Best documentaries on YouTube: 20+ must-see videos that will change how you see the world

If you are a curious person who always wants to learn and get to know the world around you better, you are most likely an avid enjoyer of documentaries. Naturally, you will find some great ones on TV or subscription-based streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or HBO Max, but it’s 2023, and the web offers a much more diverse knowledge palette. It’s time you discover the best documentaries on YouTube.

It’s free and easy to watch (just press play!). Also, you can download them to watch later offline with software such as YTD Downloader

Because there is a lot of content out there, and maybe you don’t have time to search for the best ones, we got you sorted. Read on if you want a list of the best documentaries on YouTube, organized into thematic categories, such as true crime, social issues, science, arts, music, or food.

Best documentaries on YouTube – True Crime

The best documentaries on YouTube - the iceman tapes, conversations with a killer

The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer

This is a fascinating documentary that offers a rare glimpse into the mind of a notorious hitman, Richard Kuklinski, who claimed to have killed over 200 people. In the documentary, Kuklinski discusses his crimes and his personal life in candid detail, offering insights into his motives and thought processes.

One of the most compelling aspects of the documentary is the way in which it allows Kuklinski to speak for himself. Through his interviews, viewers can hear his voice and see his demeanor, which offers a chilling insight into his personality and his crimes.

Overall, “The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer” is a thought-provoking documentary that sheds light on one of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century. It is certainly one of the best documentaries on YouTube that you can find.

Crime Investigation Australia – Moorhouse Horrors

best documentaries on youtube - crime investigation australia, moorhouse horrors

This is a compelling true crime documentary that explores the shocking crimes of David and Catherine Birnie, who abducted, raped, and murdered four young women in Perth, Australia, in the 1980s.

One of the main reasons to watch this documentary is that it provides a detailed and harrowing account of the Birnies’ crimes, as well as the investigation and subsequent trial. Through interviews with police officers, journalists, and others involved in the case, viewers can gain a better understanding of the complexity of the investigation and the psychological motivations of the perpetrators.

Moorhouse Horrors is a well-produced and informative documentary that offers a powerful insight into one of Australia’s most shocking true crime cases. It’s a must-watch for true crime enthusiasts and anyone interested in exploring the psychological and social factors that can lead to violent crime.

The Disturbing Case of the House of Horrors Killer

best documentaries on YouTube - The Disturbing Case of the House of Horrors Killer

The Disturbing Case of the House of Horrors Killer tells the shocking story of Fred and Rosemary West, a married couple who carried out a series of brutal murders in their home in Gloucester, England, in the 1970s.

The documentary also explores the psychology of the Wests and the factors that may have contributed to their crimes. It delves into their troubled backgrounds and the abusive relationship they had with each other, providing insights into the psychological motivations of the perpetrators. Due to the graphic nature of the crimes and the explicit content of the documentary, it may not be suitable for all viewers.

Best documentaries on YouTube – Cults

Holy Hell

best documentaries on YouTube - Holy Hell

“Holy Hell” is a gripping and thought-provoking documentary that provides a fascinating insight into the world of a spiritual community in California and the charismatic leader who controlled it.

The film was made by a former member of the community who joined when he was a young man and who became increasingly disillusioned as he uncovered the leader’s disturbing behavior. Through his personal experience, the documentary provides an intimate look at life within the community and the gradual realization of its darker side.

The documentary also explores the complex psychology of cults and their leaders, examining how charismatic figures can exert an almost hypnotic influence over their followers. The film raises important questions about the nature of power, manipulation, and control and how seemingly ordinary people can become caught up in cults and extremist movements.

Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple

Jonestown - the life and death of peoples temple - best documentaries on YouTube

It tells the story of the Peoples Temple led by Jim Jones, and the infamous mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978.

One of the main reasons to watch this documentary is the depth of research and investigation that has gone into its production. The filmmakers have spoken to many of the surviving members of the Peoples Temple, as well as journalists, experts, and family members of those who died in Jonestown. This provides a nuanced and detailed account of the events that led up to the mass suicide and the complex factors that contributed to it.

