In selecting the best Hulu TV shows for this piece, we decided that the streaming service doesn't get nearly enough acclaim. Not only is it the streaming home of the cable network FX, which makes some of the best TV shows around, it offers an extensive archive of classic TV from the 1990s and 2000s. Everything from Buffy to Futurama to King of the Hill is on here, and Hulu is pretty good when it comes to originals as well.
How to sign up to Hulu
If you don't already have a Hulu account, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. Once your trial is over, Hulu will sign you up for a $5.99 per month package that includes ads.
Hulu is available in two monthly subscription tiers: the $5.99 basic tier, which is supported by ads, or $11.99 if you want the service without ads. A very reasonably priced $12.99 Disney Plus bundle packs in the basic tier, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, so you might want to consider that if you enjoy Disney content, sports and the programming Hulu offers.
To help you figure out the best shows on Hulu, we've put together a list of 20 that we think you'll love, covering dramas and comedies. We'll cycle shows in and out of this list as new programming become available. So read on, pick a show, and enjoy.
The best Hulu shows: our top 20 TV series
- The Handmaid's Tale
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The Twilight Zone
- Veronica Mars
- American Horror Story
- Castle Rock
- Twin Peaks
- The X-Files
- South Park
- Rick and Morty
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- 30 Rock
- Broad City
- Brooklyn Nine Nine
- Parks and Recreation
The Handmaid's Tale
An outstanding adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel of the same name, and Hulu’s most acclaimed original series to date, The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the best TV shows of the last decade. Despite being based on a now three-decades-old book, the show's haunting dystopia remains as relevant as ever.
Following Offred (Elizabeth Moss), we're catapulted into a not-too-distant, totalitarian and theocratic future that dictates fertile women become 'handmaids' to elite couples who have trouble conceiving. Blessed be the fruit.
A fourth season is on the way, along with a sequel series based on Atwood's recent follow-up book, The Testaments.
Seasons on Hulu: 3
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
With more sass than you can shake a vampire-slaying stake at, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is so much more than your average undead-hunting drama series (sorry, Supernatural).
Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the no-nonsense, titular slayer, Buffy's battles against (the still terrifying) villains who attempt to take down her nearest and dearest are but a small part of what makes this show so great. Expect wit, roundhouse kicks, tears and tantrums – and, of course, myriad quintessentially '90s outfits. Seasons two and three mark the show at its best.
Seasons on Hulu: 7
Is there anything Donald Glover can't do? Besides writing hits like This is America as Childish Gambino, Donald Glover wrote, starred and produced this superb show about the music scene in Atlanta.
The first seasons charts the rise of two cousins as hip hop artists, trying make something of themselves. The show is a smart, funny and a fitting look at being black and middle class in America. It's been renewed for seasons 3 and 4 already, though don't expect those until 2021.
Seasons on Hulu: 2
- The best Hulu VPN
The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone marked something of a turning point in mainstream entertainment. Created by Rod Serling in the late 1950s, this anthology series introduced American homes to science fiction and fantasy; genres employed as a vehicle for social commentary on topics such as nuclear war and mass hysteria. Throughout its five seasons the show met with huge critical acclaim, and half a century later it still remains one of the most influential series of all time.
If you want to watch the more recent revival series, you'll need a CBS All Access subscription instead.
Seasons on Hulu: 5
Mystery drama Veronica Mars felt like the heir to Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it debuted back in 2004. It's a smart-mouthed teen drama, but with a lot of crossover appeal, and it has a Twin Peaks-like mystery at the center of each season. After three seasons, though, The CW canceled it, bumping it off the schedule for a Pussycat Dolls reality show of all things.
Fans didn't forget the show, though, and in 2014 a Kickstarter-backed sequel movie was released. Then in 2019, Hulu surprised everyone by bringing it back from the dead for a fourth season that picks up with many of the same characters years later. Even with two revivals under its belt, Veronica Mars somehow feels underrated. This is still one of the best modern serialized dramas, though it's unlikely we'll see more seasons on Hulu.
