There’s something so addictive about true crime documentaries – often the stories they tell are far stranger than fiction, and they grow ever weirder and more unbelievable with every twist and turn.
Making A Murderer made such a huge impact when it was released in 2015, that Netflix has now become the home of true crime stories, commissioning lots more equally addictive series. It was probably inevitable – we love a crime drama in this country, and the real thing makes compelling viewing.
From bamboozling tales of missing people, to shocking crimes and outrageous, audacious murders, there are some truly jaw-dropping stories available to unravel on Netflix at the moment.
So we’ve compiled a handy list of true crime documentaries for you to catch up on.
Prepare to get lost in Netflix as you check out our top picks:
The true-crime doc is fast becoming Netflix’s biggest sensation since it dropped on the streaming site on July 1st.
Looking at some of the most mind boggling cold cases in the US, from the unexplained disappearance and then death of writer Rey Rivera, to the mysterious death of Alonzo Brooks, Unsolved Mysteries has truly got fans hooked with internet sleuths coming up with their own theories, sending in tips, and Netflix releasing regular updates and unseen footage.
If you haven’t watched it yet, you need to – you might even be able to spot the key they’ve been looking for! Watch now.
The Mafia doc invites viewers into the world of the five mob families in The Big Apple, who ruled with a “bloody fist” in the 1970s and 1980s.
From labour and construction racketeering to money laundering and hijacking, these families were responsible for a large proportion of the crimes in NY.
Considering the extensive rule these families had across every borough (and even further afield), it was a big ask for the law enforcement to take them on – but that’s just what attorney/politician Rudy Giuliani and his team did. And Fear City shows just how! Watch now.
World’s Most Wanted
The Netflix doc takes a look at some of the most notorious criminals who are at large, some for more that 20 years.
World’s Most Wanted focuses on the five sought after fugitives that have avoided capture despite massive rewards and global investigations. The FBI even know exactly where one of the fugitives, Semion Mogilevich, is however he remains free. Watch now.
The harrowing documentary looks into the unknown world of elite gymnastics , focusing on the sexual abuse scandal which rocked the USA Gymnastics team in 2016.
Directed by husband-and-wife team Bonnie Cohen and Jon Shenk, Athlete A follows the Indianapolis Star investigative journalists who broke the story of physician Larry Nassar’s numerous assaults on young female gymnasts and USA Gymnastics attempts to cover up his abuse.
In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in jail for seven counts of sexual abuse on minors.
The one-off doc gives voice to whistle blower Maggie Nicholls, and the other survivors of doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. Watch now.
Don’t F*** With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer
Perhaps one of the most mind-boggling and bizarre documentary series on this list, Don’t F*** With Cats sees some internet vigilantes work tirelessly to track down Luka Magnotta, a Facebook user who posted horrible videos of animal abuse on his page. Outraged by what they were seeing, an informal network was formed of people who wanted to bring him to justice. They watched the videos to find clues and find this man. Little did they know they would soon be investigating a human murder too. Watch now.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich
It’s a story that has been all over the papers in recent years, and now Netflix is taking a deep dive into the allegations against convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Speaking to his accusers and looking into the pattern of his behaviour, it’s a dark four-part series that will leave you disgusted. Watch now
If you’ve been watching Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins recently, you may have let your mind wander, to consider the terrifying thought of being taken hostage. Captive is a true crime series that looks into hostage situations around the world – those that have had a successful outcome and those that have ended badly. Looking from the perspective of both the hostages and the negotiators, it takes us into the epicentre of one of the most high-pressure scenarios imaginable. Watch now
Remastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke
One of the most soulful voices in the American history, Sam Cooke’s amazing music lives on, including songs like “A Change is Gonna Come” and “What a Wonderful World”. But in 1964 he was killed at the young age of 33 in strange circumstances. Featuring contributions from legends like Quincy Jones, Dionne Warwick and Smokey Robinson, this one-off documentary film examines his murder and asks if it was a direct response to his participation in the civil rights movement. Watch now