The documentary also explores the broader context of the Peoples Temple and its impact on American society at the time. It delves into issues such as racism, social justice, and the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, which all played a role in the rise of the Peoples Temple and the influence it had on its followers.

Best documentaries on YouTube – Social Issues

The best documentaries on YouTube - 13th


“13th” is an eye-opening and powerful documentary that explores the history of racial inequality in America and how it is perpetuated through the criminal justice system.

The film traces the legacy of slavery and the Jim Crow era to the present day and shows how laws and policies have been used to discriminate against black Americans systematically. It also explores how the War on Drugs and other tough-on-crime measures have led to a disproportionate number of black Americans being incarcerated and trapped in a cycle of poverty and criminality.

The documentary is also noteworthy for its use of a range of interviews, archival footage, and statistics to present a compelling case for reform. It features interviews with activists, politicians, and experts who provide insight and commentary on the complex issues surrounding race, justice, and inequality.

Moreover, the film is not just informative but also emotionally powerful. It challenges viewers to confront the reality of racial injustice in America and the devastating impact it has had on generations of black Americans. It encourages viewers to consider how they can play a role in breaking down the barriers of racism and inequality that still exist in society today and that is why this is one of the best documentaries on YouTube.

Requiem for the American Dream

best documentaries on YouTube - requiem for an american dream

The film features interviews with Noam Chomsky, a renowned linguist, philosopher, and political activist, who offers a compelling critique of the current state of American society. Chomsky provides a detailed analysis of how economic and political power has become concentrated in the hands of a few, leading to a system that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the rest of the population.

The documentary also explores how the media and the education system have been used to shape public opinion and maintain the status quo. It shows how the corporate elite have been able to use their power and influence to control the narrative and maintain their grip on the levers of power.

Moreover, the documentary also offers a powerful call to action. It challenges viewers to think critically about the issues of power and inequality and to take action to push back against the forces that are working to dismantle democracy and undermine the rights of ordinary people.

The White Helmets

best documentaries on YouTube - white helmets

This is a powerful documentary that tells the story of a group of Syrian rescue workers who risk their lives to save others during the Syrian civil war.

The film follows these volunteers as they respond to bomb attacks and other emergencies, often putting their lives in danger to rescue others. It provides a firsthand look at the devastation and human toll of the conflict in Syria, and the extraordinary efforts of ordinary people to provide aid and support to those in need.

The documentary also highlights the impact of the conflict on Syrian civilians and the role of the international community in providing humanitarian aid and support. It raises crucial questions about the responsibility of the global community to respond to crises and provide support to those in need.

Best documentaries on YouTube – Science and Technology

The best documentaries on YouTube

The story of Electricity

“The Story of Electricity” is an excellent documentary series that explores the history and evolution of electricity, from its earliest origins to the present day.

It offers a comprehensive look at the history of electricity: The documentary covers everything from the discovery of static electricity in ancient Greece to the invention of the light bulb and the development of the power grid.

What’s more, It explores the impact of electricity on society: The documentary shows how electricity has transformed how we live, work, and communicate.

It provides a glimpse into the future of electricity: The documentary also looks ahead to the future, including the development of renewable energy sources and the potential for breakthroughs in energy storage.

The beginning and End of the Universe

the beginning and end of the universe - best documentaries on YouTube

This one explores some of the biggest questions in science: How did the universe begin? What is the ultimate fate of the universe?

The documentary covers a wide range of topics related to the universe, including the Big Bang, the formation of galaxies, and the search for dark matter. It also includes interviews with some of the world’s most prominent cosmologists and astrophysicists, who share their insights and perspectives on the mysteries of the universe.

Even if you don’t have a background in science, the documentary does an excellent job of explaining complex concepts like relativity, quantum mechanics, and the nature of space and time. Also, you can expect stunning visuals and graphics, which you can expect from one of the best documentaries on YouTube.

