Best Paramount Plus shows and movies: What to watch now

The cast of Star Trek Discovery on a planet's surface around a raised flag, in show art for season 3
(Image credit: CBS All Access)

Going through and finding the best Paramount Plus shows and movies may have taken a bit of time and effort, but it's also given us a huge sense of nostalgia. The new version of CBS All Access is loaded to the gills with some of our favorite shows from Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV. The next big shows on Paramount Plus are the Sylvester Stallone-led Tulsa King and Criminal Minds: Evolution (reviving the hit series). 

Oh, and its movie selection isn't that bad either, packing a bunch of classics. The annoying thing is that it takes a while to actually find a lot of these titles. The A-Z page for movies is full of stand-up comedy specials, making it harder to find the best films on Paramount Plus. And we have two new arrivals in Paramount Plus' movies section that we recommend. If you'd like to get Paramount Plus, make sure you check our Paramount Plus coupon codes page for discounts like the Paramount Plus 50% off Black Friday deal.

This list will come in handy for those looking to get the most value from the new service, as it doesn't include a lot of must-see original or exclusive programming. Sure, some folks will want to watch The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, or watch The Real World Homecoming, but the true value of the service currently lies in its backlog of content. 

One of the best movies of 2022 is coming to the service, as Top Gun: Maverick's streaming date on Paramount Plus is set.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies - Avatar the Last Airbender

(Image credit: Nickelodeon)

To understand why Avatar: The Last Airbender is so good, you need to understand a little bit about Nickelodeon cartoons from the era in which it debuted. Up until Avatar, Nickelodeon’s original animated fare comprised funny, low-stakes sitcoms, from Doug to The Fairly OddParents. Then along came Avatar, a high-minded martial arts drama, based on East Asian history and folklore. Avatar packs a few good laughs, sure, but for the most part, it’s a serious character piece, with daring heroes, conflicted villains and a narrative where the fate of the world is at stake.  The story follows Aang, a young martial artist who must master four great elemental powers in order to confront the despotic Fire Lord Ozai (Mark Hamill, naturally.) — Marshall Honorof

Chappelle's Show

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies - Chappelle's Show

(Image credit: Comedy Central/Paramount Plus)

Sketch comedy doesn't always age well, but Chappelle's Show became an instant classic because its best segments were ultimately memorable in the best way. We howled at Clayton Bigsby, the blind black white supremacist. We learned to diversify our bonds with Wu-Tang Financial. The name Rick James got new life thanks to Charlie Murphy. And the Racial Draft is still referenced to this very day. The only issue with Paramount Plus' offerings is that it lacks the musical segments, which gave artists including De La Soul, Questlove, Kanye West, Killer Mike and Busta Rhymes a platform to expand their audiences. — Henry T. Casey

The Good Fight

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies — The Good Fight

(Image credit: CBS All Access)

In its four seasons, the spinoff of The Good Wife has truly evolved into its own, unique, genre-defying show. Where the original was a fairly straightforward legal drama, The Good Fight adds political intrigue, blunt discussions about race and cutting satire of Donald Trump. Christine Baranski centers the show as Diane Lockhart, a partner at a predominantly Black law firm and a staunch liberal married to a conservative gun enthusiast. Yeah, there’s a lot going on, but The Good Fight handles it all with such grace and humor. And you’ve got to see the bizarre but brilliant animated shorts explaining everything from NDAs to Russian troll farms.

The sixth and final season of The Good Fight began streaming in September 2022. — Kelly Woo

SpongeBob SquarePants

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies — SpongeBob SquarePants

(Image credit: Nickelodeon/Paramount Plus)

When it comes to animated shows beloved by audiences of all ages, few were as phenomenally successful and wholesome as SpongeBob. The titular yellow rectangle just loves life, and is proof that a voice actor (Tom Kenny in this case) can truly make or break an animated series. While SpongeBob's friendship with Patrick Star and job at the Krabby Patty were both highly relatable, neither truly would pop without the effervesce of his positivity. The ultra-negative Squidward, though, is the show's not-so-secret weapon, as he managed to be annoyed by the lovable SpongeBob in ways that we could all understand. — Henry T. Casey

