If it’s Friday night in Dillon, Texas, there’s only one thing that matters: football. Friday Night Lights tells the story of a high school varsity team in a fictional football-obsessed Texan town. Coach Eric Taylor accepts a new position as head coach, aiming to lead the Dillon Panthers all the way to the State Championship while navigating the tricky social politics that surround their path to glory. The show excelled in highlighting believable interpersonal dramas between the players, surrounding students and community members, in addition to parlaying how Taylor’s job affected his own family including Tami, his wife, and Julie, his daughter. Its small-town setting served as a framework to explore hard topics like drugs, abortion, sexual assault, family values, and the limited opportunities for the lower-middle class, proving that despite its football roots, the series was about much more than a game. It was about life.
Adapted from a 1990 book and 2004 film of the same name, Friday Night Lights aired for five seasons and produced 76 episodes. While its ratings were modest, it was critically lauded for its real-life portrayal of southern-American sports culture, earning Emmy nominations for Outstanding Drama Series in addition to nods for its writing and lead actors Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. The show’s documentary-style filming also helped give it a sense of realism, a technique not often employed by fictionalized dramas on television.
Even for the most sports-averse television fan, Friday Night Lights remains a compelling drama about family and community, one that’s often referred to as one of the best shows of its time.
Here’s your guide to watch Friday Night Lights online and enjoy the entire series — including simple streaming info, cast actors and characters, and best seasons and episodes:
How to Watch Friday Night Lights Online & Stream the Complete Series
In the United States, all five seasons of Friday Night Lights are all available on both Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Here’s how to watch via either service:
If you have Prime, or if you want to sign up for a free 30-day trial of Prime, you can watch every episode of Friday Night Lights on your computer right here, or you can watch on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app.
Hulu: If you simply want Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, which includes all episodes of Friday Night Lights, you can sign up right here. It costs $7.99 per month for the limited commercials plan or $11.99 per month for the no commercials plan.
Hulu With Live TV: If you want to go from watching Friday Night Lights to watching NFL games or other live TV, you can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV”. This option gives you access to Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, as well as a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels. It costs $39.99 per month for the plan that includes limited commercials with the on-demand content or $43.99 per month for the plan that includes no commercials with the on-demand content.
Once signed up for either of the above options, you can watch every episode of Friday Night Lights on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead
How Many Friday Night Lights Seasons Are There?
There are plenty of ups and (first) downs in Friday Night Lights‘ five seasons. On the surface, it’s a high school football show that looks more YA than substantive drama, but digging deeper, the show revolves around an entire community that comes together to support the town and team they love.
Friday Night Lights Season 1
22 Episodes | October 2006 – April 2007
In the series’ inaugural season, Coach Eric Taylor arrives in Dillon, Texas to start his new role as the head coach of the Dillon Panthers. Before the team can scratch the surface of their new football season, quarterback Jason Street gets injured and paralyzed in the very first game. The pressure’s on for Taylor who knows that if he can’t get the team to State, his family will be rejected in the small-town society. QB2 Matt Saracen gets used to the spotlight as he’s thrust into the team’s first string. Street struggles with his new life in a wheelchair.
Friday Night Lights Season 2
15 Episodes | October 2007 – February 2008
Coach Taylor accepts a job at TMU, a college in Austin, while a new coach steps in to guide the Panthers to victory, alienating almost everyone around him. Tami struggles to meet the demands of a new baby while Julie begins a rebellious teenager phase. Taylor regains his former post as tensions rise between Saracen and Smash, the team’s cockiest baller who also shows the biggest promise at making the pros. Saracen’s friend Landry kills a guy who attempts to rape Tyra Collette and the two hide the body—the worst storyline for two of the show’s best characters.
Friday Night Lights Season 3
13 Episodes | October 2008 – January 2009
New freshman quarterback J.D. McCoy threatens Saracen’s position on the team. Tami gets promoted from guidance counselor to principal of Dillon High School, often putting her at odds with her hubby coach. Smash Williams, who injured his knee during the previous season’s playoffs, puts college on hold until Taylor helps him rediscover his love for the game. Later, Taylor learns about a plan to replace him and finds out the school’s administration has offered his job to someone else. He’s then offered a gig at the newly reopened East Dillon High School.
