A drama that lasts longer than a Made-for-TV Movie
but less than a season. A Mini Series
is broadcast over several nights (usually at least three), often consecutively. Production values are frequently more lavish than for a regular series, and the cast usually includes big-name non-TV stars.
Miniseries are most commonly adaptations of large books, and as such differ from other shows in that they place a high value identifying the author, to the point that the author's name is frequently embedded in the program's title.
Although the miniseries format has produced some of the most outstanding television in history (Rich Man Poor Man
, Roots (1977)
), it has also been responsible for some of the worst TV as well (Princess Daisy
, Hollywood Wives
Parts of a miniseries are not always shown on consecutive nights. Recent Stephen King
miniseries in particular, for some reason, tend to go with a Tuesday/Thursday/Friday or Monday/Tuesday/Thursday sequence. This is usually done when the network broadcasting the miniseries has one particularly strong night (ratings-wise
) and doesn't wish to pre-empt it for the miniseries.
Note that this means different things to different people. An American network TV viewer would consider a eight-episode run to be a mini series, especially if it doesn't get a renewal, while such a run is commonly a full season
in the UK and on US pay channels (some British shows have been promoted as Mini Series when exported to the US for this reason, sometimes with consecutive episodes re-edited into double-length ones). Not to mention in Asian countries such as China and Japan, where the the concept of TV seasons is much weaker, miniseries tend to be the de facto
style of TV programming for dramas, with anything from 10 to 100 episodes per series.
- The 10th Kingdom
- 10.5: This is a Disaster Movie miniseries made for NBC. It has...problems.
- The 4400: This was a Mini Series that proved popular enough to be transformed into a traditional Dramatic Hour Long show.
- Seventy Thousand Seven Hundred Seventy Six is an Internet example, being published daily on SB Nation for 10 days in July of 2017.
- AD: The Bible Continues: A NBC followup to The History Channel's The Bible (2013).
- The Andromeda Strain: This is a Sci Fi Channel miniseries reimagining the Michael Crichton novel.
- Angels in America: This play was turned into a miniseries on HBO. Starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, and Mary-Louise Parker (among others), it went on to surpass Roots (1977) in Emmy wins.
- Anne Frank: The Whole Story
- ANZAC Girls
- Apple Tree Yard
- Arabian Nights
- The Assets
- Band of Brothers
- Battlestar Galactica (2003): This was a Mini Series that proved popular enough to be transformed into a traditional Dramatic Hour Long show.
- Beyond the Walls (2016)
- The Bletchley Circle
- The Blue Knight: One of the first miniseries (1973).
- Burning Bush
- The BBC:
- This network is fond of creating mini series of classic literature:
- Pride and Prejudice: one of their most loved is a six part mini series; yes, the one with Colin Firth.
- Emma: Their four part mini series of this film.
- The Portrait of a Lady: The 1968 6-part mini series based on the Henry James novel.
- The Bible (2013)
- Black Mirror
- Casanova (2005): This is a show by The BBC.
- The Casual Vacancy
- Childhood's End an adaption of the Arthur C. Clarke novel, Childhood's End
- Clue: This is a show by The Hub.
- Count Dracula: The BBC made this, one of the most comprehensive adaptations of the novel to exist.
- Davy Crockett: This appeared in 1955.
- The Day of the Triffids: The 2009 BBC adaptation of John Wyndham's sci-fi classic.
- Dead Set
- Desperate Romantics
- The Devil to Pay in the Backlands: This is a 1985 Brazilian miniseries based on the book of the same name.
- Dream West
- Dune: The first three books in this series were made into two miniseries. The first was plagued by a low budget; the second had a slightly higher budget and was better. Dune and Children of Dune: The 2000s' adaptations of these books.
- Flesh and Bone
- The Forsyte Saga: The format was created by this, a British series made in 1967 which pioneered the "finite series" concept and proved quite popular in the United States.
- Fresno: This is a little known Affectionate Parody of 1980s soaps.
- From the Earth to the Moon
- Generation Kill
- Guest from the Future: This is a 1984 Soviet miniseries based on Alice, Girl from the Future.
