How to cite a TV show in MLA

To cite an episode of a TV show in MLA style, list the episode title, the name of the show (in italics), the names and roles of any relevant contributors, the season and episode numbers, main production or distribution company, and year.

In an in-text citation, cite the name of the episode in quotation marks. You can use a timestamp to highlight a specific moment in the episode.

Format Episode Title.” TV Show Title, created by Creator first name Last name, season Number, episode Number, Production Company or Distribution Company, Year.
Works Cited entry “Fly.” Breaking Bad, created by Vince Gilligan, season 3, episode 10, High Bridge Productions, 2010.
In-text citation (“Fly” 22:34)

Citing an entire TV series

If you’re not citing a specific episode but an entire TV series, the format is similar. Just start with the name of the series, and end with the range of years across which it aired.

Format TV Show Title. Created by Creator first name Last name, Production Company, YearYear.
Works Cited entry Game of Thrones. Created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, HBO Entertainment, 2011–2019.
In-text citation (Game of Thrones)

Citing different contributors

While TV shows are generally produced by a wide variety of contributors (actors, directors, writers, producers, etc.), MLA is flexible about which ones you list in your reference, and where you list them. The decision is yours, and depends what you’re focusing on in your citation.

If you focus on the contribution of a particular person, you can list them in the author position, clarifying their role after their name.

Format Contributor last name, First name, role. “Episode Title.” TV Show Title, season Number, episode Number, Production Company, Year.
Works Cited entry Cranston, Bryan, performer. “Fly.” Breaking Bad, season 3, episode 10, High Bridge Productions, 2010.
In-text citation (Cranston 22:34)

You can also list as many contributors as are relevant after the show title, in addition to or instead of the one in the author position:

Listing contributors
Breaking Bad, created by Vince Gilligan, music by Dave Porter, performances by …

Only the contributor in the author position is listed in the in-text citation. If the Works Cited entry begins with the episode or series title, a shortened version of this is listed in the in-text citation instead.

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Citing TV shows in a specific format

It’s generally fine to just list the details of the series or episode without specifics about the format you watched it in. However, if for any reason you think this information is relevant, you can adapt your reference to include it.

Streaming sites

If you viewed the TV show on a streaming site like Netflix or Hulu, you can add the name of the site (in italics) and the URL where the series or episode can be found.

Format Episode Title.” TV Show Title, created by Creator first name Last name, season Number, episode Number, Production Company or Distribution Company, Year. Site Name, URL.
Works Cited entry “Middle Game.” The Queen’s Gambit, episode 4, Flitcraft, 2020. Netflix, https://www.netflix.com/watch/80234304.
In-text citation (“Middle Game” 25:15)

DVDs and other home media

If you viewed the show on home media (e.g. DVD, Blu-ray), adapt the reference to list the name shown on the packaging, list the year of release shown there, and include the disc number if there are multiple discs. If the title already states the season, you can omit this later in the reference.

The year when the episode originally aired can optionally be included after the episode title.

Format Episode Title.” Original broadcast year. DVD Title, created by Creator first name Last name, season Number, episode Number, Production Company, Year, disc Number.
Works Cited entry “Out of Town.” 2009. Mad Men: Season Three, created by Matthew Weiner, episode 1, Lionsgate Television, 2010, disc 1.
In-text citation (“Out of Town” 15:44)

Frequently asked questions about MLA citations

Who is listed as the author of a TV show in MLA?

MLA doesn’t require you to list an author for a TV show. If your citation doesn’t focus on a particular contributor, just start your Works Cited entry with the title of the episode or series, and use this (shortened if necessary) in your in-text citation.

If you focus on a particular contributor (e.g. the writer or director, a particular actor), you can list them in the author position, along with a label identifying their role.

How do I cite a source with no author or page numbers in MLA?

If a source has no author, start the MLA Works Cited entry with the source title. Use a shortened version of the title in your in-text citation.

If a source has no page numbers, you can use an alternative locator (e.g. a chapter number, or a timestamp for a video or audio source) to identify the relevant passage in your in-text citation. If the source has no numbered divisions, cite only the author’s name (or the title).

If you already named the author or title in your sentence, and there is no locator available, you don’t need a parenthetical citation:

  • Rajaram argues that representations of migration are shaped by “cultural, political, and ideological interests.”
  • The homepage of The Correspondent describes it as “a movement for radically different news.”
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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

4 comments

Anna
June 7, 2021 at 5:46 PM

Great article, but I was wondering if you are citing multiple episodes of a single season of a television show whether you list each one in the works cited and if you do whether you group them together alphabetically according to the series title.

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
June 14, 2021 at 5:21 PM

Hi Anna,

Yes, you'd generally list different episodes separately, unless you were just making a more general reference to the whole series without discussing individual episodes.

Sources in an MLA Works Cited list are always ordered alphabetically by the first element of the entry, rather than grouped together manually. You could ensure that all the episodes you cite are grouped together by starting all the entries with, for example, the name of the TV show's creator—though this still wouldn't ensure they were in chronological order, since they'd be ordered within that by episode title. In general, don't worry too much if your Works Cited list looks untidy because of quirks like this though.

Reply

Sean
March 29, 2021 at 10:26 PM

How would I cite a show that is still running on air? For example the show began in 2017 and is still making episodes.

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
April 6, 2021 at 4:18 PM

Hi Sean,

If you're citing a series that is still airing, you can include a range ending in the word "present," e.g. "2017–present"

Hope that helps!

Reply

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