What Does Limited Series Mean on Netflix And What’s Different About Them?

what does limited series mean on netflix

Netflix has began indicating whether a new programme is a ‘limited series’ or not, although the term’s precise meaning is still unclear.

What is a “limited series” on Netflix? On the world’s largest TV and movie streaming service, certain shows are labelled as “limited series,” and we need to know what this term implies.

Whether you are a fan of The Queen’s Gambit or Jonah Hill and Emma Stone’s Maniac, you are familiar with the term “limited series.”

what does limited series mean on netflix

A limited-run series (or simply limited series) is a television programme having a finite number of episodes and an end date. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, for instance, defines a limited series as “a programme consisting of at least two episodes with a total running time of at least 150 programme minutes that tells a complete, non-recurring story and does not have a continuing storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons.” In Latin America, limited-run series are represented by telenovelas, and in the United Kingdom, by serials.

In the United States, the smallest types of limited-run series consist of two or three parts and are typically referred to as “made-for-television films” or miniseries. Typically, longer formats include reality television and scripted dramas.

In actuality, the word indicates that the series’ plot is certain to conclude in the last episode.

A ‘limited series’ on Netflix is a mini-series consisting of typically four to ten episodes in which the major plot arc of the programme is concluded.

However, this does not always indicate the end of the show itself. There have been instances where the programme has continued despite a completely changed plot, with or without the original cast. Interesting huh?!\

History Behind Limited Series

In 2015, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences modified its classification standards for Emmy nominations to refer to limited-run programmes as “limited series” rather than “miniseries.” This is a return to the category’s 1974 moniker, “excellent limited series.”

It was modified to “excellent miniseries” in 1986, and “television films” was added as a category in 2011. In 2014, miniseries were reintroduced, allowing for limited series like HBO’s Olive Kitteridge, History’s Texas Rising, IFC’s The Honorable Woman, and PBS’ Wolf Hall, as well as TV movies like HBO’s Bessie and National Geographic’s Killing Jesus.

what does limited series mean on netflix

How long do Netflix’s limited series last?

Limited series often consist of four to ten episodes, but there is no predetermined amount. Typically, Netflix publishes all episodes of a limited series simultaneously, although there are exceptions. For instance, the first season of Selena: The Series ended on a cliffhanger, and the second season concluded the tale.

Some limited series are intended to be binge-watched like a lengthy film, while others adhere to the style of a traditional television series with isolated episodes. Here is a list of some of the most popular limited series on Netflix:

  • Alias Grace
  • Behind Her Eyes
  • The Defenders
  • The English Game
  • Five Came Back
  • Flint Town
  • Godless
  • Hollywood
  • The I-Land
  • The Pharmacist
  • The Queen’s Gambit
  • The Stranger
  • Tiger King
  • Unbelievable
  • Unorthodox
  • What/If
  • When They See Us
  • Wild Wild Country

What Is the Difference Between a Limited Series and a TV Show?

The majority of television series cover many seasons. The Netflix original series Stranger Things, for instance, was produced with the goal of continuing for numerous seasons, although the particular narrative and production specifics for subsequent seasons were not determined until after the first season concluded.

In contrast, limited series have a predefined amount of episodes. While some shows are cancelled after a single season, limited series are not designed to continue. If Netflix markets a programme as a limited series, a second season is unlikely.

What’s the Benefit of a Limited Series?

Netflix Limited series and those from other firms are frequently more cost-effective than sustaining an ongoing programme, which might need multi-year contracts for cast members. However, they have been criticised for lacking originality.

Nevertheless, this criticism is mostly unjustified. The inventiveness of Netflix limited series such as The Queen’s Gambit with Anya Taylor Joy, The English Game (Kevin Guthrie), and Godless has garnered widespread praise.

With a limited series, there is typically no possibility of a programme deteriorating over time. With some series consisting of only six episodes, viewers need not devote a substantial amount of time to a show.

Limited series are a great method to bridge the gap between movies and full-fledged television programmes. A plot may be too lengthy to fit into a 120-160 minute film, yet not long enough for 22 episodes.

Obviously, there are also many benefits for actors who do not wish to commit to long-running series.

A short-term project that requires only one month to finish is more interesting to renowned performers who are involved in many productions.

In addition, digging into a dramatisation of a genuine tragedy such as The Central Park Five in a production such as When They See Us is extremely satisfying for everyone involved.

Big Names in Limited Series

Netflix and Amazon have been able to attract many of Hollywood’s greatest celebrities to feature in their limited series by utilising this model.

A-listers including, to mention a few, Emma Stone (Maniac), Toni Collette (Unbelievable), Jeff Daniels (Godless), and Sacha Baron Cohen (The Spy).

Content-wise, limited miniseries are frequently adapted from books, graphic novels, actual events, and webcomics.

Popular Limited Series on Netflix

Alias Grace (with Sarah Gadon and Edward Holcroft), Clickbait, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, The Spy, and the latest drama Maid starring Margaret Qualley are among the most popular Netflix limited series.