Seasons on Hulu: 4 (and one movie)
American Horror Story
If you feel like you've been getting too much good sleep recently, American Horror Story is all-too-happy to fix that for you. You'll find eight seasons of the anthology show on Hulu, each of which centers around a different plot line and unique set of fears. That means the quality can fluctuate depending on the season's theme, but there's plenty to like here.
Not sure if clowns are all that scary? Watch American Horror Story. Think porous materials are harmless? Again, watch American Horror Story. Anything you love can and will be used to scare you silly.
Seasons on Hulu: 8
Based on the work of author Stephen King but not a direct adaptation of any specific work, you'll find two seasons of this horror anthology show on Hulu. Set in King's fictional town, the titular Castle Rock in Maine, the show is bursting with references that fans of the writer will appreciate.
If you enjoyed the IT films and want something a little more mature, you might want to dig into this show next.
Seasons on Hulu: 2
Twin Peaks is the greatest, strangest season of TV spread over two seasons. The show is both beautiful and grotesque, simple and convoluted. The premise is straightforward: some FBI agents come to the sleepy town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of teenager Laura Palmer, but the way the tale is told through both dreamscapes and fairly ordinary soap opera musings makes it unmissable.
Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, the series was eventually hamstrung by annoying TV execs forcing the murderer to be revealed midway through the second season, but this doesn't detract from the complete brilliance of a show that was way ahead of its time as a cinematic serialized drama.
Seasons on Hulu: 2
While its origins lie in the 1996 Coen brothers cult classic movie of the same name, FX’s black comedy crime drama has made a name for itself as a show in its own right, and a brilliant one at that, featuring a stellar cast including Martin Freeman, Kirsten Dunst and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
While the first season pays homage to the vibe of the original movie, tracking a series of murders and the antics of a downtrodden insurance salesman, the second and third installments venture into totally alternate storylines. Worth a watch? You betcha!
Seasons on Hulu: 3
Forget sentimentality, complex themes and feel-good subplots, for you won’t find any in Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David's show about four narcissists waxing lyrical about life's absurdities. Without preaching or taking itself too seriously, Seinfeld amused its hardcore fanbase with relatable, self-referential humor and facepalm-inducing antics. And there's no strict overarching plot throughout its 172 episodes either, meaning you can dip in and out as you please. Season 4 is where the show really finds its voice.
Enjoy it on Hulu while you can: in 2021, Netflix gets the US streaming rights for Seinfeld.
Seasons on Hulu: 9
Tackling everything from paranormal phenomena and governmental cover-ups to regular appearances from nightmare-inducing monsters, The X-Files featured special agent duo Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), with Mulder in particular convinced that the truth is out there.
And 'out there' this cultural touchstone of a series certainly was, as wonderful as it was totally off the wall. Featuring some of the most terrifying TV episodes of all time (one word: Tooms), and labyrinthine storylines, this show is a must for any conspiracy theorist or fan of great genre TV.
Seasons on Hulu: 11
Hulu is flush with adult animated comedy, between Family Guy, Bob's Burgers, American Dad and even newer episodes of The Simpsons to watch. Still, while those other shows certainly include a few adult jokes in each episode, 99% of South Park's jokes are meant for adult audiences. (The other 1% of the jokes are low-brow potty humor.) Still, as dark or contentious as the show gets, South Park is another animated TV staple that we couldn't live without.
Seasons on Hulu: 23
Rick and Morty
Need your fix of black humor and sci-fi gone wrong? Hulu’s got Adult Swim's brain-pummeling, universe-stretching, animated adventure on tap. So sit back and allow the grandpa and grandson duo to teach you a thing or two about psychology, bizarre family dynamics and Adult Swim's excellent scriptwriting through three seasons that promise to leave you scratching your head for days on end.
Even though HBO Max will soon have the rights to stream the show from its May launch, Hulu will still get new seasons of Rick and Morty at the same time, around five months after a season ends. That means season 4 should arrive this year on Hulu, assuming part two airs in this half of 2020.
