Photo Credit: Akhil Arora/Gadgets 360
The best series on Disney+ Hotstar come not from Disney+ or Hotstar, but rather HBO. In fact, more than half of the list below — 44 to be precise — come from the home of Game of Thrones. Disney+ Hotstar should probably be called HBO Go. Or HBO Now. Or HBO Max. Jokes aside, the HBO partnership gives access to some all-time greats. The Wire, The Sopranos, The Leftovers, Band of Brothers, and yes, Game of Thrones. The originals department is negligible, with The Mandalorian an exception to that rule. But the power of HBO means Disney+ Hotstar trumps Amazon in number of choices. To help you sift through the choices below, we've divided the list by genres and labelled select series with a “⭐”.
Before we dive in, a tiny explainer of our methodology. To pick the best series and TV shows on Disney+ Hotstar, we relied on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and IMDb ratings to create a shortlist. The last of these was preferred for non-English programming given the shortfalls of reviews aggregators in that department. Additionally, we used our own editorial judgement to add or remove entries from the list. This list will be updated once every few months if there are any worthy additions or if some series are removed from the service, so bookmark this page and keep checking in. Here are the best series and TV shows currently available on Disney+ Hotstar, sorted alphabetically and categorised by genre.
Pick your genre —
Kiefer Sutherland will be best remembered for playing counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer, who would do anything to stop a terrorist plot — sometimes several in one season — no matter what the moral, ethical, or personal cost. No definitive consensus, but these are generally considered to be the best seasons (in order): seasons five, one, four, and two.
Oscar-winner Pablo Larraín partly directed this Spanish-language Chilean thriller about four individuals who must go on the run across the length and breadth of the country after a failed drug deal.
Pedro Pascal stars as the titular unnamed helmeted bounty hunter and lone gunfighter in the first-ever live-action Star Wars series, set after the fall of the Empire (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) and before the emergence of the First Order (Episode VII: The Force Awakens). His life is about to be upended by his latest bounty target. A Disney+ original.
Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof bravely pushes the superhero genre with this “remixed” miniseries follow-up to writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons' seminal 1987 comic book series of the same name. Set 34 years after the events of the original, a police detective and vigilante (Regina King) digs into the murder of a friend, which has ties to a white supremacist group's evil plan.
This reboot of the 1987 original — about the adventures of Donald Duck's maternal uncle, Scrooge McDuck, and his great-nephew triplets Huey, Dewey, and Louie — makes more room for Donald Duck and character-based stories. It's been called “far bolder than its predecessor.” Only season 1 is available.
In this animated comedy for kids, twin 12-year-olds are packed off to spend the summer holidays with their great-uncle in the mysterious titular town, where they encounter paranormal forces and supernatural creatures and help uncle run the world's most bizarre museum. Only the first of two seasons is available, weirdly.
The two titular stepbrothers take on new outlandish and unrealistic projects every day, to the annoyance of their controlling sister Candace, who tries in vain — again and again — to bring it to their mother's notice, but is foiled usually by a b-plot involving a pet platypus spy agent who counters a mad scientist's evil schemes. Has resulted in two movies — Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, Phineas & Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe — also on Disney+ Hotstar.
A satire of working-class life through the eyes of the titular family — obese father Homer, grounded Marge, mischievous eldest son Bart, social outcast middle child Lisa, and the infant Lisa — it has been a huge influence on the animated sitcom genre. But it lost its way a long time ago, with quality declining after season 10, being tone-deaf to racial stereotyping, and ending up as a crass and careless mediocre sitcom.
Spawned from the film of the same name — also on Disney+ Hotstar — and set during the three-year gap between the events of Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi, his Padawan apprentice Anakin Skywalker, and in time, his own Padawan apprentice Ahsoka Tano. Resurrected as a Disney+ original after a six-year hiatus.
A crime anthology series from prolific creator Ryan Murphy, which dramatises historic criminal cases in the US, including the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the assassination of Gianni Versace by spree killer Andrew Cunanan. A terrific first season followed by a slightly less powerful second.
Centred on the 1986 nuclear disaster in Soviet Ukraine, a five-part look at what caused it, why it happened, whom it affected, and how people responded — from the first responders to the leader of the Soviet Union. Masterfully made, it offers a riveting look at the human cost of institutional dysfunction caused by state censorship.
Benicio del Toro and Patricia Arquette lead the excellent cast of this seven-episode miniseries — directed by Ben Stiller — about a real-life prison escape, involving two convicted male murderers and a married female prison employee, all of whom were romantically and sexually entangled. It's a slow-burner but rewarding.
