Promotional image featuring the protagonists of the German Netflix show "Dark"

Learn with German TV Shows: 47 Top Series

German TV shows can be amazing tools for the language learners who want to add some flavor to their lessons.

It’s easier to understand new vocabulary with the added context of a story and its visualization.

German-language shows will also give you a feel for natural pronunciationcases and word order—and with subtitles you can practice hearing and reading at the same time.

So here’s a list of some awesome German TV series, with details on where to watch them and how to utilize shows within your studies.


Sci-Fi and Fantasy Series


Where to watch: Netflix

“Dark” is one of the biggest shows on Netflix in recent times. It’s a Netflix original series produced in Germany with an all-German cast, and has won numerous awards in Germany and abroad.

“Dark” follows members of the fictional town of Winden in Germany. Strange things are happening in Winden, beginning with the disappearances of some of the inhabitants’ loved ones. As the mystery develops and the plot thickens, other skeletons fall out of the main characters’ closets: affairs, crimes, suicides.

Soon, Winden finds itself in the middle of a conflict of apocalyptic proportions, complete with wormholes, time travel and an epic battle to save the world.

“Dark” is a mix of science fiction and thriller. I recommend it for fans of the American Netflix show “Stranger Things” and other similar TV shows, such as “The X-Files.”

“Pax Aeterna”

Where to watch: YouTube

Vampires are booming on-screen, and Germany is no exception. In this web series, a new vampire awakens amidst fighting vampire guilds in Cologne. There’s a lot of action and fake blood, but the camera always fades out before you can see something that might ruin your appetite.

The language is pretty standard, so it’s easy to follow. One character sometimes speaks English.

“Raumpatrouille Orion” (Space Patrol Orion)

Where to watch: DVD on Amazon, Apple TV 

Did you ever wonder what the German version of “Star Trek” would look like?

In the first German sci-fi series, Commander McLane and his crew aboard the space cruiser Orion protect Earth from extraterrestrial threats.

While fighting against the hostile “Frogs” (read: aliens, not Frenchmen!), he often finds himself at odds with authorities. The 1965 cult black and white series features hand-made special effects, ’60s hairdos and retro gadgets.

The good thing about the future according to the ’60s is that there are no dialects and no Umgangssprache; the language is rather formal. On the downside, you need to be fairly familiar with technical vocabulary.

“Alpha 0.7 – Der Feind in dir” (Alpha 0.7 – The Enemy Within You) 

Where to watch: DVD on Amazon

In this dystopian series set in 2017, Germany has become a surveillance state. When a group of civil rights activists is protesting against a new brain scanner, they stumble across a conspiracy even bigger than they imagined. But will they be able to stop the powerful corporation Protecta Society?

Being the first transmedia German series, “Alpha 0.7” has different layers. The TV series works on its own, but you only get the complete picture in combination with the corresponding radio play and website, which is unfortunately offline but can be viewed via the Wayback Machine.

The characters speak standard language at a moderate pace, but be prepared for some IT-specific vocabulary. Although the young activists talk faster and use more colloquial language, it’s easy to follow the plot.

Crime Series

“Kommissar Rex” (Rex: A Cop’s Best Friend)

Where to watch: DVD on Amazon

“Kommissar Rex” is a German-Austrian show about a police dog who helps a team of cops solve every crime investigation with sheer instinct and intuition. Rex is a German shepherd and a beloved character in many different countries around the world.

The series is set in Wien, but a new Austrian-Italian production of the series is set entirely in Italy. The original series is great for language learners of all levels.

“Dogs of Berlin”

Where to watch: Netflix

“Dogs of Berlin” is the second Netflix original series produced in Germany. As with “Dark,” this show is completely in German with English subtitles and German closed captions for accurate German transcriptions.

“Dogs of Berlin” follows two police officers investigating the murder of a famous (fictional) German-Turkish soccer player named Orkan Erdem. If you need any foreshadowing, the German word Orkan means “hurricane,” and that pretty much sums up this action-packed show!

As the investigation into Orkan’s murder progresses, the police officers uncover more and more unsavory information that puts Orkan Erdem—and even the whole policing institution—in a bad light. At the same time, tension and rumors surrounding the murder begin to grip Berlin, and eventually, the city is thrown into hysteria as tensions rise between pro-Turkish groups, the Berlin mafia and neo-Nazis.

