The Best "Based On A True Story" Movies From Lifetime 

Ranker TV
Updated November 5, 2019 5.5k votes 918 voters 56k views 73 items

List Rules Vote up the best Lifetime movies that were based on real events.

Lifetime has a built a brand out of ripped-from-the-headlines, made-for-TV drama - but it’s not just for middle-aged, bored divorcees like the stereotype. The network is absolutely loaded with action-packed retellings of true crime that deal with hyper-gritty subjects. In fact, the list of Lifetime originals based on true stories might even be more impressive than every season of Law & Order: SVU combined.

It’s true that most of the Lifetime movies that really happened focus on mothers, daughters and the struggles they’ve overcome, but sometimes it’s straight-up serial killers like The Happy Face Killer and Blue-Eyed Butcher. Other times, it’s a heartwarming coming-of-age triumph like the ultimate Lifetime classic Gracie’s Choice.

These Lifetime movies based on true events are the best of the best and the worst of the worst. Vote for your favorites to pick an ultimate, action-packed, drama-filled winner.

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list ordered by
The Face on the Milk Car... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best
The Face on the Milk Carton Jill Clayburgh, Sharon Lawrence, Kellie Martin

Released: 1995

A teenage girl (Kellie Martin) sees a photograph of herself one day in the school cafeteria - on a Missing Persons column on the side of a milk carton. But her beloved parents would never kidnap anyone and there's a deeper mystery ahead.

Cleveland Abduction is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best
Cleveland Abduction Taryn Manning, Raymond Cruz, Katie Sarife

Released: 2015

Directed by: Alex Kalymnios

A single mother who becomes the first victim of kidnapper Ariel Castro (Raymond Cruz) finds herself trapped in his home for 11 years, where she eventually becomes a friend and sister to two other women who are taken captive by Castro.

I Am Elizabeth Smart is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best
I Am Elizabeth Smart Elizabeth Smart, Alana Boden, Skeet Ulrich

Released: 2017

Police launch a high-profile investigation after a teenager (Alana Boden) is abducted from her bedroom in Salt Lake City.

No One Would Tell is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best
No One Would Tell Shannen Doherty, Mira Sorvino, Matreya Scarrwener

Released: 2018

Based on a true story and a remake of the 1996 film of the same name.  A shy high school student's seemingly perfect relationship with a popular jock quickly turns abusive and dangerous.

Fifteen and Pregnant is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best
Kirsten Dunst, Katee Sackhoff, Park Overall

Released: 1998

Directed by: Sam Pillsbury

Based on a true story, 15 year old Tina Spangler discovers she is pregnant. Her choices are abortion, adoption, or a lonely, exhausting life as a single parent.

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Gracie's Choice is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best
Gracie's Choice Kristen Bell, Diane Ladd, Shedrack Anderson III

Released: 2004

A teenage girl tries to raise her three half-brothers and one half-sister on her own after their drug-addicted mother is sent to jail.

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Mercedes Ruehl, Avan Jogia, Nolan Gerard Funk

Released: 2006

Directed by: Agnieszka Holland

The true story of Gwen Araujo, a young trans woman who was brutally slain by four men in 2002.

Jodi Arias: Dirty Little... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best
Tania Raymonde, David Zayas, Jesse Lee Soffer


Based on the disturbing trial that gripped the nation, this Lifetime Original Movie tells the story of a seductive, aspiring photographer found guilty of ending the life of her former lover.

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Abducted: The Carlina White Story Sherri Shepherd, Keke Palmer, Roger Cross

Released: 2012

Directed by: Vondie Curtis-Hall

A baby abducted at birth and raised by the woman who took her, eventually discovers she is a missing child, reconnects with her birth parents, and struggles with choosing between her two identities.

Homeless to Harvard: The... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best
Ellen Page, Thora Birch, Kelly Lynch

Released: 2003

Directed by: Peter Levin

Based on a true story. Liz Murray is a young girl who is taken care of by her loving, but drug-addicted parents. Liz becomes homeless at 15 and after a tragedy comes upon her, she begins her work to finish high school.