Unbelievable (created by Susannah Grant and starring Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Eric Lange) was nominated for 40 different awards and is currently considered one of Netflix’s finest original shows.

The most-watched Netflix show in the ‘limited’ category is The Queen’s Gambit (authored by Scott Frank), which presently holds the record for the most viewed limited series on Netflix, with 62 million users watching it.

Maniac, a Netflix limited series written by Michael Chabon that aired on Netflix in 2018 with ten episodes, stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. They play Annie and Owen, two strangers who take part in an odd medicinal experiment in the episode.

Even if you don’t like westerns, Godless is a fantastic miniseries. It follows the citizens of the imaginary hamlet of La Belle, who must defend themselves against a band commanded by criminal Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels).

It was critically acclaimed and even won three Primetime Emmys, starring Michelle Dockery, Jack O’Connell, Merritt Wever, and Sam Waterston.

And who can forget Unorthodox, which came out in 2020? It tells the story of a young ultra-Orthodox Jewish lady who flees her planned marriage to begin a new life in another country. It won a Primetime Emmy for its four episodes, which starred Shira Haas and Jeff Wilbusch.

In the last year, Netflix has added even more successful miniseries to its lineup. Maid explores the life of a young mother as she attempts to leave an abusive relationship and begin a new life.

Popular Limited Series on Amazon Prime

Amazon, not to be outdone by Netflix, has recently produced some outstanding limited series of its own. The miniseries Good Omens is based on Terry Pratchett’s novel of the same name.

It relates the narrative of an angel Aziraphale (played by Michael Sheen) and a demon Crowley (David Tennant) working together to prevent Armageddon, despite the fact that they both prefer Earth as it is.

Good Omens is divided into six episodes, each lasting 50 minutes. In terms of excitement, Good Omens is akin to Netflix’s short series Maniac, although it contains more slapstick comic components.

Unlike most limited series, this has been offered a second season, which will presumably have a whole new tale that takes up where the previous season left off.

There are a few programmes on Amazon Prime that will appeal to everyone’s tastes, ranging from comedy to action to serious drama with a twist. If Good Omens isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other limited series in other genres to pick from.

Limited Series Documentary

Documentaries are a sort of programme that is ideal for a limited series’ time frame. There are films on nature, history, and, of course, true crime.

When the Netflix documentary Tiger King was published in 2020, it became a worldwide hit. The seven-episode series detailed the tale of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin.

It had 34.3 million views in its first 10 days, making it one of Netflix’s most popular releases to date.

Wild Wild Country, on the other hand, was one of the most startling documentaries in this category. The Netflix Original premiered in 2018 and created quite a stir.

It tells the story of Osho, a controversial guru who established what he thought was a utopian community deep in Oregon. However, when the fight with the villagers erupted, it became a national scandal.

You have to see it to believe it, with phone tapping, attempted murder, and devotion all part of the wild country!

Truth is frequently stranger than fiction, and this bizarre narrative is interspersed with archive video and interviews with residents of the village.

Some of the finest miniseries, like Wild Wild Country, are typically Netflix documentaries. The stories are highly researched, disturbing, and designed for viewers who want to know what occurred in some of the most high-profile instances and incidents.

Limited Series Reviews

We offer hundreds of reviews spanning a wide range of popular limited series from Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and AppleTV +.

We break down each series based on how much we like it, our views on what they did well and wrong, and why we think it’s worth watching.

We also invite you to post your own review score and comments, since we understand that not everyone enjoys the same shows that we do.

Do Limited Series Have More Than One Season?

Because the goal of a limited series is to resolve a tale over 6 – 8 episodes. A limited series with more than one season is unusual.

There have, however, been exceptions to this norm. For example, when fresh information about the case surfaced, the documentary series Making A Murderer required a second season.

The Alienist was so popular that, despite only having one season planned, they made a second with a whole different narrative.

The path to a second or perhaps more seasons for dramas and other genres of programming is more tough. In many situations, no more source material is available to build them.

For example, The Queens Gambit, a Netflix Limited Series, is based on a single novel, but it hasn’t stopped other series, such as Game of Thrones, from extending past the point when the books closed.

In principle, nothing prevents any of the streaming sites from producing more seasons of a limited series – it’s just not that frequent.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the Netflix limited series The Spy end?

A month before a complete series, limited series, or movie is removed from Netflix, a “Last day to watch on Netflix” statement appears. After hitting Play, visit the title’s page and search for this notice in the details section or at the top of the screen. To view this notice when viewing Netflix in a web browser, click over the show and select More details.

What is an HBO limited series?

A limited series on HBO is a programme with a predetermined number of episodes and a beginning and end date. Although you cannot search specifically for limited series, you may browse all HBO Max original programmes via the Max Originals hub within the HBO Max app. On the HBO website, you can also browse a list of HBO Original Series.

This blog is a huge admirer of limited series, and we’d like to offer one that you might like watching. So we’ve listed a couple of our faves below.

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