Friday Night Lights Season 4
13 Episodes | October 2009 – February 2010
Taylor has his work cut out for him as he tries to shape up his new team despite a lack of funding and talent. He catches a break when a new recruit, Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan) is given one last chance to play for the East Dillon Lions. After Riggins knocks up new addition Becky, Tami helps the girl with her options, putting her job at risk. Saracen, now graduated, finds it difficult staying in the town of his former glory. As he’s trying to figure out his new life, the former quarterback receives some devastating news.
Friday Night Lights Season 5
13 Episodes | October 2010 – February 2011
With Vince leading his new team along with Luke Cafferty and newbie Hastings Ruckle, Taylor feels good about the Lions’ chance to go to State. Julie starts college but her experience isn’t quite what she expects. Buddy Garrity’s son, Buddy Jr., becomes a Dillon Lion. Tyra tries to repair the relationship between Tim and his brother Billy after Tim does jail time for one of Billy’s latest schemes.
What Are the Best Friday Night Lights Episodes?
Football may have been the bones of the show, but Friday Night Lights continuously tackled heavy subject matter with southern pride and a lot of heart. Here’s a list of the best Friday Night Lights episodes:
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
The first episode introduces viewers to the town of Dillon and its football-crazed inhabitants. Coach Eric Taylor acclimates to his new role as head coach for a team that has a long-standing tradition of winning. Tragedy strikes in the season’s very first game when quarterback Jason Street is permanently taken down. It’s a fantastic pilot that shows us that Friday Night Lights will continuously wear its heart on its sleeve.
Season 1, Episode 7: “Homecoming”
As a slew of alumni flood Dillon for Homecoming, Smash focuses on impressing a recruiter. Tyra and Billy plan an epic party outside of town, while Tim tries hard to quit the sauce. Jason grows more and more suspicious of Lyla’s relationship with Tim…and with good reason.
Season 1, Episode 16: “Black Eyes and Broken Hearts”
The black players on the Panthers refuse to play until Mac McGill is fired for his televised, racially-charged comments.
Season 1, Episode 22: “State”
Eric Taylor takes his team State as they gear up to face their old teammate, Ray “Voodoo” Tatum.
Season 3, Episode 4: “Hello, Goodbye”
With the help of Coach Taylor, the formerly injured Smash Williams is given a scholarship to Texas A&M. His goodbye to his coach, a man who never gave up on him, is incredibly sincere and heartfelt. It’s a powerful moment and a noble farewell to a Panther staple.
Season 3, Episode 13: “Tomorrow Blues”
Tyra Collette was one of the best character arcs to follow, a girl who refused to listen to those who told her her dreams weren’t possible. In the third season finale, she forges on anyways, and with the help of Landry, writes an emotional powerhouse of a college essay. This is one finale that packs all the feels.
Season 4, Episode 13: “Thanksgiving”
The real Tim Riggins shines through when he takes the fall and goes to jail for his brother Billy so that Billy’s son won’t grow up fatherless.
Season 5, Episode 10: “Don’t Go”
Mixing new characters with older ones, “Don’t Go” revives a lot of storylines while also showing the impact Coach Taylor has had on his community. It’s an episode that revs up for the grand finale, and one of the truly phenomenal episodes of Friday Night Lights.
Who Are the Actors in the Friday Night Lights Cast?
With graduating seniors and the promise of college ahead of them, Friday Night Lights had a rotating cast of characters throughout its run, while Eric Taylor’s family stood firm as Dillon’s (and the show’s) foundation.
Taylor is the varsity football coach of the Dillon Panthers and the East Dillon Lions. The Emmy nominated Chandler has a robust film and TV career, and just last year wrapped up a three-year run on Netflix’s fantastic Bloodline.
Tami Taylor begins the series as the guidance counselor, later becoming principal of Dillon High School. She supports her coach husband through all his political and social endeavors, but also expects that same love and support back. Britton starred in the film version of Friday Night Lights as Sharon Gaines, but is perhaps more well known for stints in 24, Nashville and American Horror Story.
