The 20 Best Thriller Miniseries of All Time, Ranked

The film world is being taken over by streaming platforms used worldwide, and with it comes a great new addition of miniseries. Great stories that have dynamic plots, fleshed-out characters, and gorgeous scriptwriting are boiled down into just a few episodes for audiences to enjoy all in one go. Without the need for long-term commitment to multiple seasons and episodes, miniseries are targeted for those who need something to binge.



Within the world of miniseries are some of the best works of the thriller genre that TV has to offer. Whether that be thrillers with undertones of horror or drama, they have it all. The best thriller miniseries to binge will keep audiences on the edge of their seats, but not for too long.

Updated on July 21, 2023, by Hannah Saab:

The best limited series streaming right now include some fantastic thrillers from recent years, including miniseries that premiered (or are currently airing) this year like Secret Invasion and The Crowded Room.

20 ‘The Clearing’ (2023)

Image via Hulu

The Clearing is a chilling psychological thriller inspired by a true story of a female-led cult. It draws from J.P. Pomare‘s book In The Clearing to tell its tale of a woman who must confront her past to stop a cult from kidnapping more kids in the not-so-distant future.

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The Clearing boldly depicts the Australian New Age group known as The Family and explores the kind of long-lasting psychological effects it has on its members. While the pacing may be too slow for some, those who enjoy piecing together an intriguing mystery will find themselves coming back for more.

Watch on Hulu

19 ‘Secret Invasion’ (2023)

Image via Disney+

Shape-shifting Skrulls are hatching a plan to take over the world in the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe series, Secret Invasion. In the miniseries, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) returns to earth after learning of the potential invasion that could lead to the end of humanity, but his post-Blip version can’t seem to keep up with the barrage of threats.

As a spy thriller series, Secret Invasion does a great job of keeping audiences guessing and building a tense atmosphere. That said, it hasn’t managed to impress fans and critics alike with its dull storytelling, which hasn’t earned it a spot among the best MCU shows released in recent years.

Watch on Disney+

18 ‘Behind Her Eyes’ (2021)

Image via Netflix

A show that puts the “thrill” in “thriller” features Louise (Simona Brown), a divorced single mother, works as a secretary. One night she meets David (Tom Bateman), a man with whom she begins an affair. It just so happens that he is her new boss in the office. As they fall for each other, fate brings Louise’s path in connection to David’s wife, Adele (Eve Hewson). Louise is faced with many new twists and must find what is hidden behind David and Adele’s relationship.

Within this six-part show, viewers’ minds are never at rest. It has you thinking the entire time. With twists and mysteries, you won’t see coming, Behind Her Eyes is a prime example of a psychological thriller series at its best.

Watch on Netflix

17 ‘The Crowded Room’ (2023)

Tom Holland in The Crowded Room
Image via Apple TV+

Set in 1979, The Crowded Room tells the story of Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland), who is arrested following his alleged role in a New York City shooting. The series depicts his interrogations conducted by Rya Goodwin (Amanda Seyfried), whose questions soon begin to unravel Danny’s mysterious and troubled past.

Holland’s raw and evocative performance makes the Apple TV+ series a must-see for fans of the actor, who stands out in this refreshingly different role. While the miniseries has been criticized for being somewhat repetitive, fans of character studies and true crime will likely find it worth watching.

Watch on Apple TV+

16 ‘The Cry’ (2018)

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The disappearance of a newborn from a small Australian seaside town serves as the starting point for an investigation into the crumbling psychology of a young couple as they cope with an unimaginable catastrophe both in the open eye of the public and behind closed doors.

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Nominated for an International Emmy for Best Actress, Jenna Coleman leads The Cry with her character of devastated mother Joanna. Coleman’s portrayal of grief over a lost child is a wonder to behold. As you watch the three-part series you feel pity, hatred, and justice- it’s cleverly played out.

Watch on AMC+

15 ‘Love & Death’ (2023)

Image via HBO Max

Based on the true story of a housewife from Wylie, Texas named Candy Montgomery, Love & Death is a popular miniseries on Max. It portrays Candy’s (played by Elizabeth Olsen) seemingly mundane experiences as a housewife during the 1970s, which soon take a dark turn after an affair with her neighbor becomes deadly.

Much can be said about the stellar casting, suspenseful atmosphere, and well-written lines in the series, but it’s Elizabeth Olsen’s outstanding performance in Love & Death that makes it truly incredible. She somehow breathes humanity into the twisted character, making it impossible to turn away as Candy’s life begins to unravel.

