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Top 11 German TV Shows to Boost Your German

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Learning a language from home can be stressful and frustrating, but with the help of German TV Shows, you can improve in less time than you imagined. Language learners and experts alike say that watching movies and series is a great way to improve your language skills. And the good thing about this is that you can do it by watching the type of movies or TV shows that you actually like.

Each country produces TV shows in the genres of drama, crime, comedy, sci-fi, cooking, nature, and many more. Germany is certainly no different, with plenty of good German TV shows for language-learning.

By watching television shows or movies in German, you’re allowing yourself to learn while having a lot more fun, and this is a big advantage for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. Here at GermanPod101, we give you a complete guide to the best German TV shows. German television has so much to offer!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Study German with TV Shows
  2. Watch German TV Shows on Netflix and Co.
  3. List of German TV Shows
  4. How GermanPod101.com Can Help You Master German with TV Shows


1. How to Study German with TV Shows

1- What are the Benefits of Learning with Movies and Series?

The benefits of watching TV shows in a foreign language should be quite obvious. If not, here’s a list of some of the benefits watching German television series offers:

  • It’s fun and efficient at the same time. You’re learning better and faster if you like the way you learn.
  • It’s easier to understand new vocabulary with situational context, subtitles, visuals, and any combination of these. (Keep in mind that we have vocabulary lists for all subjects.)
  • You get a feel for pronunciation and word stress.
  • You can practice sentence structure and daily language, as well as special body gestures.
  • We learn faster and more efficiently when emotions are involved.

2- How do You Make Watching More Efficient?

You shouldn’t just turn on a German TV show and start watching. First, you should prepare yourself for learning to get the most effective outcome from your invested time. Here are some hints on how to do this:

  • Prepare some basic vocabulary about the subject the TV show covers. For example, if you’re watching a TV show about love and drama, you might want to learn some vocabulary for Valentine’s Day beforehand.
    Inform yourself about the TV show by reading a one-page description.
  • You might also want to take a look at how to improve your listening skills before starting.
  • Activate subtitles in the language you’re learning. For example, if you’re watching a German TV show, activate German subtitles. This helps you to see how a word is written and spoken at the same time.
  • Just enjoy it. Make yourself comfortable with a glass of your favorite drink and some popcorn.

2. Watch German TV Shows on Netflix and Co.

You have different options for watching German TV shows from your home country. Here are some of the best ways to access German television shows.

  • Satellite TV: You can get a subscription to Sky Germany and watch many TV shows on demand. This would be at an additional cost to you, but hell, it’s worth it.
  • Netflix: You can get a subscription to Netflix and this is definitely our choice. You get a great value as well as a nice array of German TV shows to watch. Make sure to use a VPN, because Netflix localizes its content by country.
  • ARD / ZDF: These two channels are the two big public channels in Germany. You can access the ARD and ZDF media library (Mediathek) only from Germany. So you should use a VPN here as well.
  • Other streaming services: Other German channels also have online content available.
  • YouTube: You can find some other German series on YouTube as well. German TV shows on YouTube are especially good for seeing television shows from the past.
  • DVD: Of course you can just go to eBay or Amazon and order the DVD boxes from every German TV show you would like to see.

As you can see, there are several options for finding German TV shows online.

3. List of German TV Shows

We prepared a list for you with the eleven best German TV shows. Note that this list isn’t complete, but we chose German TV shows with English subtitles because their language is easy to understand and you’ll get a glimpse of what kind of shows German people watch. On Wikipedia, you can find a big overview of each, and on IMDB you can get a list of the 50 best shows in Germany.

In our list, you’ll get a short description of the subject the TV show covers, a popular quote from it alongside the English translation, and our suggestion for who should watch the series: beginner, intermediate, or advanced students. So, let’s get a glimpse of popular TV series in Germany.

1- Tatort (Crime Scene)

If you’re a fan of CSI and other crime shows from the US, then you might like Tatort as well. This TV show has been around since the 70s and is still running. It changes its location to different German cities and covers realistic cases, without the Hollywood style. It just feels more real than other crime shows. With the show’s special characters for each city, it has a funny but still serious enough tone.

Popular quote: Am liebsten sind mir die Menschen, die ich nicht kennenlerne.
Translation: “My favorite people are the ones that I do not meet.”

Suggested level of student: Advanced

2- Berlin Tag und Nacht (Berlin Day and Night)

The 'Fernsehturm' of Berlin on the left side by day and the right side by night

Berlin Tag und Nacht (“Berlin Day and Night”) is a so-called Seifenoper (“soap opera”) that plays in the German capital Berlin. It shows different people from Berlin, from teenagers to adults, living their lives and dealing with everyday problems. Don’t expect too much quality from this TV show, due to its unprofessional actors and style. But somehow, the audience in Germany loves it. (When it comes to German TV shows, drama is pretty well-received.)

Popular quote: Kriegste wat nich mit?
Translation: “Do you not getting something?”

Suggested level of student: Intermediate

3- Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love)

The actors of the German TV show Verbotene Liebe with a banner of the logo

Here’s another soap opera which was made in 1995 and played until 2015. As the name suggests, it’s all about love and relationships. But here, the story mainly revolves around families of the high society and it does well in showing the differences between rich and average people.

