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The 15 best crime shows on Netflix

Get your crime fix here.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Jan 8, 2019   Updated on Jan 27, 2021, 6:26 am CST

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

1) Ozark

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

2) Mindhunter

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

3) Narcos: Mexico

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

6) Dark

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

7) Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones season 3 wraps up one of the most mature superhero shows on TV, starring Krysten Ritter as a private investigator with super strength and a notoriously bad attitude. The previously self-destructive loner teams up with her newly superpowered adoptive sister Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) to catch an elusive serial killer. If you love Jessica Jones for its social commentary, this storyline may be a letdown. But if you’re just watching it as a straightforward thriller, Jessica Jones season 3 is still in fine form. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

8) Happy!

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

9) American Vandal

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

10) The End of the F***ing World

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

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

12) Bodyguard

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  

13) When They See Us 

In 1989, five Black teenage boys were falsely convicted of the assault and rape of white jogger Trisha Meili in a case that would change the course of their lives. While a shallow version of their story sits in the public’s collective memory, Ava DuVernay uses her four-part series When They See Us to wholly correct the narrative of the Central Park Five. Through these meticulous episodes, DuVernay rewrites history, exploring how the police and the media systematically derailed the lives of innocent children during one of the most public, racially driven court cases of the pre-Black Lives Matter era. —Sarah Jasmine Montgomery

14) Dead to Me 

Dead to Me is a comedy, drama, and thriller all wrapped up into one TV series. It follows Jen as she attempts to come to terms with the death of her husband Ted in a hit-and-run accident by solving the murder, right as she meets warm and positive Judy at a grief support group. The two form a fast friendship and team up to find the owner of the car responsible for Ted’s death, despite their different personalities. The most fun part about watching Dead to Me is the twists and turns sewed into the plot, making it an easy series to binge watch in a weekend. —Tess Cagle

15) Good Girls

Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman, and Retta star in this crime comedy about women on the verge. Dissatisfied with suburban life, financial troubles, and shitty men, they hatch a plan to rob a grocery store, then try to cover their tracks. The three leads have different personalities, but their chemistry locks in after a few episodes, and you’re all in as they try to take back their identities and agency (and avoid getting caught). It joins shows like Claws and Weeds in the women-doing-crimes subgenre, and redefines the parameters of rage and friendship. —A.S.

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*First Published: Jan 8, 2019, 6:30 am CST