TV shows can captivate their fans for many different reasons, from the plot to the characters that grow with the series to the relationships that develop on screen. But directing an episode and the cinematography that goes into that can be just as fascinating.
There are even some shows with such a well-explored setting for the story that they are telling that it feels as if the setting is a separate character altogether.
Related: Stream your favorite British shows anytime, anywhere, commercial free with Acorn via Prime Video Channels!
Enjoying a show for the visual storytelling that happens on screen is just as fun, which is why we compiled a slideshow that focuses on TV shows that are known for just being stunning shows to experience.
It is incredibly hard not to jump into the world that jumps off the screen the way these do.
It is as if The 100 knew that it would be added to the list, so it decided to base the Season 5 finale on increasing that level of stunning even more. With everyone's time on Earth coming to a close, Bellamy and Clarke are introduced to their next home which is a planet with two suns. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the potential for worldbuilding will make the show's usual cinematography even more stunning. But the exception that The 100 makes is in the way that it doesn't just focus on setting, but on the way, scenes showcase emotion through character-focused scenes as well.
Cloak and Dagger
The best part about Cloak and Dagger will always be the way that Tandy and Tyrone fit next to one another. And that sets a tone for the show and those cinematic moments that come from it. Even their promotional trailer was heavily focused on those incredible side by side shots of the two.
A show like Riverdale needed to recreate its setting well, especially with a town as visual as Riverdale. In fact, it could be argued that the town itself is a character on the show as well, with phenomenal shots like these making it a dream come true for fans who love the small town aesthetic.
Space offers endless possibilities. Having doubts? That is what The Expanse is for, with a future take on a story set in space, which opens the door to many beautiful visuals between the focus on the conspiracy that threatens peace as they know it.
Altered Carbon is the show that has the future to its advantage, with a setting of a futuristic San Francisco to create memorable moments, unlike any other show. There is something about the use of color that works to the show's advantage.
The End Of The F****** World
With a show as dark as The End of The F****** World, allowing different locations and simple shots between the leads is what truly sets it apart. The fact that it is so visually stunning only adds on to the truly unique plot focused on two teenagers going on a road trip, with one of them planning to kill the other along the way.
Lost is a show that even if you haven't watched, you heard plenty about it. But it is still worth the watch, if only because following the story of survivors on a mysterious island means getting to explore the said island. It makes for a wonderful distraction outside of the plot-heavy scenes throughout each season.
Legion is intense because it follows an unreliable narrator, which actually serves a well thought out purpose of the way that his distorted view of events will play out on screen. Reality doesn't necessarily become what David sees it be, and Legion benefits from that by introducing 1960s design with modern-day elements mixed in along the way.
Anthologies find success in the way that they can craft a different world every time a new story gets to be told. The first season of True Detective offered stunning shots that were just simple and yet also very aesthetically pleasing.
There is just something about the way that a self-contained story can be told just as much from the way scenes are structured, and not only about the words that are spoken. American Gods accomplishes that and more, with a breathtaking approach that builds up as the story continues to grow.
Once again, an anthology strikes while no one is paying attention. You might be inclined to pay attention to the plot above all else with Fargo, but before you know it you are left thinking about the masterpiece shots along the way.
There are not enough words to describe Sense8, from the representation it offers to the mind-blowing way that the story covers multiple cities. It feels like you are truly traveling throughout the world, with the places where the characters are from offering as much of a valuable impact as they do.
The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale is set in a dystopian future following a Second American Civil War wherein a totalitarian society subjects fertile women into child-bearing servitude. So it is safe to say that this subject matter can be tough to immerse yourself in, and yet you can't not when the cinematic portions are chilling in very similar ways.
Into The Badlands
The way that the fight scenes themselves are staged is a masterpiece in the making. So it should come as no surprise that the rest of the post-apocalyptic world is just as incredible to witness on screen.
There is nothing that comes close the underwater shots that Siren manages to weave throughout its first season. The transformation into a mermaid is incredible, but so is just that experience of the way that life is like in the ocean. It contributes extremely well to the world-building that so far has helped the show stand out.
