Why we typically say "TV series", but we don't say "TV miniseries" (i.e., instead of this, we simply say "miniseries")?

Does it mean, that there are "theatrical" miniseries as well as "TV" miniseries?1

1 A television film is a feature-length motion picture that is produced for, and originally distributed by or to, a television network, in contrast to theatrical films, which are made explicitly for initial showing in movie theaters.

  • Update from myself: "TV" as part of "TV Series" could be necessary to distinguish them from "Film Series". Since we don't use "Film Serials" or "Film Miniseries" terms, we don't need "TV" as part of "TV Serials" or "TV Miniseries". So, we have "TV Series", "Film Series", "Miniseries" and "Serials". See also related question about difference between Serials and TV Series: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/86197/series-vs-serial
    – user90726
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


It's more of a shortening of terms. Its full name / phrase should be "Television Mini-Series' (or 'Miniseries', if you're American like that). We simply say 'mini-series' in the same way that we simply say 'series' instead of 'TV series'.

According to Wikipedia, "a mini-series is a television program that tells a story in a predetermined, limited number of episodes." To elaborate: a miniseries is distinguished from an ongoing television series: the latter do not usually have a predetermined number of episodes and may continue for several years.

Usually, an easy way to determine whether it is a series or mini-series is whether it advertises 'Seasons' of itself. If it intends / has seasons, it is a series. Without it, it's a miniseries.

In terms of whether there are theatrical miniseries as well, I'd say no. Movies are usually standalone features, and even when there is a direct following movie it is referred to as a sequel rather than part of a miniseries.

Some examples of each include:

[TV] Series

[TV] Mini-Series

  • An example of mini-series which is consists of 2 seasons: L'héritière de grande ourse (I haven't found English-language mini-series with multiple seasons, only this French).
    – user90726
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 12:02
  • 1
    I think it would be better to add "[TV]" before "Series" too :-)
    – user90726
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 12:05
  • Done. As for the Grande Ourse, IMDB refers to it as a mini-series, but Wikipedia calls it a series over and over.. Still, there are always exceptions to the rules, right?
    – Guy S
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 12:07
  • Yeah, something like it :-) Perhaps, someone will add better example of multi-season mini-series, later.
    – user90726
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 14:27
  • 1
    @GuyShapter Arguably, a "mini-series" is still a "series," the latter term is just less specific. Like referring to a minivan as "a van"
    – Steve-O
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 14:31

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