RuPaul's Drag Race

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies — RuPaul's Drag Race

(Image credit: VH1)

Sashay this way to 122 seasons of glamorous gowns, amazing wigs, sassy one-liners and jaw-dropping lip sync performances from drag queens. Guiding us through it all, of course, is the one and only RuPaul herself, like a bedazzled beacon. The thing about Drag Race is that past the cosmetics and coiffures, the show is all about heart. The most memorable contestants — from Alaska to Alyssa to Latrice — combine spectacle with emotion. The most recent seasons aren’t on Paramount Plus, but you can see four seasons of Drag Race All Stars. Let the eleganza extravaganza begin! — Kelly Woo

Star Trek: Discovery

Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham in an image from Star Trek: Discovery season 4

(Image credit: StarTrek.com)

Star Trek: Discovery is probably not the best Star Trek show, but it might be the most accessible one for new fans. This series follows Cmdr. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and her adventures aboard the U.S.S. Discovery. Across the show's three seasons, Burnham and her crew fight Klingons in a galactic war, travel to the deadly Mirror Universe, team up with Capt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) from the original Star Trek series, confront a villainous AI and even travel into the distant future to rebuild a broken Federation. The show’s production values are arguably the big draw here, with each episode packing enough special effects and ambitious set design to look like a big-budget sci-fi film. 

Paramount Plus also has all the other big live-action Star Trek shows: The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Picard. — Marshall Honorof

Rocko's Modern Life

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies — Rocko's Modern life

(Image credit: Nickelodeon/Paramount Plus)

Looking back, Rocko’s Modern Life is a long series of “how did they get that past the censors?” realizations. This satirical children’s sitcom follows the adventures of Rocko, an Australian wallaby who’s settled in suburban America. There, he navigates the usual host of small-town problems, from taking out the trash on garbage day, to buying the perfect new TV, to dealing with crooked games at a carnival. Believe it or not, each one of these trivial inconveniences sustains an entire episode. That’s because Rocko’s Modern Life is packed to the gills with bizarre sight gags, innuendo-filled one-liners and clever commentary on just how strange suburban life seems when we take a step back from it. — Marshall Honorof

Hey Arnold!

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies — Hey Arnold!

(Image credit: Nickelodeon/Paramount Plus)

Hey Arnold! is a rare kind of late ‘90s cartoon. Unlike the suburban-set series of this era, Arnold’s antics capture growing up among a motley crew in the big city. And with that comes a tone of family sadness you don't always see find behind white fences — between Football Head’s vanished parents, Helga Pataki’s aggressively detached ones and the broken paths that lead the ensemble to a shared boarding house, the show largely follows how the characters cope. Thematic innuendos, endless mishaps and plays at urban folklore provide comic relief that gets funnier the more you watch, making Hey Arnold! a series I often return over 20 years later. — Kate Kozuch

Cheers

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies - Cheers

(Image credit: NBC Television/Fotos International/Getty)

There are many reasons why Cheers remains an essential comedy even 27 years after it ended. It’s funny, obviously — and sometimes far sharper than you might remember. The characters are engaging, and you really do care about what happens to them. But its real genius lies in the way it wraps you in a warm, comforting blanket of nostalgia. Truly, the bar where everyone knows your name is also the bar that everyone wishes they had round the corner from them. Maybe it’s because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic that has left millions of people unable to even leave their homes for months, but right now I’d give anything to pull up a stool next to Cliff and Norm and listen to Sam crack jokes (sexist ones at times) while Woody looks nonplussed. I can’t do that, but I can rewatch the whole show from start to finish — and that’ll do for now. — Marc McLaren

The Legend of Korra

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies - Legend of Korra

Legend of Korra (Image credit: Nickelodeon)

The Legend of Korra is better than Avatar: The Last Airbender. There, I said it, because someone had to. This sequel series to Avatar picks up decades later, and follows the adventures of Korra, a young Avatar who feels immense pressure to live up to Aang’s sterling legacy. Instead of one long, globetrotting adventure, Korra faces down a different threat each season — and, rather than simply wanting to rule the world, each one of Korra’s foes has an ideological ambition. (The anarchist Zaheer, played by the incomparable Henry Rollins, is a particularly effective villain.) With a steampunk aesthetic, an affable cast of characters and a willingness to shake up the status quo, The Legend of Korra is a daring show — and a fun one. – Marshall Honorof

