Top 25 Made for TV Movies and Miniseries of All Time According to IMDb

I am a sucker for a good made-for-TV movie. One of my favorites is Miracle on I-880, based on the 1989 San Francisco Earthquake events. The stories are some of the most emotional that I’ve ever experienced. It’s available to rent or buy on YouTube and is worthy of your watch. Here is a list of IMDb’s top 25 made-for-TV movies. Have you seen them?

1. Lonesome Dove (1989)

Lonesome Dove 1989
Image Credit: CBS.

Lonesome Dove is an epic Western based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Larry McMurtry. It follows two former Texas Rangers leading a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. This six-hour trip through the Old West features Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, and the lovely Diane Lane. 

2. It (1990)

IT 1990 Tim Curry
Image Credit: ABC.

This miniseries frightened me to the core as a tween, but I loved every minute of it. Based on Stephen King’s novel, it’s a two-part story of a group of friends who face an entity that can take the form of your biggest fears and takes on the shape of a clown named Pennywise.

This spine-tingling horror experience left an indelible mark on watchers, and Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise became an iconic horror character. This is far superior to the remake. The back-and-forth between seeing the friends as kids and adults keeps the story engaging. 

3. The Stand (1994)

The Stand 1994
Image Credit: ABC.

“M-O-O-N, that spells moon.” Another incredible Stephen King miniseries, The Stand, was a four-part made-for-TV masterpiece. Again, the 1994 original is better than the 2020 remake. The drama looks at a world destroyed by a superflu outbreak and focuses on the fight between good and evil among the people who have survived.

It features an incredible cast, including Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Ed Harris, Laura San Giacomo,  Miguel Ferrer, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Jamey Sheridan, Corin Nemec, Adam Storke, Ray Walston, and Matt Frewer. 

4. John Adams (2008)

John Adams 2008
Image Credit: HBO.

John Adams is a biographical seven-part miniseries that tells the story of the second President of the United States and his life and political career. The series stars Paul Giamatti as John Adams and Laura Linney as Abigail Adams, illustrating a nuanced look at the country’s birth. It outlines the struggles and sacrifices of our Founding Fathers during a crucial time in American history.

5. Salem’s Lot (1979)

Salem's Lot best TV miniseries 1979
Image Credit: Warner Bro. Television.

Based on Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, this two-part miniseries of the same name is one of the greatest. It follows a writer who returns to his hometown and finds that the people a vampire is killing there. As night falls, the main character must face an old evil. 

6. Duel (1971)

Duel 1971
Image Credit: Universal Television.

Steven Spielberg’s first directed film was a made-for-tv movie called Duel. It is a thrilling story about a businessman (Dennis Weaver) who becomes the target of a dangerous truck driver on a lonely highway.

The cat-and-mouse game gets increasingly intense as the main character tries to stay alive. Duel shows how good a director was before he became a famous figure in the world of movies.

7. Brian’s Song (1971)

Brian's Song 1971
Image Credit: ABC.

This story is heartwarming and sad and is based on the friendship between Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers (James Caan and Billy Dee Williams), two Chicago Bears football players. Brain’s Song explores their relationship and their problems when Piccolo is told he has cancer that will kill him. It is a moving tribute to friendship and strength.

8. Rich Man, Poor Man (1976)

Rich Man Poor Man 1976
Image Credit: ABC.

Based on Irwin Shaw’s book, Rich Man, Poor Man is a groundbreaking twelve-part miniseries that spans decades and follows the lives of two brothers (Peter Strauss and Nick Nolte). One is rich, and the other is poor. The story navigates how they deal with societal changes and problems in their own lives. 

9. Gargoyles (1972)

Gargoyles 1972
Image Credit: CBS.

Gargoyles is a unique and creative horror fantasy made-for-TV movie about an anthropologist who meets an old tribe of evil gargoyles hidden for hundreds of years. As the monsters emerge and cause chaos, the main character has to fight to stop their rule of terror. People remember this TV movie for the unique designs of the monsters and how it touched on the supernatural.