The backstage rivalry between actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis during the production of a film in early 1960s serves as the focal point for this anthology series — from Ryan Murphy — which explores ageism, sexism, and misogyny in their struggle to hold onto fading fame.
Paul Giamatti played the titular second president of the United States in this seven-part miniseries — directed by Tom Hooper — which chronicled his political and personal life from the pre-Independence times in 1770 Boston through to his death in 1826. Praised for its visuals though criticised for its casting choices, it won more Emmys than any miniseries to date.
Cate Blanchett is excellent in this period drama about the conservative backlash to the Equal Rights Amendment, led by one Phyllis Schlafly (Blanchett), which essentially set the stage for modern-day US politics. The likes of Rose Byrne, Elizabeth Banks, Uzo Aduba, Margo Martindale, John Slattery, and Sarah Paulson co-star, some as well-known feminist activists.
From the creator of The Wire, a six-part miniseries starring Oscar Isaac as Nick Wasicsko, the youngest big-city mayor in the US, who dealt with vociferous public opinion between 1987 and 1994, stemming from a court order that public housing should be built in the middle-class, mostly-white part of town. Addressing class and racism, it was timely and timeless.
The only level-headed offspring (Jason Bateman) of a formerly wealthy dysfunctional family, made up of members more oddball and eccentric than the previous one, must manage family affairs after the dad (Jeffrey Tambor) is imprisoned. Considered one of the best sitcoms of all time, it fell off a cliff after three seasons. Tambor stands accused in the #MeToo movement.
Largely unheard of, though it was a hoot with critics, Robin Thede — the first African-American female head writer of a late-night talk show — assembles a majority cast of black women for what the title says: sketch comedy. It's set in “a limitless magical reality” and features Angela Bassett, Laverne Cox, Larry Wilmore, and Yvette Nicole Brown as guest stars.
Seinfeld co-creator Larry David plays a fictionalised version of himself in this semi-improvised sitcom about a semi-retired TV writer dealing with cringe-inducing situations, mostly caused by his own faux pas. Laugh out loud during its original run, and returned to those heights in 2020 after a dip in season 9. Before you begin, watch the hour-long special, Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm, also on Disney+ Hotstar.
A burned-out major league baseball player (Danny McBride) returns to his hometown in the US state of North Carolina to teach physical education to middle schoolers. Noted for being obnoxious, profane, and uncomfortable, it succeeded by not letting go of its off-kilter worldview.
The Kiwi comedy-music duo of the same name brings their real-life story to the screen, in which the two — Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie — play fictionalised versions of themselves, trying to find fame in New York after uprooting themselves from New Zealand. Most episodes centre on the two, their manager, their only fan and stalker, and a friend who advises them on women and culture.
With the entire show essentially a giant flashback, a father tells his children about the events that led him to meet their mother, taking a long detour through the personal lives of his friends. Fell sharply in quality in later seasons, and the finale pleased few.
Created by and starring Rob McElhenney, this long-running sitcom follows five egocentric, underachieving friends (Charlie Day and Danny DeVito among them) who run a decrepit Irish bar in South Philadelphia. Yet to have a season that wasn't liked, though seasons four, seven, and ten are said to have the best episodes, with the season 4 finale being a particular highlight.
A mockumentary-style comedy following the extended Pritchett clan comprised of three modern families: a patriarch, his younger Latina wife and her son; his firstborn daughter and her family of two kids; and his son who lives with his husband and adoptive daughter. Three strong seasons and five straight Emmy wins, but not as well received since.
The day-to-day adventures of two generations of an upper-class Gujarati family living in the upmarket South Mumbai neighbourhood of Cuffe Parade, with friction between the mother-in-law (Ratna Pathak Shah) and her middle-class, Delhi-born daughter-in-law, and the love-hate relationship between the father and his second son. Revived in 2017 by Hotstar for a failed season 2. Free to watch.
Set in the high-tech gold rush of its eponymous San Francisco Bay Area, a comedy that lampoons the struggles of six programmers — Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, and Kumail Nanjiani playing three of them — trying to make it big and offers a timely satire of problems caused by modern-day technology. Season 4 is considered to have the highest number of best episodes.
A satirical take on the inner workings of the US government, following a senator (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) chosen to serve as the Vice President, and the hilarious antics of her incompetent staff. Won the Emmy three years in a row, while Louis-Dreyfus has racked up six straight wins. Didn't have the same bite in later years, but still one of the best.
Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's 2014 mockumentary horror comedy film is turned into a series by the latter which follows four vampires who have been living together for hundreds and hundreds of years in Staten Island, New York. Praised for its absurdity, charming cast, and lore expansion.