The Twilight Zone

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies — the twilight zone

the twilight zone (Image credit: CBS)

Sit back and relax with one of the best shows that aims to completely unnerve you with tales of the unbelievable and supernatural. If you think Black Mirror is too focused on the dangers of technology but love its twisted sense of humor, then take a trip back in time with the iconic and stern host Rod Serling. Must-watch episodes include The Invaders, a classic tale of frightening aliens, and The Lonely, where a convict falls for a lifelike robot. It's not an exclusive to Paramount Plus, though, as it's also on Netflix. — Henry T. Casey

Daria

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies — Daria

(Image credit: MTV/Paramount Plus)

The phrase "sick, sad world" may seem evergreen, but at the time of its original airing, MTV's Daria felt like the novel breath of fresh air that animation needed. The series, spinning off from Beavis and Butt-Head, focuses on the Morgendorffer family who just moved to the affluent suburbs from the backwater Texas county where The Great Cornholio was terrorizing the neighbors. While parents Jake and Helen get their own fair share of screen time, the show is definitely focused on the malaise of high-schooler Daria — which is often inspired by her sister Quinn. Filled with dry banter, and moments that highlight the hypocrisies of high school, Daria was ahead of its time and definitely one of the best Paramount Plus shows that we're eager to rewatch. And while we would have liked to include the series it spun off of, Paramount Plus doesn't have the brilliant music video commentary scenes for Beavis & Butt-Head. — Henry T. Casey

Paramount Plus (opens in new tab)

Paramount Plus (opens in new tab) combines what used to be CBS All Access with even more content from the deep ViacomCBS vault. For $5.99 per month, get access to Survivor and Big Brother episodes, as well as originals like Star Trek: Picard and The Good Fight. And more great stuff is on the way, including Frasier and Criminal Minds revivals. 

The best Paramount Plus movies

Clueless (1995)

Alicia Silverstone as Cher in Clueless, talking to her class from the front of the room

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures via YouTube)

Leaving Netflix soon and already-arrived at Paramount Plus, Clueless is an easy pick for one of the best movies on Paramount Plus. In this updated version of Jane Austen's Emma, we meet Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), whose emotional baggage is only matched by her epic walk-in closet. Being the most popular girl in Beverly Hills may have its perks, such as her loyal best friend Di (Stacey Dash), but Cher can't pass the driver's license test and is constantly critiqued by the doubters.

After Cher tries to be a movie giving person, she learns that she might be too good at makeovers when classmate Tai (Brittany Murphy) turns on her faster than you can say "whatever." And we also need to talk about her ex-stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd), who Cher has some very complicated thoughts about. - Henry T. Casey

Annihilation

Natalie Portman as Lena in Annihilation, one of the best Paramount Plus movies

(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Lena (Natalie Portman) is dealing with a lot, starting with a husband (Oscar Isaac) who took what basically amounts to a suicide mission after she cheated on him.  After he returns, and becomes ill, Lena finds out the secret behind his ailment is tied to a patch of wildlife inside a shimmering phenomenon known as ... the shimmer. So, Lena does what everyone does in the movies, leads a team of scientists into the Shimmer, where they soon lose their memories, discover wild mutations and ... well, a bear that's not quite right. Annihilation, an adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's novel of the same name, is a haunting thriller executed amazingly by director and screenplay writer Alex Garland. - Henry T. Casey

A Quiet Place and A Quiet Place Part II

Emily Blunt (Evelyn Abbott) looks at John Krasinski (John Abbott) in A Quiet Place

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Back to back excellent horror movies of a new series are rare, but A Quiet Place did things a little differently. Here, the Abbott family is living a constantly-on-edge life, because a single bit of noise in this post-apocalyptic hell-space could send the infected creatures for them immediately. So, if you thought keeping your kids quiet was tough, you've got nothing on parents Evelyn and John Abbott (real-life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski). Thrilling for its lack of sound — hey, they're just trying to survive — A Quiet Place is the kind of movie you'll want to watch when you can silence everything (and everyone) around you. – Henry T. Casey

