Ralph Macchio, Tanner Buchanan, and Mary Mouser stand together at night in Cobra Kai - best youtube originals

YouTube Premium is a pretty massive service, bundling video and music streaming, ad-free. It can be hard to keep track of everything included in your subscription though, like the slew of original shows and movies produced by the Google-own platform. That’s why we’re here to offer you a list of the best YouTube originals that you can watch, entirely free to subscribers.

See also: The best original streaming shows on every major platform

It can be hard to make sense of YouTube’s branding, as some of these shows and movies were launched as part of YouTube Red, a premium service that was replaced by YouTube Premium. Since that shift, YouTube has been moving away from its scripted slate, so some titles on this list have moved to other platforms in their later seasons. Cobra Kai, for example, is now a Netflix original series, but you can still watch the first two seasons on YouTube.

Nevertheless, every title on this list is available to stream on YouTube with a YouTube Premium account, even if that only includes a season or two, in some cases. So, dive in! And if you don’t have a YouTube Premium account, sign up by clicking the link below.


BTS: Burn the Stage

Members of BTS at a press junket in BTS: Burn the Stage - best youtube originals
  • Original release: 2018
  • Episode runtime: 25 minutes
  • Genre: Music docuseries
  • Director/Creator: Park Jun-soo

Follow the world-famous South Korean boy band BTS (the Bangtan Boys) on their 300-day, sold-out 2017 “The Wings” world tour. This documentary miniseries follows the band backstage, offering a behind-the-scenes look at their relationships and the inner workings of a supergroup alongside killer footage of their live shows.


Retro Tech

Marques Brownlee holds an old Walkman in Retro Tech
  • Original release: 2019-2021
  • Episode runtime: 25 minutes
  • Genre: Tech docuseries
  • Director/Creator: Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee

Produced by Vox Media Studios and starring MKBHD, Retro Tech follows the popular vlogger as he unearths technologies from the past, starting with the original 1989 Game Boy. MKBHD (or Marques Brownlee) is joined by celebrity guests like Bill Nye and Elon Musk to discuss the social impacts of these technologies and how they inform the tools we use today.


Sideswiped

Women talk at a bar in Sideswiped - best youtube originals
  • Original release: 2018
  • Episode runtime: 25 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Director/Creator: Carly Craig, Daniel Reisinger
  • Main cast: Carly Craig, Rosanna Arquette, Chelsea Frei

A woman tired of being alone on her 35th birthday vows to date every single man she matches with on Tinder — all 252 of them. She’s joined by her restless married sister and their newly single mom who support the experiment and all the absurdity that comes out of it in this clever comedy, one of the best YouTube originals to check out.

Basketball players walk down a hallway in Best Shot - best youtube originals
  • Original release: 2018
  • Episode runtime: 25-50 minutes
  • Genre: Sports docuseries
  • Director/Creator: Michael John Warren

This inspiring miniseries, from executive producer LeBron James, follows Newark Central High School’s basketball team as they are mentored by ESPN analyst and former NBA star Jay Williams. It tracks the inner-city students through the highs and lows of their budding basketball careers.

A man wears a helmet full of electrodes and sensors in Mind Field
  • Original release: 2017 – 2019
  • Episode runtime: 25 minutes
  • Genre: Science docuseries
  • Director/Creator: Michael Stevens

Popular YouTube Michael Stevens takes viewers along on his investigations into consciousness and the human mind. Stevens and his guests participate in on-camera experiments to illustrate what makes us tick, such as when the host spent three days in isolation in the first episode, exploring the effects of sensory deprivation first-hand.


Cobra Kai

William Zabka trains a pupil in Cobra Kai - best youtube originals
  • Original release: 2018 – 2019 (picked up by Netflix starting in 2021)
  • Episode runtime: 27 minutes
  • Genre: Martial arts comedy/drama
  • Director/Creator: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
  • Main cast: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser

A sequel to the original Karate Kid films, Cobra Kai checks in on Johnny 34 years later as he reopens the Cobra Kai karate dojo and rekindles his rivalry with Daniel. Cobra Kai was cancelled at YouTube after its second season before moving to Netflix, but you can still watch the first two seasons there. It’s one of the best YouTube originals, and one of the most popular too.

