The BEST Episodes of Discovery Channel Documentaries
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2021
Discovery Channel (formerly The Discovery Channel from 1985 to 1995, and often referred to as simply "Discovery") is an American basic cable and satellite television channel (which is also delivered via IPTV, terrestrial television and internet television in other parts of the world).
#1 - Alien Planet
Season 2005 - Episode 1 - Aired May 14, 2005
Alien Planet is a 94 minute mockumentary, originally airing on the Discovery Channel, about two internationally built robot probes searching for alien life on the fictional planet Darwin IV. It was based on the book Expedition, by sci-fi/fantasy artist and writer Wayne Douglas Barlowe, who was also executive producer on the special. It premiered on May 14, 2005. The show uses sophisticated computer-generated imagery, which is interspersed with interviews from such notables as Stephen Hawking, George Lucas, Michio Kaku, and Jack Horner. The show was filmed in Iceland and Mono Lake in California.
#2 - 9/11: After the Towers Fell
Season 2010 - Episode 10 - Aired Sep 5, 2010
When the Twin Towers Collapsed on September 11, 2001, thousands were feared trapped beneath the tons of steel and rubble. Rescue Workers, family, and friends rushed to Ground Zero to save the buried. These are the stories of the race to rescue survivors.
#3 - Earth from Space
Season 2012 - Episode 4 - Aired May 6, 2012
Venture on an epic quest to discover the invisible forces and occurrences that sustain life on this planet and - for the first time - see these processes in action in EARTH FROM SPACE, premiering Sunday, May 6 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery Channel. An original Canada/U.K. co-production, this sweeping two-hour special reveals the Earth's deepest mysteries, captured in breath-taking detail, and raises profound questions and challenges the old assumptions of how it all works. Using the latest CGI technology, and joining NASA and the world's foremost Earth scientists, EARTH FROM SPACE transforms raw satellite data into a visible spectrum, offering viewers authentic, high-definition moving images that vividly illustrate these processes at work.
#4 - Churchill's Toyshop
Season 2015 - Episode 6 - Aired May 22, 2015
CHURCHILL'S TOYSHOP explores the secretive and strange arms race between Britain and the Nazis during WW2. Convinced that the path to victory lay in out gunning the Nazis but faced with limited resources, British weapon manufactures were forced to improvise. To combat the problem, Winston Churchill himself set-up a secret clandestine research institute, dedicated to coming up with super weapons that would give troops the edge in battle. He christened the department Military Defence 1 but it quickly becomes known as Churchill's toyshop. Using rare archive and interviews, the one-off special tells the story of the department and some of the most fantastic and improbable weapons ever created. With the help of modern experts and contemporary blue prints the series will also recreate some of the lost technology.
#5 - 9/11: Heroes of the 88th Floor
Season 2011 - Episode 50 - Aired Sep 4, 2011
9/11: HEROES OF THE 88th FLOOR is told through first-hand testimonials from survivors, recounting the 102 minutes before the North Tower collapsed. This program puts the spotlight on the extraordinary rescue work of construction manager Frank De Martini and construction inspector Pablo Ortiz, who both worked with the Port Authority on the 88th floor. Armed only with a flashlight, a crowbar and walkie talkies, the two men selflessly worked to rescue survivors from behind jammed doors on the upper floors of the North Tower. Sadly, both Frank and Pablo died in the terror attack--but their acts of heroism and courage saved the lives of 77 people and touched many more. Their bravery and sacrifice inspired those around them to step up and help others as they exited the towers, which in turn saved many more lives. Through archival footage and dramatic recreations, audiences relive their terrifying struggle for survival and discover what it was like to be trapped in the midst of this tragic day.
#6 - Diving with Dinosaur Fish
Season 2014 - Episode 13 - Aired Sep 27, 2014
The hunt for a mythic animal once thought to have been extinct for 65 million years: the coelacanth. It can be found 120 metres beneath the ocean off the wild coast of South Africa. French scientists and South African scientists teamed up with experienced Trimix divers, including Peter Timm, who discovered the coelacanths in Sodwana Bay in 2000 and award-winning underwater photographer Mr Laurent Ballesta and his advanced technical dive team to bring you this eye-opening documentary.
#7 - NASA & SpaceX: Journey to the Future
Season 2020 - Episode 2 - Aired May 26, 2020
The documentary reveals the behind-the-scenes action with the teams of SpaceX engineers, NASA employees and scientists as they fulfil the SpaceX mission to “fly, test and fix” their way to the International Space Station – with the goal of eventually flying to the moon and to Mars. The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Capsule will send U.S. astronauts into space for the first time since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011.
