Learn German with TV Shows: 28 Best Series and Where to Watch

They’re not just great for couch potatoes.

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

Not only are they engaging and entertaining, but they can challenge your skills in a way textbooks and flashcards may not be able to.

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.


How German TV Shows will Help Your Language Learning

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

Not only is it easier to understand new vocabulary with the added context of a story and its visualization, but you also get a feel for pronunciation and word stress.

Moreover, listening to correct sentence structures over and over unconsciously trains your intuition for cases and putting words in the right place.

Last but not least, our ability to memorize is boosted when we connect information with emotion. So action, suspense, humor and drama aren’t just the ingredients of good entertainment, but also of good learning experiences.

How to Make the Most of German TV Series

Before you start watching a German TV series, 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. 

Armed with these vocabulary, you’re ready to watch!

If some words keep popping up and you don’t understand them, pause the TV show and then write down the whole sentence that contains the word. This allows you to learn the word in context. Next, try to guess the meaning of the word, then look it up and write it down in English

After watching, review the sentences that 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 TV shows, you can even practice with FluentU, which features hundreds of German media clips. All of these already come with interactive subtitles, transcripts and personalized quizzes, so you can watch and learn without fuss. 

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

22 German TV Series for Your Entertainment and Learning Needs

Crime Series

“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 also 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” in English, 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 begin to grip the city of Berlin surrounding the murder, 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: Amazon Prime, ARD Mediathek

Tatort is the longest-running and most popular German crime series. A lot of devotees watch it with friends at home or in a pub and exchange bets on the murderer. “Tatort” 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 is that the episodes are produced by different regional teams in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and are starring different inspectors, making it several series in one.

So, 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 in which 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: Das Erste Mediathek

Detective Sophie Haas is the main character in “Mord mit Aussicht.” Contrary to her expectations to work in Köln, she instead must 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 cliches 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’s 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.

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.

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

It’s widely broadcast across Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and 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: Amazon Prime, 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.

As you might’ve guessed, 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 funny retellings of the victim’s life, Schotty often finds himself getting way too involved in the cleaning process by drinking, arguing or making love to 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 is perfect if you’re looking for a challenging yet lighthearted show to prepare for your upcoming trip to North Rhine-Westphalia!

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 it 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.

Pretty 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 awakes 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”

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 SciFi series, Commander McLane and his crew aboard the space cruiser Orion are protecting 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 and 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 the 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 by now.

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.

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’ll 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 that happen in the characters’ lives. The show also explores tough issues and features a diverse cast. In fact, Lindenstraße was the first program to feature a same sex kiss on television in German history!

“Lindenstraße” has been running 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 supposed final season.

But who can know if any of these soap operas are ever really over?

“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, rape, 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, rape, 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 500 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 had been 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 can also mean 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!

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 in front of 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 thus like 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 multiple different perspectives, which can add a bit of challenge to your learning.


Where to watch: Amazon Prime

This series set in the GDR 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.

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. Until now, it’s still being shown with revival episodes!

The main part of the show focused on betting on whether or not ordinary people can 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 feature 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” (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.

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!

This show is a great way to improve your German vocabulary, as the topics covered are highly diverse, yet still at an elementary level.

The show might also give you some insight into German culture 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 into the kids’ channels.

“Löwenzahn” is a children’s show which has been running since 1979. Its winning formula hasn’t changed over the past 30 or so years. Each episode focuses on a specific theme or topic. Through short features, scenes and sketches, the host, Fritz Fuchs, teaches and informs kids of 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 topics.


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

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