“Tatort” (Crime Scene)

Where to watch: ARD Mediathek

“Tatort” is the longest-running and most popular German crime series. Many devotees watch it with friends at home or in a pub and exchange bets on the murderer. “Tatort” also features some of the most well-known German actors, such as Til Schweiger (“Inglorious Basterds”) or Sibel Kekilli (“Game of Thrones”).

Since 1970, the opening sequence has remained the same, but the episodes have kept in touch with the zeitgeist. The series’ trademark is its critical perspective on the social setting of the crime, debating topical issues like integration, extremism or corruption.

Especially interesting from a language point of view, the episodes are produced by different regional teams in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and star different inspectors, making it several series in one.

This means you can easily avoid the dialects that are most difficult for you, or, if you’re planning to visit, familiarize yourself with a particular one. The pace and use of Umgangssprache differs with inspectors and the social milieus they’re investigating.

“Im Angesicht des Verbrechens” (In the Face of the Crime)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime, DVDs on Amazon

This 10-part German TV series about the Russian mafia in Berlin is, in my humble opinion, one of the best German productions out there. Though the viewer figures were low when it aired, it received critical acclaim for its unique plot and impressive cast.

It tells the story of police officer Marek Gorsky, the son of Latvian-Jewish immigrants, who, along with his partner, is investigating the dealings of the Russian mafia in Germany’s capital.

Gorsky is a tormented character who, in his job, struggles with the memory that his brother’s murder case was never solved, and the fact that his sister is married to a Russian mobster.

This highly suspenseful action series is perfect for German students with a higher level of German who are looking for something to keep them on the edge of their seats!

“Mord mit Aussicht” (Murder with a View)

Where to watch: ARD Mediathek

Detective Sophie Haas is the main character in “Mord mit Aussicht.” Contrary to her expectation of working in Köln, she must instead tackle crimes in the fictional village of Hengasch. Despite its small size, Hengasch has plenty of unique quirks.

It’s a satirical drama that gets most of its ironic laughs from emphasizing the regular clichés often found in standard crime drama series. It also pokes fun at the many differences between city and provincial living.

This series is an easy way to get your fix of police drama (and jargon) while enjoying witty and comedic German.

“Der letzte Bulle” (The Last Cop)

Where to watch: DVDs on Amazon, SAT.1 Online

Homicide detective Mick Brisgau has been in a coma since the late 1980s. Twenty years later he wakes up and returns to work with the Essen homicide department.

“Der letzte Bulle” follows Brisgau, an old-school macho cop, as he tries to come to terms with his new modern life and deal with new technology. He also has to come to terms with the fact that his old crime-fighting partner is now married to his ex-wife.

It sounds like a somber plot, but there’s actually quite a bit of humor and thoughtful dialogue infused into the storyline. The series can also resonate with the nostalgics who, like Mick, have a bittersweet relationship with current-day trends and technology.


Where to watch: ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen – Second German Television)

“Wilsberg” was developed in the 1990s. The show followed Georg Wilsberg, your typical small-town hero: he’s a bookseller by day and a private eye by night.

His private eye capabilities help keep his neighborhood safe as he uncovers petty crimes and even crimes that implicate more powerful people in his town.

As expected, there are a few laughs along the way! At times, the show is charming and funny, but it can be suspenseful and dramatic. Since the show is from the 1990s, the language is a bit altmodisch (old-fashioned), but still familiar to older German speakers.


Where to watch: Prime Video

“Blochin: Die Lebenden und die Toten” (“Blochin: The Living and the Dead”) is a mini-series that originally aired in 2015 on ZDF.

The show follows a police officer named Blochin who must confront his shady past as a drug dealer to solve a crime that threatens to destabilize his community and daily life.

Naturally, this crime involves old friends from his past life, and what he discovers even implicates prominent German politicians.

This show is only one season long with five episodes, each between 60 and 90 minutes in length. Like other shows on this list, this show is great for learning crime and legal vocabulary as well as for getting a taste of what would be considered “non-standard German.” In this case, that means the criminals use a lot of informal language and vocabulary related to crime and drugs.

“Parfum” (Perfume)

Where to watch: Netflix

“Parfum” is based on the German crime novel “Das Parfum” (The Perfume), which was originally published in 1985 and still enjoys commercial and critical success today.

