So, let’s say you decided to cut the cord and rely on digital streaming services like Netflix or Hulu to watch your favorite series, but realized even that option is not so cheap. Fear not, because there are, in fact, multiple streaming services – such as Tubi, Peacock, and plenty of others – with which you can legally watch free TV shows online.
The amount of modern favorites and iconic classics to choose from is quite surprising and, since the service costs nothing, each series comes with occasional ad breaks for that classic TV viewing feel. To help narrow down your search, we have taken the time to comb through these services and found some of these series they have to offer as a recommendation for you.
Millionaire Bruce Wayne (Adam West) and his young ward, Dick Grayson (Burt Ward), aid Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton) in protecting Gotham City from a variety of infamous criminals that each boast a bizarre, unique gimmick. While Batman has taken on a much darker definitive tone in more recent years, the 1960s Batman series is still a fond (and funny) memory for fans of the Dark Knight for its delicious cheesy dialogue, iconically campy fight choreography, and West’s immortal portrayal of DC’s “Bright Knight.”
A cynical, disgruntled physician (Emmy Award nominee Hugh Laurie) often butts heads with his crack medical diagnostics team as they struggle to help their patients identify their mysterious ailments. Taking inspiration from Sherlock Holmes, creator David Shore’s House is one of the most compelling medical dramas of its time for making the very question of what each episode’s guest stars are suffering from the story of the week.
News Radio (Crackle)
A chronicle of the trials and tribulations among the staff of the second most popular news radio station in New York City. Starring the likes of the late SNL alum Phil Hartman and Dave Foley, News Radio is one of the funniest sitcoms of the ‘90s and, not to mention, one of the more underrated comedies from the era as well.
Burn Notice (Freevee)
After his employment is mysteriously terminated and he suddenly finds himself stuck in Miami, a former secret agent (Jeffrey Donovan) uses his pristine set of skills to make a living as a private investigator with the help of his trigger-happy ex-girlfriend (Gabrielle Anwar), a former military intelligence agent (Bruce Campbell), and, occasionally, his own mother (Sharon Gless). Also one of Bruce Campbell’s best TV credits, creator Matt Nix’s Burn Notice is all the fun of a James Bond movie without ever leaving the Sunshine State and one of the most popular series to ever air on USA.
A gifted FBI profiler (Hugh Dancy) enlists the help of a renowned criminal psychologist (Mads Mikkelsen) – both as an aid to his investigations and his own mental health – not realizing the doctor has a dark secret of his own. Inspired from the chilling novels by Thomas Harris, creator Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal is an instant crime drama classic (and one of the best shows streaming on Plex) for its breathtaking visual style and unapologetically disturbing tone.
A recently dumped, aspiring comic book illustrator (Simon Pegg in his star-making role) and a quirky woman in a long-distance relationship (Jessica Hynes) pretend to be a couple in order to rent an affordable apartment in London. Despite having a seemingly typical setup for a sitcom, the acclaimed UK import Spaced is bursting with originality, due largely in part to the dazzling visual style of director Edgar Wright.
30 Rock (Peacock)
The head writer of a sketch comedy series (creator Tina Fey) frequently butts heads with her overbearing new boss (Emmy winner Alec Baldwin) and the show’s unpredictably wild new star (Tracy Morgan). The irreverently witty, wonderfully meta, and brilliantly acted 30 Rock is one of TV’s sharpest media satires and one of the best shows streaming on Peacock for free (except for Season 2).
