The twenty greatest limited series of the 21st century. The rules:
–No multi-season anthology series a la Fargo, Luther or American Horror Story.
–Even if they were original intended as a limited series, getting picked up for a second season invalidates the ‘limited’ moniker. (Sorry Big Little Lies, Top of the Lake and The Young Pope)
–Getting canceled after a season doesn’t turn you into a limited series. Miniseries had to be the intention from the outset. (Sorry Freaks and Geeks and Terriers)
- Band of Brothers (2001) HBO Based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s book of the same name. Produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Starring Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, Donnie Wahlberg, Scott Grimes, Peter Youngblood Hills and Shane Taylor.
- Angels in America (2003) HBO Directed by Mike Nichols and based on the play of the same name by Tony Kushner. Starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Patrick Wilson, Mary-Louise Parker, Emma Thompson, Justin Kirk, Jeffrey Wright and Ben Shenkman.
- Chernobyl (2019) HBO Created and written by Craig Mazin. Directed by Johan Renck. Starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Paul Ritter, Emily Watson, Jessie Buckley, Adam Nagaitis, Con O’Neill, Adrian Rawlins, Sam Troughton, Robert Emms, and David Dencik.
- Watchmen (2019) HBO Created by Damon Lindeloff, based on the comic by Alan Moore. Starring Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart, Andrew Howard, Jacob Ming-Trent, Tom Mison, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, Louis Gossett Jr. and Hong Chau.
- The Corner (2000) HBO Based on the book The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood by David Simon and Ed Burns. Adapted for television by David Simon and David Mills. Starring T. K. Carter, Khandi Alexander and Sean Nelson.
- Godless (2017) NETFLIX Written and directed by Scott Frank. Starring Jack O’Connell, Jeff Daniels, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Merritt Wever, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Tantoo Cardinal, Kim Coates, and Sam Waterston.
- The Pacific (2010) HBO Produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks and spearheaded by Bruce C McKenna. Starring James Badge Dalem Jon Seda, Joseph Mazzello, Ashton Holmes, William Sadler, Jon Bernthal and Rami Malek.
- Olive Kitteridge (2014) HBO Directed by Lisa Cholodenko. Screenplay by Jane Anderson, based on the novel of the same name by Elizabeth Strout. Starring Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Zoe Kazan, Rosemarie DeWitt, Martha Wainwright, John Gallagher Jr., Devin Druid, Jesse Plemons, Bill Murray and Peter Mullan.
- Show Me a Hero (2015) HBO Directed by Paul Haggis. Written by David Simon and William F Zorzi, based on the book of the same name by Lisa Belkin. Starring Oscar Isaac, Bob Balaban, Jim Belushi, Jon Bernthal, Dominique Fishback, Ilfenesh Hadera, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Catherine Keener, Terry Kinney, Alfred Molina, Natalie Paul, McKinley Belcher III, Peter Riegert, Carla Quevedo and Winona Ryder.
- Horace and Pete (2016) Webseries Written and directed by Louis C.K. Starring Louis C.K., Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Steven Wright, Kurt Metzger, Alan Alda and Jessica Lange.
- Carlos (2010) Canal+ Co-written and directed by Olivier Assayas. Starring Édgar Ramírez, Alexander Scheer, Nora von Waldstätten, Ahmad Kaabour, Christoph Bach, Susanne Wuest, Anna Thalbach and Julia Hummer.
- The Night Of (2106) HBO Created and written by Richard Price and Steven Zairian, based on the British series Criminal Justice by Peter Moffat. Starring Riz Ahmed, John Turturro, Bill Camp, Michael K. Williams, Payman Maadi, Poorna Jagannathan, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Afton Williamson, Ben Shenkman, Jeannie Berlin, Paul Sparks, Ned Eisenberg, Nabil Elouahabi, Glenne Headly and Amara Karan.
- John Adams (2008) HBO Directed by Tom Hooper. Written by Kirk Ellis, based on the book of the same name by David McCullough. Starring Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, Stephen Dillane, David Morse, Tom Wilkinson, Danny Huston, Rufus Sewell, Justin Theroux and Guy Henry.
- Sharp Objects (2018) HBO Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn. Starring Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, Eliza Scanlen, and Chris Messina.
- The Night Manager (2016) BBC/AMC Directed by Susanne Bier. Screenplay by David Farr, based on the novel of the same name by John le Carré. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, Tobias Menzies, Elizabeth Debicki, Alistair Petrie, Douglas Hodge and Antonio de la Torre.
- Mildred Pierce (2001) HBO Directed and Co-written by Todd Haynes, based on the novel of the same name by James M. Cain. Starring Kate Winslet, Guy Pearce, Evan Rachel Wood and Melissa Leo.
- Generation Kill (2008) HBO Based on the book of the same name by Evan Wright. Adapted for television by David Simon, Ed Burns and Evan Wright. Directed by Susanna White and Simon Cellan Jones. Starring Alexander Skarsgård, James Ransone, Lee Tergesen, Jon Huertas, Stark Sands and Billy Lush.
- Escape at Dannemora (2018) HBO Created by Brett Johnson and Michael Tolkin. Directed by Ben Stiller. Staring Benicio del Toro, Paul Dano, and Patricia Arquette.
- Empire Falls (2005) HBO Written by Richard Russo and based on his novel of the same name. Directed by Fred Schepisi. Starring Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Helen Hunt, Paul Newman, Robin Wright Penn, Aidan Quinn and Joanne Woodward.
- Elizabeth I (2005) Channel 4 Directed by Tom Hooper. Written by Nigel Williams. Starring Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Patrick Malahide, Toby Jones, Hugh Dancy, Barbara Flynn, Ewen Bremner and Ian McDiarmid.
Honorable Mentions: When They See Us, Unbelievable, Collateral, Fosse/Verdan, The Little Drummer Girl, Howard’s End, The Honorable Woman, Maniac, Waco, London Spy, House of Saddam, The Loudest Voice, The Pillars of the Earth, Parade’s End, Millennium, State of Play, Generation War