The pleasure of trying to solve an unsolved crime is unmatched by anything else. It’s for this reason that hit television programs like Law & Order and Unsolved Mysteries exist. But the truth is always the greatest place to start when it comes to crime stories (and, well, life), which is why crime dramas and films that are based on actual events are always the most compelling to watch. The best way to get your true crime fix is to watch a murder mystery, wrongful conviction, or bank heist unfold in front of your eyes while hearing from psychologists, attorneys, and the criminal’s loved ones. While you can also get your true crime fix by listening to riveting podcasts like Serial and Dr. Death, nothing comes close to it. Although a terrible and terrifying reality for the family and friends of the victim, the true crime documentaries on Netflix lean into the unknown. Take a look at the top real crime films, TV shows, and documentaries to add to your Netflix queue if you have the fortitude to bear the truth. Here is the list of Must-Watch True Crime Documentaries on Netflix.
Introducing Henry Lee Lucas, a serial killer who admitted to committing over 600 killings. Despite the lack of concrete evidence connecting him to the victims, Lucas was found guilty because he remembered graphic aspects of the atrocities that the broader public was unaware of. Police start to question whether Lucas was speaking the truth when contemporary DNA testing refutes his assertions.
Even if it’s not a mystery, it deserves to be mentioned. When Aaron Hernandez went from being a blossoming NFL star to being found guilty of murder, the world was startled. Interviews with his friends, family, and teammates are included in the documentary series, which explores the string of circumstances that led to his death.
3. Long Shot
In the 40-minute film, Juan Catalan, a young man out to prove his innocence of murder, is introduced to the audience. He takes an unprecedented step for a defendant and obtains video from a well-known TV program in an effort to bolster his alibi.
4. The 43
In 2014, 43 Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College students who were organizing a political demonstration in Iguala, Mexico, vanished. This documentary series contests the Mexican government’s explanation for their disappearance in a disturbing manner.
Three brief words can sum up this document: Never put your trust in anyone. You might wager a million dollars that the parents of a young girl wouldn’t fall for the same con when a nice neighbor tricked them into letting him take their daughter…until they did.
This is a must-watch if you’ve ever been fascinated about MKUltra, the CIA’s mind-control program. The docudrama, which is helmed by Errol Morris (American Dharma), explores the enigmatic death of a U.S. scientist who was involved in a covert Cold War project utilizing Oscar-worthy recreations like something you’ve never seen.
7. The Keepers
Sister Cathy Cesnik, a well-liked nun and teacher at a Catholic high school, vanished in 1969 and was never heard from again. Even though her body was found two months later, her murder has never been solved. She told me this ominous tale.
Acclaimed criminologist Mark Williams-Thomas revisits a series of puzzling homicides using his 11 years of police training. You can watch the first two seasons on Netflix right now, and you’ll soon be conducting investigations alongside the detectives. The British accents are only the cherry on top.
Think back to April 1992, when a white man killed 24-year-old African American teacher William Ford Jr. Ford was unarmed, but he was immediately accused of having killed himself. Strong Island relates his tale and explains how racism contributed to the tragic result of the case.
One of the most notorious serial killers in American history is Ted Bundy. Using archival film and audio recordings from Bundy’s time on death row, Oscar-nominated director Joe Berlinger provides a previously unseen look at the case. Buckle up for the four-part series, which includes excerpts from more than 100 hours of interviews.
11. The Innocent Man
The film reintroduces audiences to the contentious case from the 1980s that shook the little Oklahoman town of Ada. The six-part series, which is based on the John Grisham book of the same name, explores fresh information that has everyone wondering whether the authorities have the proper suspects in custody or if the real perpetrators are still at large.
Richard Ramirez, an infamous serial murderer who carried out a string of gruesome killings in Los Angeles in the 1980s, is the subject of the book and movie Night Stalker. In this documentary, detectives Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno—who cracked the case—share their observations through interviews and archival material.
Sam Cooke is arguably best known for his massive soul singles, such as “Chain Gang” and “A Change Is Gonna Come.” However, this film investigates how the crooner’s outspoken opinions on civil rights might have contributed to his premature passing at the age of 33. This retelling of the life and death of one of the most recognizable artists of the 20th century is unquestionably worth watching.
Three bombs that took place in Utah in 1985 and endangered the very existence of Mormonism are examined in depth in the book Murder Among the Mormons. A cache of early Mormon letters and journals that were discovered destroyed in the vehicle of the third victim added to the community’s horror following the killings, according to the official narrative.
Review the killings of the Watts family, which took place in Colorado in 2018, in this spooky documentary. To help recreate the story, the movie uses home video footage, social media posts, and police recordings.
If you ever travel to Los Angeles, you might want to give staying at The Cecil a second thought. The inexplicable disappearance of a 21-year-old student who booked into the hotel—where there have been a number of unsolved murders—for a vacation is the subject of this documentary. When she doesn’t respond to their calls, her parents call the police, who then discover some fairly disturbing information.
17. Athlete A
Although it’s not the simplest movie to watch, it should be seen. This unsettling documentary provides further information on the shocking tale published by The Indianapolis Star about Dr. Larry Nassar, who is accused of sexually assaulting at least 255 young women and girls, including Olympic gold medalist gymnasts Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
A family chooses to use a novel strategy in an effort to find the murderer because they are desperate for justice and retribution. After the terrible death of mother-of-two Crystal Theobald, 24, in 2006, her family decides to use a series of fictitious MySpace identities to lure the murderer into confessing.
This Argentinian true-crime series investigates Maria Marta Garca Belsunce’s enigmatic passing. Although it was initially believed that Belsunce died in her bathtub after inadvertently falling, the postmortem results revealed a different scenario, which led to a somewhat unexpected turn of events.
20. Amanda Knox
In Perugia, Italy, on November 2, 2007, Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old exchange student, was discovered dead in the room she shared with Amanda Knox. When Knox is convicted guilty of killing Kercher in December 2009, the matter doesn’t end there. She was exonerated after being convicted. More than once. Knox has the chance to share her perspective on the events in this documentary.
Watch one of history’s most infamous serial killers reveal his horrific deeds in startlingly open interviews. The show explores Dahmer’s complexity and the roles that race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and poor policing played in his crimes through recently made public interviews with his defense team.