Watch These Netflix True-Crime Documentaries With Caution
True-crime documentaries are a foundational part of Netflix — and some of the most popular shows on the site. With shocking limited series that tackle horrible injustices, documentaries that shed light on situations too few people know about, and detailed looks into some crimes that seem too unbelievable to be true, Netflix has true-crime documentaries that manage to both inform and entertain.
Some of their docs, like "Casting JonBenet," shed new light on tragic cases that became national news. Others, like the "Tiger King" docuseries, became national sensations themselves; this one being one of the most controversial and discussed series of all time. There are Oscar-nominated documentaries like "Icarus" and "Strong Island," and award-winning series like "Surviving R. Kelly" and "Wild, Wild Country." Other docs expose the massive failures of the American justice system, like "Time: The Kalief Browder Story" and "Making a Murderer." Then there are shows like "Bad Sport," which covers the dark side of sports in six episodes, with each focused on a different drama.
If you're interested in learning about infamous serial killers, chilling cold cases, headline-making murders, baffling kidnappings, and controversial cults, watch the best crime documentaries on Netflix now.
— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano, Haley Lyndes, Kalyn Womack, and Naomi Parris
In Netflix crime documentary "Our Father," a woman's at-home DNA test uncovers an unsettling scheme in which infertility doctor Don Cline inseminated patients with his own sperm without their knowledge, exposing a dark web of deceit and spurring a pursuit of justice.
Watch "Our Father" on Netflix now.
"Sins of Our Mother"
This three-part Netflix crime docuseries recalls the mysterious story of Lori Vallow and the tragedy of her alleged crimes. Through firsthand accounts, the series examines how Vallow's downward spiral into religious fanaticism and paranoia, plus the disappearance of her kids, led to a string of suspicious deaths and a murder trial.
Watch "Sins of Our Mother" on Netflix now.
This Netflix crime documentary follows small-town pharmacist Dan Schneider, who — driven by the drug-related shooting of his son — tries to save his local community from an OxyContin crisis long before the opioid epidemic gained nationwide attention.
Watch "The Pharmacist" on Netflix now.
"The Playing Card Killer"
This Netflix documentary tells the story of Alfredo Galán Sotillo, who became the first Spanish serial killer after he murdered six people and tried to kill three others. Per the show's official synopsis, Sotillo "chose his victims randomly" and killed them with "a pistol he illegally brought to Spain from Bosnia where he was with the Spanish Army on a humanitarian mission." He was ultimately sentenced to 142 years in prison but will serve the maximum: 25 years. Sotillo is set to be released when he is 52 years. He is currently 45.
Watch "The Playing Card Killer" on Netflix now.
"Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey"
This heartbreaking four-part true crime Netflix docuseries chronicles the rise of Warren Jeffs in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the abuse suffered by members of the community.
Watch "Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey" on Netflix now.
"The Tinder Swindler"
"The Tinder Swindler" tells the story of a modern scam artist who used Tinder to lure in unsuspecting women. Posing as a diamond mogul, he emptied their back accounts and destroyed their credit scores.
Watch "The Tinder Swindler" on Netflix now.
Sports meets true crime in this docuseries that explores the six stories of controversies and scandals, as told by athletes, coaches, and other parties directly involved.
Watch "Bad Sport" on Netflix now.
"Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan"
This docuseries examines the case of serial rapist Billy Milligan who blames his crimes on multiple personalities.
Watch "Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan" on Netflix now.
"American Murder: The Family Next Door"
This documentary film tells the story of the gruesome Watts family murders, in which Chris Watts murdered his pregnant wife and two daughters.
Watch "American Murder: The Family Next Door" on Netflix now.
"The Innocent Man"
Based on John Grisham's 2006 book, "The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town," this six-part Netflix series follows two murders that shook Ada, OK, in the 1980s. When the police investigations for both the murder of cocktail waitress Debbie Carter and Ada resident Denice Haraway were mishandled, innocent men were sent to jail, and it would be years before their cases were reexamined.
Watch "The Innocent Man" on Netflix now.
"Out of Thin Air"
This true crime Netflix documentary tells the story of Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson, two men who disappeared from Iceland in 1974, and the six individuals who were convicted of their alleged murders. However, most Icelanders believe that all six were wrongfully convicted, as their confessions were extracted after intense interrogations and the bodies of Guðmundur and Geirfinnur were never found.