#8 - Pompeii: Back From The Dead
Season 2011 - Episode 8 - Aired Apr 18, 2011
As Vesuvius rained destruction on the the Roman town of Pompeii, 74 men, women and children took refuge in a dark cellar. There, they waited, while their friends and neighbors fell victim to the heat and ash that swallowed the city. They thought they had survived the worst - instead, they became the last people to die in the disaster. The discovery of their bones - perfectly preserved - reveals much about the way the people of Pompeii lived - and died.
#9 - The Falklands War
Season 1992 - Episode 1 - Aired Jan 13, 1992
#10 - End of Extinction: Cloning the Tasmanian Tiger
Season 2009 - Episode 47 - Aired Oct 11, 2009
Hidden away in a Sydney vault is a young, pickled pup. For almost 140 years, it's remained locked in its glassy tomb. But this is no ordinary pup. In fact, it's not a pup at all. It's a fetus of an animal more closely related to an Australian kangaroo. It was a marsupial which looked like a dog had stripes like a tiger, yet carried its young in a pouch. How the Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, came to be extinct is a tragedy, and how it might live again is the pursuit of a scientific miracle. Is it possible or wishful thinking? Herein find the story of one man's obsession and his quest to reverse extinction.
#11 - Planes That Never Flew: The Atomic Bomber
Season 2009 - Episode 49 - Aired May 23, 2009
An account of world-beating aircraft projects that were scrapped before their time. Each aircraft is recreated and shown using computer graphics. Includes archive footage and interviews. In the grip of a rapidly escalating Cold War America poured billions into developing a giant nuclear powered bomber, a plane so fantastic that it could stay aloft for months at a time. The Convair WS 125 was the ultimate doomsday machine... Recently declassified Russian Cold War era documents disclose they actually flew a prototype Atomic engined bomber.
#12 - Hackers: Outlaws and Angels
Season 2002 - Episode 26 - Aired Dec 11, 2002
#13 - Catching the Comet
Season 2006 - Episode 15 - Aired Jan 22, 2006
We’ve watched them streak across the sky for centuries, but what - beyond their sometimes extraordinary and fleeting beauty - do we really know about comets? Follow a breakthrough mission to demystify and - for the very first time - capture the contents of a comet. Premiering Sunday, January 22 at 7 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel, Catching the Comet follows the exploration of a comet by devising an innovative way to bring one home. This one-hour special follows the Stardust mission, the first U.S. space project dedicated to the exploration of a comet, and the first robotic exercise designed to return comet dust to Earth. Last year a NASA spacecraft flew past the comet, dubbed Wild 2, to collect comet dust - particles smaller than a grain of sand - in a specially designed high-tech capsule. On January 15, 2006, that capsule will fall to Earth in the Utah desert. In the middle of the night, at a restricted location on a U.S. army base, waiting helicopters will pluck the canister from its landing spot and transport it to a specially prepared lab for analysis. What will the experiments reveal about this mysterious dust - and how will this new discovery inform our understanding of comets? In Catching the Comet, follow the 4.8-billion kilometre Stardust operation, from mission control to the preparations for the capsule’s return and its actual fall to Earth. What do scientists know about comets already? Comets are like “cosmic refrigerators” - so cold, untouched and remote that they provide clues to the physical and chemical conditions of the solar system as it existed 4.6 billion years ago. That old stuff stuck at the back of the “cosmic fridge” is best described as frozen primordial ooze from the time the planets and Sun were formed. When scientists observe comets today, they are reaching back into the past and learning about the origin of the solar system and perhaps the beginning of life on Earth. But these balls of gas, dust and ice cont
#14 - On Jupiter
Season 1995 - Episode 1 - Aired Dec 3, 1995
This 53 minute program - narrated by actor John Hurt - chronicles the story of Jupiter starting with Galileo Galilei's Jupiter observations in the 1600's through the impacts of Comet Shoemaker-Levy on July 16-22, 1994. Computer animations and information are provided to give the viewer a solid background on the significance of Galileo's encounter with Jupiter. Also featured are interviews with comet discoverers Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker and David Levy, Caltech planetary scientist Andrew Ingersoll, Galileo Project Manager Bill O'Neil and other members of the Galileo mission team.
#15 - Revealing Mars
Season 2006 - Episode 20 - Aired Mar 10, 2006
On August 12, 2005 NASA launched Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter designed to explore the Red Planet from the orbit. The M.R.O. will make a more comprehensive inspection of Mars than any previous mission, examining landscape details as small as a coffee table with the most powerful telescopic camera ever sent to orbit of a foreign planet. This 47 min. long documentary will walk you through the orbiter's scientific payload, illustrate how each instrument works and give you a sense of the high-quality images and data these tools will produce by comparing them to tools used for the investigation of the atmosphere and geology of Earth.
