The 15 Best Michael Jackson Documentaries (Ranked in 2024)

I scoured the Web for the best documentaries on Michael Jackson.

The biggest surprise was my #1 pick (Thriller 40). I had somehow missed this release.

I wish there were more MJ docs on Netflix but I did find 2 in which Michael plays a key part.

I also found a super-funny one on YouTube and a bunch of others.


1) Thriller 40

Release date: September 2, 2022

Nelson George’s Thriller 40 celebrates the 40th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking album.

Released in 2022, this 90-minute doc is a must-watch for music fans.

I loved this doc so much that I did an in-depth review of it here: “The Thriller 40 Documentary” (includes some added videos/footage including a sequel of sorts!)

The doc features interviews with Quincy Jones, Thriller’s producer, and Rod Temperton, who wrote three songs on the album. They share fascinating stories about recording at Westlake Studios in LA.

We learn about the iconic music videos, like “Billie Jean,” the first video by a black artist on MTV. The 14-minute “Thriller” video, costing $900,000, premiered in December 1983.

The doc includes footage of Michael’s electrifying Motown 25 performance in 1983, where he debuted the moonwalk. It also touches on his personal life, including his vitiligo diagnosis.

Thriller 40 is an engaging look at a seminal album that sold over 66 million copies worldwide. It spent 37 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

While offering a balanced portrayal of Michael Jackson’s artistry and impact, the doc maintains its focus on the enduring legacy of Thriller.

It’s a fitting tribute to a pop culture milestone.

You can stream “Thriller 40” for free on YouTube (with ads) by clicking the embed below or here: (I get the ads skipped because I pay for YouTube Premium).

You can also watch it on Paramount+/Showtime at (Thriller 40 was originally on Showtime but Paramount+ merged Showtime into its own channel.

2) This is It

Release date: October 28, 2009

Kenny Ortega’s Michael Jackson’s This Is It provides an intimate look at the pop icon’s final rehearsals. The 111-minute doc, compiled from over 100 hours of footage, was released just four months after Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009.

The doc focuses on preparations for Jackson’s planned “This Is It” concert series at London’s O2 Arena. He was set to perform 50 shows from July 2009 to March 2010.

We see Jackson collaborating with his creative team, including choreographer Travis Payne and musical director Michael Bearden. He’s hands-on in every aspect, from staging to lighting to video elements.

The film showcases rehearsals of hits like “Bad,” “Human Nature,” and “Beat It.” Jackson’s choreography is as sharp as ever, despite his gaunt appearance.

Interviews with the crew reveal Jackson’s perfectionism and his desire to create a groundbreaking show. Dancer Orianthi Panagaris recalls how he encouraged her to “let it sizzle” during her guitar solo.

The doc also includes poignant moments, like Jackson singing “Earth Song” against a backdrop of destruction and renewal. It’s a glimpse into his environmental activism and his vision for a better world.

While This Is It doesn’t delve into Jackson’s personal struggles, it offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at his creative genius in his final days. It’s a fitting tribute to the King of Pop’s enduring legacy.

I rented “This Is It” on Apple TV for $3. It’s also for rent on Amazon, YouTube, Google Play,, Vudu, etc. Check here for the latest options:

3) The Greatest Night in Pop

Release date: January 29, 2024

“The Greatest Night in Pop” documentary is like a behind-the-scenes backstage pass to the creation of “We Are the World,” and Jackson is the VIP.

The start of the doc is all about the dynamic duo of Jackson and Lionel Richie.

These two were like the Lennon and McCartney of the project, holed up in a room together, crafting the song under the watchful eye of Quincy Jones.

The doc reveals that the famous line, “We Are the World,” was Jackson’s brainchild. It’s like he pulled it out of his magical hat of musical genius.

But here’s the juicy part: Jackson almost bailed on the whole thing. He was afraid of being overexposed, like a celebrity who’s been on one too many magazine covers.

Quincy Jones, the mastermind behind the project, wasn’t having it.

He convinced Jackson to take the plunge, and the documentary suggests it might have been one of the most important decisions of his career.

Talk about a sliding doors moment!

The footage of Michael’s acapella singing is described as sublime, like a heavenly choir of one. It’s a reminder of the raw talent that made him the King of Pop.

Watch “The Greatest Night in Pop” on Netflix at

4) Michael Jackson Commemorated

Release date: October 26, 2010

Directed by Marc Schaffel and Austen Tayler, this 119-minute doc offers an intimate glimpse into the King of Pop’s personal life.

The never-before-seen footage, captured by Jackson’s private film crew in 2003, takes us behind the scenes. We see Jackson revisiting his hometown of Gary, Indiana on his birthday.

The documentary reveals the manic nature of Jackson’s life. Fans go crazy everywhere he goes, worshipping him like a deity.