The story follows a group of students whose friend is murdered. Even after the friend is buried and gone, things don’t seem quite right. 

As their own personal murder investigations unfold, disturbing secrets emerge and the students realize they are connected by things other than their mutual love of perfume.

“Block B unter Arrest” (Block B Under Arrest)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

“Block B unter Arrest” follows Bea Kroeger, who is accused of trying to murder her husband. She is sent to a penitentiary to await trial and has to learn how to survive on the inside.

Soon enough, Bea realizes she can trust no one but herself. This is a particularly interesting show if you are interested in learning German slang. Plus, it has been one of the most successful series to be released in 2015.

“Ein Starkes Team” (A Strong Team)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

“Ein starkes Team” has been running on ZDF since 1994. Only three 90-minute episodes air every year. It is a crime drama centered on a special unit made of a chief of police, a sub-chief and one of their subordinates.

It’s a kind of gourmet detective series, with beautiful shots of Berlin, great acting and a touch of sarcastic humor.

Because the genre is so familiar, and one generally knows what to expect from, for example, cops finding a dead body or interrogating a suspect, it is a good show for practicing your German regardless of your language level.


Where to watch: Amazon Prime

One of the most enduring classics in Germany’s entertainment industry, “Derrick” is a clever detective series starring the beloved German actor Horst Tappert. It ran from 1974 all the way to 1998. Apparently, they didn’t only show this one in Uruguay, as it is the most exported German series of all time. It has aired in over 100 countries.

Tappert plays Inspector Derrick, an eccentric, unmarried policeman who lives alone in a tiny apartment. But he is no ordinary loner. He has an uncanny ability to solve the most complex crimes in record time. The secret of this show’s success can probably be attributed to the actor’s charisma and the clever screenplays.

Comedy TV Shows 


Where to watch: DVDs on Amazon

If you enjoy “The Office,” you should give this very popular German sitcom a chance.

The show takes place in the office of a fictional insurance company called “Capitol Versicherung AG” and focuses on the department headed by Bernd Stromberg. As the TV crew documents the day-to-day occurrences in the office, Stromberg tries, often unsuccessfully, to have his department come off in the best light.

The show, a parody of the modern “reality show” genre, is great for German students since the humor is sophisticated yet very accessible.


Where to watch: DVDs on Amazon

“Pastewka” shows that Germans have quite a good sense of humor!

Often compared to the likes of “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the series revolves around the comedian and actor Brian Pastewka, who plays a fictionalized version of himself. It has been well received throughout German-speaking Europe and even picked up a Rose d’Or award.

Naturally, you can expect to hear and pick up German that’s flavored with comedy and wit.

“Verliebt in Berlin” (In Love in/with Berlin)

Where to watch: SAT.1 Online

Cutely, the title of “Verliebt in Berlin” is a play on words in German, meaning to be both in love with and in Berlin.

Widely broadcast across Germany, Austria and Switzerland, it’s a lighthearted comedy series which focuses on unlucky-in-love Lisa Plenske. Lisa is a bit of a fish-out-of-water in her job at the über-chic Kerima Mode fashion house.

Sure, the plot is very reminiscent of “Ugly Betty,” but the German setting livens up the story enough to make it feel like a fresh, new idea for a TV series. Expect some romantic dialogue as well as business and fashion-related lingo.

“Der Tatortreiniger(Crime Scene Cleaner)

Where to watch: ARD Mediathek

“Der Tatortreiniger is a dark comedy set in Germany. And when I say dark, I mean that the main character and supporting cast make jokes on the set of crime scenes after rather gruesome acts have been committed.

“Der Tatortreiniger” is also a relatively long-running show. In total, there are seven seasons that can be accessed online.

The story follows a man known as Schotty who cleans up crime scenes after murders or other heinous crimes. As part of the show’s premise, Schotty stumbles upon a friend or family member of the victim in each episode.

Much of the ensuing humor is situational in nature: in addition to hearing funny retellings of the victim’s life, Schotty often finds himself getting way too involved by drinking, arguing or making love with the victims’ family members.

“Danni Lowinski”

Where to watch: DVDs on Amazon

Danni is a hairdresser who earns her law degree doing night classes. Upon graduating, she wants to work as a lawyer but is unable to find employment in a firm.

