25 Best True Crime Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

Crime documentaries are the flavor of the season. We won’t be wrong to state that productions based on real-life offenses have suddenly become the talk of the town (read: internet). After all, not only are they being rabidly sought after by fans, but even those who couldn’t stand them at one point are now binge-watching them for hours and hours on end. There’s just something about the dark side of human nature that fascinates us, either owing to the sinister behavior that no one with a sound mind would ever even think about or because of the suspense surrounding it all.

Whatever the case may be, the way true-crime documentary films/shows are made ensures that we can’t take our eyes off them until the very end. Whether it be related to the mafia, murders, disappearances, or betrayals, they almost always keep us enthralled with the need to know the means, the motive, as well as the aftermath — the essential final answers. So, if you’re someone who loves such sequences, trust us, you’ve come to the right place. Since we do too, we’ve compiled a list of some must-watch true-crime documentaries that are available to stream on Netflix right now.

25. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)

As the title suggests, here we are with a documentary full of rich content concerning an important theme and individual who goes by the name of Marsha P. Johnson. Marsha was an African American drag queen and activist for gay and transvestite rights. Although facing difficult situations and downgrading forces, she was always full of life, and the memories her friends keep of her are joyful and powerful. On July 6, 1992, she was found dead in a river, opening a mysterious case ready to be investigated. In between archive materials and interviews, activist Victoria Cruz takes the lead and opens doors into the death of Marsha P. Johnson. You can watch it here.

24. Casting JonBenet (2017)

Unsolved crimes can be influential factors for the pick of one documentary or another. However, it doesn’t give us the answer to the crime committed in 1990; we are merely given a different way of crafting a documentary. In this Kitty Green film, various actors are being cast for the roles of important individuals involved in the murder of a 6-year-old beauty pageant girl JonBenét Ramsey. The mother, the father, the brother, police officers, and more are all respectively dressed the same way and given the freedom to act, express, and speculate on the murder that moved a whole country. Emotive, fascinating, and intriguing at all times, it’s a work of art unique on its own. You can watch this film here.

23. Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons (2016)

Journalist and host Raphael Rowe takes us on a journey within the walls of the most rigorous jails in ‘Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons,’ which first premiered in 2016. Rowe travels to different countries and gives us a real-time view of the lives of prisoners as well as guards in the famous prisons located in various locations. For example, in the Philippines, we get a glimpse of Rizal Jail, where inmates perform and cook for each other. In Poland, we see the Piotrkow Prison, which harbors an extreme isolation cell, and guards receive intensive riot training. Again in Mexico and Honduras, we see the El Hongo and Danli Prisons, respectively. Rowe also covers other institutions in Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Ukraine, and Belize. Each episode follows how the guards struggle to control and reform prisoners, whereas the latter try to adjust to their surroundings. You can watch this series here.

22. Amanda Knox (2016)

This Netflix-distributed documentary dives into the complex case of Meredith Kircher’s murder in 2007 while focusing on Amanda Knox, an American exchange student who was roommates with the victim and, therefore, a serious suspect. At only 20 years of age, she was convicted and spent four years in an Italian prison for a murder she did not commit. With a suspenseful combination of archive footage and interviews of the people connected to the occurrence, Amanda is ready to tell her story to the world, a disastrous incident that’ll grab your attention without a doubt. You can watch it here.

21. Out of Thin Air (2017)

A shocking story about a crime with no evidence rules the intrigue of this amazing documentary. “When murder is just a memory,” says the slogan of the film, it surely means something isn’t right. If we rewind back some decades, we’ll find ourselves in 1976 in the mesmerizing landscapes of Iceland. In that year, two men disappeared, leaving no trace behind. What to do when a case needs assailants to be accused? Soon six individuals confessed to the crimes, but we already know there’s a trap in this simple-looking story. Be ready to become disturbed and strangely amazed by this scandalous event. You can watch it here.