Some highlights (thanks to “The Hors3man” on YouTube):

  • 5:20 – Dithering fan blows her chance
  • 7:46 – Michael’s “Hee Hee” laugh
  • 7:51 – Michael comes back from the toilet, The cameraman says his mic was on while he was peeing
  • 11:41 – Press man asks, “can I be your personal photographer?”
  • 12:43 – “I dated your uncle.” “Ooooh”
  • 14:55 – Security pretends to catch him in time
  • 18:35 – Hey hey hey hey
  • 19:13 – Fish/Who’s head went under/Look at her bouncing/Get your buttox to the house/11?
  • 23:00 – I’m not playin’
  • 27:35 – Typewriter
  • 29:08 – Salvation Army
  • 33:16 – Why down there?! It’s gonna start burning!
  • 41:03 – Kid challenges MJ to a dance-off
  • 42:44 – Hilarious fan
  • 47:33 — Michael shocks mascots
  • 51:19 – Sign these balls
  • 51:57 – Woo woo woo woo woo woo
  • 1:30:09 – Bashir
  • 1:32:15 – Steve Harvey: “Where you goin’? You ain’t in the picture”
  • 1:33:15 – Steve Harvey: “I just hug Michael”
  • 1:33:21 – Cindarella moment
  • 1:36:29 – I love seeing people come
  • 1:37:39 – Michael says hi to my mom
  • 1:42:02 – When’s my birthday??
  • 1:43:34 – Oooh, I love you
  • 1:43:39 – I wanna be yo bodyguard/Take me to Never Neverland
  • 1:48:40 – Michael sticks his finger in
  • 1:50:20 – Food fight…From IMDB: 2010

Watch it for free on YouTube by clicking the video embed above or this link:

5) Bad 25

Release date: November 22, 2012

Bad 25″ is a riveting documentary directed by Spike Lee. Released in 2012, this 131-minute doc celebrates the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking album “Bad.”

Lee takes us into the studio with Jackson and his collaborators. He includes interviews with Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, and Jackson’s songwriting partner, Siedah Garrett.

The documentary features never-before-seen footage from the “Bad” world tour. It showcases Jackson’s electrifying performances in cities like London, New York, and Tokyo.

“Bad 25” also explores the album’s influence on contemporary artists. Kanye West, Mariah Carey, and Cee Lo Green discuss how “Bad” shaped their own music.

Through archival footage and intimate interviews, Lee paints a complex portrait of Jackson. He delves into the star’s personal struggles and triumphs during the “Bad” era.

For die-hard fans and casual listeners alike, “Bad 25” is essential viewing. It’s a testament to the enduring power of Jackson’s music and artistry.

Watch “Bad 25” for free on YouTube by clicking the video embed above or here:

6) Michael Jackson on Fire Diorama

[I know that some Michael Jackson fans will be p!ssed at me for including something that mocks Michael, but it’s also a tribute. And it’s so directly about MJ that I have to include it!]

Buckle in — “Michael Jackson on Fire Diorama” is a wild ride.

In this one-of-a-kind video, we witness the eccentric artist Bobby Fingers as he constructs a Michael Jackson action figure diorama right before our very eyes.

The the “how to” of crafting tiny MJ figurines alone is worth the watch

But it’s the hilarious commentary that really puts this doc over the top.

In fact, “Michael Jackson on Fire Diorama” also made the cut on my List of Funniest Documentaries (now up to 30!).

Bobby Fingers’ witty observations and quirky humor are sprinkled throughout.

It feel like you’re hanging out with your funniest friend who just happens to be a master craftsman.

Bobby Fingers, hunched over his workbench, meticulously paints a pint-sized version of the King of Pop’s iconic red leather jacket.

All the while, he’s cracking jokes and sharing anecdotes about Jackson’s life and career. It’s like a stand-up comedy routine meets an art tutorial, and it’s absolutely brilliant.

And then a twist.

Bobby Fingers takes his finished diorama and buries it in the woods, leaving a trail of GPS coordinates for die-hard fans to follow.

Watch it for free (with ads) on YouTube by clicking the video embed above or here:

7) Leaving Neverland

Release date: January 25, 2019

Dan Reed’s Leaving Neverland premiered at Sundance in 2019. The four-hour doc aired on HBO in two parts.

It features interviews with Wade Robson and James Safechuck. They allege Michael Jackson sexually abused them as children.

Robson met Jackson at age 5 in 1987. Safechuck met him while filming a Pepsi ad.

They describe alleged abuse at Neverland Ranch, including kissing and oral sex. Jackson allegedly groomed them and their families to gain trust.

The men share love notes and jewelry from Jackson. They claim these were rewards for keeping quiet.