A doctor (Martin Freeman), still reeling from his service in the Afghan War, rents a flat with an arrogant private detective (Benedict Cumberbatch) whom he accompanies on various mysteries burdening London. From co-developer Steven Moffat (who also revived Doctor Who in 2005), Sherlock is a whip-smart, consistently thrilling, modernized retelling of the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Night Court (Freevee)
The regular staff for the late shift at a New York City court house are initially perturbed by their new young, eccentric, optimistic judge (the late Harry Anderson), until they come to accept his unconventional methods and treat him as a friend. From creator Reinhold Weege, Night Court is an unabashedly silly, snappy sitcom so beloved that an upcoming revival starring original star John Larroquette is coming to NBC.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Plex)
In the not-too-distant future, an average man from Earth (creator Joel Hodgson and, later, Michael Nelson) is forced by a mad scientist (Trace Belieau and, later, Mary Jo Pehl) to live on a satellite with a group of sarcastic robots and watch low-grade sci-fi movies. Poking fun at cheesy, B-level cinema has never been more wonderfully weird and endearingly enjoyable than on Mystery Science Theater 3000, which would later inspire a Netflix-exclusive revival from 2017 to 2019.
Mad Men (Freevee)
A prestigious advertising agency struggles to keep up with the rapidly changing culture of the 1960s, as seen mostly through the eyes of one womanizing executive with an eye-opening backstory (Emmy winner Jon Hamm). Created by The Sopranos writer/executive producer Matthew Weiner, Mad Men takes the viewer to another time that it deconstructs with stunning zeal through the intriguing stories of its enigmatic characters.
Saturday Night Live (Peacock)
For anyone who loves sketch comedy series, the most iconic and quintessential example of the like is, undoubtedly, Saturday Night Live, which has served as a starting point for many of the most successful comedy careers of all time and has allowed some of Hollywood’s biggest stars to show off their more humorous sides as guest hosts for decades. Fans can trace the entire history of Studio 8H (or just revisit some of its best moments) by streaming all 47 seasons (so far) of creator Lorne Michaels’ enduring classic on Peacock.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Roku Channel)
An unassuming high school student (Sarah Michelle Gellar, in the role that made her one of greatest horror Scream Queens ) discovers that she is recruited to help protect her new small town from strange and deadly supernatural phenomena. A darker reimagining of a silly horror-comedy of the same name, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the best TV shows of the ‘90s and continues to fascinate fans of horror, fantasy, and modern, grounded coming-of-age stories.
Soap (Tubi, Crackle)
Two sisters and their respective immediate families – one upper class and the other working class – run into a series of increasingly fervent and bizarre situations, including everything from the consequences of extramarital affairs to alien abductions. Taking a shot at the common tropes and typically extreme storylines of daytime soap operas, Soap was an exceptionally groundbreaking sitcom for its time and helped launch the career of a young Billy Crystal in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Following the sudden death of her husband, a suburban stay-at-home mother (Mary-Louise Parker) turns to selling marijuana in order to support her two sons and struggles to avoid judgment from her overbearing neighbors, jail time, or even a grisly death along the way. From Jenji Kohan – also the creator of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black – the Showtime original dramedy Weeds is as much of an extremely sharp suburban satire as it is a thrilling ongoing crime serial that is still as compelling as ever, even at a time when its concept is a bit outdated.
A man (Jack Davenport) and his girlfriend (Sarah Alexander) form a group with their respective best friends (Richard Coyle and Kate Isitt) and their former significant others (Gina Bellman and Ben Miles) who typically spend their days frequenting their favorite pub and swapping stories about their struggles with modern romance in London. Created by Steven Moffat, Coupling is one of the funniest and most cleverly honest sitcoms to originate in the UK and, while it’s often compared to Friends or How I Met Your Mother, I might be inclined to put it a spot above either of those American favorites.
Quantum Leap (Roku Channel)
After his top-secret time travel experiment goes “a little ka-ka,” a brilliant physicist from the future (Emmy nominee Scott Bakula) must involuntarily embody one person from the past after another in order to prevent tragic events from happening, all while hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home. Also starring Dean Stockwell as Dr. Sam Beckett’s holographic aid and best friend Al, creator Donald P. Bellasario’s Emmy-winning NBC drama Quantum Leap is one of the most inventive and heartwarming sci-fi TV shows of its time.
Of course, there are many, many other great free TV shows (and even free movies on streaming) available right now. These are just a few of our favorites. We hope you enjoy them too!
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Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.