10. Prescription: Murder (1968)

Prescription Murder 1968 Columbo
Image Credit: NBC.

Lieutenant Columbo, played by Peter Falk, became one of TV’s most famous figures thanks to the made-for-TV film Prescription: Murder. This movie was the first episode of the long-running crime show classic Columbo. Prescription: Murder follows Columbo, solving a complicated murder case using unorthodox methods.

11. House of Cards (1990)

House of Cards 1990
Image Credit: BBC1.

 

Before the popular TV show with the same name, House of Cards (1990) was a four-part political thriller about a top whip of the Conservative Party (Ian Richardson) who plots to become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. This exciting story deeply examines the world of politics, power games, and moral compromises.

12. 61 (2001)

61* 2001
Image Credit: HBO.

The movie 61 dramatizes the 1961 baseball season. During this time, New York Yankees teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane and Barry Pepper) pursued the record for most home runs in a season with 61, initially set by Babe Ruth.

The film examines the stresses and problems they had to deal with while trying to reach a historic goal. 61 shows how exciting baseball is and how the main characters go through an emotional trip. Fun Fact: the film has the asterisk symbol after the number 61, but this list won’t publish with that symbol.

13. And the Band Played On (1993)

And the Band Played On 1993
Image Credit: HBO.

And the Band Played On is a powerful drama about the early years of the AIDS outbreak in the United States. It is based on Randy Shilts’s nonfiction book of the same name.

The film explores the problems scientists, doctors, and organizers face as they try to figure out what’s happening and how to remedy it. It starred Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Ian McKellen, Lily Tomlin, Phil Collins, and Richard Gere.

14. The Night Stalker (1972)

The Night Stalker 1972
Image Credit: ABC.

Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) is an investigative journalist who, in The Night Stalker, uncovers a string of murders that defy conventional explanation. This made-for-TV movie was the first episode of the TV show Kolchak: The Night Stalker. With its mix of horror and mystery, the film laid the groundwork for a favorite television series.

15. You Don’t Know Jack (2010)

You Don't Know Jack 2010
Image Credit: HBO.

You Don’t Know Jack is a biographical film starring Al Pacino that looks at the life and controversial actions of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who is known for helping people who are dying to end their lives. The movie examines moral problems, legal battles, and Kevorkian’s effect on the debate over the right to die.

16. Helter Skelter (1976)

Helter Skelter 1976
Image Credit: CBS.

Helter Skelter is a two-part scary dramatization of the Charles Manson cult and the notorious Tate-LaBianca killings. It is based on the true-crime book by Vincent Bugliosi. The story tells in depth about the investigation, the trial, and the strange way of thinking that Manson and his cult following had. 

17. A Christmas Carol (1984)

A Christmas Carol 1984
Image Credit: CBS.

Many different versions of A Christmas Carol have been adapted for television over the years. However, with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge, this version best captures the spirit of Charles Dickens’s timeless story of redemption and self-discovery. The movie is still a holiday favorite.

18. The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)

The Homecoming A Christmas Story 1971
Image Credit: CBS.

Speaking of Christmas, the television film The Homecoming: A Christmas Story was the basis for the hit show The Waltons. The movie takes place during the Great Depression and demonstrates how the Walton family comes together for a sweet Christmas party despite struggling financially.

19. The Deliberate Stranger (1986)

The Deliberate Stranger 1986
Image Credit: NBC.

The two-part biographical crime thriller The Deliberate Stranger explores the life and deeds of serial killer Ted Bundy. Mark Harmon plays Bundy in this scary movie about his bad deeds and how the police tried to bring him to justice. The film gives a frightening look inside the head of one of the most notorious serial killers ever.

20. The Executioner’s Song (1982)

The Executioner's Song 1982
Image Credit: NBC.