20. The Innocent Man (2018)

‘The Innocent Man,’ an American true-crime documentary television series, first aired on Netflix on December 14, 2018. It is an adaptation of John Grisham’s non-fiction book, ‘The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town’, written in 2006. The first season comprises six episodes and chronicles the strange events surrounding two murder cases in Ada, Oklahoma, committed between 1982 and 1984. For some reason, the offenders Ron Williamson, Dennis Fritz, Tommy Ward, and Karl Fontenot had given false confessions. And the documentary explores just that, which raises many more interesting questions. You can watch this series here.

19. First and Last (2018)

Any inmate, when imprisoned for the first time, finds his/her starting day at the prison to be the most difficult. Amidst unfamiliar surroundings and new people, this day makes any prisoner apprehensive. Well, ‘First and Last, a true-crime docu-series which premiered in 2018, tries to explore an inmate’s transformation from his/her first day of imprisonment to his/her last day of release. Since both these dates hold different kinds of emotions for the prisoner, this docu-series documents these notable days during the incarceration period of inmates at Georgia’s Gwinnett County Jail. You can watch this series here.

18. Girls Incarcerated: Young and Locked Up (2018)

‘Girls Incarcerated: Young and Locked Up’ is a documentary television series that aired on Netflix on March 2, 2018. This 8-episode show focuses on young, teenage inmates of the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility in Madison, Indiana. While Brianna is proud of playing the “bad girl” role, she realizes that she needs to change for a better future. Paige and Heidi get into a scuffle. Chrissy and Aubrey are waiting for their release, but the latter has issues once she sets foot outside. Najwa cannot go home as she doesn’t have a guardian, and Chrissy, after her release, finally gets the chance to spend quality time with her family. Girls Incarcerated gives a hopeful insight into lives inside prisons because juveniles have the opportunity to start afresh after they are released. The show adopts a unique storytelling approach that places it above many other docu-series. You can watch this series here.

17. Inside the Criminal Mind (2017)

‘Inside the Criminal Mind’ attempts to explore the psychological machinations that drive criminals to commit horrific crimes. Each episode delves into one category of offenders – serial killers, kidnappers, crime lords, and cult leaders. Experts then try to profile and analyze this criminal behavior and urge viewers to understand the psychology of such repeat offenders. The format follows an explanation of unnamed murders via reenacted clips of the incidents and crime scene photos. Narrators also ask if a particular type of criminal – for example, serial killers – are created because of an abusive childhood or if this mentality is simply hardwired into their psyche. Within just 45 minutes, each episode answers many big questions. Watch it if you want to witness something new in the realm of the true-crime genre. You can watch this series here.

16. I Am A Killer (2018)

We are already familiar with tons of true crime shows that focus on the cases from the investigator and victim or family point of view. But Netflix’s ‘I Am a Killer’ allows viewers to experience crimes as a first-hand account from the perpetrators themselves. Season 1 of this documentary, which debuted in 2018, focuses on ten death row inmates over ten episodes. Each episode explores how a particular offender ended up committing capital murder and what their history was. While some are pretty frank about the events surrounding the cases, others adopt a more mysterious approach. Overall, the brutality and bluntness of this show make it a must-watch for fans of true-crime docu-series. You can watch this series here.

15. The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)

Another docu-series that created quite a stir in social media is the Netflix Original, ‘Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,’ which was released on January 24, 2018. This 4-part series brings to the small screen for the first time over 100 hours of interviews and archival footage of the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. It also documents interviews with his family, witnesses, relatives, friends, surviving victims, and the law enforcement members who had worked on his case. Each episode covers the life of Bundy, from his childhood to his crimes, arrests, escapes, and final death. Accompanied by archival footage, police evidence, personal photos, and Stephen Michaud’s 1980 death row interviews, The Ted Bundy Tapes makes for an intriguing watch. You can watch this series here.