In another audience underappreciated show that was praised immensely by critics, a 45-year-old self-identifying “fat, queer dyke” (Abby McEnany, also co-creator and co-writer) suffering from depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) unexpectedly ends up in a transformative relationship with a 22-year-old transgender barista.
A dark comedy about a former US Marine (Bill Hader, also co-creator, writer, and director) working as a hit man in the Midwest, who goes to Los Angeles for a job and discovers a new passion for acting as he gets involved with eager hopefuls in the local theatre scene.
Pamela Adlon is the creator and star of this comedy-drama, about a single mother who struggles to balance raising her three girls and her career as an actor. Just like its protagonist, the show has charted its own path, pairing caustic humour and poignant observation in marvellous ways.
James Spader and William Shatner make a winning combination despite their opposite politics in this spin-off of The Practice — both from creator David E. Kelley — that follows two best friends, a partner (Shatner) and a lawyer (Spader), at the Boston branch of a very large law firm. It's been described as the “unsung hero of US TV” and having a “prescient legacy”.
Laura Dern won a Golden Globe for playing a corporate executive who had a humiliating nervous breakdown, went to a mental health centre in Hawaii, and came back with a new outlook on life that upended things at both work and home in this comedy-drama that was cancelled two seasons into its critically-acclaimed run.
A modern-day comedy about four women in their early 20s making a living in New York, depicted with wit, provocation, and compassion. Some characters may have ended up as caricatures in later seasons, but it was a rare female-led expression of their experience.
The personal lives of stressed-out people in New York, depicted through the observations of their cannabis deliveryman (Ben Sinclair, also co-creator, writer, and director). Strangely poignant and somehow insightful as it went on, making a successful transition from web to TV.
A hilarious look at the awkward lives of two African-American women, who are best friends and live in Los Angeles, as they navigate personal and professional troubles while looking for something fulfilling. Lead star Issa Rae is also co-creator and writer.
Three close gay friends — a 29-year-old video game designer, a 31-year-old artist's assistant, and a 39-year-old — navigate their personal and professional lives in modern-day San Francisco. Noted for its authenticity, real-world feel, and attention to detail, but was cancelled after two seasons and ended with a feature-length finale called Looking: The Movie, also on Disney+ Hotstar.
If you're willing to separate the art from the artist — given the repeated sexual misconduct creator, writer, director, and star Louis C.K. admitted to in 2017 — this comedy-drama offered acerbic observational humour from the viewpoint of a divorced comedian raising his two daughters in New York, with a sprinkling of C.K.'s stand-up bits. Some episodes may now be an uncomfortable watch.
A look at the 1920s Prohibition era — ban on alcohol — in the US, through the eyes of an Atlantic City, New Jersey politician (Steve Buscemi) playing both sides of the law. Consistently praised across its five-season run, for the acting of its ensemble, its terrific realisation of the period, and the shades of grey amongst its characters.
Creator, writer, and star Scott Ryan has been widely praised for his role of a deadpan hitman-for-hire with a heart of gold, who must balance his criminal activities with his familial obligations. Praised for packing so much in its half-hour format, rare for dramas, and criticised for not being able to really find itself.
Riz Ahmed stars as a Pakistani-American student in this eight-part miniseries, who is charged with a woman's murder after a night of partying mysteriously goes awry, of which he has no recollection. Less a crime drama and more an indictment of the US criminal justice system.
Based on Stephen King's 2018 novel of the same name, a police detective (Ben Mendelsohn) and a private investigator (Cynthia Erivo) suspect the involvement of a mysterious force in the gruesome murder of an 11-year-old boy in the woods of the US state of Georgia. Might be a little too slow for some. A 10-episode miniseries.
Considered one of the greatest TV shows of all time, this six-season drama chronicled the life of New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster (James Gandolfini), who turns to a psychiatrist as he has trouble balancing family life and being the crime boss. Solid on all fronts — engaging characters, strong cast, moral discussions, and dark humour — it's well-remembered and debated for its controversial final shot.
Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson played two Louisiana homicide detectives in the first and only worthwhile season of this anthology crime drama, whose pursuit of a serial killer over a 17-year period gains renewed interest owing to a new, similar case.
A complex, unflinching examination of the societal ills plaguing Baltimore, always focused on the city's illegal drug trade and touching upon the waterfront, politicians, school system, and media consumption as season-long subplots. Told the story from all angles and remains one of the best shows of all-time.
A schoolteacher and budding novelist (Dominic West) begins an extramarital affair with a young waitress (Ruth Wilson) trying to piece together her life in this sombre drama, which delivered two strong seasons of deep and psychological observation before a slight dip thereafter.
