Best Prison TV Shows

by Sam Rickerd | created - 20 Oct 2013 | updated - 12 Feb 2017 | Public
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1. Oz (1997–2003)

TV-MA | 55 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A series chronicling the daily activities of an unusual prison facility and its criminal inhabitants.

Stars: Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters

Votes: 77,454

The first hour-long drama produced by HBO, "Oz" remains one of the network's most acclaimed shows to this day.

2. Prison Break (2005–2017)

TV-14 | 44 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Due to a political conspiracy, an innocent man is sent to death row and his only hope is his brother, who makes it his mission to deliberately get himself sent to the same prison in order to break the both of them out, from the inside.

Stars: Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Amaury Nolasco, Robert Knepper

Votes: 410,416

Addicting drama "Prison Break" captivated American audiences for four seasons, from 2005 to 2009. The series centers on structural engineer and newly imprisoned Michael Scofield, who has concocted an elaborate scheme to free both himself and his wrongly-accused brother from the maximum-security Fox River State Penitentiary. For its inaugural season, the series garnered a Golden Globe nomination for Best Drama Series.

3. Orange Is the New Black (2013– )

TV-MA | 59 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Convicted of a decade old crime of transporting drug money to an ex-girlfriend, normally law abiding Piper Chapman is sentenced to a year and a half behind bars to face the reality of how life changing prison can really be.

Stars: Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning, Emma Myles

Votes: 237,690

"Orange Is the New Black" represents another hit for Netflix's original programming, boasting a colorful cast of characters incarcerated at a fictional Litchfield, New York women's prison. As of now, the series has been renewed for a second season, set to be released in 2014.

4. Prisoner (1979–1986)

50 min | Crime, Drama

The lives of women behind bars in a female prison.

Stars: Elspeth Ballantyne, Betty Bobbitt, Sheila Florance, Maggie Kirkpatrick

Votes: 1,447

Australian soap opera "Prisoner" - known in the US and UK as "Prisoner: Cell Block H" - explores the inner workings of the fictional Wentworth Detention Centre women's prison. Running from 1979 to 1986, the series in total aired 692 episodes.

5. Wentworth (2013– )

TV-MA | 45 min | Crime, Drama

Bea Smith is locked up while awaiting trial for the attempted murder of her husband and must learn how life works in prison.

Stars: Kate Atkinson, Celia Ireland, Robbie Magasiva, Katrina Milosevic

Votes: 12,547

6. Bad Girls (1999–2006)

90 min | Crime, Drama

British hard-hitting drama about the staff and inmates of a women's prison.

Stars: Kika Mirylees, Victoria Alcock, Helen Fraser, Jack Ellis

Votes: 1,648

From 1999 to 2006, women's prison drama "Bad Girls" was a critical and commercial success in the UK, balancing controversial themes with an equal dose of comical storylines. Since as early as 2002, the show has been rumored as being adapted for American television, with networks such as HBO, FX, and NBC showing interest throughout the years.

7. Porridge (1973–1977)

TV-14 | 45 min | Comedy, Crime

The prison life of Fletcher, a criminal serving a five-year sentence, as he strives to bide his time, keep his record clean, and refuses to be ground down by the prison system.

Stars: Ronnie Barker, Brian Wilde, Fulton Mackay, Richard Beckinsale

Votes: 4,369

British sitcom "Porridge", running from 1974 to 1977 for three series, became immensely popular among Britain's prison inmates and later spawned a feature film. The show derives its name from the British slang term "doing porridge", meaning serving a prison sentence, as porridge was once the traditional breakfast in UK prisons.

8. Buried (2003– )

60 min | Drama

Tough drama about life and death in a British prison.

Stars: Lennie James, Stephen Walters, Connor McIntyre, Jane Hazlegrove

Votes: 122

Critically praised yet short-lived, British drama "Buried" - about a man serving a lengthy prison sentence in order to protect a member of his family from a violent criminal - was awarded the BAFTA award for Best Drama Series in 2004 for its first and only series.

9. Unité 9 (2012– )

Drama

Follows a French Canadian woman going to jail for 7 years for pushing her father down the stairs. As the story unfolds we get to see how this all came about and the reasons behind it. The ... See full summary »

Stars: Guylaine Tremblay, Céline Bonnier, Ève Landry, François Papineau

Votes: 472

10. Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001 Video)

TV-Y | 76 min | Animation, Family, Musical

Barbie shows that if you are kind, clever and brave, anything is possible in this tale of Clara and her amazing Nutcracker, who set off on an adventure to find the Sugarplum Princess.

Director: Owen Hurley | Stars: Kelly Sheridan, Kirby Morrow, Tim Curry, Peter Kelamis

Votes: 3,937



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