30 Documentaries to Watch After You Finish "The Staircase"

If you're a true-crime fan, chances are you're making plans to watch HBO Max's "The Staircase." The real-life-inspired series revisits the tragic events behind Kathleen Peterson's death and the subsequent murder trial of her husband, Michael Peterson. The true story was the subject of a 2004 French documentary directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade before HBO Max picked up the story for its adaptation.

Like "The Staircase," there are many true-crime stories that have been brought to the small screen. This year alone, Netflix has released several documentaries and real-life adaptations such as "Inventing Anna," "The Tinder Swindler," "Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives," and "Conversations With a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes." Hulu has also hopped on the true-crime trend with series like "The Dropout" and "The Girl From Plainville."

They're all intriguing, to say the least, but "The Staircase" is a complex story that leaves room for various theories on the unsolved murder of Kathleen, as well as the bizarre death of Elizabeth Ratliff. The new HBO Max series is a must watch if you're especially curious about the events that transpired with the Petersons. But if that's not enough to satisfy your true-crime fix, here are 30 documentaries to add to your viewing list.

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"Amanda Knox" (2016)

Another film that had everyone talking, the story of Amanda Knox is another must see with great potential for a debate. Take in all the facts surrounding the case of this American exchange student who was convicted and later acquitted for the murder of a fellow student in Italy.

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"Making a Murderer" (2015)

When it premiered on Netflix in December of 2015, it seemed like all anyone could talk about was their stance on Steven Avery and whether he was innocent or guilty. If you love a good debate about murder, you have to check out this 10-episode series following a man from Manitowoc County, WI, who served 18 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, only to be fully exonerated in 2003 . . . and arrested on charges of murder just two years later.

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"The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst" (2015)

In this gripping HBO documentary miniseries, director Andrew Jarecki explores the details surrounding real estate heir Robert Durst and the three murders he is accused of committing in three different states. The six-episode series is sure to pull you in, right up to the finale wherein Durst unknowingly commits his chilling confession to tape.

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"The Imposter" (2012)

When a blue-eyed, blonde-haired Texas boy who went missing at the age of 13 resurfaces three years later, his family's initial relief and excitement is soon replaced with doubt and suspicion. For a documentary with crazy turns and twists, you have to watch the story of imposter Frédéric Bourdin.

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"Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist" (2018)

This docuseries examines the high-profile case of the murder of Brian Wells, also known as the "collar bomb" or "pizza bomber" case. Another story that leaves us with more questions than it does answers, "Evil Genius" investigates a 2003 bank robbery that ends in a detonated bomb.

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"Cropsey" (2009)

Growing up in Staten Island, kids were warned to be good through tales of a monster named Cropsey, but in the 1970s, this terrifying urban legend became a reality. Once children who feared the boogeyman of New York, directors Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman now delve into the crimes of Andre Rand, a homicidal criminal who really did hunt children.

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"The Central Park Five" (2012)

This chilling documentary about the violent attack on a female jogger in New York City's Central Park in 1989 explores not only a horrendous crime but the role the media and racial discrimination played in the unjust and wrongful conviction of five Black and Latino teenagers.

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"Into the Abyss" (2011)

An intense documentary that is sure to get its viewers thinking about their stance on the death penalty, "Into the Abyss" looks at two teenagers who commit a triple homicide just to steal a car and take it on a joyride. When you settle in to watch, get ready to examine the harsh reality of the death sentence.

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"The Jeffrey Dahmer Files" (2012)

Featuring interviews of the lead detective, the medical examiner assigned to the case, and Jeffrey Dahmer's next-door neighbor, this film dives into the creepy details of Dahmer's arrest and 957-year prison sentence for the murder of 17 boys and men.

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"The Cheshire Murders" (2003)

On July 23, 2007, Dr. William Petit was severely injured during a home invasion in which his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and their two daughters were brutally attacked and murdered. Follow this case from the arrest of the intruders just moments after feeling the home to the terrifying details that shook their small town in this gripping HBO documentary.

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"Who Took Johnny" (2014)

If you loved the unsolved mystery factor of "The Staircase," you'll find another desperate search for the truth in "Who Took Johnny," the devastating and infamous case of Johnny Gosch, the first missing child to appear on a milk carton. In 30 years, this case has not been solved, but there have been countless clues, claims, and revelations about what happened to Johnny.

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"The Keepers" (2017)

If you like a crime with a long list of theories, "The Keepers" is another docuseries that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It's a seven-episode series that explores the unsolved murder of the nun Sister Cathy Cesnik. Several suspects are presented, but the answer to who killed Sister Cathy remains, and her killer is still free.