Watch "Out of Thin Air" on Netflix now.
"I Am a Killer"
Appropriately titled, this 10-part British docuseries tells the stories of 10 convicted killers, each installment focusing on a different notorious prisoner who has been sentenced to death for capital murder. What makes this series unique is that stories are told from the prisoners' point of view rather than law enforcement, and the effect is totally chilling.
Watch "I Am a Killer" on Netflix now.
"Time: The Kalief Browder Story"
Few documentaries emphasize the failures of the criminal justice system like the story of 16-year-old Kalief Browder, who spent three years in Rikers Island jail after allegedly stealing a backpack. Though the case was never prosecuted and the charges were ultimately dropped, this documentary follows Browder's heartbreaking story as well as his eventual suicide following his release.
Watch "Time: The Kalief Browder Story" on Netflix now.
"Making a Murderer"
Filmed over 10 years, this two-season docuseries, produced by Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, follows the case of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who were wrongly accused of raping and murdering a woman named Teresa Halbach in 2005. The first season presents the case, while the second season — released three years later — introduces Avery's new lawyer as well as the man who had actually murdered Teresa.
Watch "Making a Murderer" on Netflix now.
This documentary recounts the well-known case of Amanda Knox, a woman convicted for the 2007 murder of her roommate in Italy, Meredith Kercher, and sentenced to four years in an Italian prison. The film features interviews with Amanda Knox's ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, and Amanda Knox herself, following the story of Meredith Kercher's death and Amanda's eventual acquittal.
Watch "Amanda Knox" on Netflix now.
This docuseries examines the unsolved murder of Cathy Cesnik, a Catholic high-school teacher and nun from in Baltimore who disappeared in 1969. The case was then reopened in the '90s when one of Cathy Cesnik's former students claimed that the high school's chaplain may have been involved.
Watch "The Keepers" on Netflix now.
This heartbreaking Oscar-nominated documentary follows the 1992 murder of 24-year-old William Ford Jr., made especially poignant because the filmmaker, Yance Ford, is the victim's brother. Yance tells the story of how, 25 years ago, racial injustice and a fatal bullet changed the life of his Long Island family forever.
Watch "Strong Island" on Netflix now.
Taking place two decades after the murder of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, this documentary records the casting process for a fictional JonBenet film. Interviews with the would-be actors — during which they offer their own insight and speculation — reveal the extent of the obsession surrounding the mysterious case.
Watch "Casting JonBenet" on Netflix now.
Though Bryan Fogel first sought to explore the world of performance-enhancing drugs in cycling, the filmmaker instead happened upon a major international doping scandal when he encountered the head of the Russian antidoping laboratory. In the film, Fogel documents the means by which this lab allows athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs in a way that will evade detection from drug testing, leading to the discovery of a state-sponsored Olympic doping program.
Watch "Icarus" on Netflix now.
"Inside the World's Toughest Prisons"
Paul Connolly — an Irish investigative journalist, radio personality, and documentary maker — takes viewers on tours inside the most frightening prisons in the world. Connolly demonstrates what living conditions are for the inmates, as well as the guards, changing the way you think about prison forever.
Watch "Inside the World's Toughest Prisons" on Netflix now.
"First and Last"
Rather than tracking the day-to-day life experiences of prisoners, this true crime Netflix docuseries offers a heartbreaking look at the two most pivotal days for individuals at Georgia's Gwinnett County Jail — their first day and their last. "First and Last" can be tough to watch at moments, but few shows provide better insight into the American criminal justice system.
Watch "First and Last" on Netflix now.
This four-part documentary follows a high-profile 2003 robbery gone wrong in Erie, PA, when a pizza delivery man named Brian Wells was forced to rob a bank with a bomb around his neck. The Netflix original traces the ensuing manhunt and arrest of the person responsible for the deceivingly complicated "pizza bomber" crime.
Watch "Evil Genius" on Netflix now.
This docuseries profiles various young women incarcerated at a juvenile correctional facility in Madison, IN. From romances to celebrating milestones and to breaking down emotional walls, this show is far more tender than you may expect from a prison documentary.
Watch "Girls Incarcerated" on Netflix now.