Girl Fight is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best
Girl Fight Anne Heche, Jodelle Ferland, James Tupper

Released: 2011

Directed by: Stephen Gyllenhaal

A video of an assault on a teenager surfaces on the Internet.

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Ashley Benson, Tatum O'Neal, Jenna Dewan

Released: 2008

Directed by: Tom McLoughlin

A teacher is harassed by a group of snotty, popular cheerleaders who think they can get away with anything. However, the teacher has no intention of taking their rude behavior.

The Capture of the Green... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best
James Marsters, Sharon Lawrence, James Russo

Directed by: Norma Bailey

A pair of girls seeking adventure beyond the their Western Washington trailer park encounter the area's most ruthless serial killer.

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Lisa Edelstein, Sara Paxton, Annie Wersching

Released: 2012

Directed by: Stephen T. Kay

Texas beauty Susan Wright appeared to have a fairytale life with an adoring husband, Jeff, two beautiful kids, and close family and friends. But in 2003, six years into their marriage, the fairy tale crumbles when Jeff is found dead and buried in the backyard of their suburban home. 

The Brittany Murphy Stor... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best
The Brittany Murphy Story Amanda Fuller, Sherilyn Fenn, Eric Petersen

Released: 2014

Directed by: Joe Menendez

A chronicle of Brittany Murphy's rise to fame in the 1990s, her struggles with self-esteem, and her tragic early death.

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Thora Birch, Nancy Travis, Camryn Manheim

Released: 2010

Directed by: Rosemary Rodriguez

Inspired by the true story of teenagers at Gloucester High School in Massachusets who agreed to get pregnant at the same time.

Girl in the Bunker is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best
Girl in the Bunker Julia Lalonde, Henry Thomas, Moira Kelly

Released: 2018

A teenage girl is abducted and held in a forest in an underground bunker by a sexual predator.

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Murder in the Hamptons Poppy Montgomery, Diego Klattenhoff, Shawn Christian

Released: 2005

Directed by: Jerry Ciccoritti

When multi-millionaire Ted Ammon is found bludgeoned to death at his East Hampton estate, suspicion falls on his estranged wife, Generosa Rand, and her lover, Danny Pelosi.

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Lizzie Borden Took an Ax Christina Ricci, Clea DuVall, Billy Campbell

Released: 2014

Directed by: Nick Gomez

In Massachusetts in 1893, Lizzie Borden is put on trial for ending the lives of her father and stepmother with an axe.

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Jennifer Love Hewitt, Cybill Shepherd, Kandyse McClure

Released: 2010

Directed by: Eric Laneuville

Riley (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is a single mother living in a small Texas town and leading a shocking double life.

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Catherine Dent, Amy Gumenick, Tracy Pollan

Released: 2009

Directed by: Mikael Salomon

An 18 year old girl, Natalee Holloway (Catherine Dent), goes on a senior class trip to Aruba, only to mysteriously disappear after meeting a man at bar.

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Fatal Honeymoon Harvey Keitel, Amber Clayton

Released: 2012

Directed by: Nadia Tass

A man is accused of drowning his wife during their scuba diving trip at Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Menendez: Blood Brothers... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best
Menendez: Blood Brothers Nico Tortorella, Aliyah O'Brien, Courtney Love

Released: 2017

This film explores the inner lives and motivation behind the slayings of entertainment executive Jose Menendez and his wife Kitty at the hands of their sons Lyle and Erik in 1989.

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An Officer and a Murderer Gary Cole, Laura Harris, Catherine Disher

Released: 2012

Directed by: Norma Bailey

The riveting film is based on the true story of a powerful and respected military officer who committed numerous brutal crimes and was eventually brought down by a tenacious small town police detective.

Baby for Sale is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best
Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Bruce Ramsay

Released: 2004

Directed by: Peter Svatek


A couple discover that the baby girl they're trying to adopt is being auctioned off to the highest bidder. The couple become part of a sting operation to bust the baby-selling ring.

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