Greatest TV Shows About Prison : Our Top 20+

There are even Greatest TV Shows About Prison. There are many reality and docuseries about prison life, but there are also great series that have compelling stories and characters. You can find many options for watching prison from the viewpoint of those serving time or hearing some frightening prison stories on the following list.

Fascinating Greatest TV Shows About Prison

21. Porridge

21. Porridge

Porridge was so well-received that it was given a special for Landmark Sitcom Season 2016. This BBC project saw the BBC commission new scripts to iconic British sitcoms from the past six decades.

The network ordered a sequel to the comedy, which was a seven-episode order due to its popularity.

Fletcher’s grandson Nigel Norman Fletcher was sentenced to a 5-year term at Wakeley Prison, Hampshire for cybercrimes.

20. Prison Playbook

20. Prison Playbook

Now we are heading to international waters with South Korean black comedy-drama Prison Playbook. This series has been called one of the best in Korean cable history.

Prison Playbook Kim Jehyuk is a star baseball player and is only days away from making his debut in major leagues.

He is sentenced to a year in prison for defending his sister against an attack that led to the victim’s death.

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The series centers on his life as an inmate and the lives of other convicts, prisoners officers and their families.

Jehyuk’s inborn clumsiness is the source of both the running gag and comic relief – which is completely opposite to his athletic skills!

19. Buried

19. Buried

Buried aired only one season with eight episodes on Channel 4, but it certainly packed a punch when you consider a serious storyline.

The series is set within the walls of HMP Mandrake Hill, northern England. It takes place primarily in the D Wing.

Lee Kingley was sentenced to 10 year imprisonment for grievous bodily injury against his sister’s Rapist. His respected sentence quickly propels him up the ranks of the inmates and puts him at the top of a money-lending and drug business.

Buried reveals more about the lives of its guards, doctors and officers than Lee’s altercations inside the prison walls.

18. Escape to Dannemora

18. Escape to Dannemora

You may be familiar with Dannemora. It is the name of New York City’s city that is referenced in the title of the show, Escape from Dannemora.

That’s because Showtime’s limited series is based upon the true-life escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility that occurred in Dannemora, California in 2015.

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The seven episodes show how Richard Matt and David Sweat, both inmates, managed to escape with Joyce Mitchell, a married prison worker, through which they were intimately involved.

This series also includes the investigation into their escape as well as the manhunt that followed.

17. Brotherhood

17. Brotherhood

Netflix adds the Brazilian crime drama Brotherhood (originally titled Imandade) to its international lineup.

The series takes place in the lively and populous city Sao Paulo in the middle of the 1990s. The main character is Cristina, a talented, dedicated, and honest lawyer.

She learned that her brother, whom she hadn’t seen for years, is in prison and the leader of a prominent criminal faction in Brazil. The “Brotherhood” is the title.

Local law enforcement has recruited her to infiltrate Brotherhood and act as an agent against her brother. However, her experience on the other side makes her question her ideas about justice.

16. The Night of

16. The Night of

HBO’s The Night Of is an eight episode miniseries that was based on the first season Criminal Justice. This British series chronicled one person’s journey through the justice system.

We meet a Pakistani-American college student, Nasir “Naz”, Khan, who was accused of murdering a woman on New York’s Upper East Side. He thought it was a normal night out.

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His lawyer fights for him while he is in custody, waiting to be arraigned at Rikers Island. But inside the prison bars, it’s another story.

Freddy, a fellow prisoner, must provide protection for Naz.

15. Orange Is the New Black

15. Orange Is the New Black

Orange is the New Black was based on Piper Kerman’s memoir about her 13-month stint in a minimum-security prison called FCI Danbury. It was highly praised during its seven-season run.

Piper Chapman is also in the series and currently serving a 15 month sentence for a 10 year old crime she committed. This has completely disrupted her law-abiding lifestyle.

The show is set in prison and revolves around her interactions, including with her fellow inmates, her ex-girlfriend, and the prison officials. This reflects the realities of women’s prison conditions.

14. Prisoner

14. Prisoner

Prisoner’s format and nature as a soap opera means that this series will keep you busy for months. It has 692 episodes.

It also won critical acclaim internationally, especially in the United States.

Prisoner was created in the fictional Wentworth Detention Center, Melbourne, Australia. It also featured occasional settings at nearby facilities and a halfwayhouse called Driscoll House where newly released prisoners could go.

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The series also featured stories from the lives of guards and prisoners both inside and outside Wentworth walls. Sometimes, the series even included their families.

13. Wentworth

13. Wentworth

The immense influence of Prisoner on pop culture was so great that, almost three decades after its last episode aired, a revival series called Wentworth was launched.

Wentworth continues to follow the lives of the women who are serving their sentences in the prison’s titular prison. It is set in contemporary Australia.

The series is centered on Bea Smith, a character who just entered Wentworth while she awaited trial for her husband’s attempted muder.

Smith must learn how to move up the prison hierarchy while she waits for her trial.

12. Bad Girls

12. Bad Girls

Bad Girls was a British series. It aimed to show a more modern, realistic version of prison life than the one shown on previous shows.

The life inside HMP Larkhall, the fictional prison, is presented in a more graphic, raw way, both in terms of content and language.

Bad Girls focuses on the relationships among female inmates and, sometimes, staff.

There are many mature topics such as bullying, gender identification, drug use, violence against women, and violence of any nature.

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11. Women in prison

11. Women in prison

Fox’s Women in Prison is another lighthearted sitcom, but it only aired for a single season.

