(Final Update August 28, 2020) - TheTVDB Bible: Guidelines, Policies, & Procedures

Announcements about the database, website, and plugins.
Forum rules
This forum is now read-only. Support for TheTVDB.com is now available at https://support.thetvdb.com/ We also have a Knowledgebase which includes site rules and tips at https://support.thetvdb.com/kb/
Site Admin
Posts: 403
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:14 am

Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:53 pm

Notice of Archival Status

As noted in this announcement MAJOR UPDATE — TheTVDB support is moving! we will be moving the forums to read-only archival status.
As such the new home for this information is in our Brand New Knowledgebase. It will always contain our most current rules and procedures will be made available there. There is also a topic specific to Policy Updates

Additionally, major changes and feature releases are announced on our social feeds follow us on Twitter or FaceBook @TheTVDB

TheTVDB Bible

Welcome to TheTVDB.com! We are the world’s largest metadata solution for TV and Films. All of our information comes from fans like you and is shared with many other sites, mobile apps, and devices. We are an open-source community and are always thrilled to see the site grow. In turn, we’d love to invite you to create a free account and help your favorite shows and movies thrive!

As a general rule (and to keep the database in order) we do request that you read the following rules and guidelines first, before you start contributing to the site. They’ll enlighten you on how to navigate the site & the forums, address FAQs, and ensure that TheTVDB is always populated with the most accurate, up-to-date information available.

While our rules below aim to be very comprehensive, you can also refer to our Wiki for use cases, artwork examples, and more specific questions. Taking the time to read over the Wiki will make your time as a part of our community more worthwhile!

A good rule of thumb: If you have any questions, concerns, or requests about anything related to TheTVDB, please post in the forums (if a similar topic hasn’t already been started), or email us at support@thetvdb.com.

Additionally, please take a moment to read our updated terms of service.

Community Ground Rules

We’re a small team here at TheTVDB, and as such we’ve done our best to put in place a set of rules/guidelines to allow for the smoothest operation of the site. While there may be exceptions to these rules, we’ve tried our best to set the most comprehensive guidelines possible. So, without further ado, some ground rules for TheTVDB.com:

General guidelines:
  • You should always search TheTVDB & forums before adding a new series or movie. Search in this version of the site has been vastly improved, but the site has hundreds of thousands of records so a thorough search is worth your while.
  • You should always provide a link to the series or film in the database when requesting anything. Your research will expedite requests to the mods.
  • Please refrain from emailing or PMing an Admin or Mod unless your question has gone unanswered for some time on the forums.
  • Do not remove any information or blank out episodes, series, or movies you think are incorrect or have incorrect information, this creates major downflow problems in the data, instead post your request in the Series Change Requests forum thread.
  • Stick to image guidelines, do not upload poor quality images, or images with logos, profanity, or any nudity whatsoever.
  • Seek out our Preferred Sources of Truth to support your case for changes. If you can’t find evidence in our Preferred list, please attempt to provide two “Acceptable” sources that confirm your changes.
In closing, if we work together, we can make TheTVDB.com the definitive source for TV and movie information. Additionally, if you have any ideas, comments, concerns, etc., please feel free to share these with us via the general discussion thread!

Navigating the site

To use TheTVDB, you’ll actually have to create accounts on two websites — first on TheTVDB.com, and then on our forums. You don’t have to use the same username on both, but it is preferred that you do.

We’ve recently made some major improvements to the site as well. If you haven’t been back in a while, please find new feature adds and forthcoming improvements here.

Thread Changes
If you've been to this thread before you'll notice we have split the single large post into smaller specific segments. This should make it easier to read and to find any changes to our rules. Additionally, we will add posts outlining any major changes.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:31 am
Location: Canada

Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:01 pm

Adding new content

In order to add new content to TheTVDB, you must make sure you’ve taken any and all measures to confirm that the content does not already exist on the site. This will prevent duplicate entries, and continue to keep the site organized and clean. To confirm, you must:
  • Search the TVDB: We’ve made vast improvements to our search engine in this update and we now support an aliases system that has been optimized. Please search for your records before creation, they may already exist!
  • Search the forums: If you have a specific question related to a show or film it is important that you search the forums thoroughly before modifications are made. Some of our content has old historical references that are defined in the forums. We even have a list of known problematic series that may just answer your question.
  • Search any other titles/aliases that may have been associated with the content: a quick Google search can help you find alternate titles that a piece of content may have been called in the past, including foreign titles (e.g. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone aka Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
    • If possible, try searching for the title you are looking for in both the series/film’s native language, as well as in English — the content may just be missing a translation.
If, after all this, you’re confident that you’ve found a piece of content that doesn’t exist yet on TheTVDB, you can proceed with adding it to the site.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:31 am
Location: Canada

Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:05 pm


Adding a TV Series

What Qualifies as a Series

A series is exactly what it sounds like — a program with a defined sequence of episodes.