This six-part docuseries (which originally aired on the Fusion network back in September) takes viewers into Humboldt County, CA, where 60 percent of the marijuana grown in the US is produced and where a man named Garrett Rodriguez went missing (among several others) from this giant weed-producing community. From 30-year-old open cases to much more recent disappearances, this series works to demonstrate what an issue this area has become, as well as all of the potential causes for the shocking number of missing persons.
Watch "Murder Mountain" on Netflix now.
"Abducted in Plain Sight"
This terrifying documentary follows the case of Jan Broberg, a young girl from Pocatello, ID, who was kidnapped not once, but twice by a trusted family friend named Robert Berchtold and brainwashed into believing she was meant to be with him. Berchtold also had affairs with both of her parents.
Watch "Abducted in Plain Sight" on Netflix now.
"ReMastered: The Miami Showband Massacre"
Netflix's ReMastered series has been dropping new documentaries set in the music world. Its most recent offering looks at the mysterious murder of three musicians in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and the possibility that the government was involved in the crime.
Watch "ReMastered: The Miami Showband Massacre" on Netflix now.
"The Devil Next Door"
Retired Ukrainian-American autoworker John Demjanjuk was living the American dream in Cleveland until a group of Holocaust survivors said they recognized him as a Nazi camp guard who killed and tortured Jewish prisoners in WWII. Shortly after, Demjanjuk was taken to Israel for trial, causing a media frenzy to break out.
Watch "The Devil Next Door" on Netflix now.
"Inside the Criminal Mind"
This series offers insight into the troubled psyches of infamous criminals, with commentary from some of the world's leading psychological experts. From criminal masterminds to notorious serial killers to murderous cult leaders, the show tackles what it takes to turn a person into a perpetrator of crime.
Watch "Inside the Criminal Mind" on Netflix now.
"The Confession Killer"
Henry Lee Lucas, who was thought to be responsible for many murders in the '80s, shocked authorities when he admitted to being guilty for far more murders than they could prove.
Watch "The Confession Killer" on Netflix now.
"Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez"
This three-part documentary details the late NFL player's fall from grace and the murder case that dominated news around the world. With courtroom footage, phone calls from prison, and interviews with the people who knew him best, this show sums up the "perfect storm of factors" that led to the trial, conviction, and ultimate death of Aaron Hernandez.
Watch "Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez" on Netflix now.
"Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator"
Bikram Choudhury arrived in America in the early '70s, introducing a (now) well-known version of yoga called hot yoga. Used by both celebrities and fitness-lovers alike, the yoga practice exploded, leading him to a massive amount of wealth. It wasn't until the 2010s that sexual abuse cases started rolling in, and the world discovered that Birkham's practice was nothing more than a scam.
Watch "Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator" on Netflix now.
"The Confession Tapes"
Reflecting on a common theme in many true crime documentaries, this series presents six cases of possible false confessions, which lead to the murder convictions of those featured. Following each case, the documentary works to potentially exonerate the individuals by offering alternate possibilities as to how the crime could have taken place.
Watch "The Confession Tapes" on Netflix now.
Netflix's docuseries "Drug Lords" explores the life of some of the world's top drug lords, from cartel leaders like Colombia's Pablo Escobar to Cornell Jones and his invention of Washington DC's open air market.
Watch "Drug Lords" on Netflix now.
Netflix is bringing back this classic true crime series with the first six of 12 episodes premiering on July 1. It covers a range of unsolved crimes, from unexplained disappearances to horrific deaths.
Watch "Unsolved Mysteries" on Netflix now.
"Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes"
"Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes" reveals the disturbing case of notoriously horrific killer Ted Bundy in his own words.
Watch "Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes" on Netflix now.
"Who Killed Little Gregory?"
When 4-year-old Gregory is found tied up and dead in a tiny town in France, police and media outlets search for the suspects that terrorized his family leading up to the murder.
Watch "Who Killed Little Gregory?" on Netflix now.
"The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann"
Madeleine McCann, a 3-year-old who was on vacation with her family at a seaside resort in Portugal went missing. Both Portugal police and Scotland Yard launched an investigation. The high-profile case eventually turned into one of the most followed missing child cases in British history.
Watch "The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann" on Netflix now.
"ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay?"
Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay was murdered for a reason that's unknown to this day. However, his friends and family aren't taking "I don't know" for an answer. Watch as you see the impact Jam Master Jay made on fans and friends as they try to uncover how and why the murder happened.
Watch "ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay?" on Netflix now.
"Terrorism Close Calls"
This 10-part investigative series takes a closer look into the world's deadliest terror plots, with commentary from leading authorities on counterterrorism, intelligence, and law enforcement.
Watch "Terrorism Close Calls" on Netflix now.
"ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke"
This documentary takes the audience through Cooke's music career, detailing his style and how his inspiration to uplift the Black community caused unwanted attention. This investigation includes interviews with Cooke's friends and colleagues who speculate how Cooke's activism may have led to his death.
Watch "ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke" on Netflix now.
"Wild Wild Country"
This critically acclaimed investigative series is about a notorious cult in the 1980s. It features interviews with past members of the Rajneesh movement and archival footage of the actual events.
Watch "Wild Wild Country" on Netflix now.
"The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez"
Eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez died due to the abuse of his mother and father. The signs were all there, but somehow the reports slipped through the cracks. The court case brought into question not only the actions of Gabriel's family, but how the government systems failed to protect him.
Watch "The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez" on Netflix now.
Hear the inside stories of innocent people who were convicted of crimes based on questionable evidence.
Watch "Exhibit A" on Netflix now.
"Who Killed Malcolm X?"
Activist Abdur-Rahman Muhammad revisits the assassination of the slain civil rights leader in an effort to find who pulled the trigger in the ballroom that night. This short series takes a dive into how Malcolm X's relations with the Nation of Islam correlated with the events leading to his murder.
Watch "Who Killed Malcolm X?" on Netflix now.
A real-life murder-for-hire plot has an unusual twist in this Netflix true crime documentary miniseries. Set in the world of big-cat enthusiasts and breeders, the series narrates how a rivalry and a controversial animal park boss lead to some seriously dark twists and turns.
Watch "Tiger King" on Netflix now.
"Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel"
The vanishing of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel caused a stir across the nation. Unsatisfied with the official reasoning behind her disappearance, YouTubers and bloggers created their own conspiracies regarding how Lam disappeared and what other mysterious details of the hotel were left out of the investigation.
Watch "Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel" on Netflix now.
"Why Did You Kill Me?"
The fatal shooting of Crystal Theobald became a shelved case due to its relation to gang violence. However, her family found the truth by taking a deep dive into her MySpace account.
Watch "Why Did You Kill Me?" on Netflix now.
"Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story"
This documentary film revolves around the story of Cyntoia Brown, who was only 16 years old when she was sentenced to life in prison after killing Johnny Michael Allen in 2004.
Watch "Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story" on Netflix now.
"Surviving R. Kelly"
This docuseries reveals the stories of various young women who've experienced sexual abuse from world renowned R&B singer R. Kelly. More than 50 interviews along with never-before-seen footage shed light on the singer's troubled past.
Watch "Surviving R. Kelly" on Netflix now.
"Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich"
When various sexual assault victims come out, investigators dig deep into the troubled life of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Watch "Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich" on Netflix now.
"Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes"
A serial killer, Dennis Nilsen narrates his life and the crimes he committed through chilling audiotapes recorded from his jail cell.
Watch "Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes" on Netflix now.
"Carmel: Who Killed Maria Marta?"
This Netflix true-crime series follows the journey of investigators striving to solve the controversial murder of Maria Marta in Argentina.
Watch "Carmel: Who Killed Maria Marta?" on Netflix now.
"Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer"
In 1970s New York City, the "Torso Killer" preys on women to satisfy his gruesome fantasies while avoiding police.
Watch "Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer" on Netflix now.
"Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal"
As "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" began streaming on Netflix, the real-life trial of Alex Murdaugh was underway at the Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina. Murdaugh was found guilty in the murders of his wife and son on March 2, 2023, and the Netflix docuseries explores all the shocking events that led up to the very public unraveling of the prominent Southern family — and the deaths they left in their wake.
Watch "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" on Netflix now.
"The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker"
Caleb Lawrence McGillvary became a viral sensation in 2013 when he was interviewed by a local news outlet after intervening in a violent attack. But years later, McGillvary wasn't stopping a crime — he was being convicted of one: first-degree murder.
Watch "The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker" on Netflix now.