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Best crime dramas on Netflix: great detective series to watch

It’d be criminal to miss the best crime dramas and crime shows on Netflix.

Best crime dramas on Netflix: great detective series to watch
Marc Chacksfield
04 October 2022

The best crime dramas on Netflix are the ones that grip you from the start. There is nothing like a crime show to stop you in your tracks and bring out an obsession (a healthy one, mind, not what you get in these shows) to watch the whole thing in one go.

That's because there is something cathartic about watching the best crime dramas. Given true crime dramas have gripped the world in the past few years, the genre as a whole can be pretty exhausting. When you’re done debating your Adnans and Averys in Serial and Making a Murderer, it can be almost relaxing to settle down with a cuppa and some fictional Netflix detective series.

UPDATE:If you are looking for a dark and morbid watch, then DAHMER - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is for you. Created by Ryan Murphy who has made a living out of his lurid American Crime Drama and American Horror Story tales is behind this one. It's got a stellar lead in the form of Evan Peters, who plays Dahmer, but this is one story that's not for the faint hearted. If you need more recommendations, then head to our best crime dramas on Netflix guide below.

Here’s a round up of the best crime dramas on Netflix that you can watch right now. No need to wait on tenterhooks for the next episode to appear, because seriously, what kind of a person just watches one episode of a TV series anymore? Certainly not the ones going through our best Netflix TV shows article.

Few genres lend themselves so readily to binge-watching as crime, by virtue of the fact that there’s a mystery to be solved and therefore a reason that you have to get to the end right now.

Here are some crime shows that should be eating up all your weekends for the foreseeable future, or if you’re looking for something else, make sure to check our guide to thebest sci-fi TV series and best Marvel movies.

Note:the following best crime dramas on Netflix are available in the UK - please check your region for availability.

Best Netflix crime dramas

Best Netflix crime dramas

1. Mindhunter

Watch now on Netflix

This show has a novel premise, with two FBI agents from the bureau’s Behavioral Science Unit interviewing a laundry list of real-life and well-known serial killers in order to try to find out what’s going through their heads. We’ve already seen portrayals of the likes of Ed Kemper and Montie Rissell, while the upcoming second season is expected to introduce audiences to Charles Manson and, according to some rumours, David Berkowitz.

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Best Netflix crime dramas

2. Breaking Bad

Watch now on Netflix

Obviously. We’re not going to berate you if you haven’t seen it yet, but you know you’ve got a treat in store when you do get round to it, and that you’re probably going to have to cancel all your plans until you’ve finished it.

More ways to watch: The Complete Series on DVD | Blu-ray | Digital Download

Image Credit: AMC

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Best Netflix crime dramas

3. Peaky Blinders

$14.99
Watch now on Netflix

If Gangs of New York had a sequel and that sequel was set in Birmingham, this is what it would be. An absolute British triumph of television starring Cillian Murphy as crime boss Tommy Shelby as he runs rackets post World War I with his flat-capped gang, The Peaky Blinders. Notable appearances from Sam Neill other big names couple together to make it one of the best things the BBC has made in years.

The sixth season of Peaky Blinders is now on Netflix and what an ending it is.

More ways to watch: Buy now on Amazon: DVD | Blu-ray | Digital download

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When the premise of Ozark was revealed - Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star as as a married couple who have to relocate their family to the Ozarks after a money laundering scheme goes awry - everyone thought the show was just going to be Breaking Bad lite, but after four seasons it is much more than that. Fantastic acting and bags of tension make this one of the best things on Netflix right now.

Ozark has now ended and the entire show is now streaming on Netflix.

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Best Netflix crime dramas

5. The Sinner

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The Sinner upends the classic crime show format by showing the bloody murder – and who did it – from the get-go. Instead, we spend a fascinating season investigating why the crime was committed in the first place. Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman put in totally pitch-perfect performances and we now have a second season to enjoy.

There are four seasons of The Sinner available to watch.