In the new site, we allow series adds that do not yet have a premiere date. These should be listed as “Upcoming” in the status field until their premiere date when they should be moved to “Continuing.” That being said, we only allow for new programs that have been “ordered to series.” The one exception to this is if a stand-alone pilot aired on a television network — in this case, they should be added as a Series record and tagged with the "Dead Pilot" tag option under the TV Types & Formats tags.

Pilots that do not fit the above criteria will be deleted by a moderator. If you are unsure of the status of your series, please submit documentation to the forums.

Other than these stand-alone pilots, if the program is a one-time airing then it should be considered a movie and entered as such. The exception, for now, is our historical listing of documentaries and collections — see "Documentaries" and “Collections” in this post. Specials also have their own guidelines for being added to the site, see “Specials Guidelines” below.

Made-for-TV movies should be added as movies. If in doubt, post in the forums before adding a series. Web series fall under a different set of rules which can be found here.

We do not allow adult content of any kind on the site. Pornographic films, series, etc. should not be added.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:31 am
Location: Canada

Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:07 pm

Continuations, Revivals, & Reboots

Everyone is rebooting IP these days, but it can sometimes be hard to understand if you should continue a show with a new season, years later, or start an entirely new entry. From a content perspective, if it's the same cast as the original (or mostly the same cast), we should consider it a continuation of the original show rather than a new, separate show.

Here are some examples of various pieces of content and how they are listed:

24 -- however, 24: Legacy (sans Jack Bauer) is its own series
Veronica Mars
Prison Break
Mad About You
Will & Grace
Tales of the City
American Idol
The X-Files
Arrested Development
Twin Peaks
In Search Of …
Murphy Brown

REMAKES for Series with the same name (New series record on TVDB)
For remakes with new series entries please append the year of the remake to the end of the series to differentiate it from the original.
Charlie's Angels
Melrose Place
Battlestar Galactica
One Day at a Time

REMAKES with a Different title (New series record on TVDB)
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
90210 (The CW, 2008)
BH90210 (FOX, 2019)
Fuller House (Netflix, 2016)
Hawaii Five-0 (as opposed to the original Hawaii Five-O)
Magnum P.I. (as opposed to the original Magnum, P.I.)
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:31 am
Location: Canada

Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:09 pm

Web Series

In this updated version of TheTVDB, we will continue to allow for internet-based web series (within reason). These programs should be listed under their network/content distributor (e.g. YouTube, Twitch) and marked as a Web Series under TV Type/Format. If the program’s network is not available, you must make a request first to the forums that it be added before you enter your series. Additionally, web series should still follow TheTVDB series guidelines, with overviews, and air dates. That being said, things you should not include in web series episode orders are fan videos such as remixes, or replies/complaints about episodes, as they do not represent original pieces of content.

Examples include Hot Ones, Yes Theory

These are allowed on the site, but make sure you follow these rules:
  • For series with an average episode length of under 10 minutes, there must be at least 10 episodes to be added.
  • For series with an average episode length of at least 10 minutes, there must be at least 5 episodes to be added.
  • These first 5 or 10 episodes MUST be added immediately after the series record is created.
  • Series with an average episode length of under two minutes are not allowed. Example: failblog videos.
  • There must be an official order for the clips available, generally listed by the upload date.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:31 am
Location: Canada

Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:12 pm

Reality/Non-Scripted Series
For the most part, reality and non-scripted series that are coming back, getting "rebooted," etc, should be considered continuations, and new seasons should be added to the original record. There may be a few exceptions to this rule. An example of this is Ripley's Believe It or Not!. It is not an exception because the rule does not apply. But rather Ripley's remains an exception because the revival from 2000 was mistakenly allowed as its own entry at the time. When the 2019 revival occurred and that mistake was realized. Rather than break existing libraries by deleting the 2000 record and incorporating it and the 2019 edition into the original we left it be. Clearly it would not have made sense to then fold the 2019 episodes into the original while leaving the batch from 2000 stand-alone.

Ongoing News and Talk Shows
For ongoing news and talk shows, a new show record should NOT be created when the host of the program changes. If the name of the program changes, the new name should be added as the title of the series, and the old name(s) should be added as aliases of that series. Example: The Morning Show, currently known as Live with Kelly and Ryan.