Family members discuss the impact of the alleged abuse. They share struggles to come to terms with it.

Some criticize the doc’s reliance on just two accounts. However, it provides a disturbing look at child sexual abuse.

It also raises questions about power dynamics in celebrity culture. The doc suggests Jackson used his fame to manipulate fans.

Leaving Neverland is a difficult but important watch. It sheds light on a dark chapter in pop culture history.

I watched “Leaving Neverland” on HBO Max at

Check here to see the latest streaming options:

8) Janet Jackson


The “Janet Jackson” doc, directed by Ben Hirsch in 2022 is, well, mostly about Janet. But a fair amount of it is on Michael.

Here are some of the MJ parts:

This doc doesn’t shy away from the tough parts. Michael’s child abuse allegations loom large.

Janet feels the sting of “guilty by association.” She talks about this in the doc, especially how it hits her career.

She lost a major deal with Coca-Cola. You hear her say,

“Yeah … guilty by association,” reflecting the deep personal impact.

She defends Michael fiercely.

“Never. I know my brother,” Janet asserts, showing her unwavering support. T

his line echoes throughout the doc, underlining her steadfast belief in his innocence.

Family scrutiny and dynamics are front and center. The doc explores the pressures of the Jackson surname. It delves into Janet’s complex relationships within her famous family, bringing out her closeness to Michael amidst the turmoil.

Watch “Janet Jackson” on Hulu (with subscription) or you can stream it for free on Hoopla. You can also buy it on Apple TV, Amazon and Vudu Fandango. Check here for the latest streaming options:

9) Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall

Release date: February 5, 2016

“Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall” is a captivating documentary by Spike Lee. Released in 2016, this 93-minute doc traces Jackson’s rise from child prodigy to solo superstar.

The doc features interviews with Michael’s mother Katherine and brothers Jackie and Marlon.

Lee also includes insights from collaborators like producers Gamble and Huff and songwriter Carole Bayer Sager.

Rare footage showcases Jackson’s early performances with The Jackson 5 on shows like “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “Soul Train.”

The doc also includes clips from his iconic 1979 solo album “Off the Wall.”

Lee explores how Jackson’s move from Motown to Epic Records allowed him greater creative control.

He examines the influence of disco and R&B on Jackson’s evolving sound.

The documentary highlights Jackson’s groundbreaking music videos for “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Rock with You.”

It also delves into his collaborations with producer Quincy Jones.

“Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall” offers a fascinating glimpse into the making of a legend.

Watch Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall for free on YouTube by clicking the video embed above or here:

10) Square One

Release date: January 25, 2019


Square One: Michael Jackson” is an investigative documentary by Danny Wu. This 83-minute doc, released in 2019, re-examines the 1993 allegations against the King of Pop.

Wu uncovers new evidence through interviews with those closest to the case. He speaks with Michael Jackson’s nephew and the legal assistant to the ’93 prosecutor.

The doc features never-before-heard public statements from key witnesses. It sheds new light on the Chandler family’s accusations.

“Square One” had a screening in Amsterdam on January 18, 2020. The film includes insights from journalist Charles Thomson and actress Jenny Winings.

Wu’s documentary offers a fresh perspective on one of the most controversial cases in pop culture history. It’s essential viewing for anyone seeking the truth behind the headlines.

Watch “Square One” for free on YouTube by clicking the video embed above or at

11) Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon

Release date: November 2, 2011

“Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon” is a comprehensive doc released in 2011. Directed by Andrew Eastel, this 149-minute doc covers Jackson’s life from his childhood in Gary, Indiana to his untimely death in 2009.

The fodc interviews with Jackson’s family members, including his mother Katherine, brothers Tito and Marlon, and sister Rebbie.

It also includes insights from close friends and associates like Frank Cascio and Eddie Cascio.

Rare footage showcases key moments in Jackson’s career, such as his early performances with The Jackson 5.

You see the making of his hit album “Thriller,” and his landmark Motown 25 performance of “Billie Jean” in 1983.

The doc also explores Jackson’s troubled relationship with his father Joe.

And they touch upon his 1993 child molestation allegations, and his 2005 trial and acquittal on similar charges.

“Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon” offers a balanced look at Jackson’s personal struggles and professional triumphs.

The only place I see to watch “Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon” is by renting it on Fandango At Home . Check here for the latest streaming options:

12) Michael Jackson: Take 2 [The Footage You Were Never Meant To See]

Release date: April 24, 2003

The Michael Jackson Interview: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See” is a 2003 documentary. This 110-minute doc features unedited footage from British journalist Martin Bashir’s interview with Jackson.

It includes 15 minutes of previously unseen footage cut from the original 90-minute ITV broadcast, “Living with Michael Jackson.”

