Roku wants to be known as more than just a provider of streaming devices that gives users easy access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max and the like, but as its streaming channel offering both original content and popular shows from other channels and networks. That’s where The Roku Channel comes in.
The Roku Channel is an ad-supported streaming channel with hundreds of TV shows right at users’ fingertips. Some are only available through Roku Channel premium subscriptions to cable channels like Showtime, Starz, Epix or AMC+ — with some shows offering a few episodes for free — but plenty are free and ready to watch.
The Roku Channel also now has its own Roku Originals, many of which were acquired from the short-lived Quibi streaming channel. About 20 Roku Originals are now on The Roku Channel, with more on the way.
Here’s a look at the best shows on The Roku Channel available to watch right now.
During the run of 24, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) was as popular of a spy character as James Bond for American audiences. The ever-raising stakes and the ticking clock (literally) of each episode made 24 appointment viewing.
As much as the plot, fans grew to love many of the returning characters, like President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard). This meant that any twist or portrayal had the ability to strike a deep nerve with viewers.
Watch Jack Bauer save the day with all eight seasons available on The Roku Channel.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alfred Hitchcock is best known for his classic movies like North by Northwest, Psycho, Vertigo and Rear Window, but he was not limited to the big screen. Alfred Hitchcock Presents brought the master of suspense into people’s homes on a weekly basis.
Hitchcock served as the host of the show, which showed unrelated short stories every week that spanned from crime to horror to comedy, similar to The Twilight Zone, which debuted four years after Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Hitch also directed 17 of the 268 episodes that ran across seven seasons.
Other directors during the series included Robert Stevens, Paul Henreid, Norman Lloyd and Robert Altman, among others.
All seven seasons of Alfred Hitchcock Presents are available on The Roku Channel to enjoy.
2001 was a big year for spies on TV. In addition to Fox's 24, ABC debuted Alias starring Jennifer Garner and created by J.J. Abrams.
Garner starred as Sidney Bristow, who is recruited to becomes an international spy attempting to take down a shadowy organization. Her missions not only have an impact on the global scale, but dig deeper into her family and personal issues.
All five seasons of the ABC spy drama are available on The Roku Channel.
Despite Hollywood's best efforts to reboot The A-Team as a movie in 2010, you just can't top the original TV series that ran for five seasons. Or as Mr. T would say, "I pity the fool" who thinks they can redo The A-Team.
The A-Team was about four Vietnam veterans on the run from the military after being framed for a crime. However, while on the lam, they become the heroic A-Team, helping those in need around the world.
The show starred the aforementioned Mr. T, George Peppard, Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict.
All five seasons of The A-Team are available on The Roku Channel.
One of the most popular reality series of all time, The Bachelorette has reliably brought the drama for eager fans ready to eat it up across 16 (about to be 17) seasons.
While the show has not been without controversy, including recently with longtime host Chris Harrison, fans continue to return to the reality franchise to watch roses be handed out as young people try to find love on national television.
Only one season of The Bachelorette is available on The Roku Channel, season 13, featuring the first Black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay.
Blue Mountain State
Originally airing on what was then Spike TV (remember that?), Blue Mountain State put a comedic spin on the world of college football, following a trio of incoming freshmen at the eponymous college football powerhouse as they balance athletics, classes, girls and hazing.
The show was short-lived — squeezing in three seasons over two years — but it generated a solid fanbase that have enjoyed it across streaming platforms since its end.
The Roku Channel offers the entire series of Blue Mountain State.
The Demi Lovato Show
Demi Lovato has joined the world of talk shows, but her The Demi Lovato Show is something different for the long-held TV staple.
As a Roku Original, The Demi Lovato Show's episodes are 10 minutes or less, but in that time she has upfront conversations with experts on important topics like mental health, body positivity, activism and more.
The first season contains nine episodes and features guests that include Olivia Munn, alien expert Dr. Steven Greer and nutritionist Elyse Resch.
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Dick Van Dyke Show is one of the landmark American sitcoms. Created by Carl Reiner, it was one of the first TV shows to highlight the daily life of a working family man, which has basically served as the base format for sitcoms ever since. In addition, it officially made Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore household names.
The Dick Van Dyke Show is also having a bit of a moment in 2021. First, Van Dyke was recognized with a Kennedy Center Honors for his career. Also, the Disney Plus Marvel series WandaVision used the show as inspiration and directly referenced it over the course of its episodes.
You can catch up with every single episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show on The Roku Channel.
One of the Roku Originals that came from the acquisition of Quibi, Die Hart stars comedian Kevin Hart as himself, determined to become an action star with the help of a former action star, played by John Travolta.
These former Quibi shows are quick hitters, all less than 10 minutes, but with a performer of Hart’s energy it’s safe to assume that they try and back as much humor into that time frame as possible.
In addition to Hart and Travolta, Nathalie Emmanuel and Jean Reno co-star, and Josh Harnett is there as himself.
All episodes of Die Hart are on The Roku Channel.
Extreme Makeover Home Edition
If you’re in need of a feel good show, you’d be hard pressed to find something that brings the feels more than Extreme Makeover Home Edition.
