15 Great Spy TV Shows To Watch On OTT Right Now


The 15 Best Spy TV Shows On OTT to Binge Right Now: Wouldn’t we all wish we had a second life to be a full-fledged spy? The titillating feeling we all have when we watch a spy movie or tv series has remained timeless. It has transcended years of evolution of the shape and form of the genre. Yet, the charm of the stories has remained the same. And it is definitely unique. For the sake of an analogy, Westerns have recently lost their sheen. People just do not fancy them anymore, so studios do not green-light such projects.

The OTT digital verse has given us immense access to fast content. We can turn on our screens, log into one of the services, and start watching them. One can find a similarity between how McDonald’s changed the world of fast food and how Netflix got the ball running for OTT platforms. Spy shows have been popular for decades, with their allure stemming from a variety of factors. One of the primary reasons is the element of nostalgia that they evoke. Many spy shows are set during the Cold War when espionage was at its peak, and the world was teetering on the brink of nuclear annihilation.

This era has a certain mystique and fascination that continues to captivate audiences. The Cold War represented a time of intense political and social upheaval, with the threat of a catastrophic global conflict always looming. The idea of spies operating in the shadows, gathering intelligence, and working to prevent disaster, taps into our fascination with this tumultuous period.

Spy shows provide a glimpse into this world of intrigue, giving us a sense of what it was like to live in a time when the stakes were so high. Beyond the nostalgia factor, spy shows also appeal to our sense of adventure and thrill-seeking. The high-stakes world of espionage is full of danger, with characters often risking their lives in pursuit of their objectives. This sense of danger and excitement can be exhilarating to watch as we root for our heroes to outsmart their enemies and achieve their goals.

This list of the best spy tv shows on Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and other OTT services suffers from a terrible recency bias. We have also tried to go back in time to scrape beauties from the early 2010s. There are some classics like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Smiley’s People that have missed out due to our OTT metric. Nevertheless, we will return with more offerings of great spy shows available to stream from before this century. For now, here are the 15 best spy tv shows to watch in the OTT verse.

1. A Spy Among Friends (2022)

Guy Pearce as Kim Philby and Damian Lewis as Nicholas Elliot in A Spy Among Friends TV Show
Guy Pearce as Kim Philby and Damian Lewis as Nicholas Elliot in A Spy Among Friends TV Show

Few espionages shows today offer anything refreshing, often relying on the typical hero spy trope with high-stakes action. This show, however, stands out with its illuminating mesh of memories and flashbacks that showcase the flawed human nature of its characters. Based on Ben Macintyre’s book about notorious British spy Kim Philby, the show delves into the tensions and paranoia of the Cold War era with remarkable artistry.

By delving into the flawed human beings behind espionage, the show sheds light on the complicated motivations and the often-idealized memories that shape our understanding of history. At the heart of the story are Nicholas Elliot and Kim Philby, two figures from the Cold War era who are brought to life through the compelling performances of Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce. While it draws heavily on the events from the book, it has its own unique tone and ability to convey the political and social context of the time.

Through careful attention to detail and an unobvious storytelling approach, A Spy Among Friends highlights the tensions and paranoia of the Cold War era, the fraught relationships between intelligence agencies of different countries, and the political maneuverings of the time. While some may find the show dense and challenging to follow, those who stick with it will be rewarded with a fascinating and thought-provoking exploration of the human side of espionage.

Also, Read: A Spy Among Friends (Miniseries): Recap & Ending Explained

2. The Old Man (2022)

Jeff Bridges as Dan Chase in The Old Man - List of the Best Spy Shows
Jeff Bridges as Dan Chase in The Old Man

When The Old Man premiered on streaming platforms, it quickly became one of the most well-liked shows of the year. FX once again proved its knack for uncovering hidden gems from its diverse catalog of offerings. The show is an adaptation of the Thomas Perry novel, featuring a gripping search for Dan Chase – a former CIA agent who had been missing for years. His old ally, Harold Harper of the FBI, leads the hunt. With the help of FBI Agent Angela Adams, they navigate Chase’s complicated personal life and dark past.