Al Pacino and Meryl Streep lead the cast of this six-part miniseries that swept the Emmys and Golden Globes. Based on Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, it's set during the dawn of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and follows six New Yorkers — a powerful lawyer (Pacino) among them — whose lives are connected.
The lives of five wealthy but emotionally-troubled women (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, and Laura Dern) living in in an idyllic California town are upended after their involvement in a murder investigation, sending ripples across the community. Season 2 couldn't live up to its first, even with the presence of Meryl Streep.
Set in the world of New York high finance, a shrewd, savvy US attorney (Paul Giamatti) and a brilliant, ambitious hedge-fund manager (Damian Lewis) try to outmanoeuvre each other in this slightly-soapy and larger-than-life drama about greed, power and competition.
Based on an Israeli miniseries of the same name, it follows a group of high school students — with Spider-Man star Zendaya in the lead — as they struggle with drugs, sex, identity, trauma, social media, love, and friendship. It's not an easy watch, mind you, but it's full of empathy.
A “millennial icon” and first-time novelist (Michaela Coel, also creator and writer) attempts to piece together a night she can't recall with the help of her two best friends: a struggling actor and a gay man. Explores sexual consent in a post-#MeToo era.
A 50-something psychotherapist (Gabriel Byrne) sees different patients every day of the week and his own therapist at the end of the week in this verbatim remake of the Israeli series BeTipul that ran for more episodes — 106 across three seasons — than most HBO series do. Each episode is a new session. Irrfan Khan was one of the patients on season 3.
Based on Tom Perrotta's novel of the same name, this supernatural drama is set a few years after the sudden disappearance of two percent of the global population, and how it impacted the ones left behind. Grew in critical reception during its run, ending as one of the best shows of all time as it provided a deeply affective portrayal of the meaningless of life.
R.K. Narayanan's collection of short stories about different faces of life in a fictional South India town are selectively adapted for the screen, thanks to his cartoonist brother R.K. Laxman, actor-director Shankar Nag, and producer T.S. Narasimhan. Free to watch.
Kate Winslet swept the awards circuit for her performance in the titular role of an overprotective, self-sacrificing divorced single mother of two kids, who opens a restaurant and tries to win over her spoiled, narcissistic, ambitious elder daughter during the Great Depression. Based on James M. Cain's 1941 novel of the same name, to which it stuck a little too close.
Frances McDormand played the titular cantankerous but well-meaning retired mathematics schoolteacher in this miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth Strout's 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which offered a look at 25 years of her life in a small town in the northernmost state in eastern USA. A slow-burner filled with great performances, including McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Ann Dowd, and Bill Murray.
Based on Edward St Aubyn's semi-autobiographical novel series, this five-part miniseries finds Benedict Cumberbatch playing the titular wealthy Englishman battling multiple addictions, and childhood abuse and neglect from the 1980s to the 2000s. Critics said it offered “a scathing indictment of British high society's inherited dysfunction, cruelty, and the wealth that enables them”.
The latest series from The Wire creator David Simon is based on Philip Roth's 2004 eponymous novel and looks at an alt-history USA where xenophobic populist Charles Lindbergh becomes President in 1941 and steers the country towards fascism. Praised for its timely message in the political parallels it draws with Trump's America and for the performances of its ensemble cast.
Set in 1980s New York, this dance-musical drama — co-created by Ryan Murphy — explores several parts of society: the ball-culture world, the rise of the luxury Trump-era universe and the downtown social and literary scene. Noted for its large transgender cast.
Oscar-winner Alan Ball created this macabre drama about a dysfunctional family running a funeral home in Los Angeles, with every episode opening with a fresh corpse that would have something to do with the Fisher family's own problems. Filled with a superb cast, it tripped over itself in season 4, but recovered for a fitting swansong that boasts arguably one of the best series finales.
Who knew that the next Game of Thrones would be a contemporary satire about the fight over a fictional media empire, centred on a dysfunctional family of cutthroats: the detached oldest son, the power-hungry second born, the irreverent third, and the savvy youngest daughter, and the founder and the patriarch, who prioritises business over his kids. Golden Globe and BAFTA winner.
Based on George R.R. Martin's unfinished “A Song of Ice and Fire” series of novels, the most popular show of the 2010s follows the power struggles between seven medieval kingdoms, in a fantasy world filled with death, dragons, and colourful characters. Storytelling suffered in later years, after it ran out of source material.