Unwilling to give up, she decides to lease a small space in a mall in Cologne and open up a low-cost legal help desk, charging one euro per minute for her services.

So begins Danni’s bumpy yet often comical career as a lawyer as she helps her unusual clients with her equally unorthodox approaches. This legal dramedy (drama/comedy) is perfect if you’re looking for a challenging yet lighthearted show to prepare for your upcoming trip to North Rhine-Westphalia!

“How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)”

Where to watch: Netflix

Despite its title being in English, “How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)” is completely in German. 

It’s a teen comedy/drama that follows a nerdy high school student named Moritz who sells drugs online and finds himself becoming a top European drug dealer.

In fact, this show is based on a true story (the real Moritz served four years in prison).

Aside from the show’s intriguing story, “How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)” is great for learning vocabulary related to technology and crime as well as slang used by youth.

“Merz gegen Merz” (Merz Against Merz)

Where to watch: ZDF

“Merz gegen Merz” is a dramedy that follows the story of a dysfunctional family as the husband and wife go to couple’s therapy, having realized that they rather resent each other (and that the wife has cheated on the husband).

Each episode starts with the couple recounting some event that recently happened in their lives, typically revolving around their angsty son going through puberty, the husband’s overbearing and low-class parents or the wife’s father who has recently developed dementia.

While the laughs are plenty, there’s a fair amount of heart, and there are many moments where viewers can relate to the duality of drama and silliness that occurs in modern family life.

Dramas and Soap Operas

“Lindenstraße” (Linden Street)

Where to watch: Das Erste

Evil twins, poisoning and secret affairs, oh my!

If you’re someone who will love “Lindenstraße,” then you’ll know that I didn’t simply name three detriments to modern society: these are the ingredients to any good soap opera!

As such, “Lindenstraße” is a soap opera set on the street Lindenstraße in Munich, Germany. There actually is a Lindenstraße in Munich, but the events depicted on the TV show are completely fictional.

Based partially on the premise of Britain’s “Coronation Street,” the story revolves around seemingly normal events in the characters’ lives. The show also explores tough issues and features a diverse cast. In fact, Lindenstraße was the first German program to feature a same-sex kiss on television!

“Lindenstraße” has been broadcast regularly since 1985 and is one of the most popular shows in Germany. There were 1,758 episodes as of March 2020 when it aired its final season.

“Verbotene Liebe” (Forbidden Love)

Where to watch: YouTube

Drama, drama, drama!

With a name like “Forbidden Love,” what do you expect?

This soap opera is one of the most popular in Germany and has won many accolades for its sobering portrayal of controversial issues like drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual assault, homophobia, incest and adultery. Set for the most part in Düsseldorf, it consists of various interrelated family storylines.

One of the most prominent focuses on the relationship between Jan Brandner and Julia von Anstetten, twins who, after being separated by their parents at birth, ultimately fall in love with each other. If you’re partial to heart-wrenching shows like “Days of Our Lives” or “All My Children,” you’re bound to enjoy “Verbotene Liebe”!

“Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten” (Good Times, Bad Times)

Where to watch: DVDs on Amazon

One of Germany’s longest-running soap operas, “Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten” is set in a fictional neighborhood of Berlin. It follows the individual and social trials faced by a number of protagonists.

The series is aimed at a young audience and tackles hard-hitting issues such as homosexuality, sexual assault, drug addiction and underage drinking. As is typical of soap operas, you can expect quite a bit of drama.

“In aller Freundschaft” (In all Friendliness)

Where to watch: DVDs on Amazon, ARD Mediathek

Set in the city of Leipzig, In aller Freundschaft” takes place in the fictional Sachsenklinik Hospital. The lives of the doctors and nurses create the interweaving storylines and arcs for the soap opera. The whole of Germany has often been gripped by the dramatic happenings which play out in this small hospital.

More than 1,000 episodes have been broadcast since its premiere in 1998, so there’s a lot to catch up on!

Of course, since the setting is a hospital, you can expect to hear plenty of medical terminology and patient-doctor dialogue.


Where to watch: YouTube

This one was on German screens for around 19 years before broadcasting its final episode in 2011.

The fictional Marienhof neighborhood in Cologne is the backdrop for the drama in this classic soap opera. Just like “Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten,” it attracted a relatively young audience thanks to its tough themes, including suicide, adultery, AIDS and murder.

