Netflix and crime-dramas go hand-in-hand. Some of the best TV shows ever are crime-dramas and they are right here on Netflix. Not to mention Netflix has produced some excellent crime-dramas in recent years. We’ve scoured the Netflix library to compile our list of the top 20 crime-drama series on Netflix.
What makes a crime-drama? Is it the mind-blowing revelations and plot twists? The spine-tingling drama? It’s all that and more! No matter what there’s always a crime-drama perfect for you. And, hopefulyl if you’re new to the genre you’ll find a show to fall in love with below.
Here’s your top 20 list of the best crime drama series on Netflix:
20. Blue Bloods
Cast: Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, Len Cariou, Tom Selleck
IMDB Rating: 7.5
With the conclusion of The Big Bang Theory, Blue Bloods now stands as one of the longest-running shows on CBS. The series has been highly praised for its use of morally complex issues with the police. Its quality can be seen in the viewing figures with viewing figures exceeding 12 million, week to week. Not to mention that with almost 200 episodes to its name, that is one hell of a binge.
Blue Bloods follows the story of the Reagan family. The Reagan’s are an integral and influential family to the New York City Police Department. Frank is the Commissioner, his oldest son Danny a Detective, his daughter Erin is the assistant district attorney and his youngest son Jamie as a beat cop.
19. The Fall
Cast: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, John Lynch, Aisling Franciosi, Niamh McGrady
IMDB Rating: 8.2
While the series only lasted for three seasons, it’s one of the most popular crime-dramas to come out of Northern Ireland. It’s first season, in particular, was critically acclaimed, but take note this was before Jamie Dornan starred in the 50 Shades of Grey films.
The hunt for a serial killer is on when metropolitan police superintendent Stella Gibson is tasked with going to Belfast in order to progress a murder investigation that has taken longer than 28 days to solve. When it becomes clear a serial killer is on loose, Stella stays on to help the Belfast police build a case and to catch the killer.
18. Happy Valley
Cast: Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran, Shane Zaza, Charlie Murphy, James Norton
IMDB Rating: 8.5
The BBC do love a good Police drama and they pulled out a cracker with Happy Valley. This little heartstopper earned actress Sarah Lancashire a well deserved BAFTA in 2015.
Catherine Cawood is a police sergeant, teaming up a group of officers within a rural Yorkshire valley. After a staged kidnapping gets out of hand, Catherine soon finds herself leading an investigation far beyond her rank.
Cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor
IMDB Rating: 7.8
The idea of a Jim Gordon series originally turned off many from watching FOX’s Gotham, but it wasn’t long before Gotham became one of the most entertaining series of its genre. Not afraid to toy with the lore and history of the Batman, this unique and fun series will keep you entertained from start to finish.
Detective James ‘Jim’ Gordon must traverse through the dirty and corrupt politics of Gotham if he is to clean up the city. But the more Jim pushes, the city pushes harder back, paving the way for the rise of Batman’s greatest villains such as The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman. Alongside Jim is the young Billionaire Bruce Wayne who was orphaned after the death of his parents. Also vowing to take on the crime of Gotham, Bruce’s journey to becoming the Batman begins now.
16. Queen of the South
Cast: Alice Braga, Hemky Madera, Veronica Falcon, Peter Gadiot, Nick Sugar
IMDB Rating: 7.9
Queen of the South has been one of the most in-demand series on Netflix, with subscribers eagerly awaiting the release of the latest seasons. The series has been one of USA network’s best titles in recent years and it’s easy to see why.
In Jalisco, Mexico a poor Teresa Mendoza falls in love with a member of the drug cartel. When her boyfriend is murdered she has no choice but to fell the country.
When she seeks refuge in the US she forms an alliance with an unlikely individual from her past. Taking down the drug lord that pursues her Teresa forms her own drugs empire. By becoming one of the wealthiest women in the world she learns the harsh reality that money doesn’t solve all of her problems. Only depending on herself, Teresa can only depend on herself if she is to survive.
15. Bodyguard N
Cast: Richard Madden, Sophie Rundle, Vincent Franklin, Ash Tandon, Gina Mckee
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Tense, fast-paced and wonderfully acted, Bodyguard is one of the best BBC series in a long time. Richard Madden’s career has really started to take off in the past few years and with the addition of Bodyguard, it’s easy to see why.
David Budd, former military, now works as a Police Sergeant for the Metropolitan Police Service in the Royalist and Specialist Protection branch. Tasked with looking after the Home Secretary, Budd is at odds between the policies and personality of the Home Secretary and the scars that still haunt him from his time serving in Afghanistan.
14. Better Call Saul
Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando
IMDB Rating: 8.7
After the end of Breaking Bad, many fans were apprehensive about the release of the spin-off Better Call Saul. To their relief, the spin-off has been nothing short of excellent and a phenomenal world builder that explains the characteristics and motivations of some of Breaking Bad’s most beloved characters.
Before he was Saul Goodman, he was Jimmy McGill. 6 years before becoming the lawyer to the most notorious meth dealer in America, Jimmy was a small-time attorney lawyer whose ambitions and morals often got him into trouble.
13. Longmire N
Cast: Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Cassidy Freeman, Adam Bartley
IMDB Rating: 8.3
As “highest-rated original drama series” A&E has ever had, it came as a massive shock when the network canceled the neo-western after three seasons. It was a no brainer for Netflix to continue the series, fast becoming a subscriber favorite. With 6 seasons of excellent TV, Longmire is worth a binge.
Despite his charismatic wit and dry humor, the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, Walt Longmire, is in deep pain after the death of his wife. With the help of his daughter, Longmire is dedicated to putting his life back together, one piece at a time.
Cast: Katie Atkinson, Robbie Magasiva, Katrina Milosevic, Jacqueline Brennan, Celia Ireland
IMDB Rating: 8.6
If you’re a massive fan of Orange Is the New Black then you will absolutely love Wentworth. Trading in some of the laughs for some serious drama, Wentworth will have you floored from its gritty drama.
After the attempted murder of her husband, Bea Smith is put behind bars as she awaits her trial. Bea must come to terms with her new way of life as she learns the rules of prison life.
11. Lucifer N
Cast: Tom Ellis, Lauren German, Kevin Alejandro, D.B. Woodside, Lesley-Ann Brandt
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Despite its popularity, this didn’t stop FOX from canceling Lucifer in 2018. Netflix arrived as the savior of Lucifer, making sure there was more to come from the devilish one. The fourth season was excellent and arguably the best to date. Who would have thought that watching the Devil solve crimes would have been entertaining?
Bored of his life in the pits of hell, Lucifer leaves his throne to retire to the city of Los Angeles. Indulging himself into a life of debauchery and opening his own night club, his attention shifts after a murder takes place outside the nightclub. Upon meeting Detective Chloe Decker, Lucifer becomes intrigued with helping the innocents and punishing criminals for their crime. Joining the LAPD as a consultant, this is the only the beginning of Lucifer’s journey to liberate his darkened soul.
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Louise Brealey
IMDB Rating: 9.1
Bandertip Cundersnap and Martin Freeman had featured in many smaller roles in their respective careers but it was the arrival of Sherlock that shot them into stardom. Wonderfully entertaining, the onscreen chemistry between the pair heightened the quality of what was already an excellent series. An excellent reimagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved super sleuth, the series is one of the best BBC productions of the past decade.
After his honorable discharge from the army, a chance encounter with an old friend leads Doctor John Watson to meet the eccentric super-sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. John, fascinated by Sherlock, joins him on his investigations into some of London’s near unsolvable crimes.
9. Broad Church
Cast: David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Carolyn Pickles
IMDB Rating: 8.4
Critically acclaimed British-drama Broadchurch was a smash hit with the UK audience, picking up numerous awards, including the Bafta for Best Actress for Olivia Colman and Best Supporting Actor for David Bradley. The series has done especially amongst subscribers on Netflix, picking up its own fan following across the pond.
When a young boy is murdered in the small seaside town of Broadchurch, local detectives Ellie Miller and Alec Hardy are assigned to solve the mysterious case.
8. American Crime Story
Cast: Sarah Paulson, Annaleigh Ashford, Cuba Gooding Jr., David Schwimmer, John Travolta
IMDB Rating: 8.5
The critically acclaimed crime drama has been one of the best shows FX has produced in a long time. It comes as no surprise why the series has been nominated and won a whole multitude of Emmy and Golden Globe awards for its dramatized approach to some of the most controversial and high profile crimes in America’s history.
The first season explores the controversial trial of O.J. Simpson. The second season focuses on the assassination of the famous Italian fashion designer, Gianni Versace.
7. Narcos: Mexico N
Cast: Diego Luna, Scoot McNairy, Teresa Ruiz, Michael Pena, Alyssa Diaz
IMDB Rating: 8.4
The first spin-off in the Narcos franchise, Narcos: Mexico was a smash hit upon release in 2018. While the series didn’t have the same impact as its predecessor, without a doubt it is still one of the best crime-dramas that Netflix has to offer. Both Diego Luna and Michael Pena were allowed to show off their acting talents, giving us a phenomenal performance that deserves to be recognized.
Before the war on drugs began, it’s origins can be traced back to the DEA Investigation of Felix Gallardo and the rise of the Guadalajara cartel. DEA agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena, learns the dangerous truth of what it means to target the cartel on their home turf.
6. When They See Us N
Cast: Asante Black, Caleel Harris, Ethan Herisse, Marquis Rodriguez
IMDB Rating: 9.0
Dramas based on real-life are often the hardest hitting. They are often cruel as they are entertaining and fitting into that bracket was When They See Us. The series didn’t pull any of its punches as it showcased the injustice carried out on the young men accused of a crime they never committed.
Five young teenage boys find themselves trapped at the heart of a crime after being falsely accused of raping a woman in Central Park.
5. Peaky Blinders N
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Sophie Rundle, Paul Anderson, Ned Dennehy
IMDB Rating: 8.8
The BBC has produced some excellent shows over the years, but none of which has burst into a pop culture quite like Peaky Blinders. Starring the devilishly handsome Cillian Murphy, there are only a few men that can make someone weak at the knees with a Birmingham accent. This period piece has the perfect blend of drama, action, and charm that comes with a British production.
Several months after the end of the first world war, Tommy Shelvey returns to his hometown of Birmingham, England. Taking advantage of a post-world war England, Tommy has great ambitions for his gang the Peaky Blinders. But when the gang comes under the attention of the government, Chief Inspector Major Chester Campbell is tasked with bringing down the crime and disorder in the city.
4. Narcos N
Cast: Pedro Pascal, Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Alberto Ammann, Paulina Gaitan
IMDB Rating: 8.8
Kickstarting the wave of excellent crime-dramas on Netflix, Narcos was the “OG.” Debuting in 2015, the series was met with rave reviews from critics and fans alike, paving the way for even more shows on Netflix. The series showcased the value in Netflix exploring non-English titles and how there’s no language barrier between an audience and excellent drama.
No drug lord in history is as fabled as the Columbian kingpin Pablo Escobar. Narcos chronicles the explosive life of Escobar, detailing the rise of his infamous Medellín Cartel and his eventual downfall.
3. Ozark N
Cast: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner, Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner, Jason Butler Harner
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Known more for his comedy than serious roles, many questioned the casting choice of Jason Bateman as the male lead in Ozark. Upon release, those questions were blown away by his fantastic performance as Marty Byrde. Across the board all the acting is solid, the story excels at building tension for those excellent dramatic payoffs we love in a crime drama.
After his business partner was caught skimming money off from their money-laundering scheme for the cartel, Marty Byrde is forced to relocate his family from Chicago to the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. To make amends to the cartel, Marty must find a way to launder $500 million in 5 years.
2. Mindhunter N
Cast: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Sonny Valicenti, Stacey Roca
IMDB Rating: 8.6
David Fincher is no stranger to crime-dramas and neither is actress Charlize Theron. Their influence can be felt throughout Netflix’s Mindhunter, making it one of the best shows on the platform to date. Mindhunter proves that scares and chills don’t have to come from horror at the end of a gun barrel but the chilling confessions of real-life serial killers.
Inspired by the book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, the interviews conducted during the show happened in real life. This was the beginning of the FBI’s phenomenal breakthrough in criminal profiling which has since helped catch some of America’s most despicable and evil killers. The acting and the story is incredible throughout, leaving you on the edge of your seat.
FBI Agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench, along with psychologist Wendy Carr, create the agency’s Behavioral Science Unit within the training division at the FBI Academy. By conducting interviews with known mass murderers, this allows them to begin profiling criminal, understanding how they think and how to apply this newfound knowledge to solve new and old cases.
1. Breaking Bad
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Bob Odenkirk
IMDB Rating: 9.5/10
It may come as no surprise that Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad sits at the very top of our list. A personal favorite of ours at What’s on Netflix, us and audiences alike were blown away the first time we saw the exploits of Walter ‘Heisenberg’ White and Jesse Pinkman. It’s going to take something special to overtake Breaking Bad and not just in the crime-drama category.
If you haven’t already watched Breaking Bad then what the hell are you doing reading this list? Be prepared for one of the best binges of your life.
We’re jealous of those yet to watch Breaking Bad as we’d love nothing more than to wipe our memories of the series only to be blown away all over again.
High-School and genius chemistry teacher Walter White is diagnosed with lung cancer and goes to desperate measures to ensure his family is well cared for after his death. Walt enlists the help of former student Jesse Pinkman to help him “cook” meth. By creating the best product on the market, Walt’s meth is in high demand. But when the DEA catch wind of a new product on the streets, Hank, Walt’s DEA agent brother-in-law is on the hunt for the mysterious new cook.
What is your favorite crime-drama on Netflix? Is there a series that you feel deserves to be in our top 20? Let us know in the comments below.
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