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How to Cite a TV Show in Chicago Style

There are different methods for how to cite a TV show in Chicago style, and each has its own requirements. For citations of TV shows in your bibliography, the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (the 17th) recommends that you include the series name, episode name, season and episode numbers, original air date, source, and format, along with the main contributors.

Depending on how you watched the show, you need to also include the copyright year of the source or the URL for streaming. In the next section, we explain how to cite a TV show in Chicago style if you watched it online, but for now we’ll show you how to cite TV shows from physical media like a DVD or Blu-ray Disc. 

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Specifically, citations for TV shows in Chicago style in your bibliography should follow this formula: 

Last name, First name of main contributor, job title. Series title. Season #,

episode #, “Episode title.” Other contributors. Aired Month Day, Year

of original air date, in broadcast syndication. Distributor of medium,

copyright year of medium, format. 

Typically the main contributor is the writer or writers, but it is also common to name the director. You can also mention other contributors—including actors—later in the citation, using a format like “Directed by . . . ” for directors, “Written by . . .” for writers, or “Featuring . . . ” for actors. (In these cases, use a “First name Last name” format.) 

The last section concerning the medium and format relates to DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, or other hard copy sources. The distributor refers to the entity that released the medium. In the format section, just write the type of medium, such as “DVD” or “Blu-ray Disc.” 

This formula works for both primary and secondary sources. In practice, your bibliography citation should look like this: 

Morgan, Peter, writer. The Crown. Season 3, episode 3, “Aberfan.” Directed by

Benjamin Caron, featuring Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, and Helena

Bonham Carter. Aired November 17, 2019, in broadcast syndication. Sony

Pictures, 2020, DVD. 

Note that if you watched the episode when it was originally aired, you include the channel you watched it on instead of “in broadcast syndication.” Use the format “on [Channel name].” You can then skip the information about the medium. 

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If you’re citing more than one person, like a team of writers, as the main contributor, invert only the first person’s name. Subsequent names follow a “First name Last Name” format, like so: 

Morgan, Peter, Jonathan Wilson, and Jon Brittain, writers. 

If you’re familiar with how to write a research paper, you know that you also need in-text citations. If your paper discusses a specific scene or excerpt of dialogue, your in-text citations might require a time stamp

Chicago style has two methods for in-text citations: author-date references and notes references. 

To cite a TV show using the author-date style, list the last name of the main contributor and the year of the original air date, plus the time stamp if required, as such: 

(Last name of main contributor, Year of original air date, Time stamp)

(Morgan, 2019, 00:25:53)

Author-date references are placed directly in the text, after the relevant passage. 

When citing a TV show using notes references, your first citation uses a full note and all citations afterward use a short note. 

Full-note citations for TV shows in Chicago follow a formula similar to bibliography entries with some major differences, such as starting with the series title. The first note from a source should follow this formula: 

#. Series title, season #, episode #, “Episode title,” directed by First name Last

name, written by First name Last name, featuring First name Last name,

aired Month Day, Year of original air date, in broadcast syndication,

Distributor of medium, copyright year of medium, format, time stamp.  

Just like with bibliography citations, you can choose which contributors to list in full-note citations. However, the standard is to mention both writers and directors, although it is common to list actors as well. 

In practice, full-note citations for TV shows in Chicago style look like this: 

1. The Crown, season 3, episode 3, “Aberfan,” directed by Benjamin Caron,

written by Peter Morgan, featuring Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, and

Helena Bonham Carter, aired November 17, 2019, in broadcast syndication,

Sony Pictures, 2020, DVD, 00:25:53.

Again, if you watched the TV show during its original airing, you can list the channel name instead of “in broadcast syndication” and skip the information for the medium (see above for more details).

All note citations after the first note use short notes. For short notes, use only the episode title and, if necessary, the time stamp.

#. “Episode title,” time stamp.

1. “Aberfan,” 00:25:53.

How to cite a TV show from a streaming site in Chicago style 

If you viewed your source on a streaming site like Netflix, the rules for how to cite a TV show in Chicago style are a little different. The citation is similar to the one for a hard copy except that instead of writing the medium information, you write the URL. 

For bibliography citations, use this formula: 

Last name, First name of main contributor, job title. Series title. Season #,

episode #, “Episode title.” Other contributors. Aired Month Day, Year of

original air date. URL.

So, if you watched a TV episode on Netflix instead of a DVD, you would write its bibliography citation like this:

Morgan, Peter, writer. The Crown. Season 3, episode 3, “Aberfan.” Directed by

Benjamin Caron. Aired November 17, 2019. https://www.netflix.com/

watch/80215733.

For in-text citations, author-date references remain unchanged.

(Morgan, 2019, 00:25:53)

If you’re using notes, the full-note citation for TV shows on streaming sites remains the same except that the medium information is replaced with the streaming site’s URL, as in this example:

1. The Crown, season 3, episode 3, “Aberfan,” directed by Benjamin Caron,

written by Peter Morgan, aired November 17, 2019, https://www.netflix.com/

watch/80215733, 00:25:53. 

Short notes for TV shows on streaming sites follow the same guidelines as other sources: 

1. “Aberfan,” 00:25:53.

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