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The 19 best true crime documentaries on Netflix right now

These true crime documentaries will keep you up at night

Netflix on a laptop
Anastasia Shuraeva/Pexels

For the last 10 years, few things have been guaranteed to reel in more viewers than true crime documentaries. Netflix has been in on that wave of true crime fascination since the beginning, and in the years since, it has developed a vast library filled with revelatory documentaries on cases you may be familiar with, and a few you’ve never heard of before. Because Netflix has produced so many over the years, it can be hard to determine which are the best true crime documentaries.

We’ve got you covered with a rundown of the Netflix documentaries you definitely shouldn’t skip. These are the documentaries most likely to keep you trapped on the couch all day, eager to start the next episode, or furiously searching the internet to find more information on which details are true. In short, these are the Netflix true crime documentaries that are most worth obsessing over.

If you’re eager to find other types of content on Netflix, be sure to check out our lists of the best Netflix shows, and the best Netflix movies.

State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith (2022)

State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith
Genre Documentary, Crime
Directed by Ryan White
The stand-your-ground laws that many states in America have been allowing victims of violence to stand up for themselves with deadly force are put into focus here in the case of Brittany Smith, a woman who murdered Todd Smith, a man she says was raping her. The documentary tells her side of the story and how she believes the legal system should have done her justice. This movie should be interesting for folks who are fascinated by the details of laws and the loopholes and interpretations that put people in prison.

Unsolved Mysteries (2020)

Unsolved Mysteries
tv-ma 3 Seasons
Genre Drama, Mystery
Cast Allison Rivera, Brandi Petersen, Lars Christian Wegner
From the original creators of Unsolved Mysteries comes a Netflix spinoff that is almost exactly the same. Every episode features another crime with lingering questions or unfound suspects, and each one keeps viewers guessing as they attempt to piece together an incomplete puzzle.

Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (2020)

Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich
61 %
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Crime, Documentary
Cast Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, Michael Reiter
For those who didn’t already know: Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t a great guy. Even if you did follow his case closely when it was in the news, though, this series adds a focus on the victims of Epstein’s twisted fantasies and the lasting effects his misdeeds have had on them to this day.

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (2020)

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
75 %
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Kevin Armstrong, Dan Wetzel, Aaron Hernandez
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez seemingly had it all — money, fame, and multiple NFL championships. That all came crashing down, though, when he was arrested for murdering a friend. This docuseries explores Hernandez’s rise and fall as well as the secret life that may or may not have contributed to where he ultimately wound up.

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness (2021)

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness
58 %
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Paul Giamatti, Charlie Ott, Phil Amicone
The Sons of Sam follows a group of serial murders in New York that are linked to a satanic cult. Like many of the serial killer documentaries on this list, the case itself first came to the attention of the public thanks to a journalist named Maury Terry, who was convinced these crimes were more than just run-of-the-mill homicides and suicides.

Murder Mountain (2018)

Murder Mountain
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Kerry Ireland, John Gordon, Billy Honsal
The marijuana industry in California is a big deal and, in Northern California’s Humboldt County, that industry encompasses both legal and illegal enterprises. The mixing of these different sects has led to disappearances, murders, and cover-ups as locals prefer to take an outlaw view on doling out justice. Murder Mountain focuses specifically on the case of Garrett Rodriguez, who was found murdered under mysterious circumstances

The Ripper (2020)

The Ripper
62 %
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Alan Whitehouse, Keith Hellawell, Bruce Jones
Created by Jesse Vile, Ellena Wood
A four-episode miniseries that dives into the story of one of the most notorious and legendary murderers ever, The Ripper is for true crime fans who are also history buffs. As The Ripper’s pattern of killing women continued in the late 1970s, the entire police force was tricked again and again, never getting any closer to a culprit. Ultimately, the killings triggered a larger conversation about women’s rights and how the world views the opposite sex.

Don't F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer (2019)

Don't F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Deanna Thompson, John Green
Don’t F**k With Cats is a docuseries that looks at the crimes and eventual capture of Canadian serial killer Luka Magnotta, who first became known to the internet for posting a video of himself killing cats. His crimes escalate, and the video itself sets off a firestorm on the internet as people around the world set out to try and find him and bring him to justice (thankfully, they do).

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020)

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
76 %
tv-ma 2 Seasons
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin
Created by Eric Goode
If you haven’t heard of Joe Exotic, then we don’t know what to tell you. In fact, we don’t want to spoil anything. Just soak in the full name of this docuseries (Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness) and its setting (Oklahoma) and hit play.

Making a Murderer (2015)

Making a Murderer
77 %
tv-14 2 Seasons
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Kathleen Zellner
Created by Moira Demos, Laura Ricciardi
This may be one of the most influential series on this list, and one that ultimately spurred the country’s current fascination with true crime more generally. This doc looks at the imprisonment, exoneration, re-arrest, and subsequent trial of Steven Avery, who was charged with (and convicted of) the murder of Teresa Halbach. Since the first season’s premiere, countless articles have been written about the documentary and the case as a whole, but if you’re new to true crime documentaries, this is as good a place to start as any. This is why we’re not linking to any of the articles — you should check out the show for yourself first.