With only seven episodes in the first season, the show’s pace was perfectly calibrated, and the story never felt rushed. Each episode unfolded like a chapter from the book, with a consistent core and significant story progression. The Old Man is a masterful example of how a television series can be adapted from a novel without sacrificing its essence or impact.

The show boasts sprawling dialogue, elements of noir, and an intense blend of the past and present, creating a unique and unmissable identity. Compared to many shows today, there are few moments where one would even consider fast-forwarding through. The Old Man stands a couple of yards ahead of the pack with its polished cinematic style and ambitious storytelling. If there ever was a near-perfect example of a layered, slow-burn spy drama, it is undoubtedly this show.

3. The Night Agent (2023 – )

Gabriel Basso as Peter Sutherland in The Night Agent - From the list of Best Spy Tv Shows
Gabriel Basso as Peter Sutherland in The Night Agent

Yes, the space after the hyphen is rightly left blank. Netflix has renewed The Night Agent for season 2. And if the response to that is the same as season 1, who knows, we may have more seasons. The Night Agent is the classic example of a political thriller with just enough emotional weight, narrative, and simplicity that can have a mass appeal. There might be shows like The Diplomat and The Americans, which relish their complex presentation. It distinguishes such shows and elevates them creatively. But they do not necessarily have the same pull as shows like The Night Agent.

Gabriel Basso portrays the central character Peter Sutherland, whose low-stakes life is supercharged by a probable conspiracy that threatens peace in the US. Right from episode 1, The Night Agent establishes its credentials as binge-worthy entertainment grounded in the middle between popcorn thrills and creative frills. The 10-part series is paced to perfection and detailed generously enough to ensure you don’t lose the plot at any given time. This show is classic Netflix content that has turned similar streaming platforms into exciting entertainment portals.

4. The Family Man (2019 – )

Manoj Bajpayee as Shrikant in The Family Man - List of best Spy TV shows
Manoj Bajpayee as Shrikant in The Family Man

There is no doubt that Raj & DK have left a legacy for Indian viewers with The Family Man. The quality-content-deprived audiences lapped up the Manoj Bajpayee starrer show due to its delicate balance of humor, action, narrative, and cultural sensibilities. The show follows the life of a middle-class man named Srikant Tiwari, played by Bajpayee, who is a world-class spy for the Indian government, balancing his personal and professional life.

One of the critical reasons for the show’s success is its realistic portrayal of the struggles faced by middle-class families in India. The show highlights how Srikant’s job affects his family life and his various ethical dilemmas while performing his duties. The relatable characters and their everyday struggles, combined with the high-stakes world of espionage, make for a compelling and engaging storyline. Another factor that sets “The Family Man” apart is its attention to detail and realistic portrayal of the world of espionage.

The show’s creators have taken great care to ensure that the spy elements are grounded in reality, making it stand out from other spy thrillers that often rely on over-the-top action sequences and implausible plotlines. Furthermore, the show’s exploration of themes such as terrorism, political corruption, and the ethical dilemmas faced by spies adds a layer of complexity and depth to the storyline, making it more than just a run-of-the-mill action series.

The Family Man stands out as a high-quality, well-crafted show with a compelling and engaging storyline. Its attention to detail about the spy elements and exploration of timely themes make it a standout series in the Indian entertainment landscape.

5. In From the Cold (2022)

Spy Shows

It was confounding that Netflix did not renew this spy show for another season. Margareta Levieva bursts onto the scene as the central Russian character, whose espionage-laced past becomes fodder for her present-day troubles. In From the Cold was one of the most-watched shows of 2022 on Netflix, ranking in the top 15 in the US. Jenny Franklin (Leveiva) is forced into reliving her past identity when the CIA gets paranoid about having a KGB personnel living as a free citizen in the US. Adam Glass, the creator of the show, approaches the subject material with a full understanding of its limitations.

His stylistic handling does not complicate matters, presenting a straight-froward binge-worthy stress-free avenue for spy enthusiasts. Leveiva deserves credit for providing depth and emotional resonance in the otherwise hardened universe of the show. The actress constantly challenged herself in her portrayal, wearing many hats, including that of a combative spy and a caring mother. Netflix’s dubious history with renewals might never be resolved. But this show definitely deserved a second look from them.