The Living Body – Our Extraordinary Life

the living body our extraordinary life best documentaries on YouTube

This documentary offers a comprehensive look at the human body: it covers a wide range of topics related to the human body, including the circulatory system, respiratory system, nervous system, and more. You will find stunning visuals and animations that help to illustrate the inner workings of the human body, including X-rays, MRI scans, and CT scans.

The documentary also raises important questions about how we can maintain our health and wellness, including the importance of exercise, nutrition, and stress reduction.

Best documentaries on YouTube – Nature

The best documentaries on YouTube - our planet

Our Planet: Forests

This is a visually stunning and informative documentary episode that explores the world’s forests, their importance to our planet, and the threats they face.

The documentary explains the crucial role that forests play in regulating the Earth’s climate, providing clean air and water, and supporting a wide range of plant and animal species. It also explores the many threats forests face, including deforestation, habitat loss, and climate change. It raises awareness about the need for conservation and environmental stewardship: By watching “Our Planet: Forests,” you will gain a better understanding of the importance of environmental conservation and the role that we all play in protecting our planet.

Whether you’re interested in conservation or environmentalism or just want to learn more about the world around us, this documentary is definitely worth watching.

Eight Wonders of Our Solar System

eight wonders of our solar system - best documentaries on Youtube

The Eight Wonders of our Solar System is a documentary series by the BBC that explores some of the most awe-inspiring features of our solar system.

It provides a wealth of fascinating insights into the eight wonders of our solar system, including the rings of Saturn, the geysers of Enceladus, and the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. Viewers will learn about the science behind these incredible features and the ways in which they have shaped our understanding of the universe.

The series features commentary from leading experts in the fields of astronomy and planetary science, who provide valuable context and insight into the wonders of our solar system. Viewers will gain a deeper understanding of the science behind these phenomena and the ways in which they continue to fascinate and inspire us.

This is a must-watch for anyone interested in space exploration, astronomy, and the universe’s wonders. 

Ultimate predators

ultimate predators best documentaries on YouTube

The “Ultimate Predators” documentary made by National Geographic is a fascinating exploration of some of the world’s most fearsome predators. It covers a wide range of predators, from lions and tigers to crocodiles and sharks. Viewers will learn about the unique characteristics and behaviors of each species and how they have adapted to become some of the most efficient hunters on the planet.

The documentary features incredible footage of predators in action, including hunting, fighting, and interacting with their environment. Viewers will get a rare glimpse into the lives of these animals and witness some of their most impressive behaviors up close.

The “Ultimate Predators” documentary offers educational value for viewers of all ages. It provides a fascinating look at the natural world and the ways in which predators have adapted to survive and thrive in their environments. The documentary suits casual viewers and those interested in biology and animal behavior.

Best documentaries on YouTube – History

The War

the war best documentaries on YouTube

“The War” is a seven-part documentary series by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns that explores the experiences of American soldiers during World War II. The documentary is an in-depth and emotional look at the war from the perspectives of soldiers and civilians, providing a vivid picture of the sacrifices and struggles faced by those who fought and lived through the war.

The documentary is filled with personal stories of soldiers and civilians, offering a powerful and emotional look at the human toll of the war. The interviews with veterans are particularly moving, providing firsthand accounts of the war that help to bring the events to life.

Like Ken Burns’ documentaries, “The War” is meticulously researched and beautifully produced. The documentary features a rich collection of archival footage, photographs, and music that help to transport viewers back in time and immerse them in the era.

The Rich Origins of India & The Oldest Civilisation

the rich origins of India and the oldest civilisation - best documentaries on YouTube

“The Rich Origins of India & The Oldest Civilization” is a documentary that explores the ancient history and culture of India, tracing the roots of Indian civilization back thousands of years. 

India has a rich and complex history. This documentary provides a fascinating overview of the country’s ancient history, including the rise and fall of various empires, the development of trade and commerce, and the evolution of different religious traditions.

