Best German TV Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime (2020)

Watching popular German TV shows online is an excellent way to gain cultural fluency while honing vocabulary and listening skills. Luckily for language learners, Netflix and Amazon Prime are quickly adding German TV series to their streaming lineups.

If you are an advanced learner, try using German subtitles if available as studies show it enhances language learning.

Here are some of the best German shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime in the US as of June 7, 2020. If you’re not in the US, click the title to check if the show is available in your country. If it’s not available, it’ll display an error or redirect to Netflix’s homepage.

Netflix originals will stick around, but watch the rest while you can, because content disappears as licensing agreements expire.

Also, don’t miss my list of top German movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Best German TV Shows on Netflix

Note: Be sure to select German audio, as Netflix defaults to the dubbed English version.

1. Dark

DARK Trailer (2017) Netflix

For a show that has nothing to do with the Cold War or Nazis, try Dark, Netflix’s first German-language production. The supernatural thriller has become one of Netflix’s most successful non-English shows ever.

This bingeable series opens in a German small town with a child’s disappearance, sending four families on a frantic hunt for answers. Follow them down the rabbit hole to unearth a mind-bending mystery that turns time on its head.

2. How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)

How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) | Trailer | Netflix

This German teen comedy follows nerdy Moritz, who launches an online drug business with his best friend. He soon becomes one of Europe’s biggest dealers.

The series is largely based on a true story that took place in Leipzig in 2015.

3. Babylon Berlin

Babylon Berlin - German series Netflix

Tap the photo to watch the trailer on Netflix

Gripping noir thriller set in 1920s Berlin with superb acting and lavish sets.

A cop suffering from PTSD and a typist aspiring to become a police inspector uncover a dangerous web of intrigue when they investigate an underground porn ring. Read more about Babylon Berlin.

4. Parfum (Perfume)

Perfume | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Patrick Süskind’s best-selling novel Das Parfum about smell, passion, and serial killing gets a contemporary spin.

In boarding school, a group of six friends bond over their intense passion for scent. When one is brutally murdered years later, disturbing secrets about the group are revealed when the police investigates each as a suspect.

5. Charité

Charité - German series on Netflix

Tap the photo to watch the trailer on Netflix

This six-part miniseries was a massive hit in Germany. At Berlin’s Charité hospital in 1888, young nurse Ida finds romance, a path to her dream job in medicine, and an inside look into the cures for tuberculosis and diphtheria.

The English subtitles are poorly translated, so try to watch with German ones instead.

6. Charité at War

CHARITÉ - STAFFEL 2 | TRAILER (Serie in Das Erste, 2019) // UFA FICTION

Note: No English subtitles available for official trailer. Click here to watch English-subtitled trailer on Netflix.

Sequel to Charité (above) with an all-new cast but the same creators. In 1943, the Berlin hospital staff struggle against the effects of World War II and the Nazi regime, including eugenic medical practices.

7. Dogs of Berlin

DOGS OF BERLIN Official Teaser Trailer (HD) German Netflix Series

The murder of a famous Turkish-German soccer player leads two cops into a battle with Berlin’s underworld as tensions mount throughout the city.

8. Altes Geld (Old Money)

Altes Geld - trailer

This dark Austrian comedy revolves around the dysfunctional family of a wealthy Viennese patriarch as they compete to find him a new liver at all costs.

Backstabbing, blackmail, and revenge abound in this satirical soap described by its creator as “Dallas for psychos.”

9. Wer kann, der kann! (Nailed It! Germany)

Tap the photo to watch the trailer on Netflix

German spin-off of Netflix’s hilarious pastry disaster show.

Savor the lighthearted Schadenfreude of witnessing untalented home chefs compete for cash with their epic baking fails. Lots of Umgangssprache (slang).

10. Wir sind die Welle (We Are the Wave)

We Are The Wave | Official Trailer | Netflix

Slick German coming-of-age drama loosely based on the 1981 American YA novel The Wave.

A mysterious new classmate recruits a group of bullied teens in a rebellion against a rising tide of nationalistic fervor. However, what begins as an idealistic and playful anti-establishment revolt soon develops deadly momentum.