6. Killing Eve (2018-22)

Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh in Killing Eve - part of the list of the greatest Spy TV shows on OTT
Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh in Killing Eve

Killing Eve has become a cultural phenomenon due to its innovative approach to the spy genre, strong female characters, and the unique vision of its creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

One of the main ways Waller-Bridge subverts genre conventions is by putting women at the forefront of the story. The show features two complex and dynamic female leads, Villanelle and Eve, who are both compelling in their own right.

Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer, is a charismatic and deadly assassin, while Eve, played by Sandra Oh, is a bored MI6 agent who becomes obsessed with catching Villanelle. Both characters are well-rounded, with flaws and strengths that make them feel like real people. Waller-Bridge also brings fresh and pulsating energy to the show with her unique blend of dark humor and intense drama. The show has a kinetic pace, with sharp dialogue and unexpected twists that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Waller-Bridge’s writing is stylish and intelligent, making the show’s violence and intrigue feel fresh and exciting. She subverts genre conventions by exploring the relationship between Villanelle and Eve, which has been described as a twisted form of love. The show delves into the complicated power dynamic between the two characters, with Villanelle’s desire for Eve becoming a driving force of the story. The relationship between Villanelle and Eve is one of the most compelling aspects of the show and has helped to make Killing Eve a cultural phenomenon.

Waller-Bridge handles the representation of homosexuality with sensitivity and nuance, avoiding any stereotypes or cliches. The show does not make a big deal out of Villanelle’s sexuality, nor does it define her character solely by it. Instead, Villanelle’s sexuality is just one aspect of her personality, along with her wit, intelligence, and lethal skills as an assassin.

Killing Eve’s portrayal of homosexuality is done tastefully and adds depth and complexity to the show’s storytelling. The relationship between Villanelle and Eve is perfectly defined by the complex power dynamics and emotions that exist between them.

7. Slow Horses (2022- )

Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb in Slow Horses (2022- )
Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb in Slow Horses (2022- )

Apple TV’s Slow Horses is a refreshing addition to the espionage genre, as it eschews the typical slick and competent spies for a group of bumbling and flawed individuals. The show is based on Mick Herron’s novels and centers around the Slough House, where MI5’s washed-up and incompetent spies are sent to carry out menial tasks far away from the front lines of espionage.

At the show’s heart is Jackson Lamb, played by Gary Oldman, who performs as a stern and unorthodox leader of the Slough House. He is a complex, ruthless and compassionate character who has a deep understanding of the game of espionage and a willingness to bend the rules to get the job done. Oldman’s portrayal of Lamb is a highlight of the show, and he brings a frumpy authority to the character that is both endearing and intimidating.

The show’s use of humor and irony is another refreshing aspect of the series. Slow Horses doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the characters’ ineptitude and bumbling nature are often the source of comedy. However, the show’s humor is never at the expense of the story or the characters and always upholds the seriousness of the espionage world. Slow Horses also does an excellent job of exploring contemporary issues, such as political corruption, terrorism, and cyber espionage. The show delves into these topics with a sharp eye and a willingness to engage with complex political issues.

8. Snowfall (2017-2023)

Snowfall is a crime drama series that revolves around the early years of the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles. It follows several characters whose lives are affected by the drug trade, including a young street entrepreneur, a Mexican wrestler turned enforcer, a CIA operative, and a struggling gangster. The show does explore the socio-political and racial tensions of 1980s Los Angeles, which were marked by the rise of gangs and the crack cocaine epidemic. It portrays the impact of these events on the lives of the characters and the city as a whole.

Snowfall is unique in its gritty and realistic portrayal of the drug trade without glamorizing or romanticizing it. It also explores the corrupting influence of power and money and the characters’ complex moral dilemmas. The show features strong performances, compelling writing, and a nuanced portrayal of the historical events it covers.

