If you’ve landed here, chances are you love a gripping story replete with murder, scandals and plot twists that transport you from your everyday life to the dark underbelly of the world of crime, keeping you hooked till the very end. Having become the go-to library for engaging storytelling, Netflix doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the crime fiction genre.
And when you cast that search net a little wider, say into international waters, there’s a treasure chest of stories waiting to be experienced. Here’s a selection of some of the highest-rated and acclaimed crime series on Netflix right now.
(Hero and featured image courtesy of Netflix)
Jump To / Table of Contents
This miniseries was produced by BBC Two and Netflix in 2018. With a total run time of just four hours, Collateral presents a powerful story that is both thrilling and thought-provoking. A Muslim pizza delivery man is murdered in modern-day London and detective inspector Kip Glaspie (Carey Mulligan) must find out who did it. But as she tries to solve the case, Glaspie comes across a much darker secret involving politicians and the MI5. Written and created by acclaimed playwright David Hare, it is a murder mystery like no other and places the lens on one of the most pressing issues of our time — immigration.
There is a reason why this spectacular Spanish heist drama is the most watched show on the platform. Widely seen as an ode to angst against capitalism, especially since the 2008 global financial crisis, every moment of this drama is engaging as audiences see the criminal mastermind called “The Professor” and his team of unique talents try to commit the biggest robbery in recorded history — a loot of billions of Euros from the Royal Mint of Spain. Since its release in 2017, Money Heist has won numerous awards, including the International Emmy Awards for Best Drama in 2018. Binge-watch its four seasons as the fifth (and, sadly, the last) is coming soon. It also popularised the Italian anti-fascist song Bella Ciao, which has become an unofficial anthem for the show and a viral sensation on social media.
One of the most talked-about crime series in India is this powerful series based on the true incident of a horrific gang rape in New Delhi in 2012. Shefali Shah plays Vartika Chaturvedi, a high-ranking police official tasked with finding the ones responsible for the rape and subsequent death of the victim. Released in 2019, the series has received widespread critical acclaim both in India and abroad. It won the International Emmy Awards for Best Drama Series in 2020. The show has been renewed for a second season.
When a crime series counts Stephen King as one of its fans, it should be on everyone’s must-watch list. Bordertown is a Nordic noir (a specific genre that has been making waves for its gripping stories set in bleak Scandinavian landscapes) revolving around a genius detective who moves to a small town along the Finnish-Russia border, hoping to spend more time with his family and less on work. But all his plans go awry as he finds himself investigating one horrific case after another. The depiction of the protagonist, detective inspector Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen), has been compared to Sherlock Holmes by reviewers. There are three seasons and the first premiered in 2016.
Kate del Castillo stars as Emilia Urquiza, the First Lady of Mexico, in this fast-paced political crime thriller. The action begins from the very first episode — with the mysterious death of the president and Emilia on the run. As the series progresses, and while Mexico faces internal turmoil, Emilia has to find out who killed her husband and why she is being framed. The first season of Ingobernable was released in 2017 and was well-received. Two subsequent seasons have since been released.
An African football player is found dead in the river in a small Belgian town. Though it is believed to be a suicide, police detective Yoann Peeters (Yoann Blanc) senses a conspiracy and decides to dig out the truth. Released in 2016, the Belgian crime series is in French and has two seasons. In the second season, Blanc’s character is seen working on a new case — that of a man he believes has been falsely accused of murder.
Two female detectives — Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) — continue an investigation after a young rape victim (Kaitlyn Dever) from Colorado recanted her statement and was branded a liar. The acclaimed 2019 American miniseries treads two parallel timelines. It is based on the 2015 article An Unbelievable Story of Rape, which is about a series of rapes in Colorado and Washington between 2008 and 2011. The article was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2016.
Its Rotten Tomatoes rating of 100 percent is proof of the phenomenal critical appreciation that has come in the way of Giri/Haji. The BBC Two crime series, which premiered internationally with Netflix in 2020, is about a Japanese detective (Takehiro Hira) who travels to London to search for his missing brother (Yōsuke Kubozuka), who has been accused of killing a Yakuza member — thereby creating chaos in the Tokyo underworld. Inexplicably, the series was dropped after one season. A recommendation: Check out its trailer on BBC before you start the series — it has a unique narrative style and music made famous by Japanese Samurai games set in the Edo period.
His excellent academic record and amicable image makes Oh Ji-soo (Kim Dong-hee) an ideal high school student in the eyes of his classmates and teachers. But unbeknownst to everyone, the need to support himself forces him to lead a double life as a highly intelligent criminal who makes money by protecting and managing young sex workers. Everything is going smoothly for Ji-soo until one of his classmates discovers his secret identity and starts blackmailing him. Widely praised for highlighting the struggles of teenagers, Extracurricular is one of 2020’s best crime dramas. It has only 10 episodes — perfect for binge-watching.
There is hardly a crime series as cerebral as Mindhunter. Two FBI officers (Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) and a psychologist (Anna Torv) try to navigate the complex minds of serial killers to understand their thought process and help solve open cases. The first season hit Netflix in 2017 and the second arrived two years later. Both have received universal praise from critics and fans of the genre.