Viewers may appreciate the realistic character depictions, which also offer opportunities to learn more natural German speech.

“Doctor’s Diary”

Where to watch: DVDs on Amazon

Main character Gretchen Haase has been called the German version of Bridget Jones: a woman in her late twenties struggling with her career, love life, confidence and weight. When she starts her residency at the hospital, her former high school crush Marc becomes her boss. With his good looks, sarcasm and overconfidence, he’s the exact opposite of hopelessly romantic, clumsy Gretchen, which leads to both friction and attraction.

Even though you may not be able to get every instance of wordplay, as there’s quite a bit of colloquial language involved, a lot of the humor is based on the exaggeration of stereotypical gender roles.

Nice extra: how Gretchen are you? Take the test!

“Dr. Klein”

Where to watch: DVDs on Amazon

“Dr. Klein” is an interesting show about a 4’3″ tall doctor who works at a children’s hospital. She is little, her name is “little” (Klein) and her patients are little people, but she has a big, magnetic personality.

The show has a central plot, focusing on the doctor’s love and family life, with many subplots related to her young patients. If you love series like “Dr. House” and “Monk,” you will probably love Dr. Klein.

“Bettys Diagnose” (Betty’s Diagnosis)

Where to watch: ZDF

Think of “Bettys Diagnose” as Germany’s answer to the popular American show “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Essentially, this show is a medical drama following a group of doctors as they navigate their jobs, love and life. Along the way, there are splashes of comedy and romance, and the show is never short on the drama and cliffhangers!

“Bettys Diagnose” is great for learning medical jargon and slang vocabulary related to love and sex in context.

Only select episodes are uploaded at a time on ZDF. These uploads are normally the newest episodes, so you can watch this show in real time! Not every episode has subtitles, but those that do have them in German.

“Hotel Sacher”

Where to Watch: Prime Video

“Hotel Sacher” is a soap opera that was produced in 2016 and is set in the early 1900s.

In fact, “Hotel Sacher” is based on an actual hotel in Vienna that you can visit should you find yourself in Austria! The TV show follows the quasi-true story of widow Anna Sacher, who takes over ownership of the hotel after the death of her husband, Eduard Sacher.

The story includes love, drama and power as Anna attempts to gain control of her associates and of her dead husband’s business while others would rather own the hotel and its finances themselves.

Historical Shows

“Heimat” (Homeland)

Where to watch: DVDs on Amazon

“Heimat” only ran for 32 episodes but follows a German family from 1919 to 2000. Each episode is feature film length (at least 90 minutes), so this is one to sit down with when you have plenty of time on your hands.

The central family’s domestic life is played out over 81 years, against the backdrop of Germany’s political and social issues. The whole series is an epic chronicle that will take you on quite a ride.

If you want to brush up on the past few decades of German history, this is the series for you.

“Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter” (Our Mothers, Our Fathers)

Where to watch: Tubi TV

Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter” was distributed internationally under the title “Generation War.”

This mini-series tells the stories of five friends and the different paths they take through Nazi Germany and World War II. There are only three episodes (each 90 minutes long) in the series, but each one is a compelling and captivating watch.

This one is a good fit for learners who appreciate historical context and cultural examinations. You’ll explore events through different perspectives, which can add a bit of challenge to your learning.


Where to watch: Amazon Prime

This series, set in East Berlin in the 1980s, revolves around the lives of two families whose fates become intertwined. Against all odds, the daughter of dissident singer Dunja Hausmann and the son of Hans Kupfer, a high-ranking official in the secret police, fall in love.

As the drama unfolds, the main characters are forced to reassess their attitude towards the regime and try to protect themselves and their loved ones by changing strategies of compliance and resistance.

Apart from some GDR-specific lingo, the language is pretty standard and the pace quite moderate.

“Der Gleiche Himmel” (The Same Sky)

Where to watch: Prime Video

“Der Gleiche Himmel” follows two German families living on opposite sides of the Berlin wall during the Cold War in the 1970s.

It follows a government agent from East Germany who is sent to West Germany on a “Romeo” mission to seduce a female analyst and extract information from her.

The show was highly acclaimed in Germany, receiving many nominations and awards at German TV award shows, and it makes sense. The acting is superb and the cinematography is phenomenal. In terms of language, this show is great for learning Cold War-era vocabulary, especially as it relates to Berlin in the 1970s.