Twin Peaks is probably the first suggestion for anyone interested in cinematography because the sights truly are worth watching for. There is something hypnotic and intense about the way the town plays into the twisted stories that unfold, and the revival season only added on with a heavy dose of nostalgia as well.
A show with many convoluted and fascinating arcs deserves a visual component that is similar in that mysterious vibe. It is unforgettable from location shots to character focused aspects.
Anne With An E
Anne With An E is nothing short of beautiful, it is the perfect show to experience when you are looking for something that speaks to the soul.
An impactful show like Queen Sugar demonstrates through its cinematographic crucial details that all go back to the fascinating plot. It is also important to note how Queen Sugar might possibly be the first television show to feature female directors for every episode of the series.
There is plenty that Hannibal captures well to visually add to the underlying edge of the plot, and yet there is something about the architecture especially that can't go unsaid.
There is a show telling you that you should experience a sense of eeriness, and then there is showing you. Penny dreadful does exactly that, building the suspense and adding to the horror factor.
Outlander is all about the love that Jamie and Claire have for one another, so it is only fitting that it is structured around a place like Scotland. It sets the scene in a way that is necessary for a story so embedded in its setting like Outlander is.
It is all about those singular shots, the ones that immortalize Mary, Queen of Scots. This is all about her early life and that never fades away, with moments like the one above becoming truly iconic.
Any good horror show needs to be introduced visually to the audience, it has to be unsettling and it has to feel real. Dark does that really well, managing to place the audience in a fictional German town with ease, carefully crafting the sense of nostalgia for a place that no one actually knew before this.
Sometimes you are in the mood for some high fantasy visions, something that Emerald City managed to deliver effortlessly. The Land of Oz never felt more stunning, with the show delivering color in a truly unique way.
12 Monkeys is a show that stays with its audience long after it ends and along the way it managed to make time travel addicting and engaging. The science fiction mystery drama offered us some of the most wonderful cinematic shots, with the series finale wrapping up the story with a scene that still feels fresh in people's minds.
Words cannot even begin to describe the value that Pose has brought to television screens. The series premiered with an impactful start, it included the largest cast of transgender actors ever for a narrative television series, with over 50 transgender characters. And if that isn't enough, the energy that seeps from every character, relationship, costume choice, and location shot is the defintion of truly stunning.
There is a reason Stranger Things is such a success, and part of it is definitely the way that you can't look away from the screen. The Halloween aesthetic for Season 2 was a personal favorite, but Hawkins, in general, is a perfect creation for anyone who loves a well explored small town.
The Shannara Chronicles
The Shannara Chronicles was shot primarily in New Zealand and that alone should let you know how stunning the landscape shots are. But with this show it goes beyond that, a soft scene shared between two lovers can also highlight just how captivating it is.
The X-Files is a classic in all the ways that count, but it almost feels like simplifying it too much in saying that the show had some of the most memorable structures. It has the feel of a show that is a little older, and yet that combined with the worldbuilding adds to the plot instead of removing from it. Paranormal phenomena never felt as interesting or as captivating as when The X-Files tackled it.
It is all about the vibe that a show can give off by the visual storytelling as well as the writing, The Rain manages to capture both in its post-apocalyptic setting.
This miniseries clearly let color dictate some of its more epic cinematic shots, with an impending doom from a possible assassination being painted clearly through the screen.
Black Sails is set roughly two decades before the events of Treasure Island and during the Golden Age of Piracy which really just means a show set in the water set up pretty high stakes for those that would then follow.
This show is worth the watch for many reasons, and the visual aspect of it is a big part of that. Harlots is another great example of a period drama that creates great individual shots that come together so seamlessly on screen.
There is something about a show that utilizes color well that demands appreciation for the way that this then sets up most of the scenes.
The Crown is a legendary historical drama that covers the reign of Queen Elizabeth II throughout a number of seasons, both past and present. And while just like many other shows the setting is striking, it can be scenes like the one above that really tells the story well. It is dynamic because of the layer of connections between the people interacting on screen.