9. The Little Drummer Girl (2018)

Florence Pugh as Charlie Ross and Alexander Skarsgård in The Little Drummer Girl (2018)
Florence Pugh as Charlie Ross and Alexander Skarsgård in The Little Drummer Girl (2018)

The Little Drummer Girl is a British television miniseries based on John le Carré’s novel of the same name. The show tells the story of an actress named Charlie (played by Florence Pugh), who is recruited by an Israeli spy named Becker (played by Alexander Skarsgård) to infiltrate a Palestinian terrorist cell in Europe.

One of the standout features of The Little Drummer Girl is its assured plotting. Park Chan-wook, the show’s creator, brings his temperamental filmmaking skills to the fore. The show takes its time to unravel the intricate web of espionage and political intrigue that lies at its core. The pacing is deliberate, with each episode building upon the last to create a sense of mounting tension. This allows the show to explore the complex and often morally ambiguous world of espionage in a nuanced and authentic way.

The art direction of the show is also genuinely extraordinary. Set against the backdrop of 1970s Europe, the show’s production design is meticulous in its attention to detail. The show’s creators have recreated the period with impressive accuracy, from the clothing and hairstyles to the architecture and technology of the time. This helps to immerse the viewer in the world of the show, making the setting feel like a character in its own right.

The cast of The Little Drummer Girl is uniformly terrific, with standout performances from Florence Pugh and Alexander Skarsgård. Pugh brings vulnerability and complexity to the role of Charlie, while Skarsgård imbues Becker with a quiet intensity and sense of moral ambiguity. The supporting cast is equally impressive, with Michael Shannon and Charles Dance delivering standout performances.

10. Deutschland 83/86/89 (2015-20)


Deutschland 83

The Deutschland series is a remarkable achievement in German television, providing an engaging and entertaining look at a pivotal moment in world history. With its well-crafted characters, gripping plotlines, and historical authenticity, the Deutschland series is a must-watch for fans of spy dramas, political thrillers, and gripping television.

The show, which aired on American television, was a unique and exciting offering that kept viewers on the edge of their seats with its intriguing plot, set against the backdrop of a divided Germany during the Cold War.

One of the main reasons for the success of Deutschland 83 and its follow-ups was how it captured the atmosphere and essence of the era in which it was set. The show depicted the political tensions, social dynamics, and cultural changes of the time in an accurate and entertaining way, drawing viewers in with its attention to detail and compelling storytelling. At the heart of the series was the character of Martin Rauch, played brilliantly by Jonas Ray. Martin was a young East German soldier sent to the West as a spy, and his experiences and adventures formed the show’s backbone.

Across the three seasons, the creators expertly weave together elements of spy thrillers, political dramas, and social commentary. The crux of their exploration through the characters and setting was the challenges and opportunities of this new era, delving into the post-Cold War world’s complexities while maintaining the intrigue and suspense that made the original series so compelling.

11. The Americans (2013-2018)

Matthew Rhys as Phillip and Keri Russell as Elizabeth in The Americans - Part of the list of top SPY Tv shows
Matthew Rhys as Phillip and Keri Russell as Elizabeth in The Americans

The Americans is a unique spy show that portrays a nostalgic era in American history, the Cold War, with a fresh perspective. The show explores the cultural sensibilities of the time and the political climate in which the story unfolds. What sets the show apart is its focus on the characters’ personal lives and their relationships, which are often complicated by their roles as spies. The tension is heightened because the characters are not infallible, and their plans don’t always go as expected, making for a more realistic and engaging viewing experience.

One of the reasons the show’s central performances are so critically acclaimed is because the actors bring depth and complexity to their characters. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, who play the major characters, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, respectively, imbue their characters with a range of emotions, from vulnerability to ruthlessness. They are not merely spies but complex individuals struggling with personal and moral dilemmas, and the actors bring these struggles to life with nuance and subtlety.

Another theme that the show explores is the moral ambiguity of espionage. The show does not shy away from showing the often brutal and violent nature of espionage and its toll on those who engage in it. The characters are constantly grappling with the morality of their actions, and the show does not provide easy answers. It raises difficult questions about the nature of loyalty, patriotism, and duty and leaves the audience grappling with these questions.

The show’s portrayal of spies is grounded in realism, depicting the painstaking work that goes into intelligence gathering. The show doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of espionage, such as manipulation, deceit, and violence. However, it also highlights the human connections and emotional stakes that are often involved, as spies must balance their loyalties to their country with their commitment to the people they care about.

