I don’t know how much loose change you currently have shoved in between the cushions of your couch, but not all of us have the cash flow to afford Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Apple TV+, and/or whatever other streaming service subscriptions are out there. Sometimes you just need a simple freebie. And you know what? You deserve it. That’s why we’ve gathered up a number of great TV shows you can watch for free!
Below you will find some of the best shows available to stream for free right now, and in light of creator Carl Reiner’s recent death at the age of 98, we highly recommend you start with The Dick Van Dyke Show, especially if you’ve never seen it before. The show continues to be funny nearly 60 years after it first debuted. So grab some popcorn and your drink of choice, and settle in to binge-watch at no cost.
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The Dick Van Dyke ShowWatch it on: Tubi (complete series), Pluto TV (complete series)Realizing The Dick Van Dyke Show is streaming for free feels a bit like winning a secret lottery or viewing an exceptional piece of art without paying the museum admission fee. The popular comedy, which ran for five seasons, was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke as the head writer of a TV show, while Mary Tyler Moore portrayed his wife. It’s a timeless classic — one that took home 15 Emmys during its run, and if you’ve yet to experience it, you literally have no excuse at this point.
The Dick Van Dyke Show Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
FelicityWatch it on: ABC app (complete series)Felicity is best known as the show in which Keri Russell cut her hair (not to be confused with the show in which Keri Russell wore a lot of great wigs, aka The Americans). Depicting Felicity Porter’s (Russell) college years and the struggles that accompany trying to figure out who you’re supposed to be, the show is also famous for Scott Speedman’s whisper-talking and the ongoing battle of Ben (Speedman) vs. Noel (Scott Foley). Although the WB series was previously streaming on Hulu, you can now watch it for free on the ABC app.
Battlestar GalacticaWatch it on: SyfyA reimagining of the kitschy original series, Syfy’s Battlestar Galacticastarred Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer, Michael Hogan, James Callis, and Jamie Bamber and explored the aftermath of a nuclear attack by the Cylons, cybernetic creatures invented by man who evolved and rebelled against their creators. The show was critically acclaimed for the way it tackled the subjects of science, religion, and politics, and for the way it explored the deeply complicated notion of what makes us human. Everything from the miniseries to the two BSG films (Razor and The Plan) is currently available to stream for free on Syfy’s website, so there’s no better time to watch it. So say we all!
Degrassi: The Next GenerationWatch it on: IMDb TV (complete series), Tubi (complete series), Pluto TV (first 13 seasons), YouTube (first 13 seasons)For many millennials, the fourth series in the Degrassi franchise, Degrassi: The Next Generation, is the defining iteration of the long-running Canadian series. The drama series, which was sometimes so overly dramatic it was actually funny, tackled everything from date rape and suicide to sexual orientation and teen pregnancy. The series, which launched the careers of Drake (then known as Aubrey Graham) and Nina Dobrev, is streaming on multiple free platforms.
Eli StoneWatch it on: ABC app (complete series)Eli Stone really had it all, which is to say it had Victor Garber singing George Michael songs, Loretta Devine singing George Michael songs, and George Michael singing George Michael songs. What else is there? ABC’s offbeat two-season comedy-drama starred a pre-Elementary Jonny Lee Miller as Eli Stone, a high-powered San Francisco lawyer whose brain aneurysm gave him prophetic visions — which usually involved his friends, family, and colleagues breaking into song. Aside from a couple of ill-advised plotlines (the pilot, which suggests vaccines cause autism, is best forgotten), the show was a blast: a weird but memorable cocktail that should have stuck around for more seasons because, as I mentioned, Victor Garber sang George Michael songs. Also, Sigourney Weaver played God?! -Kelly Connolly
The Red Green ShowWatch it on: YouTube (nearly every episode)A true Canadian treasure, The Red Green Show was a long-running comedy starring Steve Smith as Red Green, a handyman who constantly tried to cut corners using duct tape and who had his own cable TV show. It was a parody of home improvement shows and outdoor programs and featured segments like Handyman Corner, Adventures with Bill, and The Possum Lodge Word Game. The show ran for 15 seasons, airing on PBS in the States.
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My So-Called LifeWatch it on: IMDb TV (complete series), ABC app (complete series)Critically beloved but struck down before its time, My So-Called Life has been praised for its realistic and honest portrayal of teenage life, not just via Angela Chase (Claire Danes), but through the show’s young supporting cast as well. Now considered to be one of the best shows of all time, it tackled topics like homophobia, homelessness, drug use, and more without ever feeling preachy or like an after-school special. Also, Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) could lean.
Schitt’s CreekWatch it on: CW Seed (first five seasons), IMDb TV (first five seasons)If you don’t have Netflix but still want to watch Schitt’s Creek, you’ll be happy to know you can watch the first five seasons of the heartwarming, Emmy-nominated comedy series, about a wealthy family who loses everything they own except the town of the show’s title, for free on CW Seed and IMDb TV.
Dan Levy and Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek Photo: Pop TV
Friday Night LightsWatch it on: IMDb TV (complete series)You may never know what it feels like to have Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) be proud of you, but you can pretend by watching all five seasons of Friday Night Lights, a series that was as much about a Texas community as it was about the sport that united it. By the end of the show, you’ll be asking yourself “What Would Riggins Do?” and tattooing “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” on your body, all while chanting “Texas forever!” Trust me, it happens to everybody.