First running from 2003-2012 before returning in 2020, Extreme Makeover Home Edition was hosted by Ty Pennington, who along with a team of contractors and people from local communities, would create a new home for a family in need over the course of a week.
It was always inspiring to see communities come together and help each other create one of the most important things anyone needs, a home. Get your tissues ready, cause Extreme Makeover Home Edition does not hold back on its tear-inducing moments.
Various episodes from seven seasons of the show are available on The Roku Channel.
Even though Quibi didn’t last very long, that does not mean it was without its successes, at least critically. #FreeRayshawn earned two Emmy Awards for Laurence Fishburne and Jasmine Cephas Jones in the acting categories for short form series; Stephan James was also nominated.
The 15-episode first season of #FreeRayshawn follows a Black military veteran who becomes caught in a showdown with the New Orleans SWAT team. He tries to talk his way out of it with the help of a sympathetic officer.
All episodes of #FreeRayshawn are on The Roku Channel.
Chef Gordon Ramsay has become a TV staple in large part because of his classic rants on shows like Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. Fans can relive some of the greatest hits on The Roku Channel.
Hell's Kitchen is a reality competition show where young chefs are put through rigorous cooking challenges and dinner services at Ramsay's Hollywood restaurant. If they fall short, they are sure to be in for a vicious tongue lashing.
Eighteen of Hell's Kitchen 20 seasons are available on The Roku Channel.
Magnum, P.I., centered on the cases of a private investigator in Hawai'i, was one of the most popular shows of the 1980s, running for eight seasons and making a star out of Tom Selleck.
Selleck, rocking plenty of Hawai'ian shirts and his trademark mustache, was joined by John Hillerman as his trusted partner Higgins, Roger E. Mosely and Larry Manetti.
Selleck lost out on a chance to play Indiana Jones because of Magnum, P.I., but I'm sure the show's long run helped make up for that.
The entire series is available to watch on The Roku Channel.
Reno 911! was a long-running hit on Comedy Central that received new life initially from Quibi and now as a Roku Original.
The Reno Sheriff’s Department is back, with Thomas Lennon, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Joe Lo Truglio, Kerri Kenney, Robert Ben Garant, Niecy Nash, Mary Birdsong, Cedric Yarbrough and Carlos Alazraqui all returning. New to the force is Paul Walter Hauser.
The original show was often made up of short vignettes of the officers responding to hilarious crimes, so it makes sense that the Reno 911! would work seamlessly in the abbreviated episodes that make up many of the Roku Originals.
All episodes of the new Reno 911! are available to watch on The Roku Channel.
Route 66 was a CBS show that starred Martin Miler and George Maharis as two drifters traveling across the U.S. on the historic highway, meeting plenty of interesting people along the way. It ran for four seasons.
However, perhaps the most interesting thing about Route 66 was that it was an early credit for many actors, including the likes of Robert Redford, James Caan, William Shatner and more.
The Roku Channel has all four seasons for viewers to binge.
Before Roger Moore became James Bond, he got his big break as the star of the '60s TV series The Saint. Moore played Simon Templar, a Robin Hood-esque figure who would go around helping those in need, earning him the titular nickname.
A reboot of The Saint is in development, with Regé-Jean Page from Bridgerton tapped to take over the lead role. Could it also be a way for him to step into the tuxedo of James Bond?
Either way, you can check out the original iteration of the show on The Roku Channel, where all six seasons are available.
The Shape of Pasta
The Roku Original The Shape of Pasta was made for foodies. The series follows chef Evan Funke as he travels around Italy learning about and making rare and forgotten types of pasta in an effort to keep their traditions alive.
Whether you make your own pasta or just want to learn about some classic Italian cuisine, The Shape of Pasta is something you’ll want to watch. Probably best not to do it on an empty stomach though.
The entire first season is now on The Roku Channel.
Ugly Betty stole the hearts of plenty of viewers during its four season run as it followed the smart but wholesome Betty, who embraces her individuality to set her apart in the world of New York fashion. America Ferrera headlined the ABC show alongside Vanessa Williams and others.
Ferrera has gone on to star in other projects like the How to Train Your Dragon franchise and Superstore, but she will always be at least in part known for her breakout role as Ugly Betty.
The entire series is on The Roku Channel to watch.
Laws against marijuana are falling in a number of states across the country, meaning today a show like Weeds probably wouldn't exist. Good thing Jenji Kohan wrote it when she did.
Weeds stars Mary-Louise Parker as a suburban mother who starts her own weed business as an effort to support her family. It is kind of a comedic Breaking Bad, as Parker's character and her family become more entangled in criminal activity as the series goes on.
Kevin Nealon, Elizabeth Perkins, Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould and Justin Kirk also starred.
All eight seasons of Weeds are ready for viewing on The Roku Channel.
The show that introduced the world to actor Matt Bomer, White Collar sees Bomer star as a con artist who strikes a deal with the FBI to help capture other criminals in exchange for his freedom.
Originally airing on USA Network, White Collar was one of the network’s marquee shows, alongside Suits. Joining Bomer in the cast was Tim DeKay, Willie Garson and Saved by the Bell alumni Tiffani Thiessen.
White Collar ran for six seasons, all of which can be streamed on The Roku Channel.
Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.
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