Seasons on Hulu: 3
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
One of the darkest comedies on TV, and destined to run forever. Launched on a tiny budget back in 2005, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has grown from a cult hit into a heavily memed sensation over the last 15 years. The show is about characters Mac, Charlie, Sweet Dee, Dennis and the latter two's uncle, Frank, who run a bar in Philadelphia.
But really, this is a springboard for appalling antics involving everything from steroid abuse to Nazism to a musical. It's not for everyone, and it's a lot harsher than modern sitcoms like Brooklyn Nine Nine, but it's the heir to Seinfeld if you enjoy comedies about terrible narcissists doing stupid things.
Seasons on Hulu: 13
Delivering subversive satire and laughs-a-plenty, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, a show about a female TV writer trying to grasp control over backstage antics at a live, prime-time variety show, is as smart as it is downright hilarious.
Every episode is layered with running gags, absurd plot twists and pop-culture references; so much so that you'll need several sittings to appreciate each one. Fey stars alongside household names such as Tracey Morgan, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer.
Seasons on Hulu: 7
Ever find yourself screaming "Yas queen!" without really knowing how the term came to be? Let Broad City educate you, for Comedy Central’s bangin' lady duo – Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer – are the reason this phrase will be forever lodged in your lexicon.
Championing female friendship like no other show on TV right now (or ever, to be honest), Broad City shines a hysterically real and infinitely positive light on how ridiculous life can be… while perma-blazed on gingerbread blunts, naturally. The complete series is on Hulu.
Seasons on Hulu: 5
Brooklyn Nine Nine
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a sitcom about a dysfunctional police station. The series follows the brilliant but immature NYPD detective Jake Peralta, and this Golden Globe-winning series is a laugh-a-minute, with plenty of deadpan jokes, physical comedy, and crackpot characters.
With around 20 episodes per season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is extremely easy to binge, and the latest sixth season is now on Hulu.
Seasons on Hulu: 6
Created by The Simpsons' Matt Groening, you might have wrote Futurama off as filler content for Fox's Sunday night programming block. If that sounds like you, you inadvertently did a major disservice to creativity, humor and passion Groening and company poured into every panel year after year for over a decade.
Futurama is imaginative, witty and has the uncanny ability to poke fun at cultural icons without sinking to juvenile mud-slinging. Each time the series got the axe broke our heart a little more, which didn't get the mending it needed until the final episode of the final season.
You might wonder why The Simpsons and Futurama aren't both on Disney Plus. Futurama is something of a darker sitcom, which might explain why – the show begins with the introduction of suicide booths, for example, and in one episode Fry's hands get eaten by a T-rex. At its peak, though, Futurama was easily the match of its more successful cousin, even if the later Comedy Central seasons are noticeably weaker.
Seasons on Hulu: 10
Parks and Recreation
With a cast list that reads like a veritable guidebook to today's comedy superstars – Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt, to name a few – the mockumentary series Parks and Recreation remains one of TV's sharpest and funniest political satires.
Set in a fictional Indiana town, the show follows a diverse group of madcap public officials whose efforts to make their city a better place often result in chaos. Parks and Rec is the work of The Office mastermind Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, who also worked on that show, and it feels like a direct relative in many ways. At 20 minutes per episode, it's very easy to lose a Sunday to watching this show.
Seasons on Hulu: 7
There’s a reason why NBC’s Community found such a huge fanbase during its six-year run. Laden with pop-culture references and geeky, self-referential humor, this community college-set sitcom is a witty and often unpredictable series about a culturally diverse crowd united in their quest for a better education.
The show boasts an outstanding cast of comedy actors, including Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs and Danny Pudi, all of whom give performances that never fail to capture the nuances of bizarre human behavior. While the quality fluctuates in later seasons (skip season 4, though make sure you watch season 5), this is another NBC classic.
Seasons on Hulu: 6 (but no movie)