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A miniseries (also frequently referred to as a limited series) is a multi-part drama that airs a pre-determined number of episodes on television. It differs from a traditional television show by the fact that it tells a self-contained story, with no intention of stretching out the concept over multiple seasons. For this reason, production values are frequently more lavish than for a regular series, and the cast usually includes big-name non-TV stars.

In the past, miniseries were often "event television" and aired on multiple nights in the same week, sometimes even on consecutive nights. Many miniseries are 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. Miniseries in this vein were often epic melodramas, and consequently the concept of a "miniseries" gained something of a stigma. By the 1990s, however, thanks to a glut of bad mini-series produced largely as a method for the networks to juice their ratings during "Sweeps" weeks, and with the networks tightening budgets and therefore decreasing the length of mini-series, they gradually fell out of favor.

In more recent times, miniseries episodes often air at the same weekly time slot or all at once on a streaming service. This, combined with television's trend toward serialization, has blurred the lines between a miniseries and a normal television show. Some television series that originated as miniseries have even got expanded into multiple seasons.

In contrast to the miniseries of the past, miniseries nowadays tend to be biographical in nature, as the multi-episode format allows for greater expansion of a subject's life story than an average two-hour biopic film will, especially if the story covers a long time period. After the revitalization of the miniseries as a respected genre in the the early-to-mid 2010s, it gained a massive boom in the late 2010s and early 2020s, restoring its popularity to levels unseen since its golden era in the 70s and 80s. However, this has received some criticism, as many miniseries are essentially Oscar Bait in a longer form and the sheer amount of them being produced and released every year has led to a massive saturation of miniseries in the current television landscape. It has also led to some shows being deceptively mislabeled as miniseries, when they are in fact Anthology Series (in order to attract bigger-name stars and trade on the popularity of the show's name, while also being able to compete in generally less competitive categories as a miniseries rather than being in drama series).

The concept of a miniseries varies outside of the United States. British series often air only short, heavily serialized seasons, so the entire run of a British show might be akin to an American miniseries and be aired on American television as such. In Asian countries, the concept of TV seasons is much weaker, and miniseries tend to be the de facto style of TV programming for dramas, with anything from 10 to 100 episodes per series.