If you were accused of a murder you didn’t commit, you’d go to almost any length to prove your innocence. This is the David and Goliath story of Juan Catalan, who found himself in that very position. The odds are stacked against him, he’s facing a ruthless prosecutor, and his defence lawyer is begging him for an alibi. Juan was at a baseball game, but how can he prove it? Bizarrely, the answer may just lie with Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David… Watch now
The Innocent Man
John Grisham is best known for his gripping crime novels, but he came across a story so incredible, he felt compelled to write a non-fiction book. Talking about The Innocent Man, which was adapted for Netflix in 2018, Grisham said, “If I wrote it as a novel, folks probably wouldn’t believe it.” The series tells the story of two murders in a small town, one in 1982, the next in 1984. The police were under pressure to pin these crimes on someone and accepted bogus confessions, so the wrong men were convicted. They were released again – but only five days before one of them was due to be executed. How could this happen? Watch now
Natascha Kampusch: The Whole Story
Natascha Kampusch’s story is a horrifying one. At 10 years old, the little girl from Vienna was abducted by her kidnapper on her way to school. He locked her in a cellar and kept her in captivity for eight years, until she finally escaped. When she ran away, at 18, the media interest was huge, and this documentary is a chance for her to tell her story in her own words. It’s an absorbing watch, as you hear how she has processed an unimaginably tough experience. Watch now
Time: The Kalief Browder Story
Jay-Z produced this shocking documentary about Kalief Browder, a young black man failed spectacularly by the US justice system. One night, Kalief was walking home from a party and was approached by police, who accused him of stealing a backpack. He was only 16 years old but forced to spend 800 days in solitary confinement, awaiting trial for a crime he didn’t commit. Told in the context of the Black Lives Matter campaign, it’s a timely documentary that will leave you seething at the injustice of it all. Watch now
Out of Thin Air
Detectives investigating murders dream of getting a confession – it wraps up the case and almost guarantees a conviction. But not all confessions are to be trusted, as this documentary proves. The British film goes back over 40 years to examine the Reykjavik Confessions, a case where the wrong six people were found guilty of two mysterious murders. Why would anyone confess if they didn’t do it? Watch now
This is the kind of documentary that you will instantly demand your whole friendship group watches, so that you can talk endlessly to them about it. When 14 year old Nicholas Barclay from Texas went missing his family feared they would never see him again. They were thrilled when he walked back into their lives three years later. Except it wasn’t him. It was an imposter. The kind of story you think can’t be true… but it is! Watch now.
If you don’t like films that take you underwater, look away now. This documentary tells the story of a North Sea diver, Chris Lemons, who gets stranded at the bottom of the sea. He has five minutes worth of oxygen left in his tank. But as a professional he is fully aware that rescue won’t come for at least half an hour. Is there anything he can do to give himself any hope of survival? A tense, breathless watch. Watch now.
Flipping what a docu-series is, Casting JonBenet centres around little girls who are auditioning for the role of a fictional film about the murdered child beauty queen. The obsession around the case becomes apparent as the disturbing case is brought to life. Watch now.
ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay?
Run DMC DJ Jam Master Jay was mysteriously murdered for reasons we still don’t know today. His family and friends are still desperate to know why he died all these years on. Watch now.
It may feel like Tiger King is more of an outlandish entertainment series than a true crime documentary, but beyond the wild antics of Joe Exotic, real crimes were committed, some of which have been investigated, others emerge over the course of the series. We meet a string of dodgy characters, hear serious accusations and get thrown from one twist to the next. If you haven’t watch it yet, make it your next obsession – if only to find out what everyone else has been talking about! Watch now
Trial By Media
We all know that juries are supposed to be completely neutral when hearing a case. But how is that possible when the details have been all over the papers? Executive produced by George Clooney, Trial By Media is a fascinating documentary looking at how legal cases have been swayed by media reporting, and how trials, which can be televised in America, have become a ghoulish form of entertainment. Watch now
The murder of Meredith Kercher caught international headlines as Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were at the top of the suspect list. Here, we hear from Knox herself about what happened in 2007 and the subsequent years of trying to prove her innocence. Watch now.
Catch up on the story with Waiting To Be Head: A Memoir for Amanda Knox’s story in her own words too.
In 2003, a robbery went disastrously wrong, when a pizza delivery man was forced to rob a bank while he had a bomb around his neck. This four-part docu-series attempts to try and trace the complex timeline in this complicated case. Watch now.
Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
We all know how dark and twisted the life of Ted Bundy was, but for the first time ever this documentary allows us to hear his discussions with a psychologist and hear Bundy talk about why he did what he did in the 1970s. Watch now.
Want to know more? Read the book before or after watching the series, Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
Abducted in Plain Sight
Jan Broberg was kidnapped twice by a friend of the family and their neighbour, Robert Berchtold, in the 1970s. The series looks at the complex case and wonders why exactly she was kidnapped twice by the same man and how he brainwashed her and her family. It’ll leave you wondering how on earth it happened – it has to be seen to be believed. Watch now.
The Confession Killer
This five-part series The Confession Killer makes for a baffling watch. Henry Lee Lucas confessed to killing more than 600 people and could recount the grisly details of all of them. But journalists soon wondered if he actually did kill them all – what do you think? Watch now.
Making a Murderer
The true crime doc that started it all, Making A Murderer looked at the life of Steven Avery, a man who was wrongly convicted of one crime, only to find himself wrapped up in another, more serious, investigation. The case is nowhere near being resolved so don’t be surprised if a third series comes fairly soon. Watch now.
I Am A Killer
The 10-part British series looks at 10 convicted criminals who are all sentenced to death for murder. We get to hear from them about their case and how they’re feeling as they sit on death row. Watch now.
Surviving R. Kelly
The six-part documentary looks at the women who have accused R. Kelly of sexual abuse. Each woman gets to tell her story from start to finish, as viewers get to make up their minds as to what really went on throughout his life in the limelight. Watch now.
The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann
It was the case that gripped the world, and the documentary about the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine also got people talking. The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, an eight-part series, brought to life new evidence that rocked the world and focused on every aspect of the complex and heartbreaking case. Watch now.
November 13: Attack on Paris
Many of us will remember all too vividly, watching the news as co-ordinated terror attacks on the French capital unfolded in 2015. This sensitive, incredibly moving documentary takes us back to that time. The Bataclan music venue, cafes and a football stadium were attacked and the series recalls the experience both as we saw it, and behind the scenes from the perspective of those responding, and those living through horror. Featuring interviews with French President Francois Hollande and Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, it’s a sobering but important watch. Watch now
The Staircase covers the life of Michael Peterson, a man who was suspected of murdering his wife. The series was originally released in 2004 but all these years on, the complex story is still not over. Google The Owl Theory after it’s over too… Watch now.
Not all true crimes documentaries involve murder. Some even involve wine! This is the story of fraudster Rudy Kurniawan who upset the exclusive world of wine buyers by sweeping in and making huge amounts of money from wine sales. The contents of the bottles were nowhere near as special as he was was making out, but he managed to make millions from the Emperor’s New Clothes of fine wine. It took specialists at the FBI to finally bring him down… This is a refreshingly different take on true crime, still with a shocking and gripping story at its heart, but also exploring an elite society that got conned. Watch now
The Alcàsser Murders
The Alcàsser Murders is a three-part series that looks at the 1992 murders of three young girls in Spain. Throughout the Netflix original, we discover the tragic events of one night when the women in question disappear on their way to a nightclub. The mystery is still unresolved to this day. Watch now.
Strong Island looks at the murder of William Ford Jr, an African American teacher who was killed by a 19-year-old white man in 1992. This emotional documentary looks at the racial inequality which surrounded the case and is told by William’s brother, Yance Ford. Watch now.
Wormwood examines the death of scientist Frank Oslon. He was thought to be a victim of a top-secret drug experiment, MK Ultra. This is one for the theorists as there’s web upon web upon web to dissect. Watch now.
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez
Perhaps one of the most gruelling watches on our list, The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez explores the case of the eponymous eight-year-old who died after being tortured and abused by his own mother and her boyfriend. Watch now.
When Sister Cathy Cesnick was murdered in 1969, all eyes were on who did it, and why. Her former students thought there was a lot more to the case than first met the eye, including a history of sexual abuse. But what actually happened? Watch now.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez went from an NFL star to a convicted killer, and this documentary looks at how he went down the wrong path. The gripping three-part series delves right into his past to see what happened to lead to the murder of his fiancée’s sister’s boyfriend. Watch now.
These true crime documentaries are all available to stream on Netflix now. To find out what else is on, check out our TV Guide.