Reality TV and Variety Shows 

“Schwiegertochter gesucht” (Daughter-in-law Wanted)

Where to watch: Clips on RTL, full episodes on TVNow (with registration)

Let’s face it: sometimes you just want to watch something trashy on TV and not think too much. If you’re in one of these moods but still want to learn some German, this German reality dating show might be just what you need.

The show has single women spend a couple of days living in the homes of their prospective partners. The catch is that most of these men are living with their mothers, hence the title of the show.

Apart from the obviously humorous situations that this premise entails, this show is great because it may give you insight into small-town life in Germany. Moreover, the format and the language used are generally easy to follow for German learners!

“Wetten, dass..?” (Wanna bet that…?)

Where to watch: ZDF

Though there are many different entertainment TV shows in German, the most successful was undoubtedly “Wetten, dass..?”, a show that aired from 1981 until 2014. As of 2023, it’s still being shown with revival episodes!

The main part of the show focused on betting on whether or not ordinary people could perform an unusual and/or difficult task. Bets have included whether or not a blindfolded man could recognize his cows based on the noise they made while chewing apples, or whether 13 swimmers could pull a 312-tonne ship for 25 meters.

The other major attraction of the show was the celebrity interviews, which often featured high-profile celebrities like Michael Jackson, Karl Lagerfeld, Justin Bieber and Mikhail Gorbachev.

This show is perfect if you don’t feel like committing to a grueling drama, yet still want to improve your German by watching something lighthearted.

“Neo Magazin Royale

Where to watch: ZDF

Late-night talk shows are all the rage in North America, so it’s only natural that they’ve also taken off in Germany. “Neo Magazin Royale” is one of the most popular, and is a satirical variety show filmed in Cologne, Germany.

There are eight seasons as of 2020, and the show consists of comedy monologues, skits and humorous interviews.

Much like late-night American talk and sketch shows, politics and current news happenings are often at the forefront of comedic content.

For example, host Jan Böhmermann has poked fun at American President Donald Trump and even gotten himself into some hot water surrounding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. That event came to be known as Erdogate in Germany, with officials in both Germany and Turkey involved.

“Verstehen Sie Spaß?” (Do You Understand Fun?)

Where to watch: ARD Mediathek

“Verstehen Sie Spaß” is a comedy show that involves a hidden camera. The people who are being filmed know that they’re being watched—at least one of the participating parties does!

Rather than observing people “in the wild,” the people and celebrities are put in various humorous situations. This includes having subjects eat in the dark, go through a haunted house or get pranked by a close friend or business acquaintance.

“Verstehen Sie Spaß” is wildly popular in Germany. It originally aired in the 1980s, and it was rebooted in 2010 with a new host and a fresh set of comedic gold.

“Bauer sucht Frau” (Farmer Seeks Wife)

Where to watch: RTL+

“Bauer sucht Frau” is a reality TV show on RTL (the largest private TV network in Germany), and it’s known the world over because it has variations in other languages such as “Farmer Wants a Wife” in Britain and the U.S.

Essentially, the show follows a (usually) male farmer who attempts to find himself a wife. The farmers are typically a little rough around the edges and sometimes don’t do much in the name of romance, but crave intimacy and a strong bond. The successful farmers find themselves eine Frau (a woman/wife) and get married.

As you can imagine, the show is a mix of romance, drama and comedy. The show is perfect for learning rural vocabulary and various German dialects since many of the farmers speak what would be labelled “non-standard German.”

“WDR Reisen” (WDR Travel)

Where to watch: YouTube

“WDR Reisen” isn’t a traditional TV show—in fact, it’s a YouTube channel, but its production value could have you fooled. Besides the fact that its episodes are professionally shot and superbly edited, the images themselves are beautiful and the research and coverage is exhaustive.

Primarily, the show features in-depth looks at locations around the world such as Amsterdam, Iceland and California. The episodes are 45 to 90 minutes long, and they’re a mix of travel vlog and destination guide.

Other episodes on the channel focus on different aspects of travel lifestyles such as living in a van or advice on buying flights, packing and finding good hotel deals.

“Terra X”

Where to Watch: ZDF

“Terra X” is another documentary-style TV show (also known as a doku in German). It’s quite an expansive series with tons of episodes, including short documentary episodes centered around themes such as Geschichte (history), Natur (nature) or Wissenschaft (science).