In these scenes, Jackson discusses his relationships with children, plastic surgery, and childhood abuse by his father, Joe Jackson.

The most shocking moment occurs when Jackson admits to sharing his bed with children, including 13-year-old cancer survivor Gavin Arvizo.

This revelation sparked outrage and led to Jackson’s November 2003 arrest on child molestation charges.

The doc features interviews with Jackson’s brother Jermaine, ex-wife Debbie Rowe, and former attorney Mark Geragos. They offer perspectives on the interview’s fallout and Jackson’s legal troubles.

“The Michael Jackson Interview” provides an uncensored glimpse into Jackson’s private life and the media firestorm that engulfed his later years. It’s a revealing look at a controversial chapter in the King of Pop’s career.

The doc is presented by journalist Maury Povich and filmed at Neverland Ranch.

Watch “Michael Jackson: Take 2” for free on YouTube by clicking the video embed above or here: (here’s a backup link:

13) Michael Jackson: Chase the Truth

Release date: August 13, 2019:

Michael Jackson: Chase the Truth” is a gripping documentary directed by Jordan Hill. Released in 2019, this 85-minute doc challenges the allegations made in “Leaving Neverland.”

You’ll hear from Jackson’s biographer Mike Smallcombe and his bodyguard Matt Fiddes. They present evidence that contradicts the claims of accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck.

I was particularly struck by the interview with Jackson’s nephew Taj Jackson. He shares personal stories that paint a very different picture of his uncle.

The doc also features footage from Jackson’s 2005 trial, where he was acquitted on all charges. You’ll see how the media coverage influenced public perception.

“Michael Jackson: Chase the Truth” offers a compelling counterpoint to “Leaving Neverland.”

Watch “Chase the Truth” by clicking the video embed above or going here:

14) Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror

Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror

“Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror” is a 2017 documentary directed by Ben Mole.

This 94-minute doc is a comprcharts the life and career of the King of Pop.

You’ll hear from music industry insiders like Ron Alexenburg and Mark Arundale. They offer unique perspectives on Jackson’s rise to fame.

The doc features rare archival footage of Jackson’s performances.

You’ll see him on stage with The Jackson 5 and as a solo artist.
I appreciated the balanced approach to Jackson’s personal life. The doc doesn’t shy away from the controversies that surrounded him.

Watch “Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror” by clicking the video embed above or here:

15) Michael Jackson: Life of a Superstar

Release date: June 25, 2009

The “Michael Jackson: Life of a Superstar” documentary was released on the day of Jackson’s death in 2009 (June 25th).

This 48-minute doc offers a concise overview of the King of Pop’s remarkable career.

You’ll see interviews with music journalists and industry insiders. They provide insights into Jackson’s early years with The Jackson 5 and his rise to solo superstardom.

The doc features footage of Jackson’s most iconic performances, including his legendary Motown 25 moonwalk. You’ll also get a glimpse into his creative process and perfectionism.

The doc explores Jackson’s impact on popular culture including his influence on fashion, dance, and music videos.

“Michael Jackson: Life of a Superstar” is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest entertainers of all time. While it may leave die-hard fans wanting more, it’s a solid introduction to Jackson’s life and legacy.

Watch “Michael Jackson: Life of a Superstar” for free on YouTube by clicking the video embed above or here:

Michael Jackson Documentary on Netflix?

Some folks have told me they watched a Michael Jackson documentary on Netflix.

There is, of course, “The Greatest Night in Pop” that I mention above.

The only other Netflix doc on Michael Jackson is “Quincy” on producer Quincy Jones.

It was released in 2018 and is directed by Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks.

The 124-minute doc (a Netflix Original) profiles the life and career of the legendary music producer.

While not solely focused on Michael Jackson and Thriller, the doc does cover Quincy’s work on the album.

Quincy produced Thriller, released in 1982, and the doc includes some behind-the-scenes stories.

We learn that Quincy initially didn’t want to work with Michael, who was just 24 at the time.

However, after meeting Michael and seeing his talent, Quincy agreed to produce the album.

The doc mentions how Quincy helped shape Thriller’s sound, blending pop, rock, R&B, and funk.

He brought in top session musicians like guitarist Steve Lukather and bassist Louis Johnson.

Quincy also shares anecdotes about recording songs like “Beat It.”

He recalls how he convinced Eddie Van Halen to record the iconic guitar solo.

The doc briefly touches on the success of Thriller, which won eight Grammy Awards in 1984.

However, its main focus is on Quincy’s overall career and personal life.

You can watch “Quincy” on Netflix at

The documentary “This Is It” was on Netflix in 2018 but later got pulled. There were reports of it coming back in 2022 but that hasn’t happened.

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly

Chief Maniac, Daily Doc