Popular quote: Wenn es um Liebe geht, kann man drei Dinge tun: leugnen, akzeptieren oder weglaufen. In meinem Fall wäre weglaufen das Richtige—aber sind wir auf der Welt, um das Richtige zu tun?
Translation: “When it comes to love, you have three options: deny, accept, and run away. In my case run away would be the right choice—but aren’t we alive to do the right thing?”

Suggested level of student: Intermediate

4- Der letzte Bulle (The Last Cop)

Showing the main actor of Der letzte Bulle, Henning Pflaum

This story takes place in the area around the city Essen and in parts of Cologne, where the main character and policeman Mick wakes up from a coma after 20 years and realizes that a lot of things have changed.

Popular quote: Sach ma’, seh ich aus wie mit dem Hammer getauft?
Translation: “Tell me, do I look like I was christened with a hammer?”

Suggested level of student: Advanced

5- Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizei (Alarm for Cobra 11 - The Highway Police)

Logo of the series Alarm fur Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizei

This TV show describes the police operations of two policemen from a special department that’s responsible for the German highway—the Autobahnpolizei. Together, the two policemen build the Cobra 11.

Popular quote: Nicht Python, sondern Cobra 11. Das solltest du dir vorübergehend merken.
Translation: “Not Python, it’s Cobra 11. You should remember that temporarily.”

Suggested level of student: Intermediate

6- Die Sendung mit der Maus (The Program with the Mouse)

A person in a costume of a mouse on a stage in front of kids

This is one of the most successful TV shows for kids in German TV. In every episode, it features a combination of short animations with a mouse and a small blue elephant, which don’t have any dialogue, and a short knowledge film about different subjects such as the production of a hammer. It has a educational character and is well-recommended for beginners.

Popular quote: Lach- und Sachgeschichten
Translation: “Laugh and fact stories”

Suggested level of student: Beginner

7- Stromberg (Stromberg)

A portrait of Christoph Maria Herbst

Stromberg, which is the name of the TV show and the main character, is a comedy series that features the ordinary life of a boss of an insurance company called Capitol Versicherung AG. This TV show has a lot of sarcastic and ironic content, and shows strange behavior in dealing with people. It’s just hilarious to watch, and German TV shows with comedy are fantastic for learning.

Popular quote: Was dem an Grips fehlt, das gleicht er durch Blödheit wieder aus.
Translation: “His lack of nous he compensates with stupidity.”

Suggested level of student: Advanced

8- GZSZ - Gute Zeiten Schlechte Zeiten (GTBT - Good Times Bad Times)

The logo of the TV show Gute Zeiten Schlechte Zeiten

Again, we have a soap opera on our list. Apparently, German people do love soap operas. It features the lives of different ordinary people and deals with subjects such as the highs and lows in the process of becoming an adult, personality changes, how to deal with love in your life, and also political subjects. It’s one of the most popular TV shows for teenagers in Germany.

Popular quote: Man, mit dem Kleid meiner Oma kann ich den ganzen Saal schmücken.
Translation: “Man, with the dress of my grandmother you can decorate the whole hall.”

Suggested level of student: Intermediate

9- Löwenzahn (Dandelion)

The logo of the TV show Lowenzahn with the same name and a dandelion

This is, by far, one of the best kids’ TV shows for educational purposes ever made in German TV. Unfortunately, there are no new episodes, but it’s well worth it to watch the classics. Every episode shows a story about the character Peter Lustig who lives in a blue mobile home. During the story, you can learn something about a lot of subjects. One special aspect of this TV show is that the main character interacts with you, the viewer. It’s hard to describe—better just watch it.

Popular quote: Ihr seid ja immer noch da! Abschalten!
Translation: “You are still there! Switch off!”

Suggested level of student: Beginner

10- Schlag den Raab (Beat the Raab)

The TV personality Stefan Raab

This German TV show features one of the most popular German persons, Stefan Raab, in a game show. He’s playing fifteen different games against a candidate who has the possibility to win 500.000 €. If the candidate doesn’t win, then in the next episode the next candidate plays for 1 million €.

Popular quote: Barbie wird 45—oder wie Frauen sagen: 29.
Translation: “Barbie turns 45—but how a woman would say: 29.”

Suggested level of student: Advanced

11- Germany’s Next Topmodel (Germany’s Next Topmodel)

The model Heidi Klum as a portrait

This is a casting show to find the next top model of Germany. It’s produced by the famous German model Heidi Klum and is an adaption of the American TV show.

Popular quote: Es ist schöner, wenn du in die Kamera schaust.
Translation: “It looks better if you would look into the camera.”

Suggested level of student: Intermediate

4. How GermanPod101.com Can Help You Master German with TV Shows

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In this article, we showed you eleven of the best and most popular German TV shows. By now, you should know how watching German TV shows in the German language with German subtitles can help you. You should also have a good idea of what to expect from popular German TV shows.

Have you chosen the next TV show that you’ll watch? Let us know which one it will be and why you chose it.

To get started, GermanPod101.com has a lot of free resources about several subjects, as well as free courses for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students.

And if that free stuff isn’t enough for you and you want to boost yourself to the next level quickly, then we can offer you a private teacher who specializes on your needs and your goals with the German language.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!