Over the past several decades, HBO has produced some incredible television, becoming a leader in original cable TV series.

Nowadays, most people identify HBO with the likes of Game of Thrones and Westworld, not exactly what you’d call wholesome programming.

However, HBO has also produced some truly inspirational shows, the kind of stories that inspire you to action, whether that’s to push through life’s challenges, hone your craft, or dream big.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of the most inspiring HBO series of all time. Each is diverse in both its subject matter and way it inspires, so there’s something for everyone.


Photo Credit: Bobby Bank / Getty Images

What’s so valuable about HBO is they tell stories. We learn from stories.

– Gloria Steinem

1. The Comeback

The Comeback, starring Friends’ Lisa Kudrow, originally debuted in 2005 (just one year after the series finale of Friends). It follows Kudrow’s character Valerie as she attempts to make a comeback in her career as an actress.

It’s an interesting view into how Hollywood operates, especially for an aging actress trying to pave her way in a culture where execs treat woman over 30 as old and tired. The show serves as a great example of persistence and teaches you to never give up, no matter the adversity.

The show was canceled after just 13 episodes, however, it would come to be seen as far ahead of its time, predicting the ridiculousness of what reality TV would become years later. It was renewed for eight more episodes over nine years later in 2014.

2. Band of Brothers

Created by Steven Spielberg along with Tom Hanks and Erik Jendresen, Band of Brothers is based on the story of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division during WWII.

While unsurprisingly rough and emotional, Band of Brothers is also incredibly inspiring. At its heart, it’s a story about love and brotherhood, the power of leadership, standing up for yourself, and overcoming incredible adversity.

3. Treme

Treme is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. When it first came out, most people thought it would be like The Wire, however, audiences were both let down and pleasantly surprised all at the same time because of its originality.

And while Treme is most certainly grounded and realistic like The Wire, it turned out to be a much more mundane look at post-Katrina New Orleans — not from the point of view of law enforcement and the associated crime it wrestled, but from the average person.

Treme is a show about people reeling from tragedy but also rising up amidst that adversity and maintaining strength, so it serves as an inspiration for anyone going through tough times.

4. Bored to Death

Bored to Death was never a huge hit, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great show. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis, and Ted Danson, Bored to Death is about writer and part-time detective Jonathan Ames (played by Schwartzman) and the crazy adventures he and his buddies go on.

The show is both entertaining and inspiring for writers and storytellers, however, because the show centers around Ames’ crazy antics to spur his creativity and make his next novel a reality, it’s inspiring for anyone looking to make something happen with their life.

5. Enlightened

Starring Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe, Enlightened is about a woman looking to reinvent herself and the challenges she encounters along the way to make that a reality. It’s funny and at times frustrating but always satisfying, especially if you’re looking for a great story that encompasses a wide range of human emotions.

Enlightened is about believing change is possible and making that change a reality. Not only personal change but also changing the world around us on a larger scale. The main character Amy has easily one of my favorite lines from any TV show ever, which serves as her mantra throughout the series. It’s, “You can be wise, and almost whole.”