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The Best Crime Series on Netflix

Are you finding yourself in the mood for murder, most foul? Well, we have you covered with our list of the Best Crime Series on Netflix. From docuseries like The Keepers to updated classics like Sherlock, not to mention Netflix originals Mindhunter and Bloodline, as well as British series LutherHappy Valley, and Wallander (there are a lot of British crime series on here), there should be something to tempt you below.

Like with our Best TV Dramas on Netflix, we have even more lists of TV subgenres on the streaming giant to share, including the Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy and Best TV Comedies, and more. So if you don’t see you favorites here, keep checking! And of course, for a full list of everything Netflix has to offer TV-wise that we recommend, you can head over to our master list of The Best TV Shows on Netflix.

This list will continue to grow, but for now check out our list of crime-specific recommendations below, and let us know some of your other favorites in the comments:

Bodyguard

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Image via Netflix

Creator: Jed Mecurio

Cast: Richard Madden, Keeley Hawes, Gina McKee, Sophe Rundle, and Paul Ready

The opening scene of the first episode of Bodyguard sinks its hooks in you, and the show never really lets up throughout its six-episode first season. The series premiered in the UK to staggering numbers before making its US debut on Netflix, and it follows a metropolitan police officer named David Budd (Richard Madden) who is tasked with guarding the life of Conservative Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) in the midst of a political crisis—namely the debate over how to deal with terrorism. Budd’s personal life and background are slowly revealed throughout the show, forcing the audience to consistently question whether he’s a true hero or a potential villain. If you loved the first season of Homeland, this show is absolutely for you. – Adam Chitwood

Manhunt: Unabomber

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Image via Jason Elias, Discovery Channel

Creator: Andrew Sodroski

Cast: Sam Worthington, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Bobb, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Chris Noth

Discovery took a chance on a rare scripted series for their network, but it paid off. Manhunt: Unabomber, chronicles the case of Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber, who was active for almost two decades before the FBI caught him (mainly because, as the show notes, his brother turned him in). But Manhunt focuses on the inner workings of the FBI through the lens of Jim Fitzgerald (Sam Worthington), who created “forensic linguistics” as way to help catch criminals. Like in Netflix’s Mindhunter, Fitz’s path is filled with red tape, and he has to fight the institution to better it (and satisfy his own obsession with the case). Paul Bettany is exceptional as Kaczynski, especially in the series’ penultimate episode which focuses just on his character. And while Manhunt: Unabomber takes place in the 90s and includes some well-placed cultural touchstones, its retro setting is never satirical or over-the-top. The series is an earnest portrayal of a notorious case and the fascinating but deranged (at least one of them) men at the center of it. — Allison Keene

Happy Valley

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Image via Netflix

Created By: Sally Wainwright

Cast: Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran, George Costigan, Joe Armstrong, James Norton

Maybe no country does crime TV as well as the U.K., and Happy Valley is another excellent 6-episode entry into its vast collection of dark and twisted tales. Sarah Lancashire’s Catherine is a tough police sergeant, but she cares deeply about her community (and her interactions with local low-lifes are some of the series’ highlights). But she’s haunted by the actions of Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), who raped her daughter and produced a child, after which her daughter committed suicide. Her family torn apart, when Catherine sees him on a street corner after his release, she becomes obsessed with finding him after he drops off the map. Meanwhile, a second plot also involving Tommy and a kidnapping starts to unravel, and questions of guilt, innocence, and more sweep viewers up in the show’s complex and often harrowing portrayal. Norton and Lancashire are exceptional in this character-driven drama, and it’s an quick binge-watch with a huge reward.

Its fantastically engrossing second season is now available, and it is in no way a sophomore slump. Instead, the series not only finds new ways to weave together the stories of Cawoods and Tommy Lee Royce, but it adds a few new swirling subplots that, as ever, highlight the bleakness but close-knitted nature of life in the valleys of West Yorkshire. — Allison Keene

Mindhunter

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Image via Netflix

Created by: Joe Penhall

Cast: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Hannah Gross, and Cotter Smith

Executive produced and essentially run by David FincherMindhunter is one of TV’s best shows currently running, hands down. The series is based on true events and follows the early days of the FBI’s criminal profiling unit in the late 1970s. Two FBI agents from the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit—Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany)—set out to interview imprisoned serial killers to see if they can understand why they did what they did, to help create a profile for the FBI to catch these kinds of killers. The show is methodical, wildly engrossing, and surprisingly funny, and Fincher himself directs a number of episodes throughout the first two seasons, resulting in terrific piece of filmmaking as well. It’s an addictive series that refuses to go down easy or well-worn paths, instead finding brand new ways to chronicle stories that have been told countless times, and as a result offering wholly new insight into human behavior. Oh yeah, and it’s deliciously entertaining. – Adam Chitwood