The creative choice to ground the show in spy elements significantly impacts its storytelling. It allows the show to explore more prominent historical and political themes, such as the tensions between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War and the impact of the spy game on global affairs.

12. Fauda (2015 – )


Fauda, the Israeli television series, sets a high standard for television spy shows. Netflix found its first success with foreign content with Fauda back in 2015 when season 1 of the show aired. It is highly character-driven and features complex, nuanced characters on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This humanizes the conflict and allows viewers to see the situation from multiple perspectives rather than simply presenting a one-dimensional view of the conflict. Additionally, the show features a lot of action and tension, which keeps viewers engaged and on the edge of their seats.

The political commentary underlying Fauda is significant in that it provides insight into the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been a source of tension and violence for decades. The show presents a nuanced view of the conflict, highlighting the complexities and difficulties involved in trying to find a resolution to the conflict. It also touches on issues such as terrorism, nationalism, and the human toll of the conflict on both sides.

Fauda professes unique technical qualities that contribute to its engaging nature. For instance, the show employs a hand-held camera style that creates a sense of immediacy and realism. The use of Hebrew and Arabic languages adds to the show’s authenticity, and real-life locations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enhance the show’s atmosphere. The show’s use of multiple storylines and flashbacks also contributes to its engaging nature, as it keeps viewers on their toes and adds complexity to the narrative.

13. Spycraft (2020-2022)

Spy Shows

Spycraft is a unique entry into the list purely because of its didactic tone and real-life significance. It features interviews with former spies, intelligence officers, and experts in espionage, who provide insights into the world of intelligence gathering and share their experiences and perspectives. However, it does not feature real-life spies spilling their secrets in a sensational or reckless manner.

The interviews conducted on the show are done with individuals who have retired from their positions in the intelligence community. They are often subject to non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from divulging sensitive information. Spycraft’s nature of storytelling offers a deep dive into the world of espionage and intelligence gathering, providing viewers with valuable insights and knowledge about espionage. The show presents a well-researched and informative analysis of spies and intelligence agencies’ various techniques and technologies.

The creators nail the delicate balance between the real-life dynamics of espionage with its inherent dramatic potential for tension and palpability. The show’s ability to offer an insider’s perspective on espionage is undoubtedly compelling, and viewers are often fascinated by the high stakes, danger, and intrigue of spy work.

14. Counterpart (2017-2019)

J. K. Simmons in Counterpart
J. K. Simmons in Counterpart

Counterpart is a captivating espionage drama from Starz that ran for two full seasons. The show’s premise of parallel worlds and the doppelgangers of its characters is both intriguing and original. Counterpart features outstanding performances from its cast, particularly from J.K. Simmons, who portrays two versions of the show’s protagonist. Simmons performs two versions of the character – Howard Silk from the Prime World and Howard Silk from the Otherworld – with nuance and subtlety, making it clear which version of the character is on screen at any given time.

Both versions of Howard are distinct, with their own personalities, mannerisms, and ways of speaking. The difference between the two versions of the character is so palpable that it is easy to forget that the same actor plays them. The show’s tense and suspenseful storytelling keeps viewers on the edge of their seats as the characters navigate the complex web of espionage and deceit.

Counterpart’s writing is intelligent and sophisticated, with well-developed characters and intricate plotlines. Its atmospheric visuals, and stark cinematography create a distinct and immersive world that adds to the overall experience. The writing in Counterpart is intelligent, with well-developed characters and complex plotlines. The show explores themes of identity, betrayal, and morality with nuance and subtlety.

The writers strike a balance between exposition and action, making the show’s complex world and political climate easy to understand without sacrificing tension or suspense. Another intriguing aspect of this spy show is its attention to detail, with small details and hints dropped throughout its first season that pays off in the later episodes.

Also Read: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) Movie Ending, Explained

Spy Shows Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Arnav Srivastav

Self-effacing and self-absorbed. College at RGNUL. A Cùle forever. Driven, ambitious, and "I hate most people". Oh, and I love movies if that wasn't obvious.