Best True Crime Documentaries on Netflix: May 2020

Melissa Taylor What's on Netflix Avatar

best true crime on Netflix

Netflix’s next big true crime series, Trial By Media, is set to drop on Monday 11 May 2020. Executive produced by George Clooney, the six-part documentary looks at the impact that media coverage has on legal proceedings. Can’t wait until Monday? Here are our picks of the best true crime on Netflix. 

Whether you like serial killers, courtroom dramas, or unsolved mysteries, we’ve got something for everyone. Our true crime picks span a range of genres: documentaries, docu-series, dramas, and movies. The only rule is that they’ve all been inspired by a true crime.

As you can see from the wealth of little red Ns, many of these true crimes are Netflix Original titles. This savvy streaming giant knows what its subscribers want.

Get ready to be shocked, spooked, grossed-out, and maybe a little confused with our favorite true crime on Netflix.

Making A Murderer (2015 & 2018) N

Series: 2
Episodes: 20

If you’re a true crime fan with a Netflix subscription, you’ve probably already seen Making a Murderer. But, it just felt wrong not to mention it.

This was one of the first-ever Netflix Originals, and certainly its first true crime title. A wave of true crime docuseries has followed, but none have lived up to the hype of Making A Murder. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, you can stop reading now. Prepare to have your mind blown.

Warning: don’t tell anyone you’re watching it, and don’t Google it. The story has developed since the show first aired, with more and more details coming to light. You can worry about that later; for now, just watch.

Making A Murderer is available to stream worldwide.

Cold Case Files (2017)

Series: 1
Episodes: 10

cold case files image

Netflix carries the 2017 reboot of the 90s/00s classic TV show, Cold Case Files. Each of the ten episodes covers a long-unsolved murder, exploring them through the light of new evidence, criminal psychology, or advances in DNA technology.

Cold Case Files is available to stream in the USA, UK, and Australia. True crime fans in the UK and Canada can also watch classic episodes of Cold Case Files on Netflix.

Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019) N

Series: 1
Episodes: 4

This chilling series was released on 24th January 2019: the 30th anniversary of Ted Bundy’s execution. True crime fans (some might say, weirdos) will know that Ted Bundy was one of the most prolific American serial killers. He was also friendly, handsome, and likeable: Bundy received hundreds of love letters while in prison, and still has a dedicated following of female fans today.

The Ted Bundy Tapes features interviews with people who knew Ted Bundy, women who narrowly escaped his clothes, and archive footage of Bundy himself.

If you like Mindhunters, this is the real deal.

The Staircase (2018) N

Series: 1
Episodes: 14

In December 2001, Michael Peterson calls 911. The police and ambulance arrive to find his wife, Kathleen, dead at the bottom of a staircase in a huge pool of blood. Did he do it?

The Staircase has an interesting history. Filming for this incredibly intimate series started very shortly after Michael’s indictment. The first eight episodes were broadcast by Canal+ in 2004, followed by two more episodes in 2013. Netflix then got involved, with a further three episodes in 2018.

The accused, Michael Peterson, is very heavily involved in the series throughout. This raises the question, is it possible for the filmmakers to be objective?

The Staircase is available worldwide.

The Innocence Files (2020) N

Series: 1
Episodes: 9

The Innocence Files is a hard-hitting series exploring wrongful convictions, and the impact they have on innocent lives. This one will have you questioning whether we can really trust those who are meant to keep us safe.

The Innocence Files is available worldwide.

Dream/Killer (2015) 

Documentary Movie
Runtime: 1h 45min

If you’ve seen the second series of Making A Murderer, you probably remember Stephen Avery’s eccentric attorney, Kathleen Zellner. She’s made a career for herself depending people who’ve been wrongfully convicted of crimes, and that’s exactly what she does in Dream/Killer.

In 2005, Ryan Ferguson was convicted for murdering journalist, Kent Heitholt after a night of heavy partying. Ferguson has no recollection of the night in question, but he insisted he had nothing to do with the crime. Watch it, and make your own decision.

Available worldwide.

American Crime Story (2016 & 2018) 

Drama Series
Series: 2
Episodes: 19

Before Ryan Murphy signed his exclusive Netflix content deal, he produced these true crime epics for FX. Murphy is well-known for his anthology series American Horror Story, and this show features a similar format. Each series focuses on a high-profile crime that shocked the world.

Series one follows the murder trial of OJ Simpson. As well as being a gripping piece of TV, it sensitively explores the impact race and celebrity can have on legal proceedings. Expect lots of subtle courtroom drama, and David Schwimmer as your new favorite Kardashian.

Series two covers the murder of fashion icon, Gianni Versace. The show features one of Ryan Murphy’s darlings, Darren Criss (Glee, Hollywood) as murderer Andrew Cunanan. But, it’s Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace who steals the show.

Both series are available to watch on Netflix worldwide.

Amanda Knox (2016) N

Documentary Movie
Runtime: 1h 32min

Amanda Knox was twice convicted and acquitted for the murder of her housemate, Meredith Kercher. In this intimate documentary, Knox and her family talk candidly about the case, their interpretation of events, and the impact it has had on their lives. It’s both refreshing and eery to hear firsthand from a woman who has been so demonised by the media.

Available worldwide.

Casting Jonbenet (2017)

Documentary Movie
Runtime: 1h 20min

This is a true crime documentary with a twist. Rather than focusing on the actual murder of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, the documentary explores how the case has become a point of obsession in pop culture.

The movie features dozens of interviews with actors auditioning for roles in reenactments of the crime. There’s something very uncanny about seeing little girls dressed as child beauty queens talking about murder.

Casting JonBenet is available worldwide.

Sour Grapes (2016)

Documentary Movie
Runtime: 1h 25min

If you’re after some true crime that’s a little less sinister, this one’s for you. Sour Grapes takes a deep dive into the world of wine collecting. When you have people who will spend thousands of dollars on vintage wine, you’ll inevitably get others who will exploit that. I bet you didn’t even know wine fraud was a thing? Best enjoyed with a glass of your favorite something.

Available worldwide.

Don’t F*ck With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer (2019) N

Documentary Series
Series: 1
Episodes: 3

This gripping documentary series gets more WTF as it progresses. Narrated by the very engaging Deanna Thompson, the series follows her involvement in an online kind-of-vigilante group that attempts to bust perpetrators of animal cruelty. If you liked Catfish, you will love this.

Don’t F*ck With Cats is available worldwide.

What’s your top true crime show on Netflix? If we’ve left off your favorite, let us know in the comments below!

Written by

Melissa is a freelance writer from Norwich. She has over seven years' experience running company blogs, social media, and PR campaigns. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of East Anglia, and studied journalism with the NCTJ. In her free time, Melissa runs her own book club and tells people she's writing a novel. Usually, she's just watching period dramas on Netflix.