10 Cloverfield Lane

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle, pressed against a door, while John Goodman as Howard Stambler looks through its window in 10 Cloverfield Lane

(Image credit: Entertainment Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo)

An impressively great psychological thriller that was born out of the sci-fi Cloverfield movies, 10 Cloverfield Lane snuck up on many folks. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in a bunker belonging to Howard (John Goodman), a prepper whose day has come. At least according to him. Claiming that an apocalyptic event is taking place, Howard refuses to let Michelle endanger herself. Oh, and they're not alone: Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) claims he came here voluntarily, though things changed. John Goodman turns in a sizzling performance as the manic and erratic Howard, serving up a reminder that he's still got it. – Henry T. Casey

Mission: Impossible

Best Paramount Plus shows and movies - mission impossible

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures/Paramount Plus)

The first Mission: Impossible may feature seemingly arcane technology, such as an IRC chat room, but it's a truly timeless action movie. While M:I is led by Tom Cruise at his best, a fantastic supporting cast including Jean Reno, Vanessa Redgrave and Ving Rhames make this espionage/heist thriller ultimately rewatchable. Paramount Plus also has the next two films in the series, but feel free to skip M:I2, though, as the sequel forces its romance storyline that will make you roll your eyes faster than Agent Hunt can rappel down from the ceiling. — Henry T. Casey

The Lost City

Sandra Bullock (as Angela) and Channing Tatum (as Dash) navigate a waterfall in The Lost City

(Image credit: Paramount)

Channing Tatum's love of playing a himbo with a heart of gold makes him the perfect foil for Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), a romance novelist who's both depressed and over the paperback industry. Tatum plays Alan Caprison, a model whose image has adorned the covers of Loretta's books, as he 'plays' Dash McMahon, the hero of her series of adventure novels. But when an weirdo billionaire played by Daniel Radcliffe kidnaps Loretta — he thinks she knows how to find a fortune — Alan is Loretta's only hope. Far better than it has any right to be, The Lost City is a gem of a movie. — Henry T. Casey

Bumblebee

Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie, accidentally having her hair messed up by Bumblebee, in the movie Bumblebee

(Image credit: Paramount via YouTube)

If you thought Transformers movies were easily ignored, you slept on Bumblebee at your own peril. It's basically a modern E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but instead of lil ol' E.T., you've got a ... say it with me, 80's babies, robot in disguise. In 1987, Autobot Bumblebee has crashed onto Earth, trying to evade the evil Decepticons, and eventually goes into hiding in the shell of a VW Bug. Fortunately, Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), finds said automobile and eventually figures out what's going on. An impressive performance from Steinfeld makes this film more than the sum of its CGI, and John Cena himself plays a government agent who thinks Bumblebee is against our best interests. — Henry T. Casey 

Top Gun

Tom Cruise as Maverick, smiling with sunglasses on, in Top Gun

(Image credit: Paramount via YouTube)

A lot happened in the 1980's, but there are few movies as synonymous with the decade than Top Gun. The film stars Tom Cruise as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, a naval pilot who is too good and too cocky for his own good. After one incident in the skies that sends a colleague packing because of Maverick's brash flying, he and his flyboy buddy Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) are sent off to the TOPGUN Naval Fighter Weapons School. There, they get into even more trouble, as Maverick flirts with his instructor before knowing that she was his instructor, and get into a rivalry with fellow TOPGUN student Tom "Iceman" Kazansky (Val Kilmer). Younger audiences may not "get" Top Gun, but fans of a certain vintage will devour its cheese. – Henry T. Casey

Jackass Forever

Johnny Knoxville and the cast of Jackass Forever

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures via YouTube)

If you know the riff that plays at the start of every Jackass episode or movie, you probably already know that Jackass Forever is a phenomenal extension of the show and movie series. The fourth film in the series finds Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Ehren McGhehey, Preston Lacey, Dave England and Jason "WeeMan" Acuna  back and joined by new cast members Jasper, Rachel Wolfson (the First Lady of Jackass), Zach Holmes and standout Poopies. This new gang gets into all of the right kind of terrible trouble and we're still worried about the trauma inflicted on Ehren. – Henry T. Casey

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

With contributions from