Generally, sports are not allowed on the site. However, in the most recent update we are allowing for all professional wrestling (WWE) and professional MMA (UFC). Moving forward, we will review/discuss hosting other sports on a case-by-case basis and as we identify those users who are interested in being regular contributors to these events.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:31 am
Location: Canada

Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:13 pm


That's right, there's a specific section in the rules for anime. The reason is that we run into so many different issues with this specific genre.

First off, there are tons of inappropriate images uploaded to anime series all the time, mainly nudity. Please refer to the "Uploading Images" section below. Nudity of any sort is not allowed!

Second, make sure the series you are about to enter is not already in the database. Head over to AnimeNewsNetwork.com and look at the alternative titles for your series.

Third, do not create separate series for seasons. Anime series' like to give subtitles to each story arc in a lot of cases, but they are simply seasons when it boils down to it. In the new site, you have the option to name seasons. A great example of this is Sailor Moon with Seasons 1 through 5 named "Sailor Moon", "Sailor Moon: R", "Sailor Moon: S", "Sailor Moon: Super S", and "Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars" respectively. When in doubt, ask on the forums.

Lastly, we do not list anime movies in the TV section, even if there are sequels. An example of this would be Urotsukidoji. There are currently a total of four (4) movies in the series. Even though they are a series, they are still MOVIES and need to be entered into the movies section of the site.

OVAs (Anime or Not):

OVAs (Original Video Animations) should be added as individual movies, no matter if they are associated with an existing series, or if there is a standalone group of OVAs that are related/connected in some way. In the near future, we will be able to group these related records together so that users can have a full and complete experience.

Multi-Segment Episode Splitting:

This mostly applies to cartoons. When a cartoon has multiple storylines in a single episode, the standard guideline for TheTVDB is to enter each story as a separate episode. This is because it's quite common for networks to release them separately, especially when broadcast in different countries. Also, episodes have been known to be recombined in different pairings for DVD releases and in syndication. Splitting the segments allows for alternate orders to be created that may combine multiple episodes into one episode so that you can choose to store your files either by storyline or as complete episodes.

An example is the series Timon & Pumbaa. Two different seasons aired simultaneously on two different channels. One set in syndication another on CBS. We do not combine the seasons from the two channels into one.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:31 am
Location: Canada

Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:13 pm

DVD Orders:
When a DVD combines 2 episodes from the original aired order into one, you should create a new episode in the DVD Order and move the other episodes into the DVD Order's Unassigned season.

Multiple Episodes Airing Back-to-Back:

Sometimes, a show will air episodes in two parts, back-to-back. Examples of this includes The Good Place, Season 3, as well as SEAL Team, Season 3.

Currently, the rule is to add these episodes as separate entries, if:
  • The episodes have different writing credits and/or production codes
  • The episodes contain references to Parts 1/2 (or something similar)
  • Any instances where there are two episode titles
If none of these criteria are met, then a double length episode should be entered as a single entry.

In SEAL Team's case, even though CBS lists the back-to-back episodes as one long episode on their official site, the episodes each have different production codes and writing credits, so we made the decision to list these episodes separately.

We’re not going to touch legacy content right now, because it will mess up people’s libraries. Moving forward, however, this will be our policy for episodes aired back-to-back. If you think that a series should have an alternate order where the two episodes should be listed together as one, please suggest this to a moderator. Once approved, you’ll be able to add your proposed order as an alternate order in the system using the flexible season feature.


Of course, one-off feature-length documentaries should be added as Movies. However, there are some documentary series (i.e. a 10-part documentary series on the rain forest or the great pyramids) that can be added as a TV series. The whole concept of "series" implies that there is more than one episode, so in these cases, it would make sense for there to be a series entry for it.

Below is a historical listing of many docu-series that users have entered over the years. Moving forward, we would ideally like these series to be entered as films; however, if you would like to continue to add to these Collections we will allow for it: For these ongoing Collections, we would prefer if you make season numbers the year in which the documentaries were aired. (i.e. If the show aired in 2008, it would belong in Season 2008). Most of the series do this properly, however, some do not. National Geographic, for example, is a complete mess, we're aware of it, and when we have bulk tools it will be easier to clean up.