Watch on Max

14 ‘Midnight Mass’ (2021)

Hamish Linklater in Midnight Mass
Image via Netflix

This is the story of a small, remote island town whose already-existing divide is amplified by the arrival of a charismatic priest and the return of a disgraced young man. A newfound religious enthusiasm sweeps the village when Father Paul shows up on Crockett Island at the same time as mysterious and seemingly miraculous occurrences. But might these miracles come with a cost?

A perfectly blended combination of religion, horror, and thriller genres, Midnight Mass has chills covering the audience’s entire bodies. Another masterpiece from Mike Flanagan sees unique and compelling characters take center stage.

Watch on Netflix

13 ‘The Little Drummer Girl’ (2018)

The Little Drummer Girl’ (2018)

In this six-part series, a young English actor, Charlie (Florence Pugh), is hired by Mossad to infiltrate the terrorist organizations that a Palestinian assassin is using to attack important Israelis. In some ways, this is the role of Charlie’s lifetime. It requires all of her acting skills but also places her in grave danger.

An outstanding story strengthened by multiple settings, great costume design, and amazing acting performances from Pugh and more, The Little Drummer Girl is the perfect addition to your watch list. With undertones of the great classic spy movies, this miniseries contains fear, mystery, and psychological espionage. With the more violent scenes spread out strategically, the series manages to bring sophistication to the onslaught of action stories.

Watch on Roku

12 ‘The Days’ (2023)

Image via Netflix

A recent addition to Netflix’s catalog, The Days has been compared to Chernobyl, with both depicting horrific nuclear disasters. The Days paints a harrowing portrait of the events leading up to and following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, covering a period of a week. It shows the government’s reaction and response, as well as the individuals who boldly helped despite the risk to their lives.

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While a clear comparison can be made with its much more popular HBO counterpart, The Days offers insight into a totally different time period and catastrophe. There’s also more subtlety in the acting and pacing of the series, making the sudden intensity of events towards the end even more effective, as it can catch viewers off guard.

Watch on Netflix

11 ‘Devs’ (2020)

someone walking in the wood with light ring surround the trees

Aside from being a sci-fi and thriller show, Devs is also among the best mystery miniseries thanks to an intriguing murder at its core. It follows the software engineer Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno), who soon discovers that her boyfriend has died on his first day at work for the titular enigmatic company.

Combining sleek visuals, an engaging murder mystery, and thrilling sci-fi and even existential concepts, Devs offers a wholly original and grossly unappreciated viewing experience. Sci-fi fans may find it worth binge-watching over a weekend.

Watch on Hulu

10 ‘Escape at Dannemora’ (2018)

Prisoners from Escape at Dannemora

Escape at Dannemora is based on the events that took place during the Clinton Correctional Facility escape back in 2015, with its seven episodes chronicling the daring execution of the plan in upstate New York. Directed by Ben Stiller, the limited series counts on the stellar performances of Benicio del Toro, Patricia Arquette, Paul Dano, and more.

Fans of series that deliberately use slow pacing to tell their story in the best way possible will appreciate the 2018 crime thriller. It’s a well-crafted show that will make viewers question who they’re rooting for.

Watch on Showtime

9 ‘Tabula Rasa’ (2017)

Mie in Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa is a mind-bending Flemish-language psychological thriller centered on a young woman named Mie (Veerle Baetens) who ends up in a well-guarded mental health facility. Mie lives with anterograde amnesia and is understandably confused when a detective claims she holds the key to a missing person investigation.

The show delves into Mie’s twisty and often dark past as she struggles to piece together what she had already forgotten about the events surrounding the missing person. There are quite a few surprises in store for Mie as she discovers far more than she ever thought she could, and thanks to great character development, audiences are bound to feel protective of and empathetic towards the protagonist.

8 ‘Black Bird’ (2022)

black bird taron egerton paul walter hauser
Image via Apple TV+

Jimmy Keene (Taron Egerton) is given a minimum security jail sentence of 10 years in one of the best short series, Black Bird, but he strikes a deal with the FBI to become friends with a possible serial killer. The bodies of up to 18 women may be found if Keene can get Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser) to confess. But is Hall a serial killer? Or a serial confessor?

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Egerton brings incredible suspense and intensity to his character, delivering an amazing performance. Incredibly convincing, Hauser also makes you believe everything that is written about his character. This series will grip you from start to end, especially when you remember that it’s based on a true story.

Watch on Apple TV+

7 ‘Unbelievable’ (2019)

A girl and her attorney standing at the court

Making its debut in 2019, Unbelievable is a gritty female-led crime drama based on true events. The plot of one of the best thriller miniseries on Netflix centers around a teen named Marie (Kaitlyn Dever) who reports her own sexual assault but retracts it, leading her to be charged with inventing the entire ordeal. However, two detectives (Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) follow the path to the truth.

With a cast full of incredible actors that deliver immensely compelling performances and a screenplay that has mystery, grief, and darkness to the table, Unbelievable will have the audience hooked from the first episode. Unbelievable has audiences think about the topic presented seriously, and brings new light to the struggles of sexual assault.

Watch on Netflix

6 ‘The Honourable Woman’ (2014)

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Nessa Stein in The Honourable Woman

A British political spy thriller divided into eight gripping parts, director Hugo Blick‘s The Honourable Woman follows the influential businesswoman Nessa Stein (masterfully played by Maggie Gyllenhaal), who inherits her father’s powerful company. When she makes some significant changes in the way it operates, Nessa finds herself caught in a political and dangerous game that involves real warfare.

Thanks to a stellar performance by Gyllenhaal, it’s impossible not to feel invested in the riveting story as the complex layers of her situation begin to reveal themselves. It’s a wholly overlooked masterpiece that holds up incredibly well today.

5 ‘Bodyguard’ (2018)

Image via Netflix

One of the best one-season shows on Netflix right now, Bodyguard is centered on the war veteran David Budd (played by Richard Madden) who is tasked with the protection of the home secretary. Budd doesn’t necessarily agree with most of the politician’s controversial and ambitious points, but tries to set aside his personal beliefs to prioritize his duty to protect her.

The series becomes thrilling when the conspiracies beneath the surface soon result in explosive scenarios. At the same time, Budd’s mental health is portrayed in a bone-chilling way in the series, which explores the way his PTSD affects his relationships, daily routine, and professional life.

Watch on Netflix

4 ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ (2018)

Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House
Image via Netflix

A broken family struggles with eerie recollections of their former home and the horrible incidents that forced them to leave it. Jumping from past to present, we follow the individual stories of the Crain siblings who are haunted by the ghosts of Hill House. As they grow older and are forced back together by a tragedy that hits them hard.

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Created by Mike Flanagan, one of the greatest parts of The Haunting of Hill House is how the Crain children represent the five stages of grief: Denial (Steven), Anger (Shirley), Depression (Theo), Bargaining (Luke), and Acceptance (Nell).

Watch on Netflix

3 ‘When They See Us’ (2019)

Aunjanue Ellis and Ethan Herisse in When They See Us
Image via Netflix

With a total of four episodes, When They See Us is a show based on the actual account of the Central Park Five, a group of five young men who gained notoriety after being falsely accused of assaulting a woman. Unique and one of the best crime miniseries streaming today, this limited series spans a quarter of a century, from when the teens are first questioned about the incident in the spring of 1989, going through their exoneration in 2002, and ultimately the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014.

The captivating plot keeps viewers engaged from beginning to end and is supported by great, credible acting. It’s a great miniseries to watch that offers a much-needed perspective on social justice.

Watch on Netflix

2 ‘Sharp Objects’ (2018)

Image via HBO

Based on the book by Gillian Flynn of the same name, Sharp Objects follows reporter Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) as she faces her past trauma when she must return to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. Forced to reconnect with her estranged mother and half-sister whilst living in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself getting too close to the young victims.

By the author who wrote the famous Gone Girl, Sharp Objects manages to live up to its predecessor with its suspense-filled story. Short and sharp, filled with twists and turns, it is a definite binge.

Watch on Max

1 ‘Chernobyl’ (2019)

Chernobyl Poster
Image via HBO

In 2019, the five-part historical thriller TV show aired on HBO and has since been hailed as one of the best limited series of all time. A dramatized retelling of the true story that is one of humanity’s real-world horrors. A massive explosion occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine in April 1986. This show tells the tales of the men and women who tried to control the disaster and those who sacrificed their lives to save a worse one from happening.

With its intense attention to detail, Chernobyl informs audiences about how the disaster impacted the environment and the lives of the surrounding people. The incredible performances from Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgärd only enhance the importance of the story itself.

Watch on Max

NEXT: The Best Thriller Series of All Time, Ranked According to IMDb

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