You’ve cut the cord. But streaming services have gotten too expensive, so you’ve cut back on them, too. You don’t believe in piracy. Yet you still want to watch movies and TV shows. What is a person to do?
Stream for free! There is a bevy of free streaming sites out there that offer an impressive collection of films and television. Granted, you won’t find the newest blockbusters (or even older blockbusters), but these free movie streaming sites are a great way to fill in the gaps in your film history, or discover unique, underground, “hidden gems” that will make you the coolest kid at the party.
So pop that popcorn, relax, and check out these great streaming sites that offer free movies online. Most of them can be viewed in a web browser or a dedicated app.
A huge selection of movies and TV shows that are always free, Tubi covers a wide range of genres – that is to say, all genres. You won’t find new releases, but you will find some big hits from the last twenty years or so. Modern classics in their collection include American Beauty, Thelma & Louise, Donnie Darko, Platoon, and Heathers. The television collection isn’t as impressive, mostly consisting of old syndicated shows like The Incredible Hulk, Quantum Leap, Silk Stalkings, and Third Rock From the Sun.
Remember how exciting it was when libraries started offering movies and audio books for rent? Remember what a pain in the ass it was to go down to the library, only to discover their already meager selection was considerably depleted by other borrowers? Hoopla Digital is like a library you can browse from home. They offer movies, TV shows, audio books, comics, and music. The titles you can expect to find here are the same kind you can expect to find in a library: Ella Enchanted, Charlotte’s Web, 13 Going on 30, and Bagger Vance, to name a few. The only downside is you have to have a library card to use the site… and the only place you can get a library card is to physically visit a library.
Similar to Hoopla Digital, Kanopy offers access to “quality, thoughtful entertainment” for free with your library card or through your university. Their focus seems to be on indie films, documentaries, and foreign films. The only downside is that not all libraries and universities have signed up to be part of Kanopy, so check their list.
Vudu is best known as a place to buy and rent digital movies. You know when you buy a Blu-ray and there is a code offering you a free digital download? Frequently, that digital download is through Vudu. The service also offers thousands of movies and hundreds of TV series that are free with ads. You can find The Matrix trilogy, Interview With the Vampire, The Departed, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Vudu.
IMDb isn’t just the ultimate resource for film fans. They also have hundreds of free TV shows and movies streaming on their site, along with IMDb original productions (mostly interviews). Unlike most of the other services, IMDb TV is only available on Fire TV devices or on your computer (because duh, IMDb is owned by Amazon). Check out La La Land, Easy Rider, Jerry Maguire, and Silver Linings Playbook in the movies section, and Heroes, Fringe, and The Middle in the television section.
Hundreds of free movies, TV shows, and originals, all ad-supported. Unsurprisingly, everything is a Sony project, but they have a lot of good selections here: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Funny Girl, Hook, and The Muppets Take Manhattan are some standout titles on the movie side. TV includes mostly classics like All In the Family, Charlie’s Angels, The Partridge Family, and What’s Happening.
In addition to the standard collection of free, ad-supported movies and a handful of TV shows, Popcorn Flix also has a “viral video” section that is like a curated YouTube. They also offer original films (like Teacher of the Year starring Keegan Michael Key). Some movies to check out: Fatal Attraction, Children of a Lesser God, Dinner for Shmucks, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?.
This is basically cable TV without the cable. It offers over 100 free streaming channels, including movies, sports, news, classic TV, and semi-recent reality television. There are channels devoted entirely to Doctor Who, Dora the Explorer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, anime, Comedy Central Roasts, Antiques Roadshow, and Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you want to watch on your own schedule, there is an On Demand section. While it does have some good flicks (To Die For, Bound, Clue, and Election to name a few), there is no search feature.
SnagFilms promises “philanthropic movies and TV shows” for those people who are “looking for something different.” You will find documentaries covering a broad stretch of topics (politics, music, food and health, war and history, LGBTQ), public domain classics, and a swath of foreign and domestic films you have probably never heard of.
I don’t know much about anime, but I do know that CrunchyRoll.com is the place to stream anime online. With hundreds of anime series, and a few live-action Japanese dramas, you can stream lower-res, ad-supported videos for free, then chat about them in the community. Bonus points for the “random” button, which will randomly load up the first episode of a series.
Billed as a streaming service put together by “industry leading producers and financiers,” FilmRise.com seems to have films and TV shows that can be found on every other free streaming service (Roseanne, Memento, Monster). The movies can only be viewed on their app – not on your web browser. In addition, their search feature on the website doesn’t work. On the upside, their site is clean and easy to navigate.
Comet is a broadcast TV channel that focuses on science-fiction, including “popular favorites” (The Terminator), “cult classics” (The Garbage Pail Kids Movie), and “undiscovered gems” (Jaws of Satan). They don’t offer anything on-demand, but you can stream the channel for free in a web browser and via a variety of apps.
From the same people who run Comet comes Charge, which is dedicated to action programming. Like Comet, it is all streaming. Some of their films include Gator, Sagebrush Trail, and the Rocky movies.
Curated by director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, The Neon Demon), By NWR features three films per month. Each are handpicked by Refn, fully restored, and are joined by essays by a variety of film critics and historians. The films are mostly grindhouse flicks: nudie-cuties, horror, crime, “hicksploitation,” and other obscure exploitation subgenres. If titles like Satan in High Heels, She-Man: A Story of Fixation, and Cottonpickin’ Chickenpickers don’t pique your interest, you may be dead inside.
The Internet Archive is a non-profit collection that includes over four million videos. They are largely public domain films; short films uploaded by their creators; TV news reels; movie trailers; and stock footage. Some highlights: George Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead; Ed Wood‘s Plan 9 From Outer Space; The Sheik starring Rudolf Valentino; several Charlie Chaplin classics; episodes of The Three Stooges; vintage cartoons like Woody Woodpecker and Popeye; and my personal favorite, mental hygiene films.
CW Seed has a couple-dozen TV series you can watch, in their entirety, for free. This includes the complete run of CW shows like The Secret Circle, Who’s Line Is It Anyway?, and Hellcats; off-network shows like The Ghost Whisperer, Pushing Daisies, and Schitt’s Creek; and original animations like Supernatural: The Anime Series and Constantine: City of Demons.
Most networks have a handful of episodes of their current shows to stream. ABC.com offers this, but also full runs of a handful of canceled shows, including classics like My So-Called Life and Felicity; newer treats like Ugly Betty and The Muppets reboot; and a couple genre favorites of mine: Reaper and The River.
If you are familiar with Shout Factory, then their streaming selection will satisfy your viewing needs. Digging in to the vast Shout Factory catalogue of cult, underground, foreign, and generally weird films, every genre is represented here: horror, sci-fi, comedy, drama, martial arts, western, action, and documentaries. The standouts here are collections of the original Mystery Science Theater 3000 films, Riff Trax, and Elvira’s Movie Macabre. Most of the films come from the 1980s or earlier, so if you are looking for a new release, it’s not here.