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"Casting JonBenet" (2017)

Almost everyone has heard the tragic and devastating case of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey, but still no one knows who's responsible for her murder. Directed by Kitty Green, this film is a new take on the 22-year-old case in which JonBenét's own parents and brother are among the suspects.

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"The Last Defense" (2018)

As a true-crime junkie, there's an extra thrill in being the first of your friends to see the latest true-crime documentary, which is why you must check out this series that was just released on June 12. Produced by Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, "The Last Defense" examines the death-row cases of Darlie Routier and Julius Jones.

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"Murder on a Sunday Morning" (2001)

Another fascinating true-crime documentary directed by the one and only Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, this Academy Award-winning film looks at the murder of a Jacksonville, FL, tourist, her husband's positive identification of the murderer, and a 15-year-old boy's fight to defend his innocence.

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"The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" (2016)

FX's scripted series looks at the infamous O.J. Simpson murder case. The miniseries features insanely talented cast including Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer, and John Travolta. While it's not a doc, it's definitely worth a watch.

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"Dead Asleep" (2021)

From the award-winning director of "Abducted in Plain Sight" comes the true story of a case of sleepwalking that turned into a murder. The true-crime film recalls Randy Herman Jr.'s sleepwalking defense as his reason for brutally stabbing his roommate, Brooke Preston, 25 times.

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"Serial Killers: John Wayne Gacy" (1999)

A film that validates the opinion of anyone who is afraid of clowns, this documentary exposes the monster that was John Wayne Gacy, who was executed in 1994 for the murder of at least 33 teenage boys and young men.

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"Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez" (2020)

Through testimonies from friends, insiders, and fellow football players, the three-part Netflix docuseries examines how Aaron Hernandez went from being an NFL star to a convicted killer.

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"An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story" (2013)

In this emotional documentary, the tragic story of the Morton family unfolds, in which Christine Morton is viciously attacked and murdered in front of her 3-year-old son. Despite being at work during the time of the murder, her husband, Michael, is wrongly convicted and spends 25 years in jail until an unsettling discovery is made about the withholding of crucial evidence.

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"The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer" (1992)

Devoted husband, loving father, and . . . merciless killer? Now condemned to a sentence of life imprisonment, Richard Kuklinski sits down for an interview to talk about his insane list of crimes, including the murder of more than 100 people.

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"The House of Suh" (2010)

When Andrew Suh shot and killed his older sister's fiancé of eight years at her request, those closest to him were shocked and couldn't believe why someone with such a promising future would commit such a horrible crime. In this fascinating documentary, director Iris Shim explores the tragic family trauma and cultural pressures that led to this event.

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"The Confession Killer" (2019)

In the early '80s, Henry Lee Lucas — known as America's most prolific serial killer — confessed to hundreds of murders and brought closure to a slew of unsolved murder cases. But Netflix's five-part miniseries digs into a much more complex story that shows how Lucas became entangled in a flawed justice system.

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"Ted Bundy: The Mind of a Killer " (2000)

One of the most notorious serial killers of all time and the one who taught us to NEVER go off with a stranger (no matter how good looking or nice they are). While there is countless coverage of the extremely evil Ted Bundy, this film comes highly recommended.

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"One Minute to Nine" (2007)

An Oregon woman and her oldest son are convicted of manslaughter for the murder of her husband, a crime that occurred after suffering almost 20 years of domestic abuse. Wendy is sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Randy, her son, is sentenced to 75 months. This tragic documentary explores their story and asks the question, what is the price of freedom?

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"The Thin Blue Line" (1988)

This award-winning documentary from the '80s explores the wrongful arrest and conviction of Randall Adams, sentenced to life in prison for murdering a police officer. Dubbed "the first movie mystery to actually solve a murder," filmmaker Errol Morris knew what he was doing when he made this incredibly influential film.

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"The Menendez Murders: Erik Tells All" (2017)

Erik Menendez, of the convicted killer Menendez Brothers, gives his most in-depth interview to date in the five-part A&E limited series. The docuseries re-examines one of the most tragic true-crime tales through rare footage, never-before-seen photos, and new interviews with prosecutors, law enforcement, friends, family, and medical experts.

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"American Murder: The Family Next Door" (2020)

The Netflix film offers a gripping examination of the disappearance of Shanann Watts and her two young daughters as well as the tragic events that followed.

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"Tabloid" (2010)

The story of a former beauty queen with a self-reported IQ of 168 and an all-American Mormon missionary in England in the '70s. Each has a very different story of how they spent three days together in an English cottage, which this film explores along with the sensationalism of the crime through the media.

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"H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer" (2004)

Last but not least, the insanely creepy story of America's first known serial killer and the owner of his very own freaking "Murder Castle." If you think you can handle it, check out director John Borowski's documentary on Holmes's horrifying 1890s crimes.