The Executioner’s Song is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Norman Mailer. It tells the true story of murderer Gary Gilmore and his journey to the death sentence. The movie stars Tommy Lee Jones and examines complicated ideas about justice, morals, and the results of violent actions.

21. The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978)

The Rutles All You Need is Cash
Image Credit: NBC.

The documentary parody The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash uses a made-up band called The Rutles to send up The Beatles’ legacy. Eric Idle and Neil Innes made this funny gem. It makes fun of a rock band’s rise and fall and cleverly references Beatles songs and other cultural events.

22. The Pentagon Wars (1998)

The Pentagon Wars 1998
Image Credit: HBO.

The Pentagon Wars is a dark comedy that shows how tedious and silly the process of buying weapons for the military can be. In the movie, Kelsey Grammer plays a military officer trying to find the flaws in a tank development project.

With its biting comedy, the film shows how hard it is to balance military strategy and bureaucratic red tape. It stars Kelsey Grammer, Cary Elwes, Olympia Dukakis, and Richard Benjamin.

23. The Rat Pack (1998)

The Rat Pack 1998
Image Credit: HBO.

The Rat Pack depicts the renowned entertainment ensemble called The Rat Pack. The movie stars Ray Liotta as Frank Sinatra, Joe Mantegna as Dean Martin, Don Cheadle as Sammy Davis, Jr., and Angus Macfadyen as Peter Lawford.

The Rat Pack portrays both their glamorous and troubled lives. This historical movie shows how they got along, how they performed, and what was happening in society and politics at the time.

24. Barbarians at the Gate (1993)

Barbarians at the Gate 1993
Image Credit: HBO.

Barbarians at the Gate recounts the true story of how RJR Nabisco was acquired in the 1980s. The acquisition utilized a technique known as leveraged buyout. The film shows the high-stakes financial moves and power battles that led to the deal. It gives an inside look at corporate America and Wall Street.

25. Phil Spector (2013)

Phil Spector 2013
Image Credit: HBO.

Phil Spector (Al Pacino) is an examination of the life and trial of the influential record producer. He greatly impacted the music of the ’60s and ’70s. Phil Spector details his troubled career, court cases, and complicated nature.

Top 25 Popular TV Shows That Would NEVER Be Made Today

The Big Bang Theory TBBT
Image Credit: Chuck Lorre Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

There is no contesting that pop culture is evolving, and what was acceptable in the past is being corrected for today. For example, many hit TV series were massive successes and would never be made today. Here are the top 25.

A Dish Best Served Cold: 12 Movies to Satisfy Your Thirst for Revenge

V for Vendetta
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Some of the most exciting films have been based on this desire for revenge. These films are suspenseful, full of action, and hard to figure out morally, with both vigilantes and people looking for payback. From classic Westerns to current thrillers and thought-provoking dramas, these films will satisfy your thirst for revenge.

16 Popular Movies That Bombed at the Box Office With Cult Followings Today

Showgirls 1995 kiss
Image Credit: MGM/UA Distribution Co.

Success doesn’t always come immediately in the unpredictable world of movies, and the first box office numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Some films that didn’t do well when they were in theaters have since developed a loyal cult following.

These movies were once ignored or passed over, but they have now won over viewers in ways that no one could have predicted based on how poorly they did at the box office.

50 Greatest Ensemble Casts in Cinematic History — Do You Agree?

The Outsiders 1983 cast
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Movies with star-studded casts are some of my favorites. From mysteries to dramas, comedies, and war films, these are some of cinematic history’s most extraordinary ensemble casts. Do you agree?

25 Greatest Comedy Films of All Time According To IMDb

Greatest Comedies of All Time
Image Credit: Animal House – Universal Pictures. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – Paramount Pictures. National Lampoon’s Vacation – Warner Bros.

Laughter is the best medicine, and I have an incredible list of comedies for you. According to IMDb, these are the greatest comedies of all time, from cult classics to forgotten gems. Do you agree?

Source: IMDb.

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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and Jesus.