Dylan O'Brien wears a sci-fi piece of headgear in Weird City - best youtube originals
  • Original release: 2019
  • Episode runtime: 28 minutes
  • Genre: Science-fiction, anthology
  • Director/Creator: Charlie Sanders, Jordan Peele
  • Main cast: Dylan O’Brien, LeVar Burton, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Mark Hamill, Laverne Cox

The Maze Runner and Teen Wolf star Dylan O’Brien stars in the first episode of this anthology series co-created by Get Out director Jordan Peele. Episodes follow inhabitants of the financially segregated Weird City in the near future, with major stars appearing in each new entry. 


Rhett & Link’s Buddy System

Rhett Links Buddy System
  • Original release: 2016 – 2017
  • Episode runtime: 23 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Director/Creator: Rhett McLaughlin, Link Neal
  • Main cast: Rhett McLaughlin, Link Neal, Page Kennedy, Leslie Bibb

Comedy duo Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal created and star in this comedy series about two friends trying to regain control of their morning show channel from a mysterious infomercial star using it to hawk bizarre products after stealing access from one of their phones.


Impulse

A teen walks through a high school in Impulse - best youtube originals
  • Original release: 2018 – 2019
  • Episode runtime: 47 minutes
  • Genre: Science-fiction, drama
  • Director/Creator: Jeffrey Lieber
  • Main cast: Maddie Hasson, Craig Arnold, Missi Pyle, Enuka Okuma

Impulse is a loose sequel to the 2008 film Jumper, based on the book by Steven Gould. It follows a 16-year-old girl who discovers she has the ability to teleport, without controlling her end-destination. The power first manifests as a trauma response when a classmate assaults her, and she has to learn how to use her newfound ability.


Step Up: High Water

Ne-Yo and Naya Rivera in Step Up: High Water - best youtube originals
  • Original release: 2018 – 2019 (picked up by Starz in 2020)
  • Episode runtime: 52 minutes
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director/Creator: Holly Sorensen
  • Main cast: Lauryn McClain, Petrice Jones, Marcus Mitchell, Naya Rivera, Ne-Yo

High Water is one of the most competitive performing arts schools in Atlanta. Step Up: High Water follows the students and faculty as they work towards their dance dreams. Featuring the late Naya Rivera in one of her last roles, along with other great performances, Step Up: High Water is among the best YouTube originals.


Top Management

Top Management
  • Original release: 2018
  • Episode runtime: 30 minutes
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director/Creator: Yoon Sung-ho
  • Main cast: Seo Eun-soo, Ahn Hyo-seop, Cha Eun-woo

This South Korean drama, based on the novel by Jang Woo-san, follows Eun-sung, a former teen idol who can see the future, as she becomes the manager of the aspiring boy idol group S.O.U.L.


The Age Of A.I.

Robert Downey Jr. in The Age Of A.I.
  • Original release: 2019
  • Episode runtime: 30-45 minutes
  • Genre: Docuseries

Iron-Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., hosts and narrates this eight-part docuseries that explores the different uses of artificial intelligence, including health, robotics, space travel, food, disaster prevention, and more.


Sherwood

Updated Robin Hood in Sherwood
  • Original release: 2019
  • Episode runtime: 22 minutes
  • Genre: Science fiction, animation
  • Director/Creator: Diana Manson, Megan Laughton
  • Main cast: Anya Chalotra, Tyler Posey, Aneurin Barnard, Jamie Chung, Joseph Fiennes

The year is 2270. Environmental collapse has decimated Earth, and humanity is fractured between haves and have-nots. 14-year-old hacker Robin Loxley and her friends take on the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham in an unrecognizable Britain. This animated series, inspired by the legend of Robin Hood, is one of the best YouTube originals to check out with your subscription.


IDOLiSH7: Vibrato

Two anime characters in IDOLiSH7 Vibrato
  • Original release: 2018 – 2019
  • Episode runtime: 13 minutes
  • Genre: Anime
  • Creator: Ayumi Sekine, Makoto Bessho

A spinoff of the IDOLiSH7 series, IDOLiSH7: Vibrato follows the characters of the massive franchise, members of the eponymous pop idol group and their manager, Tsumugi Takanashi, as well as their rival group Trigger.


Noted: Alicia Keys the Untold Stories

Alicia Keys waves from a piano in Noted: Alicia Keys the Untold Stories
  • Original release: 2021
  • Episode runtime: 18 minutes
  • Genre: Music documentary
  • Director/Creator: TT The Artist

This four-episode docuseries takes viewers behind the music to explore the life and career of Alicia Keys, through live performances, behind-the-scenes footage, and intimate conversations. The series also previews the songs “Skydive,” “Is It Insane,” “Best of Me,” and “Lala” from her eighth studio album, 2021’s Keys.


