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Get your crime fix here.
Crime and detective shows have flourished in the streaming era, bringing us acclaimed series like True Detective and series with massive fandoms like Sherlock. Netflix has assembled its own impressive roster of original crime shows (and true crime documentaries) with a little something for everyone: comedies, thrillers, dramas, British. Here are the best crime shows on Netflix.
The best crime shows on Netflix
Season 2 of this Netflix attempt at “gritty, prestige drama” picks up with the Byrd family in the wake of their reunion at the end of season one. For better or worse (probably worse), Wendy (Laura Linney) and the kids have decided to stick with Marty (Jason Bateman) as he launches his latest and biggest money-laundering business yet, a riverboat casino. After the death of Del (Esai Morales) at the hands of the local Snell crime family, Marty is now forced to answer to cartel lawyer Helen Pierce, played by newcomer to the cast Janet McTeer. In addition to bridging this volatile relationship between the Snells and the cartel, Marty also continues to supervise spitfire Ruth Langmore (Julie Garner,) his de facto apprentice in crime, while dodging an invigorated investigation spearheaded by unstable FBI agent Roy Petty (Jason Butler Harner). —Chris Osterndorf
Netflix’s David Fincher-produced serial crime series Mindhunter takes viewers into the depraved minds of history’s most notorious killers. By way of a young, ambitious FBI agent doing groundbreaking research, it tracks the birth of modern FBI profiling with chilling and evocative scenery. —Danielle Ransom
Narcos: Mexico shifts the focus north, from Colombia to Mexico, exploring the rise of the Guadalajara Cartel during the 1980s. Diego Luna stars an enterprising trafficker who rises to head the Cartel thanks to his shrewd intelligence and a willingness to take huge risks in attempting to form an alliance between a circus of violent, competing criminal fiefdoms. Opposing him is Kiki Camarena (Michael Peña), an ambitious DEA agent with no patience for “established protocols” that only serve to secure the status quo. Their strong performances anchor a twisting, addictive narrative that proves that Narcos is in no danger of running out of steam—or compelling subject matter—anytime soon. —David Wharton
4) The Sinner
This Jessica Biel-led drama gives you the who right away, but the why takes a little longer. Biel plays Cora, a stoic wife and mother who one day stabs an apparent stranger on the beach. She’s resigned to her fate in prison, but Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) sees something else in her, and helps her navigate past trauma and what led her to that brutal act. It’s a divisive show that leaves some questions lingering, but it’s also a frighteningly easy binge watch. —Audra Schroeder
5) The Fall
Jamie Dornan stars as Paul Spector—family man by day, a serial killer with very distinct tastes by night. Gillian Anderson melts the screen as steely detective Stella Gibson. In season 1, Gibson and Spector perform a very delicate dance of cat and mouse. In season 2, Gibson locks in on Spector’s fetishistic tendencies, but she also leaves herself vulnerable and has no problem expressing herself as a sexual being. —Audra Schroeder
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From filmmaker Baran bo Odar and writer Jantje Friese, Dark is a show about several intertwining families in the German city of Winden, and the disappearance of several local children. It’s half gritty crime drama, half supernatural thriller, all modern prestige television. In the tradition of a depressing amount of series about small towns with missing children, Dark is a sort of cross between Stranger Things, Twin Peaks, and True Detective. It manages to squeeze in everything from ‘80s nostalgia to warnings about the dangers of nuclear power to philosophical riffs on the nature of time. —Chris Osterndorf
Jessica Jones returns for a second season of Marvel’s gripping, feminist thriller. With her nemesis Kilgrave gone, Jessica (Krysten Ritter) investigates the mystery of how she gained her powers as a child. Unlike some of Marvel’s other Netflix series, this show is too intense to binge-watch in one sitting—and that’s definitely a good thing. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
A TV show starring Christopher Meloni as a broken detective, stalked by an imaginary flying unicorn voiced by Patton Oswalt, doesn’t seem like it would translate, but boy does it. Adapted from Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s comic series of the same name, Syfy’s Happy! sketches out a dark timeline in which Meloni’s detective-turned-hitman Nick Sax has to track down a young girl who’s been kidnapped by a deranged Santa, with plenty of one-liners and bloody encounters along the way. This is bizarro world Law & Order. —Audra Schroeder
Across two seasons, American Vandal tackled the crime of dick graffiti and the saga of the “Turd Burglar,” taking the mockumentary to a new level. With its true-crime doc framing, American Vandal is able to explore the hierarchy of high school and shape memorable, vulnerable characters. The question of “Who drew the dicks?” might be answered, but is it ever really answered? —Audra Schroeder
This Netflix original series presents us with a boy named James, who is pretty sure he’s a psychopath. He’s already murdered animals, and now he’s ready to pivot to humans. But when he meets classmate Alyssa and decides she’ll be his first victim, he gets more than he bargained for. The two embark on a road trip, which inadvertently becomes a death trip, and the series deftly balances dark comedy with genuine emotion. —Audra Schroeder
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11) Alias Grace
Sarah Gadon stars as Grace Marks, a seemingly demure domestic servant who became infamous in Canada after being convicted of a brutal 1843 double murder. The question of whether she did it, and why, and of what forces brought her to that point, shapes Netflix’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s twisting narrative and leaves behind far more questions than answers. —David Wharton
Netflix scored big by acquiring record-breaking BBC drama Bodyguard, which stars Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden as David Budd, a decorated Afghanistan war veteran now working as a protection officer for the London Police. Tasked with guarding an ambitious, right-wing politician (Keeley Hawes), Budd soon encounters an expansive conspiracy and a host of unexpected personal complications, all while he grapples with his own PTSD. Anchored by Madden’s magnetic performance, the series defies expectations at every twist and turn, managing to overcome a lazy third-act twist that would have derailed a lesser project. —David Wharton
Looking for something more specific? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, rom-coms, LGBT movies, alien movies, gangster movies, Westerns, film noir, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, old movies when you need something classic, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Audra Schroeder is the Daily Dot’s senior entertainment writer, and she focuses on streaming, comedy, and music. Her work has previously appeared in the Austin Chronicle, the Dallas Observer, NPR, ESPN, Bitch, and the Village Voice. She is based in Austin, Texas.