India is home to some of the world’s most impressive ancient structures, including the Taj Mahal, the Khajuraho temples, and the Ellora Caves. This documentary provides a detailed look at these architectural wonders, as well as other ancient sites and artifacts that showcase the country’s rich cultural heritage.

The Lost Treasures of the Silk Road

the lost treasures of the Silk Road - best documentaries on YouTube

This one explores the rich cultural heritage of the Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes that connected the East and the West. 

The Silk Road was a vital trade route that played a major role in shaping the economies and cultures of the regions it connected. This documentary provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of this important trade network, as well as the people and civilizations that flourished along its route.

Best Documentaries on YouTube – Arts and music

The best documentaries on YouTube. - 4 your eyes only

J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only

“J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only” is a documentary that follows rapper J. Cole as he explores the current state of black America through music and personal conversations with people from various backgrounds. 

J. Cole’s music has always touched on social and political issues, and this documentary takes that commentary to the next level. Through conversations with people from different walks of life, J. Cole delves into the complex issues facing black America, including systemic racism, poverty, and police brutality.

“J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only” is a deeply emotional and impactful film. It provides a powerful commentary on the state of black America and offers hope and inspiration through the resilience and determination of the people featured in the film.

David Hockney – The art of Seeing

David Hockney the art of seeing - best documentaries on YouTube

The “David Hockney: The Art of Seeing” documentary offers a fascinating look at the life and work of one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. David Hockney is a celebrated painter, printmaker, and photographer known for his vibrant and colorful artworks that often explore themes of sexuality, nature, and the human experience.

Through interviews with Hockney and those who know him, as well as a deep dive into his personal archives, the documentary provides a unique insight into the creative process of one of the world’s most beloved artists. It delves into his inspirations, techniques, and his ability to capture the essence of the world around him in his artworks.

In addition to exploring his art, the documentary also provides an intimate look at the life of David Hockney, his personal relationships, and his influence on the art world. It is a beautifully crafted film that celebrates the life and work of a true visionary and offers a rare glimpse into the mind of an artist at the height of his career.

Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence

Francis bacon - a brush with violence

This is an insightful documentary about one of the most celebrated British painters of the 20th century. It explores the life and work of Francis Bacon, known for his visceral and emotive artworks that often depicted raw human emotion and existential themes.

The documentary offers a unique glimpse into the creative process of Francis Bacon, his inspirations, and the factors that influenced his artwork. Through interviews with his friends, family, and art experts, as well as footage of his studio and his personal archives, viewers gain a deeper understanding of the man behind the art.

In addition to exploring his art, the documentary also delves into the turbulent personal life of Francis Bacon, including his tumultuous relationships, his struggles with addiction, and his experiences living as a gay man in a society that was not always accepting.

Best Documentaries on YouTube – Food

Forks over Knives

forks over knives best documentaries on YouTube

Forks Over Knives is a documentary that explores the connection between our diet and health. It presents compelling evidence to suggest that a whole-food, plant-based diet can prevent and even reverse chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The film features interviews with leading experts in the field of nutrition, as well as inspiring stories of people who have transformed their health through dietary changes.

One of the key takeaways from this documentary is that the Western diet, which is high in animal products, processed foods, and refined sugars, contributes to the epidemic of chronic diseases in the United States and other countries. Forks Over Knives presents a convincing case that we can improve our health and well-being by adopting a more plant-based diet.

Overall, Forks Over Knives is a well-made and informative documentary worth watching for anyone interested in improving their health and learning more about the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Download the best documentaries for free with YTD Downloader!

These documentaries can help you become more aware of important issues and inspire you to take action. They can also help you develop a more critical eye when it comes to media, politics, and the ways in which powerful institutions can shape our lives. Watching these documentaries can be a transformative experience and can help you become a more informed and engaged citizen.

If you want to have easy access to all of the best documentaries on YouTube, even offline, without having to use the YouTube app, you can download them with YTD Downloader.