Julie is the older daughter of Tami and Eric. She starts the series as a freshman and eventually dates and becomes engaged to Matt Saracen. Teegarden can also be seen in Scream 4 and The Ranch.
Garrity owns a popular car dealership in town and is also the father of Lyla Garrity, the girlfriend of Jason Street. He’s a loud-mouthed go-getter who often gets (too) involved in the town’s politics. Like Britton, Leland also starred in the film version of the show.
Riggins is the “bad boy” of the show, and best friend of Jason Street. Despite being a good guy (for the most part), his womanizing ways and heavy drinking often sets him up for social failure. Kitsch starred in Season 2 of True Detective and also appeared on this year’s miniseries Waco.
Jason Street was QB1 for the Dillon Panthers until he was permanently paralyzed in the series’ pilot episode. His sudden U-Turn in life becomes a regular storyline of the show’s first three seasons. Following Friday Night Lights, Porter appeared on Season 2 of The Good Wife.
After Tami shows interest in her future, Tyra gives up her bad girl ways and aims to get into college to avoid following the paths of her mother and sister. After the show, Palicki busted skulls in John Wick with Keanu Reeves and appeared as Agent Bobbi Morse in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Saracen steps in for Jason Street after the starting quarterback is injured. His father serves in the military, so Matt takes care of his ailing grandma in between school and practice. Currently, Gilford can be seen in the show Good Girls starring Retta, Mae Whitman and Christina Hendricks.
Landry is the nerdy freshman and friend to Matt Saracen. He joins the Panthers in Season 2, crushes hard on Tyra Collette, and accidentally kills a guy trying to protect her. Later, he moves to East Dillon to help Taylor score some W’s with the Lions. Plemons can also be seen on an episode of Black Mirror in addition to the recent films The Post and Game Night.
The Smash is the team’s shining star and also a magnet for drama and issues. He gets caught taking drugs early in the show’s run, and later gets arrested defending his sister after a racially-charged occurrence turns into a brawl. Charles had a long-term stint on Grey’s Anatomy and also appeared on the David Duchovny-led Aquarius.
When given the choice between juvenile detention or football at the new East Dillon High School, Vince tries out his hand with the pigskin. Vince’s behavior and former life creep up, causing drama and disruption for Taylor’s new team. Jordan’s film career is thriving to say the least, having recently portrayed Killmonger in Black Panther and Adonis Johnson in Creed and this year’s Creed II.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind Friday Night Lights?
There are a few key figures who helped translate Friday Night Lights from book to film to TV screens.
Peter Berg: Friday Night Lights Creator
Berg was responsible for the film of the same name which was adapted from a book by H.G. Bissinger. Berg has directed movies like The Kingdom and Very Bad Things, and also has a prominent acting career.
Brian Grazer: Friday Night Lights Producer
Grazer is a producer who co-founded Imagine Entertainment with Ron Howard. His work has been nominated for 43 Oscars (including a win for 2002’s A Beautiful Mind) and 187 Emmys.
Jason Katims: Friday Night Lights Producer, Writer and Director
Katims started his career on shows like My So Called Life and Roswell, and after Friday Night Lights, he created Parenthood and About a Boy.
Where Friday Night Lights Ranks in the Television Pantheon
Just look at these headlines: “Is Friday Night Lights the Best Show on Television?” “Friday Night Lights Ends As A Champion.” “Friday Night Lights Still Burns Bright.” Critical acclaim for the show lit up when the series premiered in 2006 and that roaring blaze of praise only got stronger as the show progressed. Huffington Post even asked: “Why can’t Friday Night Lights, which has only gotten better in recent years, sustain an audience? Why can’t this phenomenal show succeed?” While the answer to that question may forever remain a mystery, the love the show received from critics and its loyal fanbase is indisputable. While the show’s “something for everyone” approach may alienated some, others savagely inhaled the show’s blend of sports, melodrama and southern charm. While it can sometimes veer toward soap in parts, Friday Night Lights will forever be revered for its realistic portrayal of marriage, youth, and small-town struggles, with its large ensemble of characters evolving in realistic, engaging ways. If any of that speaks to you, these Panthers are going to hit you hard.
As they say on the field: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!”