Top 10 Detective Series on Netflix for Crime Lovers

Top 10 Detective Series on Netflix for Crime Lovers
Image credit: BBC, AMC, ITV, Netflix, Sky Showcase, USA Network

These shows (hopefully) will keep you on the edge of your seat.

1. Sherlock

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Sherlock, with its distinct modern twist on Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective, sits at the zenith of must-watch detective series on Netflix. The show's smart, intricate plots and quick-witted dialogue have captivated audiences since its debut in 2010. Benedict Cumberbatch's outstanding portrayal of the genius but socially awkward Sherlock Holmes, and Martin Freeman's resilient and grounded Dr. Watson, breathe fresh life into these legendary characters.

Set against the backdrop of contemporary London, the show marries classic detective work with modern technology, resulting in a riveting blend of mystery, action, and drama. Sherlock is undeniably a modern classic, having carved out its own unique space in the detective genre.

2. Mindhunter

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Diving into the chilling depths of criminal psychology, Mindhunter is a psychological thriller that focuses less on the crimes themselves and more on understanding the minds that perpetrate them. The series follows FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench, along with psychologist Wendy Carr, as they interview imprisoned serial killers to comprehend their motivations. This pioneering work forms the basis for what we now know as criminal profiling.

Set in the late 1970s, the series does a fantastic job of exploring the early days of a new field of criminology while delving into the psyches of some of the most notorious real-life murderers. Each episode is a grim yet fascinating journey into the abyss, making Mindhunter a must-watch for those who prefer their detective stories served with a side of psychological intrigue.

3. Broadchurch

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For fans of British detective dramas, Broadchurch is an absolute treat. Set in a close-knit seaside town, the series kicks off with the murder of a local boy, sending shockwaves through the community.

Detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) are tasked with unmasking the killer, digging up the town's secrets along the way. Broadchurch excels at depicting the rippling effects of a single crime on a small community. Its complex characters, nuanced performances (especially from Tennant and Colman), and the slow-burn unraveling of the mystery make it a compelling watch from start to finish.

4. Breaking Bad

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While not a traditional detective series, Breaking Bad deserves a place on this list due to its intricate, crime-centric narrative. This critically acclaimed series follows the transformation of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine manufacturing drug dealer, and his former student, Jesse Pinkman.

Although the story is told primarily from the perspective of the criminals, the relentless pursuit by law enforcement, especially by DEA agent Hank Schrader, gives it a distinct cat and mouse feel. Breaking Bad is renowned for its character development, narrative structure, and moral consequences, creating a riveting exploration of the lengths one man will go to secure his family's financial future.

5. The Sinner

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For those who enjoy unraveling the why more than the who in their crime dramas, The Sinner is a perfect fit. This anthology series, each season explores a different crime, focusing on understanding the psychological motivations behind the criminal act.

Jessica Biel, Bill Pullman, and Carrie Coon deliver unforgettable performances in a series that blurs the lines between victim and perpetrator. The Sinner provides a fascinating exploration of trauma, memory, and the human capacity for violence, often delivering more psychological horror than traditional crime-solving.

6. Unbelievable

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Based on true events, Unbelievable is a potent exploration of the criminal justice system's mishandling of sexual assault cases. The series begins with a teenager reporting her rape, only to be accused of lying by the very detectives who were supposed to help her.

Simultaneously, it follows two other detectives in a different state, working tirelessly to solve a series of sexual assaults that seem to be connected. Unbelievable is an excellent piece of crime drama, not just for its gripping narrative, but for its profound commentary on the systemic flaws in handling sexual assault cases.

7. Money Heist (La Casa de Papel)

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A Spanish heist crime drama series, Money Heist, quickly garnered an international fan base thanks to its clever plot twists, complex characters, and heart-stopping suspense. The show follows a mysterious man known as The Professor who recruits eight criminals to carry out an ambitious plan to rob the Royal Mint of Spain.

What ensues is a tense and gripping stand-off with the police, with loyalties tested and identities revealed. Money Heist isn't just about crime; it's also about resistance, love, and the complexities of human nature, set against the backdrop of a thrilling heist.

8. The Five

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This British crime drama series is based on a novel by best-selling author Harlan Coben. The Five follows a group of friends haunted by the disappearance of their friend's younger brother years ago. When his DNA turns up at a murder scene, they are pulled back into the mystery, forced to revisit their past, and uncover secrets they've kept buried for years.

9. Marcella

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This British detective series features a deeply flawed and compelling lead character. Marcella Backland, played by Anna Friel, is a former London detective who returns to work to investigate an open case from 11 years ago involving an unidentified serial killer who appears to have become active again.

Marcella battles with her own personal issues, including blackouts and a failing marriage, as she hunts for the killer. With its unpredictable narrative, complex protagonist, and unflinching look at human frailty, Marcella provides a raw, intense viewing experience that sets it apart from more conventional crime dramas.

10. Happy Valley

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Don't let the title fool you – Happy Valley is anything but cheery. This British crime drama series is set in West Yorkshire and follows Sergeant Catherine Cawood, portrayed by Sarah Lancashire, as she comes face-to-face with the man she believes drove her daughter to suicide.

It's a gritty, realistic depiction of community policing in a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business. Despite its bleak themes, there's a lot of heart in Happy Valley, largely due to Cawood's character – a strong, determined woman who's seen the worst life has to offer but still fights for justice.