The Best Netflix Shows and Movies to Download [March 2021]

In November of 2016, Netflix rolled out one of the features its fan base had been demanding since the company exploded in popularity all those years ago. The ability to take shows and movies offline is one of those features users assumed were impossible, thanks to how Netflix works, but in reality Netflix was working behind the scenes to bring downloadable content to smart devices for years. While it doesn’t totally offer complete freedom when it comes to downloading your favorite content, the ability to watch shows and movies while offline makes it a great choice for your commute to work on the subway, or when traveling for work on a plane. Offline play has made it one of the best ways to consume Netflix online, though as always, there are some limitations.

Still, it’s worth looking at how downloading works on Netflix, how the app can be a bit confusing at times, how to discover the best downloadable shows on the platform, and of course, some of our favorite downloadable shows and movies on Netflix. Let’s dive in.

How to Download Content on Netflix

First things first: Netflix makes it really easy to download shows on Netflix, and to figure out how much you have downloaded on your device. Diving into the application, it becomes obvious pretty quickly how you can download content to your devices.

Unfortunately, Netflix only allows you to download their movies and TV shows to iOS, Android, and Windows devices using the dedicated apps for each platform. You can’t download movies to an Amazon Fire Stick or PS4; likewise, although Apple now allows for iPad apps to be installed on Macs using Catalyst, Netflix has yet to allow for their iPad app to be installed.

Once you have the app installed on your device, you have a few ways to find and download shows. You can start by clicking on your favorite show or movie from the main screen or from your list, which will allow you to see what can be downloaded on your device. Television shows will display a download icon to the right of every single episode that can be downloaded, while movies will feature four icons along the display, the last of which allows you to download the film to your device. At its core, these are the main controls for downloading content on Netflix, and if you can’t save something to your device, the download icon simply won’t appear when you go to download something.

Of course, there are some settings you’ll want to make sure you find before you continue watching shows on Netflix. The first is accessible by tapping on the Downloads tab at the bottom of the display. At the top of the screen, you should see an option for Smart Downloads. Depending on the space on your device, you might want to turn this off. If you can however, leaving this on can help make sure you’re always ready to go when you’re traveling with new episodes downloaded to your device.

Smart Downloads track when you’ve finished watching an episode of a show you’ve downloaded onto your device and automatically deletes the watched episode and downloads the next available episode the next time you’re connected to WiFi. This feature is limited only to WiFi, so you never have to worry about your cellular data limits. And since it’s replacing a downloaded episode with another one, you should never have to worry about using extra phone storage.

It’s also worth making sure your download settings are on the right quality level for your internet download speeds and your phone’s storage. Netflix offers your downloads various quality levels, either when you select your download or from your app settings in the app.

To get there, select the triple-line menu icon labeled ‘More,’ then choose App Settings from the list. Under Downloads, you can control several options, including the ability to change your video quality. Netflix offers Standard and High versions of these downloads, which allows you to select your quality or your download speed, depending on your current conditions. In our tests, standard seemed to come in at about 480p, while high-definition was somewhere between 720p and 1080p, looking great on our device.

Downloads can be found in the download tab on your device, and you can erase or watch them from there.

What are the Limits on Downloading Content on Netflix?

As with any content made available through Netflix or other streaming services, limitations apply on nearly every single content option you could imagine. Yes, it’s true that you can mostly use Netflix’s download feature without running into issues or blocks on what you’re using, but as with anything, you should be prepared for some limitations to pop up as you use the service.

  1. You can only download up to 100 titles on a single device. Netflix seems to include each episode of a series, so don’t go believing you can load your phone with every episode of The Office without having to deal with an error message from Netflix.
  2. Depending on your plan, you can download content to either one, two, or four devices at a time. This will likely match whatever your pre-existing plan is, whether that be one, two, or four devices streaming content at once. If you’re unclear what your current plan is, you should dive into the account settings on your device to learn what you’re paying for.
  3. Content you download to your devices doesn’t last forever. After you download an episode or film to your device, you typically have about 30 days to watch it before you have to redownload the show or film. Titles that have less than seven days before expiring on your device will display the amount of time you have left. This all has to do with the way Netflix signs content deals with major companies. Some content expires just 48 hours after you begin watching it back, so make sure you pay close attention to what’s going on your device by using the tab on the bottom of the app.

Are All Netflix Originals Available to Download?

Most Netflix Originals are available to download on your devices, but not all of them are. Most of this depends on the production companies these shows are made with. While Netflix produces a wide variety of content, some of their shows are picked up from outside sources or selected as a revival from other networks. Arrested Development, for example, has five seasons streaming on Netflix; two of them were produced as Netflix originals. That doesn’t matter, however, as none of the five seasons are available for download. Likewise, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is also unavailable for download, and that too is a continuation and revival of a pre-existing property.

That said, not ever rebooted show from Netflix is unavailable to download. Fuller House and both Wet Hot American Summer series are continuations of pre-existing content, and they both are available for download on your device. All of Trailer Park Boys’ output from both the pre-Netflix days and the current Netflix lineup are available to be saved and watched offline. And shows like Queer Eye or Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return also remain as downloadable content, regardless of when they were released.

Generally speaking, Netflix Originals are available to download, with only some content being featured as an exception to the rule. This makes it reliable to be able to take your favorite Netflix shows offline and on the go. Netflix Original Movies, too, are typically available for download, and that extends even to awards-worthy content like Roma or The Irishman.


We’ve covered how downloads work on Netflix, but what if you aren’t sure what to save to your phone? These are just some of the best selections you can download to your mobile device today.

4 thoughts on “The Best Netflix Shows and Movies to Download [March 2021]”

John says:
I think the download is only for offline viewing if you still have a subscription. As soon as the subscription ends, the videos you downloaded will be gone also. So I highly recommend to screen record it instead. Use a mirroring app like LetsView and screen record it while watching
Clara Somebody says:
you named the Gilmore girls reboot as Gilmore girls: a day in the life instead of Gilmore girls: a year in the life. confused me at first, don’t want that to happen to others
Allison Lorraine says:
Thank you! You just saved my long flight.
jason says:
you listed MST3K twice, at #28 and at #2

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