Set during the Cold War, two Russian spies (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) who have kids pose as an American family living in 1980s Washington, D.C., to spy on the US government. Excellent from start to finish, thanks to terrific writing and acting, bolstered by a family focus and resonating themes.
The Wire creator David Simon brings his storytelling touch to 1970s New York, following the moment in time when the sex-trade went from being a back-alley thing to a legalised billion-dollar market in the US. Stars James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal in leading roles, with the former playing twin brothers.
Set in the 19th century, it tells the story of English land-owner and industrialist Anne Lister (Suranne Jones), who documented a lifetime of lesbian relationships in secret code in her diaries. Jones' performance was praised, although critics felt the series isn't as unapologetically progressive as the protagonist.
Steven Soderbergh directed all 20 episodes of this look at New York hospital at the start of the 20th century, told through the viewpoints of a chief surgeon and a drug addict (Clive Owen), and the assistant chief-surgeon (André Holland) who fights racism within the staff and the city. Kicked off in style, and considered to have improved in year two.
The transition of Ancient Rome from Republic to Empire, that began in 52 BC under Julius Caesar and set the stage for civil war, explored through the eyes of two soldiers whose lives intertwine with major events in history. Ran for just two seasons due to costs.
Another anthology series from Ryan Murphy, this one in the horror genre, with nine seasons to show for it already. The best years are season two “Asylum” set at a mental institution in 1964 and season three “Coven” following a group of witches fighting for their survival.
Based on Robert Kirkman's popular comic series, a horror drama set in a post-apocalyptic future where the survivors — stars Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, and Danai Gurira have all spent seven years or more — search for a safe haven in a world overrun by zombies. Hit its peak in the fifth season, and never recovered.
Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn brings another one of her complex female protagonists to screen in this miniseries, with Amy Adamsplaying a journalist who returns to her small hometown to report on the murders of two preteen girls and finds herself involved a little too closely owing to her dark past.
Through the point-of-view of an idiosyncratic FBI agent investigating a young woman's murder in the peculiar title town, David Lynch explored the dark side of human nature with his traditional use of surrealism, mysticism, dream sequences, and a circus of oddball characters. Suffered immensely after network pressure led to murder storyline being resolved in season 2 and was cancelled. Revived 25 years later in Twin Peaks: The Return — not on streaming — garnering much acclaim.
This heartstrings-tugging family drama jumps through time to depict the lives of three siblings (Sterling K. Brown among them) and their parents, who seem to be mysteriously linked to each other in ways beyond their shared birthday.
Ex Machina writer-director Alex Garland continues his fascination for tech thrillers with this miniseries about a software engineer who investigates the secretive development division of a quantum computing company she works at, believing it's behind her boyfriend's disappearance. Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) stars as the head of the quantum firm.
David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, and — the first-ever woman Doctor — Jodie Whittaker offer their take on the time-travelling, galaxy-hopping alien in the modern-day revival of the iconic British sci-fi show. Seasons 1–11 are available. Seasons two, three, four, and five are generally considered the best of the lot, with the last of them usually highlighted.
Set in a futuristic theme park, this mind-bending sci-fi series is about the dawn of consciousness in androids, who have been used by their human makers without any fear of retaliation. Based on Michael Crichton's 1973 film, on which it then expands. Its penchant for inscrutability and style over substance can get in its way, but it's never without thrills.
The first two years of this eight-season spy thriller, about a CIA officer (Claire Danes) with bipolar disorder who suspects a returning US Marine Corps vet (Damian Lewis) has been turned by al-Qaeda, were the best years, before embarking on a steady descent into mediocrity. Recovered for the eighth and final season, but that's too much commitment.
A 10-part miniseries based on Stephen Ambrose's 1992 book about a World War II unit called Easy Company — offering an intense look at the horrors of war through dramatisation, interviews and archive footage — which begins with their training in 1942 and ends with Allied victory in Europe in 1945.
The Wire creator David Simon collaborated with writer Evan Wright to adapt the latter's eponymous non-fiction book about being embedded as a journalist with the troops that participated in the first wave of the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Praised for its storytelling and attention to detail.
A companion piece to the aforementioned Band of Brothers, this 10-part miniseries heads to the Pacific Ocean-front of World War II, focusing on the real-life experiences of three US Marines in three different regiments, drawing off four separate memoirs. Executive produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, it was praised for its visuals and being unflinching.
Profanity and violence are omnipresent in this 19th-century Western tale of a lawless South Dakota settlement, which incorporated historical characters (Ian McShane playing one) as it presented a richly-textured portrait that stands as one of the best in its genre, with its only fault — a lack of closure — erased 12 years later in Deadwood: The Movie, also on Disney+ Hotstar.