11 Nerdy Things You Can Watch and Read for Free While Social Distancing [Updated]

Clockwise from left: Samurai Jack, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, Creepshow, and Star Trek: Picard
Clockwise from left: Samurai Jack, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, Creepshow, and Star Trek: Picard
Image: Adult Swim, Shudder, Photo: Showtime, CBS All Access

There are only so many times you can rewatch episodes of Futurama or Love is Blind. For folks wanting to branch out beyond Netflix and Hulu, or take a momentary break from Animal Crossing, there are plenty of places to watch cool shows and films online for free—as well as some services to help keep you reading, too.

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io9 has put together a collection of 10 services that are either offering complementary resources or extending their trials to 30 days or more—because seven-day trial periods can be tricky to keep track of. Be sure to let us know in the comments if there are other sites or services you’ve come across that are helping you during social distancing.


Stuff to Watch

CBS All Access: Patrick Stewart announced on Twitter that new subscribers can get a month of CBS All Access for free by using the code GIFT (normally the trial is one week). It’s active through April 23. Gives a perfect opportunity to binge the first season of Star Trek: Picard, which just wrapped—although the series didn’t exactly stick the landing.

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Update: According to TrekCore, CBS All Access has expanded the free trial to 60 days with a second code, ENJOY. Enter both at checkout to get two months free, and if you’ve already done the first one you can extend it by going into My Account and entering ENJOY.

Sling TV: Announced in a press release, the live streaming platform is providing free access to several news channels, without a subscription, to keep people without cable informed during the covid-19 epidemic, as well as featuring some free TV shows and movies. Offerings include Third Rock From the Sun, The Greatest American Hero, and select episodes of Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy.

Plex: Plex recently announced that live TV would be available through June 30 without a Plex Pass, offering dozens of channels for free. All you need is a tuner and an HD antenna.

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Quibi: We might have all the time in the world to watch stuff right now thanks to social distancing, but the short-video service Quibi is still counting on folks wanting some shows to be digested quickly. The upcoming platform, which features shows that are 10 minutes or shorter, has extended its free 90-day trial offer through April 20. You can sign up on its website. The platform is set to launch on April 6 with dozens of shows and specials, including the only one that matters...Murder House Flip.

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Samurai Jack: Adult Swim has made the entire Samurai Jack series free to watch on its website, without a cable subscription. It’s an incredible show and this is the perfect opportunity to check it out—either for the first time, or again.

Amazon Prime Video for Kids: In addition to the one-month free trial available for new subscribers, Amazon announced it’s making several of its kid-friendly shows free to watch for folks who don’t have a subscription. The Free For All service, which you can check out here, includes Amazon Originals and PBS Kids shows, as well as some family-friendly movies like Scooby-Doo, The Smurfs, and 1984's Supergirl. Just make sure your kid doesn’t see that Caillou is on there. Trust me, I’m doing you a favor.

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Showtime: Showtime is offering a free 30-day trial for new subscribers, giving fans plenty of time to binge Penny Dreadful before the new series, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, debuts on April 26.

Shudder: Craving a bit of horror that isn’t the everyday frights we’re experiencing right now? Shudder has expanded its free trial to 30 days, using the code SHUTIN (just click on the seven-day trial button and enter the code). The streaming platform has films like Satanic Panic, Let the Right One In, and that movie our own Germain Lussier has been excitedly blogging about for a while now, One Cut of the Dead. It also has original programs like the Creepshow reboot.

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Update: April 10

Apple has made several of its AppleTV+ shows free to watch without a subscription, including M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant and the alt-history space exploration series For All Mankind. For a full list of available shows, you can check out the website here.

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Things to Read

Scribt: In a press release, Scribt announced it’s making book, magazine, and audiobook services free for 30 days—without requiring folks to put down a credit card. All you have to do is visit the website to sign up. There’s a great collection of science fiction and fantasy books on there, as well as some self-help, healthy living, and mindfulness books for folks interested in that as well.

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Internet Archive: The Internet Archive announced in a press release that it would be suspending waitlists for all 1.4-million books in its lending library, meaning users can borrow books right away without having to sign up for a waiting list. The collection features books from Phillips Academy Andover, Marygrove College, and Trent University, as well as books donated from libraries around the world. The waitlist suspension will run through June 30—unless massive social distancing is still being enacted, in which case it will be continued.

Audible: Audible has made hundreds of audiobooks geared toward kids and teens available for free, along with several classic works. There’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein narrated by Dan Stevens (Legion) and The Canterbury Tales featuring a full cast, as well as classic tales from figures like Edgar Allan Poe and Edith Wharton. The collection is available here and no subscription is required.

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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

Samurai Jack: Adult Swim has made the entire Samurai Jack series free to watch on its website, without a cable subscription. It’s an incredible show and this is the perfect opportunity to check it out—either for the first time, or again.

I cannot stress this enough.

Samurai Jack is brilliant.

The first three episodes are really a 90 minute movie (it was first broadcast as a movie/pilot). Samurai Jack goes through his origin and then winds up centuries in the future, where his evil nemesis, Aku, has taken over the Universe.

And that’s when the fighting starts: