The 28 best true crime shows to watch right now

In 2023, there’s no shortage of true crime content.

From TV series to podcasts to feature-length documentaries, the obsession with true crime only continues to build, leading to a swarm of shows ranging from well-known serial killers to cults in the middle of the desert.

Amid all the many picks out there, we selected a few of the best true crime shows across streaming platforms, from Netflix to Hulu.

The picks range from documentaries like “Sex, Lies and the College Cult” to fictional renderings based on true events, like “Love and Death.” Sometimes, there are multiple versions of the same story, rendered in different formats: “Abducted in Plain Sight” was the documentary version of Jan Broberg’s story; “Friend of the Family” has actors playing the parts.

Find your next true crime binge watch below, ranging from stories of disappeared airplanes to crooked financiers to mysterious orphans. But beware: Since they’re based on true stories, they’re arguably scarier than the scariest horror movies.

‘MH370: The Plane That Disappeared’

What happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370? This Netflix series explores the flight that disappeared over the South China Sea in 2014. While it’s not exactly a crime, true crime addicts have been obsessed with the mystery of what happened to the plane and the 239 people on board. This series follows what happened in the hours and days after the flight went missing, and continues to search for answers as to what happened, even nine years later.

‘The Curious Case of Natalia Grace’

Surprisingly, the case of Natalia Grace wasn’t the inspiration behind the 2009 film “Orphan,” where a family adopts a young girl who is not who she says she is. “The Curious Case of Natalia Grace,” which you can stream on Max, follows the true story of Kristine and Michael Barnett, who in 2010 adopted Natalia, who they believed was a 6-year-old Ukrainian orphan with a rare bone growth disorder. Their happy family dynamic quickly changed with allegations came forward that their daughter was really an adult pretending to be a child.

‘American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing’

This Netflix series revisits the Boston Marathon bombing, with exclusive interviews and archive footage that sheds new light on the tragedy. Two brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, detonated two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, killing three people and injuring hundreds of others. After the FBI identified the brothers as suspects, an hourslong manhunt began throughout the Boston suburbs, ending in Tamerlan’s death and Dzhokhar’s arrest.

‘Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street’

Financier Bernie Madoff was behind one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in history, and this Netflix docuseries shows how he did it. Following Madoff’s rise to power, the $64 billion scheme and his eventual downfall, “Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street” shows how he was able to get away with the scheme for so long, despite the people around him seeing major red flags.

‘Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case’

More than 20 years after British tourist Lucie Blackman went missing in Tokyo, this Netflix documentary looks back at the investigation that gripped the U.K. and Japan. Blackman, a 21-year-old flight attendant, visited the Casablanca club in Tokyo’s Roppongi district, and was last seen leaving the club on July 1, 2000. When Blackman’s friend gets a call from a stranger saying Blackman joined a cult and would never be seen again, police began a monthslong search for her and the man they believed abducted her.

‘Abducted in Plain Sight’

True crime fanatics first became familiar with director Skye Borgman through her documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight.” The film shares the shocking story of Jan Broberg, a young girl in Idaho who was kidnapped by a family friend twice over several years in the 1970s, first when she was 12 and again at 14.

‘Love and Death’

Elizabeth Olsen stars in this Max series as Candy Montgomery, a Texas mother and churchgoer who stabbed the wife of a man she was having an affair with 41 times in 1980. “Love and Death” shows a dramatized version of the lead up to Montgomery’s affair with Allan Gore, played by Jesse Plemons, the killing of his wife Betty Gore and Montgomery’s murder trial.

‘Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed’

The murders of Jose and Kitty Menendez in Beverly Hills, California, in 1989 shocked Southern California, and the trial where the couple’s sons were eventually convicted of brutally murdering their parents captivated the nation. The Peacock series “Menendez + Menudo: Boys Betrayed” recaps the brothers’ two trials, and features new allegations from a member of the Puerto Rican boy band Menudo, which could cast doubt to the brothers’ murder convictions and give them evidence to appeal for a new trial.

‘Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal’

This three-episode Netflix series focuses on the downfall of Alex Murdaugh, a former lawyer who was convicted of killing his wife and youngest son earlier this year. His conviction capped his stunning fall from grace as a respected attorney following in the footsteps of several generations of lawyers in South Carolina’s lowcountry region. The series also investigates mysterious deaths with ties to the family, including their housekeeper, and a deadly boating accident involving Murdaugh’s youngest son Paul.

‘Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’

Ryan Murphy’s dramatized retelling of the life of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was a massive hit on Netflix when it was released in October, reaching 1 billion view hours in its first 60 days, making it only one of four series to achieve the record, according to the streaming platform. The success didn’t come without some backlash from the families of Dahmer’s victims, some of whom said the show never reached out to them and and criticized the show for humanizing Dahmer’s slayings and motives.

‘A Friend of the Family’

Keeping in line with the new trend of dramatizing true crime documentaries, “A Friend of the Family” stars Jake Lacy, Colin Hanks, Anna Paquin, McKenna Grace and more in a retelling of the story behind “Abducted in Plain Sight.” While the documentary focuses on the shocking nature of a family friend kidnapping a 13-year-old girl twice, this Peacock series is more of a slow burn look at how Robert Berchtold was able to deceive and abuse the entire Broberg family.

