The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The 15 Best True-Crime Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

Here we are in 2021, more confident in a brighter future, yet still tethered to our favorite streaming tendencies. Luckily, Netflix has all the true crime documentaries we could ever need, so we won’t be forced to change our habits anytime soon.

With all of the insanity that 2020 brought, we are constantly at home watching whatever could possibly drown out the stress in our daily lives. Since times have been pretty dark lately, some have decided to turn to more lighthearted documentaries like cooking, travel, and sports, but this list isn’t for them.

When it comes to true crime, what is it that we find so irresistible? Is it to educate ourselves about the possible dangers of this world? Maybe an unquenchable interest in the methodologies and psychologies of the criminally insane? Perhaps we just want to feel better about how our lives are going, but for whatever reason, documentaries remain one of the most-streamed genres on Netflix to this day. With all of the mediums available to consume true crime media (podcasts, books, shows, and movies), it has become nearly impossible to avoid, which is why we’ve compiled a list of our top picks for Netflix true crime documentaries just for you. If you’re not in the true-crime following, maybe it’s high time to educate yourself on the darkest corner of the human psyche.

Related Guides

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (2019)

Aaron Hernandez in the back of a police car in Killer Inside.
Aaron Hernandez in the back of a police car in Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez seemingly had it all — money, fame, you name it. 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 in ways to what he ended up doing.

Total Episodes: 3
IMDb Rating: 7.4

Watch Now

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

Maury Terry in The Sons of Sam.
Maury Terry in The Sons of Sam

The Sons of Sam follows a group of serial murders in New York who are linked to a satanic cult. Like many of the serial killer documentaries on this list, the case itself began and was perpetuated by a journalist named Maury Terry, who was convinced these crimes were more than just run-of-the-mill homicides and suicides.

Total Episodes: 4
IMDb Rating: 7.0

Watch Now

Murder Mountain (2018)

Broken down vehicles in the forest on Murder Mountain.
Broken down vehicles in the forest on Murder Mountain

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.

Total Episodes: 6
IMDb Rating: 6.9

Watch Now

The Ripper

A group of protestors with a noose call for the hanging of The Ripper.
A group of protestors with a noose call for the hanging of The Ripper

Another Netflix original true crime documentary to watch is The Ripper, a four-episode miniseries that dives into the story of one of the most notorious and legendary murderers ever. As his woman-killing pattern continued in the late 1970s the entire police force was tricked again and again, never getting any closer, which triggered a big conversation about women’s rights and how the world views the opposite sex.

Total Episodes: 4
IMDb Rating: 7.1

Watch Now

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

A person on camera footage in Don't F*** With Cats.
A person on camera in Don’t F**k with Cats

Don’t F**k with Cats is a docuseries that looks at the crimes and eventual capture of Canadian serial killer and all-around trash person 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).

Total Episodes: 3
IMDb Rating: 8.1

Watch Now

Tiger King (2020)

Joe Exotic with a baby tiger in Tiger King.
Joe Exotic with a baby tiger in Tiger King

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.

Total Episodes: 8
IMDb Rating: 7.6

Watch Now

Making a Murderer (2015-Present)

Steven Avery's mugshot in Making a Murderer.
Steven Avery’s mugshot in Making a Murderer

Arguably, this is one of the most influential true-crime documentaries when it comes to the nation’s current obsession with the genre. 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. Which is why we’re not linking to any of the articles — check out the show for yourself first.

Total Episodes: 20
IMDb Rating: 8.6

Watch Now

The Innocent Man (2018)

Ronald Keith Williamson in The Innocent Man.
Ronald Keith Williamson in The Innocent Man

Not all people convicted of crimes actually commit them. In fact, between 3% and 5% 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 the town as a whole.

Total Episodes: 20
IMDb Rating: 7.3

Watch Now

Wild Wild Country (2018)

Osho stands in front of his many followers in Wild Wild Country.
Osho stands in front of his many followers in Wild Wild Country

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. This almost feels like a sci-fi movie on Netflix.

Total Episodes: 6
IMDb Rating: 8.2

Watch Now

I Am a Killer (2018-2020)

One of the featured murderers in I Am a Killer.
One of the featured murderers in I Am a Killer

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 such capital crimes in the first place. With graphic visuals and desensitized perspectives, this series is not for the faint of heart.

Total Episodes: 20
IMDb Rating: 7.5

Watch Now

Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

A picture of Jan Broberg in Abducted in Plain Sight.
A picture of Jan Broberg in Abducted in Plain Sight

If you’re a parent, then this doc is going to be a nightmare for you. If you’re not a parent, then this will still be one of the most frustrating documentaries you’ve most likely ever seen. Abducted in Plain Sight chronicles the abduction of 12-year-old Jan Broberg by her neighbor Robert Berchtold — twice. The documentary looks at how Berchtold embedded himself in the Broberg family and how he was able to abduct Jan both times. Littered throughout the documentary are also aliens, Mormonism, and a whole heap of “how the f*ck can you let someone do that to your daughter twice, you ignorant fools?”

Runtime: 91 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.8

Watch Now

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

Pictures of six of Ted Bundy's victims in Conversations with a Killer.
Pictures of six of Ted Bundy’s victims in Conversations with a Killer

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 glorifies serial killers, thereby expressing everything that is wrong with the country’s obsession with crimes, it is an interesting look at the mind of a notorious criminal.

Total Episodes: 4
IMDb Rating: 7.8

Watch Now

The Keepers (2017)

A picture of Sister Cathy Cesnik in The Keepers.
A picture of Sister Cathy Cesnik in The Keepers

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.

Total Episodes: 7
IMDb Rating: 8.1

Watch Now

Evil Genius (2018)

A split picture of Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong in Evil Genius.
A split picture of Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong in Evil Genius

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 to which some people go to try and get away with murder.

Total Episodes: 4
IMDb Rating: 7.6

Watch Now

Amanda Knox (2016)

A photo collage of Amanda Knox's face in Amanda Knox.
A photo collage of Amanda Knox’s face in Amanda Knox

After being twice convicted for the murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher while living in Italy, Amanda Knox spent four years in an Italian jail before being acquitted. Amanda Knox features interviews with a variety of people involved in the case, from her boyfriend at the time to journalists to law enforcement to Knox herself, to document everything that went on the case. This doc is as much about the case as it is about what can happen when tabloid journalism runs away with a story.

Runtime: 92 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.9

Watch Now

Editors' Recommendations