The Carrie DiariesWatch it on: CW Seed (complete series)It is relatively easy to forget that The CW series The Carrie Diaries was a prequel to Sex and the City, because the charming show, which lasted just two seasons, was able to stand on its own. The coming-of-age series that followed a teenaged Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) was relatively innocent compared to the original series. The show’s 1980s setting made it easier for the writers to focus on more harmless family storylines and teenage heartbreaks, but the show never shied away from the heartstring-tugging drama of young adulthood either. It’s a shame the show never got the kind of ratings it deserved and wasn’t able to exist beyond Carrie’s high school years, but the Season 2 finale works well as a series finale, so viewers won’t feel as if the story was left incomplete.
Pushing DaisiesWatch it on: CW Seed (complete series)It’s a shame Bryan Fuller’s saturated dramedy Pushing Daisies, about a pie-maker (Lee Pace) with the ability to bring the dead back to life, couldn’t bring itself back to life after becoming a casualty of the 2007-08 writers’ strike. A whimsical delight, the show featured the pie-maker teaming up with a local private eye (Chi McBride) to solve murders by reviving the victims for a brief time. Known for its quirky characters, eccentric visual style, and Jim Dale’s pitch-perfect narration, it remains must-see TV.
ColumboWatch it on: IMDb TV (first seven seasons)Columbo kicked off nearly every episode by revealing the crime and its perpetrator to the audience, which means unlike most crime dramas, the show was less about whodunnit and more about Peter Falk’s iconic raincoat-wearing homicide detective catching them and getting them to confess. Oh, and just one more thing: it’s great.
ForeverWatch it on: CW Seed (complete series)The charming and playful Forever, which starred Ioan Gruffudd as an immortal medical examiner, was the one show that could have saved ABC’s Tuesday at 10 p.m. death slot. But the network still canceled the series anyway, enraging the show’s fans, who have never let the sting of its death go. Luckily, it now lives on, ahem, forever (aka until the content license expires) on CW Seed.
Forever Photo: Giovanni Rufino/ABC
The MiddleWatch it on: IMDb TV (complete series)It sounds odd to say The Middle, which ran for nine seasons on ABC, was unfairly overlooked, but it always felt like the series, which followed the middle class Midwestern Heck family, was a bit of a hidden gem. It wasn’t as popular with Emmy voters as, say, Modern Family, and critics also failed to give it its due, but it was a real, heartfelt, reliable family comedy with mass appeal, and you can stream it on IMDb TV for free.
Trophy WifeWatch it on: ABC app (complete series)Trophy Wife’s short life — it was canceled after just one season — can probably be chalked up to its unfortunate title, which was meant to be ironic but ultimately kept viewers from tuning in and experiencing the warmth of the show and the relationships at its center. Malin Akerman starred as the young wife of Bradley Whitford’s middle-aged lawyer, and the comedy explored the dynamics between the two, his children, and his two ex-wives, who were played by Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins.
KingsWatch it on: NBC app (complete series)Loosely based on the Biblical story of King David, Kings was a compelling drama before its time. Rudely cut down after just one season by NBC, the show starred Ian McShane as the king of the fictional kingdom of Gilboa, while Christopher Egan portrayed an idealistic young soldier whose counterpart is David. The show also starred Sebastian Stan, which is reason enough to want to check it out.
ReaperWatch it on: ABC app (complete series)Ray Wise portrays Satan in Reaper, a supernatural dramedy about a slacker (Bret Harrison) who reluctantly becomes a reaper tasked with capturing escaped souls from hell after it’s revealed his parents made a deal with the devil many, many years before. The fact the show only lasted two seasons is a crime against humanity. Luckily, you can watch it in its entirety for free on the ABC app.
FringeWatch it on: IMDb TV (complete series)A team of experts led by a kooky old scientist (John Noble), his son (Joshua Jackson), and an FBI agent (Anna Torv) investigate strange occurrences around the country, X-Files style, in the J.J. Abrams-produced Fringe. The series is one of the best broadcast science-fiction shows of all time, particularly in its first three seasons, and perfected the art of the serialized procedural by weaving the show’s deep mythology and excellent character work into weekly standalone stories, making it easy to binge or watch in spurts. And by the time the end of Season 1 starts, you’ll have a hard time stopping. -Tim Surette
Being Human (U.K.)Watch it on: Tubi (complete series), Vudu (complete series)Although American TV producers would eventually adapt Being Human, the original British version, which followed three supernatural beings trying to live amongst humans, is far superior. The show, which ran for five seasons, starred Aidan Turner, Russell Tovey, and Lenora Crichlow as a vampire, werewolf, and ghost, respectively. So skip the U.S. version entirely and watch the U.K. series for free.
Dance AcademyWatch it on: Pluto TV (complete series), Vudu (complete series), Tubi (complete series) The Australian young adult-oriented series Dance Academy is not exactly what you’d call “great television,” but it is great fun. Brimming with teen angst and melodrama, the series, which ran for three seasons and even had a follow-up movie, followed a handful of dancers at Sydney’s National Academy of Dance as they trained in the sport they loved while also falling in and out of love with each other. The acting was sometimes questionable, but the series itself was addictive, not to mention one of the easiest binges you’ll ever encounter.
3rd Rock From the SunWatch it on: Tubi (complete series), Pluto TV (complete series), Crackle (all six seasons), Vudu (all six seasonsYou might think a show about a group of socially awkward, 1,000-year-old aliens in human skin suits who are trying (badly) to pose as a human family and blend into an ordinary Midwest town might sound ridiculous, and, well, that’s fair. But 3rd Rock From the Sun was still charming in even its most bizarre moments and gave its cast a lot of room to play up their roles and create an ensemble of weirdos that, at some point or another, start to tap into their newfound humanity and relish their new home here on Earth. -Amanda Bell