More ways to watch: Buy now on Amazon DVD | Digital download

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Slotting straight into the same universe as the original Cohen Brothers film, Fargo is a charming (and bloody) indie-fied crime series for the coffee house generation. All ironic jumpers, funny characterisations, suspense and Billy Bob Thornton sporting the worst haircut of his career. Essential viewing for anybody with eyeballs. Three seasons are now available on Netflix.

Three (out of four) seasons of Fargo are available on Netflix.

More ways to watch: Buy now on Amazon: DVD | Blu-ray | Digital download

Image Credit: 20th Century Television

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7. Unbelievable

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Based on true events, the series follows a young woman (Kaitlyn Dever) accused of lying to the police about a rape, and two detectives (Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) who begin to find the truth as they investigate a spate of similar attacks. It's not the easiest watch and it will almost certainly make you cry and shout with frustration, but it's compelling storytelling of the treatment of sexual assault victims, with all twists and turns you expect from a true crime drama. There are eight episodes in total, each lasting approx. 50 minutes.

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8. Better Call Saul

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OK, so it might not have the same edge-of-your-seat discomfort as Breaking Bad but the televisual return of Saul Goodman surpasses its bedfellow in many ways. Charting the rise (ok, flatline) of Walter White’s future lawyer from morally challenged good guy to hustlin’ legal trickster, it’s a modern classic in its own right. The show has ended now, so it's a perfect crime drama to get into right now.

Better Call Saul's final season is now streaming, with part one available now.

More ways to watch: Buy now on Amazon DVD | Digital download

Image Credit: AMC

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In its third thrilling season - with a separate Narcos: Mexico drama to boot - now is the perfect time to watch José Padilha’s series about the rise of notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Filmed in Colombia and following Escobar’s life from 1970 to 1992, there’s plenty of action in this true-to-life account. The show even includes real archival footage of the era for an extra (frighteningly) realistic feel.

More ways to watch: Seasons 1 - 3 on DVD | Blu-ray

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Best Netflix crime dramas

10. Manhunt: Unabomber

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You might already be familiar with the infamous hunt for the Unabomber, who carried out a number of bombings from 1978 onwards. Whatever you know about the case, though, it’s well worth checking out this fictionalised account of the search, which stars Paul Bettany as the terrorist and Sam Worthington as Jim Fitzgerald, a real FBI agent involved in the case. The miniseries includes just eight 45-minute episodes, so you should be able to binge your way through it in no time at all.

More ways to watch: DVD | Blu-ray

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Dark quickly transcends the crime genre and morphs into a freaky, truly scary, brain-expanding exploration of time and space. But it keeps at its core a gripping mystery of kids that keep disappearing from a small town. Watch in German but with English subtitles – the English dubbing is a bit naff.

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12. Criminal: UK

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It may not have been out long but this Netflix Original is an instant hit. Set in within the four walls of an interrogation room, London investigators go after three suspects, each accused of some pretty horrific crimes. It’s packed full of Britain’s best including David Tennant, Hayley Atwell, Lee Ingleby (Luther, Line of Duty), Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty, Bandersnatch) and playing the big boss Katherine Kelly. If three episodes isn’t enough for you, there are nine more episodes set across France, Germany and Spain - each with different casts and storylines.

Image Credit: Idiotlamp Productions

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Best Netflix crime dramas

13. The Stranger

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British crime drama is usually seen on the Beeb and ITV, so it's great to see Netflix try its had at Brit crime and this one is a corker. When a stranger enters the life of Adam Price, something is revealed about his wife that turns his life upside down. This is a twisty, turny thriller that gets a little confusing but is a lot of fun.

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14. Money Heist

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Originally set to be just a two-part series, this fevered Spanish crime thriller has ballooned into five parts on Netflix and 48 episodes. The plot is simple but very effective: the Professor has plans to pull off some of the most audacious heists in history, recruiting eight people to help him do this. It's fantastic fun and while the final season has now aired, a South Korean remake is happening soon.