The Innocent Man (2018)

The Innocent Man
56 %
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary
Cast J.J. Arends, Serena Michele Burns, Kayleen Teresa Casey
Created by Ross M. Dinerstein, J. Clay Tweel
Not all people convicted of crimes actually commit them. In fact, as many as 6% of capital crime prosecutions end with a wrongful conviction. The Innocent Man is an adaptation of John Grisham’s only nonfiction book, which looks at the 1998 wrongful conviction of Ronald Keith Williamson for the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter. The series also looks at another pending wrongful conviction in the same small town of Ada, Oklahoma (population 17,000), and the effects that these types of cases have not only on those directly involved but also on the town as a whole.

Wild Wild Country (2018)

Wild Wild Country
79 %
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Ma Anand Sheela, Jane Stork, Jon Bowerman
Just as serial killers are viewed with an unsettling amount of interest in our country right now, so are cults. Wild Wild Country documents one of those cults: the Rajneeshpuram community, led by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela. The Rajneeshis were responsible for the first bioterror attack in the U.S. and for corrupting countless people with their ideology (all while tucked away in middle-of-nowhere Oregon). This documentary has won awards for a reason — not only will you want to binge it, but you’ll also want to yell and scream at the screen while you do.

I Am a Killer (2018)

I Am a Killer
tv-ma 3 Seasons
Genre Documentary, Crime
Created by Franckie Williams, Romaine Chapman
In this hard-hitting docuseries, each episode gives us a chance to learn about a new character who has committed murder. Darkly tragic and gripping, we learn about their stories and why they decided to commit these crimes in the first place. With graphic visuals and desensitized perspectives, this series is not for the faint of heart.

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
52 %
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Ted Bundy, Stephen Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth
Created by Joe Berlinger
Perhaps one of the most infamous serial killers in American history, Ted Bundy went on a rampage that spanned multiple states, years, and victims. This documentary brings recordings of him front and center, allowing audiences a look at just how psychotic and terrible he was. While some have argued this series glorifies serial killers, thereby exposing viewers to everything that is wrong with the country’s obsession with these kinds of grisly crimes, it is nonetheless  an interesting look at the mind of a notorious criminal.

The Keepers (2017)

The Keepers
78 %
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary, Mystery, Crime
Cast Gemma Hoskins, Abbie Schaub, Virginia Anzengruber
The unsolved murder of a nun, Sister Cathy Cesnik, leads to former students of Cesnik’s investigating a cover-up involving a priest at Cesnik’s school, Anthony Joseph Maskell, and multiple counts of sexual abuse against students. The Keepers looks at the lengths the Catholic Church appeared to go to in order to cover up crimes by one of their own. If you thought the government was terrible for covering things up, you should see how the Catholic Church does it.

Evil Genius (2018)

Evil Genius
71 %
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Crime, Documentary
Cast Kevin G. Calkins, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, Trey Borzillieri
This one isn’t for the faint of heart, as footage of what would become a murder is played two minutes into the first episode. Evil Genius looks at the murder of Brian Wells, which was part of what might be one of the most insane bank heist stories ever told. If we told you the plot, you wouldn’t believe us because it is that crazy. While there have been other true crime shows made about this case, Evil Genius dives in deep, weaving an intriguing narrative that shows the lengths some people go to try and get away with murder.

Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. (2022)

Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Sarma Melngailis, Allen Salkin, Ilze Melngailis
Nobody gets killed in this series, but Bad Vegan features an entirely different kind of intrigue. The series tells the story of a once-famous chef who claims to have fallen under the influence of a long-time boyfriend and is eventually convinced to commit fraud and various other financial crimes. The series is fascinating in large part thanks to its central characters, who are compelling because it’s hard to know whether you should believe them at all.
Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. | Official Trailer | Netflix

Athlete A (2020)

Athlete A
Genre Documentary
Stars Maggie Nichols, Jamie Dantzscher, Mark Alesia
Directed by Jon Shenk, Bonni Cohen
Telling the horrific story of the U.S. gymnastics team, which was abused for years by Dr. Larry Nassar, Athlete A is really about the systemic abuse that these athletes have always faced in their careers. It’s a horrific portrait of a serial abuser, but one that sheds light on what Nassar was able to get away with because those around him were always willing to cover it up on his behalf for the sake of both his reputation and the U.S. gymnastics program more generally.
Athlete A Trailer #1 (2020) | Rotten Tomatoes TV

The Staircase (2004)

The Staircase
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Documentary, Crime
Cast Michael Peterson, Ron Guerette, Tom Maher
Created by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
One of the most famous true crime documentaries ever produced, The Staircase follows an enigmatic patriarch and novelist named Michael Peterson who stands trial for the murder of his wife. Throughout the entirety of the case, Peterson maintains his innocence, even after he’s been convicted for a decade. Part of what makes The Staircase so remarkable, though, is the way it follows Peterson through all that time, and continues to study him from a sort of icy remove.

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