Additionally, compilations of documentaries that have been released to DVD DO NOT get their own series. Examples of this were the recently added "Unsolved Mysteries: Ghosts" and "National Geographic: National Parks Collection" which have been deleted. These are not true series but rather collections of episodes that have been put together strictly for DVD sale. On most occasions, these episodes already exist as part of their original series. If they appear in a series, they should be listed under the DVD flexible season format.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:31 am
Location: Canada

Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:22 pm


TV Specials

In order to qualify for addition to the Specials section of a television series, the video in question must have either aired on television or have been streamed on the official series website or network website. The only exceptions to this are pilots and episodes that weren't aired for various reasons, including but not limited to: series cancellation, being banned due to content.

Content such as extras on DVDs which are not part of the storyline (bloopers, makings of, deleted scenes, cast interviews, etc.) DO NOT belong on here UNLESS they aired on television or were streamed on the official series website. Director’s cuts of individual episodes are also not allowed, however, exceptions may be made in strange cases.

Allowed: Aired or officially streamed special content (such as webisodes), pilots, unaired episodes. This includes OVAs/ONAs/side stories/re-tellings/recap episodes (if unnumbered or numbered with a decimal such as 4.5)/etc. for anime.

Not Allowed: Director's/Extended Cuts and DVD extras such as: bloopers, making-ofs, deleted scenes, cast interviews (unless streamed or aired). Also not permitted are compilations of seasons merging every episode into one long video featuring little to no changes (i.e. 2003’s Star Wars: Clone Wars).

Related Movies
Historically we allowed related movies to be listed in the specials. But now that the site supports movies, these should be listed separately as Movies. In future iterations of this site, we will be able to link all of this content together. A good example of this is the Firefly movie, Serenity. This film is a direct continuation of the series and has aired on television a number of times, so it has been entered in as a Special.
For the time being, movies that continue the arc of a show CAN be added as Specials, but they should also be added into the movies section. At some point in the future, the listing in specials will be removed in favour of the movie entry

**Additionally, we encourage everyone to use the “Before” and “After” fields for each special episode to denote where a special falls chronologically and story-wise. This can be found after you create a special, and then click "Edit Episode."

NEW MAY 2020 — You are now able to denote whether a special falls within a series storyline or not. When editing a Special, look for the section called Special is Critical to Show's Story — then select Yes or No from the drop-down menu.

Stand-up Specials

Stand-up specials should no longer be added in a collection under the comedian's name. These should be entered as separate movies, with the "Stand-Up Comedy Special" tag option suggested under the Movie Type or Format tag options. We will soon be deprecating records like this one so please start adding them appropriately.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:31 am
Location: Canada

Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:23 pm

Other things to note:

DVD Extras:

DVD extras are not allowed, for movies or for TV series. Do not add cast interviews, behind the scenes footage, etc.

Educational Content:

Educational content has come up many times, especially recently. With the wider release of more educational content throughout the era of COVID-19, we've decided to update our policy. Educational content should only be added if it was originally released as a series with structured episodes. One rule of thumb is that if it's pay-per-video content, or if the content is promotional in any way, it is not allowed.

Educational Content should always be added as Series, with the company/provider of the content in the Network field. We've added The Great Courses and MaterClass as Networks to enable tagging to start. If you need another course provider added as a Network, please let us know. Educational content should also be tagged with the "Educational Content" Sub-genre tag.

The waters get muddy when educational content originally airs on YouTube. Because at that point the series would be considered a Web Series. Please check the Web Series guidelines for adding these.

Some guidelines for our current Educational Course providers:

  • Since individuals may host more than one MasterClass, we would prefer that all of a single person's MasterClasses are grouped into one Series record, and titled "Person Name MasterClass." An example is Gordon Ramsay, who offers two cooking courses. In this case, we'd name the Series "Gordon Ramsay MasterClass" and each Season would represent each course.
  • Seasons should be named as the course is named on the MasterClass site. For the Gordon Ramsay example, the seasons would be:
    • Season 1: "Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking I"
    • Season 2: "Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking II"
  • Episodes should correspond to each video lesson in the course. Special videos that aren't specific lectures should be added to the Specials Season.
The Great Courses:
  • Courses on The Great Courses should be added as Series, with the Series Title being the title of the course.
  • Within the aired order, each video lesson should be considered one episode and titled to match The Great Courses website.

We’ve become aware that some users are adding podcasts into the database. We’ve decided to allow for it, but the podcasts must have the newly added genre tag of “podcasts,” as well as have the Network designated as "Podcast (All Platforms)." While this is a catch-all for podcasts at the moment, we will allow for the request of a podcast network only if it offers exclusive podcasts that aren't available anywhere else.