This article contains discussions/references of sexual assault and terrorism
Hulu continues to attract subscribers via its large catalog of on-demand content; with a television library of original and classic shows, there’s always something for everyone. Like many of its competitors, Hulu has seen the benefits of investing in a strong roster of television series. The service gives users access to popular network comedies and acclaimed anime shows that are not easy to find on other streaming services. Hulu includes properties from 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, Disney Television Studios, ABC, Freeform, and FX Networks, as well as original programming. No matter what someone’s in the mood for, they will find something to their liking on the platform.
Alongside Hulu’s excellent stable of movies, the streaming platform’s television programming is top-notch. The service includes critically lauded shows for younger generations like Gravity Falls and harrowing adult fare like The Handmaid’s Tale. Hulu allows the ultimate creativity with their original television programs, hosting shows like Reservation Dogs and The Patient that showcase either overlooked or unusual premises. Trying to watch the top-25 TV shows on Hulu is an easier task than on some other platforms because of just how many original shows are on it. However, considering that streaming libraries are always in flux, it’s never too early to check out the best TV shows Hulu has to offer.
25 The Orville (2017 – Present)
Seth MacFarlane’s fourth creative effort, The Orville, is a parody and a homage to the space-based shows MacFarlane has had a historical reverence for (in particular, Star Trek). Season 1 of the show was universally panned but the second and third seasons changed the trajectory of the series and a focus on more character-driven storytelling made the show much more warmly received. MacFarlane writes, produces, and stars as Captain Edward “Ed” Mercer, the captain of the Orville spaceship. The Mercer and his crew go on a myriad of space adventures and lovingly spoof the tropes of serious space dramas.
24 The Dropout (2022)
The Dropout is a Hulu original biopic of the Theranos story, based on the podcast of the same name. Amanda Seyfried plays Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and slips into the deep-voiced, nervous, and theatrical entrepreneur easily. The story tells the true tale of the Theranos blood testing company, which turned out to be a complete hoax. Seyfried won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie and her transformation into a character now known the world over is an impressive feat. The drama and comedy of The Dropout don’t always mesh well, but Seyfried’s performance centers the swirling and anxiety-inducing story.
23 Steins;Gate (2011-2015)
One of the many anime offerings on Hulu, Steins;Gate follows Rintaro Okabe and her friends who discover they can alter the past via sending text messages. It’s considered one of the best anime of the 2010s by many outlets, including IGN. The series encompasses 24 episodes and shifts from comedy to thriller halfway through the season and mixes sci-fi, romance, mystery, and drama into one satisfying story. The always chaotic Steins;Gate also explores several serious topics too, such as PTSD and the danger of technology. The backtracking and looping nature of the story manages to remain intelligible thanks to its real human relationships.
22 Erased (2016)
Based on the hit Manga series, Erased is sci-fi anime that follows Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year-old Japanese man who has the ability to time travel minutes into the past to stop fatal accidents from occurring. After a significant and life-altering event, Satoru is sent back in time to when he was 11, retaining his adult memories and intelligence. Satoru must use his knowledge of the future to save the ones he loves. Erased contends with the philosophical question of whether a person would do anything differently if given the chance and the mystery and drama of answering that question makes it an absorbing watch.
21 Wu-Tang: An American Saga (2019-2023)
The Wu-Tang: An American Saga story is another addition to Hulu’s library of biographical drama series and this one tells a fictionalized story of the Wu-Tang Clan from their formation to their dominance of the New York hip-hop scene. Wu-Tang frontman RZA helms the show as creator and gives a raw look into the inner workings of the rap group. The series does not always reach the same heights as the group itself did, but it’s still a fascinating look at the beginnings of one of the most influential music groups and history. As would be expected, the music in the series is reason enough to tune in.
20 Gravity Falls (2012-2016)
Originally created for the Disney Channel by Alex Hirsch, Gravity Falls is an epic mystery adventure series that follows brother and sister, Dipper and Mabel Pines, as they unravel the mystery of the strange town of Gravity Falls alongside their great-uncle Stan. Gravity Falls won numerous awards over its 40 episodes and is considered one of the most influential and long-lasting children’s animated shows in recent memory. The show is designed for children but the intelligent humor and supernatural mystery make it an intriguing adventure for viewers of all ages. Years after the series finale, the fandom of Gravity Falls endures.
19 Reservation Dogs (2021-Present)
Taika Waititi co-created Reservation Dogs alongside Sterlin Harjo. Reservation Dogs features Indigenous writers and directors and its cast consists of nearly all Indigenous actors. The series takes place on a reservation in rural Oklahoma and follows a group of four friends as they dream of running away to California while dealing with the stresses of growing up and the hard difficulties of life. The characters of Reservation Dogs are hilarious and likable, and the show finds unique ways to discuss concerns surrounding poverty and discrimination. The show has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and have garnered numerous awards.
18 Normal People (2020)
Normal People is an Irish limited series starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron, two classmates with a complicated relationship. The series follows the pair as they navigate secondary (high) school and college. It’s based on the 2018 novel of the same name and gives an honest and often painful look at young relationships and how difficult it is for someone to figure out who they’re supposed to be. The lead performances of Normal People are key to the series and the actors’ vulnerability with each other makes for an affecting and relatable story that is difficult to not become invested in.
Loosely based on Dan Harmon’s experiences, Community is a six-season sitcom originally appearing on NBC before being canceled and picked up by Yahoo! Screen. The comedy centers on a study group at Greendale Community College and observes their relationships, lives, and experiences at the school. Community stars an ensemble cast, including Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong, Chevy Chase, and Jim Rash, who all bring something different to the show and part of the enjoyment is watching the different combinations of characters interact. It’s laden with pop-culture references and meta-textual comments that make rewatches all the more rewarding.
