth is an Australian television drama series. It was first broadcast on SoHo on 1 May 2013. The series serves as a contemporary reimagining of Prisoner, which ran on Network Ten from 1979 ...more
2
166 58
Oz is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen
Oz is an American television drama series created by Tom Fontana, who also wrote or co-wrote all of the series' 56 episodes. It was the first one-hour dramatic television series to be produced ...more
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178 68
Prison Break is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Amaury Nolasco
Prison Break is an American television serial drama created by Paul Scheuring, that was broadcast on Fox for four seasons, from 2005 until 2009. The series revolves around two brothers; one has ...more
4
205 103
Orange Is the New Black is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning
Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama series created by Jenji Kohan and first released on Netflix on July 11, 2013. The series, produced by Tilted Productions in association with ...more
5
82 35
60 Days In is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Jamey Noel, Scottie Maples, Mark Adger
60 Days In (A&E, 2016) is a television docuseries, in which seven individuals volunteer to go undercover, spending 60 days as inmates in the Clark County Jail to obtain evidence of ...more
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88 41
Lockup is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Lockup is a prison documentary series, produced by 44 Blue Productions, which airs on MSNBC. The Lockup franchise also includes Lockup: Raw, Lockup: World Tour, Lockup: Extended Stay, Lockup: ...more
7
66 33
Making a Murderer is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey, Dean Strang
This series is an American documentary television series that premiered on Netflix in 2015. The ten-episode first season, written and directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, explores the ...more
8
63 33
Girls Incarcerated is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Girls Incarcerated (Netflix, 2018) is a coming-of-age documentary series about troubled girls who are are juvenile delinquents in Madison Juvenile Center.
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Beyond Scared Straight is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
A's hit series BEYOND SCARED STRAIGHT, which premiered as the highest-rated original series launch in the network's history, returns for a new season. The series, inspired by "SCARED ...more
10
58 35
Banged Up Abroad is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Locked Up Abroad
Banged Up Abroad was a British documentary/docudrama television series created by Bart Layton that was produced for Channel 5 and that premiered in March 2006. Most episodes feature stories of ...more
11
39 22
Prisoner is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Kerry Armstrong, Betty Bobbitt, Wendy Playfair
Prisoner is an Australian soap opera, set in the Wentworth Detention Centre, a fictional women's prison. In the United States and United Kingdom it was billed as Prisoner: Cell Block H, and in ...more
12
39 23
Jail is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Jail is a reality television series that follows suspected criminals from booking through incarceration. The series was created and produced by John Langley and his son, Morgan Langley, who also ...more
13
32 25
Alcatraz is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Jonny Coyne
Alcatraz is an American television series created by Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt, and produced by J. J. Abrams and Bad Robot Productions. The series premiered on Fox on ...more
14
27 23
Bad Girls is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Nicola Stapleton, Amanda Barrie, Stephanie Beacham
Bad Girls is a British television drama series that was broadcast on ITV from 1 June 1999 to 20 December 2006. It was produced by Shed Productions, the company that later produced Footballers' ...more
15
25 25
Breakout Kings is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Serinda Swan, Robert Knepper, Laz Alonso
Breakout Kings is an American drama television series that aired on the A&E network. It is a production of Fox 21. The series was created, written, and executive-produced by Nick Santora and ...more
16
28 30
Women in Prison is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Women in Prison C. C. H. Pounder, Denny Dillon, Wendie Jo Sperber
Women in Prison is an American television sitcom created by Katherine Green which aired on Fox from October 11, 1987 to April 2, 1988.
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Prison Playbook is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Prison Playbook
18
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Hogan's Heroes is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer, John Banner
Hogan's Heroes is an American television sitcom set in a German prisoner during WWII. It ran for 168 episodes from September 17, 1965, to April 4, 1971, on the CBS network. Bob Crane starred as ...more
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17 19
The Night Of is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
John Turturro, Riz Ahmed, Bill Camp
The Night Of (HBO, 2016) is an American eight-part crime drama television miniseries created by Richard Price and Steven Zaillian, based on the British TV series Criminal Justice. After a night ...more
20
10 18
Captive is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Mass Nokhas, Mehdi Aissaoui, Thaer Al-Shayei
Captive (Netflix, 2016) is an American documentary web series. Told by the victims themselves, the series explores hostage situations and negotiations from around the world.
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Superjail! is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
David Wain, Teddy Cohn, Christopher McCulloch
Superjail! is an American animated television series produced by Augenblick Studios in its first season, and by Titmouse, Inc. in its second and third seasons. A fourth season was confirmed on ...more
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9 17
Within These Walls is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Googie Withers, Jerome Willis, Denys Hawthorne
Within These Walls is a British television drama programme made by London Weekend Television for ITV and shown between 1974 and 1978. It portrayed life in HMP Stone Park, a fictional women's ...more
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Porridge is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Ronnie Barker, Brian Wilde, Fulton Mackay
Porridge is a British situation comedy broadcast on BBC1 from 1974 to 1977, running for three series, two Christmas specials and a feature film also titled Porridge. Written by Dick Clement and ...more
24
8 17
Hinter Gittern – Der Frauenkna... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Hinter Gittern – Der Frauenknast Nadine Warmuth, Silke Matthias, Annette Frier
Hinter Gittern – Der Frauenknast was a German television series in the form of a soap opera and told the dramaturgically oversubscribed-life in a prison for women. The series was broadcast from ...more
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8 20
The Prisoner is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Shows About Prison
Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat, Peter Swanwick
The Prisoner is a 17-episode British television series first broadcast in the United Kingdom from 29 September 1967 to 1 February 1968. Starring and co-created by Patrick McGoohan, it combined ...more