Top 14 German TV Shows with Subtitles and Where to Stream Them

There’s nothing like relaxing with a great, binge-worthy TV show—except doing it in German, of course.

And right now, the German TV scene is experiencing a renaissance unlike ever before. 

This gives German learners a great variety to choose from. Whether you like crime shows, soap operas, game shows, you name it—there’s a German TV show for you.

Get ready to watch these 14 German TV shows with subtitles that you can stream tonight!


“Die Pfefferkörner” (“The Peppercorns”)

Where to Watch: ARD Mediathek

“Die Pfefferkörner” is produced by Das Erste (The First), a German public broadcaster. 

The show 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 with 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.

There are German subtitles available if you stream on the ARD Mediathek website. 

“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.

German and English subtitles are available from Netflix.


Where to Watch: ZDF

“Wilsberg” was developed in the 1990s. The show followed Georg Wilsberg who’s your typical, small town superhero: 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. Further, since the show is from the 1990s, the language used is a bit altmodisch (old-fashioned), but it can still be heard being used by older German speakers.

There are German subtitles available for this one on the ZDF website. 


Where to Watch: Prime Video

Originally aired in 2015, “Blochin: Die Lebenden und die Toten” (“Blochin: The Living and the Dead”) is a mini-series on 2DF (or ZDF, for Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen — Second German Television), another German public broadcaster. 

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 that are 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 view 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 drug slang.

The show is available on Prime Video with English subtitles. 

“Parfum” (“Perfume”)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Keeping with the crime and thriller theme so far on this list, “Parfum” is a crime show on Netflix.

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

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

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

Subtitles are available in both German and English.

“Bettys Diagnose” (“Betty’s Diagnosis”)

Where to Watch: ZDF

Bettys Diagnose” is another show produced by 2DF. 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 2DF. 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.

“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.

English subtitles are available for this show on Prime Video. 

“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 in her life and at the hotel would rather own the hotel and its finances themselves.

Look for the the show on Amazon Prime with English subtitles.

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

Where to Watch: ARD

“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.

The video clips are completely in German and include subtitles only in German.

“Bauer sucht Frau” (“Farmer Looks for 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, namely because it has variations in other languages such as “Farmer Wants a Wife” in Britain and the U.S.

Essentially, the show follows a 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.”

You need a premium account from RTL+ for this one and the episodes include subtitles in German only.

“Merz gegen Merz” (“Merz Against Merz”)

Where to Watch: ZDF

“Merz gegen Merz” is a dramedy (comedy/drama) produced by 2DF.

It follows the story of a dysfunctional family as the husband and wife go to couple’s therapy upon realizing that they rather resent each other and the wife has cheated on the husband.

Each episode starts with the couple recounting some event that has recently happened in their lives, typically revolving around their angsty son going through puberty, his overbearing and low-class parents or her 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.

It’s available with German subtitles on the ZDF website. 

“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.

Episodes usually have both German and English subtitles. 

“Terra X”

Where to Watch: ZDF

Keeping with the theme of documentary-style TV shows (also known as dokus in German), “Terra X” is another 2DF show. 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).

As such, the language presented 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.

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

Other documentaries include “Tabu – Verbotene Orte” (“Taboo – Forbidden Places”) that explores the world’s uncontacted tribes as well as various nature documentaries, histories and biographies of historical figures.

All episodes include subtitles in German on the ZDF website.

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

Where to Watch: ARD, YouTube

“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 the news and in modern 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 as it adopts the prestigious dialect often used by the news networks and journalists.

All episodes of “ttt” include subtitles in German on the ARD website.

Other Resources to Watch German Videos with Subtitles

Here’s a mixed list of YouTube channels and German sites where you can watch videos with subtitles.

Note that the German sites might not be accessible outside of Germany—in that case, read the tip above about using a VPN.


Where to Watch: YouTube

BookBox is a YouTube channel that features videos with children’s stories being read aloud. The videos, which include subtitles, are read fairly slowly since the channel’s goal is to help kids learn to read.

But if you’re beginning to learn German, BookBox is perfect because of the slower pace and the straightforward vocabulary. The videos are also all under seven minutes long, so you can easily fit them into your daily schedule if you’re super busy.

Recommended video: “Die Heinzelmännchen und der Schuhmacher” (“The Elves and the Shoemaker”) is one of those stories that everyone in Germany knows. In Cologne, where the story takes place, there’s actually even a fountain depicting it because it’s such a beloved part of the city’s cultural history.


Where to Watch: Website, iOS, Android

On FluentU, you can watch authentic German content with the support of learning tools. You’ll find a large variety of content to peruse, including movie and TV show clips, music videos, news segments, vlogs and other engaging media.

Videos have interactive subtitles that let you check the contextual definition of any word with just a click, helping you stay focused without getting lost in unfamiliar words. If you want to remember a certain word, you can always add it to your flashcard decks right from the video player and resume watching.

Then, you can go back to the flashcards at a later point and review your vocab list with FluentU’s personalized quizzes. Review exercises are designed to spark your memory at optimal moments. You’ll be watching, listening, reading and even speaking (through speaking questions) the language—all while engaging with the language in a memorable way.

Flashcards show you other videos where the word appears, so you can string your watching from one video to another and see how words and grammar concepts are used across many different topics and sentence structures.

Recommended video: I’d suggest that you choose whatever video you’re personally interested in, since FluentU has so many different topics to explore. For instance, if you’re a movie buff, you can check out the many movie clips and trailers that are available on the program. Filter by “clips,” “trailers” or “shows” to see the options available to you.

You can also filter by difficulty level to ensure that the videos you see are exactly right for your preferences and skills.

Easy German

Where to Watch: YouTube

Easy German is another YouTube channel that’s ideal for intermediate to advanced learners. The videos cover a range of topics from grammar to everyday street talk. There are also videos that tackle specific vocabulary and cultural topics, like vocabulary to talk about being sick, or interviews about what Germans think of Facebook.

The people in the videos speak at a conversational speed, so the videos are excellent for practicing listening comprehension while following along with the German and English subtitles.

Recommended video: “Train Rides in Germany and Austria” highlights the differences between riding the train in both countries, but is also helpful for hearing the contrast between German and Austrian accents. Of course, taking the train is generally an important part of living in either Germany or Austria, so it also gives you local insight into the pros and cons.


Now that you’ve popped your popcorn, it’s time to settle into your couch, choose a Sendung (TV show) and start watching your way to German fluency!

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