Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
YouTube has had free, ad supported movies on its service for a while now for folks who simply don’t want to pay for premium streaming services like Netflix or Disney Plus. However, recently, Google added some free YouTube TV shows to the mix as well.
While the selection of free YouTube TV shows is pretty bare-bones, there are a few gems in here that you can check out for free. You can also get rid of the ads as one of the features of YouTube Premium.
Best free YouTube TV shows
Editor’s note: We will add more free YouTube TV shows to this list as they go live on the service.
Perhaps the best of the free YouTube TV shows is this 1967 British import series. Patrick McGoohan stars as an unnamed secret agent who, in the first episode, resigns from his position for unknown reasons. He’s then kidnapped and finds himself in “the Village,” a small town that in reality is a very sophisticated prison. He’s also given the name “Number 6”. Whoever is in charge of this place wants to know why he resigned. Each episode (some of which were written and directed by McGoohan) sees Number 6 try to avoid revealing his secrets while also attempting to escape from the Village. The show deals with themes of privacy, identity, and the nature of freedom and also has some of the more surreal storylines and art designs ever made for a TV show. It’s a must-watch.
Fans of the Stargate TV show franchise should also enjoy this series. It was created and directed by many of the writers and directors of the Stargate shows, and stars Stargate SG-1’s Amanda Tapping. She plays Dr. Helen Magnus, who is devoted to protecting the world from creatures called Abnormals. She also protects these creatures as well in her “Sanctuary,” where they can live in peace away from fearful humans. This show is a nice mix of sci-fi with pulp action-adventure. For some reason, Google has separated the four seasons of this show into two parts but you can still watch all four seasons for free.
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS) Season 1 Episode: A Word a Day, February 2, 1962 Shown from left: Mary Tyler Moore (as Laura Petrie), Dick Van Dyke (as Rob Petrie), Larry Mathews (as Richard Rosebud ‘ Ritchie ‘Petrie)
The Dick Van Dyke Show quickly became one of the best sitcoms of all time when it launched in 1961. Created by comedy legend Carl Reiner, it starred Van Dyke as Rob Petrie, a writer for a variety show. The series mostly showed him at work and at home, with his wife Laura, played perfectly by Mary Tyler Moore. It’s been highly influential on so many other TV shows, including most recently WandaVision. YouTube has the first two seasons of the show, totaling 60 episodes, to stream for free right now.
The Carol Burnett Show
The 1960s and 1970s were the height of popularity for the TV variety show. An argument could be made that The Carol Burnett Show was the best of them. Burnett herself was funny and charming as the host and main performer of the show, but she wisely allowed her supporting players like Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and Tim Conway to take the comedy ball and run with it in their comedy sketches.
The Greatest American Hero
No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by ABC / Kobal / REX / Shutterstock (5871975a) Connie Selleca, William Katt, Robert Culp The Greatest American Hero – 1981-1983 ABC TV Portrait Tv Classics
In this era of tons of superheroes TV shows and movies, this early 1980s comedy still stands out as perhaps one of the best shows of this particular genre. An ordinary high school teacher is confronted by aliens one night, and given a suit that gives him all sorts of powers, in an effort to keep humanity from destroying itself. Unfortunately, he lost the instruction book that told him how to use the suit properly. With the help of his girlfriend and a very hardnosed FBI agent, he tries to learn how to use his suit and powers for good. It’s a great mix of comedy and action, and one of the best free YouTube TV shows.
In between the end of Star Trek and the beginning of Star Wars, sci-fi fans of the early and mid-1970s got two seasons of Space: 1999. The premise of the show is a bit silly. In the “future” of 1999, the Earth’s moon, with the crew of Moonbase Alpha on it, breaks away from orbit due to a nuclear explosion. Every week, the moon would encounter a new planet or new alien threat. If you put that illogical idea for a TV show aside, this is a fun romp, made all the better with some impressive spaceship models and visual effects that (mostly) still hold up today. If you are new to Space: 1999, be prepared for a big shift in the show’s second season, which made it more of a colorful action-adventure show.
Long before the current wave of true crime podcasts and TV shows, there was Unsolved Mysteries. Host Robert Stack introduced viewers to a ton of different kinds of cases and events that had yet to be solved. It’s still fun to watch, and you can definitely see the origins of the more recent true crime shows in this series.
Alan Tudyk, an actor who has had a very busy career in the last couple of decades, including recently starring in Resident Alien, used online crowdfunding to get this show produced. He also created, wrote, and directed the series, about an actor who was on a cult-favorite sci-fi show, but now is struggling to work and avoid being typecast. Look for lots of recognizable actors in this series, which is a funny satire on the job of being an actor, as well as fandom.
This three-part Syfy TV series is about a secret NASA mission in 1963, when hundreds of people set out into space on a 100-year journey to the nearest star. Most of the series takes place about 50 years later, and we see how the society on board this generational spaceship has evolved, and how class structures threaten the mission. If you find yourself thinking, “Hey, there’s no way such a space mission could have been launched in 1963,” there’s an explanation for that as well in this show that we won’t reveal here.
The Dead Zone
Stephen King’s novel about a man who discovers he has psychic powers after coming out of a coma was turned into this long-running (six seasons) series starting in 2002. Anthony Michael Hall plays Johnny Smith, who can see both the past and future of events by touching things, including people. He tries to use his abilities to solve crimes, but there’s also another running storyline. He has seen visions of the end of the world that seem to be linked to a US Congressional candidate. It’s one of the better attempts to adapt and expand on one of King’s novels.
Free YouTube TV shows – Honorable mentions
Here are a few more free YouTube TV shows that didn’t make our top 10 list that you might enjoy watching.
- Mutant X: Long before the MCU, this Marvel-produced syndicated show told the story of an all-new team of superheroes.
- Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda – Based on concepts from the late creator of Star Trek, this space-based sci-fi show is about how a galactic empire falls, and how a time-lost captain of one of the empire’s ships tries to bring it back.
- Thunderbirds: The classic Gerry Anderson puppet action series about a global rescue force is still fun for the kids.
- The Weird Al Show: Weird Al Yankovic created this Saturday Morning show filled with his funny and unique humor and music.
- The War of the Worlds: This BBC three-part mini-series is the first live-action adaptation of the HG Wells alien invasion novel that takes place in its original 19th-century England setting.
One of the free YouTube TV shows to avoid
- NightMan: Based on an obscure Malibu Comics superhero, this poorly written and produced syndicated series may actually be one of the worst TV shows of all time.