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15. Don't F*ck with Cats

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You don't want to miss this. It is one of the strangest tales to ever hit Netflix and is the true story of a cat killer and how trying to figure out who this person is, another huge revelation is revealed. We don't want to spoil this one, but if you want a compelling watch then this is for you.

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Safe is a cracking British thriller with a stellar cast. Dexter's Michael C Hall is Tom a widowed surgeon who lives a peaceful life until his eldest daughter goes missing. Over the episodes we find out that the rich neighbourhood he lives in is not quite what is seems.

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Much like the BBC's Sherlock, Lupin is a masterful modern retelling of a classic literary great. The plot is fairly simple: Assane Diop is a thief that is out to avenge his father, after a wealthy family wrongs him. Diop uses racial prejudices help with his plans, as well as taking inspiration from French novelist Maurice Leblanc who created Arsène Lupin. If you after twists in your crime tales then this one is for you - it's utterly entertaining to watch.

10 episodes (set over two parts) are now available to watch on Netflix.

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18. How To Get Away With Murder

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There's 5 seasons of How To Get Away With Murder on Netflix. The sixth and final season has just concluded so we're hoping it'll head to Netflix soon. This is a great crime series focused on a law professor who, with five of her students, becomes involved in a murder plot. Yes, it's melodramatic and soapy at times but Viola Davis is just stunning as Annalise Keating, the ruthless lawyer.

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19. When They See US

Stream now (Netflix)

Co-written and directed by Ava DuVernay, When They See Us is a powerful dramatised account of the true story of five teens from Harlem who are falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park, New York. Over four episodes we see in detail how an accusation like this can change the lives of people, thanks to a flawed justice system.

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20. The Valhalla Murders

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This one is super scary. The show focuses on police investigator Arnar who, living in Norway, heads back to his hometown of Iceland to help catch the country's first-ever serial killer. The cold backdrop is as much a character in the show as everyone else, with echoes of True Detective throughout. Superb stuff.

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21. The People Vs OJ Simpson

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Both this and the terrific The Assassination of Gianni Versace are streaming on Netflix and make up the first two seasons of American Crime Story. Cuba Gooding Jnr is fantastic as Simpson but the show is packed with great performances - it's melodramatic, yes, but still gripping stuff. Versace is the darker season but still a compelling watch.

We're hoping that American Crime Story: Impeachment will be streaming on Netflix soon.

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22. Border Town

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Stephen King is a big fan of this one and we can see why. This superb Finnish drama features Detective inspector Kari Sorjonen who is autistic, taking on a Sherlock Holmes type role as he investigates goings on in the 'border town' of Lappeenranta in Finland. There are three series to binge-watch here and each season is a must for crime buffs.

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23. Line of Duty

Stream on Netflix now

This one needs no introduction. While the ending of the show may have left many a little cold, there are so many twists and turns in Line of Duty that it is utterly compulsive viewing.

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This is a fantastic character study of a serial killer who just happens to be one of the most handsome people on the planet! That's right, Jamie Dornan plays Paul Spector who uses Belfast as his killing ground. On his tail is Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), a detective who is brought in to solve the case.

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Wow, this one is dark. This crime series centres on infatuation and how someone can seemingly be Mr Nice Guy to some people but completely different to others. While we can't give too much away (as it will spoil the fun), the focus here is on obsession and how, through social media and toxic relationships, things can get way out of control. This one of the most successful shows on Netflix right now and three seasons are streaming now.

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26. Inventing Anna

Stream on Netflix now

The newest crime drama on our list is one of the most jaw dropping. Inventing Anna is about a supposed heiress who took Instagram and the like by storm - the only thing is, she was conning New York elites out of their precious cash. This series sees the whole thing recalled, by Anna, to a journalist reporting on the story.