For example, a well-known documentary produced by “Terra X” is “Die Reise der Menschheit” (The Journey of Humankind), a three-part miniseries that explores human history and evolution from the beginning of time until the present.

As such, the language in this show is true Hochdeutsch (High German): it’s what would be considered “standard textbook German” and its level of formality is fairly high.

“ttt: Titel, Thesen, Temperamente” (Titles, Theses, Temperaments)

Where to watch: Das ErsteYouTube

“ttt: Titel, Thesen, Temperamente” is another documentary-style show produced by Das Erste. The show is styled as a news talk show that looks at current happenings in society.

Each show is broken into separate reports led by different journalists. The reports come in 10- to 15-minute segments, each focusing on a different topic such as contemporary books, music, technology and current political happenings in Germany and abroad. You’ll get on-scene reporting as well as interviews with experts and everyday people who are impacted by the story.

The episodes are broken up into segments on the website so that you can easily choose what you want to watch.

This show is also great for learning formal German or Hochdeutsch, since it adopts the prestigious dialect often used by news networks and journalists.

Children’s Shows

“Die Sendung mit der Maus” (The Program with the Mouse)

Where to watch: ARD Mediatek, Die Maus WDR

If you’re not feeling confident enough with your German to tackle a show with a complicated plotline but still want to improve your German through TV, maybe “The Program with the Mouse” is right for you.

This highly acclaimed children’s show consists of several segments that are either humorous or educational (or both) and, though it targets children between the age of four and eight, has an average viewer age of 39!

The show might give you some insight into German culture as well as vocabulary, since some of the past educational segments have focused on difficult topics to explain to children, like Germany after WWII and Chernobyl.

In addition, most Germans know this show, so it may be a great way to break the ice with your new German friends!

“Löwenzahn” (Dandelion)

Where to watch: DVDs on Amazon, ZDF

When you’re a bit tired and just want to relax with some easy viewing, tune in to the kids’ channels.

“Löwenzahn” is a children’s show which has been running since 1979. Its winning formula hasn’t changed over the past 40+ years. Each episode focuses on a specific theme or topic. Through short features, scenes and sketches, the host, Fritz Fuchs, teaches and informs kids on the show’s weekly topic.

Episodes usually concentrate on how technology and various services work. The German used is relatively simple and you can learn a lot of vocabulary pertaining to different subjects.

“Die Pfefferkörner” (The Peppercorns)

Where to watch: ARD Mediathek

“Die Pfefferkörner” follows a group of adolescents between the ages of 10 and 14 as they solve mysteries in their neighborhoods. These mysteries include crimes such as an expensive painting getting stolen from the local art gallery.

“Die Pfefferkörner” would be a great introduction for those who are just starting out watching German TV. It’s a children’s show, so even if the content feels a little immature for adults, it’s great for learners at the lower intermediate level of German.

The episodes are short (around 22 minutes), the vocabulary is fairly basic and the speech is clear and reasonably paced.

How to Make the Most of German TV Series

Watching series or movies is a fun and efficient way to learn a language.

Our memorization is boosted when we connect information with emotion. Action, suspense, humor and drama aren’t just the ingredients of good entertainment, but also of good learning experiences.

But to get the most out of watching TV in German, you need to watch actively!

Before you start watching, prepare some basic vocabulary on the main topic of the series. So, if you’re watching a love story, check out expressions for dating and romance. If it’s a historical drama, look up key terms from the featured time period.

If you keep seeing a word you don’t understand, pause the TV show and write down the whole sentence that contains the word. Next, try to guess the meaning of the word, then look it up and write it down in English

After watching, review the sentences you wrote down. Try making physical or digital flashcards, do fill-in-the-blanks exercises with them or do free-write activities with the unknown words.

If you enjoy learning German through videos, you can also practice with FluentU, an immersive language learning program. You’ll find short video clips from authentic German media—movie trailers, music videos, news segments and more—complete with interactive subtitles, transcripts and other useful learning tools. 

Another fun activity is posting your opinion in a fan forum in German—it’s a good opportunity to chat with native speakers and repeat vocabulary.


See, TV is more than just entertainment! Go ahead and put on one of these must-watch German series for your next TV binge.

And if you want something in a longer format, check out the best German movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime

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