The series is primarily set in Cell Block J at Bass Women’s Prison, Wisconsin. It focuses on the relationships between inmates, mostly four: Vicki Eve Dawn Dawn and Bonnie.

They all ended up in prison for a variety of reasons, including murder and prostitution. Vicki was also framed by her husband for shoplifting.

Women in Prison is a focus on their interactions but also discusses how they relate with other inmates, guards and the assistant warden.

10. Clink

10. Clink

Clink, a British drama set at the fictional BPS Bridewell women’s prison, is another serious genre.

It focuses mainly on the stories of four inmates: Chloe (soon-to-be mother), Joyce (maternal figure), Laura (troubled Laura) and Sherri (prison “queen”).

They each have a story to tell and they, along with other female inmates, lean on one another when they face the consequences of the actions that brought them together.

Dominique Darby is the Governor of the prison and is currently fighting her own legal battles in the justice system.

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9. Within These Walls

9. Within These Walls

Within these Walls, another British drama, is a different one. It shifts to tell the stories about the prison staff at HMP Stone Park, a fictional women’s prison.

Governor Faye Boswell is at the forefront of the movement. She aims to liberalize prisons and has only been in control for a month before the show begins and the struggles within her prison systems begin.

Within these Walls clearly describes prison life from the perspective that those who are charged with protecting it see it. This includes how they manage their inmates and their personal lives.

8. Hinter Gittern

8. Hinter Gittern

Our last show takes us to Berlin, Germany, where we visit Reutlitz, a fictional women’s prison.

Hinter Gittern- Der Frauenknast was also known as Behind Bars- The Women’s Prison. It was a soap opera format and aired just over 400 episodes.

The series, like many others, shows the inside life of the institution through the eyes of female inmates. It covers topics such as sexual relationships, drug use and conflicts with prison guards.

7. Hogan’s Heroes

7. Hogan's Heroes

Hogan’s Heroes takes place in a completely different camp than the ones we’ve discussed so far. It’s a fictional, but based on actual-life POW (prisoner-of-war) camp called Stalag 13. This camp is located within Nazi Germany.

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Surprisedly, Hogan’s Heroes was set during a troubled time in history. It is now a sitcom, and it is very popular.

This follows the lead of the US Air Force Colonel Robert Hogan, and his team of fellow Allied Airmen and experts as they coordinate espionage operations for Allied POWs at other camps.

They work with defectors, spies and other resistance groups to exploit the camp’s unique location to undermine Germany’s war effort.

6. Breakout Kings

6. Breakout Kings

Nick Santora, and Matt Olmstead were again teamed up for A&E’s Breakout Kings. This series is a stand-alone series but connects to Prison Break by the appearance of Theodore “T” Bagwell.

Breakout King is a team that specializes in apprehending and finding fugitives. They are US Marshals Charlie Duchamp, Ray Zancanelli and Ray Zancanelli. Ray had also captured fugitives.

The task force is a specialized unit with a common goal. However, the convicts are driven by one thing: a reduced sentence for each criminal they find.

They will be sentenced twice if they try to escape, so it is important that they help the law.

5. Alcatraz

5. Alcatraz

Alcatraz is a name that isn’t often forgotten. It’s also the prison that gives the background to the Fox series.

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A little more than 300 prisoners and guards disappeared mysteriously from Alcatraz in 1963. The government covered the incident up.

Present-day San Francisco has seen those who have vanished begin to reappearance – without any memory of missing time or having aged one day.

Agent Emerson Hauser led the investigation with Detective Rebecca Madsen, Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego Soto and other experts into the disappearance. They also investigated why the government seemed to be expecting their return.

4. Superjail!

4. Superjail!

An animated series is the last show on our list about men’s prisons. However, its association with Adult Swim assures that it’s still geared towards an older audience.

Superjail! This is the name of the prison that lies beneath an active volcano in an alternate dimension called5612.

Superjail has been suggested to be somewhat sentient and adjust based on inmates’ perceptions!

The Warden’s bizarre schemes and manipulations of inmates to get his whims were the focus of the first season. These episodes always ended in a brutal murder scene. Later seasons focused more on the prisoners.

3. For the rest of your life

ABC’s for Life is an incredible story of redemption that also serves as a social commentary on the many flaws in American justice and legal systems.

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This series loosely draws inspiration from Isaac Wright Jr.’s real life story as an attorney, philanthropist and former prisoner wrongly accused.

For life is the story of Aaron Wallace. He was wrongly accused of drug trafficking but is currently serving a life sentence.

He is in prison and he studies law to become a defense lawyer for his fellow inmates.

He overturns twenty sentences and proves his innocence along the way.

2. Oz

2. Oz

HBO’s Oz may refer to The Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz but it isn’t a place where you can find a wizard who will grant you a heart or brain.

Instead, warden Leo Glynn will be there with unit manager Tim McManus, as they try to keep Oz, the fictional, maximum-security Oswald State Correctional Facility, and its inmates under control.

The majority of events take place in the prison’s experimental unit, called Emerald City. It was created to promote learning and rehabilitation, but it is still not able to avoid the turf battles and tension among the different factions.

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1. Prison Break

1. Prison Break

Fox’s Prison Break is a fictionalized story about one of the most complex prison escape plans you’ve ever seen.

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The first season is centered on Michael Scofield (a talented structural engineer) who ends up in prison with his brother Lincoln.

Lincoln has been wrongly accused of a high profile murder. Michael wants to use his knowledge about prison structures to free himself and his brother.

The subsequent seasons, which include the 5th season revival 8 years later than the original series, deal with their prison break and life on run. They also expand to include other characters they had met while in jail.

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