20 Best Documentaries Available on YouTube to Expand Your Mind

You don’t need to feel guilty about vegging out in front of the TV if you are watching something educational, right? A good documentary can be one of the fastest ways to get a feel for a topic. Faster than reading a book, and often better as you can hear stories from the mouths of witnesses.

Indulge in some guilt free watching with these 20 documentaries currently available on YouTube.

3D Printed Guns (2014)

IMDB Score 7.1/10

These days it seems like you can print just about anything, including guns (if you have the patience). This documentary explores the process of printing illegal firearms, showing how scarily easy it is to do, and how difficult for the government to regulate.

The Bridge (2006)

IMDB Score 7.3/10

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of the modern architectural wonders of the world. While it is now a celebrated landmark, it also has a dark side, being a major suicide spot. In this documentary director Eric Steel uses 10,000 hours of footage, which capture the final moments of 23 people’s lives.

Charlottesville: Race and Terror (2017)

IMDB Score 8.4/10

A white supremacist rally in Charlottesville resulted in an act of domestic terror that killed one and terrorized many. This documentary explores how the rally was organised, and then takes the viewer into the visceral conditions on the day that ended in tragedy.

Child of Rage (1990)

IMDB Score 7.4/10

This HBO documentary from 1990 examines the life of Beth Thomas, a young girl with very specific violent tendencies. This sometimes difficult to watch documentary looks at the harm that her psychological condition did to both Beth, and her adoptive family.

Choke (1999)

IMDB Score 7.5/10

The Gracie family is one of the most successful families in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, producing black belt after black belt and champion after champion. This documentary looks at how these fighters, and others, prepared for the Vale Tudo Japan tournament, which is a no-holds-barred eight-man contest without weight divisions.

Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated (2017)

IMDB Score 7.7/10

This documentary looks at the career of the pop star. What sets this apart is how it candidly looks at how the singer hit rock bottom before rising again to become a person of inspiration. It may be a familiar story when it comes to young fan, but rarely shared so openly and honestly.

Forbidden Lies (2007)

IMDB Score 7.8/10

Norma Khouri wrote a bestselling memoir about the honor killing of her best friend. But it is now thought that her story was a lie. This documentary tries to look at the truth behind the situation, and the psyche of the author.

Genocide: Worse than War (2013)

IMDB Score 7.4/10

This documentary explores the particularly heinous crime of genocide, which is not always as easy to identify and stop as simple war. The documentary talks to mass murderers from Rwanda, politicians from Bosnia, and former president of Guatemala Jose Efrain Rios Mont that oversaw the Mayan genocide of the 1990s.

The Iceman Tapes (1992)

IMDB Score 7.7/10

This is a chilling documentary about a family man who was also a serial killer. He gave many interviews in order to justify his action, recalling some of the 100 murders that he reportedly committed, including police officers, medical examiners and his wife.

Inside North Korea (2006)

IMDB Score 7.5/10

North Korea is one of the most mysterious countries in the world. Its closed borders mean that few travel there, and its tight social controls mean that those who do visit only see what the government wants them to see. There are now a variety of documentaries available, but this was the first to illuminated this country.

Just Melvin – Just Evil (2000)

IMDB Score 7.1/10

Melvin is a man who physically and psychologically abused two families over the course of a decade. He is said to have abused his two families of stepchildren, until one of his sons finally confronted him. But how much of what we know is true, and how much is the story. And what are the lasting effects of this kind of damage.

The Men Who Killed Kennedy (1988-)

IMDB Score 8.6/10

This documentary was extremely controversial when it was released as it gave credence to a number of more chilling theories about the assassination of Kennedy, including that it was President Lyndon B. Johnson who was behind the murder. The facts presented in this documentary are questionable, and its creator Nigel Turner was censured by British Parliament, but it is still worth watching.


Psychopaths (2017)

IMDB Score 3.9/10

We are all a little bit fascinated by what drives people to commit some of the worst crimes. In this documentary, researchers have come together to explain what exactly makes a person a psychopath. Forget everything you know, this film takes a completely different angle, throwing a scary new light on the mind of a psychopath.

Shark Attacks of 1916 (1998)

IMDB Score 7.7/10

This film explores how sharks, always respected by sailors, became objects of such great fear in American culture. It seems to have all started in 1916. When a series of bizarre events took place in New Jersey, killing four people and injuring one more.

The Scariest Drug in the World (2012)

IMDB Score 6.8/10

Scopolamine is very different from most drugs. It keeps people lucid, but makes them amenable to do anything that another person might request. Unsurprisingly, this has seen it used in a huge amount of crimes from robbery to rape. Learn more about this very scary chemical hypnosis.

Shelter (2016)

IMDB Score 8.2/10

This documentary follows a homeless youth in New Orleans for a year who lived in Covenant House, the largest shelter organization in America. It looks at both the struggles of its homeless protagonist, and the work on the organization, both their successes and their shortcomings.

A Simpler Side: Crises as Opportunity (2016)

IMDB Score 6.4/10

Many people dram about breaking out of the standard structure of modern life and living a simpler life. This documentary looks at a community in Australia that has managed to simplify their existence, and they candidly share their experiences, what they have gained and what the challenges have been.

This is the Zodiac Speaking (2008)

IMDB Score 7.1/10

The Zodiac Killer was an infamous serial killer that plagued the streets of California in 1969, and was never caught. Dive into some of the theories about who exactly the killer was, and why the police were unable to catch him. You’ll be given all the facts, and asked to make up your own mind – who do you think the Zodiac Killer was?

The Trial: A Murder in the Family (2017)

IMDB Score 7.2/10

This BBC documentary starts with a husband being accused of murdering his wife, but it turns out that everyone involved in the trial, except for the jurors are actors. This is an exploration of a social experiment that helps us understand how we decide on guilt and innocence.

The Vaccine War (2010)

IMDB Score 7.2/10

This documentary tries to make sense of why America is seeing an anti-vaccination epidemic despite the strong evidence for the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. It takes aim at the celebrities and scientists for hire that spread the idea, but tries to sympathetically understand the parents that just want what is best for their children.

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