16 Cowboy Bebop (1998-1999)
From the iconic quotes to one of the catchiest and engaging title sequences, Cowboy Bebop is a fun and thrilling show that shouldn’t be missed. Set in a future, the anime shows that humanity has taken to the stars. It is a completely unique blend of anime, neo-noir, science fiction, and Western tropes that follow the bounty hunter, Spike Spiegel, as he completes bounties for money and contends with his past as a hitman. Viewers interested in exploring anime would do well to start here with one of the greatest and most influential of all time.
15 Adventure Time (2010-2018)
Adventure Time, created by Pembelton Ward, follows the adventures of Finn the Human and Jake the Dog, to self-described heroes, who encounter a wide range of fantastical characters in the Land of Ooo. It’s a beautifully animated and imaginatively designed series that has deep and intricate mythos and laugh-out-loud moments in every episode. Unlike other animated shows for young adults, Adventure Time eschews pop-culture references and focuses on the comedy inherent in fantasy tales instead. Adventure Time and its best characters have a Dungeons & Dragons-like aesthetic that makes every episode feel like new quest, with themes that often hide a dark and deep adult philosophy.
14 Fargo (2014)
As the original Fargo is such a cultural and critical touchpoint, it was a huge surprise when a spin-off series was announced. First premiering in 2014, Fargo follows an anthology format and takes place in the same continuity and setting as the film. However, it follows a different story with a different cast of characters. The critically acclaimed season 1 stars Billy Bob Thorton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, and Martin Freeman and follows a series of grisly murders in Bemidji, Minnesota. The series was nominated for eight Emmys and five Golden Globes and led to four more seasons with similar dark, comic, and mysterious stories.
13 Freaks And Geeks (1999-2000)
The key to understanding the movies of Judd Apatow and the history of early 2000s comedy in film can be seen in Freaks and Geeks. This teen comedy aired for 12 episodes despite 18 being filmed. However, after its cancelation, it has since become a cult classic and one of the earliest signs of the Apatow era coming. The series follows Apatow mainstays Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Becky Ann Baker, and many more, as their characters navigate high school in their respective social groups. Freak and Geeks won numerous awards despite its early cancelation and was the stepping stone for comedy in the 2010s to be dominated by Apatow.
12 The Bear (2022 – Present)
The Bear is a Hulu original about a classically trained chef (Jeremy Allen White), who has to return to his hometown in Chicago to help run the family restaurant. White, in one of his best roles, won a SAG and a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his work and the series is confirmed to be renewed for season 2. The burgeoning talents of all the uninterested chefs in the restaurant, spurred on by White’s Carmy Berzatto is a delight to watch. The Bear is funny and inspiring and the fictional answer to the Chef’s Table-like shows that have become ubiquitous.
The original Fullmetal Alchemist was created before the Manga had finished its run and eventually overtook the source material. Once the Manga had wrapped, the show and the comic ended in very different directions. To fix this, a second anime Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was developed to more faithfully adapt the Manga. It managed to do so, telling the story of two brothers living in a fictional world of magic and alchemy. Their quest to become the greatest living alchemists uncovers conspiracies and secrets about their past. The series is an improvement over the original and its world-building may be the best in anime.
10 Homeland (2011-2020)
Claire Danes stars in Homeland as Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer in the counterterrorism unit who is tasked with taking down some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. The series had eight seasons with a sprawling cast of characters and took Carrie from Washington D.C. to Russia and back. What could have been a standard drama about politics and spies becomes a thrilling tale of espionage and conspiracy thanks to Danes’ acting in one of her best roles and the storytelling about the War on Terror. The series won 8 Emmys, and was nominated for several Golden Globe, and SAG awards across its run.
9 Modern Family (2009-2020)
Modern Family was one of the last of the network comedies to integrate documentary-style camera work into the show in the way of The Office. Unlike that show and its NBC sibling, Parks and Rec, Modern Family focuses on the members of an extended family group rather than a place of work. An ensemble cast of Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara, Ed O’Neil, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, and Ty Burrell star as branches of a family and follows their day-to-day lives. It isn’t a groundbreaking story but the comedy talents of each of the main characters is so high, that no matter who is on-screen, something funny is happening.
8 Atlanta (2016-2022)
Created by and starring Donald Glover, Atlanta, is a dark, fairy-tale, comedy-drama that follows college dropout and music manager Earn (Glover) as he tries to make it in the business. Atlanta is only somewhat interested in following that plotline, however, and much of the show is told in a way that more approaches short stories than an overall narrative structure. Occasionally, the series completely separates from the storyline and has episodes that are only tangentially related to the main plot. Atlanta examines themes of race, class, America, and existentialism. It’s a unique story only Glover could tell, and his efforts have earned him multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nods.
7 Only Murders In The Building (2021-Present)
Only Murders in the Building is a Hulu original starring Selena Gomez (Mabel Mora), Steve Martin (Charles-Haden Savage), and Martin Short (Oliver Putnam) as three strangers living in the same apartment building who, despite their age difference in Only Murders in the Building, bond over their love of true-crime podcasts. When a murder happens in their building, the trio starts investigating and develops a podcast of their own. The chemistry of the three leads powers the series and Gomez fits in surprisingly well between the legendary comedic duo. What’s more, the mystery of the show itself is well-thought-out and worth it alone to watch.
6 The Americans (2013-2018)
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys star in The Americans, a spy thriller about undercover KGB agents living in the United States. The couple goes about living daily normal lives, all the while withholding a dangerous secret. All six seasons of The Americans received Rotten Tomatoes scores above 88% and only season one scored below 94%. Russell and Rhys lead an ensemble cast of talented actors who often have to play two variations of the same character in the constantly changing world of espionage.