- Hitler: The Rise of Evil
- The Hobbits
- House of Frankenstein (1997)
- House of Saddam
- In the Flesh
- Inquisitio: This is an eight episode French series set in The Late Middle Ages.
- Into The West
- Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story
- The Jacksons: An American Dream
- Jale Prep
- Jesus of Nazareth
- John Adams
- The Langoliers
- Lexx: This was a Mini Series that proved popular enough to be transformed into a traditional Dramatic Hour Long show.
- Life and Fate
- Lonesome Dove and its many sequels.
- Long Live the Royals
- The Lost Room
- The Lost World
- Magical Legend of the Leprechauns
- Master of the Game and If Tomorrow Comes: Both of these are based on Sidney Sheldon novels. Many of his books became made-for-TV movies, often two-parters, but these are the only ones that warrant the miniseries name, as both are at least five hours long apiece.
- Masterpiece Theatre: Which broadcast The Forsyte Saga to an American audience, became a major venue for British-made miniseries.
- The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed
- The Men Who Built America: an 2012 series on The History Channel telling the story of the wealthy industrialists who spearheaded the industrial development of the United States during The Gilded Age.
- Merlin (1998)
- Mildred Pierce
- National Treasure
- Neon Joe Werewolf Hunter
- The Night Manager
- North and South
- North and South (Trilogy)
- O.J.: Made in America
- Olive Kitteridge
- Oliver's Travels
- Over the Garden Wall is a rare animated take on the format and its first use by Cartoon Network.
- Our Friends in the North: A 1996 British miniseries that launched the careers of Daniel Craig, Christopher Eccleston and Mark Strong.
- The Pacific
- Pennies from Heaven
- Persons Unknown
- Political Animals
- The Principal
- The Prisoner (2009): Loose remake of the Patrick McGoohan 1960s original.
- The Pillars of the Earth: This is a 2010 miniseries adapted from the novel of the same name.
- QB VII: This was broadcast in 1974.
- Reilly, Ace of Spies
- The Revolution (2006): This is a 2006 series on The History Channel going into the history of The American Revolution.
- Roots (1977): The most significant mini series (in terms of its place in both ratings and television history) was this show in 1977. Its cultural impact — mostly due to the momentum it gained though its then-daring eight-nights-in-a-row broadcast schedule — turned the Mini Series into a major event. A follow-up, Roots: The Next Generations, arrived in 1979, and 1988 brought the TV movie Roots: The Gift.
- Rose Red
- 'Salem's Lot: Stephen King's novel was adapted into two different miniseries, first in 1979 and again in 2004.
- Samurai Girl: This is based on the book series of the same name.
- Samurai Jack (2017) is officially the fifth season of Samurai Jack, but given that it came out eleven years after the series previously ended, aired on [adult swim] instead of primetime Cartoon Network, had a heavily serialized story, and was intended to definitively end the series, it fits the mini series shell pretty comfortably.
- Sanburg's Lincoln: This was the first American miniseries, broadcast in 6 parts between 1974 and 1975.
- The Scarlet Pimpernel: This is a BBC adaptation from 1999. 2 installments, 6 episodes.
- The Second Coming
- Seventeen Moments of Spring
- Sharpe: There are two additional miniseries from 2006 and 2008.
- The Singing Detective
- The Sinking of the Laconia
- The Stand
- State of Play
- Storm of the Century
- Strumpet City
- Taken (No relation to that movie...)
- The Temptations
- The Thorn Birds
- Torchwood: Children of Earth
- Torchwood: Miracle Day note
- The main difference coming from the incredibly serialized nature of Miracle Day, with one plotline running strongly throughout the entire run, as opposing to the more standalone nature of the first two seasons.
- To the Ends of the Earth: This is adapted from a trilogy by author William Golding.
- Treasure Island 2012
- Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (Our Mothers, Our Fathers)
- V (1983): Which actually consisted of two separate mini-series, with the second receiving the subtitle The Final Battle. These were followed by a standard season-based TV series.
- The Vampyr: A Soap Opera
- The Vietnam War: A documentary series about the war.
- War And Remembrance: This is a sequel to The Winds of War
- The Winds of War
- Wild Palms
- Wives and Daughters: There are two adaptations by BBC from 1971 and 1999.