The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

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Image via FX

Created by: Ryan Murphy

Cast: Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sterling K. Brown, Bruce Greenwood, Kennth Choi, Nathan Lane, David Schwimmer, Courtney B. Vance, and John Travolta

Few could have predicted not only how big of a deal The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story would be, but also how genuinely great the show is. The first installment of a new anthology series from American Horror Story and Glee creator Ryan MurphyO.J. takes a unique look at this seminal moment in history by revealing new truths not just about the case, but the environment surrounding it. How issues of sexism, racism, and class played heavy roles in the outcome, and how little-known facts changed the course of history forever. The show is tremendously well acted, especially by Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden, and Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. Trust me, this is not the show you think, and as a 10-episode piece of storytelling it’s one of the best things that’s aired on TV in the past decade. – Adam Chitwood

The Keepers

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Image via Netflix

Directed by: Ryan White

The “docuseries” format has become somewhat en vogue as of late, with HBO’s The Jinx and Netflix’s Making a Murderer expanding the whodunit nature of an episode of Dateline into a six, seven, or eight-hour comprehensive look at a cold case or some crime with a hook. At first blush, Netflix’s The Keepers (which landed on the streaming service on May 19th) looked to be in the same vein of these other watercooler series. The show promised to delve into the mysterious disappearance and murder of a nun, Sister Cathy Cesnik, in 1969, examining the circumstances, the many suspects, and other relevant aspects of the case. It’s soon revealed that Cesnik may have uncovered horrendous sexual abuse that was going on at the all-girls Archbishop Keough High School. Specifically, women came forward with allegations that two priests at the school, most prominently Father Joseph Maskell, had been forcing female students to perform sex acts on him and others. The theory, then, was that Sister Cathy was determined to out and put a stop to the abuse, and was murdered in order to silence her.

Abuse has permanent, devastating effects on the victim, and The Keepers brings this to light in a striking, upsetting, but necessary manner. How can we expect to prevent this kind of abuse in the future if we follow suit and dismiss it as “not our problem” or something best handled quietly? No longer are these victims shamed as liars, or silenced with threats—The Keepers gives them the space to tell their story, and as intriguing as Sister Cathy’s murder mystery is, it’s merely an entry point to an emotional and poignant tale that ultimately paints Sister Cathy as a hero who died trying to do the right thing. — Adam Chitwood

The Fall

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Image via Netflix

Created By: Allan Cubitt

Cast: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, Archi Panjabi, John Lynch, Bronagh Waugh

Equal parts sultry and petrifying, Allan Cubitt’s provocative BBC series is a visceral and cerebral investigation of the relationship between lust and violence that stays just on the right side of lurid. Perhaps the most feminist show on TV for the way it treats female characters and the way it explores the male sense of ownership over the female body, The Fall pits Gillian Anderson’s Stella Gibson, an ice-cold expert investigator, against Jamie Dornan’s Paul Specter, a handsome father and part-time serial killer who stalks, torments, and murders beautiful young women before grooming and posing their bodies. It’s a psychologically perverse battle of the wits as the two hunters do-si-do in a high stakes cat-and-mouse game, each turn leading to a new dead body. Anderson is impeccable in the role, and for those who’ve written off Jamie Dornan for his 50 Shades of Grey sins, The Fall completely absolves him. Paul Specter is magnetic in his repulsiveness. Even Stella is pulled in by his thrall as she tracks him, and their dynamic makes for one of the most compelling relationships on television. The Fall is layered, seductive, frightening, absolutely must watch TV. —Haleigh Foutch

Broadchurch

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Image via BBC America

Created By: Chris Chibnall

Cast: David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Andrew Buchan, and Jodie Whittaker

