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50 great true crime docuseries

  • 50 great true crime docuseries

    No genre exemplifies the saying "truth is stranger than fiction" than the true crime genre. Most true crime stories are too vast to tell in just a two-and-a-half-hour documentary, and the episodic format of docuseries is perfect for true crime. It may seem like the docuseries genre is a recent phenomenon, spearheaded by Netflix's "Making a Murderer," but docuseries have been around for a while. They just may not have had that name. True crime docuseries have been thriving in the U.S. since the 1980s, which Stacker's list reflects.

    True crime has been a genre where audiences and filmmakers can question the virality of the criminal justice system and police. It's a genre where mysteries can go unsolved, but make us ask more questions of our daily life than we had before. It's a great way to make normal people aware of social justice issues they may never experience in their own life. In some cases, true crime docuseries can help find breaks in cases and solve mysteries many thought were cold. Not every true crime docuseries handles victims and the accused in a respectful way, but knowing what is out there could help better the genre, as has happened in the past decade. More shows consider disenfranchised victims, and the possibility that someone arrested could be innocent, than ever before.

    It may seem hard to find the best true crime docuseries from the influx of cheesy, sensational ones, but Stacker manually curated a list of 50 great true crime documentary series for you. All entries on this list are considered either TV series or miniseries, have at least 1,000 user votes on IMDb, and use a combination of real-life interviews and footage of the crime/investigation (as opposed to getting actors to portray the main characters). The docuseries on this list were ranked by IMDb user ratings as of June 5, 2020, and ties are broken by user votes. Whether you're looking for something that frightens you or enlightens you, this list has something from every facet of true crime.

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  • #50. How to Fix a Drug Scandal

    - IMDb user rating: 6.9
    - First released in: 2020

    In 2013, a former crime lab chemist was tried for tampering evidence, but her abuse of power extended far beyond that. She used the drugs in her evidence lab and affected many cases with her negligence. Each episode showcases a specific case with which she was involved, and highlights larger issues within the criminal justice system.

  • #49. Murder Mountain

    - IMDb user rating: 6.9
    - First released in: 2018

    In a northern California town, a man turns up missing on a secluded weed farm. People believe he's been murdered, and his occupation as a marijuana grower may be the motive. As the show goes through the investigation of his murder, it also shines a light on the marijuana industry, both legal and illegal.

  • #48. Amanda Knox

    - IMDb user rating: 6.9
    - First released in: 2016

    Amanda Knox became an international sensation when she was convicted of killing her roommate while living in Italy. Her steamy relationship with her boyfriend and several other aspects of her life made her culpable in the media's eyes. This miniseries takes you through the investigation and aftermath from Amanda's perspective, with interviews with her, her ex-boyfriend, and the Italian prosecutor that put her away for four years.

  • #47. Wormwood

    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - First released in: 2017

    Legendary documentary filmmaker Errol Morris directs this series about the controversial death of Frank Olson, a government worker who had been unknowingly drugged with LSD by the CIA. While focusing on this one case, the show uncovers what the government can do to its own citizens, and the fatal consequences that come with that.

  • #46. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - First released in: 2020

    Based on the book by James Patterson, this miniseries retells what we know about the conviction of Jeffrey Epstein as a sex offender. Brave survivors of his abuse and vast sex trafficking business recount their experiences before Epstein was arrested. It's well-known that not everything about his crimes is out in the open, but this is a great start to learn about his crimes and lead you down conspiracy theory rabbit holes.

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  • #45. Trial by Media

    - IMDb user rating: 7.2
    - First released in: 2020

    In this six-part series, how the media can shape public perception of a defendant comes under fire. High-profile cases, especially murder cases, make for great television, but they can persecute people before they get a fair trial. This great series looks at several cases that may have been tainted by media coverage, and tries to find the truth.

  • #44. Lorena

    - IMDb user rating: 7.2
    - First released in: 2019

    Lorena Bobbitt became a household name when she assaulted her husband after he raped her and abused her for years. When she was originally tried in court, the media made fun of her and treated her horribly. With a retrospective look at her experience, Lorena and other people involved examine how she was treated and what could've been done better.


  • #43. America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back

    - IMDb user rating: 7.2
    - First released in: 1988

    This is one of the most notorious true crimes series of all time, running for a whopping 25 seasons. John Walsh hosts the show about the FBI Most Wanted lists, which has led to finding several fugitives and convictions in the show's history. If you're looking for classic true crime, this is a great place to start.

  • #42. Dope

    - IMDb user rating: 7.3
    - First released in: 2017

    This series gives audiences an in-depth look at the drug industry in America. Each episode focuses on a different place and how it deals with the policing of drugs and how people use them.

  • #41. McMillions

    - IMDb user rating: 7.3
    - First released in: 2020

    If you ever played McDonald's Monopoly game before 2001, you were up against an elaborate con that went back to 1989. "McMillions" shows how this con played out and went undetected for years. This story is as unbelievable as it sounds, but it's all true and makes for an exciting series.

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