Wir sind die Welle was shot in several cities in North Rhine-Westphalia, including Köln (Cologne).

11. Zeit der Geheimnisse (Holiday Secrets)

Zeit der Geheimnisse | Offizieller Trailer | Netflix

No English subtitles available for YouTube trailer. Watch English-subtitled trailer on Netflix.

Short three-part German miniseries about family secrets. A Christmas reunion becomes a gateway to the past in this saga of three generations of women that explores the complexities of one family’s history.

The story is purportedly set in Germany’s gorgeous North Sea coast, but the series was actually filmed in Denmark and Budapest.

12. Skylines

Skylines | Official Trailer | Netflix

In this gritty crime drama set in Frankfurt, a hip-hop producer is hurled into the violent world of organized crime when his record label becomes the center of a deadly drug business.

Best German TV Shows on Amazon Prime

I hope you love my German TV show recommendations! Just so you know, I may get a small fee from purchases made using the Amazon links in this section at no extra cost to you.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, try these German television series available to stream for free in the US. Not a member yet? Click here to start your free 30-day trial.

1. Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (Generation War)

Generation War Official Trailer 1 (2013) - War Drama HD

This excellent World War II miniseries follows the different paths of five young German friends through Nazi Germany and the war. They are Wehrmacht soldiers on the Eastern Front, a war nurse, an aspiring singer, and a Jewish tailor.

2. You Are Wanted

YOU ARE WANTED Season 1 TRAILER (2017) Amazon Series

Amazon’s first original German series follows Lukas, a young hotel manager who finds himself a victim of a hacking attack. His online information is altered to implicate him as the mastermind of a cyber-attack on Berlin resulting in a city-wide blackout.

Suspected as a terrorist, Lukas scrambles to find out why he’s been targeted, as even his family and friends begin to doubt his innocence.

3. Beat

BEAT - Official Trailer | Prime Video

This Prime Original tells the story of Robert Schlag, called Beat, a Berlin club promoter addicted to Berlin’s nightlife, including drugs and sex with men and women. Beat works for Berlin’s most famous techno club, owned by his best friend.

Given Beat’s connections, the European Security Intelligence (ESI) recruits him to investigate the clubs. Emilia, an ESI agent, partners with Beat on his dangerous journey through organ trafficking and arms trades against the backdrop of Berlin’s party scene.

4. 4 Blocks

Note: No English subtitles available for trailer. One scene NSFW.

Gritty, addictive gangster drama about a Lebanese mafia family in Berlin. Toni Hamady wants to leave organized crime behind and lead a quiet life with his wife and daughter.

But when a police raid with devastating consequences derails his plans, Toni has to assume the leadership of his clan once more. Will he be able to escape the downward spiral of the drug trade?

5. Hotel Sacher

ORF2 - Trailer "Das Sacher" [720p nativ]

Very witty trailer, unfortunately with no English subtitles available

A soapy but well-made two-part period drama about the iconic Hotel Sacher in Vienna, beginning with the takeover by Anna Sacher after the death of her husband.

6. Inside Borussia Dortmund

Inside Borussia Dortmund - Official Trailer | Prime Video

This four-part docuseries goes behind-the-scenes with Borussia Dortmund, one of the Bundesliga’s biggest clubs.

Football fans can relive the thrilling 2018/19 season from the team’s point of view. Discover their training facilities, experience the locker room drama first-hand, and become acquainted with the players’ personal lives.

7. Frauen, die Geschichte machten (Women Who Made History)

Frauen, die Geschichte machten [Women who made History] | Trailer with English subtitles

Inspiring ZDF documentary series chronicling iconic women of history.

From legendary rulers like Catherine the Great, Queen Elizabeth, and Cleopatra, to brave rebels like Joan of Arc and Sophie Scholl, this high-quality production provides an intimate look at these larger-than-life women.

For similar series available for free with English subtitles, check out YouTube channel German Period Drama.

8. Türkisch für Anfänger (Turkish for Beginners)

TRAILER Türkisch für Anfänger

No English subtitles available for trailer

Note: Available free on Amazon with an MHz Choice channel trial.