Youth and Consequences

Anna Akana in Youth and Consequences
  • Original release: 2018
  • Episode runtime: 30 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy, drama
  • Director/Creator: Jason Ubaldi
  • Main cast: Anna Akana, Sean Grandillo, Katie Sarife, Sophie Reynolds

Popular YouTuber Anna Akana stars as Farrah Cutney, queen bee at Central Rochester High. Farrah is struggling to maintain her status as A-list trendsetter amid rising competition from her peers.


Wayne

Mark McKenna in Wayne
  • Original release: 2019
  • Episode runtime: 35 minutes
  • Genre: Crime comedy
  • Director/Creator: Shawn Simmons
  • Main cast: Mark McKenna, Ciara Bravo, Joshua J. Williams

Follow a host of colorful characters in this crime comedy about a teen who teams up with his crush to get back the 1979 Pontiac Trans Am that was stolen from his father before he died.


Dallas & Robo

Animated characters of Dallas Robo
  • Original release: 2018
  • Episode runtime: 22 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy, animated
  • Director/Creator: Mike Roberts
  • Main cast: John Cena, Kat Dennings, Stephen Root, Tim Blake Nelson, Milana Vayntrub, Dana Snyder

YouTube’s adult animation series is one of the service’s best originals. Featuring the voices of Kat Dennings and John Cena as the titular interplanetary big-riggers Dallas and Robo, the series follows sassy space-trucker Dallas and “warrior-poet” robot Robo as they fight their way through rival truckers, cannibal bikers, and plenty more in this outrageous series.


Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television

Ryan Hansen and Wood Harris at a crime scene in Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television
  • Original release: 2017 – 2019
  • Episode runtime: 25 minutes
  • Genre: Action comedy
  • Director/Creator: Rawson Marshall Thurber
  • Main cast: Ryan Hansen, Samira Wiley, Noelle E. Parker, Jon Cryer, Wood Harris

Veronica Mars and Party Down actor Ryan Hansen stars as a fictional version of himself in this police-procedural action comedy. An LAPD task force enlists actors to use their skills to solve real crimes. Check out this clever show, one of the best YouTube originals.


Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil

Demi Lovato Dancing with the Devil - best youtube originals
  • Original release: 2021
  • Episode runtime: 22 minutes
  • Genre: Music documentary
  • Director/Creator: Michael D. Ratner

This documentary miniseries is a companion piece to musician Demi Lovato’s seventh studio album Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over. It chronicles Lovato’s personal and professional struggles, including a highly publicized 2018 overdose. An intimate glimpse into the popstar’s life and career, Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil is easily one of the best YouTube originals.


Liza on Demand

Liza on Demand - best youtube originals
  • Original release: 2018 – 2021
  • Episode runtime: 23 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Director/Creator: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont, Liza Koshy
  • Main cast: Liza Koshy, Kimiko Glenn, Travis Coles

YouTube celeb Liza Koshy stars in this YouTube original in which she’s a “tasker,” completing odd jobs via an app in her ongoing quest to achieve elite status among her peers.


Champaign ILL

Champaign ILL
  • Original release: 2018
  • Episode runtime: 27 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Director/Creator: Jordan Cahan, David Caspe, Daniel Libman, Matthew Libman
  • Main cast: Adam Pally, Sam Richardson

When a famous rapper suddenly dies, his crew finds itself at a crossroads. Who are Ronnie and Alf without their famous friend Lou? Now on their own, without star access, they have to figure out their lives. A hilariously dark premise, executed perfectly by some outstanding performers, Champaign ILL is a top YouTube original choice.


Could You Survive the Movies?

Jake Roper in a Back to the Future costume in Could You Survive the Movies?
  • Original release: 2018 – the present
  • Episode runtime: 15 minutes
  • Genre: Unscripted, entertainment
  • Director/Creator: Jake Roper

Join Jake Roper as he conducts experiments to illustrate the science behind some of Hollywood’s most beloved films, like Back to the Future, Die Hard, Alien, and Mad Max.


Origin

Natalia Tena as Lana Pierce in a spaceship in Origin - best YouTube originals
  • Original release: 2019
  • Episode runtime: 47 minutes
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Director/Creator: Mika Watkins
  • Main cast: Natalia Tena, Tom Felton, Sen Mitsuji, Nora Arnezeder

A group of people travel together to a far-away planet aboard a spaceship. They all have different reasons for leaving their lives on Earth and must learn to work and live together. But one of the passengers may not be who they claim to be.


Those are our picks of the best YouTube originals. Check them out with a YouTube Premium account now and let us know which ones are your favorites.



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