14. The Keepers (2017)

Yet another American docu-series that received wide critical acclaim and raised questions about sexual abuse within the church is the 7-episode show, ‘The Keepers’, which was released on Netflix on May 19, 2017. It is about the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a nun who taught English and drama at Archbishop Keough High School, Baltimore. Her body was later discovered in a dumpster in the suburbs of Lansdowne and the case remains unsolved till date. As per her students, the authorities covered up the case because A. Joseph Maskell, a priest in the school, was involved. Apparently, he was guilty of sexual abuse of girl students and Cesnik came to know about it. This knowledge might have led to her final murder. Creating quite a bit of controversy upon its release, ‘The Keepers’ draws inspiration from riveting, real-life terror and tries to expose long-buried, harrowing secrets while narrating the story in an interesting, brilliantly assembled way. You can watch this series here.

13. Drug Lords (2018)

This docu-series,  which premiered in 2018, focuses on the most notorious drug lords and the law-enforcement officials who are determined to expose and capture them. Featuring famous drug kingpins, including high-profile leaders such as Pablo Escobar, this true-crime documentary delves deeper into the strongholds of these men, their alliances, family members, and their establishments. Each episode focuses on a particular drug lord and chronicles his story, including his success, arrest, conviction, and sometimes, death. You can watch this series here.

12. Dirty Money (2018)

Dirty Money, yet another Netflix Original, is a true-crime documentary series that deals with corporate corruption. Each one-hour-long episode takes up one particular case and explores it in detail by interviewing the key participants in the incident. The show comprises a total of 6 episodes in season 1, with all parts premiering on Netflix on January 26, 2018. You can watch this series here.

11. Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia (2020)

It’s no secret that there was a point in time (the 1970s and 1980s) when New York was controlled by not the authorities but five dangerous mafia families — Gambino, Colombo, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Genovese. These organizations actually ran almost every industry in the area and thus felt like they could do whatever they wanted in the name of business, as well as their rivalry. That is, until a group of federal agents did the unthinkable to take them down for good through the long-lasting Mafia Commission Trial in the mid-1980s. So that’s what ‘Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia’ examines over three incredibly gripping 45-minute long episodes, which you can watch here.

10. Making a Murderer (2015)

Making a Murderer is an American true crime documentary that had taken the Internet by storm upon its release. Shot over 15 years, it is the real story of Wisconsin-based Steven Avery, who was wrongly accused of the sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen and had to serve 18 years in prison since his arrest in 1985. Two years after his release, he was again charged with the murder of Teresa Halbach. Another accused and convicted suspect, in this case, was Brendan Dassey, Avery’s nephew.

Season 1, which was released in 2015, is about the events surrounding Avery’s arrest in 1985, his release in 2003, his second arrest in 2005, his conviction in 2007, and Brendan’s arrest, prosecution, and conviction. Season 2 explores the aftermath of Avery’s false arrest on his family, him being framed for murder, and coercion of his confession by prosecutors. You can watch this series here.

9. Evil Genius (2018)

Evil Genius is a 2018-released Netflix Original 4-part series that documents the murder of Brian Wells in 2003. This case is also popularly referred to as the “collar bomb” or “pizza bomber” case. When Wells was killed during a bank robbery after the detonation of an explosive collar that was forcibly locked to his neck, producer and narrator Trey Borzillieri started investigating the case when he got hold of evidence that suggested that this might have been a planned murder. He started correspondence with Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong in 2005 while she was still in prison and extracted several vital bits of information about this cold case. You can watch this series here.

8. Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami (2021)

‘Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami’ is the tale of two childhood friends who went from high school dropouts to the most powerful kingpins in the nation within mere years, just to eventually crash hard. Salvador “Sal” Magluta and Augusto “Willy” Falcon had operated a drug ring without any severe consequences for years, meaning that when they did get caught, they got caught for smuggling big. The narcotics case brought against them (one of the biggest in US history) was for trafficking over 75 tons of cocaine over their years of hustle, and only then did the deaths begin. You can watch the series here.