Okay so the American remake was weird and unnecessary, but if you haven’t seen the British original version of Broadchurch, get on it. Creator Chris Chibnall weaves an intensely emotional whodunit over the course of the show’s first season, with the pilot resulting in one of the fastest “flood of tears” moments in recent memory. When a young boy is found dead below the cliffs in this sleepy U.K. town, a detective with a shady past (played by David Tennant) arrives to head up the case. The performances—especially from Olivia Colman—are tremendous, and the story gives equal weight to the mystery and the emotional impact of the boy’s death. While the first season is hard to top (it works extremely well as a miniseries as it wraps up the case by season’s end), the second and third seasons are compelling for very different reasons. Well worth a watch if you’re in the mood for a mystery with brains and heart to spare. – Adam Chitwood

Bloodline

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Image via Netflix

Created By: Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman

Cast: Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, Jacinda Barrett, Jamie McShane, Enrique Murciano, Sissy Spacek

As far as crime dramas go, Bloodline rivals Rectify for the most engrossing mystery and engaging exploration of family relationships on TV—at least in its first season. The crux of Bloodline centers on Ben Mendelsohn‘s Danny Rayburn, the oldest son and Black Sheep of a prestigious Florida Keys’ family. Danny brings a black cloud and plenty of intrigue with him, and Mendelsohn’s layered performance is as good as any you’re likely to encounter. That being said, the supporting cast is just as talented at bringing their duplicitous and dynamic characters to life. Everyone has a secret in Bloodline, but only some are willing to kill to keep it that way. Though the show could have (and maybe should have) ended after its first season, its continued exploration of the Rayburn family is worthwhile if just for that gorgeous scenery. – Dave Trumbore

Making a Murderer

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Image via Netflix

Created By: Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos

Cast: Steven Avery

With true-crime documentaries like the Serial podcast and the HBO miniseries The Jinx capturing the attention of the public in new and innovative ways that reach beyond the tabloids in the checkout aisle, Netflix got onboard with this exploration of the various cases involving Steven Avery. Guilty or not, the legally beleaguered Wisconsin man quickly became a household name as couch-sitters consumed every facet of his life.

The ability to binge-watch the entire documentary led to some interesting outcomes, namely concentrated rage released over social media and through various petitions. Unlike Serial and The Jinx, which were released episodically in a more traditional format allowing frustrations to be metered out over time, Making a Murderer compounded the rage feels by the hour. While Avery’s case is anything but open-and-shut, just as this documentary is anything but objective, it’s worth a watch if only to stay up to date and engaged with the current social consciousness. — Dave Trumbore

Collateral

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Image via Netflix

Created by: David Hare

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Billie Piper, Jeany Spark, Nathaniel Martelo-White, John Simm

In the era of #PeakTV it’s impossible to watch everything, but here’s a show that you can binge in a very limited amount of time and get maximum satisfaction in return: Collateral. The four-hour BBC-produced limited series hails from writer David Hare (The Hours) and director SJ Clarkson (Jessica Jones). Carey Mulligan stars as a confident and charismatic detective in London who’s tasked with investigating the murder of a pizza deliveryman, who may be an immigrant or refugee. A Robert Altman-like ensemble forms the tapestry of this story, but by the end of the four hours you’ll be in awe of how well all the disparate characters’ storylines fit together. This is a show that digs deep into issues of immigration and racial tensions in a post-Brexit England, but maintains a sense of joy and humor throughout so as not to drown the viewer in despair like some other British dramas. It’s immensely compelling, supremely satisfying, and Mulligan gives one hell of a lead performance that has colors of Fargo’s Marge Gunderson. And it’s only four hours! This is an incredibly easy recommend. – Adam Chitwood

Sherlock

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Image via PBS

Created by: Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss

Cast: Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rupert Graves, Andrew Scott, and Louise Brealey

While innumerable adaptations of Sherlock Holmes have surfaced over the decades, with most network procedurals themselves owing a great debt to Arthur Conan Doyle’s source material, the BBC series Sherlock offers one of the more fun and entertaining Sherlock twists in recent memory. The series puts the characters of Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. James Watson (Martin Freeman) in a contemporary context, using the classic dynamic and detective genre as the foundation on which Sherlock is built. The series stands on its own, though, with the chemistry between Cumberbatch and Freeman giving us something electric onscreen, and the scripts by Moffat and Gatiss surprising viewers at every turn. Sherlock benefits from the fact that each episode is 90 minutes long (each season only consists of three episodes total), so while it’s technically a TV series, each episode feels like a feature film. Moreover, Moffat and Gatiss do their best to ensure that no one episode feels too similar to another, offering a great degree of diversity throughout the series. Though the latter seasons waver in quality a bit, the first remains smart, thrilling, and wildly entertaining. This is must-watch TV. – Adam Chitwood

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