This hit German comedy has been broadcast in more than 70 countries. When a single mom and her kids move in with a Turkish widower and his two teenage children in Berlin, culture clashes ensue.

The show’s creator, Bora Dağtekin, grew up with a Turkish father and German mother, so the story is based on personal experience. Other episodes also feature guest writers of Turkish descent.

9. Deutschland 83

DEUTSCHLAND 83 Season 1 TRAILER (2015) New Series

Note: Available free on Amazon with a Sundance Now channel trial.

This gripping German-American spy thriller set in 1983 features a fun retro soundtrack. Martin Rauch, born and raised in East Germany, is sent to West Germany as a reluctant undercover spy.

Season 2, titled Deutschland 86, is also available on Amazon.

Also available on Hulu.

10. Hotel Adlon

Das Adlon. Eine Familiensaga - Trailer deutsch / german HD

No English subtitles available for trailer

Note: Available free on Amazon with a PBS Masterpiece channel trial.

This opulent Downton Abbey-like drama traces the history of Berlin’s most famous luxury hotel through the eyes of two families whose fates intertwine over four generations and two world wars.

11. Der Tatortreiniger (Crime Scene Cleaner)

Crime Scene Cleaner (Trailer)

Note: Available free on Amazon with an MHz Choice channel trial.

In this immensely popular dark German comedy, Bjarne Madel stars as Schotty, a man whose work begins where others pass in horror. He’s a contract cleaner, sent to sanitize crime scenes after the police have finished their investigations.

Also available for free with German subtitles in the ARD Mediathek.

12. Tatort: Cologne

Tatort: Cologne (Trailer)

Note: Available free on Amazon with an MHz Choice channel trial.

This cult crime show stars smooth-talking Max Ballauf and his robust, level-headed partner Freddy Schenk, Cologne’s best homicide detectives. The two are among the most popular investigators in the almost 50-year history of Germany’s iconic Tatort franchise.

Fun locations in Köln (Cologne) like the Wurstbraterei, a currywurst sausage stand made famous by the series.

Tatort is also available for free with German subtitles in the ARD Mediathek.

13. Bukow & König

Bukow & König (Trailer)

Note: Available free on Amazon with an MHz Choice channel trial.

This crime drama consists of selected episodes featuring detective team Bukow and König from the long-running German crime franchise Polizeiruf 110. This show was originally created in East Germany in 1971 as a counterpart to the West German Tatort. That’s why, at the beginning of Bukow & König episodes, you see the Polizeiruf 110 logo.

They’re Frick and Frack, opposites united by the job of investigating crimes in the port city of Rostock, Germany. She’s cerebral and analytical; he’s emotional and reactive. Together, they’re the detective duo Bukow and König, a great crime-fighting team — when they’re not fighting each other.

Polizeiruf 110 is also available for free with German subtitles in the ARD Mediathek.

14. Tannbach (Line of Separation)

Tannbach - Line Of Separation - Meilleur Programme Long de Fiction

Note: Available free on Amazon with a PBS Masterpiece channel trial.

This gripping historical drama is set after the fall of the Third Reich in the fictional village of Tannbach located on the border of Bavaria and Thuringia. Tannbach is cruelly divided in two by the Iron Curtain, and the town’s inhabitants suffer the consequences.

The story is based

An award-winning ZDF mini-series exploring the traumatic period of German history between the end of World War II and 1952.

15. Spuren des Bösen (Anatomy of Evil)

Spuren des Bösen: Teil 1-3 - FERCH, HEINO (2013)

Note: Available free on Amazon with an MHz Choice channel trial.

Viennese police psychologist Richard Brock is a loner who blames himself for his wife’s suicide. He fights crime and his own demons in this dark mystery series set in Austria with gorgeous backdrops.

16. Wilsberg

First Look: Wilsberg (Season 1)

Note: Available free on Amazon with an MHz Choice channel trial.

Charming German detective series about a hapless antiquarian book dealer who works as a private eye on the side.

Also available for free in the ZDF Mediathek.

17. Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries

Donna Leon: The Commissario Brunetti Mysteries on DVD

Note: Available free on Amazon with an MHz Choice channel trial.

Venice’s crumbling beauty provides the backdrop for these lush versions of Donna Leon’s bestselling mystery novels.

The suave Commissario Guido Brunetti confronts crime with canal boat rides instead of car chases in this series that provides insights into Italian and Venetian culture, such as the importance of family, relationships, and good food.

Have feedback on these German series or more Netflix or Amazon Prime suggestions? Some of my best German television show recommendations come from readers! Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Banner image from Dark © Netflix
Best German-language TV Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime

20 Comments on “Best German TV Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime (2020)”

  1. Super helpful info about using subtitles when watching foreign shows/films, etc. This is a question I always have when showing my high schoolers videos. Most of them say they don’t want subtitles. But now I know that it’s actually in their best interest to keep them on. Thanks!!! UND ich freue mich auf dich! Schon nächste Woche – unglaublich!!!

    Hey, there’s an editing feature now! 😀 Great!

    • Ha! Personally, I love watching with subtitles… like the big nerd I am, I keep a notebook close by to jot down any interesting new words! But if they really hate them, then maybe keep them off? I do believe we learn best when doing things we enjoy… Bin schon am Münchner Flughafen und freue mich sehr auf das Wiedersehen mit dir und E!

    • Right now I can’t find a release date for that show, but I monitor both Netflix and Amazon Prime for new German television shows each month, so if it gets added I’ll list it here.

  2. Amazon Prime’s shows, at least in the US, aren’t available IN German, they’re only available in English.

    • Hi Cheryl, some shows like You are Wanted, Beat, and 4 Blocks are also available dubbed in English on Prime Video, but I’ve linked to only the German-language versions in my list.

      I noticed that Amazon also mistakenly lists the Audio Language as English in the episodes of some shows like Deutschland 83 and Der Tatortreiniger, although they are in German with English subtitles.

  3. A great source for German movies and series is the ARD Mediathek. You can download the app for tablet or phone for free.
    Many of the series and movies are available outside Germany but some are not. For instance, in France, where I live, you cannot get Der Tatortreiniger on Prime but it is available for free on the ARD Mediathek. All the Tatort series too.
    Also ZDF Mediathek is similar. The second German tv channel.

    • Bobby, thanks so much for this fantastic tip. I’ve added a link for each show to the Mediathek where available. In future I’ll try to add new sections for the Mediatheken as well.

  4. Thank you very much that will help. However Netflix doesn’t provide verbatim subtitles(I don’t know if Amazon does this also). I find it difficult and annoying that subtitles are not transcribed exactly as the audio being spoken. Do you know why Netflix is doing this? Many thanks.

    • Hi Frankie, it’s certainly frustrating when they don’t match. Unfortunately, subtitles are made for viewers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing rather than us language learners.

      Netflix has stated their official policy is to include as much of the original content as possible. They only truncate the original dialogue when reading speed and synchronicity with the audio are an issue.

      So dialogue is often abridged to reduce the amount of text the viewer has to read. It’s hard to have verbatim subtitles that are actually readable because people understand speech much faster than they can read. So for example, verbs in Perfekt (e.g. hat geschrieben) are often changed to the Präteritum (e.g. schrieb) to save space. I imagine this kind of paraphrasing might happen even more frequently in German due to its long words.

  5. I always find the subtitles very helpful IF I can get them in German; subtitles translated to English are not always accurate. Back in the dark ages, the only way to do that was to get videos manufactured in Europe and play them on a PAL machine with an electrical transformer. Here in the US, it seems like the only options are English, Spanish, or French.

  6. I really enjoyed Deutschland 83 and 86, kept me wide awake the whole time. Now looking forward to Deutschland 89. Thank you for taking the time to put this list together for us : )

    • Glad you’re enjoying the list, Christine!

      Just read that there will be 8 episodes in the third and final season about the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’ll be available in 2020 on Amazon Prime Video in Germany, Austria, India, and Japan and on Sundance TV and Hulu in the US.

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