‘The Staircase’

Novelist Michael Peterson called 911 to report his wife had fallen down the stairs of their North Carolina home and died in 2001, sending off a years-long investigation and legal battle regarding how Kathleen Peterson died — and if he killed her. This French produced documentary available on Netflix explores the theories of how she died, and follows Peterson’s trial, conviction and later appeal that leads him to walk free.

‘The Staircase’

Yes, you read that right — there’s two true crime shows called “The Staircase.” In addition to the documentary on Netflix, Max also created a dramatized version of the story starring Colin Firth and Toni Collette.

‘Sins of Our Mother’

Another Skye Borgman documentary series, “Sins of Our Mother,” follows the case of Lori Vallow, who was convicted of killing two of her children after being sucked into what her family called the world of doomsday beliefs. The Netflix series features exclusive interviews with Vallow’s oldest son, Colby Ryan, who provides insight into the family’s back story.

“Sex, Lies and the College Cult”

This Peacock series investigates Larry Ray, a man who moved into his daughter’s college dorm room at Sarah Lawrence University and started an abusive sex cult. Ray was later convicted of extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor and money laundering charges in 2022.

‘The Dropout’

Amanda Seyfried stars in Hulu’s dramatized series that recounts the rise and fall of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes was later convicted of defrauding investors of her biotechnology company and sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.

‘Who Killed Robert Wone?’

Even the most tuned in true crime fans may not have heard of the case of Robert Wone. Wone, a lawyer, was killed while spending the night at a friend’s house in Washington, D.C. in 2006, and there were inconsistencies with the crime scene and what witnesses told authorities. No one has been charged in his murder, though the three men home at the time of his death were charged, and later acquitted of, obstruction of justice and conspiracy counts.

‘Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer’

This Netflix documentary series investigates Richard Ramirez, one of the most vicious serial killers in the U.S. Ramirez tormented the Los Angeles area in the 1980s, and was later convicted of 13 counts of murder and numerous other charges for his role in his attacks across California.

‘The Tinder Swindler’

“The Tinder Swindler” tells the story of three women who were duped by a man they met on the dating app Tinder. The women accused Simon Leviev of posing as a wealthy, jet-setting diamond mogul who was allegedly able to con the women out of millions of dollars. In the documentary, the women plan payback, leading to Leviev’s arrest (though he was released just five months into his Israeli prison sentence for fraud). Leviev told Inside Edition that he is a “legit businessman.”

‘This Is a Robbery’

“This is a Robbery” investigates an art heist from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. At least one thief stole 13 works of art, including works from Degas, Vermeer and Manet, from the museum in 1990, a crime that is still unsolved. The museum is still offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the artworks, if you happen to know something (or think of something after watching the doc).

‘Murder Among the Mormons’

In 1985, a trio of bombings left two people dead in Salt Lake City and shocked the Mormon community when a trove of early Mormon letters and diaries were found in the vehicle of a third bombing victim. This Netflix series goes deep on the world of forged religious documents to reveal who was behind the bombings, and constantly keeps you guessing.

‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’

This series available to stream on Max focuses on the case of the Golden State Killer, who murdered 10 people and raped dozens more, and how true crime author Michelle McNamara unmasked the man behind the slayings.

‘Don’t F**k With Cats’

In one of the more bizarre true crime offerings on this list, “Don’t F**k with Cats” tells the story of how a group of strangers came together to find a man who filmed himself killing two kittens and posted the video online. The amateur online sleuths spark an international manhunt for the killer with twists that get weirder and weirder.

‘The Vow’

HBO’s “The Vow” follows members who joined NXIVM, a cult masquerading as a self-improvement group. NXIVM’s leader Keith Raniere was convicted of sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy and other charges, and explain the emotional toll their involvement with the group had on their lives. For another dive, “Seduced” on Starz follows India Oxenberg’s story more intimately, as her mother fights to free her from the cult’s ideological grip.

‘Wild Wild Country’

Obsessed with cult documentaries? You are not alone. “Wild Wild Country” follows Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the leader of a movement that started in India and led to him building a “utopian” society in the middle of Oregon. But peace doesn’t last for long, as Oregon locals clash with the religious group’s followers, leading to a national scandal.

‘The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’

Dramatizing one of the most famous trials of the modern era, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” provides a look at the murder trial where O.J. Simpson was accused of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The series stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, John Travolta and more.

‘Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel’

This Netflix series investigates a series of mysterious deaths the Cecil Hotel, which has been called Los Angeles’ deadliest hotel (it at one point housed serial killer Richard Ramirez). One of the most famous stories at the Cecil Hotel is the disappearance of college student Eliza Lam, who was staying at the hotel while on vacation and seen on surveillance footage making strange movements in the hotel’s elevator before she vanished. Lam’s body was later found in the water tower on the roof of the building, in a mystery that is still unsolved.

‘Sophie: A Murder in West Cork’

In 1996, the murder of French television producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier shocked Ireland and remains one of the country’s most famous murder cases. This Netflix series features interviews with residents of West Cork, Ireland, and focuses on different theories and motives of who could have committed the crime.

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