7. The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in Korea (2021)

As the title suggests, ‘The Raincoat Killer: Chasing a Predator in Korea’ takes us to the otherwise safe South Korea to chronicle the tale of a serial killer, a sex offender, and a self-confessed cannibal. By being responsible for at least 20 merciless murders in Seoul in the 2000s, Yoo Young-Chul genuinely set an unprecedented yet atrocious standard for criminals in the nation. His MO was usually to bludgeon his victims to death with a hammer over their head, but his victims in themselves varied from sex workers to affluent elderlies. Honestly, his rage and motives were so inexplicable that it made this docu-series more horror than true crime for us. You can watch it here.

6. American Murder: The Family Next Door (2020)

Directed by Jenny Popplewell, ‘American Murder: The Family Next Door’ is a documentary that delves deep into the infamous 2018 Watts family murders in Frederick, Colorado. It essentially uses raw footage (including law enforcement recordings, text messages, social media posts, as well as home videos) to depict how the disappearance of Shanann Watts and her two young daughters wasn’t a disappearance at all. The worst part, though, is that the 34-year-old mother was 15 weeks pregnant with her third child when they were all brutally (and needlessly) slain. You can watch this movie here.

5. Carmel: Who Killed Maria Marta? (2020)

The mysterious homicide of María Marta García Belsunce, one of the most controversial criminal cases in Argentina, is the subject matter covered in ‘Carmel: Who Killed Maria Marta?’ This 2002 still-unsolved murder of the 50-year-old continues to baffle the officials and her loved ones alike, primarily because every attempt to unravel the events surrounding her death has yielded more questions than answers. Therefore, from a theory of robbery gone wrong to the suspicions on her husband to a possible link with a cartel, everything is examined here, with a particular focus on the upper-class gated community where she resided. You can watch this series here.

4. The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann (2019)

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann is an 8-part docu-series that premiered on Netflix in 2019 and documents the highly publicized disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann when she was on vacation with her family in a resort in Portugal in 2007. To date, there is no information about her whereabouts. In this documentary, we are given a detailed glimpse into the case, where filmmakers Emma Cooper and Chris Smith conduct interviews with the authors of the book ‘Looking for Madeleine’, the Portuguese cops who were involved in the case, and tourists staying in the same resort as Madeleine’s family at that time. You can watch this series here.

3. Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer (2021)

‘Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer’ follows two detectives as they race against the clock to apprehend a nocturnal monster who terrorized California in the mid-1980s. The offenses committed – murders and sexual assaults on men, women, and children alike – initially made it appear as if they were entirely disconnected, yet a shoe print helped prove otherwise. It ultimately came to light that, with satanic beliefs, horrifically violent tendencies, and more than 15 victims, a single, depraved individual was responsible for it all — his crime spree had no apparent motives either. You can watch this series here.

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

With aspects like murders, cults, and sacrifices that only give way to more questions than answers, there’s only one word that can truly define ‘The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness:’ creepy. This true-crime show revolves around Maury Terry’s fixation to prove that serial killer David Berkowitz did not act alone when he shot over a dozen people in the 1970s, only for nothing concrete to come to light. Yes, the little clues he found raised enough suspicions regarding the extent of David’s satanic activities and the possibility of accomplices that the Son of Sam case was reopened, but no new charges were ever filed. You can watch this series here.

1. The Staircase (2004-2018)

In what can only be described as an intriguing docuseries, one that is bound to leave you scratching your head, ‘The Staircase’ presents the convoluted tale of Michael Peterson. The crime novelist was accused of slaying his wife Kathleen back in 2001, following which he faced a series of public as well as court trials in 2003, but the truth is that the question surrounding his guilt remained. That’s why, with new twists and turns as the years passed by, additional episodes were filmed and released. So if you wish to know more about the same, you can watch the series here.

Read More: Best Documentaries of All Time