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27. Giri / Haji

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This stunning crime thriller takes place both in London and Tokyo with Tokyo detective Kenzo Mori (Takehiro Hira) in London looking for those who apparently killed his brother, someone who got messed up with the Yakuza. The murder could cause an all-out war on the streets of Tokyo, so there is a lot at stake.

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28. The Serpent

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The Serpent is a chilling true story about about a serial killer who preyed on backpackers in Thailand and the long process it took to get him recognised by the authorities. This one takes a little time to get going but definitely stick with it.

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Set on the fictional Summerhouse Estate, this London-based drama is a gripping look at the political machinations of a council estate that's packed with dealers and crime. Top Boy is a fantastic show that was saved by both Netflix and, er, Drake who is a big fan of the show.

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30. Orange Is The New Black

Watch now on Netflix

The US doesn’t need John Oliver to dictate the failings of its penal system for comedic effect – no, it already has Orange Is The New Black, the pitch black comedy based on the experiences of Piper Kerman and her memoir about living for a year in a women’s prison. The episodes just get better and better and now the show has concluded with season 7, there's no better time to catch up with it.

More ways to watch: Buy now from Amazon DVD | Blu-ray | HD Digital download

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31. Undercover

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Undercover follows stellar British lawyer Maya Cobbina (Sophie Okonedo) as she fights to save the life of a man on death row in the States. But the real drama is about to explode back home when something about her husband’s past is revealed. Come for the gripping plot, stay for Okonedo’s out-of-this-world performance.

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Although the quality of the show veered downwards in its later seasons, if you haven't seen Homeland then it's a must watch. From its riveting spy-based first season, to the twists and turns of further seasons it's event TV at its based, with global criminality at its heart.

Image Credit: 20th Century Television


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Best Netflix crime dramas

33. The End Of The F***ing World

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This is one of our favourite series on this list. The End Of The F***ing World is based on a series of comics and is a bleakly dark but brilliantly funny story about James (Alex Lawther), a a teenager who thinks he might be a psychopath, and Alyssa (Jessica Barden), his classmate who is angry with the world. They go on something of a road trip and the results are marvellously macabre.

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34. The Alienist

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A fantastic cast and plot makes The Alienest a great watch. Set near the turns of the 20th Century in New York City’s gilded age, it focuses on a psychologist on the track of a serial killer. Daniel Brühl is great as the psychologist while Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans team up with him to track down the murderer.

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35. Good Girls

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Good Girls is a tale of crime in suburbia, where three mums decide to rob a grocery story to become financially independent. Although it was cancelled after four seasons this is still a great watch, with Christina Hendricks putting on another star turn and one that is some way from her Mad Men days.

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36. Pieces of Her

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One of the twistiest crime dramas on this list, Pieces of Her stars the ever-excellent Toni Collette as a mum with a secret, which unravels when she is involved in a shooting at a diner. Each episode's antics will make your jaw drop, in a good way.

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While it was cancelled after two seasons, we have a lot of love for Aquarius. It's a detective show starring David Duchovny and focuses on the weirdness surrounding Charles Manson as he turns from petty crook to cult leader.

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Best Netflix crime dramas

38. Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area

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Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area is a fantastic spin-off to the Money Heist franchise, focusing on a heist in Korea which is inspired by what happened in Spain. While it doesn't quite retain the same slickness of the main show, it's a great setting for a heist.

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Best Netflix crime dramas

39. White Lines

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White Lines escalates to a point where you'll probably start laughing at its audacity, but it's a fun watch about criminal goings on in Ibiza. It's made by the same creator of Money Heist, so if you like that show style then you are going to be right at home here.

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40. Hinterland

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This noir detective drama has actually been made twice - one with Welsh dialogue and once with English. The latter is on Netflix, and it follows the story of a troubled detective on the run from his London past. With murders and small town secrets a-plenty, it’s an incredibly gripping show that doesn’t lose its human element.

More ways to watch: Seasons 1 - 3 DVD

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