#16 - MegaQuake: The Hour That Shook Japan
Season 2011 - Episode 12 - Aired Apr 24, 2011
Experience Japan's earthquake and tsunami through new footage and first person accounts. Understand the mega-physics inside this latest Ring of Fire cataclysm that rocked the Earth on its axis. Scientists explore whether the Pacific NW U.S. could be next.
#17 - Secrets of Seal Team 6
Season 2011 - Episode 32 - Aired Jul 10, 2011
For three decades, the elite government operatives of SEAL TEAM VI have existed under the radar, but now, their cover is blown. We'll uncover the classified information the government doesn't want you to know and discover the SECRETS OF SEAL TEAM 6.
#18 - Lizzie Borden Had An Axe
Season 2004 - Episode 24 - Aired Oct 30, 2004
The murder of Lizzie Borden's Mother and Father undergoes a forensic investigation - on this Discovery Channel special.
#19 - Nubia: The Forgotten Kingdom
Season 2003 - Episode 13 - Aired Dec 10, 2003
Once a powerful, sprawling presence in Northern Africa, the ancient kingdom of Nubia now lies buried beneath mounds of red brick rubble in the Sudan. Forgotten by history and largely neglected by archaeology, its cities have lain buried for centuries, harboring priceless secrets of a civilization that once rivaled Egypt. Join world-renowned archaeologists Julie Andersen and Salah Ahmed as they unearth Dangeil - a thriving Nubian city that once sat at the juncture of several prominent trade routes. While excavating a massive temple to the god Amun, the team makes a surprising discovery that could solve the mystery of why the city was abandoned.
#20 - Secret Life of Money
Season 2013 - Episode 9 - Aired Mar 7, 2013
The incredible life cycle of cash money is set to be examined by the Discovery Channel. SPOILERS: It doesn't come anywhere close to my wallet!
#21 - Everest Avalanche Tragedy
Season 2014 - Episode 7 - Aired May 4, 2014
Originally announced as a series following Joby Ogwyn's preparation as he trains to become the first person to jump from the peak of Mount Everest. The series would have culminated in attempting the stunt live on air. However due to the death of 12 Sherpa guides on April the 18th, the stunt was cancelled and instead NBC News will use the footage shot to present a special documentary highlighting the events leading up to the tragedy.
#22 - Comet Collision
Season 2005 - Episode 16 - Aired Jan 1, 2005
In July 2005, NASA's Deep Impact probe collided with comet Tempel 1, providing the first-ever glimpse of the interior of one of these "dirty snowballs" and valuable insight into the formation of our solar system. NASA's brilliant, but risky, plan to send a tiny, copper-plated probe hurtling directly towards the city-sized comet at a speed of 23,000 mph was a smashing success. The resulting explosion of particles provided experts with new data about the composition of life-building materials that were present in the early solar system. Watch as state-of-the-art spacecraft animation and stunning location photography bring the mission to life, taking viewers behind the scenes of NASA's high-profile mission. Follow the entire journey of the doomed Deep Impact probe, from its initial design to the extraordinary challenge of building a spacecraft that's intended to be smashed to pieces.
#23 - Real M.A.S.H.: The World of Combat Medicine
Season 2000 - Episode 18 - Aired Jul 27, 2015
What is it like to be a soldier who goes to war to heal? Lt. Diane Carlson Evans, who served as a nurse in Vietnam, responds, "Think of having a plane crash every day." This gritty program presents the history of the modern medic while tracking a class of prospective corpsmen training to earn the nickname "Doc" at the Navy’s Field Medical School. Archival photos and rare film footage document hard-minded innovations of medical expediency from the Civil War to today, such as triage, field hospitals, and prosthetics. Pararescuemen and combat medics who served in Vietnam and Somalia talk about their experiences. Produced by Hoggard Films for Discovery Channel
#24 - The Scorpion's Tale
Season 2006 - Episode 32 - Aired Mar 13, 2006
Scorpions belong to the oldest land-based arachnides. Over 1800 different species are known to exist. Usually, they do not surpass the size of 10cm in length, but exceptions are know, such as the Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator) which can grow up to become over 20cm in size. Scorpions mostly live at night and hide away during the day. They live mainly on insects but some species also feed on rodents and reptiles (lizards that are not big enough to be an opponent). Today humans threaten the existence of some species of scorpions. Take a look into the live of these amazing creatures!
#25 - Pandemic: COVID-19
Season 2020 - Episode 1 - Aired Mar 25, 2020
The war against the COVID-19 pandemic has come to America, and using the latest information from the frontlines, experts reveals why this novel form of coronavirus is so deadly and how we're fighting back.